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Preview of Super Saturday Primaries; Preview of Sunday's Democratic Debate; LAPD Testing Knife Found at Former OJ Simpson Residence; First CNN Hero of 2016. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 4, 2016 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Voters in five states going to the poll in just a few hours, and Donald Trump just keeps getting Trumpier.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Millions and millions of people more than four years ago, are coming out and they're voting republican. I hate to say it. It not because of lying Ted and it's not because of little Marco. It because of Trump, I hate to say.


LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The battle raging tonight for the soul of the GOP. Mitt Romney leading the war on Trump but has this campaign dealt a death blow to the party of Lincoln?

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders preparing for our debate Sunday in Flint, Michigan ahead of Michigan's primary on Tuesday.

Plus this, bombshell evidence in the crime of the century. Or is it? A knife said to have been found to O.J. estate but where has it been for more than 20 years since the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman? Who kept it? And why is coming to light now all these years later?

There's a lot to get to tonight. A very busy weekend out on the campaign trail as more voters cast their ballots in primaries and caucuses this weekend.

Let's begin with CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger who sat down for a one on one interview today with Mitt Romney. Very timely, you got the get of the day, right?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Mitt Romney has lot to say these days.

LEMON: Yes. It has been really, Gloria, an incredible 24 hours in the republican political race here. First, Donald Trump was attacked by Mitt Romney. Then last night's debate it really hit a new low.

Parents don't even want their children to watch. You sat down with the governor and asked him about Donald Trump and the voters. Let's listen.


BORGER: Did party leaders looking back, and I guess yourself included, misread their own voters in the republican base by betting on the fact, that perhaps Donald Trump would simply implode of his own free will?

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I don't know about other people. I certainly paid attention to Donald Trump. I didn't expect him to do so well.

BORGER: Right.

ROMNEY: But he has tapped into an anger, which is very much understood. What he's done with that anger, however, is not to build it into resolve and high purpose, but instead to take it down a very dark alley and that I think is unfortunate.

But I don't think you can write off any candidate. I thought Jeb Bush would do better than he did. I liked Jeb a lot. Thought he would be able to gain momentum, but that didn't happen.

But Donald Trump has and at this stage we say all right, he could easily become the nominee, probably most likely to become the republican nominee at this point. But I think there is a better choice out there.

BORGER: Who is it?

ROMENY: Well, Marco Rubio is the right person in Florida, John Kasich is the right person in Ohio, and Ted Cruz is right anywhere he is leading right now or where he is closet to Donald Trump.

BORGER: When are you going to choose one?

ROMENY: Well, it depends in part on how the process continues. I expect that after March 15th it may be clearer who is going to be the, if you will, the person who opposes Donald Trump most effectively. And so, I would anticipate endorsing at that time. But let's say all three are doing about the same.

BORGER: Right. Then what?

ROMNEY: Well, then I'd probably again encourage whoever is doing best in a particular state to get the support there and do that state by state and that would lead to an open convention where you'd see the delegates elected make the final decision.

BORGER: So, this contested convention, is this a scenario that you're actively looking at?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think it's a realistic scenario. A lot of people have thought that for some time.

BORGER: Likely? Likely? ROMNEY: You know, I think it's more likely than not that we will have

a nominee before the convention that's Donald Trump. I think he has a much stronger shot of getting the 1,237 delegates than not.

But, you know, the debate last night was not good for Donald Trump. He showed that he cracks under pressure and I think that -- I think that may begin to open the door for some people who are looking for a different path.



BORGER: That's what Mitt Romney hopes, Don, that people will look for a different path. But when I pressed him about whether he would allow his name to be put in nomination should there be this open convention, he said I don't even want to go there, I can't even talk about that, I don't want to go there.

LEMON: Yes. But, I mean, if he's out here and he's talking, I think if pressed enough, one never knows, right?

BORGER: Well, I think Romney understands that he's probably not the best standard bearer right now. He would like to see one of these three guys.

LEMON: It's really, really late.

BORGER: It is like, and you know, what a way to disenfranchise your voters in your party saying, oh, by the way, those primaries, never mind. You all voted. You came out in record numbers for Donald Trump and suddenly we're going to give you Mitt Romney or somebody new who hasn't been out there? I don't think so.

LEMON: Yes. I have to ask you, because there are some concern and lots of concern really in military circles after Donald Trump's comments about torture in the military, right, and carrying out his orders. I want you to listen to what Mitt Romney had to say and then we'll talk about it. Here it is.


[22:05:10] ROMNEY: I mean, last night when he said, look, he's not just for waterboarding, which is illegal, but he want to do more than waterboarding, which is torture and he's going to tell the troops to do it and they're going to do it.

Well, the troops then would be guilty of crimes and he would be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Really? This is how we are going to go in this country? It's absolutely -- he's saying things which get people excited but which are detached from reality.

BORGER: CNN has done a report which said that he is now going for a general election should he become the nominee start raising money.

ROMNEY: It's amazing, isn't it? With that all during the primary he has criticized his opponents by saying, oh, they're raising money from folks and they are going to have to respond to and report to those folks that he is self-funding.

Well, now we learn, no, he's not really planning on self-funding. He's only been loaning money to his campaign, which he can get back if he's the general nominee, general election nominee. It's a form of hypocrisy that I think people will find shocking.


LEMON: Yes, Gloria. He's talking about war crimes in the first part of that, right?

BORGER: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, look, what he is saying is, and as you know Donald Trump retracted what he said today at the debate because everybody...


LEMON: Let me read it. Let me read it and then you can follow.


LEMON: He said, "I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president, I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities." That's different for Donald Trump.


BORGER: Right. What he said at the debate was the military will do what I tell them to do. And then there was an outpouring against this saying you cannot ask the military to break the law. They will not listen to you. That is not what a president of the United States does.

Everybody from military officers, people like Mitt Romney, CIA officials, you know, and veterans say you can't -- you can't do that. So, I think Romney...


LEMON: I had Jesse Ventura on last night who said the same thing, that this is a war crime.

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, if you're running for office and at a certain point this outpouring comes out, you have to kind of take a look at what you said. And I think that's what was discussed in the debate, which really was do you bet your ideas before you just put them out there?

And that's what presidential candidates know that they've got to do. These things have to be thought through and this one, even Trump admits in his own way, really wasn't. LEMON: There's a lot of scrutiny on there. We did not call each other

but great minds think alike.

BORGER: I know, I love your tie.

LEMON: Gloria Borger, always a pleasure.

BORGER: Great.

LEMON: I'll see you soon. Thank you very much for coming.

BORGER: Good to have you here in D.C.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. It's good to be here.


LEMON: Listen, I want to turn now to Tony Perkins, he is the president of the Family Research Council. Good evening, Mr. Perkins. Thank you for joing us.


LEMON: You support Ted Cruz. He has won four states. Will he win any of the contests this weekend you think in Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, or Louisiana?

PERKINS: Well, we'll see tomorrow night about this time tomorrow night, the returns will be back in. We will see. He's doing very competitively in some of these states, my home State of Louisiana; I've been campaigning for him tonight.

We've got a big rally in South Louisiana. It's a capacity crowd. I think he's going to do well. I mean, we look at the delegate counts; he's actually doing quite well.

He's only, he's less than 100 votes behind -- a delegates behind Donald Trump and I think he is the best option if all this discussion about stopping Donald Trump, the best way is to rally around Ted Cruz.

LEMON: I must ask you about the debate last night. It was raucous and raw with talk of sexual prowess among other things. Does Senator Ted Cruz think that this is the best way to take on Donald Trump, to have a debate that hits such lows to people that people can't even watch with their own kids?

PERKINS: You know, that's a really good point but most of that was between Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. And I agree with you. When I -- most of these debates at this point have lacked substance.

Last night, it looked like people on the schoolyard elbowing and pushing and shoving, although I will say that Ted Cruz, he came forth with casting visions on foreign policy, on the economy domestically. And I think he stood out.

I thought last night was probably his best debate. I am very concerned. If you were to take a snapshot of these republican debates and what it says about America, it is disheartening. And I think the republicans have to do better than Donald Trump and Marco Rubio sparring back and forth with name calling and, I mean, it is just unacceptable.

LEMON: I'm sure you've heard this and you may have had the chance to listen to Gloria Borger's interview with Mitt Romney, but he is encouraging republicans to vote for the candidate who's strongest in each state except Trump.

In order to deny Trump enough delegates to get the nomination. Does Senator Cruz agree with that strategy?

[22:10:00] PERKINS: No. I think he is going out to win as many delegates in states as he possibly can. You know, I have respect for Mitt Romney. I supported him when he ran in 2012, but quite frankly, I think him coming out and attacking Donald Trump as he did, whether what he said or not is true and I think most of what he said is accurate or close to it, that actually helps Donald Trump because Mitt Romney is seen as part of the establishment.

Look, people are angry. They're frustrated, they're fearful of the future. Donald Trump is saying things that people can connect with. That's the reason you're seeing people turn out. They're frustrated with republicans who have overpromised and underperformed. The difference is Ted Cruz, we believe, is the solution to that problem.

LEMON: So, Ted Cruz is now attacking Trump largely on his record as well and his temperament but why did it take so long?

PERKINS: Well, because quite frankly, you know, in my discussions with Senator Cruz, once I personally endorsed him, is to cast -- our discussion about casting a vision, to bring Americans to that vision and lead them forward and not get involved in that -- in the name calling, the back and forth that really this campaign, this primary has become really at a low level.

And he, has for the most part stayed above that fray, which I'm very thankful for. There is clearly the room for and the need for to draw contrast between policies and, quite frankly, Donald Trump has not talked about policies at all.

It's very shallow. He does not get very deep beyond the wall what he's going to do. And I think it's very important that Americans have an understanding of the policy prescriptions that these candidates are presenting.

LEMON: We know politics is a really strange business, a strange profession. But I have to ask you this, Tony. Given all the terrible things that Cruz and Rubio and others in the party say about Donald Trump, how can they still say that they're going to support him as a nominee?

PERKINS: You know, it a great question. I mean, when all these things are said and done I think t problem will be is that there will be a lot of conservatives, a lot of the Evangelicals in particular in the general election, if Donald Trump is the nominee, they won't vote for him. And that's not speculation, Don. That's based upon what happened in 2008 and 2012 where a lot of Evangelicals...


LEMON: He's getting a lot of support from the Evangelicals, though.

PERKINS: Well, there's two aspects to that. One is Evangelicals are not that much different than the rest of society when it comes to what's happening in the world around us. Many of them are being driven by fear, fear of what's happening in this world and frustration, as I mentioned earlier with the republicans.

But the term Evangelical was a little bit, there's some elasticity to that term and it's being used more broadly than I think historically it has been used.

So, when you actually look like Reuters broke it down and those who attend church on a weekly basis and are very serious about their faith in terms of it guiding their lives, those more than not either went for Ted Cruz or Ben Carson in these elections up to this point.


LEMON: Yes. I got to go.

PERKINS: The good news is we're actually seeing more people turn out and participate in the process.

LEMON: I've got to go. Tony Perkins, Family Research Council. Thank you.

PERKINS: All right. Great to be with you. Thanks.

LEMON: Make sure you stay with CNN for our super Saturday coverage of contest in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Nebraska. That's tomorrow. And then it's our democratic presidential debate, that's in Flint, Michigan. Anderson Cooper is going to moderate. As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head to head, I'll be there to ask questions as well. Sunday night beginning at 8 Eastern.

And up next on this broadcast, with all the insults and the name calling, did we learn anything at last night's GOP debate? And did Trump's opponents weaken him at all?

Plus, what could be a bombshell in the crime of the century? Los Angeles police examining a knife allegedly found on O.J.'s estate where his ex-wife and her friend were stabbed to death more than two decades ago.


LEMON: Voters in five states casting ballots on super Saturday. And tonight, former republican candidate, Mike Huckabee calling on the remaining GOP candidates to clean up their act.

He, and a lot of others blasting the nasty tone of the race.

Joining me now is Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, CNN political commentator, Carl Bernstein, and Bob Cusack, editor-in- chief of

Bob, I'm going to start with you. I want you to take a look at some more, shall we say memorable moments from last night's fiery and at vulgar GOP debate. Watch this.


MARCO RUBIO, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not going to turn over the conservative movement or the party of Lincoln or Reagan, for example, to someone whose positions are not conservative. Or to someone who thinks the nuclear triad is rock band from the 1980's.

TRUMP: All right. This little guy has lied so much...

RUBIO: Here we go.

TRUMP: ... about my record.

RUBIO: Here we go.

TRUMP: People in Florida can't stand him. He couldn't get elected dog catcher.

TED CRUZ, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we nominate Donald, we're going to spend the spring -- the fall and the summer with the republican nominee facing a fraud trial.


TRUMP: Oh, stop it. It's a minor case.

CRUZ: With Hillary Clinton saying why did you give my campaign and my foundation a $100,000?

TRUMP: It's a minor -- excuse me, it's a minor civil case.

CRUZ: And with Hillary...

TRUMP: Lying ted.

CRUZ: Breathe, breathe. You can you do it. Breathe. I know it's hard. I know it's hard. But just...

RUBIO: When they're done with the yoga, can I answer a question?

CRUZ: You cannot.

JOHN KASICH, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People say everywhere I go, you seem to be the adult on the stage.

TRUMP: Look at those hands, are they small hands?


And he referred to my hands, if they're small, something else must be small, I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.


LEMON: You said that some of your friends found it a little bit awkward and uncomfortable to watch with some of their kids, right?


LEMON: But is this the GOP that people want right now, is this the debate the kind of rhetoric people want?

CUSACK: I certainly think some part of the electorate likes it. Because John Kasich is playing the nice guy and he's not doing very well. So, I think they like the raucous today. But at the same time the brand, the republican brand, they're losing some of -- some of what they have now and they've been hurting in recent years because of this. I mean, it was basically an R-rated republican debate.

LEMON: Yes. It's interesting, because remember all the talk, this is the party of family values.


LEMON: Not so much family values going on that.

CUSACK: Yes. And that's where I think Donald Trump is going to pivot. And I think he did the after Super Tuesday, he had a presidential kind of press conference and he looked more presidential. Last night, though, they were in the mud.

[22:10:08] LEMON: His wife interestingly said to him beforehand, "Can you be more presidential like you were the other night." Carl, is it fair to call last night a bit of a pissing match?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a good description but I think there's something deeper. You know, in December, I said to you that Trump was really a crypto fascist. And you looked at me and I think now where you have seen the underlying seriousness of an almost fascist message of a major republican campaign in Trump's campaign and we need to go back to that and why is that appealing to so many Americans?

This might be a teachable moment because if the Republican Party gives itself over to Trump and his nationalistic, authoritarian message, we have gone somewhere in American politics where we have never been.

We fought fascism in World War II and we are hearing a lot of message that is underneath what this campaign is all about and it's astonishing to think that at a republican convention, that message could prevail.

LEMON: So, Carl, then what's happening to the party of Lincoln? BERNSTEIN: That's exactly right. What is happening to the party of

Lincoln? Partly it became the party of the southern strategy of Richard Nixon, that the democrats historically, had been the party of segregation until the Civil Rights movement. It had been the democratic southern oligarchs who had pursued and perpetuated segregation in the south until the administration of Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

And then as a tactic in the Nixon administration, it was decided that the future of the Republican Party was partly about getting the votes of disaffected white southerners. And it has succeed to a remarkable extent, that's not to say that many or all or most republicans are bigots or anything of the kind, but it has helped the Republican Party immeasurably and now it is time for the party, particularly after the KKK comments of Donald Trump and it not just about disavow.

Trump has never said these people have no place in our politics and I condemn everything about what they believe...

LEMON: Right.

BERNSTEIN: ... and those who follow them. And he hasn't said it. And so, there is an onus on the Republican Party to go into that convention and say this is not us.

LEMON: But republican establishment had been calling him out on that particular message when it comes to the KKK.

But Nick, despite all the antics, all the candidates faced tough questions last night. And I want to play another moment from the GOP debate last night where Trump was asked about his changing views. Watch this.


MEGYN KELLY, THE KELLY FILE SHOW HOST: Mr. Trump, one of the things that people love about you is they believe you tell it like it is. But time and time again in this campaign, you have actually told the voters one thing only to reverse yourself within weeks or even sometimes days.

We've teed up just three examples in a videotape similar to those we used with Senator Rubio and Senator Cruz in the last debate. The first is on whether the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. Watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about in Afghanistan? Do you believe that American boots should stay on the ground in Afghanistan to stabilize the situation?

TRUMP: We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. That thing will collapse about 2 seconds after they leave, just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after they leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About Afghanistan you said we made a terrible mistake getting involved getting there in the first place.

TRUMP: We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This -- our question was about Afghanistan. That day on October...

TRUMP: OK. I never said that. OK, wouldn't matter. I never said it.

KELLY: And there are many other examples. So, how is any of this telling it like it is?

TRUMP: Well, on Afghanistan, I did mean Iraq. I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while because of the fact that you're right next to Pakistan which has nuclear weapons and we have to protect that.


LEMON: So, with all of that, Nick, is Trump a weaker candidate today than he was yesterday?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: You know, I think he's moderately weaker but it's been astonishing how much he has been able to survive despite this. I mean, so many voters see him as a straight shooter, when in fact, over and over it's been shown that he's the most mendacious candidate in modern times.

You know, when PolitiFact was searching for the lie of the year in 2015. It found that all of the contenders were different statements by Trump. And so, it had to choose among Trump statements.

But I do think that Fox News, frankly, gets some credit for trying to truth squared all of the candidates and particularly Trump. I think it drew a little bit of blood and the attacks from the other candidates also drew some blood. But I doubt if it drew enough to really have a major impact. And you don't see in the betting markets, you don't see a major

decline in the betting markets in Trump's likelihood of getting the nomination.

[22:25:01] LEMON: I'm so glad that you're at CNN as part of the tough interviewing for Donald Trump in their own debate last night. So, that was interesting.

Stay with me, everyone. When we come right back, have we forgotten how to have a debate that really matters? And can the GOP survive all of this?


LEMON: So, if you think presidential debates have gone downhill this election season, you may not realize how tense things were in the very first TV debate.

I want you take a look at the moments before 19670s Kennedy/Nixon debate from our new original series "Race for the White House."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kennedy did not present himself until he was fully ready. He wasn't going to stand around with Richard Nixon and chat before the main event, he was going to come in like a pro fighter he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nixon made every mistake you could think of in that debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the faces of the two candidates in this debate and ask yourself who is presidential and who is scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The contrast is dramatic.


LEMON: Doesn't sound so different from what we saw last night.

Back with me now to discuss, Nicholas Kristof, Carl Bernstein, and Bob Cusack.

Carl, political drama clearly nothing new to presidential races. What do you remember about those Kennedy/Nixon debates?

BERNSTEIN: Watching them. I went to work for a newspaper that summer during the election. And thinking at the time that issues were being overwhelmed by considerations of appearance.

And that's what we see in this remarkable documentary that CNN is broadcasting. And we see the continuation to some, the extent in the debates we're having now. We're having great difficulty looking in these debates looking at the deep substantive questions and so much has to do with appearance and manner, as opposed to deep beliefs and policy questions.

LEMON: Nick Kristof, in that clip they pose a question, who came off as more presidential? Who do you think came off as the most presidential last night?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: I'd say John Kasich, frankly. But you know, I mean, in the 1960s, those who listened to the presidential debate mostly thought that Nixon won. Those who watched thought Kennedy had won. And of course because we televised the debate that's what transformed it.

But, you know, it really does. I think I disagree with Carl a little bit. It sure does seem to me that a lot has changed since that debate. That debate was decorous in the way that the discussions, you know, in the latest one about genital size truly were not.

It was, you know, the latest one was like kindergarteners fighting. We didn't really learn much about policy or any really deep analysis of much anything. It was like watching a football scrimmage more than watching a presidential debate.

LEMON: Bob Cusack, let's talk strategy we're now hearing this idea of trying to create a really contested convention in order to stop Trump. Kasich would need to win Ohio. Rubio wins Florida and Cruz wherever he's ahead. Do you think that's going to work?

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Listen, I think it is going to -- I think it would be very difficult because if you look at the map, things have to change dramatically. Remember, Donald Trump has been winning for seven months.

So, we don't get to a brokered convention unless some of these guys start winning a lot of states. And based upon the polls where we're going to see this weekend, I don't see it. I don't think the debate changed much. And that means that Donald Trump was the winner. But it was so ugly. I think Hillary Clinton was also a winner.

LEMON: Nick, you know, the campaigns aren't buying this strategy. Ted Cruz, for example, is in second place and still has plenty of money to keep going. So, isn't this all wishful thinking by the establishment?



LEMON: And they're playing with fire, aren't they?

KRISTOF: Well, I mean, I think they're desperate. I mean, I think that they are just aghast at the idea of Trump as the nominee. Not only what he would do to the country, but what he would do to the party. You saw more-- you've seen more than a hundred foreign affairs experts from the Republican Party writing an open letter saying they will not support Trump.

They're aghast at this idea. I talked to friends who are so against Hillary, so determined to see her defeated and yet, just can't stomach the idea of Trump as president. So, I think they're frantically trying to do anything they can to reach a brokered convention and hope that that may generate a different outcome. I think it's probably too late.

LEMON: So, Carl, in case of the -- in the case of a contested convention, you say it is not out of the question to see a Rubio/Kasich or Kasich/Rubio ticket? Why do you say that?

BERNSTEIN: Because that might be an appealing way to resolve this. I also think and said this earlier that it could be an outsider if they could get past the rules and agree on somebody like Paul Ryan, for instance, it's a real long shot but Ryan would be a hell of an effective candidate.

And I think it's being -- I know it's being talked about among some republicans, but the odds of bringing it about are really deep and long.

LEMON: Yes. I want to look ahead to Sunday for all of you to take a look at this. CNN is hosting a democratic debate in Flint, Michigan. The GOP candidates were actually asked about Flint's water crisis last night. Here's part of Marco Rubio's answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARCO RUBIO, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The politicizing of it I think is unfair because I don't think that someone will woke up one morning and said let's figure out how to poison the water system to hurt someone, but accountability is important.

I will see I give the governor credit. He took responsibility for what happened and he's talked about people being held accountable and then maybe change its Governor, Snyder.


LEMON: So, Bob, here is what Hillary Clinton actually tweeted out during the debate. If you can look at this. "It's not politicizing to say that what's happening with the poisoned water in Flint is an emergency and a moral outrage. Hash tag GOP debate." What's your take on this?

CUSACK: Well, I think democrats have certainly been more active on this issue, no doubt about it whether it's been on Capitol Hill or actually going to Flint, Michigan. Hillary Clinton has gone there several times, Bernie Sanders has been there. And democrats are putting out press releases saying where -- why didn't they talk about it more. That was only a small part of the debate and obviously it's become a big election issue, as it should.

[22:35:00] LEMON: It's fascinating conversation, fascinating time. I'm sure everyone on our panel can agree. Gentlemen, thank you. I appreciate you joining me on this Friday night. Have a great weekend. Super Saturday coming up, so stay tune and then our debate on Sunday.

CNN's six part series "Race for the White House" premieres Sunday night at 10 Eastern with JFK versus Nixon. That will be interesting. Make sure you stay with CNN for our democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan. Anderson Cooper moderates and I'll be there asking question, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head to head, Sunday night beginning at 8 Eastern.

And coming up, what could be a bombshell in the crime of the century, more than two decades after the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, is there a break in this case?


LEMON: A stunning announcement from Los Angeles police today. They're examining a knife that was allegedly found on O.J. Simpson's estate. It is a clue -- is it a clue, I should say to the 1994 murders of Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman?

Joining me now to discuss this is forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky, Jim Moret, the chief correspondent for Inside Edition, also Alex Ferrer, a former police officer and a former Florida Circuit Judge and the host of television's Judge Alex.

Gentlemen, good to have you on. I never would have thought in a million years that we would be, you know, talking about this all these years later.

[22:39:59] So, Lawrence, to you first. You have followed the O.J. Simpson trial closely. Today, Los Angeles Police say investigators are examining this knife reportedly found years ago on the property that O.J. Simpson was living when he and his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were killed in 1994. What could be learned from this knife all these years later?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, first of all, I hope that this is the murder weapon. Because if it is, it will answer a lot of question questions. We know that based on the pathology, the wounds on the victim that this knife had to have a single sharp edge not double edge, but a single sharp edge and that it is serrated.

So, we know a little bit about that knife. Now, once they get into the laboratory they are going to have to document it, make measurements the length of the blade, the width of the blade, the length of the knife. They will then proceed to do some presumptive testing to see if blood is present. That is follow...


LEMON: Could blood be present all these years later? Could you find some sort of DNA all these years later?

KOBILINSKY: It could. DNA is a very resilient substance. The problem...


LEMON: Even if people have handled it?

KOBILINSKY: Well, that's not the issue. That's not the issue. The issue is that it could have been adjacent to soil. And for four years soil contains a component that degrades DNA. It's quite possible that DNA was there, blood was there, and the DNA was there. But we won't know that until its DNA tested. It could very well survive.

LEMON: Yes. But it will tell you if it's the kind of knife you said from the measurement...


KOBILINSKY: that's correct.

LEMON: ... that got serrated edge. OK. So, Jim Moret, a construction worker, let's go behind, let's tell the story. A construction worker reportedly found the knife on the property several years ago and gave it to an off-duty LAPD officer, who is now retired. That officer kept the knife for several years before turning it over to investigators. So, what can you tell us about this officer?

JIM MORET, INSIDE EDITION CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's go back first. The construction worker was there because the house was torn down in 1998, it was sold to a new owner. The address was changed. So, that's why -- that's why the house was torn apart. And that would give rise to looking for something perhaps somebody saw something.

This is what's amazing to me. The construction workers were told -- saw an off-duty LAPD officer, who was working on a movie shoot in the area. And the officer kept it, kept it for 18 years. That is one of the most startling revelations to me about this entire thing.

One, could it be the knife, the knife that they've never been able to find? And, two, the idea that this is potentially evidence either inculpatory or exculpatory evidence and it was never turned over. And when you talk about a case where everybody was looking at how the LAPD collected and handled and tested evidence, and then you have potential evidence that's just kept as a memento of gruesome crime.

That's the most troubling thing. The officer then has not been released, he supposedly retired in January I'm certainly LAPD is going to be examining this very, very closely.

LEMON: I want everyone to pay close attention, but especially you, Judge Alex. There was an LAPD press conference today. Let's listen.


ANDREW NEIMAN, LOS ANGELES POLICE: I would think that an LAPD officer if this story as accurate as we're being told, would know that any time you are -- you come into contact with evidence that you should and shall submit that to investigators.

So, I don't know what the circumstances are, why that didn't happen or if that's entirely accurate or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get go involving a variety of people. So, we're looking into that but I was quite shocked.


LEMON: So, Judge Alex, talk to me about this officer's conduct. If this is all -- if this verified, could he be charged with a crime?

ALEX FERRER, JUDGE ALEX SHOW HOST: Yes. Actually I think he could be charged with a crime if it turns out to a be knife that's related to the investigation. Because remember, this is still an open investigation. O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

So, technically the investigation is still open. Regardless of whether it is the knife or it isn't the knife, the fact that the officer believe it was and so, he kept for 18 years and was looking to frame it and put the serial -- the case number of the O.J. Simpson case on the frame.

So, clearly he thought it was evidence, is what is outrageous to me, that the officer knew he had evidence that could lead -- listen, I think most Americans believe that O.J. Simpson was the murderer but that hasn't been proven in any way, shape or form if anything he was acquitted.

So, that knife could prove who the actual murderer is. It's described as a buck knife type of folding knife, which very easily could in the nooks and crannies retain the DNA and be instructive in leading to a conclusion of the case.

So, the fact that the officer thought he was holding evidence to a crime and decided to keep it, under California law he definitely could be charged with concealing evidence, absolutely.

LEMON: So, even with -- even -- even if it's not the knife, you still think that he could be charged because of the possibility that it could have been the knife?

[22:45:06] FERRER: No, I think it's not the knife, it's not evidence of a crime and he can't be charged. But it speaks to his character. I mean, he thought it was the knife, he believed there was a knife and he kept it.

So, I think it's another unfortunately, dark mark on the record of LAPD. I tend to believe it's probably not the knife because I think LAPD scoured that property. I would expect they would. I know they made mistakes. But I think they probably scoured that probably. I think it was knife, be a knife that was left behind by like a gardener or something in the years that followed.

LEMON: All right. We shall see. We'll continue on. Stay with me, gentlemen. When we come right back, if the knife turns out to be genuine, what could it mean for O.J. Simpson and the murder case that's still open after more than 20 years.


LEMON: The murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman are still an open case after more than 20 years but will this potential piece of evidence change anything?

Back with me now, Lawrence Kobilinsky, Jim Moret, and Judge Alex Ferrer.

Hey, Jim, I want to ask you, 20 years later, you know, in this case, it still catches everyone's attention, right? The people v. O.J. Simpson.

MORET: Absolutely.

LEMON: I had been watching it, I had been transfixed by it, an American crime story, it's on FX, the ratings, it's a hit. What is it about this case?

MORET: You know, I don't know. Look, O.J. Simpson was larger than life. People loved him, they worshiped him. He was an American sports icon. The story really had it all.

[22:50:05] This was the first -- I hate to say this but that case was like the first reality show. It came on during the day when soap operas on, nobody wants soaps after that because this was a real life soap opera.

But would that come back to the fact that two people were brutally murdered here. And the crime was never solved to the extent that we never found the murder weapon, the person that many believed was guilty was acquitted. So, to possibly find the murder weapon now 21, 22 years later it just -- it just boggles the mind really. I just still can't believe it.

LEMON: Lawrence, what is it about this case?

KOBILINSKY: I think this kind of case created a tremendous racial divide. Whereas, you know, it had nothing to do with education or anything of that sort. It was just that if you were African-American O.J. was innocent and railroaded. And basically if you were Caucasian we know who did these murders. So, it was it just was an incredible, chaotic situation. Amazing.

LEMON: There are still, you know, he mentioned that -- there are still people out there, Judge Alex, who believe that O.J. Simpson did not commit that, although more African-Americans believe he did now than when it actually happened, when the verdict was reached. But why is it there so many conspiracy theories that the mob was involved that O.J. was set-up and on and on and on. What do you make of this?

FERRER: I think -- I don't think people want to believe that O.J. did it. I mean, he was all, let's face it, O.J. was a likable guy. He was charming, he was funny in movies. I don't think anybody wanted to believe those.

Who can forget the whole Bronco Chase? I mean, it was incredible experience to be watching it live on television. Remember, this trial came right after the Rodney King acquittal. So in the -- following that injustice, there was the formula for the racial divide.

It was a perfect storm for it. But regardless of whether this knife is the knife and if proves conclusively that O.J. Simpson was the murderer, really doesn't make a difference. Because due to double jeopardy he can't be trialed again. He could confess to the murders tomorrow and nobody could do a single thing to him about it.


FERRER: So, it would just be for peace mind if anything or to point in a different direction.

LEMON: Jim, what if this knife -- I don't know, if it is the knife, what if it implicates someone else?

KOBILINSKY: Wow, that's O.J. always said that somebody else did it. Look, I talked to Tom Lange, the lead detective inn this case. He said, out of 300 cases he's never seen a case where "there's no exculpatory evidence." These are his words, not mine.

He said everything pointed toward one suspect, O.J. Simpson. Look, I think if you had videotape of O.J. Simpson committing this crime, there would still be people who would say he was set up.


LEMON: There were DNA evidence. And they still lost -- they still lost with DNA.

FERRER: I know, I know. I know. That's the -- it really -- it really caused -- when you talk about a divide people cling to their belief so strongly even today. People who think he is innocent think he was railroaded. Period.

LEMON: Yes. They never found the close, Dr. Kobilinsky -- and again, when I talk about these conspiracy theorists, the people who say, you know, O.J. Simpson was set up, that was done by possibly a hit by the Mafia.

And that if someone, if you're going to basically almost sever someone's head from their body that there would be a lot more blood. O.J. Simpson didn't have that much blood. It was only a speck that was found on the Bronco and on, and on and on. What do make of that, why do you say to that?

KOBILINSLY: Well, I think, you know, he may have been in the back of her. The person who did this was right-handed. O.J. Simpson was right- handed. Severing the throat that would cut the carotids and there would be a great deal of blood.

The head is very vascularized and any wounds to the head are going to bleed extensively. He may not have gotten a tremendous amount of blood on his clothing but we'll never know since we never had the clothing to look at. He did track blood into the vehicle, though.

The vehicles had mixtures of blood and so, you know, his shoes. There are some evidence that he left the scene where the murders took place and it's quite possibly that that's where the blood was picked on the shoes trying to...


LEMON: I just -- I got to go but just from a show of hands, did everyone who was take -- who remembered exactly where they were when this started, show of hands when they saw this information today. I know I did. I was like this is way too weird. I feel like it's 1994 all over again.

Hey, Jim, quickly, what happens next?

MORET: What happens next? We continue to watch the movie, frankly. Because it was a -- look, the LAPD is going to conduct tests on this and they are going to determine whether it is in fact the type of knife, DNA, all that stuff. Wait and see.

[22:55:03] LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. Have a good weekend. We'll be right back.


LEMON: This year marks the 10th anniversary of CNN heroes. And today, we introduce you to the very first CNN hero of 2016. His work is motivated by a troubling statistic. Nearly half of all African- Americans children grow up without a steady father figure. Sheldon Smith was one of them, but today, he is helping young dads

like himself take a better path.


SHELDON SMITH, CNN HERO: I grew up broken. I was hurt. But I was able to overcome all of those things. What I want for these young men is for them to be involved and engaged in their children's life, to give their children what I missed as a boy, which was a great father, someone who would be there for me and give me the advice that I need to be a successful young man today.


[22:59:58] LEMON: Sheldon, you can watch the children's story right now at CNN And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be 2016 CNN hero.

Make sure you stay with CNN for our democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan. Anderson Cooper moderates, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head to head and I'll be there to ask questions.