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Trump Chicago Rally Canceled over Security Concerns; Breitbart.com Reporter Files Charges Against Trump Campaign Manager; Winter Weather Continues in Detroit. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired March 11, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Our breaking news tonight. Donald Trump cancels his Chicago rally in the midst of protests inside and outside the arena.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Ten o'clock here on the East Coast. An uneasy calm in the city. And Donald Trump himself speaking out tonight telling me he didn't want anyone to get hurt but saying he believes the protests violated his First Amendment rights.
I want to bring in CNN' Jim Acosta, he's live for us in Chicago. So, Jim, bring us to speed on what happened tonight. What did you witness?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, I mean, I can tell you right now and this is the good news is that things seem to be getting back to normal. You even have the street sweepers out right now cleaning up all of the debris that was left over from this disturbance that started inside this arena and then spilled outside momentarily, police Chicago police were able to bring calm in the situation.
But essentially, Don, we saw this building up throughout the afternoon. You know, occasionally, you and I see this Donald Trump rallies where you might see a handful of protestors, maybe up to a couple dozen of protesters, perhaps they'll lock arms.
It might take a while for security to get those people out of the building. That was not what took here tonight. I saw there was one section of this entire arena that was filled with hundreds of protesters who clearly came here to disrupt this rally, and that's exactly what they did.
You know, things were starting to get out of control right around 7 o'clock Eastern, 6 o'clock here in Chicago. And that was when a Donald Trump official went up to the podium and announced to everybody who was gathered here, thousands of people gathered here, that this rally was cancelled.
And at that point the entire arena just sort of exploded into chaos. You had supporters for Donald Trump, you have these protesters who are also they're yelling at each other and then there are pockets of scuffles breaking out through the inside the arena. And at first, Don, it was really remarkable because Chicago police,
security officials, they obviously did not understand what was about to happen. They did not have the sufficient numbers of people on hand to bring the situation under control. So, it took about 15, 20, 25 minutes before we saw dozens of Chicago police officers filing down the stairs of the arena, on to the arena floor to bring calm to the situation.
They eventually got all those people outside the arena where we are now but then that resulted in some pockets of disruptions, scuffles, some fist fights. That sort of thing. We saw a few arrests here and there but not what could have occurred, Don, which is total anarchy and a large riot really breaking out here tonight.
Fortunately, that did not occur. But, Don, obviously, you know, we've seen this building up over time over the last few weeks. You know, you've seen that protester in North Carolina who was sucker punched in the face by a Donald Trump protestor.
And then the candidate himself or by Donald Trump supporter, and then the candidate himself given, you know, time after time after time to denounce this type of activity at his rallies has not really done that.
As you were talking to him earlier tonight, he was really sort of defending himself still. Still defending the posture at these rallies, the pugnacious tone that he brings to these rallies.
And so, we'll have to see what the Trump campaign does here in Ford. Do they recalculate, do they go back and say, you know what, maybe we need to tone things down.
But my sense when you're talking to Donald Trump earlier this evening, they have no plans to tone things down. They have no plans to really changing what they're doing at these rallies.
But I have to tell you, Don, after what we saw here tonight, something has to change because this was just unacceptable. I mean, we're really lucky, Don, right now that there aren't a lot of people hurt here tonight. Because that potentially is what could have occurred. Fortunately, did not happen though, Don.
LEMON: Well said, Jim Acosta in Chicago tonight. Jim, thank you.
Ted Cruz speaking out tonight about the protests that erupted at Donald Trump's Chicago rally. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED CRUZ, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also want to mention something about the events this evening in Chicago. This is a sad day. Political discourse should occur in this country without a threat of violence, without anger and rage and hatred directed at each other.
[22:04:59] We need to learn to have disagreements without being disagreeable, to have disagreements while respecting human beings on the other side.
Earlier today, over 30 people were arrested at one rally. And then tonight, as violence broke out, the rally was cancelled altogether. Now, the responsibility of that lies with protesters who took violence into their own hands.
But in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. Any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign. And when you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign what is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was Ted Cruz just moments ago in Illinois. Donald Trump is also speaking about -- speaking out tonight about the protests. I want you to listen to what he told me just a little while ago.
Donald Trump joins me now live on the phone. Mr. Trump, thank you for joining us. Tell us what happened tonight.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I got to Chicago a couple of hours ago and we had 25,000 people scheduled for tonight. We were going to have a lot outside and inside, a tremendous gathering, and real supporters, and at the same time we had some protesters outside, which was probably 2,000 or 3,000.
And I met with law enforcement, I don't want to see anybody hurt, Don, so I met with law enforcement. And I think we made the wise decision to cancel. Now it's pretty well broken up and no major problems.
And we made a decision even though our freedom of speech is violated totally, we made a decision not to go forward. I don't want to see anybody get hurt and you could have seen people possibly getting hurt or beyond. So, I made the decision in conjunction with law enforcement not to -- not to do the rally. We postponed it.
LEMON: Do you think that you were -- protesters had been expected tonight at your rally. Was your campaign prepared for this?
TRUMP: I think we were prepared. But, you know, you can be as prepared as you want. When you have thousands of people, you don't want to see a clash.
TRUMP: And they were minor intermissions but there no major clash.
LEMON: You've seen the pictures I'm sure of what happened inside of that rally. I'm sure you've been watching and looking at these pictures. What do you make of what you saw? TRUMP: Well, I think it's the divided country. I think we have a very
divided country, Don. And it's been that way for a long time. And it's very sad to see. It's divided among many different groups and, frankly, it terrible.
You look at a lot people are upset because they haven't a salary increase in 12 years. You know, if you look at the workers of the country, our jobs are being taken away, our jobs are being sent to Mexico and they're being sent to all sorts of other countries, our factories are closing.
We have a lot of problems, we don't have a real unemployment rating of 5 percent, it's probably closer to 25 percent...
LEMON: Do you think, Mr. Trump, with all due respect, do you think that what happened...
TRUMP: ... as people as you know, as people give up looking for jobs, Don, all of a sudden they're considered employed statistically. So, it's a lot...
LEMON: Do you think that's what caused that directly tonight the scuffle?
TRUMP: But at the same time -- at the same time -- say it again.
LEMON: Do you think that causes the scuffle directly tonight because those people who were fighting tonight weren't fighting over jobs.
TRUMP: Yes. I think it's largely economic. I mean, if you look at African-American youth, they have a 59 percent unemployment rate, 59 percent. And it's a -- yes, I think it's largely an economic problem, absolutely.
LEMON: Do you think it has anything to do with the tone that some have said that you have set by telling people to get them out or punch them in the face or they should be taken out on a stretcher? Do you think that you bare any responsibility for what's happened tonight and at other rallies?
TRUMP: we had some -- we had some -- yes. No, I don't take -- I don't take responsibility. Nobody's been hurt at our rallies and we have -- I've had 25,000, 35,000 people, more than that. We had one the other day 25,000 in Florida, and we've never had anybody hurt or certainly seriously hurt. We have -- I don't even know if we had anybody hurt.
So, you know, we had a tremendous large number of rallies and massive numbers of people, nobody even close to us in terms of size and they're great people. But we will have protesters stand up and be very, very abusive, unbelievably abusive and in some cases swinging and, you know, punching and swinging and not a good situation. And I think we've been overall, I think we've been very mild with
protesters. And some will stand up and we'll just usher them out. And, you know, it's not me that ushers them out, it's the police force. The police have done great jobs.
[22:10:05] So, until today, we've really never had much of a problem. Now, we were in St. Louis today, we had a packed house, we had thousands and thousands of people that frankly, couldn't get in and we had a few protest -- it was not a big al. It was individual protesters standing up.
There were quite a few of them, seven or eight of them, I would say, you know, seven or eight incidences, which was fine. And we had all, everybody had a good time, I hope the protesters had a good time, Don, to be honest with you, nobody hurt.
LEMON: So, I want to ask you a question that my colleague Jake Tapper asked you last night at the debate. Do you believe that you have done anything, Mr. Trump, to create a tone where this kind of violence would be encouraged?
And I'm going to add to that by saying if your words and your tone inspire people to vote to you, to come to the rallies, t got to the polls to vote, why wouldn't those same words inspire people to violence?
TRUMP: Well, I hope that my tone is not that of causing violence because my basic tone is really that of securing our borders, of having a country and having a great country, bringing our jobs back, of bringing our manufacturing back, Don, of getting people's jobs, that includes African-American youths where you have 20 -- where you have 59 percent unemployment rate.
So, I would hope that does not lead to, you know, I hope, I certainly don't do that. I will say we had tremendous success with people, you see the kind of polls, you see the kind of, you know, popularity that we have in the rallies themselves.
There is love. I mean, it's a love fest in the rallies themselves. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. You've been reporting about it.
LEMON: Well, let me just...
TRUMP: They cover it in Time magazine. And there's great love -- Don, let me just finish what I'm saying. There's great love in those big stadiums. And there's great love there.
LEMON: But there are protest that...
TRUMP: At the same time -- at the same time when there's a clash or a potential clash like tonight, I think I did the right thing. You know, I met -- I came here and I met with law enforcement and I said what do you think? And they're very professional and they said, it would be better not to do it because if you do it tonight, you could have a clash and people could get hurt.
LEMON: I want to bring in now my colleagues, Van, my colleagues Van Jones, CNN political contributor, Bob Beckel also political commentator here and the author of "I Should Be Dead. My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction."
So, he said, in which he had said before, "I would hope that my tone is not inciting this sort of violence." Van Jones, you as much said that it is tonight and asked him to, you know, mend his ways.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
LEMON: Do you think that will happen?
JONES: Well, this is a -- well, I hope so. Listen, this is a -- this is a very important moment for the country. This is bigger than an election. This is bigger than the candidate; this is bigger than scoring points here.
You have a major leader in this country who has said repeatedly talking about punching people in the face, putting people on stretchers. The problem is he understands the anger of his supporters. He doesn't understand that he is not the only angry person.
There are other constituencies in America that are also outrage. If we start letting -- OK, will you be outrage, you say whatever you want. Then you could wind up with a very dangerous spiral.
And that's why you got to get out of the politics tonight, you got to call every leader up -- I Ted Cruz did a great job. I never thought I would praise Ted Cruz. But I hope he doesn't hurt him in the polls, maybe it will, maybe it won't.
This is beyond politics. This is about do you -- Donald Trump says we're either going to have a country or we're not, talking about who we're going to keep out at the border.
Now the question is are we going to have a country or not based on who we hold inside these borders and inside these borders we have a responsibility. Listen, it's probably a very strange thing for him to understand...
JONES: ... how much power his words have...
LEMON: Van, I need to you stand by. Because I need to get to this and then we'll about it afterwards. My apologies.
I want to bring in now Marco Rubio, speaking out about the protests at Donald Trump's rally tonight. Mr. Rubio, thank you for joining us tonight, Senator. Were you able to see the events that took place at the Trump rally and what is your reaction to it?
MARCO RUBIO, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I've seen the news reports over the last hour or so. Look, it's disturbing. I think we've reached a break point in our politics. I want to put aside for a moment elections and all of that.
And just say, look, there are consequences to words, there's no doubt about it. Let me back up and say this. It is clear from watching these images that there are people there that are protesting tonight that are part of organized efforts to disrupt this event.
This is not some sort of organic thing that happened. It's Chicago. There are lots of groups that do this basically professionally in some instances. And you can see those, there is this few group of people there but you can tell that it's an organized and orchestrated effort.
And I don't think you have a right to disrupt an event the way they've tried to do so just because you don't like what the person is saying, OK, so, number one.
[22:14:58] On the other hand, I do think that Mr. Trump needs to own up to the fact that the rhetoric he has used to some of his events have also contributed to the climate that you've seen in others up part of -- other rallies that he had.
There are consequences for the things people say in politics. There are -- you know, a president, for example, can't just speak their mind. There are real consequences; they can't just say whatever comes with their minds. There are real consequences, the consequences to the words that someone speaks, whether it's a presidential candidate or ultimately as a president.
I think we're seeing some of that over the last few days. I think tonight is about something a little bit different. This is certainly an organized effort.
But we've reached a break point here where we have to kind of understand as a nation that either we can have a process by which we can debate the policy differences in a civil way without this sort of thing happening or we are careening to the type of disruption that you see in other society that has never been typical of the American political discourse to say have a couple of, you know, tragic moments in our history.
LEMON: Yes. And we're looking at some of those violent scenes playing out from earlier as you were speaking, Senator. I have to ask you, you have been one -- you have really taken on Donald Trump and his rhetoric. You've gone head to head with him but you had the opportunity last night at that debate to speak out against the tone and the violence.
Because Jake Tapper asked him about it at some of his campaign rallies and a lot of people feel like you and other candidates failed to take him on. How do you respond to that? RUBIO: Well, that's not accurate. For example, when those issue came
up about Islam, I said president, you know, one of the appeal that Donald Trump has to a lot of people is that he often says what they wished they could say.
But presidents can't always just say whatever you want. There are consequences to your words. And I talked about how going around saying that Islam, all Islam hates America has real consequences.
I think on the issue you're talking about the tone in the debates, basically that question was not asked. I was like the fourth person who got to comment on it, and by then the question had evolved into something else.
But I have clearly spoken over the last couple of days of being disturbed about the images we saw yesterday of someone get sucker punch that he's walking up the steps. We now see reports that allegedly a reporter was assaulted by his campaign manager.
I say allegedly, I don't know all the facts about that. But I said earlier today as well, you know, there isn't fights breaking out at my rallies or Ted Cruz's rally or At Kasich rallies or at Bernie Sanders rallies or a Hillary Clinton rallies.
There's something different going on here. And I think when you have a presidential candidate, according to the polls and the delegate counts, this frontrunner of the Republican Party going into -- going into rallies and basically telling his followers you know, "In the good old days people that do that leave on stretchers," you know, I think he should own up to that and take some responsibility.
That by no mean -- no means, excuses what these protesters have done tonight in Chicago as you watch images of them. This is an orchestrated effort of people that are trying to break up a rally that don't agree with.
LEMON: There's a lot of responsibility to go around, Senator, but do you think Donald Trump in some ways somehow directly responsible for this reaction?
RUBIO: Well, I don't know about direct responsible for the event tonight in Chicago because this is clearly an organized effort to disrupt an event with someone they don't agree with. But I certainly think he bears responsibility for some of the things that have happened and other parts of this event.
And the general tone and atmosphere of his campaign, which has been about things like, you know, the reason why things are going wrong in your life or in this country is because of this group of people versus that group of people. There's no doubt that he bears responsibility for that.
LEMON: Listen, I want to talk to you about the strategy of other candidates in the race. Because you talked about -- I think you said -- here's what you said. I'm going to quote you. "Clearly John Kasich has a better shot at winning Ohio than I do, and if a voter concludes that voting for Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that's what they'll do." Are you encouraging voters to go and vote for Kasich in Ohio and then at some...
RUBIO: No, I was asked the question.
RUBIO: Basically what I said in Florida is Florida awards 99 delegates. If you win by one vote in Florida, you get 99 delegates. The majority of Florida is republican do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee. And I said to them I'm the only one that has a chance to beat Donald Trump in Florida.
And so, practically speaking, if you vote for John Kasich or Ted Cruz in Florida, you are in essence voting for Donald Trump because I'm the only one that can beat him. I was asked about the message in Ohio and I said, look, I'm not encouraging anyone to do anything in Ohio, I'm just other than to vote for us. But I would understand that if voter reaches the same conclusion there given the state of the race that state.
LEMON: But they're saying essentially what you were saying there is what you were trying to get people to do is have a brokered convention by doing that. Is that -- is that your...
RUBIO: I don't know what -- you know, I'm not -- brokered convention is a term people throw around loosely. That's not the case, that's not the way it works. The Republican Party, just like the Democratic Party, has rules in place to deal with the potential for the fact that no single candidate would have more of a majority of the delegates.
LEMON: So, that's not your intention?
RUBIO: Those rules have been in place for a reason. And it's not about a brokered convention implies a smoke-filled room where people are going to go in and parachute in a candidate that's not on the ballot.
[22:19:59] My sense is that, well, before the convention these things will work its way through somehow even if someone doesn't have a majority, it will work its way through somehow.
But there are rules in place for a convention and a vote and so forth, but that doesn't imply anything being brokered.
RUBIO: I think it implies, you know, delegates voting but we're far from that still. I do think we need to start thinking about it only because no candidate, including Donald Trump, unless he sweeps all the states on Tuesday night, has a clear and easy path to 1,237 delegates.
LEMON: Just for clarity, that was not your question with in the answering of that question? RUBIO: Which question? I'm sorry. The Ohio question?
LEMON: Yes, the Ohio question.
RUBIO: No, I was responding to a question someone had.
RUBIO: And I said to them, look, if even Ohio anyway voter concludes that voting for me helps Donald Trump...
LEMON: I understand.
RUBIO: ... because they don't think I have a chance to win. I understand and respect that.
LEMON: I just want to make sure a brokered convention was not your intention. I think you made that clear. You said that it is not.
RUBIO: All right.
LEMON: So, let's get back to what happened tonight at the Donald Trump event. We're talking about grown people here who are running for the president, you know, presidency of the United States, to be president of the United States.
So, what -- do you think that the Republican Party has any responsibility or can they or should they step in and speak with Donald Trump about the atmosphere at his rallies?
RUBIO: Yes, I just don't think the Republican Party has that kind influence. The Republican Party is an organization that organizes the convention, organizes the debates. So, it doesn't really have any control over individual candidates, me or anybody else for that matter.
I think Donald Trump is responsible for his own rhetoric. And I want to be clear, OK. What is happening tonight in Chicago, and by the way, as we see images of these police officers, they have a tough job in Chicago tonight, so we want to thank them for their service.
This is an organized effort to disrupt a rally, OK? This is not some organic protest. We've seen this happen on college campuses as well. What they're doing is wrong. They are denying someone their First Amendment right to speak things.
In America you have a right to say whatever you want, even if it's offensive. You have a right to do that. You don't have to agree with it and you don't have to go.
But putting that aside for a moment, the tone and tenor of Donald Trump's his rallies over the last few months, has been disturbing to a lot of people. And you are seeing him saying things like, and he cans say it's a joke. But when someone who is running for president says let's punch him,
you know, let's get him out of here or in the old days they used to take people out stretcher if they did that, I think you have to understand the impact that that have.
And if you're running for president you have to understand that that kind of rhetoric from a president or a major presidential candidate has ramifications, beyond what you're seeing tonight in Chicago, which I think is just sad all the way around. I mean, I think the images that the world must be looking at now must seem to them that our republic is fracturing at the scene.
LEMON: It's unbelievable to watch. Senator Marco Rubio, thank you for calling in. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend. Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, much more on our breaking news. Donald Trump cancels his Chicago rally in the face of protests inside and outside the arena. We'll be right back.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, Donald Trump cancels his Chicago rally when protests break out inside and outside the arena.
Meanwhile, a Breitbart reporter, Breitbart.com reporter says that she has filed charges against Trump's campaign manager, alleging that he grabbed her and bruised her while she was attempting to ask a question earlier this week. The campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, denies the charges.
I want to bring in Kurt Bardella who resigned as spokesperson for Breitbart today in the wake of the incident. Kurt, good to have to here. So, let's talk about this in the context of the violence at Donald Trump's rallies tonight and beyond and the charges filed by Michelle Fields. Your resignation is a shocker. What led you to quit?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER BREITBART SPOKESPERSON: Well, you know, Don, I think that when you get to a point where you can't 100 percent support who you're representing, the right thing to do is to step aside and inform them that you can no longer represent them. And that's what I did.
I reached this conclusion after watching over the last few days how this unfolded. I personally felt that Breitbart hadn't adequately supported Michelle Fields, one of their own reporters through this whole ordeal.
And at the end of the day, you have to be able to live with yourself. And seeing how this was going, how this was unfolding, I just felt it was right to step down and move on.
LEMON: Why can't you 100 percent support your former employee?
BARDELLA: Well, you know, I just... (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: Employer I should say.
BARDELLA: ... I just disagree with the course of which they've been covering this, and how they've treated Michelle. I think they've been looking for a reason to disprove something when all the evidence from a Washington Post reporter's firsthand account, to the bruises on Michelle's arms, all the photos and video clips that we've seen strongly suggest that Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager was the one who did this and there's no reason to never support your own reporter.
LEMON: Are you saying they're lying?
BARDELLA: Yes, I am.
LEMON: All right. And you're saying they're lying. Have they lied all along about certain things to your estimation?
BARDELLA: Well, I think as this unfolded, you know, in the immediate aftermath, I don't think anyone knew all of the details of what happened. It was obviously a very chaotic emotional situation. People are in different locations.
But I think that as it progressed and as the evidence became more clear, there seemed to be resistance from Breitbart in supporting Michelle. And it is just something I just couldn't understand. I certainly don't agree with it.
And again, I think for me, the right thing to do was to try to, you know, extricate myself from a situation that I just didn't feel comfortable with anymore.
LEMON: Mr. Bardella, why would they not support her and support the Trump version of the story?
BARDELLA: Well, I think that anyone who has watched Breitbart coverage, who reach the site every day, it's very clear and they haven't hidden this at all, but they have been very supportive of the Trump campaign.
And I think that there is a desire to want to want to believe the Trump campaign and believe the statement that Corey and Donald Trump speak out...
BARDELLA: Because I think that, you know, they've -- when you've gone all in so much for a candidate, you know, when you have that kind of skin in the game, you don't want to see that derailed human nature.
LEMON: They are in the tank, you're saying? BARDELLA: I think it's been very obvious from their coverage. And I don't think they've hidden that or they would dispute that that they're very much pro-Trump, which is, you know, personally also something that I have an issue with. I'm not pro Trump.
I think that Donald Trump has been a disruptive force in the political and public rhetoric. The discourse of the conversations running the presidential campaign has deteriorated.
[22:30:02] You are seeing violence and it's not just an isolated incident. It's a pattern of behavior. And not whether it's a reporter, whether it's just a spectator, whether it's a supporter, or an opposition, nobody is safe.
And at what point does someone draw the line and say enough is enough and take responsibility for that. You had Donald Trump on not that long ago. He didn't take responsibility from it. And it's completely unbecoming as someone who wants to be the President of the United States. And it just has to stop. It is ridiculous, absurd and it's a dangerous.
LEMON: Are you a conservative?
BARDELLA: I'm a Republican.
LEMON: You're a republican and you're saying this about a person who is likely to be your nominee?
BARDELLA: Donald Trump makes me embarrassed to say that I'm a republican. And I know a lot of people who don't feel this way, he is not representative or indicative of how a lot of republicans feel. I think that what he's done is seized on a real uncertain moment in this country. Where there is a lot of angered directed at Washington. People feel that Washington has abandoned them.
And like any great propagandist, he's seized on that fear and that emotion and has propped himself up using outrageous rhetoric, dangerous tactics and unfortunately, there are people who are aligning with that.
BARDELLA: But I think overall in this country, the majority of people and Americans do not believe that this is the right course for our country.
LEMON: I think it's the first time that I've ever been speechless on television because usually when I ask people a direct question, they don't answer directly. But when I said are they lying? You said yes. I'm like, where do I go from there? He answered honestly.
Thank you, Kurt Bardella.
BARDELLA: Thanks for having me on.
LEMON: Good luck to you. I appreciate it. BARDELLA: I appreciate it.
LEMON: When we come right back, much more on our breaking news, Donald Trump cancels his Chicago rally in the face of protests inside and outside.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news tonight. Donald Trump cancels his Chicago rally when violent protests break out at that rally.
Here to talk about it is CNN political commentator, Bob Beckel, former Obama administration official, Van Jones, and CNN political commentator, Ben Ferguson who joins us via Skype.
Hello, to you, Bob and Van again, welcome to the panel.
Ben Ferguson, I have to get you in. You heard my interview with Donald Trump this evening saying he doesn't believe that his tone is inciting any sort of violence and that he bears, and I'm paraphrasing here, but it doesn't appear that he thinks he bears any responsibility for the violence breaking out at his rallies.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Donald Trump is the one that has built this fire. He's been doing it every week. Week after week at rally after rally. Tonight he says I'm a peaceful guy, I'm never for violence.
But if you go back and look at the tapes, what did he say? He said someone out to punch that guy in the face. He even said he would offer to pay the legal bills if someone went after another protester. He said he missed the old days when protestors went on stretchers.
He didn't throw the match tonight on this fire, the protesters did that. I will give, you know, them what they deserve and the protesters absolutely went there to get into a scuffle. They accomplished that and they wanted to cancel the event.
But make no mistake about it, the reason why we're seeing this only at Donald Trump's rallies and at no one else's rallies is because he's the one that built this fire. He made it ready to go and to light it and torch it.
When you saw one of his supporters hit somebody, sucker punch them just right before this debate, and he says, I'm pro-violence, he didn't condone that individual. That same individual also said if I see that person again who I hit, maybe we should kill them. Donald Trump did not condone that either. And for him to say during that somehow claim...
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Condemn it. He didn't condemn it.
LEMON: He didn't condemn what you mean. FERGUSON: ... I'm a fascist guy, you know, I'm a -- I'm a non-violent
guy. You've been advocating for people to act out and now you got it.
LEMON: I think you meant he didn't condemn it rather than saying he didn't condone it.
FERGUSON: Excuse me, he didn't condemn it. I apologize.
FERGUSON: He didn't condemn the behavior of that individual and he said, oh, I'm just a nice guy, I don't like violence. You've been advocating for violence week after week, day after day, rally after rally.
LEMON: Bob Beckel, here's why Donald Trump -- Here's why Donald Trump told me he cancelled this rally. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I met with law enforcement. I don't want to see anybody hurt, Don. So, I met with law enforcement. I think we made the wise decision to cancel. Now it's pretty well broken up and no major problems.
And we made a decision, even though our freedom of speech is violated totally, we made a decision not to -- not to go forward. I don't want to see anybody get hurt and you would have had some people possibly getting hurt or beyond. And so, I made the decision in conjunction with law enforcement not to do -- not to do the rally. We postponed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Bob, he is saying that -- saying he should be commended for cancelling the rally this evening because people could have gotten hurt or hurt further in this situation.
BOB BECKEL, "I SHOULD BE DEAD" AUTHOR: Yes. And I think look, give him some credit for that. It was the right thing to do. And the fact to the matter is that it is something unique about the Trump rallies and the Trump supporters.
But for the protesters, many whom I will assume are my side of the aisle on the liberals, this kind of stuff really is denying people the right to have their First Amendment. And it probably going to be getting bigger now because this event was cancelled.
And I'll tell you one thing though. If the Trump people are prepared for this after tonight and police departments and wherever it is, then somebody's not doing their job. But I would certainly suggest that any protestors into not doing to yourself any favors and you're probably helping Trump.
LEMON: Van Jones, Donald trump knows protestors. Here's what he told me. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've been having protesters all my life. I've been having protesters on construction sites for years a years and years. I know more about protesting and protesters than you'll ever know, Don. I will tell you, I don't mind meeting with protesters as long as I know that it's in good spirit and they're protesting an agitator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He wasn't running for president then. How is this different? Is it different, Van Jones?
JONES: Yes. Well, I think it is different. Let me just say something we haven't touched that much on, which is about the protesters.
[22:40:01] Let me tell you why I think that their tactics should be possibly reconsidered, let me tell you why they won't agree with me.
I, in general think it's fine to go to an event to protest, to make some noise, to make your point heard, but then also then to leave or to be peacefully arrested so that the event can go on.
I don't believe in this shut it down philosophy that says literally don't let the other side speak. I think -- I think that's wrong.
But here's why they will tell me that I am wrong. What they're saying is in contact with people is that if Trump gets wall-to-wall coverage and there is fairness doctrine, there is no ability to be heard against this title way and they feel like the way -- the only way they can be heard is to protest at his rallies because that's where the media is and to possibly shut him down because they're tired of hearing from him.
JONES: I don't think that's the right thing. But let's be clear. This is a campus with a lot of Muslim students and a lot of Latino students who have felt personally offended in this guy's camps.
LEMON: Van Jones.
JONES: I think everybody's got to go -- everybody got to come back to the drawing board here.
LEMON: Van Jones, hold that thought. I'll let you continue it on the other side of this break. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Breaking news tonight, Trump supporters and protesters clash after the candidate's Chicago rally is postponed.
Meanwhile, I want you to look at the front page, this is tomorrow's New York Daily News. It shows a bloodied protestor at another Trump event. This one is in St. Louis today with the headline "Blood on Don's hands."
[22:45:03] back with me now, Bob Beckel, van Jones, and Ben Ferguson. Did you guys see that cover? Did you guys able to see it, what do you think?
FERGUSON: I mean, not surprised.
LEMON: Why not?
FERGUSON: This is -- this is what happens when you're Donald Trump. I mean, he is literally like -- he's arsonist who is wanting to get credit for calling 911. He created this. And when you have -- when you have this message that he has had out there, when he has gone out and literally gone to war...
LEMON: Ben, I know you're on Skype. Can you hear me?
LEMON: Sometimes you can't hear when you're on Skype. OK.
FERGUSON: Yes, I can hear you.
LEMON: So, you're saying he created this, he's an arsonist and he wants credit for 9/11.
LEMON: So, you're saying that he's responsible for it. You're going to get push back from people who are going to say he's not directly responsible. How much responsibility does he bear? Is he in a way directly responsible for the reaction of the people at his rally?
FERGUSON: This is what I would refer to as presidential leadership or lack thereof from Donald Trump. When you put a reality show TV star in a situation where he's running for president, you're going to get a reality TV show. That what we are watching right now. This is reality TV.
This is great for ratings of Donald Trump, this is great for his supporters, this is going to galvanize his support, but do you want someone like this running the United States of America? And that is the question that people have to look at tonight. Can you honestly trust this man who comes out tonight and says I do not accept violence, I am against violence?
But you go back and look at his own words. And he's been advocating for a fight, he's been advocating for his supporters to throw punches. You should not have been surprised when a 78-year-old man sucker punched a protester and says if I see him again, maybe we should kill him.
LEMON: I have a...
FERGUSON: Donald Trump has been building this fire.
JONES: There's always been a distinction.
LEMON: Someone who I dearly respect said to me yesterday or earlier today said, I was watching CNN and I felt like I was watching the "Jerry Springer show," not meaning the show but what happened the rally and reaction to the guy who was sucker punched.
LEMON: He said it felt very Jerry Springer to me and he's actually concerned about what's going to happen next. How violent it might be. Is there any way for him to turn this around and become more presidential and an actual unifier, Bob Beckel?
BECKEL: Yes, I think there is. And look, it's true, he's certainly not responsible for what happened tonight but he is responsible for the tone of these events. And it seems to me he's got an ideal opportunity to say to, as he starts his speeches and he's rallies, that we have had instances here, we're aware of those, please, everybody, let's try to be calm, let's talk about making America great where everybody wants to talk about. But do not overreact to people who are protesting.
He is the only guy who can draw protestors.
BECKEL: And The Daily News, by the way, has been after Trump for years, so I'm not surprised.
LEMON: Yes. I'm not surprised. Daily, if you live here in New York and you can see the Daily News, they -- let's say there's no love lost between Donald Trump and The Daily News at the Daily News of Donald Trump.
Stand by, everyone. We'll be right back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back now with our breaking news about the violent news happening tonight at a cancelled -- at a cancelled Donald Trump rally. It had to be cancelled because of the potential violence and then the violence did break out.
Joining me now, Van Jones, Bob Beckel, and Mr. Ben Ferguson.
Van, I want to ask you, I mean, immediately, you know, at not very often do I get two presidential candidates on one show speaking out, Marco Rubio and then, well, three, because Ted Cruz spoke out. He didn't speak to me directly. But Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio right away speaking out. Obviously, they're running against him and they are going to use every opportunity. But to say what they had to say it was very important that they thought at least to speak out.
JONES: Well, I think so, too. You know, in Europe they have a distinction between what's called a clean right and the dirty right. And the clean right is, you know, tough on taxes, tough on big government, you know, tough on, well, you can tough on immigration.
But not like the dirty right. They don't traffic in the violence. They don't traffic in the race making the explicit appeals to racial anxiety. And so, we have never had a -- in the past 25 years, you haven't had the dirty right break through.
And so, what you saw is two conservatives with whom I disagree like I disagree with Ben, saying, listen, we have to have a standard in this country. And if you create a situation where, you know, Trump supporters say we're angry, we can say what we want. I'm Donald Trump, I'm going to say whatever I want.
Well, guess what? There are other constituencies that people who are angry. You have angry black people, you got angry Latinos, you got angry lesbians, you got angry all kinds of people.
If you start creating situation where everybody is just going to be as outrageous they can possibly be, you won't have a country. And so, that's why I think, you know, Cruz and Rubio and then others are to be applauded for at least holding the line that there is a way for us to disagree on this country.
We are -- if you look at social media tonight you can see the lid is starting to bubble and boil across this country because of this irresponsible behavior on the part of Donald Trump. We all have to hold the line tonight.
LEMON: But I think you have said, you've called out the protesters as well. You said listen, I would change my tactics.
LEMON: But they think that Donald Trump, you know, sucks all the oxygen out of the room. So, before the oxygen gets sucked out they want to soak some of the air.
JONES: Yes. And they feel they've been humiliated, these young Muslims, these young Latinos especially feel like they have been talked about in such a bad terms and they just can't take it anymore and they feel that this is what they had to do.
I would just say to them, listen, please, you can protest but when you start saying that somebody cannot speak in America, that is also below our standards.
LEMON: Ben, I have 20 seconds left, do you think this, Bob Beckel said it's going to positively affect the campaign. Do you think that it will? FERGUSON: I think the people that support Donald Trump are going to
support him just that much more because of this tonight. Because they look at this as strong leadership. And you don't mess with us because we are Donald Trump.
[22:54:59] I also think that is a tipping point for other conservatives that are saying is this presidential?
FERGUSON: Is this the need for what we should expect out of a leader? And there are going to be people in Florida and Ohio that will be turned off by this saying this is not what I want to be supporting going into a general election.
LEMON: OK. I got to run. Thank you, gentlemen. Have a good weekend. We'll be right back.
LEMON: It may not feel like it today but winter is not over. In Detroit, which has had nearly three feet of snow, they know not to count out winter too soon.
Neither does this week's CNN hero. Her name is Veronica Scott. She designed a convertible coat for the homeless that turns into a sleeping bag at but that's not it does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VERONICA SCOTT, CNN HERO: The jacket itself was meant to offer warmth and little bit of pride. Because you see so many people on the streets that are wearing somebody else's trash, somebody else's throw away. So, it was about creating something that was made specifically for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, to find out more about Veronica Scott story at cnnheros.com. Go there and while you're there nominate someone you think should be 2016 CNN hero.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders take questions from voters in CNN's Ohio democratic town hall, that's on Sunday, Jake Tapper moderates live from Ohio State University Sunday night beginning at 8 Eastern.
[22:59:56] That's it for us tonight. I'll see you right back here on Monday night. And if you missed any of CNN's republican debate in Miami, you'll see the whole thing starting now.