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Trump Takes Thank you Tour to Iowa; Trump Cabinet Choices; Fighting Back Against Hate Speech; Trump Ignores Calls to Drop Steve Bannon; Astronaut and Senator John Glenn Dies; Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:36] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A president-elect like no other takes his show on the road.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm here today for one main reason. To say thank you to the great, great people of Iowa.


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

Forty-three days until Donald Trump takes the oath of office he announces more members of his team today, but what do his Cabinet picks tell us about what he'll really be like as president?

Plus, the last great American hero, how John Glenn's courage inspired America.

Let's start off, though, with CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Des Moines for us tonight -- Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Don, day-by-day, we are getting more word of who will be in Donald Trump's Cabinet. He's adding more names to the list. He is nearly three quarters of the way finished with his Cabinet, at least the nominations. Of course, they all have to be confirmed by the Senate. But tonight in Iowa, he focused specifically on the EPA.

Scott Pruitt is the Oklahoma attorney general. He is a denier of climate change and he has led the way against many Obama-era regulations. Donald Trump tonight touted that as a very good thing.


TRUMP: We are going to end the EPA intrusion into your lives. On energy, we will cancel the job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy. We will also pursue an agenda of conservation protecting our beautiful natural resources for future Americans, your family, your children, and lots of other people, and we're going to ensure clean air and clean water for all of our people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY: Now, Don, Democrats are sounding the alarm about the pick of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. They believe that he will erase all of the Obama-era regulations, but that, of course, is yet another example of how elections have consequences here.

Now look for him to be confirmed in the Senate. The Republican- controlled Senate. Unless something comes out along the way. Democrats said they will object and scrub his background fully. But Donald Trump touting Scott Pruitt as his pick.

Also, Don, a very interesting and odd development here. We are learning from the Trump campaign that Donald Trump is planning to remain on board with "Celebrity Apprentice." He is an executive producer of that, a show that is owned by NBC. He's going to retain that position and he's going to, he says, accept a salary from that.

It raises many questions including conflict of interest questions with NBC. They have not returned our calls for comment, but the Trump campaign says that Donald Trump will remain involved in this. To what extent, we don't yet know. Someone described it as more of a royalty situation. Example, President Obama, he was an author before going into the White House. He received royalties for his books.

Similar to this, Hope Picks, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, says that Donald Trump conceived of this show and he will remain attached to it in the White House -- Don.

LEMON: Jeff, thank you very much.

Now I want to bring in three men who have the ear of Americans. Radio host John Fredericks, Joe Madison and Dennis Prager. And we know it's going to be a great conversation when we have all three of you.

Thank you for joining me. Good evening.

Dennis, to you first. What do you think of Donald Trump staying on as executive producer of "Celebrity Apprentice"?

DENNIS PRAGER, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED TALK SHOW HOST: This is the worst possible answer you could receive, Don. Nothing.


PRAGER: I make nothing of it. It is a nonissue. You even had folks on your show just the last hour who said the same thing. There were so many big issues for the media to take a consideration -- into consideration. I don't think this is one of them. It is truly in the royalty realm.

LEMON: Yes, I don't really hate what you said. It means nothing to me, either, but we have 24 hours here and we certainly can discuss the president-elect and whether he's staying on.

PRAGER: That's honest.

LEMON: As a matter -- as a matter of fact. I mean, it would be great if I could get some of those royalties but I can't. But as a matter of fact I think it's important, too, what David Gergen says. David Gergen says it may be OK for him to do that, but it's also about appearances and whether it -- how it looks for a president of the United States to be associated with "The Apprentice."

Joe Madison, what you make of that?

JOE MADISON, SIRIUSXM HOST: Well, if it's just royalties, in other words, he's just going to get a check because he puts his name is on the scroll as executive producer then you guys are right. It's nothing.

[23:05:04] But let me quickly say, you know, sometimes a -- when you compare to a book, when you write a book, the book is written, it's done. And so you don't add to it. You write it. But when you start talking about a reality show, things can happen in those shows, things can be said in those shows, and now the president of the United States' name will be on that show and that's what David Gergen was saying that it could create a problem down the road. I mean, let's say it's a major political, social, controversial issue --

LEMON: I should tell you, though, Joe, before you go on, the series was shot a long time ago and he has no involvement.

MADISON: Well, but we don't know what will come up. That's my point. And we don't know how the American people will react to certain episodes. And will the president want his name on it?

LEMON: Yes. And we should say, as I said in the previous show, Ronald Reagan got royalties and residuals from movies and productions. Our current president, President Barack Obama, also got royalties from his book as well. So, you know, I guess many -- and probably for good reason -- don't see what the whole controversy is here.

But, John, I am curious to hear what your listeners are saying about Donald Trump taking on the Carrier union boss, Chuck Jones, via Twitter. Tell me about that.

JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, Don, first of all, thanks for having me on, on the December 8th, the one-month anniversary of Donald Trump's historic victory for America, the victory, by the way, that I predicted on your show 20 consecutive times and I also told you every state that he was going to win, so I appreciate coming back. Look --


LEMON: That was a nice pat on the back.

FREDERICKS: Thank you.

LEMON: Go on.

FREDERICKS: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Go on. FREDERICKS: The -- look, the Carrier situation, the union leaders,

much like the leaders in the Democratic Party, are totally out of touch with the constituents and their members. Talking about what deal was made or corporate welfare or some jobs might not go here or there. Here's the bottom line. Tell that to the 1,000 families whose jobs got saved before Christmas from Carrier. Tell that to them. They don't care. A lot of this has to do with the elite establishment both in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, those so-called Heritage Foundation pure conservatives that conceive everything as some kind of a philosophical Petrie dish --

LEMON: Hey --

FREDERICKS: Dish, excuse me. The whole thing is ridiculous.

LEMON: John, not to be disrespectful --

FREDERICKS: He saved a thousand jobs.

LEMON: Not to be disrespectful, but my question was, what are your listeners saying about that?

FREDERICKS: My listeners are saying they saved a thousand jobs in Carrier, they hope that Donald Trump's policies save jobs for them.



LEMON: Well, the whole point -- the whole point of him saying that is exactly what you were saying now, is that it was less than a thousand jobs. He wanted to correct the president-elect on that. And then it turned into this big thing about, you know, the president-elect tweeting, going after him on Twitter when it wasn't a thousand jobs. It was less than that. So --

FREDERICKS: Well, it might be less than that right now but it could be over that when everything is said and done.


FREDERICKS: When president-elect's policies go into place. But the union leader there was out of touch with his members. They voted for Trump. He has no idea what's going on. Trump's policies are going to save thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs for Americans all over America whose jobs have been shipped overseas, who have been sold out by the elites in both parties.

LEMON: That is the hope --

FREDERICKS: So this is all to --


LEMON: That is the hope. But, Dennis, I want to ask you, this man is now receiving death threats as a result of Trump's tweets. Should he be more careful about what he puts out on Twitter?

PRAGER: Anybody -- first of all, I believe anybody who sends a death threat needs to be followed up by the FBI. I and everyone in public life receives death threats. It's a very sad fact of American life. I don't blame the president any more than I blame a person like Obama --

LEMON: You're not the president, though.

PRAGER: Excuse me, you're right, the president-elect. Your point --

LEMON: No, no, I said you're not the president. I don't really care about --

PRAGER: OK. No, no, I understand that.


PRAGER: But death threats are death threats. President Obama keeps mentioning periodically Ferguson, the police officer involved in Ferguson who was acquitted by a jury that included not only African- Americans but black nationalists. Acquitted the man of all charges and that man gets death threats so much so that he's basically in hiding and perhaps for the rest of his life. It's not fair. And this has to stop. But I don't blame the president for saying something critical about a union head.

LEMON: I don't remember the president tweeting out something negatively about the police officer --

PRAGER: Well, saying Ferguson, you don't need the tweet, you have the bully pulpit.

MADISON: Well, you know, come on now. Ferguson is -- look, let's be quite candid about this.

[23:10:01] If this president-elect is going to be so thin-skinned that he is going to tweet every time somebody says something negative about him, he's going to be the tweet king of the universe.

The reality is he only tweets when it's about him. Darn it, how come he didn't tweet about those Nazis that showed up at Texas A&M? He didn't tweet about that. But whenever it's about Donald Trump, whenever it's about him, then he is quickly on that.

First of all, to be quite candid, he ought to put that darn phone down and start picking up the briefing papers that the intelligence community keeps telling him that he needs to read and do some deep diving in what's going on.


MADISON: The second thing I want to say is that, why don't you ask me what my colleagues think about what the union members said? Matter of fact, his members have called my show and they are behind him 100 percent because they are absolutely ticked off that they were not told the truth. There was 800 families that saved their jobs, but there are about 300 or 400 and some of them are white-collar people that have lost their jobs, and now you've got these -- some people are happy and some people are sad.

And the reality is that they're upset because they were told it was 1,100 jobs and it turned out to be maybe 700 when we finish, if not fewer. And, and, and Carrier CEO has told them, the head folks told them that they could have reduced their salaries to $5 an hour and Carrier was still going to move to Mexico.

LEMON: Well, I did not have to ask you because I knew you would just say it like you just did.



PRAGER: That analysis is correct. In two years the American public has something called elections to undo this election. So we'll see whether that analysis is accurate.

MADISON: And that's why I'm going to fight my butt off for these next two years. You're absolutely 100 percent correct.

PRAGER: I'm sure. I'm sure.


LEMON: We're out of time. We can see why you guys are on the radio because you certainly know how to talk. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

When we come right back, the man who says Donald Trump's Cabinet is, quote, "full of fat cats" and "mad dog generals." We're going to ask him which one worries him most.


[23:16:11] LEMON: Donald Trump becomes president in 43 days but how is his Cabinet shaping up?

I want to bring in now, CNN political commentators, Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist for "The New York Times," and Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist.

Hello to both of you. Thank you for coming on.

I'm going to start with you, Mr. Charles Blow. In light of "TIME" magazine naming Donald Trump the Person of the Year, you named him "Mad Man of the Year." And here's what you wrote. You said, "Trump is running two post-campaign campaigns. One high and one low. One of enormous frivolity and one of enormous consequence. One is a campaign of bread and circuses, tweets, rallies, bombasts about random issues of the moment, all meant to distract and excite, and the other is the constant assemblage of a Cabinet full of fat cats and mad dog generals, a virtual aviary of vultures and hawks."

Interesting how you really feel. Of his Cabinet picks so far, which one concerns you the most?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there are a lot of them. I mean, particularly the, you know, Justice Department, EPA, Labor today, Carson with Housing. A lot of the people who he is putting into positions have real kind of positions and stances that go against what those agencies are about. So if you put someone in charge of EPA who is a climate change denier who has constantly sued to block legislation and regulation that the EPA was imposing, what does that portend for that agency? What does the -- what does the future look like?

Now maybe these people all have some great change of heart and change their minds and you have much more moderate in office but there's nothing that suggests that that will be the case and if they follow the same course that they have taken and the positions that they have taken even very recently over the last few months in addition to over their lives, then we are in a real crisis here.

LEMON: Alice, I had Ari Fleischer on, the spokesperson for George W. Bush, and he said really these people serve at the pleasure of the president, and it's basically what his policy is, not necessarily what their policies are. Do you agree with that?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Absolutely. And that's more than likely the way that it's going to flush out. And I'll say this with regard to a lot of these picks that what we're seeing is with EPA, it's not only sole focus on climate change. One of the big focuses that Donald Trump has had and also the person he put in that position is doing away with the burdensome federal regulations in that department and many industries which are job- killing regulations, and that's an important factor as well as the new Labor appointee. This also would go doing away with the burdensome government regulations and putting American jobs first.

And one of the key factors is making sure we don't raise minimum wage to the degree where there are jobs lost. And I think these are important distinctions with each of these different departments that key -- one of the big factors that Donald Trump campaigned on was getting government out of the way and reducing job-killing regulations and each of these instances that we've seen in the last few appointees, that's going to be their priority number one is putting American jobs first and doing away with regulations that kill jobs and that's an important step.

LEMON: Is it just -- go ahead, Charles. Is it just about regulation? Because there has to be some balance, right? It's not just about jobs. It's also about watching out for the environment, people's safety.

BLOW: Regulation is one of those really squishy words that can be almost euphemistic. Right? So what you have to say when you're saying regulation, I would say use more common language. What the EPA is doing is making sure that the air you breathe is breathable and that the water you drink is drinkable, and that the soil in which we plant our things is not poisoned. And -- and making sure that that survives not just one administration, but generation after generation after generation.

[23:20:05] And so when people say let's get job-killing regulations out of the way, what the EPA's job is, is environmental protection, right? We're trying to protect the environment so that if you have a kid, and I have a kid, that those kids grew up in a world where they do not have to look at the water and wonder whether or not that water can be -- they can drink it or will it poison them? That is what this kind of euphemistic regulation is.

LEMON: Yes. Here's what you also write. You said, "I feel like America's being flashed by a giant neutralizer a la "Men in Black." We are in danger of forgetting what has happened and losing sight in the fog of confusion and concealment of the profundity of the menace taking shape right before us."

What do you think -- there's some big challenges ahead. What's the biggest challenge ahead, you think?

BLOW: Well, there --

LEMON: In context of what you said.

BLOW: Well, there are many. So the domestic challenges which is job creation kind of harmony -- societal harmony and justice in America. And then there is the international ones which is we have a lot of kind of funky players who are not necessarily so stable on the world stage who are being -- you were agitating right now and we still have the threat of ISIS. And he is building a Cabinet -- you know, there's more brass on his Cabinet than there is at Trump Tower. Right? There is -- it is general after general after general after general.

LEMON: A lot of brass.

BLOW: Right? So -- and he ran as a populist candidate who was going to look out for the little guy and he is stacking that Cabinet full of billionaire after billionaire after billionaire after billionaire. That worries me. I don't know how they'll behave when in office. But that is worrisome.

LEMON: Alice, how do you feel -- what do you think about him surrounding himself with so many generals?

STEWART: I think with regard to what he said throughout this campaign that defeating ISIS is going to be a critical component of his administration and who better to fight the war with ISIS and who better to take on leading our national security than people who have actual real-world experience in doing so? And Mattis is someone who is very beloved by those who have served under him and has a tremendous reputation, and I can't think of any people better to take on this responsibility for our national security and those who have also done so.

LEMON: All right. That's one. STEWART: I think -- and another point with regard to how he's filling

up his Cabinet. These are people that have experience in the real world. And I think it's important. And I think it's important, Charles, I understand your frustration with how you see things shaping up, but I strongly encourage you and others who may share your sentiment to take a page from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who said give him a chance, let him give an open mind and open our eyes to giving him the opportunity to show what he's doing. And maybe a year go back and look at this op-ed and see if you were right.

LEMON: Let him respond.

STEWART: Maybe you will be. But I think it's important to let's give him a chance and see how things flush out. I think I'm also encouraged by the fact he is building a relationship, it appears, with the president --

LEMON: Let him respond, Alice, before we run out of time.

STEWART: Yes, I just think it's important -- I think give him a chance.

LEMON: Yes. Go ahead.

BLOW: Right. I think Barack Obama's role and my role in this society are very different ones. Barack Obama is a sitting president, even incumbent upon him to make sure there's a smooth transition of power from one person to another just the same way that George W. Bush transferred power to him, and that is really important and I actually believe that that is important for the president to do.

Me, as a writer, as an observer, as a bearer of witness to what is happening in this country, I have no such obligation. My obligation is very different. It is to continue to shine a light on who this man actually is and not let that get lost in the fog of the moment. Not in the fog of tweeting, not let that get lost in the fog of this kind of masked kind of acceptance and normalization of this man. It will never be normal to me. There is never going to come a time where I'm going to say, this is OK.

He has never apologized for any of the horrendous things that he has said and done and he still does not do that. And when he -- when he makes a mistake like when he got the number wrong on how many jobs would be saved at Carrier, instead of just being magnanimous and saying, OK, I got that wrong but it's a good deal, anyway, thank you for pointing that out, he attacks that man personally. And that is a character flaw to me that I will not be able to get over.

LEMON: Yes. I have -- I've got to go. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

When we come right back, fighting hate speech. When a neo-Nazi comes to town, do you face him down or retreat to your safe space? That's coming up.

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LEMON: When white nationalist leader Richard Spencer spoke at Texas A&M University, there was a major counterdemonstration to protest his appearance on campus, but is that the best way to fight hate speech?

[23:30:05] Joining me now is John McWhorter, linguistics professor at Columbia University and author of "Words on the Move."

Good to have you here. So, you know, there was this big counter- protest at Texas A&M, Richard Spencer of the so-called face of the alt-right, which is really a white supremacist group. Here's what you say, you said, "As promising or productive as these protest activities may prove to be, their premise misses the point. No protest, however inclusive, should wall itself off from what it is arguing against."


LEMON: I think I know what you mean by that but explain.

MCWHORTER: What I mean is the idea cannot be that the campus should have been a safe space from Spencer and that if you're going to protest, it's going to be somewhere else and that you're not going to go into a space where he's speaking and argue against him. There's this new idea that to even acknowledge the presence of somebody like that is to be unsafe, that it's like some sort of kryptonite, and I think that we know that intelligent, self-contained college students are not so delicate that they can't stand to hear somebody say something that they find obnoxious.

It's a performance. It's a way of saying we understand that this is wrong, but unfortunately, it means that you end up not engaging the enemy where the enemy lives.

LEMON: So when you debate someone like that, or give someone space or a platform like that even when they're so repugnant, their views are, do you in some way legitimatize or normalize them?

MCWHORTER: You mean when you argue with them, do you give them legitimacy?

LEMON: Yes. Do you give them --

MCWHORTER: No, no, when you argue with them, you're showing people that there are counterarguments to what they're saying. Now if you never actually engage them, then there are certain people who are going to be looking at people like that and thinking, well, suppose they're right. And if anybody doubts that there are people who might think something like that, well, I think in the last presidential election we learned that there are people who are willing to hear that kind of talk out or don't think it's a big deal.

Now that's what they think, then how are you going to convince them that the other side is wrong if your response is it's an unsafe space when you're there, so we're just going to run away and perform?

LEMON: I love what you wrote when you talked about -- you said, "There's an element of performance on all protests," necessarily you said. You said, "However the safe space rhetoric has permeated so deeply that unintentionally the left is using a display of weakness as strength."

MCWHORTER: Yes. It's gotten to the point where you think that saying, "I can't stand to hear you say what you're saying," even when really it's something that isn't even offensive as much as just something you'd rather not hear that you find little bit backwards. You're saying, "I can't stand to hear it, I'm weak, look at me," and that's supposed to be sticking your fist in the air?


MCWHORTER: Nobody would have understood that who called themselves a leftist 50 years ago. You're supposed to show strength. You're not supposed to just dismiss or cry and pretend that somehow that is strength. Weakness will never be strength and if that's your message, you can't be surprised when onlookers sitting on the fence are not impressed by your methods.

LEMON: Here's Richard Spencer. Listen.


RICHARD SPENCER, NATIONAL POLICY INSTITUTE, WHITE SUPREMACIST: The fact that they want to fill a football stadium for the world's largest safe space shows how much power the alt-right and our ideas have, the more energy they direct towards us, the more powerful we become. We'll become more powerful than they could ever imagine.


LEMON: What do you think?

MCWHORTER: You know what I think? It seems that people are pretending that he's some sort of Hitler or some sort of Jesus Christ, that there's some sort of magic that he's going to do, oh, my goodness, he's on this campus and he might turn everybody into a bigot. I didn't see any grand oration there. I didn't find that all that convincing. You could knock that down with a little bit of sense. But instead, you're over across campus performing. I don't think that that's the proper way.

When I was in college, it was different, Don. And I think that we need to go back to the way it was in the '80s when you would have gotten in the face of somebody like that instead of allowing them to have their say and saying that you're too weak to be near them.

LEMON: Amen. And that's why, you know, on this show, we like to have -- we like to engage in debate.


LEMON: Because it is easy to knock that down, but news organizations are wrestling with this group, we're calling it the alt-right, but it's really whites -- it's a euphemism for white supremacy. What is your take -- what is your take on that euphemism and, again, do you have a problem with news organizations, someone like him, being on a CNN or any other news organization?

MCWHORTER: No, we need to hear about people like that because if we don't hear from people like that, then next you get the same people who don't like him saying you just don't understand how much racism there is out there. Well, let's let people understand. And as far as alt-right being a euphemism, I think we all know what it means lately. There's always a certain slip between words and expressions and what they mean. It's at the point where I think we've learned, and this even goes beyond educated circles, if we will, that alt-right is not a faceless term.

[23:35:04] It refers to white nationalists, people with a white supremacist ideology, so we know now. In about 15 years, that will be so well known that they'll have to change their name. We should not, I think at this point, decide that the educated person is supposed to beat somebody about the head whenever they say alt-right. We -- LEMON: The term doesn't exist, that's right.

MCWHORTER: Too much of that lately. There are some terms that we do need to ban and talk about, I think that there are several terms such as racist and white supremacist that I think we use too much. I do think that we shouldn't say, radical Islam, but let's not have yet another term that we beat people up about for saying when I think anybody who is really interested in the issue knows what alt-right means and if they don't now, they will in about 10 minutes.

LEMON: John, on the right, there's a tendency to dismiss talk about racism as political correctness. Donald Trump tapped into that big- time.


TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I've been --


TRUMP: We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore. Whether we like it or not, and we can be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.


LEMON: Do you agree with him, John, that political correctness is one of the country's biggest problems?

MCWHORTER: I don't think it's one of the country's biggest problems but I do think that he has gone too far and I think that it is true that a large segment of Americans are really tired of being told what they can and cannot say to such an extent. I know it from my own Twitter feed depending on what I say in any given week. And that doesn't mean we can walk around saying anything we want, but the pendulum has swung too far and I think that the left and liberals, and I count myself among the liberals, need to pick more carefully what we decide to beat people up for saying and the terms racist and especially lately this business of saying supporter of white supremacy when what you really mean is what would have been called racist five years ago, it's abusive language, it's mean and it only gives fodder to people who are incapable of thinking about these things with nuance at all.

LEMON: John McWhorter, always a pleasure, always a learning experience. Thank you so much.

MCWHORTER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.


[23:41:17] LEMON: One of Donald Trump's first moves after his election last month was to make Steve Bannon his chief strategist. And he's ignored calls to reverse that decision. Here to discuss now, CNN political commentator Peter Beinart, he's contributor to the "Atlantic." Rabbi Shmuley Boteach who is author of "The Israel Warrior," and CNN political commentator Andy Dean, former president of Trump Productions.

Good to have all of you on. Thank you very much.


LEMON: Rabbi, I want to start with you because you posted this last night. This is on Twitter, it's a picture of yourself with Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump's controversial senior adviser. The ADL, the Anti-Definition League criticized Bannon saying Bannon has embraced the alt-right to a loose network of white nationalists and anti- Semites. By tweeting this picture, do you think you helped -- are you helping give cover to Bannon and his questionable attitude towards Jews?

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, "THE ISRAEL WARRIOR": Well, the alt- right is something deplorable and let's condemn it outright, but when it comes to anti-Semitism, Steve Bannon has opposed the Iran nuclear agreement. I'm much more afraid of Ayatollah Ali-Khomeini who threatens a second holocaust and the annihilation of my people. Steve Bannon has opposed BDS which is an anti-Semitic attempt to economically destroy the state of Israel, he opened a bureau in Jerusalem for Israeli to get its message out. And this is a tiny democracy that -- who's legitimacy is being challenged on a daily basis. So it could finally make its case.

We had a very substantive conversation about human rights. I believe that the Trump administration needs a strong human rights agenda. There are people dying in Syria and Aleppo every single day. The United States has done nothing. Castro dies and our president makes a neutral statement that ignores gulags and ignores firing squads. Bannon and Trump made a very strong statement about human rights abuses of the Castro regime. So I was grateful to him that he heard me out on that and I hope that there will be --

LEMON: Just for the sake -- just for the sake of time, though, my question was, are you giving him cover by tweeting out like that --

BOTEACH: For anti-Semitism?


BOTEACH: There's no reason whatsoever to believe that Steve Bannon is anything but a friend of the state of Israel, and I don't believe in besmirching people and smearing their reputations without evidence.

LEMON: Peter?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I wouldn't accuse Steve Bannon of being an anti-Semite. What I do think is that Breitbart, the newspaper -- the publication that he ran, ran a lot of things that could be called anti-Muslim bigotry. The praise of the confederate flag I think was racist, they ran a story saying, hoist it high and proud, and some very vicious and demeaning stuff about women. So, you know, I hope you challenged him on that. And I also hoped you challenged him on the fact that this is a candidate you talked -- you've done a lot of work on Syria which I think is wonderful.

This is a candidate, Donald Trump, who ran against the admission of Syrian refugees. I hope you tried to convince him to change his view on that.


LEMON: Did you talk -- speak to him about those issues?

DEAN: Don -- Don, if I could?

LEMON: Hold on, hold on.

BOTEACH: We absolutely discussed all of them. On the contrary. The reason why there was a Syrian refugee crisis is that the United States decided not to impose a no-fly zone. President Obama decided that he would not enforce his red line when Syrian children, Arab children were gassed. I hope you challenged this administration on all of those things. We wouldn't have a refugee crisis.

LEMON: But the question was --

BOTEACH: Syria has turned into a quagmire.

LEMON: The question was, again, you did challenge him on those issues?

BOTEACH: We had a very substantive conversation about the need for the Trump administration to have a strong human rights agenda because I think there is no --


BOTEACH: That is the gloss and the shine that any administration gets if it stands up for human rights.

LEMON: Andy Dean, go ahead.

DEAN: Sure. Well, Don, if I could about the Steve Bannon stuff because it's outrageous what I watch on television, this guy is not anti-Semitic, he's a huge supporter of Israel. And where a lot of this anti-Steve Bannon stuff comes from is from the ADL. The Anti- Defamation League. And the guy who leads that is a guy by the name of Jonathan Greenblatt, who's just a far-left guy. He worked for Obama, he runs in far left circles.

Whereas the Republican Jewish Coalition has backed Steve Bannon. Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, came out with a glowing statement about how he's known Steve Bannon his whole life and he's been a big supporter of Israel.

So I think what we're seeing is a far left group, the ADL, that doesn't represent all Jews, hates Steve Bannon. [23:45:04] The Republican Jewish Coalition which is a Republican group

likes Steve Bannon. So this is more about partisan politics than it is anti-Semitism.

BEINART: So let me --

LEMON: Go ahead, Peter.

BEINART: That really doesn't make a lot of sense. First of all the ADL so anti --


DEAN: I think it made great sense.

BEINART: If the ADL is so far left, how come they've also come out against Keith Ellison to be head of the Democratic National Committee?

BOTEACH: Well, first they supported him.

LEMON: Let him finish.

BEINART: No, no, but then they --


LEMON: One at a time, please.

BEINART: The reason that the ADL is critical of Steve Bannon, and the Republican Jewish Coalition is not, is that the ADL is concerned about misogyny and racism and Islamophobia and the Republican Jewish Coalition -- again, I have not said that Steve Bannon is an anti- Semite. What I have said is that Breitbart traffics in anti-Muslim bigotry, misogyny, and even racism in its support of the confederate flag. The ADL cares about that. The Jews you're talking about, Andy, they don't.

BOTEACH: Can I just be fair for a moment?

DEAN: But Peter -- Peter, look.

BOTEACH: Peter, you're a fair person.


BOTEACH: You know that the ADL, and Jonathan Greenblatt is a friend of mine. He did at first come out. They did kind of say --

BEINART: And then they came out against him.

BOTEACH: Just one second. They implied he was an anti-Semite. It's not fair to describe people --

BEINART: I'm not, I'm not saying he's an anti-Semite.

BOTEACH: Well, you're being more careful. As far as extreme rhetoric that can appear on Breitbart or anywhere else, I write for Breitbart and "Huffington Post," the "Wall Street Journal." I have seen people say things on "Huffington Post" against Israel that were absolutely despicable. With all due respect to you, you once wrote that even Elie Wiesel, the most respected Jew of our time, sometimes covers over Jewish behavior. We've all made statements that we're not always proud of.

BEINART: Sorry --

BOTEACH: And I'm not --

BEINART: Criticizing Elie Wiesel, who I also called a hero, because I didn't -- sorry. Sorry.

BOTEACH: You said he covered over Jewish behavior.

BEINART: Sorry. I don't think that my criticism of Elie Wiesel for not being critical enough of Israel's occupation in the West Bank is the same as glorifying the confederate flag or saying -- or a site --

BOTEACH: No, I'm not --

BEINART: Are saying that women should --


LEMON: One at a time.

BEINART: Who suffer sexual harassment online should simply get offline.

BOTEACH: I wouldn't defend any of that. I'm simply saying, if you take a Nobel Peace Laureate, and the face of the six million, and you say that he's covering over Jewish occupation, atrocities --


LEMON: I'm just wondering, I just want to get to the specifics of what you said. You staid you write for all these different organizations.


LEMON: None of those organizations, Ariana Huffington has never said that I am -- you know, I am the platform for some racist group. Steve Bannon has said that he is a platform for the alt-right.

BOTEACH: And I would challenge him on that and I -- and I am very grateful to him that amidst his myriad of responsibilities that he gave me so much time, he was very generous, to talk about human rights specifically because I do believe that amidst Trump saying that he doesn't want to be mired in quagmires in the Middle East, and troops on the ground, there still has to be a language of freedom that I feel has been missing from the Obama administration.

I think that we have to condemn Assad. And I think that the Trump administration beginning with the Castro statement, there was an opening there. So that was the purpose of the meeting. And I'm very grateful to him for it.

Let me also just say that this country stands for certain principles among which are human liberty, and human freedom, and the dignity of the human person. We have to start hearing about that in politics, not just economics, not just -- and that's what you stand for that, that I stand for that.


BOTEACH: This is a --

LEMON: Let him --

BEINART: I agree with you. I agree with you. But it's like talking about the Trump administration, human rights is like we're living on different planets. The first call he took was from Sisi. The incredibly brutal dictator in Egypt. He's been a huge fan of Putin, he said nice things about the leadership of North Korea. We've never had a presidential candidate who has been as openly hostile to human rights as this candidate. You're going to have to do a lot of work, my friend --


BEINART: No, you're going to have to do a lot of work, my friend, if you're going to turn Donald Trump into a --

BOTEACH: Let's both work on that but let's be fair.

LEMON: Andy --

BOTEACH: President Obama has praised Erdogan.

DEAN: Yes, Peter, if I could --

BOTEACH: President Obama was neutral on Castro.

LEMON: OK. Quickly. Quickly. I've got 20 seconds. Go ahead, Andy.

DEAN: I was going to say, Al-Sisi is a genius. He's the one that took out the Muslim Brotherhood which is a true threat to all of us.


BEINART: He killed tens of thousands.

DEAN: And Don, what you're seeing here, I know the three of us are Jewish, and Don, I've heard rumors, you know, you could be Jewish, the four of us. You're just seeing different opinions here. And that's natural. So I just think that this is a partisan issue, not an anti- Semitic or anti-Islam or anti -- Steve Bannon is just a smart guy. And I think that's what we're seeing, just a smart person advising Trump, not a bigot, a homophobe, racist, anti-woman person.

LEMON: That's the last word. Thank you very much.

Coming up, a tribute to an American hero. The late John Glenn.


[23:52:55] LEMON: Before we leave you tonight, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the last great American hero. John Glenn. The first American to orbit the earth died today at 95. He will be buried with full military honors in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

CNN's Martin Savidge has more.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Glenn, one of America's first astronauts, one of seven men known as the Mercury Seven, chosen to take part in the United States' first attempt to put men in space. He had already made history in 1957 by breaking the transcontinental speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.

In 1962, the military test pilot became the first American to orbit the earth. As Glenn lifted off in his "Friendship 7" capsule, fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter and mission control uttered some of the most memorable words in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Godspeed, John Glenn."

SAVIDGE: Three revolutions and four hours and 55 minutes later he returned an instant legend. He was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and New York threw him one of its signature ticker tape parades. Later in life, Glenn would poke fun at the risk.

JOHN GLENN, U.S. ASTRONAUT: We used to joke about in the past when people would say, what do you think about on the launch pad? And the standard answer was, "How do you think you'd feel if you knew you were on top of two million parts built by the lowest bidder on a government contract?"

SAVIDGE: Until Glenn's flight, the Russians had led the space race. Glenn's success bolstered the American spirit and gave credence to President John Kennedy's pledge to put men on the moon. Glenn would not be one of them.

JFK ordered NASA not to fly him again. He was too valuable as an American figure. He resigned from NASA in 1964. In 1983, the Mercury 7 were immortalized in the movie "The Right Stuff."

GLENN: I didn't much care for that movie. I thought it was dramatic enough without Hollywood doing its number on it. Now we had no control over that at all.

SAVIDGE: He learned to fly as part of a college course and went on to join the Marine Corps in 1943. Glenn flew 149 combat missions in World War II and the Korean War before becoming a test pilot. [23:55:05] After leaving NASA he spent the next decade as a

businessman but in 1974 he ran for and won a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio. When he announced, he'd retire at the end of the 105th Congress, Glenn had served for 24 years. He was widely regarded as an effective legislator and moderate Democrat. Not everything went perfectly for Glenn, however. In 1984 he ran for president.

GLENN: With the nomination of my party, I firmly believe I can beat Ronald Reagan.

SAVIDGE: John Glenn never gave up on his dream of one day returning to space. He got to be, as he often called it, a willing guinea pig once again at the age of 77. He flew on a nine-day space shuttle mission. The mission was to learn more about the aging process in space. The flight proved once again Glenn was a man who embraced a challenge.

In 2012 President Obama recognized that and all of his accomplishments by awarding the former astronaut and senator the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For most people, fame is fleeting, for John Hershel Glenn, it lasted a lifetime.