Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Against the Intelligence Community; Obamacare the First Order of Business for Republicans; Trump Warning Republicans on Obamacare; Political Correctness on Black Schools; Crime Captured on Facebook Live. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 4, 2017 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:03] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news. Donald Trump looking at ways to rein in the power of this country's top intelligence adviser.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Sources say the president-elect wants to limit the power of the Director of National Intelligence. This in the midst of his Twitter feud for the very people who risk their lives to protect us.

Now what will happen when top intelligence chief briefs Trump face to face this coming Friday? Plus, inauguration day just 16 days away. And the members of the marching band at one historically black college are at odds over whether they should perform. Is it political correctness or is it standing on principle?

We will discuss all of that, but I want to get straight to CNN's Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS right here on CNN, and our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Gentlemen, than kyuo for joining us.

Jim, I'm going to start with you. Because tonight, CNN has learned that Donald Trump is working on ways to limit power, the power of the Director of National Intelligence. What more can you tell us about that?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, first off, I said, this is not new. the DNI, Director of National Intelligence started a recommendation of the post-9/11 panel, right, to get better communication among all the 16 intelligence agencies which was an issue pre-9/11, right, they were not sharing information.

It was instituted in 2005. And since then, a lot of the agency heads are concerned about bureaucracy, right. You have tis overarching authority in the DNI, it doesn't actually serve the interests of the intelligence community. There are a lot to talk about how to change it.

So now, here is Donald Trump saying, well, you know, does this work well. Now to be clear, you know, our reporting is that Michael Flynn who was Donald Trump's national security adviser is one of the drivers of this. And just so we know the history here, he was pushed out as the head of

the Defense Intelligence Agency in part by the Director of the National Intelligence so there is some background there. I will say on the other side that I have spoken to heads of the other intelligence agencies for the last couple of years who have bristled at you know, the bureaucracy of having an overarching Director of National Intelligence, does it really work?

I mean, there are bureaucratic issues here and then there are the political issues here and the question is how does that actually play out under a Trump administration?

LEMON: Let's discuss more, Fareed, what's your take?

FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS HOST: You know, I think on this Trump has some reasonable suspicions and skepticism, the intelligence community in the United States is crazy large. It's 16 agencies, we spend something like 66, $67 billion on intelligence a year, there are 900,000 people with top secret classifications.

And as Jim was pointing out, after 9/11 our solution to having 15 agencies was in -- 16 agencies was to create one more layer of bureaucracy on top of them. So, there is something is gone wrong with the system. I don't think we get $67 billion worth of intelligence. I think it's way too bureaucratic. I think that, you know, some kind of streamlining would make a lot of sense.

The danger here is that Trump is sort of mixing this up with this whole separate issue of Russian hacking, the credibility of that hacking, and the two are not related at all. You could want to streamline intelligence without doing that.

And secondly, he is going to make it very hard to do genuine reforms because the intelligence community is now so guarded and perhaps even up in arms against him.

LEMON: Yes. Because now people are wondering, he's not necessarily challenging the findings, he's sort of mocking them, right?


LEMON: He's creating a situation that's uncomfortable. Just the latest thing that he put out on Twitter, "The intelligence briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange." I mean, that's not challenging, that's mocking.

ZAKARIA: It is mocking. And you know, this is a case where unlike with the weapons of mass destruction and things where there many different opinions in the intelligence agencies, and in fact, the Bush administration, the Dick Cheney, in particular, almost forced the intelligence agencies to provide the conclusions that they were looking for.

This is a case in which all 16 agencies have independently concluded from what they can tell that this is highly likely it was Russian hacking. Two important private security firms SecureWorks and CrowdStrike have also concluded that it was probably Russia involved, you know, that did it.

And so, at the very least it would seem like you would want to hear the case because it does seem a very serious and credible one.

LEMON: You know, Jim, his defense of Vladimir -- Russia and Vladimir Putin is mind boggling to a lot of people and they are increasingly becoming alarmed by it. I mean, he has been, is it because he's been sensitive about any suggestion that he didn't win outright, that he got any help from the Russians? That might explain it?

SCIUTTO: Listen, I don't know. I've asked a lot of people that very same question, Don. You know, what is the driving force behind the skepticism of as Fareed said, the judgment of all 16 intelligence agencies and I should note, with confidence.

[22:05:10] Their October 7 statement, a month before the election, right, before Donald Trump won was with confidence and intelligence agencies do not often make judgments with confidence. There's often nuance. This is one there was not disagreement, there was not questioning of.

I will also note that it's not just democrats saying this, right, it's republicans.

LEMON: Right.

SCIUTTO: Republican Speaker of the House, republican majority leader in the Senate, McCain, Graham, et cetera, are convinced based on what they're seen in the intelligence Russia is behind it.

Why is Donald Trump pushing back? It's a real question. No one knows what's inside his head. But what we do know are the real dangers of this, right, is that on this issue because you know, it's the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community that not only did Russia hacked election but did they are a threat to U.S. national security.

Then the question becomes in the future, with future threats, North Korea, nuclear capability, the next terror threat to the U.S. homeland, where is U.S. confidence in that intelligence assessment if the president-elect, soon to be president, has said the intelligence community should not be believed? There are real consequences to this.

LEMON: Fareed, it's beyond just the hacking which is really important but he's been very pro-Russia, very pro-Putin all along. What is it, is it business ties? Is it money, does he -- does he, I mean, what is going on here?

ZAKARIA: You know, nobody knows. And on the business ties, one has to say...


LEMON: What does people are saying what does Putin have on him. ZAKARIA: Right. And on the business ties it's worth reminding, you

know, everyone that Donald Trump never released his tax returns after promising that he would them. And that does lead to some reasonable suspicion. My own gut is probably isn't that. Maybe there are some loans from Russian oligarchs that have tied to Putin, but he seems to have developed a fascination for Putin specifically.

And for the fact that he's very strong and effective and doesn't have to deal with all the constraints of democracy. Berlusconi in Italy had of similar fascination with Putin.

So, there is something of a, you know, there are some of this populist leaders who see in Putin this kind of man on a horse who is willing to get things done. What they don't seem to realize and what Trump doesn't seem to spend enough time focusing on is, what he is trying to do is systematically undermine western democracy, westerns interests, NATO, the European Union, all these things that the United States has spent 75 years building and then have created the largest pro-American prosperous world that we live in.

LEMON: Some have asked if that's what's behind not as you divest his business because then, you know, maybe his ties to Russia and other countries will be exposed and that wouldn't be good for him.

ZAKARIA: You know, this is one of the reasons why every president since Richard Nixon has released his tax returns.

LEMON: Yes. Jim Sciutto, in an interview last night, WikiLeaks Julian Assange who published the hacked material from the DNC and the Clinton campaign deny that the election leak came from the Russians. I want you to listen to this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Can you tell the American people a 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia...


HANNITY: ... or anybody associated with Russia?

ASSANGE: We can say and we have said repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not state party.


LEMON: What should we make of this Jim?

SCIUTTO: Listen, why trust Julian Assange? Just lay it right out there. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is someone -- they publicly stated for 10 years their mission statement is to undermine what they call secrecy-based conspiracies. On that list they list the U.S. government.

I mean, their intention, their publicly stated intention is to undermine the U.S. and other western governments and they focus their intention on that. I mean, going back to exposing documents on the U.S. military including U.S. military service members deployed abroad, U.S. intelligence sources deployed abroad, U.S. diplomatic cables.

You know, there's a long history here of making a target of the U.S. So, the idea that Julian Assange is a trustworthy source on where he got this information is just, you know, unimaginable.


ZAKARIA: It's important...

SCIUTTO: And don't trust me, OK? And don't even listen to the Obama administration or the democrats. Listen to republicans on this. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Tom Cotton, they've all said the same today. It's really almost unfathomable to understand why the U.S. president-elect is investing confidence in Julian Assange on this issue.

LEMON: Go ahead, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: When WikiLeaks happened Donald Trump's response characteristically in a tweet was there should be the death penalty for things like this. So he has gone from...


[22:10:02] LEMON: Can I just tell you what he said?


LEMON: Because he sided with him in a tweet saying, you know, even Julian Assange is saying, that was his latest. He is saying a 14-year- old. But then -- he sided with him -- but with the officials. He said he was while he was at least one Swedish security authorities -- this is what intelligence officials are saying, excuse me.

He's one advice Swedish authorities over sexual assault allegations, he has lived in Ecuador in embassy in London since 2012, published U.S. confidential documents on Iraq war and Guantanamo Bay, released classified U.S. and military documents and diplomatic cables. Posted hacked e-mails from DNC and the Clinton Campaign. But again.

ZAKARIA: And for all those reasons Donald Trump said there should be the death penalty against WikiLeaks.

LEMON: Right.

ZAKARIA: But I'm even willing to take him at his word. Because it was a very carefully crafted response. What Assange said is, I've said this before our source was not the Russian government.

Well, of course his source is not the Russian government. The Russian government is not stupid. There are probably many, many links between the hacking that was done and the person who then eventually gave it to Julian Assange. Assange says it could have been a 14-year-old hacker.

There are two very reputed cyber security firms that have pointed out it is highly unlikely that that is the case. Because, for example, this was what is called a spear fishing expedition, we are looking at hundreds maybe thousands of potential e-mail addresses, not just John Podesta's.

The same method and the same unit that it did seems to have done hacking in the eastern Ukraine. Now how many 14-year-olds kids on their bed are simultaneously hacking the Democratic National Committee and folks in Ukraine? You know, it just all of it the circumstantial evidence ad it is circumstantial evidence is pretty powerful that there is a Russian link.

LEMON: Jim, I know you want to weigh in but can you weigh in and I want to ask you this question and then you can -- because what kind of an incentive does this kind of pushback by Trump give the intelligence community? Are they going to only give the information that he wants to hear?

SCIUTTO: Well, let me answer Fareed. He makes a great point. Assange said source not the Russian government. Listen, let me raise sort of an outlandish possibility here. Julian Asange is playing Donald Trump, right? He is playing us because his incentive, right, is to undermine the western system. His statements...


LEMON: Putin is doing the same thing, right?

SCIUTTO: I'm not -- I'm not investing him with that intention. He's written that many essays and manifestos, so, yes, he can possibly say the source is not Russian government or state actors.

But we know that Russia in this hacking used non-state hackers to hack the U.S. system. So, it's a very reasonable possibility. What does it mean for the U.S. and elsewhere, listen. We have to be very skeptical of those claims just as we are of any claims.

But if there's anybody you want to be skeptical of, it's Julian Assange on these kinds of issues. And I think we just have to take this kind of thing, these kinds of charges with a grain of salt.

LEMON: Quickly. I got to run.

ZAKARIA: The point of the question we're asking, the next time we have to do a drone strike, the next time we have to convince allied governments to support us, the next time, you know, we have to deal with a cyber-issue, in all those cases the president of the United States will be presenting the world with the confident conclusions of the intelligence community that he has just undermined.

LEMON: Yes. And you can see late breaking news is coming in on Fareed's phone. Every moment he's working. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Fareed. I appreciate it. When we come right back, Donald Trump seem to trust Julian Assange now, but that's definitely not what he said just a few years ago. So what's behind his change of heart? And what does this mean for our intelligence community?


LEMON: U.S. intelligence officials telling CNN they're increasingly dismayed and concerned about Donald Trump's public attacks.

Here to discuss, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, a USA Today columnist, and Ambassador R. James Woolsey, chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former director of Central Intelligence.

Thank you so much for joining us. And Ambassador, I'm glad to have you on this subject as well. Listen, Ambassador, it's amazing thing when you stand back and think that the president-elect, it appears to be siding against all the U.S. intelligence agencies and every senior member of his own party in favor of Russia and in concert with Julian Assange, what's your reaction on this?

R. JAMES WOOLSEY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I'm not sure he's made any kind of judgment about exactly what to go with and I don't see it as signing up with Assange, for example. I think he's been skeptical for some time of the intelligence community and he has said some fairly tough things.

But you know, they're going to have to get used to working for a new boss. He's the one who won the election. And the intelligence community was frankly, I think ready, willing and able to support Hillary, but they were really stunned and not quite ready to try to figure out how to deal with the winner. And I think it's going to take a little bit of time for them to work together...


LEMON: Do you think this is a partisan issue for intelligence officials?

WOOLSEY: Well, not in a -- not in a party sense, no. But I do think -- I've talked to a number of people in the last several weeks, and I do think there was a lot -- there are lot more people in the intelligence business who were ready to work for their -- Hillary Clinton...


LEMON: So do you think that they would give Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton different intelligence based upon one being a democrat and one a republican?


WOOLSEY: No, no. I don't think they give different intelligence, but what I do think is happening is that there has been a lot of negative statements coming out of the intelligence community which basically says we would prefer to work for Hillary Clinton rather than for Donald Trump. But they don't get to decide.

LEMON: With all due respect, Ambassador, do you think the intelligence is wrong?

WOOLSEY: Which intelligence?

LEMON: The intelligence that said Russia interfered with the election or hacked the election?

WOOLSEY: I think certainly there has been some vigorous Russian activity. I think there is no doubt about that. But the key thing is did it have or have a chance to have any impact on the vote counting, on the voting machines? And it looks like a, whoever did it, maybe some of it of course Russian, was not successful in getting anything done in the voting machines, and I also...


[22:19:59] LEMON: I don't think that any intelligence...

WOOLSEY: Let me add one point.

LEMON: ... had changed the outcome of the election. Let me finish.

WOOLSEY: That's right.

LEMON: I don't think it would change the outcome of the election but they did scan voter rolls.

WOOLSEY: There's an important point which is that in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today it makes clear that the software that's being -- was being used here is quite pretty primitive. And there are thousands and thousands as the article puts it, of networks that have been hacked to some extent by this software.

So, you're not in a world in which it looks like any of this has had any impact on who won the election which is good. What we need to do is make sure that we get these machines operating correctly and the right kinds of them within the next two years.


WOOLSEY: So this kind of risk and danger doesn't loom up again.


WOOLSEY: And things that have no paper trail cannot -- devices like that cannot effectively be checked after the fact of recounts.

LEMON: I want Kirsten to get in. So, Kirsten, you know, every single intelligence agency have said that Russia had some role in the election. And as I pointed out to the ambassador, they don't believe it would have changed the outcome of the election.


LEMON: Although they scanned voter rolls, which is frightening that they could even get that far. What do you make of what Donald Trump is saying what the ambassador just said?

POWERS: Well, I guess the one question I would have for the ambassador, I guess is you're a former CIA director, would you have listened to Julian Assange or would you listen to your intelligence officials at the CIA?

WOOLSEY: I don't -- I don't think there's any point listening to Julian Assange. He's a quite a nerd-do-well I think.

POWERS: So, you wouldn't do what Donald Trump is doing then, you would listen to the CIA analysts over Julian Assange?

WOOLSEY: Well, I don't think I have to pick only the CIA analysts, there are lots of people I would listen to with respect to something like this. One, I just mentioned the fellow at AEI, who is the author of the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today. That's a very important insight on his part. And he's neither is he Julian Assange nor he is somebody who works for the CIA.

POWERS: But you would listen to a journal -- you would listen to somebody from AEI over the CIA in this?

WOOLSEY: I would listen to someone who I think is making a cogent point and doing it with good evidence. I don't start from the proposition of I'll listen to x because I like him or don't like him.


LEMON: And he has 16 or 17 intelligence agencies...


LEMON: ... that are basically doing what she's saying.

POWERS: So here's the thing. I think that, look...


LEMON: And let's not forget this is not just Russia, this is also about the DNC, this is also about Podesta as well, and there is evidence for all of it.

POWERS: I actually don't think there's a problem with what Donald Trump is saying about some of the politization of intelligence. I think the question is where is he getting this alternate theory, right? So, if you're going to say that your -- the analysts aren't giving you good information and you're coming up with this other stream of information and making these accusations...


LEMON: Just to counter argument. POWERS: Where is it coming from? Who is giving it to you? That's what -- that's what I don't understand.


LEMON: And he has said he's going he knows more.

POWERS: But from whom?

LEMON: And he's going to present more within the next day or so.

POWERS: But who is he getting this information from even theoretically? I don't understand.

LEMON: Let's listen. This is what Donald Trump have said about Julian Assange, this is back in 2010 about the WikiLeaks documents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least they've been talking about WikiLeaks. You had nothing to do with the WikiLeaks.

TRUMP: No. It's disgraceful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's disgraceful.

TRUMP: There should be death penalty or something.


LEMON: So, he said that, you know, he should get the death penalty. He said his assessment went from criminal to credible. What do you make of his change of opinion.

POWERS: Well, yes. And Sarah Palin has now come out and apologize to Julian Assange as well for attacking him as most conservatives did originally. And now that he's, I guess siding with Trump it seems like now suddenly he's a wonderful human being.

I personally -- look, he's a very nefarious figure in a lot of ways, he's been accused of rape, for example. That doesn't mean that all the information he releases is inaccurate, right? So, I think you can look at the information and consider it.

But as was pointed out earlier, he is somebody who has stated this as one central goal is to undermine the United States and Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States.

LEMON: Yes. All right. Thank you. An interesting conversation. Thank you, ambassador. Thank you, Kirsten. I appreciate that.

When we come right back, Donald Trump tweeting a warning to his fellow republicans about repealing Obamacare, why he's telling them to be careful.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: A 51 to 48 vote in the Senate today would marked the beginning of the end of Obamacare, but do the republicans have a plan for America's health care system once they repeal the current law?

Let's discuss now with CNN political analyst John Avlon, editor in chief of the Daily Beast, and republican consultant and CNN political commentator, Margaret Hoover.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I love that. Can you do that every time you introduce me?

LEMON: Do you think it's fair to call it a battle royale brewing over Obamacare today? Both the republican, the -- President Obama and Vice President-elect Pence on Capitol Hill rallying the troops for their cause. I want you to take a listen to Pence and then we'll take about it.


MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're going to keep our promises to end illegal immigration, build a wall, we'll have an infrastructure built. We'll invest in rebuilding our military. As our commander in chief marshals strategies with our military commanders to hunt down and destroy ISIS. But the first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare.


LEMON: Repealing Obamacare the first order of business not ISIS, not immigration, is that a good strategy for republicans?

HOOVER: Look, I think what's really interesting about what happened with Pence today, is he is, you got to read between the lines on what he did there.

Pence is this true blue -- he's a real conservative, right. He's the all credentials of Paul Ryan the reform republicans and the traditional conservatives there in Congress. They need to hear that because that's what they've run on, all right?

Everybody needs to know that republicans are going to be true to their word they are going to repeal Obamacare. On the other hand, Pence's boss, the republican president-elect is saying guys, what's the replace problem. How are you going to replace it. OK. You can repeal but you're not -- you can't repeal and replace. And they don't have replace plan yet.

So, Pence is the perfect person to sort of go assuage conservatives and reform republicans to say this is first priority. But he also, if you listen to the details of what was reported of what he said in those meetings, he warned republicans and conservatives to be careful not to hurt individual Americans by repealing to precipitously.

[22:30:05] And he also warn them not to disrupt the marketplace.

LEMON: Yes. HOOVER: This goes along with the Trump's tweet today. I mean, Trump basically was saying let the democrats own the failure.

LEMON: Yes. We can put it up since you talk about it. "The republicans must be careful in that the dems owned the failed Obamacare disaster with this poor coverage and massive premium increases, massive increases of Obamacare will take place this year and dems are to blame for the mess. It will fall on its own weight. Be careful."

But it sounds to me if you listen if you read between the lines of Mike Pence, if you read between the lines of what Donald Trump says, it sounds like, as you said in the break, a re-branded Obamacare. Just a sticker that you put right over the top and there are few changes.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's a master of branding. This is maybe just a giant marketing exercise. Let's go through what Donald Trump has said in the past. First of all, he used to support single payer. Then of course, he was going to repeal and replace with something terrific. That was the official campaign position.

The parameters that have been set out since they're moving to a more reality of responsibility of governing position are keep the popular provisions, keep existing -- coverage of pre-existing conditions. If your kids are under 26 stay on your plan.

And as Kellyanne Conway said and Mike Pence reiterated that they want to try to make sure that everyone currently covered he doesn't have that coverage taken away. That creates parameters, that makes radical change very difficult.

You can say you want to do by -- you know, by buying of policies across state lines. But if you don't take care of those other things, you're going to have a budget buster on your hands. Already against a trillion dollar budget -- you know, 10 trillion over 10-year debt increase.

So, fiscal conservatism is out the window, Trump rebranding is really fashionable but you got to deal with actual legislation. That's going to be a nightmare, folks.

LEMON: President Barack Obama was on the Hill today, he urged fellow democrats not to rescue the republicans. He said when it comes to helping figure out what to come up what to replace Obamacare, and he is saying there's new plan whenever its service should be called Trump care. I mean, is it sort of what's good for the goose is good for the gander?


HOOVER: Well, I mean, and first of all, it's hysterical that Obama -- I mean, that President Obama doesn't want to own his title signature anymore, he's saying, fine, give it to Trump? What is that about?


AVLON: That's not what he's saying.

HOOVER: I mean, the challenges, the exchanges are on the precipice of failing, OK? This is going to happen. If the republicans repeal quickly that will only expedite the failure of the exchanges and republicans will own that. Trump care it will be Trump care at that point and Trump will own that failure. So that's exactly why he's warning republicans to be careful and measured and be thorough about the replacement.

LEMON: So then why would Pence say this is the first order of business?

HOOVER: I honestly believe he's an emissary; he's like the perfect bridge to go between conservatives...


HOOVER: ... who consider this a big priority.


AVLON: But already we're getting republicans and conservative think tanks like AEI, the American Enterprise Institute saying look, repeal and delay will be hugely destructive to markets. There's a recognition that once you move beyond bumper sticker blustering you get down to actually backtrack the governing that their real fundamental problems with anything representing a coherent replace strategy. You know why? Because that's been nothing but a slogan for almost a decade now.

And you know, when the head of the House, Ways and Means committee they said that they're not going to do infrastructure in the first 100 days...


LEMON: That was the next question. Are you reading ahead the textbook? Because if they don't do that, and then, so, they are planning on infrastructure, and then they can't really replace Obamacare as they wanted to do in full. I mean, how will that be received? You're saying he's an emissary, a hard core traditional conservatives want to see Obamacare replaced and want to see infrastructure reform. But if they punt on that and Obamacare what's...


HOOVER: I mean, Trump has an enormous amount of -- he's a lot of grace period and he's a lot of goodwill with the republican conference, OK. They never -- they haven't had this much opportunity to pass policy reforms, you know, in the last decade and they certainly didn't see it around the corner.

So, I think he's got some goodwill that he can leverage with them and they can do something else. Look, tax reform is also on the books.

LEMON: Yes. HOOVER: I mean, there are other policy reforms that conservatives will be happy if Trump passes.

LEMON: Your husband is doing this.


HOOVER: Shut up, guys. Shut up.

AVLON: No, no, no, no, stop. No, but look, this is a guy who got in while losing the popular vote by three million. There's not a major mandate here. Infrastructure spending, a public private instructor bank is the kind of thing that one of few things that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agreed on.

There is a national consensus that that's needed. And yet to put that on the back burner and to promote and said the most divisive elements of agenda for hundreds of years, that's setting the tone for the kind of president we're seeing. That's not good for business, that's not good for making a deal that can try to unite the American people.

HOOVER: To be fair...


AVLON: I troed to be fair.

HOOVER: ... a lot of other things are going to be happening in the first 100 days.

AVLON: Such as?

HOOVER: I don't know, like a SCOTUS appointment, I mean, there's a lot of juice, it's going to be lot and lot of leverage and a lot of...

AVLON: There is (Inaudible).

HOOVER: A lot of fire powers in the last trying -- I mean, democrats and republicans trying on all this confirmation hearings and on the Supreme Court and so that's going to take a lot of oxygen.

LEMON: But so far if you --if you sort of read between the lines, right, and what's going on here, it's sort of like he's at odds with his own party, you know, on Obamacare, on the ethics commission, on infrastructure. It's like, he's not fighting with democrats. He's fighting with the republicans.

[22:35:12] HOOVER: I mean, there is no question. We knew, republicans, conservatives, or reform republicans all knew that the guy who is running in the republican nomination didn't believe in entitlement reform, didn't believe in the same immigration reform, he didn't believe in infrastructure spending.


AVLON: Look, those... HOOVER: So, but that's the thing. Look, reform republicans have been -- we've been wanting to reform the party and do different things and the party is going to be reformed not by us.

AVLON: Yes. No, and if you were a fiscal conservative or if you are a libertarian you're politically homeless even worse than we are in the Obama era, folks.

LEMON: You get what you vote for.


HOOVER: I don't know if you -- have you seen "Hamilton"?


HOOVER: OK. So you know how "Hamilton" Jefferson says, you know, that financial system is a work of genius, you know, you can't dismantle it, I've even tried.


HOOVER: This is Obamacare, right. Even I've tried to dismantle, yu can't dismantle them...


AVLON: They're going to try.

LEMON: Well, thank you so much. I'm telling you it's going to be Obamacare with a Trump sticker over it.

AVLON: I like it, the rebranding.

LEMON: The rebranding. Thank you very much. Up next, the members of the marching band at a historically black college at odds over an invitation to perform at Donald Trump's inaugural parade.


LEMON: The members of the marching band at Talladega College at odds over an invitation to perform in Donald Trump's inaugural parade. Talladega is a historically -- is a historically black college. Its president will decide the band will perform.

[22:40:02] CNN's Victor Blackwell is there for us this evening. Good evening to you, Victor. The president of the college was supposed to make a decision by tonight. What's the latest?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that decision was supposed to have come long before now. We were told all morning that the president of the college, Billy Hawkins would tell us on camera here on campus whether or not the college band would be performing during the inauguration. That never happened.

In fact, we learned that the president was never on campus, he wasn't even in the state. In fact, he's huddled in Orlando with the board of trustees. They are unable to make a decision while this furor continues online.

Talladega College's tornado marching band is now at the center of social media firestorm. The Historically Black school facing backlash after it was announced the band would perform during Donald Trump's inaugural parade. Many African-Americans still offended by Trump's campaign including his unorthodox appeal for black voter support.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're living in poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?


BLACKWELL: Response on Twitter and Facebook to the participation immediate and emotional. "There is no honor in performing for one of the world's most racist people, Donald Trump." One man writes. Another writing, "Shame on you."

While others feeling the nearly 300 band members should participate in the parade. One woman writing that she's proud of the school for breaking barriers of racism. Another urging students to go for it.




BLACKWELL: When Shirley Ferrill heard about her alma mater's potential role i the Trump inauguration, she's started a petition urging the college to withdraw. So far, there have been more than 1300 signatures.

A member of the band has launched a counter petition saying, this parade is not about politics, it's about seeing firsthand the process of a transition. Still, Farrell thinks it's a bad idea.


FERRILL: We're the oldest historically black college in Alabama, we have a reputation of fighting for freedom and equal rights and justice and he doesn't stand for any of that.


BLACKWELL: Ferrill says she was most offended by Trump's November 2015 rally in Birmingham. A Black Lives Matter protester was beaten, punched, and kicked by several white men in the crowd.


FERRILL: Seeing Trump from the podium seemed to encourage that with his words and his behavior.


BLACKWELL: Trump doubled down several days later.


TRUMP: Maybe he should have been roughed up. Because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.

FERRILL: I don't want the school to look even give the appearance of supporting him.


BLACKWELL: The hash tag Talladega College trends on Twitter, but is the battle over the bands such a hot topic here. We asked people in Talladega, the center of this controversy should the band march?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it would be good exposure for the Talladega College.

BLACKWELL: You think they should go, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they should go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to have them represent him. You know, there's a lot of criticism down that he's against black people which I know he's not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It all falls down to what is good for the college and its students. They need it.


BLACKWELL: Well, Don, this narrative that a final decision has not been made only developed after the backlash began. We today obtained the documents, the application from the school to the inaugural committee asking to participate and the confirmation that the school had been selected on paper this was already a go.

LEMON: So, Victor, still we don't know until the president decides if the band will actually show up, correct?

BLACKWELL: That's true. We're expecting an answer tomorrow, possibly on Friday. But I can tell you this, that the band is on campus, they were rehearsing for some performance. We also know that 150 members of this band have gone through the U.S. Secret Service clearance program so they are prepared to perform depending upon what we hear from the president whenever that announcement comes.

LEMON: So, stay tune. Victor Blackwell, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

When we come right back, is this a story of political correctness or standing on principle.

Plus, a shocking crime captured on Facebook live. Four black suspects apparently assaulting a white victim while shouting anti-Trump slurs. Is that a hate crime?


LEMON: So, no word yet on whether or not the Talladega College marching band will perform at Donald Trump's inauguration. But should they?

Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, senior contributor to the Daily Caller, and Symone Sanders, former press secretary for Bernie Sanders. Let me guess, you guys are on different sides of this issue.

We spoke similarly about this, I think with the Mormon Tabernacle choir and with the Rocketeers, Matt and Symone, I think both of you on. So, Matt, to you first. The college has faced a lot of criticism over initial reports that their band would perform at trump's inauguration. The president is yet to make his final decision. What do you think the school should do?

MATT LEWIS, CNN COMMENTATOR: If I was the president I would say you go. This actually reminds me, you know, when Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the Olympics and Russia. And you know, ultimately, I think this is a mistake for the kids for the people, in this case the musicians, in that case the athletes.

I don't view performing at an inauguration as endorsement of a politician, I think it's a celebration of the peaceful transfer of power. I think it's an incredible opportunity to be part of something really big and I think it would be a mistake to not let these kids go.

LEMON: Symone, you say historically black college founded by former slaves shouldn't perform at Trump inauguration because it would legitimizes and normalizes racist comments. Explain.

SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER BERNIE SANDERS NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: That is what I say. And I also say that, look, historically black college is a university under Donald Trump are going to be in dire straits. Donald Trump has not put together a comprehensive plan for the historically black college as universities or primarily minority serving institutions.

[22:49:59] So, they should not allow themselves to be used as the token black group in this instance to pacify folks that they all look, Donald Trump can't be racist, he can't have pre-judicial leanings or his administration doesn't have any presidential leanings against black people.

Look, he had black people in his inauguration parade. I think the Talladega has to stand for something. You know, folks saying the kids need this, the college need this. Now what the college needs is funding and support, which H -- that's what HBCUS across this country need. And they need a real plan from the Trump administration, not antics and reality show TV.

LEMON: Do you think that the kids are you know, because I think it's going to be up to the older people to decide, the alumni to decide and the president. Do you think, Symone, that the young people understand the ramifications and the historic -- the historic ramifications of this?

SANDERS: Well, unfortunately, I don't think anyone has asked the young people. You know, I didn't attend to Historically Black College and university but I had many friends that did.

And young people who went to HBCU or PWI or predominantly white institution, they are teeming with activism and knowledge and creativity and innovation. And young people are paying attention. So, I think the college is also doing their students a disservice by not involving them in this decision.

LEMON: Well, that one of the -- one band member, his name is Dolan Young, he started an online petition to send the band to Washington and he writes this. He said, "We believe that this parade is not about politics, it's about seeing firsthand the process of a transition." Do you agree with that?

LEWIS: Yes. And I think that's the fundamental difference. I mean, if you view this as an endorsement of Donald Trump then I think obviously, you know, a lot of Americans would feel that it's inappropriate to go and support him.

But if you view this as a celebration of America, a celebration of the peaceful transfer of power, and something that transcends partisan politics then I think that you go. And that's where I come down on this.

Like, you know, I would have gone if I were a performer, I would have gone to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama's inauguration because I think it's celebrating democracy not because I endorse them or even voted for them.

LEMON: Do you think people really get to see, I mean, I've covered a number of inaugurations and I don't feel like I got to see the peaceful transition of power up close. I mean, I just got to pageantry and you know, some marching bands and the parade.


SANDERS: And the celebration of the next president of the United States. And that's what this is.

LEMON: And the celebration. I didn't get to see what's happening behind. Yes. So, listen, four historically black universities which has participated in the President Obama's first inauguration. It was Fordham University, Grambling State University, Hampton University, and Howard.


SANDERS: Thank you (Ph).

LEMON: None of them -- yes. None of them are scheduled for Trump's inauguration. But Obama himself says he wants this to be a peaceful transition of power. So why shouldn't students participate i this historic events, Symone?

SANDERS: Look, I love President Obama, OK? President Obama was the first presidential -- that's the first presidential election I cast my ballot for but this is not business as usual. We will not and should not normalize this.

Young people are the folks that will be hurt the most under a President Trump administration. We should be holding the administration, the future administration's speak to the fire. And we should be demanding things of them.

Look, if they want Talladega College to participate show me your HBCU plan. You know, if you would like young people to stand up and seemingly endorse this next president-elect, show me your plan for engaging millennials and young people across the board.


SANDERS: They don't have one and we just shouldn't give him a blank check.

LEMON: It's not just universities turning down his invites. Because Donald Trump has had a tough time attracting many celebrities. It's been sort of a bone of contention saying we just want the people but the celebrities joined down. You know that they want celebrities there.

Celine Dion, Elton John, Kiss, Ice T, just a few. But it's interesting because on this part they're saying that it's political correctness that they don't want to attend but isn't it political correctness to make someone attend if they don't want to attend an inauguration?

It seems like to me, Matt, that it's backwards here. If these stars don't want to attend, they're not being politically correct. It would be politically correct to do it and say I'm doing it because it's for the country.

LEWIS: Well, but obviously be wrong to compel people to come and perform you know, before -- you know, Trump as if he's a king or something that can just summon you to Washington. But look, I would say I think that...


LEMON: But that's what -- I have to be honest with you, that's what many people hear in your words when you say I think they should go and perform because in America we have a choice.


LEMON: And some of those kids may want to go, others may not want to go.

LEWIS: Yes. They have the choice. I think that -- I think that there's a right choice and a wrong but I'm pro-choice in this case. I would say this though, I think there's some hypocrisy here in this sort of entertainment celebrity community.

You know, Jennifer Lopez saying happy birthday to the dictator of Turkmenistan, Beyonce performed for Gadhafi's son at a New Year Eve party a few years ago.

[22:55:04] And yet, somehow the duly elected president -- president- elect, next president of the United States is somehow beneath these, you know, Hollywood elites from actually going and performing.

LEMON: How much did they get paid though? Because there's probably...


LEWIS: A lot.

LEMON: Yes, exactly.

LEWIS: But I think most of them ended up -- well, they ended up having to give it to charity after news broke but...

LEMON: Yes. So, Symone, I'll give you the last word. I got to go. Quickly.

SANDERS: I mean, I just really think that this goes to show that there are consequences for your words. Words matter. Donald Trump has used very inflammatory and offensive language and now nobody wants to go to his inauguration, boohoo. I'm sad. HBCU folks should not be going because there's no HBCU plan.


SANDERS: And I stand by it.

LEMON: Matt, you know, she always holds back. So, thank you. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Symone.

LEWIS: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate it. When we come right back, the shocking crime caught on Facebook live, a young white man apparently assaulted by four young black suspects shouting anti-Trump slurs. Police calls it sickening, is it a hate crime?


LEMON: Donald Trump taking his battle with American intelligence to the next level.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The president-elect reportedly planning to limit the power of this country's top intelligence adviser. But what's behind his feud with the Intel community.

And the shocking crime captured on Facebook live. Four black suspects apparently assaulting a white victim while shouting anti-Trump slurs. Is it a hate crime?