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President Reacts to Attack Broadcast on Facebook; Attack Broadcast on Facebook Live; Talladega College Band Will Perform at Inauguration; 4 Charged in Attack Broadcast on Facebook Live; Chicago torture; 4 Charged With Hate Crimes, Kidnapping;Police: Torture Not Linked to Black Lives Matter; Director of National Intel: Confident Russia Hacked U.S. Election; Aired 11:00-11:30p ET
Aired January 5, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
January 5, 2017
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is a crime so shocking; reaction revulsion has spread all the way to the White House. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Four black suspects charged with hate crime, kidnapping and battery in assault on white special needs teenager. The whole thing broadcast on Facebook live while they shouted slurs against Donald Trump and white people. President Barack Obama calls the crime despicable. But how could it happen and what breach this kind of violence. We're going to get to that in a minute. But first, we have news on the story that we first brought you last night.
The marching band from Talladega College, the small historically black college in Alabama will march in Donald Trump's inaugural parade, that in spite of protests from some alumni and students who called for band to withdraw. Joining me now exclusively is Dr. Billy C. Hawkins. The President of Talladega College. Good evening. Thank you for joining us here on CNN.
BILLY C. HAWKINS, PRESIDENT, TALLADEGA COLLEGE: Good evening, Don. Thanks for having me on CNN.
LEMON: This invitation caused a lot of controversy within your college community. Tell us how you reached this decision.
HAWKINS: Well, you know, our marching band, they're in the -- in the -- almost five years of existence, we started this band and, you know, these students, we went to our students and discussed it with them and they were excited about the opportunity to go and perform on a -- on a worldwide stage. And so we weighed the pros and cons and I came to the decision that this was the best decision for us.
LEMON: Was it a tough one?
HAWKINS: It was a tough decision. You know --
LEMON: You're getting a lot of pushback from alumni, right?
HAWKINS: It's been back and forth absolutely and some of it has not been pleasant.
LEMON: What are you hearing from them?
HAWKINS: Well, you know, they don't want us to go. And so it's been back and forth. And -- but I focused on the students and I focused on this great institution, Talladega College. And it's not about politics, it's about our young people having the opportunity to go to Washington to perform on a national stage. You know, this will be a moment that these young people will never forget the rest of their life.
And so when we weighed the pros and cons, this was the right decision because the students themselves, they want to go and they want to be a part of this historic -- and, you know it's about history, it's about participating in a, you know, in a presidential inaugural, you know the changing of the --
LEMON: The transition of power. Yes. So -- listen, so you said you struggled with this, was this -- I don't know if you want to answer it but did it somehow go against your personal political believes or how you felt about this particular election but you had to do what was best for the students?
HAWKINS: No, I have to focused as I indicated, Don, that, you know,my decision and -- is not about any, you know, political party.
LEMON: It's about what's best for the students. Got it.
HAWKINS: Our institution is a -- is a nonpartisan and I focused on the students, you know, I communicated with them and I felt that this young band, I mean, we have 230 young people in this band. And --
LEMON: Did they all want to participate?
HAWKINS: Absolutely. Absolutely.
LEMON: Did you talk to -- about the situation with other leaders at HBCUs, historically black colleges and universities, and if you did, what did -- what was their take?
HAWKINS: You know, I've had conversations with some, you know, some of our HBCU presidents. Matter of fact, I've had a national private colleagues, presidents meeting in Orlando right now and the HBCU presidents hat are here, I've had conversation with them about it and they absolutely agree and said go for it. You know, this is -- this is a national stage, you know, great for the institution, great experience for these students. And so, I mean, that's where my heart -- I love these young people, I love the students that I work with and so that was my decision. To move forward --
LEMON: You said that all -- you said all 230 members wanted to go, if there was one who didn't want to go, would you force them?
HAWKINS: Oh, no. Absolute -- no, no, we would force them to go.
LEMON: It's going to cost -- it's going to cost a lot of some serious money to send them. How are you fund raising it?
HAWKINS: Well, we're fundraising, it's, you know, it's going well, you know, when donations are coming in and, you know, we're making ask out there and I'm confident within the next week and a half that we'll have the funds to send young people. They deserve this, they've earned it, you know, they've worked hard, they participated in parades, you know, throughout the south and, you know, they've been on some large stages.
They had the opportunity to perform at a Saints/Denver Broncos game this year, they've been in Mardi Gras parades for the past several years and they've earned it. They, you know, we don't -- we don't have a football team, so --
LEMON: So it's good for them to get out there and actually practice what they -- what they do and do it on a national stage.
LEMON: Thank you.
HAWKINS: It's going to be memorable moment for these young people and that's why we're doing this.
LEMON: I'll see you at inauguration. Thank you, President Hawkins. I appreciate it. Good luck.
HAWKINS: Thank you, Don, for having me.
LEMON: Thank you. Now I want to turn onto the crime that has people across the country asking how could it happen, among them, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. A lot of people are asking whether the attack on the special needs teen allegedly by four black suspects who shouted slurs against white people and Donald Trump, how that shows at race relations are getting worse. I want you to listen to what President Obama tells to Chicago's WBBM.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think it's accurate to say race relations have gotten worse. I -- listen, I came to Chicago in '85 and you were there, during council words, right? And I promise you, race relations haven't gotten worse. But what is true is that in part because we see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth, because the smartphones and the internet and the media, what we've seen is surfacing I think a lot of the problems that have been there a long time. Whether it's tensions between police and communities, whether hate crimes of the despicable sort that -- as just now recently surfaced on Facebook, the -- I take these things very seriously.
LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN's Rosa Flores live for us in Chicago. Rosa has been covering the story. The four suspects, Rosa have been charged in heinous attacks that have streamed live on Facebook. Tell us about the charges.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they're charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and of course with a hate crime, Don. And now, the police tell me that it took them a while to talk to prosecutors and come up with a plan to make sure they had the evidence to present in court, to actually convict on the hate crime and they do believe they have evidence, Don.
LEMON: Uh-hmm. You interviewed a woman today, Rosa, who saw the suspects before the victim was found. Tell me about that.
FLORES: You know, she says that there was a van that was driving erratically on Monday and it caught their attention because then a woman wearing a blonde wig was hiding her face and walking around that van and it just -- it just stood out to her and to her community and then lo and behold a day later there was a swarm of police officers, police officers with, you know, shining lights at this van. And then she saw that horrendous video that we've all seen that was live streamed on Facebook. And here's what she said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary. It's really scary and I'm constantly telling my sister that we need to find somewhere else to live.
FLORES: Now she didn't see the victim walking in this neighborhood. Don. But from talking to the police they say it was 20 degrees outside, about 20 degrees, and he was wearing a tank top, shorts and flip-flops. Imagine, you know, being found by police, he was disoriented, he was injured, police officer saw him and took him to the hospital.
LEMON: Unbelievable. As we said last night, we're thinking about him and wish -- we wish him well, Rosa. What can you tell us about these four suspects and their relationship with this victim?
FLORES: You know, one of the -- one of the suspects, Jordan Hill, is actually a friend of the victim, he picked him up at restaurant in northwest suburb of Chicago, actually in that van I was telling you about that this woman noticed on the west side of Chicago and the van was stolen police say, and he drove the victim to Chicago about 30 miles. You know this area well, Don. And then, they -- the police say that this was not a premeditated event, they say that this was a weekend hangout that of course went really,really wrong.
LEMON: Rosa Flores in Chicago. Thank you, Rosa. I appreciate that. I want to bring in Dimitri Roberts,a former Chicago police officer, activist Jamal Green, Dominique Jordan Turner, president and CEO of ChicagoScholar and radio host, A.C. Green. I'm so glad all of you can come on to talk about this horrific act that happened. We discussed it at length last night. Everyone agrees this was heinous act, Dimitri and video is just shocking. What's your reaction?
DIMITRI ROBERTS, FORMER CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER: It's simple and what I call on our viewers to think about is we look at these issues nationally and as we really work hard to address them here in Chicago is we really have to fight hard not to be divided behind with these issues. Listen, hate is hate, bad things are bad things, wrong is wrong. So, I think and what we've seen trend is that folks want to be divided behind this. And I urge them not to. And if we do want to be -- if we do want to focus on something, let's focus on the truth, let's focus on justice herebecause that's the real -- that's what we really can stand behind and come up with sensible solutions.
LEMON: Yes. I think you're exactly right. If you -- if you look at --
ROBERTS: The truth is there's a crime that's happened.
LEMON: Yes. And if you look at social media especially you'll see that people are looking for ways to be divided about this. There's no -- there's no making excuses for this. And people want to parse words and all of that. There's no excuse for this, this is an awful event. As the president said today. the video though is very difficult to watch. Look at this just for a moment. And then --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) watch out, bro. Watch out (BLEEP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His (BLEEP) is (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut this (INAUDIBLE) cut it off bro (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to make your (BLEEP) walk home bloody --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I see, again, it's hard to watch. And I've watched the full thing unedited and I just can't believe what I'm watching, that it's actually real. And I -- and I wonder where they learned such reprehensible behavior. But do you believe the charges are appropriate here?
ROBERTS: Listen. Don, thanks for having me on. Millions of listeners I have across Chicago and 70 percent of those listeners are African-American. My listeners think that it's absolutely horrendous what took place but at the same time, Don, you have to hate crime at this point, not so sure. You have a case in Idaho where three teens sodomized handicapped black child with a hanger and then forcefully pushed hanger into the child's rectum and they let those teens go. So, a hate -- is it horrendous? Yes. Should it be a hate crime? So I jump to rush to judgment? In Chicago, we have a whole lot of things going on with regards --
LEMON: But AC, police have said, if you listen to Rosa's report, police have said that they now have evidence that they believe it's a hate crime. And as I said, you know, as I said last night when you hear them say, you know, talking about F white people, F Donald Trump, all of the suspects are black and the victim is white, how can you not say it's a hate crime?
A.C. GREEN, RADIO HOST, THE A.C. GREEN SHOW: No, no, I'm saying clearly, it is hate. It's rooted in hate. But what we have to understand is, the reason that you have these situations like this where the mentality has gone so bad and you have so many situations like this, it's because we're not equally parceling it out. So these kids looking at social media, they're watching these other cases around the country and then wondering why them. Hate does not just start because it -- you grew up, you were born in hate. Hate started when you start to seed it inside of people, through them watching and them hearing and then being formed around ideas that are unjust.
LEMON: OK. Stand by and I'll get the rest of the panel in. Unfortunately, we have to take a break. We'll continue to talk about this on the other side.
LEMON: We're back now talking about the four suspects now charged with battery, kidnapping and hate crime in the chilling torture of a teenager streamed on Facebook Live. President Obama calling the attack despicable. Back with me now, Dimitri Roberts, Jamal Green, and Domique Jordan Turner and A.C. Green. OK. So, panel. Dominique, I've got to ask you this, Info Wars has blamed this on Black Lives Matters, starting the #blmkidnapping, within 24 hours, the #blmkidnapping was mentioned more than 280,000 times on Twitter. Authorities have said they have found no link to the Black Lives Matter group. What's your reaction to this?
DOMINIQUE JORDAN TURNER, PREIDENT, CEO OF CHICAGO SCHOLARS: So my reaction is very similar to yours, Don. It was really hard for me to watch that. More importantly, saddened to see the narrative that keeps coming around Chicago. It is not reflective of the Chicago that I know and love and work in everyday nor the young people I work to support ever day in the city. And so, as Dimitri mentioned about sensible solution, the solution really is around education.
All roads are going to lead back to Education. It doesn't have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter movement. This is an aspect of education, exposure and mentorship. That is what we need for the City of Chicago otherwise this will continue to happen but it is not affiliated at all with this national network of organizations called Black Lives Matter.
LEMON: And Jamal, it's sickening that's some fake news organizations continue to push this false or fake narrative about this. What is your reaction?
JA'MAL GREEN, FOUNDER, MAJOSTEE ALL STAR: You know what; I think they just want to taint the movement. And the real thing is they are activists like myself for trying to bring people together. They use platforms, cases like this, using it as a platform to try to divide us. At end of the day what these kids did in this case were wrong. But purpose of Black Lives Matter is to say that black people want to be treated equally. So when we talk about justice, let's also talk about the case that A.C. Green was talk about -- talking about, when they use that coat hanger and penetrated that mentally disabled black man.
What happened? They got what? They got nothing. They walked out of the jail. At the end of the day, these kids that did this crime, they're going to go to jail and rot under it. So, at end of the day when we talk about Black Lives Matter, we want black people to be treated equally, this justice system have to have a level playing field. And we got a long way to to go. LEMON: And they should, if convicted they should go to jail considering --
GREEN: They should.
LEMON: -- how horrific that video is and the act that are take - that are seen on camera there. So, listen, I want to ask you, Dimitri, there are hate crimes committed by people on both sides of the political spectrum. Why do these attacks you think become so political?
ROBERTS: Well, it's simple. It helps to fuel somebody else's rhetoric and their narrative. It's an opportunity. And opportunists right now are taking advantage of a young man that's been injured and really moving past the humanity behind it. Why are we talking about black or white anything when there's another human being that has been tortured and that is really having a tough time right now and then we want to politicize this? They're selfish.
That's why they're politicizing it. And they have their own agendas and those agenda's aren't to help, they're aren't to heal and they're aren't to come up with sensible solutions. We all agree here, Don, folks on this panel, folks in this community and folks in this country that this is wrong. And if we want to unify behind something, let's unify behind a truth. Let's talk about justice here and let's come up with a sensible solution focus on why this happened and address the root of that problem and then we'll see our country turn around and we'll see this communities much better.
LEMON: Does anyone on this panel not think this is a hate crime?
GREEN: This is a hate crime.
LEMON: Yes. I just want to --
GREEN: This is a hate crime.
ROBERTS: And further -- and further -- and further hate doesn't have a color.
GREEN: Right. Exactly. Exactly.
LEMON: Does anyone on this panel believe that what happened -- just to be specific because again, there are lot of fake news organizations out there who are presenting fake information. Does anyone believe that this is not a heinous despicable act? Is anyone making excuses for these kids or these young people?
ROBERTS: This is heinous despicable act.
GREEN: Don, we can't make excuses for what these kids did but we have to look at root of the problem. We got to look at the parental guidance, whose house was that? Where are their parents? At the end of the day we have mayors and aldermen and people who are not doing their jobs. These neighborhoods look like third world countries, they're ghost towns, no economic development, no -- the school is underfund -- underfunded, boarded-up houses, no plan to redevelop when they knock them down.
What are we going to do to state giving these kids alternatives? The unemployment rate is highest in Chicago than it is around the country. Let's start talking about the root problem. That's why violence is high and that's why situations like this is happening.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you.
ROBERTS: I get asked all the time -- I get asked all the time, Don, what's the solution here? We're the solution. We're the thoughtful people that are going out into these communities every day like just like Dominique said and we're doing the tough work. Here's what we need, we need the resources, we need the help, we need the advocacy and we need folks to stand behind us as we lead this fight to make Chicago better.
LEMON: And what do you say to the victim's -- the victim and his family?
ROBERTS: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
GREEN: I'm praying for him. The ministers across Chicago that have come together, they're going to be taking up donations and to help with that family. Listen, you know African-Americans are peace-loving people. You know, down in South Carolina we saw families being murdered in a church and then yet they ask -- they gave forgiveness to the man who murdered them. So, we are peace-loving people but we have to see parity in these situations. These kids need infrastructure, they need parenting. They need -- it's a hot issue but we cannot --
ROBERTS: Listen, Don.
LEMON: I got to run. I got to run.
ROBERT: No, no, peace doesn't have a color either. Let's come up with peace and sensible solution that we can all stand behind.
LEMON: Than you panel. More news coming on.We'll be right back.
LEMON: So, there is breaking news tonight in the Russian hacking scandals. Sources saying that U.S. (INAUDIBLE) agencies know who passed some stolen e-mails to WikiLeaksand they have information that Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump's election victory. Here discussing now with CNN Political Commentator, Mr.Carl Bernstein and Jonathan Sanders, the associate professor at Sunnybrook University School of Journalism. So glad to have both of you on. Thank you so much. Jonathan, you
first, jump right into this intelligence part of it. Intelligence leaders testifying on Capitol Hill today, they say they are certain that Russia is behind the election hacking. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Director Clapper, how would you describe your confidence in attributing these attacks to the Russian government as opposed to someone in their basement?
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIOANL INTELLIGENCE: It's very high.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: You say -- you think this was approved at the highest level of government in Russia. Generally speaking, is that right?
CLAPPER: That's what he said.
GRAHAM: OK. Who's the highest level of government?
CLAPPER: Well, the highest is President Putin.
GRAHAM: Do you think a lot happens in Russia big that he doesn't know about?
CLAPPER: Not very many.
GRAHAM: Yes, I don't think so either.
CLAPPER: Certainly none that are politically sensitive in another country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Professor, Director Clapper went on to say that we have never encountered a more aggressive campaign to interfere in our elections. Are we going back to the cold war days? What does this mean?
JONATHAN SANDERS, STORY BOOK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: Well, Don, I think that the idea that we've got, a cold war attitude where at height of the cold war, each side blamed other for the very worst it could imagine is in some ways back. That -- this is the most aggressive campaign, yes, that's probably true but largely that's because of the digital age and other campaigns that we witnessed in the united states of Kremlin Meddling in American elections which started in 1920s, not as the director said in 1960s.
They started giving money to the communist party. But the American communist party except for in the 1930s was very ineffective here, they were kind of like the communist party in Russia now. They wouldn't -- unable, they didn't have a chance of getting elected. It was a waste of money, now it's effective and the most important part is we're the ones making it effective. Don, you and I and Carl talking about it now because it had no outcome results in the American election, but it's building a result now, sowing doubts about the integrity of the American electoral process going forward.
LEMON: That's a good place for Carl to weigh in. Cark, you think so?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there's destabilizing element to this whole discussion regardless of how much the Russians are responsible for in terms of the hacking. We are now in a situation where the Russians are making hay out of this whole story no matter what happens because of the cloud that exists over Donald Trump. And I just looked at those senators around that table and I can tell you that four or five of them are speaking to each other about why Donald Trump is in this state of denial.
And they want to know what are Donald Trump's businesses, debts, trips to Russia, what is going on with Donald Trump and his relationship to Russia. That's the underlying story here. Follow the money. I want to look -- give you a quote from Donald Trump Jr. In 2008. Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia, Donald Trump, Jr. in 2008. We need to know where Donald Trump's investments, debts, who he owes in Russia, what his trips have been. This is the underlying story that we need to pursue.
LEMON: You're insinuating that there is some conflict of interest between --
BERNSTEIN: There is no question, there is a conflict of interest but if it is fine and above board and if it's transparent, let Donald Trump tell us what his investments are, what his debts are, what he has done --
[23:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Conflict of interest between --
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's no question there is a conflict of interest. But if it's fine and above board and if it's transparent, let Donald Trump tell us what his investments are, what his debts are, what he has done in terms of his relationship with Russian oligarchs. Those are the underlying questions.
LEMON: By denying that this hacking even happened, going against the intelligence, how -- how much is he isolating himself against the leaders of both party and the intelligence community?
BERNSTEIN: I think it's not just isolating himself. I think that there is some real terror on the part of members of the Congress, of the Senate of the United States, about what some of the underlying facts are here.
LEMON: It's very interesting.
BERNSTEIN: And that is -- has inadvertently somehow Donald Trump gotten himself in some kind of situation? Does he have debt?
BERNSTEIN: Et cetera. I think that's an underlying line of inquiry that some of these senators and members of Congress want to pursue. LEMON: Let Jonathan respond. Go ahead, Jonathan.
JONATHAN SANDERS, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: Well, I think there are two things at work. First of all, I think Carl is right that we don't know what the motivation for Trump saying this unusual but in some ways reasonable thing, why can't we have better relations with Russia? He has never explained the intellectual origins of his openness. It could be curiosity, it could be girls, he may just like Eastern European girls and that gave him an idea. Or it could be what Carl taught all of us and I teach all my journalism students, follow the money. We don't know.
But the other part is doubts about what Trump was saying, there are doubts about the American intelligence community, not on this particular issue necessarily. But you remember the man delivering the information today, Clapper, outright lied to the Senate in 2013, saying there was no surveillance, no intelligence gathering on American citizens by national security means and then Snowden opened up the secrets and he had to walk that back.
BERNSTEIN: Let me give a scenario --
SANDERS: Now part of the problem --
BERNSTEIN: Pardon me. Let me give a scenario --
SANDERS: Those senators didn't go after him.
BERNSTEIN: Did Donald Trump was in Russia? Has done business in Russia that he got to know the Russians, and he therefore thinks he can do business with them on a very good level of mutual trust and he's playing that card? That might be perfectly legitimate but we need answers to the underlying questions. Pardon for interrupting.
LEMON: Yes, and also I think 2013, I mean, Jonathan, it's a bit different than it is now. I understand what you're saying but I'm not sure there's exact parity with this situation and --
SANDERS: It's not parity but there are reasons for doubting the American intelligence apparatus. I thought the admiral was much more credible today than Clapper. And you know part of the problem --
LEMON: Jonathan, I don't think -- I don't think the problem is the doubting of American intelligence. I think it is doing it publicly when you have to build relationships, and also considering what is going on with Vladimir Putin and trying to destabilize the American system. Is it a smart idea for Trump to do it publicly? I think that is overarching question there but unfortunately --
SANDERS: None of this works publicly.
LEMON: Yes. I have to -- SANDERS: And what -- they're going to confront him with this
information and whether the information persuade him is an open question.
LEMON: Thank you, very much. I appreciate it, gentlemen.
When we come right back, Donald Trump doubling down tonight on his doubts about Russia's election hacking but will he change his mind after this intelligence briefing tomorrow?
[23:37:14] LEMON: Intelligence chiefs due to sit down tomorrow with President-elect Donald Trump behind closed doors to brief him on Russia's actions.
Here to discus now, former congressman Jack Kingston, who was a senior Trump -- senior adviser to the Trump campaign, CNN political commentator Kayleigh McEnany, CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen, and Bakari Sellers, CNN political commentator.
OK. Glad to have all of you on. Congressman, we just had top intelligence leaders testified. They were more certain -- more than certain that Putin was behind the election hacking. Russian intercepts captured officials expressing happiness with the election results. At this point should the president-elect acknowledge that it is accurate that the Russians meddled in the election?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I think --
LEMON: Not that they changed election but that they meddled.
KINGSTON: I think after his hearing tomorrow he will make a statement and at that point he may say that they have confirmed that there was no result that was changed because of possible interference and I think that's something that he may want to say.
I talked to them, there does appear to be Russian monitoring and -- of our election, or at least the DNC e-mails but did not affect the election results. And I think that's probably what we're going to hear. But you know, he's going to have a really good briefing tomorrow and I think he's going to ask tough questions and he's going to be given some tough answers.
LEMON: Hilary, here is how Donald Trump responded or one of the staff members whoever tweeted, "So the Democratic National Committee would not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia. So how and why are they so sure about hacking if they never ever requested the examination of computer servers? What's going on?"
I can't believe I'm reading a tweet about something that -- this serious from the president-elect. But what's your reaction?
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's the problem with a tweet is that it doesn't really tell the story. Indeed the FBI didn't actually ask the DNC to see the computers, so there was no denial of access to it, because there was a vendor that the FBI has worked with repeatedly over the course of the last several years that had taken screen shots and had done investigations and the FBI took all of the data and material from that vendor CrowdStrike.
So this is really a red herring. I think -- back to your original issue, which is what does the country want to hear from Donald Trump after his intelligence briefing tomorrow? Yes, we want to hear that he respects, you know, the facts that the intelligence officials have brought to the American people. And doing that, I think would provide some comfort.
But, you know, Carl Bernstein actually raised the earlier bigger picture point, which is this constant sort of denial about Russia's attempted influence in the U.S. I don't think it's connected as much to the elections for Donald Trump.
[23:40:09] I think it's really connected to his relationship, his cloudy relationship with Putin and Russian financiers, and that's really going to be the critical thing that Americans need to hear over the next couple of weeks is what is Donald Trump's relationship there.
LEMON: You know, Kayleigh, Carl Bernstein said that moments ago but there are others who have said the same thing, maybe doesn't want to divest, maybe he is denying that Russia had an influence because somehow he is entangled with Russia, maybe owing Russia money and so on.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that's it. Look, I think if you look at history, you see President Bush who tried to give Russia a chance, calling them a strategic partner. That failed. Obama praised Putin his I think I believe was his kitchen, that failed. Trump wanting to just give him a chance as the other presidents have done and they were proven wrong. This is not a trustworthy ally. I think it has everything to do with the election. Donald Trump won this election --
LEMON: But it's unprecedented for a U.S. president to have such support for Vladimir Putin entirely and to praise Russia so much. And Julian Assange and so on.
MCENANY: People forget that President Obama stood in the home of Vladimir Putin and said, I'll never forget all of the great things you have done for the Russian people. Keep in mind this is a KGB agent who is a violent, violent man, who cannot be trusted. So I would encourage President-elect Trump to look to the past and see that Obama did not succeed here, Bush did not succeed here. Why would this be any different? Maybe he's the one who can make it work. I don't know.
LEMON: Bakari, is that a fair comparison?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, but fact of the matter is, I mean, look, we all understand that this relationship that Donald Trump has with Vladimir Putin is closer than anything Barack Obama had, it's a lot closer to anything or George W. Bush had. And you can go back further and further and further and further, and you'll see that this relationship is causing a lot of concern.
I mean, I think that the trouble is not necessarily this briefing tomorrow. It's the fact that Donald Trump has chosen Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange over the president of the United States and our American intelligence agencies. And he's done that in tweets and he's said it over and over again. So I don't know why we expect anything to change tomorrow.
I actually hope that he gives the answer that Congressman Kingston actually said, that this did not influence the election, let's move on because that will actually chip away at what Donald Trump actually touts, and that's strength. That is a very, very weak answer. And if he doesn't stand up to Russia as president of the United States, then we need somebody who will and I guess we have to rely on the United States Congress led by John McCain and others.
MCENANY: But who will stand up to Russia? I mean, this -- it's just so crazy hearing it from Democrats because this comes from -- you supported President Obama, who whispered in the ear of Medvedev, I'll have more flexibility after the election, who allowed him to annex Crimea, allowed him to march into the Ukraine?
SELLERS: Allowed him?
MCENANY: Because -- and he did not care.
SELLERS: But Kayleigh --
ROSEN: That's the biggest issue. We actually now have sanctions against Russia because of --
SELLERS: But that's even --
ROSEN: -- activity so, you know, there is no allowing here. And the point that Donald Trump has a relationship with Putin and that his family has talked about how their developments have been funded by Russian financiers, there's just too much in the past there that isn't -- that hasn't been answered and Donald Trump owes the American people those answers.
KINGSTON: Well, actually --
SELLERS: For the last two years -- for the last two years Russia's economy has become crippled. For all practical purposes right now Russia is a gas station with a nuclear weapon. That's about it. So, I mean, to say that the president of the United States actually allowed something, the president of the United States helped cripple Russia's economy. He now has new sanctions on that and John McCain and Lindsey Graham want to take that further. The question I have for Kayleigh and others is if these -- if the
United States Congress puts a sanctions bill on the desk of the president of the United States that goes further than what Barack Obama did, will Donald Trump actually sign it? I don't have faith that he will. I don't know anybody who has faith that he will.
KINGSTON: I think number one if U.S. Congress decides that there's evidence out there that would merit it, I think the president would be behind it. But I think he would be the first one to say remember the famous Obama-Hillary Clinton reset of Russia? As Kayleigh said if we can rebuild this relationship, if we can move in a positive direction, if we can work with Russia to defeat ISIS, for example, is that not a good thing for America? Is that not a good thing for world peace?
And I think that the new president should be given that opportunity. I also want to say that a lot of these questions and these allegations that we're hearing they can be vetted through the hearing process. A lot of the people who are going to be confirmed will have some of these tough questions. They might not be --
LEMON: What allegations?
KINGSTON: Well, let's just say we've heard from Hilary and Bakari that he has a relationship with Putin. I don't know of a relationship that he has with Putin. I don't know anything about it. But perhaps those are going to be questions for some of the nominees.
LEMON: Hold on.
[23:45:01] You know what, this is a good place to take a break, and then we'll discuss. We'll be right back.
LEMON: OK. And we're back now with my panel. Congressman Kingston was saying a lot of these questions could be answered through hearings, you said.
LEMON: And Bakari, you were disagreeing with that?
SELLERS: Well, first of all you can't have Donald Trump sit down for a congressional hearing and we're questioning the ties that Donald Trump has to Russia, and then Congressman Kingston needed help identifying some of the ties that he has, so I wanted to lay those out. I mean, I think we need to talk about people like Paul Manafort who actually was a long-time consultant --
KINGSTON: The one was an independent contractor who was fired. That one.
SELLERS: Who was actually in Trump Tower just as recently as last month. You can talk about Carter Paige, who was his foreign policy adviser who has business ties with the state-owned petroleum company in Russia. You can actually go to --
KINGSTON: But that doesn't mean that there's some nefarious relationship.
SELLERS: You can actually go to Bay Rock which is a company which invested in Trump Soho which is backed by Russian interests. So the facts are, I mean, if Donald Trump wants to show his taxes so we can actually do this deep dive, that's an old tired song. We've been there and done that. But to sit here and say that there are no ties, and you don't know anything of it, I mean, Michael Flynn was just in Moscow last week.
KINGSTON: I still don't based on -- based on that --
SELLERS: Michael Flynn was in Moscow last year. He was in Moscow last year at a gala as the guest of Vladimir Putin.
[23:50:05] KINGSTON: Well, you know, under those standards, anybody who has anything to do with Russia, Donald Trump is supposed to stay away from, I guess. But let me say this, during the hearing process when Mr. Tillerson is up there, Mr. Pompeo, senators can ask them almost anything under the sun and they can drill down on any of these questions and say, are there relationships? Do you feel uncomfortable if there are relationships? What would you do if you found out -- I mean, the hearing processes are really tough things.
LEMON: Let me reset --
ROSEN: No, but there is no obligation in that process.
LEMON: Hold on, Rosen, let me restate Bakari's -- Hilary, I promise I'll let you in. Wouldn't the American people, the American voter be better served by Donald Trump being more transparent about his business holdings, about his tax records so that they will know without a doubt that there are no conflicts of interest with Russia, that he may not have favorable opinions or statements about Russia or Assange or what have you or Putin, because there are some sort of conflict of interest or that he owes the government somehow?
KINGSTON: You know, I think that's what the hearing process is about, but I'll also say that's what the last year and a half was about. It was vetting candidates and what things are most important to them. And I understand there are some people who believe the tax returns were the number one issues, some people think building the wall, or not building the wall were the number one issues, but the voters have made this decision already, and they decided jobs and the economy and making America great again is their number one issue. And that's why he's the president-elect.
LEMON: But just because the voters have made the decision it doesn't mean that there is not a conflict of interest that's possible. I mean, the voters could -- maybe the voters that made the decision, maybe the voters were wrong about it. Maybe there is something hanging --
ROSEN: I don't think you can look at anything that happened in the election and say the voters don't care about it. I find the conversation exhausting. I can't believe we're going to spend the next four years talking about how the lack of transparency from the president of the United States is. And I do believe that the American people want to know that the decisions that the president is making are in the best interest of the American people and not in the best interest of his, you know, pocket book or his cronies or anything else. And I can't believe that Jack and Kayleigh and his other supporters wouldn't ultimately like to see that as well.
MCENANY: Well, I think --
ROSEN: And if the show were on the other foot -- let me finish.
LEMON: You stated it quite eloquently than I did.
ROSEN: If the shoe were on the other foot, you know, there is no question that if a Democratic president-elect were in this position that Republicans would want to know that same level of transparency. It's just -- it's simply the classy thing to do. It's the American way. And I don't think we --
MCENANY: But this is --
ROSEN: I don't want to have to argue for the next four years that Donald Trump ought to be an upstanding president. He just ought to be one.
MCENANY: But the comments of Bakari and Hilary are quite frankly a page ripped out of the Democratic playbook. And that is to say, if you recall when Hillary -- when Harry Reid stood on the Senate floor and said Mitt Romney has paid zero taxes. He released his tax returns because he (INAUDIBLE) anything Democrats told him to do. Everything was kosher. Everything was fine.
Again, the Democrats said FBI, please look into Donald Trump's ties with Russia. The FBI did so at the urging of the Clinton campaign and the Democrats and I'm looking at a CNN headline, FBI investigation into Trump-Russia ties yields little by Evan Perez. So this is what Democrats do. They suggest something nefarious, we look into it, there's nothing nefarious at all. And this is an example of Democrats doing just that. There has to be something nefarious because Donald Trump wants to give Russia a chance.
ROSEN: That's just really silly.
SELLERS: I know, that's actually hilarious.
MCENANY: I don't think it's silly. I think --
SELLERS: No one had looked into Donald Trump's anything. No one has looked into Donald Trump's anything. And I know that Congressman Kingston said this was an election about what voters wanted and voted chose either to build a wall or tax returns. Well, the facts voters aren't getting tax returns and voters ain't getting a wall either. I mean, so, this is where we are. We have a president who is not transparent, a president who we want to succeed so that the United States of America succeeds, but he's not even giving people a chance to encourage him to succeed.
KINGSTON: No, I think frankly this is why the Democrat Party lost, is because you're talking about issues that folks back home who are suffering for jobs, who are suffering for paying high health care. And by the way, health care costs, according to Kaiser, have gone up under Obamacare from 13,000 to 18,000 per household. That's what people are worried about. They want jobs. They want economic prosperity.
SELLERS: So take it away from them. You know what?
KINGSTON: They want peace. They're tired --
SELLERS: You know, take it away from them.
KINGSTON: -- Chicago. Those were the big issues of this campaign.
SELLERS: Oh my god.
ROSEN: So take it away from them then. So take their health care away.
SELLERS: Take it away from them then. Take it away from them, Jack. They away all the insurance. Take away all the insurance. Defund Planned Parenthood.
KINGSTON: That's political hyperbole. Nobody is talking about taking their health care.
SELLERS: Build your wall. And make America great again.
LEMON: And also, but don't you think national security is important to people as well?
KINGSTON: I think it is and having a president for the last eight years who has not stood up to Russia, who did not stand up to ISIS, who called them a JV, who left Iraq in a disaster, who really hasn't made any progress in Afghanistan, yes, national security is an issue and Donald Trump has talked about rebuilding the military, rebuilding the stature around the globe, getting the coalition working again, getting the respect of smaller countries like the Philippines, for example.
[23:55:07] And I think that you can see a big change here. And so I think that the Democrats are still grasping at the issues that they think are going to delegitimize this president and they're not that are important or as important to the American people.
LEMON: Go ahead, Hilary.
ROSEN: Look, I think this is -- like I said, this is exhausting to constantly talk around the edges of what appropriate behavior is for a president of the United States. And if Democrats were doing what Donald Trump is doing, there would be an outcry. I do think it is more important to talk about whether or not we're going to be taking health care away from 20 million people. Whether or not we are going to actually save jobs in a real way as opposed to kind of a corporate CEO press release way.
I do think that those things matter more. On the other hand I think that when Donald Trump distracts --
LEMON: You have 10 seconds, Hilary.
ROSEN: -- the country with these, you know, crazy tweets, he is deliberately trying to avoid the conversations about what's happening for everyday Americans.
LEMON: That is it for us tonight. That's going to have to be the last word. Thank you, all. I really appreciate it. I'll see you back here tomorrow night. Thanks for watching. Bye-bye.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight. On top of breaking news on federal health care money that millions of women benefit from there's a whole new string of developments and breaking news in the election hacking story.
Top intelligence officials testified on Capitol Hill today. You may have seen some of that. President Obama got briefed as well. President-elect Trump gets his briefing.