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CNN TONIGHT

Surprise Announcement; Not My President's Day Rally; New Immigration Order. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 20, 2017 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That's all the time we have tonight. Thanks for watching. It's time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump back at the White House tonight after a President's Day weekend at Mar-a-Lago, and the surprise announcement of the newest member of his team.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The president says this about his new national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is highly respected by everybody in the military, and we're very honored to have him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Meanwhile, protesters take to the streets today in cities across the country for what they're calling not my president's day rallies.

Plus, free speech or hate speech. The Breitbart editor, whose infuriating critics on the left and the right, you saw him with Bill Maher this weekend. But what got him booed from a major conservative conference this week is much, much worse.

We'll talk all of that this evening. Let's get right through to the White House correspondent Sara Murray.

Sara, good evening to you. Thanks for joining us tonight. The president announced Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser after firing General Michael Flynn over trust issues. Here's what the president said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We've been working all weekend very diligently very hard that General H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser. He's a man of tremendous talent, and tremendous experience. I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He is highly respected by everybody in the military. And we're very honored to have him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Sara, as we know, he wasn't the president's first choice, so how did the president decide on Lieutenant General McMaster?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he wasn't the president's first choice necessarily to fill the job. But the White House knew they had to move quickly to fill this position. This is the top national security adviser when Michael Flynn held this role. This is someone the president turned to for guidance and for information every single day.

So he spent the weekend pouring over these pick, potential picks and eventually decided on Lieutenant General McMaster. And a senior administration official told me that it was a combination of McMaster's combat experience as well as his intellectual drive that really sold Trump on the pick, and that's where we are today, Don.

LEMON: And Sara, you have new reporting tonight on how Governor John Kasich, slated to meet with President Trump later this week? What do you know?

MURRAY: Well, we have heard from sources on both sides of this, that there is a tentative meeting set up here at the White House between President Trump and the Ohio governor. Now remember. The governor was a fierce critic of Trump throughout the presidential campaign. He wouldn't even show his face at the GOP convention which was held in Cleveland.

He is of course the sitting governor of Ohio. So that was a pretty big snub. And on top of that he wrote in John McCain's name on his ballot when it came time to vote, so he didn't even vote for Donald Trump. But a senior administration official tells me that this meeting is long overdue. Again, tentatively scheduled for Friday. We've seen these meetings collapse in the past when it comes to this administration so we'll see if this on hold.

LEMON: So, stay tuned is what you're saying?

MURRAY: Yes.

LEMON: Sara, also the president is also expected to sign a new travel ban this week. What can you tell us about the president's agenda?

MURRAY: This seems like the big agenda item for them this week. Of course, their existing travel ban is caught in the course. They're trying to tailor one that will uphold that kind of scrutiny. And they're looking at why the previous ban was knocked down or held up.

And I'm told from a senior administration official that the new ban is likely to still apply to the same seven Muslim majority countries. This person would not say whether the Syrian refugee ban, which was indefinite in the first proposal, will still hold through this executive order. But they do want to make some changes so that they hope that it will uphold the scrutiny of the courts, one of those is to make it clear in this new executive order that green cardholders will not be subject to this ban. And the other is to offer clearer guidance to people who have current or pending visas.

Remember, Don, that was another thing that took people by surprise and less than folks caught up in the airport or preparing to head to the airport only to find out that they were no longer going to be allowed in the country. We are expecting that late this week, but as always, Don, with this White House time lines can be fluid.

LEMON: Seems like not much going on this week. A sarcasm.

MURRAY: It's going to be super easy.

LEMON: It's going to be super easy. Thank you, Sara, I appreciate that.

Let's bring in now CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, senior political analyst, Mr. David Gergen, national security analyst, Ms. Juliette Kayyem, the author of "Security Mom," a great book, by the way, and military analyst Major General James Spider Marks.

Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining us. Happy President's Day, by the way.

Let's start with you, General Marks, what can you tell us about Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster?

JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Don, that's a wonderful choice. H.R. McMaster has a tremendous reputation in the military, and he's a very, very -- very highly regarded Ph.D.

[22:05:02] So he's both a soldier and he's a scholar. He's got incredible combat qualifications from time in Iraq and elsewhere in the Mideast. What's good about H.R. is that he is an iconic class. He came up -- you know, as he was progressing through the ranks in the military after his graduation from West Point he was identified early on.

During Desert Storm, he won the Silver Star, and he was identified as one of those leaders that would really take us through the next generation.

But sadly, what happened, for whatever reason, he was kind of pushed aside. I think it's because he was speaking out about the type of leadership that's necessary to move this military forward. He's the author of the book that's incredibly damning about the Department of Defense during the Vietnam War called "Dereliction of Duty."

I think many embraced that, looked at H.R. and said, you know, I don't know that we need this type of criticism, this vocally in the military. And it took a couple of selections for general officers to finally get him over the threshold and get him to the ranks of the general officer which was long overdue. Now he's accelerated through. And he's doing incredible things for the military. He is strategist of the first order which is what he really wants in that position.

LEMON: How is that defiance going to play out in the White House, so, in a Trump White House especially?

MARKS: Well, I got to tell you, the primary issue is going to be, how is he going to comport. How is he going to work with the rest of that national security staff to include Mr. Bannon, having a policy guy in the national security council would not have been my recommendation.

But they got it. That's a done deal. In military terms that is -- that's a decision it's been made, put it to the side. That should not be and it will not be H.R.'s first battle to take on. That would be -- that would be a death nail to him immediately.

So, he'll walk into that position. His first job is going to have to be able to establish what are the top three to four priorities in terms of our foreign policy, our international engagement. That's what he needs to do first and foremost. And he'll do that certainly with Jim Mattis in the Defense Department. John Kelly over in DHS, certainly with Rex Tillerson in state.

That makes up the key bodies within the national security council.

LEMON: OK.

MARKS: That needs to be going-forward. In fact, I would suggest the president needs to have a speech right now that says this is what our priorities are for our foreign policy moving forward.

LEMON: Let's talk more about how this affects the national security council. Juliette, does this pick mean, what does this mean for the national security council. Considering you still have a political operative like Steve Bannon which the general refer to, with a seat at the table.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, from folks I talked to today, there's a sense of relief, I think that you have an adult, someone as qualified as Spider was saying, regarding not just policy, but also operations. Someone who's been out in the field, from the agency perspective.

Because remember, the role of the national security adviser is the guy, DOD, the State Department hear from them, DHS, what do they want. CIA is to open the lens wide enough so that the president himself gets the best advice.

Where I'm less optimistic is, I'm not sure whether Bannon has a seat at the table or whether he's running a parallel national security council that is sort of not transparent to the national security staff.

If that's the case, then we're going to see conflict continuing in the future. But finally, the most important thing as Spider was saying, is we now, I mean, it's a month. It's time to be president in the sense of you have to get some policies going.

There's massive confusion out there, I just made a quick list. You know, do we take the oil or not take the oil. Conflicting statements from the administration is real, one state or two states, China, do we recognize Taiwan or not, NATO, are we for it or against it. Torture, are we for it or against it.

You have so many different pieces running around going now, that my hope is that, now the new national security adviser...

LEMON: OK.

KAYYEM: ... can begin to have a consistent and coherent national security policy. We may agree or disagree with it, but at least we'll have something to debate.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: They should be...

KAYYEM: Now it's just a lot of confusion.

LEMON: They should be on the same page. I saw you shaking your head there a lot, David Gergen, especially when she talked about parallel national security advisers or national security at least.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Don, overall, this is a superb choice, one that any president would be proud of. General McMaster is not only known for his iconic class. As Spider talked about he's an iconic class.

But very importantly, he's a strategist. And this administration needs a strategy on international policy. There's great confusion in the world about what our priorities are, what are we trying to achieve over the long haul.

Are we trying to play with Russia and China. Are we trying to play with Russia against China, where are we trying to in the E.U. You can -- you can talk about all sorts of issues.

But to go about Juliette's issue. I also think there's still an unresolved question about whether these other power centers in the White House are going to be challenging him.

[22:10:03] Are we going to have a shadow national security unit under Bennett. Is indeed, Jared Kushner going to be a shadow secretary of state, he seems to be out there on his own. Talking to his father-in- law, bypassing the secretary of state.

What's going to be really important for General McMaster is to bring coherence and bring authority and bring a hierarchy to this process, so you don't have these competing power centers. And the one thing he does not have is the lot of experience in Washington in the Pentagon playing the power game in Washington.

LEMON: Yes. GERGEN: So, he's going to have to learn this very quickly and get on top of things.

LEMON: Nia, let's talk about, more about how we got here and the politics playing out. Because McMaster is replacing the ousted national Security Adviser General

Michael Flynn that we discussed so much on this network and it's been discussed everywhere else..

We're hearing from the vice president for the first time about Flynn's conduct. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would tell you that I was disappointed to learn that the facts that have been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor General Flynn's long service to the United States of America, and I fully support the president's decision to ask for his resignation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to get your response to that, but now that the president has filled this vacancy, at least on this issue, Nia, is this a reset for the White House?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, I think it is. And as everyone said, McMaster maybe he's couldn't be more different than Flynn, a lot of folks in the intelligence community and on the Hill. Not big fans of General Flynn. So in McMaster is certainly getting a different sort of reception as we heard from the panelists here.

I do think on the question of Flynn, this idea, and in fact that he lied to the vice president, that is still lingering, we're still going to have senate intelligence committee look into that. Still unclear as to why Flynn actually felt he had to lie to the vice president given the fact that the president himself said it would be OK if he talk to Russia about sanctions.

So, yes. I mean, I don't think that issue is going to go away, so it's not quite a reset in terms of dealing with the Flynn controversy. That's still very much going to be around, as there are all of these investigations into of this administration's relation -- relationship to Russia. Not only the campaign phase, but as the administration in the White House now.

You saw, for instance, folks on the Hill reaching out to the White House, and make sure they're preserving records around all of this. But listen, this is a good day for this White House in terms of this pick.

A lot of these issues is going to be resolved though in terms of Flynn, as well as what -- what actually happened to Bannon, does someone like K.T. McFarland also who's gotten some scrutiny, does she remain on that national security council. A lot of people felt like she might have been in over her head in

terms of that position, in terms on some of the things she said previously that sort of raise some eyebrows. So, we'll see. But it is day one in terms of -- in terms of McMaster.

LEMON: General Marks, I want to talk to you a little bit more because you know, Nia is talking Russia now. The Senate intelligence committee asking the administration to preserve records on Russia. What's your take on all of this?

MARKS: Well, you know, there's a reasonable man standard I think that needs to be wrapped around all of this, in terms of this incoming administration and their communications with their Russian counterpart.

First of all, as has been said multiple times on this air, it's really just doing your job. You're trying to set the table for what you intend, how you intend to engage with friends and allies and adversaries going forward. Nobody would invoke the Logan Act as a result of what took place.

But I think there is a notion of frequency, volume, and periodicity in terms of those communications. And what probably should have happened was there's a single point of entry in terms of communicating with different nations and different entities as we, the new administration get ready to take over.

Here are the list of interrogatives that we want to ask. Here are the list of the issues that we want to discuss. But nobody's negotiating a thing. All we're doing is we're essentially establishing an agenda as we move forward. That's called doing your job.

Sadly, that thing got out of control, and I think it was more characterized more like an Oklahoma land rush than anything else.

LEMON: Stick around, everyone. When we come right back, President Trump's Sweden moment, what he said, what he meant to say and why he's doubling down today.

[22:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. My panel is back with me now. I'm going to start with you, Nia-Malika Henderson. At the president's rally over the weekend, President Trump implied that there had been a terror incident in Sweden, he was wrong. But the president doubled down anyway, in Twitter he said, "Give the public a break. The fake media, the fake news media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. Not."

So, he said what he said, we heard what he said. And then we know what the facts bear out. When you have Pence, right, the Vice President, and you have Secretary Mattis trying to reassure our allies, especially in Europe, does this hurt those efforts?

HENDERSON: You know, it certainly complicates them. I mean, it makes their job a much more -- a much more difficult in terms of the message they're carrying in contradiction to what the president said. And we saw that pay out in any number of issues.

President Trump talking about, he's a fan of NATO, but, and Pence going over there and sort of giving this full throated embrace of NATO. So there isn't a singular message coming out of this White House. There is no Trump doctrine yet.

And given it's only four weeks into this presidency it's a little early for that. But I think it also goes to the fact that even as a candidate Donald Trump could be all over the place in terms of his foreign policy. At one point he could sound very hawkish, in other points he could sound very libertarian in terms of America's engagement in the world.

And I think we're seeing that play out on many different messages coming out of this White House in terms of engagement with allies and opponents.

And one of the things you've seen, you've had people from Russia, for instance, Puskov say there are three different messages coming out of this White House. And into sort of that gap you have Russia basically feeling emboldened in terms of where their position is in Europe.

[22:20:02] So, I think it is problematic, we'll see if it changes. I think in some ways it's consistent with the president we've seen so far. But my goodness, if you are all of these folks overseas whether you're Pence or Mattis you're very much on cleanup duty in terms of kind of softening what the president says.

And not sure if, you know, he'll tweet something in contradicted -- contradiction to what they said. And I think the other thing about Donald Trump, is he very much sees this relationship as deals, right. He talks about maybe he can make a deal with Russia.

And he sees them very much one on one, even when he talks -- he talks about trade deals. The whole idea of sort of a multilateral relationship, which is what foreign policy is, he doesn't really see it that way. He doesn't understand if you make a deal with Russia, that means something for the west in terms of Europe, so you know, there's still some on the job learning I think he's got to do.

LEMON: General, we heard from several officials in Sweden, we know how they feel about it. But what does this do for us internationally as far -- especially when it comes to national security.

MARKS: I think the biggest concern that I have right now is that the notion of making America great again and America first has a very strong connotation toward bilateralism. America is first in this particular instance, whatever this is.

It's America first and its dealing, it's play dealing let's say with China, or whatever it is. The concern that I have with that, is that begins to create daylight in these multiple bilateral relationships.

We're here before what we've had with the E.U., for example, is a contiguous body that has signed up for an agreed set of principles and values and economic system a national security perspective that's been wrapped with NATO and different elements within the E.U.. That's healthy.

My concern is, that could begin to -- it could begin to atrophy if we continue to push an America first policy, and trying to strike deals individually in a bilateral kind of way.

LEMON: David Gergen, I see you shaking your head. Mixed messages here, growing pains. What did you think?

GERGEN: More than growing pains. You know, the President of the United States has declared the press reporters to be the enemies of the people. It's just an awful, awful charge. He talks all the time about fake news, and how the president is full of fake news.

Why then does he spend so damn much time watching television news? It's a mystery. And you know, he ought to be turning off his TV set, turning off his Twitter account and settling down and reading the briefings that were being prepared for him. Which were longer and more authoritative, rather than watching television is, and getting snippets of things from say Sweden, going out and completely misstating the facts about what he just watched.

It is not helpful to his presidency. At the very moment he is getting a really good heavyweight team in place on national security. This is a perfect moment for him to settle down and take more seriously the responsibilities of the job.

LEMON: Juliette, I wonder -- and you know, I also see that you reacting there. Because there are an intelligence briefings. There would have been information about an attack in Sweden or a terror attack, or the actual numbers about what's happening when it comes to immigrants or migrants in Sweden and as it relates to crime. And those intelligence briefings probably have none of that in them. Because the facts just don't bear out.

KAYYEM: That's exactly right. I mean, we don't know to the extent to which President Trump is getting his intelligence briefings. I bet you my life, that they differ than something on the Tucker Carlson show.

And so, what we, what the president needs to do, he has this apparatus available to him to understand a very complicated world that's not transactional and that's not binary, right? I mean, you know, it's not we don't love Australia or hate Australia. I mean, the fact that Australia was the first conflict shows that he just views the world in this binary way, and it's much more complicated than that.

Look, today is President's Day. And I think what sort of all presidents have been, and what I hope for this president, because they've been curious. They've been curious about a world that they are, you know, the leader of the free, of the greatest country.

And I think that curiosity really needs to be a part of the way that Trump manages a pretty good, at least national security team. And once again, we don't have to agree with everything, so that we can begin to align our needs and our safety and security with what the rest of the world needs. Because look, let me just remind everyone, this administration has not

faced a real crisis yet. All of this news there hasn't been a terrorist attack, a hurricane, a war, nothing yet. So, we better maybe take this time to learn from the past, and to learn from other nations, and history so that we are prepared because he's going to face it relatively soon.

[22:25:01] LEMON: Panel, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Coming up, protesters take to the streets for what they call not my president's day rallies. Were they hurting or helping President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Day -- President's Day turned into not my president's day for activists across the country today.

Here to discuss it, Frank Rich, writer-at-large for New York magazine and executive producer of HBO's Veep. Happy President's Day to you. Thanks for coming on.

FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE WRITER-AT-LARGE: Same to you, Don.

Let's start with these protests, are they effective?

RICH: I don't think they're effective, I think they're fine. People should express their opinion. A lot of people are understandably furious about this president. I would describe myself as one of them. But I don't think they're substantive for actual action that might combat his presidency if you're opposed to it.

LEMON: Yes.

RICH: This is, by the way I think that Trump's rally, his own sort of demonstration over the weekend in Florida. His campaign stop, whatever it was, also I feel probably had zero effect. Everyone is pretty dug in on both sides.

[22:30:02] LEMON: Yes. I mean, it's a great photo op, and a great rallying of the troops, you know, of the choir, preaching to the choir that you already have.

RICH: Yes.

LEMON: You do have to admit. I mean, it did make for good pictures. In the New York Times piece entitled, "Are liberals helping Trump." Sabrina Tavernise writes in part, quote, "Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous."

"But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what was said was a kind of moral Bolshevism - the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right way. Disagreeing meant publicly shamed."

How should the left respond to President Trump?

RICH: Well, I mean, again, I think it's a good point about sort of the people on mass that if people are doing sort of hate Trump rallies, of course, Trump fans are going to be furious. And by the way, it works, they get furious, they get furious when people cheered Obama.

I think that what the left really has to do is first of all apply as much as pressure as possible to elected representatives in Washington, both democrats who can be wishy-washy in opposing Trump, in some cases to sort of stiffen their spine to the extent that they don't have any power to obstruct.

And with republicans who, in some cases are in purplish places in the country where they could be in jeopardy if they sign on to the Titanic. So, I think you know, going to town hall meetings and chasing down congressmen at town hall meetings. I think that's a very effective tactic. It's a page from the tea party book, and the left should -- is right to do that. Rallies are fine, but I don't know if they move the needle at all.

LEMON: So, we mentioned your colleague's piece, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention your piece as well. Because since we do have you here as a guest. So in your latest piece you write about the republican establishment's tolerance of Trump.

You said, "How long will Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and their peers continue to slow, walk or kill any investigations into this morass. Will it take an international crisis involving Russia, Iran, North Korea, ISIS? Or who knows who else as America's enemies seize their opening to capitalize on the chaos in Washington. Given the GOP leaders collaboration with Trump over the past year, we already know they are about party more than country."

So that's what you say. How long do you think this will last?

RICH: Well, we're still very young into this presidency, just a month. And as a guest of yours was saying earlier, we haven't had a real crisis yet, and so no one's really been tested, including the president.

But I do feel republican establishment, what's left of it in Washington has to be the pressure point, that is -- it's republicans who brought down Richard Nixon at the height of Watergate.

And in the end, it's republicans that are going to have to be fearful of what's going to happen to their own necks in their own elections that are going to be the counter force against them because they have the power.

Right now, very few are showing any opposition. John McCain is obviously, Lindsey Graham, the same names. But at some point if something goes wrong with -- who knows what, with a natural disaster, with a terrorist attack, God forbid, with the social security checks going out or Medicare checks going out, constituents are going to get angry. And they are going to demand result from Washington. And I think the republican leadership, controlling all the branches of government is going to have to answer for that. They haven't been tested yet. We're only 30 days or so in.

LEMON: Frank, I want to you weigh-in on this next story. Because I mean, it's amazing to watch it unfold over the weekend. This major conservative conference the CPAC, you know about this.

RICH: Right.

LEMON: Disinvited Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos after clips surfaces of him appearing to talk sympathetically about sex with young boys, and cracking a joke about his own sexual encounter with a Catholic priest as a child. What do you think of this?

Because now Simon & Schuster has now said they don't want to do a book with him. He was disinvited to the conference and he may lose his job, people are saying that he should lose his job about Breitbart. What do you make of this?

RICH: Well, what I do make of it is I just find it fascinating about CPAC's reaction to it. After all, and this is a point -- there was a tweet early today by Charlie Sykes who is a conservative but anti- Trump commentator that I thought was really right on the money.

This guy and indeed, the sort of alt-right movement in general, has endorsed white supremacy, has endorsed anti-Semitism, its anti- immigrant and xenophobic, and so finally, when someone, when one of their, you know, most favored spokespeople comes out sort of in favor of pedophilia, that's what draws the line, that's terrible.

[22:35:02] Well, what about all the other things that proceed it. So it seems like incredible amount of hypocrisy and I'm really eager to hear more about the whole CPAC collapse, because they were defending him up until 10 minutes ago.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, a lot of people, Frank, were defending him. And it makes you wonder if they did their homework about him before either inviting them on their show or defending him or inviting him to speak or what have you.

I mean, I got this earlier, I read this earlier, I remember reading this. And this was from Facebook last year. I don't have the quote, I'm just reading it here. And someone I know, a very respected responded to me about this.

He says, "This was in January of 2016 and you know, Milo Yiannopoulos an openly gay, and he says he likes black man, he said, I lift young black men out of poverty every day. Sure. The next morning my driver takes them right back there, but whatever."

And then the person said to me sort of what you're saying, so reducing black men to sexual commodity gets him a book deal, but pedophilia remarks cause him to lose. This is where they draw the line, I guess racism and misogyny is totally cool with conservatives, pedophilia is a bridge too far?

RICH: That's exactly right. It's ridiculous. And they didn't do their homework. I mean, I've read interviews with him, where he's talked about, you know, picking up older guys and using them, and sort of almost one step below sex trafficking it seems to me.

And so, CPAC, did anyone read this? And now suddenly they discover what they have, and it makes you wonder too about the whole relationship between the alt-right, Breitbart are part of the right and the conservative establishment and the Republican Party.

They're not examining this at all, and this may just be the tip of an iceberg that could -- that they could slam against because they -- you know, there's plenty of this stuff in there, and they're not just for this one particularly flashy spokesman for the whole movement.

LEMON: Frank Rick, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

RICH: Great talking to you.

LEMON: OK. When we come right back, Milo Yiannopoulos also made a splash on Bill Maher's show this weekend, even though one guest was still outraged he refused to appear. But there's more to the story, that's next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos facing plenty of backlash tonight for chocking videos that surfaced over the weekend.

Let's discuss now, CNN's senior political commentator, Jennifer Granholm, the former Governor of Michigan, and Rick Santorum, former Senator and presidential candidate. Senior - that mean you guys are smart.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Old.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Or old. Correct.

LEMON: I was when he said that I was going to say I'm sure Jennifer, Governor says speaks for yourself, but then you weighed in as well.

Anyway, it's good to see both of you. Let's discuss this. Because I mean, this was quite a disturbing story for many, Rick. Milo Yiannopoulos disinvited from CPAC from speaking there after these videos of him - and that's the disturbing part I'm talking about - appearing to defend pedophilia. How significant is this for conservatives to publicly reject him like this?

SANTORUM: Well, I think it was a mistake to invite him in the first place, this is -- this is a problem that, you know, I've been battling in the conservative movement now for quite some time. Which is, you know, this -- particularly among young people, more edgy conservatism, more toward libertarianism.

Now you hear the term alt-right, sort of getting away from, you know, I consider myself sort of a boring down the line conservative on all of the issues. But we've been trying to play around. And we've seen it, you know, the libertarian Rand Paul type of movement four years ago. We see it now with some of this alt-right.

This to me, that's not the -- what the conservative political action conference should be about. It should be out celebrating conservatism that we know is based on our founding principles that has moral traditions, economic traditions that are consistent with what we know works in America.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You're a traditional conservative, and I understand.

SANTORUM: Yes.

LEMON: I understand where you're going and those were the values. Why would -- before I get to the governor, Rick, why would they -- you said they shouldn't have invited him anyway. Why -- have invited them anyway. Why would they invite him? Do you think they did their homework?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I don't know.

LEMON: Because there are so much information about him right there.

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, the things you just read, I mean, I'm just sitting here shaking my head. I said how do they not know this, how do they not know that this guy who's gotten so much publicity for many controversial statements that he's made, and doing his campus tour, I do a lot of speaking on college campuses too.

And I hear about, you know, in many cases, follow him on campus, and you know, I hear of all the controversy around it, and I'm thinking, wow! They put all this security around me, and it turns out we have really great conversations and the kids are actually engaged and actually thoughtful, and you have to - you have to look at, he's an entertainer trying to, you know, attract attention to himself, instead of someone who's trying to promote a cause.

LEMON: Well, that is exactly what many on the left -- or I'm not sure if they're on the left. But many that you saw on those college campuses, and you know, by the way, you know, the destruction and all that, the writing that was wrong.

But they said, Governor, that's why they didn't want him there. It wasn't because he was conservative, it's because they thought he was a provocateur who trafficked in hate speech.

GRANHOLM: Yes.

LEMON: By the way, I just want to give this caveat for your response comes in. He still insists that the tapes were edited deceptively, and that he does not advocate for illegal behavior. So, Governor, should they have done a little more vetting of the speaker?

GRANHOLM: Of course. And it wouldn't have taken much for them to see, all you have to do is open one of his books or open one of his videos or follow him around. He goes from campus to campus for the purpose of attracting attention.

I mean, honestly, Don, I wish that we weren't even discussing this person's name, because he is a publicity parasite, he is all about getting additional clicks additional followers and I don't want CNN to be an accomplice to that.

He is, as Frank Rich and you were just discussing, he is not just provoke -- you know, promoting in this clip pedophilia or apparently doing that, but he is also been such a skewer of hatred. Of hatred of women, of hatred of the transgender community, of hatred of -- which is kind of ironic, given that he's gay overtly.

[22:44:59] And his hatred of Muslims, the fact that he was hired by Steve Bannon, I'd like to see Steve Bannon and Donald Trump disavow him publicly.

In fact, the last time he was at Berkeley, U.C. Berkeley, Donald Trump tweeted in support of him saying we should let this guy speak. I think people need to do their homework about this guy. Thank goodness CPAC actually did disinvite him, but people need to do their homework in advance.

LEMON: So both of you agree that CPAC did the right thing, correct?

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

GRANHOLM: Yes.

LEMON: So, I mean, you know, he was on Bill Maher this past weekend and it was a fiery with him and the other panelists there, including, you know, our very own Congressman Jack Kingston was there. I though Jack did a great job this weekend on that show.

Real-time was so controversial, though that another guest Jeremy Scahill who was booked on the same episode as Milo, dropped out. Did Scahill do his homework, he seems to be saying exactly what you said, Governor, that he should not be given a platform. Why were people giving this, you know, guy who traffics in hate, their beliefs, a platform? Governor?

GRANHOLM: Well, I would -- I mean, Bill Maher is a comedian and he's an entertainer, it is slightly different thing I would say than CPAC. However, I do think that any time any outlet puts that man on, or even utters his name, we are -- and this is why I'd like to move to another subject...

LEMON: We will.

GRANHOLM: ... because we are helping him out.

LEMON: OK, I got you. GRANHOLM: Because I think that's all he wants.

LEMON: I've got to ask --I've got to ask because youguys are going to come back in the next block. But Rick, Simon and Schuster saying, no longer doing a book deal, it appears that now maybe they've done their homework. Do you agree with that as well? Do you feel like that silencing him?

SANTORUM: Well, again, look, book deals have been given to a lot of people that I don't agree and who have done many horrible things. So, that's a business decision, more than it is anything else, but I think Matt Schlapp at CPAC did the right thing, and I'm glad they did it.

LEMON: OK. We'll talk about more and move on from this topic because there's much more important things to discuss as well. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back with me now, Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum. So, Rick, we're also seeing not my president's day rallies across the country. Protesters say that they're marching against the president's policies on everything from immigration to human rights. What's your reaction?

SANTORUM: You know, it's great. I mean, the left is obviously activated. They're putting a lot of pressure on people here in Washington, D.C. I think from the president's standpoint, he did finally a great job today, he ignored it. And...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Who are you, and what did you do with Rick Santorum?

SANTORUM: No, I think it's great. No, I'm trying -- I'm trying to minimize this.

GRANHOLM: It's great.

SANTORUM: Because I want the president -- hopefully he's watching, I want the president to realize that what he did today actually worked.

For most of the news, they've been talking about H.R., you know, the new -- the new national security adviser.

LEMON: McMaster.

SANTORUM: McMaster, and they haven't been talking about Trump tweeting things that are offensive. So, I mean, he could have gone and attack them but he didn't. And look, the news cycle is better.

So, I'm just -- a suggestion. Make sure that you don't step on your stories, he's had a lot of good news that could be out there that has stepped on because of what this president has tweeted or said. And today was not one of those...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes. It sounds like you're talking to the president through -- are you talking to the president through the television because it looks like...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Hello, Donald?

LEMON: Yes.

SANTORUM: Yes, I am.

LEMON: We know he watches.

GRANHOLM: We know he watches you, Don.

LEMON: Yes, I know. Hi, Mr. President. I'm glad he watches. Good.

What do you think, Jennifer?

GRANHOLM: I love it. I mean, I'm glad that Rick loves it too. This is democracy at its best, people taking to the streets, obviously it's a holiday, but there's a lot of people who are taking time off anyway to be able to make their voices heard.

And that's true for dogging these members of Congress as well. And what drives me crazy, and Rick, I'd love to hear what you have to say about this. But the members of Congress who decide they're not going to show up, leadership is showing up.

Have your town halls, make your point heard. You didn't raise your hand to run for office, to run away from people. You did it so that you could engage. And yes, some of it might be hard, but you don't do it because it's easy, you do it because it's hard.

So, make show up, otherwise, one of those people who are protesting you might end up running against you.

LEMON: Quick response, because I want to talk about other things. Go ahead, Rick.

SANTORUM: You're not - you're not going to have us on together any more. Because I'm going to agree with her again.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

SANTORUM: I think it's absolutely terrible that any member of Congress...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Wow.

SANTORUM: I don't see who they're for...

GRANHOLM: What is up? I've to check -- I've got to check what I'm saying.

SANTORUM: They should show up. Absolutely should show up. I mean, this is -- this is where you earn your keep as a member of Congress. You stand up, you face the music. I saw it on the Erin Burnett show earlier.

LEMON: Yes.

SANTORUM: A congressman from Virginia Beach who had a huge crowd there. He stood up, he faced the music, kudos to him. This is how -- this is how you take on a movement straight on.

LEMON: Yes. I was looking down on my phone...

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Don't run away. Don't run away.

LEMON: It says, it's Monday, February 20th at 10.53 p.m. Eastern Time that this happened, so.

GRANHOLM: I think we have actually agreed on three things so far.

LEMON: Yes, I hear you.

GRANHOLM: This is terrible.

LEMON: Are you becoming a liberal, Rick?

SANTORUM: Bad TV. Bad TV. I'm sorry.

LEMON: You're not becoming a liberal, are you?

SANTORUM: No, well, just telling the truth.

LEMON: Well, thank you.

GRANHOLM: Can I just say one other quick thing about this, Don? I know you want to jump in on something else.

LEMON: Yes.

GRANHOLM: but just very quickly. We remember in 2010, when the democrats got protested at their town hall meetings and started to shut it down, and said that it was AstroTurf, and tried to make it go away.

We know what happened, they lost 63 seats democrats did, woe to the republicans who are saying, this is AstroTurf, we should just ignore it, because this is real.

LEMON: Yes.

GRANHOLM: People are protesting because they love their country and there are so many issues out there that they feel so passionate about it. LEMON: Didn't you say that last week that people should take it

seriously? I think -- I think it was you, or maybe it was Jack Kingston, I'm not sure. But you know, anyways, we'll move now, because you guys don't need to agree on everything here.

Vice President Pence trying to reassure European allies that the U.S. is committed to NATO. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:55:03] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is my privilege here at the NATO headquarters to express the strong support of President Trump and the United States of America for NATO and our Transatlantic alliance.

The United States has been a proud and faithful member of NATO since its founding in 1949. This alliance plays a crucial role in promoting peace and prosperity in the North Atlantic, and frankly in the entire world. The United States commitment to NATO is clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, quickly, I have just about 30 seconds here, Rick. He said that -- Mattis also saying, General James Mattis saying -- also saying, we shouldn't take the oil, the U.S. should not take the oil from Iraq as well.

Is this the president inner circle -- and the president also said NATO is obsolete remember. Is this the president's inner circle playing cleanup?

SANTORUM: I think it's the president playing, you know, the good cop bad cop. What the president said, particularly on NATO, I don't agree with him on Iraq, but I do agree with him on NATO.

I think that the president has moved the ball. It said to Europe it's time to wake up, the American public that he had some pretty good polls on is not going to continue to fund the security of Europe, without Europe stepping forward and doing their fair share.

And I can tell you all the policies in the past to try to get our European analysts to do that, has not worked. Maybe this one.

LEMON: I'm late to the next hour, Governor. Yes, cleanup?

GRANHOLM: Yes, I just say, it is not tenable to have a foreign policy, where you have to ignore the president's words...

LEMON: OK.

GRANHOLM: ... and send out emissaries to try to clean it up.

LEMON: I've got to run just for time purposes. Thank you, both.

GRANHOLM: All right.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Governor. I appreciate that.

When we come right back, what President Trump said about Sweden and the truth behind the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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