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Melania Fight Bullying While Her Husband Tweets About Whacky Congresswoman; The Former President Now Defending President Trump; Soldiers Widow, Trump Made Me Cry; Bill O'Reilly Plays The Victim As New York Times Reports He Paid $32,000,000 Settlement; Trump Widow Clash Over Account Of Condolence Call. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Kelly. Melania is a strong, smart lady. Nikki Haley has risen up. I do think they offset some of his political street fighting. And I think the more Melania gets out there, the way she broadens the way people see this President. She knew he had some flaws in his life. Instead he is running to make America great again. Out here, Don, you know in St. Louis, you worked out here people are looking up and going things are going in the right direction. We feel pretty excited about it.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Yes. I just got one thing to say, thank you all but America has always been great. It has been great for a long time.

You can't make something great again. It's already great. Thank you, appreciate it.

This is CNN tonight, I'm Don Lemon. A little past 11:00 almost 11:01 here on the east coast. We are live with new developments tonight Senator John McCain in a not so veiled message to the president calls on Americans to stop fighting about fallen American hero Sergeant La David Johnson.

Plus the man who might be the last person you expected to defend President Trump. One former President says we're being harder on Trump than anyone else. He even says he worked for the current commander in chief. We will tell you about that. Here to discuss all of this now, CNN Contributor Frank Bruni, a "The New York Times" op-ed columnist, CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers, a USA today columnist.


LEMON: Every night of my life.

POWERS: Another slow news day.

LEMON: It is crazy. Listen and I started the last broadcast with an open letter to this president, because this is how the day went, my newscast with another talk about the President. Sergeant La David's widow was on this morning on good morning America this morning. She was asked about the now infamous phone call that she had with the President and her claim that the President couldn't remember her husband's name. Watch this.


MYESHIA JOHNSON, WIDOW OF SGT. LA DAVID JOHNSON: That made me cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier. He did what it takes other soldiers like five years to do in three years. So imagine if my husband was here now? It took my husband three years to make e 5. If he was here now, he would be on his way to being e 6 or e 7. My husband had high hopes in a military career.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say to the President?

JOHNSON: I didn't say anything. I just listened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you were upset when you got off the phone?

JOHNSON: Oh, very upset and hurt. Very. It made me cry even worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything you'd like to say to the President now?

JOHNSON: No. I don't have nothing to say to him.


LEMON: And the President couldn't leave it alone. Tweeting, I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from the beginning without hesitation. I spoke with Chris Ruddy about this a little bit earlier. Clearly restrained in his tweet, but really keeping this fight going. The question is, though, what actually in Niger. And is he trying to cover for something? What's going on?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: No, I think he is doing what he always does. Someone insults him, he punches back. The only manner of being he knows is fighting. But it matters who you're fighting. It matters who your adversary is. And this is widow of someone who's lost her husband fighting for this country. This is such an easy one to finesse if you are a big person on a small person, you say well. I don't remember exactly how that phone call went. I have no meant to leave her feelings sadder, I have no means meant to disrespect her husband, and I salute and thank her husband for his service. I am in pain over on what she is going through and if she misinterpreted anything I said or if I said anything inelegantly, I am so sorry. That would put an end to it that would make him look big, he can't do it.

POWERS: Yeah, what he said.

LEMON: It is so easy. It would be over.

POWERS: This is a 74-year-old man President of the United States and this is 24-year-old woman. This is young woman that just had the worst thing that will probably happen in her entire life to lose her husband and father of her children, to have her entire family ripped apart forever. And this President of the United States cannot just be like a man, you know, and actually just say, yes, let's just even say that he was right, I tend to believe the woman, the widow, but let's say the President was right and he said everything was exactly right, you still in that situation say I'm sorry. This is very hard time for you.

[23:05:11] LEMON: But his chief of staff confirmed that he said what Frederica Wilson said he had. And then the widow confirmed he said the same thing as well, and said she has no reason to concoct the story about it.

POWERS: If this was any other person, I mean even if she completely made up a bunch of stuff, it is just out of grief, you would still say I'm sorry. Whatever I said, I was trying to comfort you and I obviously didn't do a good job.

LEMON: Leave it alone. Senator John McCain making headlines again tonight. He had impassioned tweet for unity. Here he is.


SEN JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: My friends, we should not be fighting about a brave American who lost his life serving his country. That should not be the topic of discussion in America today.



LEMON: You think this will be the final word?

BRUNI: No, I wish it would be, but I don't think so. I think John McCain is one of the most interesting and poignant stories in American politics right now. He is someone who clearly has a sense or fear that he is reaching the end of the road and he does not like the scenery around him at all. And I think it's really painful for him, because he has given many years to public service, he has given many years to institutional congress, to the senate in particular and as he is contemplating an exit not of his own choice, he looks around him, an institution in profound disrepair and looks about him at a President who I think embodies so many things that I think he detests.

LEMON: And obviously he is coming to terms with what's going on in his life. He talks about the mistakes he is made. He is taken responsibility for them. He is talked about regrets and so on. We were talking to Kirsten last week about President Bush and Obama being in the headlines. Then tonight the former president Jimmy Carter in an interview with the New Your Times, the media has been harder on President Trump than any other President, that he doesn't think what the Russians did changed any votes, and he'd be willing to go on a diplomatic mission to North Korea. Explain why you called this interview disturbing.

POWERS: Well, I thought he was making a lot of excuses for Donald Trump, first of all, which was troubling to me. He also talked about how, I think Marie Dowd asked him about the national anthem situation and he basically said, you know, people should be standing for the national anthem. Some of the positions he was taking I thought were a little out of touch. And he is somebody I have a lot of respect for, and I think he is a great humanitarian and there are a lot of good things about him. But in this interview it seemed he was just desperate to get back into the spotlight and desperate to impress Donald Trump. And who did he decide to attack, Barack Obama? That is just a strange thing for a former Democratic President.

LEMON: Is this about legacy in some way repairing?

BRUNI: I don't know. I think you hit it right. I think it's about feeling left out. There's couple of a jabs at the Clinton's. I think he spoke sloppily. The media coverage of Donald Trump is more negative than any President in my lifetime. But harder to suggest it's without reason. It's more negative, because the President has given us reason as the things we discussed earlier show. So I wonder if he really meant it exactly as he said it. I hope not.

LEMON: It's interesting when I see the polls about it, oh, the media is negative, and they did a survey on this. And they don't do it in comparison to the negative things this President has done, and therefore it deserves negative coverage.

POWERS: Also another thing I thought Carter said that was a little bit disturbing when he talked about the picture of the President and standing off to the side, and he said the reason as he did that was he thought his presidency being on a different level than other Presidents.

BRUNI: His post-presidency.

POWERS: Oh, where thought he said presidency. You may be right. Even then it's still a problem.

BRUNI: There's a moral vanity to that remark that I think has been the worst side to Jimmy Carter.

LEMON: I want to give an update tonight. Remember the grieving family of a fallen soldier they were supposed to receive a $25,000 check. The grieving family of that American soldier received that $25,000 check from the President Trump today. It was a promise made months ago by the commander in chief during a condolence call. The check was dated October 18th. That was the same day the White House was asked about the check. Coincidence?

POWERS: Big coincidence. Obviously on this one I don't fault President Trump as much as it does strike me the type of thing that somebody else was probably to follow through on. The President does have a lot going on. And the same thing with the letters, frankly. There's a problem in terms of what's going on with the process there at the White House. Because there is a process for this. This isn't the first President to do this. So I'd love to know where the break down has happened.

[23:10:13] LEMON: Listen, I give you that. I had the guy who put the lights on my tree, and I saw him and I was like oh, my gosh, I never paid you. But if you had someone on a phone call and you're the President of the United States, wouldn't you think somebody around him said $25,000.

POWERS: You would absolutely, I think that, you also can see his next phone call is something about North Korea. So he might be moving on with something else and there should be a staffer that takes care of that. I'm not really going to say Donald Trump on that dropped the ball. His staff dropped the ball, and I think it's the same way with the letters. He shouldn't have said he called all these people he didn't call. But there's a staffing problem there.

LEMON: Thank you. Oh, stick around. I forgot you guys are coming back. When we come back the $32 million question, why did Bill O'Reilly agree to pay out that stunning sum to a long-time Fox News colleague, and why is O'Reilly himself claiming victim now?


[23:15:17] LEMON: Bill O'Reilly on the warpath again against "The New York Times," that after "The Times" reported on a $32 million settlement O'Reilly reached with a former Fox News colleague who accused him of a sexual misconduct. It is the sixth such suit. "The Times" reported O'Reilly or Fox News settling on his behalf. Back now with my panel. This is what Bill O'Reilly said to "The New York Times." I want to play this.


BILL O'REILLY, THE O'REILLY FACTOR SHOW HOST: We have physical proof that this is bull (BEEP), bull (BEEP), OK? So it's on you if you want to destroy my children further. All right, because it's all crap. Why don't you be human beings for once? This is horrible. It's horrible what I went through. Horrible what my family went through. This is crap. And you know it. It's politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information.


LEMON: Our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins us now. Where's the proof? What's the shocking information?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I've been asking for months. O'Reilly ever since he'd been forced out of Fox in April has said he has proof of the conspiracy. A plot to take him down. Sometimes he tell it involves CNN. But, Don, he is never provided that proof. A half an hour ago I checked in with his spokesman and nothing.

LEMON: Did he say something in "The New York Times" about the reporting?

STELTER: He says this was a smear, but he can't deny the facts. And the facts are he did pay $32 million. He might not like the way the story was framed. He might think "The Times" was coming after him, but I never heard of someone paying $32 million to settle or to stop a sexual harassment lawsuit. It just doesn't happen. Harvey Weinstein who's accused of many worse crimes, he is been accused of rape by some women. O'Reilly has not. Harvey paid a $50 to $100 thousand settlements, but $32 million is unheard of.

LEMON: I read the Times, you are taking about Harvey Weinstein, and it talks about nonconsensual. What is that mean?

STELTER: Nonconsensual relationship. It could mean this legal analyst, she was in relationship with Bill O'Reilly and felt she couldn't leave. I don't know.

LEMON: 21st century Fox says that they knew of the allegations and repeated harassments in a nonconsensual sexual relationship. But did they know about the amount of money?

STELTER: They say they didn't. They say they knew there was a private settlement between two people and O'Reilly didn't think it was any of their business.

LEMON: If you turn on Fox news, they always going after other network on integrity and morals, and what they should be reporting. This is the height of the hypocrisy.

STELTER: I saw you tweet that over the week. He did say this is a setback for Fox, this is an embarrassing story for Fox. But some of the prime time hosts who've been talking about Harvey Weinstein, you're not going to hear about this.

LEMON: You're not going to hear them talking about the corrupted Fox News media.

STELTER: To them it is all about the left. I think we're going to see some consistency of outrage no matter what sides it's on.

LEMON: All right, you worked there. What do you think of this? What is O'Reilly not getting?

POWERS: I don't know because he says he is innocent. So we have to operate from the assumption he believes he is innocent. But to Brian's point, he paid out an enormous amount of money. It's not clear why he would be uniquely targeted. He says this is politically motivated. But there are other high profile conservative men who haven't been accused of sexual harassment. So it doesn't make sense why there would be this targeted attempt to take Bill O'Reilly in an way you haven't seen happen with other major host at Fox News or even just conservatives.

LEMON: And presumably conservative women. He keeps blaming "The New York Times" and media and media matters, but this are conservative (inaudible).

BRUNI: Everything is always "The New York Times" fault. It's always our fault.

LEMON: Like thanks Obama, thanks "The New York Times." it is, and why is that? BRUNI: And they also uncovered the Weinstein scandal.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: And you said this is the height of hypocrisy. And it's also the summit of corporate greed. Why did Harvey Weinstein get to prey on women for as long as he did, because everyone was enabling him and hushing him up?

[23:20:13] Why did 21st century Fox re-sign Bill O'Reilly even though they were saying they were cleaning house when it came to sexual harassment and they knew about the settlement, because he was making money, this is a story not just about sexual harassment but about corporate greed.

LEMON: I want to talk a little bit more about hypocrisy here. Because today Meagan Kelly released an email that she said to fox News executive, this was last November, it was about Bill O'Reilly, it reads, this is in part, perhaps it's his own history of harassment of women which has as you both know resulted in payments to more than one woman including recently that blinded him to folly of saying anything other than I am just so sorry to the woman of this company who never should have had to go through that.

But it's not -- here's my thing. It's not just Fox News who turned a blind eye to this and hypocrisy. It's also the people who watch Fox News and allow this behavior to happen and make excuses for it. Bill O'Reilly is a great guy. Even the President of the United States made excuses for the Bill O'Reilly's behavior. How do you say you're Christian, you believe in conservative values, you want women to be sacred and stand for all of that and you have someone who's basically a predator and supporting every night on your network?

POWERS: My best theory is that is they don't believe it. They don't believe that it had happen. Society is moving along still very slowly in my opinion in terms of how we react to these issues. We, too many women are still suffering. But there's even more a lag among conservatives. And I think they operate from the assumption women are probably lying. I just had this argument with Anderson earlier, it was Steven Moore who basically saying if you're a powerful man you can't meet alone with a woman that the implication is she is going to lie and say you're going to sexual harass her. They're always operating along the assumption it's not true.

LEMON: Where are the others line? There are some people who are in media, who are, if not as wealthy maybe more wealthy and maybe not, you know.

POWERS: I don't think they're operating under the assumption that these things happened, that they're ok with them. I think a lot of them are operating under the assumption that it is the liberal media that is out to get these people and exaggerating and it didn't actually happen.

LEMON: Family values, Christian values. Interesting. Thank you. Appreciate it. When we come back, words matter especially when you're the President. We're going to break down what President Trump said and how he said it, during the now famous call of Myeshia Johnson.


[23:27:22] LEMON: One of the hardest jobs for any President, speaking to the family of an American soldier killed in action. And today the widow of a fallen soldier spoke out about what this President said and how he said it.


JOHNSON: The President said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. And I was, it made me cry, because I was very angry at the tone in his voice and how he said it. He couldn't remember my husband's name. The only way he remembered my husband's name was because he told me he had my husband's report in front of him. And that is when he actually said La David.


LEMON: I want to bring in John McWhorter, he teaches Linguistic Columbia University, author of words on the move, John welcome. We're in the middle of another controversy about language right now. We brought you in and wanted to ask you about it. Myeshia spoke out this morning and then the President tweeted. I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from the beginning without hesitation. He said the word is respectful. She doesn't feel as a widow, her husband was respected. Why contradict her? Is this giving her family respect?

JOHN MCWHORTER, PROFESSOR OF LINGUISTICS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, obviously for Trump it's all about this big man syndrome. He has to redeem himself, he has to be the best person. He is, and many people have said, I don't know if I'm trained to nail it, but he is a clinical narcissist. What's so appalling now is he would even do this when we're talking about somebody who has lost their spouse. I genuinely don't think it occurs to him that there is difference between this and the other, I would say, urinating contest that he is engages in. And it's very sad to see.

LEMON: And language can be comforting or not in depending on how you use it. Especially some people might hear it differently. General Kelly describes the President's conversation with Myeshia one way, the words that were used were the same that were said to him when his son died. I'll let you listen and then we'll discuss.


JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Let me tell you what my best friend told me. He said, Kelly, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we're at war. And when he died and the four cases we're talking about in Niger and my son's case in Afghanistan, when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends.


Frederica Wilson described how those words went.


REP FREDERICA WILSON, (R) FLORIDA: We were in the car together, in the limousine headed to meet the body at the airport. So I heard what he said, because the phone was on speaker.

LEMON: What did he say?

WILSON: Well, basically he said, well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts. That is what he said.


LEMON: Those are basically the same words. The reaction to them were completely different. What went wrong?

JOHN MCWHORTER, PROFESSOR OF LINGUISTICS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, what went wrong is first of all this? In a situation like this most people would at least pretend a certain way of presenting. Language is partly about the words themselves. But it's also about tone. In terms of our brain processing language, part of how we hear it is just hearing the melody. That is what comes in first before our brain decodes what the words are. And so first of all he could have bothered to learn the name. And since it's a challenging name. La David is not a name most of us would expect, certainly he would expect. You'd think he would have done a little bit of homework, just a bit and mastered a way of saying the man's name probably about three times to at least suggest concern. Part of being an adult to act somewhat, if you can't really feel for the widow, most of us would be able to act it. But in his case, the reason that it didn't come across the way similar words did to Kelly, because he wasn't capable of even acting them. And because as usual he can't get out of his own head. That is what's frightening about this. Here's a job you think not only is it painful but there's a role to play where you step outside of yourself. He doesn't have that muscle, so this is where he is going to keep messing up.

LEMON: Thinking about its how producers will brief me on a show for a certain guest. They'll give me a pronouncement. John McWhorter is here to talk about language, he is a professor, here is what you should know about him, this is his background, he is written this book, been strong on this and just grief. And you take those in and take those notes and you know about the person you are interacting with.

MCWHORTER: You pay a tiny bit of attention. I'll give you an example. The country this unfortunate young man lost his life in has an interesting name n-i-g-e-r. I think many of us might think that part of this story is of course he dies in the country with that name. I thought to myself I'm going to look that up, but I thought to myself that name isn't the "n" word. It is an accident, it is actually a verber word. That is something that we might know. That is something I thought about when I learned I was going to come on this show, you do a bit of homework. It doesn't take much time. It wouldn't occur to somebody who is as inside his head as Trump. This is his issue. If he sees a name like La David and it didn't occur to him at 70 years old that it means he has to rehearse the name La David a couple of times so he can at least fake sincerity, what does that say about his running the country in general, about his attitudes towards North Korea, or today tax law, et cetera. If it's really only about himself, and unlike most people he doesn't have the mode where he can step outside of what he is thinking and take the role of someone else, I think we're really in a kind of trouble.

LEMON: Some say he gets it right sometimes and that this next clip we're going to play is evidence of that. Because here he is speaking to a widow whose husband had died in Afghanistan. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am so sorry to hear about the whole situation. What a horrible thing. Except that he is an unbelievable hero, and all the people that served with him are saying how incredible he was and just an amazing, an amazing guy. And I wanted to call you. He was a great hero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, President Trump. Those words are very kind. He was a great man, amazing man, and amazing soldier. And I couldn't be more proud of my husband.


LEMON: What was very interesting to me there he was on speakerphone. When the President calls, people put it on speaker because the President is calling. That is out of the ordinary even though this administration thinks it's out of the ordinary, but I digress. Maybe he couldn't get the name La David because he didn't know or they didn't talk about it for 12 days or maybe it was rushed. I am not sure, what do you think.

[23:35:14] MCWHORTER: I think really if he saw that name on a piece of paper, somebody in his position should immediately thought this was a tough one.

LEMON: How do you think he handled that one?

MCWHORTER: No, that is no good either and I am checking myself, I am not saying that I am out of bias. What I heard is him stringing together a bunch of set phrases that one says. I didn't hear one bit that somebody might think he actually meant in the way that you can imagine an Obama would have done it, the way a Nixon would have done it. All of these people were capable of a certain kind of acting. Where you just string phrases together, I once heard of a friend of mine whose mother passed on, and this person had like a Trump- syndrome, and he said oh, my goodness, give him my deepest sympathies. That is what I heard from Trump. You're supposed to be at least be able to fake it. Any politician as part of being a politician to connect in a deliberate and often phony way with other people. It's sad that this person although not surprising can't step up. LEMON: I heard he used to ride his bike to Wal-Mart every day and

that he wanted to make something of himself despite the challenges that he had as a child. Just something personal.

MCWHORTER: One thing. Do some work?

LEMON: Okay, john McWhorter, thank you. Words on the move. Thank you.

MCWHORTER: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, Russia's election meddling. How Moscow has been targeting racial tensions to cause deep divisions in the U.S. for decades.


[23:40:53] LEMON: Russian internet trolls used social media to raise racial tension in the U.S. While the tools are new it turns out Russians have been doing it for decades. That is according to a new article. It's by my guest Julia Ioffe she joins me now, who writes about Russians relations for the Atlantic. Also joining us CNN National Security Analyst Steve Hall, he was head of the Russia operation for the CIA. This is fascinating. You wrote a long piece about this. And you say it's not the first time. Explain that to me.

JULIA IOFFE, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So it goes back all the way to the 1930s where the soviet union, then it was the soviet union was looking to exploit processes that were happening inside the U.S., racial tensions happening inside the U.S. To splinter American politics. Much the same way that they used black lives matter and black west, all these weird groups to fan the flames of social division and political division in the U.S. But it goes all the way back to the 1930s including the scots borough nine when nine black teenagers were falsely accused and then wrongly convicted repeatedly apparently raping two white women. And the most famous propaganda artists made a poster for the scots borough nine. In some ways it fueled, kind of gave even more momentum to the civil rights movement that was organic to the U.S. But because of the Russians were making hay out of it geopolitically. If you think about after World War II the U.S. is new super power and it's trying to convince new countries to follow our way of life. And the soviets are saying what's so great about their way of life? Two thirds of the population are not white and look how the U.S. treats its nonwhite population. And is this really a country you want to follow. And in part because of this John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower, Linden B. Johnson made decisions to put the civil rights agenda forward, because they we afraid of how it was playing in the geopolitical space.

LEMON: How others are taking advantage, interesting. Steve why do you think they do this? What's their goal?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: First, Julia has written an excellent article, very interesting piece of what the rugs are up to here. Russian operations are carried typically by their intelligence services, often have a number of different goals. In the most recent iteration we saw the Russians try to influence our election so Trump would win and less of a chance Clinton would win. They're very good at identifying hot button social issues that they know will divide the west and in this case the United States the more divided we are, whether it's along racial lines, immigration, religion, the less we can focus on what Russia is up to. Very important to Vladimir Putin who runs an autocratic form of government that is antithetical to democracy. He doesn't want us messing with his form of government, he does want us focusing on what he is doing in Ukraine. One thing that concerns me is the escalation we have now. It's one thing to put out something in RT. It's one thing to read fake news from Russia, but when you have Russia targeting specific individuals and you have Russia trying to get them go out in protest, like these gym owners they reached out to conduct these courses in the black fist situation, that is something that can't go on and the Russians will continue to push it.

LEMON: Go ahead Julia.

[23:45:00] IOFFE: Last week a Russian journalist put out an amazingly detailed, amazingly thorough investigative piece that RBC kind of the Russian analog of Bloomberg. And what he found is that basically two thirds of the misinformation and the kind of trolls, heated content that the Russians were putting out there was about race, two thirds. So the rest was about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and about Trump. But two thirds were about race.

LEMON: Can I jump in? I think it's interesting for the Russians realized that we have a race problem, because many people here deny it. And it should not be a catalyst for us to want to deal with us about the race, the race problem and then they can't exploit it. You mentioned how it sort of got our leaders to push civil rights voting legislation. So what do Americans do this time?

IOFFE: That is an excellent point. I think the danger here in all of this hysteria about Russia. Russia did do something bad and they did meddle in our election, but they ultimately worked at the margins. They didn't build the fire. They were the bellows. We provided the logs, we lit the match, and we started the fire. And we have to reckon with what is happening in our society and deal with these issues.

LEMON: Steve, I've got 20 seconds left if you can. I'll give you the last word.

HALL: I don't disagree with those points. One thing I would argue though, we have to be careful about not overlook this through western lenses. The Russians know, first of they have their own enormous race problem. Anybody that lives in Russia knows how that goes. We have to be careful because the Russians know that we will take this upon ourselves and go maybe there's work we need to do. It's no fun, and it's not right when the Russians manipulate those things that we ought to be doing ourselves for their own gains.

LEMON: Thank you, both. Fascinating conversation. Great article, Julia Ioffe. Steve, thank you as well. When we come right back, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, special investigation to

the heroin epidemic, where the drugs are coming from and why border agents aren't sure the President's proposed border wall can stop them from coming in.


[23:51:35] LEMON: President Trump insists his big, beautiful wall will stop the flow of drugs from Mexico, but how effective would a wall really be? Doctor Sanjay Gupta has more from the Mexican border. Sanjay?

SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Don, it's a totally different war on drugs nowadays. The drugs have changed so fundamentally. You will see this in just a second, you'd be hard pressed to believe, I think, that a wall would make a difference when you look at what is happening nowadays.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the first thing that sort of flags this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes it's driver's behavior. They're unnaturally nervous crossing the border. Sometimes it's the car hasn't crossed the border a lot or sometimes the car has crossed the border too often.

GUPTA: What you're witnessing here are efforts in stopping drugs from coming across the U.S. Mexican border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost every car crossing is crossing for a legitimate reason. Only a small drug are contraband. When you saw the dog sit down in the back of the car that is how that particular dog alerts.

GUPTA: Special agent in charge scout around, oversees the field office for homeland security investigations and drugs are a big part of what he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how it happens. What we're witnessing here is what happens every day. This is what happens every day along the southwest border of the U.S. and the officers at the ports of entry are phenomenal. They're fantastic at identifying fresh tool marks. They can pick up on that. I mean, they're experts at what they do.

GUPTA: Human art and intelligence together.


GUPTA: What they find, about 24 kilos of hard drugs. Minutes later, field testing reveals cocaine.

This is a win today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is definitely a win. GUPTA: In the midst of the country's opioid epidemic, President Trump

has made building up the wall a cornerstone of his agenda.

TRUMP: The wall is going to get built. In case anybody has any question, the wall is going to get built and the wall is going to stop drugs.

GUPTA: But I wanted to learn just how effective the wall would be at accomplishing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This literally is a physical wall between two countries that we're looking at here.

The vast amount of hard narcotics don't come through at places like this. The vast amount of hard narcotics come through at the ports of entry where we just were.

GUPTA: And besides meth, cocaine, heroin or marijuana, its fentanyl, which is 50 sometimes stronger than heroin. It's the biggest challenge nowadays. The most recent numbers from the centers for disease control found that overdose deaths from synthetic Opioids like fentanyl, rose over 72 percent in just a year.

In the past Cartel's might try and smuggle hundred kilograms of drugs across the border. It wasn't easy to do. They were likely to get caught. But here is part of the problem. Nowadays they could smuggle across something that looks like this. This is just a one kilogram bag of flower. If this were street fentanyl it would cost about $8,000 to make. It could be turned into a million pills and then sold for $20 to $30 million on the black market. All of that from a small container that looks like this.

[23:55:04] SCOTT BROWN, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATION: The vast majority of fentanyl is produced in China. It comes into the U.S. two ways. It comes into Mexico where it is combined with heroin. The other way it comes in is American consumer is buying it direct oftentimes from vendors out of China.

GUPTA: And then it gets mailed in.

BROWN: U.S. Mail, which is the most common. A very small quantity of fentanyl is very hard to detect in the masses of letters that come into the U.S. every day.

GUPTA: How effective is a wall at preventing drugs getting into the United States, in terms of hard narcotics, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vast majority of narcotics come in through the ports of entry in deep concealment or come in through mail order express consignments.

GUPTA: And Don, what we're talking about fentanyl, again, a hundred times stronger than morphine, 50 times stronger than heroin. The economics of it, for $8,000 in raw ingredients, something that comes in by the size of this, you could turn that into $30 million. That means people are going to keep trying over and over and over again through the mail in the back of a car. Whatever it takes. It's just too great an incentive for them. That is why this war is such a difficult won, Don.

LEMON: Thanks, Sanjay. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.