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Texas Shooting; Gunman Was Focus on Mass Shooting; Election Day Tomorrow, One Year Since President Trump's Win; Trump Jr. Wanted Dirt On Hillary Clinton. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:0018] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. And we're live with new developments tonight in the church massacre in Sutherland springs, Texas. The worst mass shooting in Texas history. We're learning the air force is investigating wide records concerning a domestic violence conviction against Devin Patrick Kelley were not entered in a national crime database. Information could have prevented Kelley from purchasing firearms. Authorities also saying tonight the gunman sustained three gunshot wounds, including a self- inflicted shot through the head. Let's begin with the latest from Sutherland springs, Texas now with senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt. Alex thank you for joining us this evening. You're getting new information tonight about the shooter's past. Tell us about it.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We are, Don. Specifically one episode in his past that might have prevented him from collecting such a huge arsenal of which to carry out this attack. This dark chapter happening back in 2012 back when the attacker was in the air force. He was married to a woman he is no longer married, since got a divorce, and he was convicted of two counts of domestic assaults against both that woman and her son. And he was sentenced to a year in the brig after which he was released, but also demoted and he left the army with bad behavior.
He then, we're told that the air force did not relay this information to their civilian counter parts. He was not entered into what is known as the national criminal information database. And if someone is in that database then if someone goes to buy a weapon, they would normally pop up in an FBI background check. But nothing came up in these background checks. Therefore we assume the gunman was able to subsequently buy the weapon and all that ammunition. We now understand the air force is carrying out an investigation alongside the Pentagon, Don.
LEMON: Alex, we are learning that one family, the Holcomes lost eight family members. She spoke with the surviving family member. How are they holding up?
MARQUARDT: 26 dead and a more than third are from this one family. They are not doing so well, as you might imagine yesterday was the worst day of their lives. They are absolutely devastated, they are putting a good faith on it. We went out to their farm today. I spoke with Scott Holcom who lost both of his parents along with other family members. He said that his parents would want some good to come out of this, he believes god would make good of some of this. And he was telling us this as he was crying. He said after all of this he is going to start going to church. It is just devastating to think that eight members, three generations -- across three generation of a single family were killed. They included Brian, Scott's father who was a substitute preacher on this day. He'd been preaching for several decades, his mother, Carla, who taught Sunday school. His brother Danny, his sister-in-law Crystal who had five children and was two months pregnant with her sixth. And then there were four other grandchildren who were also among the dead. But in the brief amount of time I spent with them this afternoon you can tell they're a very close family, very tight-knit family and they will be leaning on each other in the days and weeks and months to come. Don.
LEMON: It's so awful. Alex, thank you so much. Our thoughts to the family, please give them. More breaking news tonight. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the senate armed services committee saying his committee will vigorously investigate why the air force failed enter Kelley's conviction in the national crime database. Joining me now a Lt Colonel Geoffrey Corn former army attorney, Tom Verni a former New York City police detective and Sam Rabadi a retired special agent with ATF who was in charge of the Philadelphia office. Thank you all for coming on. Lieutenant, the air force is now investigating how it failed to enter the shooter's domestic violence conviction into the federal law enforcement databases. How could something like that fall through the cracks? That is a big question.
GEOFFREY CORN (RET) FORMER ARMY JAG ATTORNEY: Well, I think the question has to begin with what the regulatory guidance is within the air force for who reports this information, when they report it and how they report it. Obviously we would hope that there is a standard procedure that applies to all air force bases. And then the next question becomes, how did this slip through the cracks? I mean it may be it was just an unfortunate error that somebody failed to cross all the t and dot the I, if there were a requirement to report it.
[23:05:14] It seems difficult to imagine that there is not such a regulatory requirement. Although I'll tell you that all day I've been looking through some of their regulations, and I find them a little bit confusing. And I'm not sure it was a clear statement of what offenses need to be reported. And part of that may be, because the nature of military offenses in courts don't perfectly translate to the normal kind of felony and misdemeanor type courts that we have in the civilian system.
LEMON: Interesting. Tom, I want to bring you in. The shooter had served a year in confinement for assaulting his previous wife and stepchild. He was charged with animal cruelty, for punching and beating a dog. And he gets access to a gun. But what does that tell you about him?
TOM VERNI, FORMER DETECTIVE, NEW YORK POLICE: Well, it tells me he is clearly a troubled individual. My condolences go out to the family and friends part of his horrific attack. And it just if furiated. It infuriates me to no end because we can no longer go to movie theaters, we can't have first graders in school, when are we going to sit down and have a serious conversation about addressing a couple of things. The president earlier today have made a comment about how a mental health illness problem, I don't really much agree with the president in a lot of things, but I do agree with that this is a huge problem, because through deinstitutionalization system in the 1970's We have people out there that have mental, you know that aren't being addressed. So we have people with mental problem and need psychiatric help. We still have loopholes in the gun system where people can get access to guns aside from the number of illegal guns out there, when are we going to have these conversations and my opinion is that the pain isn't great enough. We haven't lost enough people yet apparently.
LEMON: We have lost so many people, look at the number of people we've lost just over the last month.
VERNI: Yes. Right.
LEMON: And I think people are become desensitized to it.
VERNI: But Don, when you have 20 first graders get slaughtered in their classroom and six teachers, wouldn't that be the time to have the conversation?
LEMON: Every time I've had this discussion and debate on television, so many times it's a circular argument. You want to take their rights away, anti-second amendment, why are you focusing on it --
VERNI: I'm a second amendment guy. I owned guns, I believe we should have guns to protect our families. But that is not the question here. The question is there are too many ways for people to get access to guns. Even legal gun owners in the case of Sandy Hook where this kid, the son was able to get his hands on it. That shouldn't happen.
LEMON: We live in a big city. We see people walking around talking to themselves all the time, right? Imagine if they had access to guns and the damage they could do. Go ahead, Sam. Please.
SAM RABADI, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, ATF: No, I was just going to say I couldn't agree more. You know, I heard your opening there, Don, at the beginning of the show. And completely agree. And I can tell you spending 29 years enforcing the so-called laws on the books, I can tell you over the course of that career that myself and so many of my colleagues have tried to get through all the loopholes, the work arounds as well as the folks falling through the cracks. And despite our best efforts guns are still going to get into the hands of the wrong types of people like what happened in this tragedy. And there has to be some kind of middle ground that folks can get together for common sense measures I think we can all agree upon.
LEMON: So I've got two military men here and a police officer, a law enforcement officer. And if you guys get people to pay attention to this, what do we have to get our leaders to do in order to address this issue, at least to address it and start making some substantive changes? Lieutenant colonel anything? CORN: Well, first up I'd like to say I understand the concern that
maybe this individual suffered from some mental issues. But we should also note that there's nothing we've seen from his military record or the record of his court-martial that indicates he had any mental disturbance. And you would think if he suffered from some mental disturbance either he would have been processed for separation from the air force for that reason or it would have come up in his court- martial. Being a sociopath, being someone that snaps and decides to kill other people, doesn't always mean that you suffer from other mental disease or defects. So I think one of the things we have to be careful about is assuming that every one of these incidents can be blamed on that cause. The simple reality is this shouldn't have slipped through the cracks.
[23:10:09] If you look at the federal statute that prohibits felons from owning firearms, there were two sub provisions of that statute that applied to this case. He was charged with an offense that carried with it a penalty of more than one year's confinement. The fact he only got one year doesn't mean that provision didn't apply to him. And he also committed a crime of domestic violence, both of those was statutory provision, to possessing a firearm, or for him to have bought the firearm.
So if we can't get the system to function effectively when we know that it already prohibits people from getting access to weapon, then the next step of the discussion is already distorted. And I'm glad that Senator McCain is going to hold this hearing. And hopefully it will lead to some more effective methodology for the military to input the data when there is a criminal conviction and a court-martial, or when the service member is separated for mental illness.
LEMON: Thank you all. That is going to have to be the last word. I appreciate the conversation.
Just ahead, Donald Trump elected to office one year ago. CNN's new polling showing the President hitting an all-time low. What it means for his ability to govern and impact on his remaining three years. That is next.
[23:15:32] LEMON: Many Americans heading to the polls tomorrow to vote on Election Day. It was one year ago on Election Day that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Joining me now CNN political analyst April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Ribbon radio networks, CNN contributor Salena Zito, and Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Wow, it's almost been one year. Remember that? Salena tomorrow Election Day. You've been talking to a lot of people about this. And so what are you hearing?
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: So what I did, in an article for the "The New York Times," I brought Democrats and Republicans together to see how much has heal. And I saw -- one of the things that has stayed true all year round and I know I've said this to you before, a lot of people are still stuck on November 8th, at midnight. If you voted for him you're optimistic or excited. If you didn't vote had for him, you're sort of still in a state of shock. You think it's illegitimate, he didn't get the popular vote, and Russia had something to do with it. But you're still not accepting that this is real. And not much has changed since then. That is what I find everywhere. But this trip to Sterling Heights, Michigan and Cumberland, Maryland, were incredibly striking. One area that had ads and were bombarded and helped sway the election. They were much more, had put it behind them. In Michigan, not so much.
LEMON: She said not much has changed, April. The polling numbers have changed somewhat. Still he is been in the 30s, you know, since he was elected. But it's going down now. The President got some startling numbers to face in our new poll. And it shows approval at its lowest yet. CNN surveys that is 36 percent approve of his performance, down 1 point from October. Disproval at a new high, 58 percent, disproval of his performance. How would you characterize the state of his presidency, April?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: The state of this President's union is not necessarily as strong as he'd like. As you know, it's sad, because when you have a President you want to see a President succeed. And going back to what Salena said, you know, there are still Americans who are in the fetal position. I remember around 3:00 in the morning, I was watching social media and watching the reaction. And still there's still this dual reaction to what's happening now from those who did not support. There's also buyer's remorse from what I am seeing. But what I am hearing as I'm traveling the country in both Republican and Democratic areas. And what I'm hearing and seeing is many Americans are saying he needs to be off of twitter. Twitter is one of his biggest downfalls. And he opens holes himself. No one throws him in a hole. He does it himself sometimes. And he tries to get his way out, and once he doubles down, it makes it worse.
There is buyer's remorse in the Republican Party. We heard are from Republican U.S. Senators, but there are still people who are fearful to say things, because they don't want to be tweeted about or have that group, that smaller group that approve of this President go against them. But we have to remember also there is a bigger number that disapprove. We keep talking about approval that is much smaller than those who disprove.
LEMON: 58 percent.
RYAN: So I'm waiting for that to flip and you continue to hear the approval.
LEMON: Doug, look take us behind the numbers and why they may be the way they are. Has the President made an effort to reach out to people who didn't support him a year ago? Has he tried to bring the country together?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, of course Donald Trump hasn't brought the country together, and you can see it by the division everywhere you look. I think, Don, there are two stories going on. One is that Donald Trump is not having a good first year and only 35 percent of the public thinks he is doing ok. Those are abysmal numbers. The only one that were made first years in recent times, you know, like Bill Clinton had 48 percent. But that is 13 or so points different in spread. Trump has been failing.
[23:20:11] However, in the Republican Party they're sticking by him. You know, 80 percent, 75 percent of the Republicans. And I think that is where the story is. Will there may be more Jeff Flakes, and finally, Don, the big problem of this Russia probe. He is been under investigation almost from day one. And it's hard for people to feel comfortable with him at any moment the campaign manager is getting arrested and the Mueller report is, you know an investigation is bringing up new ugly news on a regular drum beat.
LEMON: Yes, it's interesting especially when you talk to, when you look at the numbers, Salena, as you said his base is still with him, Republicans are still with him. 75 percent, even into the 80 percentile. CNN polls has some number when it comes to Russia, this Russian investigation there are 64 percent of American say the Russian investigation is a serious matter that should be full investigated. 32 percent think it's an attempt to discredit the President. This after the first indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller the President likes to say it is a hoax. But just look at the number of campaign administration officials with ties to Russia so far. Family members, cabinet member, a former campaign manager and others. It's getter harder for his base to call this a witch-hunt with so many people with so many ties to Russia, isn't it?
ZITO: Well, here's the thing that I think we should maybe be looking at. There are two things that would dislodge Trump voters from him permanently. Two things would have to happen. He would either have to become part of the swamp. That is the thing they don't want him to dab his toe into whatsoever. But also I think that the Democrats need to start offering some more tangible benefits, more things for voters to, because they can easily be picked away if they start offering them, say, ok, he is giving you this, I can give you this and this is better. And I think that is a better message that the Democrats need to work on. Right now all you're seeing is you're stupid, because you voted for Trump or you're racist because you voted --
LEMON: I understand. But what does that have to do with the Russia thing? Bring it back to Russia.
ZITO: Well, the Russia thing, in terms of his voters, that is how it started the whole swamp thing, that is not going to dislodge them, because there's a large measure of distrust among these voters for large institutions and all things Washington and all things big government. So they're not going to trust this. And I'm not saying they're right. I'm just saying that is their state of mind right now.
LEMON: They just don't think the Russia investigation --
LEMON: They still think it's a witch-hunt. But my question is it's getting harder to think that but you still --
ZITO: That is the only thing I see dislodging him if he becomes part of this fall out. LEMON: Thank you all, I appreciate it. When we come back, new
details on the now infamous Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russians during the election. The Russian lawyer behind that meeting is speaking out. What she says went down at the meeting and why she wants to talk to Robert Mueller's team.
[23:27:55] LEMON: We keep learning more about Donald Trump, Jr.'s pre-election meeting with a Russian attorney and her associates. Now the lawyer claims Trump junior hinted that if his father won the election his administration would be willing to review a sanctions law -- sanctions law target President Putin's inner circle. Let us discuss now, David Kocieniewski is here. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter at Bloomberg news. This is interesting, this interview that the kremlin link here, Natalia Veselnitskaya gave a two and a half hour interview to Bloomberg about her meeting with Kushner, Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. at Trump tower. She said the President's son hinted at changing an anti- Russian law in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton. I want to make sure we get that. Dirt on Hillary Clinton, how does this affect this probe at all?
DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, BLOOMBERG INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, I think it certainly stirs the pot. I mean this meeting when we first found out about it back in July, it was unclear the Trump administration and others that it was not about dirt, about the campaign. It was about the Russian adoption law, because Putin in 2012 had forbidden Americans from adopting babies from Russia. But as things have come out, we later found out that the pretext of the meeting is that Russia said they had information that could help the Trump campaign get dirt on Hillary Clinton. So the administration later had to acknowledge that that was true, their e-mails had proved it. This, Natalia's statement now suggests they were willing to trade. And, you know, this is a different encounter she is given in the past. I think we have to be careful the way the evidence comes out. But I think if it's true, I think that certainly raises question about how much interaction was there.
LEMON: Let's talk more about her account. Because her account Natalia her account in the meeting which included Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, different than Trump Jr.'s. she claimed the president son and indicated if his father won the election in the MagNitsky act which was retaliatory measure, that the U.S. leveled against Moscow, blacklisting suspected human right abusers would be reexamine and she claims that Donald Trump, Jr. said this. Looking ahead, if we come to power we can return to this issue and think what to do about it. Does that sound like a quid pro quo to you?
DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, BLOOMBERG INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: I think it sounds like the opening of a quid pro quo. You have to see if anything is going to be delivered, and the Mueller investigation is looking at this. They're talking to a lot of administration about, not only happened in meetings but what the reaction was afterwards. I think that will reveal itself over time. But I think what's interesting is in this most recent account she gave to my colleagues in Moscow she said he actually asked for documents to back up --
LEMON: Money that had gone to Hillary Clinton's campaign, right?
LEMON: And then described this 20 minute meeting as a failure.
KOCIENIEWSKI: Correct. Because she didn't have them. I think this MagNitsky act had been a thorn in the side to Putin and Russia. He claimed there had been a big corruption scandal and then he died under mysterious circumstances in prison. So the U.S. had sanctions that were directed not just at Russia but certain oligarchs who were close to Putin and very painful to his inner circle. So this is a huge -- a huge point of contention, and Putin wanted to do whatever he could do to turn it back. The other interesting thing with the talking points you brought to the meeting, "The New York Times" revealed last week she had mentioned to a high ranking government Russian official. So while there's been some question as to was, she a private lawyer, she had given the same exact talking points to the equivalent of the Russian Attorney General.
LEMON: Interesting interview. And thanks for coming on and talking.
KOCIENIEWSKI: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: David Kocieniewski, I appreciate it. When we come back, two Presidents -- two President Bush's with one united criticism of President Trump. The question for his fitness for office and how Trump is responding.
[23:36:43] LEMON: Well, it sounds like there is no love lost between the current Republican President Donald Trump and his two Republican predecessors, George H.W. Bush who calls him a blow hard and George W. Bush who says Trump doesn't know what it means to be President. That is according to a new book by my next guest presidential historian Mark Updegrove, he is the author of the last Republicans, inside the extraordinary relationship between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Also Mark McKinnon joins me. He is an advisor to George W. Bush and the executive producer of show time's "the circus." I cannot wait. I do want to read this book, so thank you for bringing me a copy of it. So you sat down with Presidents George H.W. Bush and George w. Bush in the heat of the 2016 campaign, and they talked about Donald Trump. Strongest words, this is from the 41st President when he said this, I don't like him, I don't know much about him, but I know he is a blow hard. I'm not too excited about him being a leader. Set the scene for us. Tell us more about why he chose to make those comments.
MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENTIAL HOSTORIAN: Well, it was in May of 2016. It was a time when Donald Trump was going to be the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. And he was being very frank about his views about Donald Trump. And it's understandable, Don, if you know the Bush ethos. It's antithetical to everything that Donald Trump stands for. The Bushes are emblems of civility and decency and humility. And the notion of putting conservatism itself.
LEMON: And conservatism very classy people. What you think about them ideologically, you know they set a standard in many ways. What about George W. Bush, he had some very critical words for Trump. What did he say?
UPDEGROVE: He talked about the fact when Trump said I am my own advisor, I rely on myself more or less for all of the advice of affairs. Of course, you know, there's something wrong about this. Because humility is the hallmark of great leadership. And this guy must not realize what it means to be President. And so he was a little less direct, and little less blunt than George H.W. Bush. But I think he is pretty obvious in his criticism.
LEMON: Mark both President Bushes have appeared to be somewhat reluctant to speak out or critique President Trump. But we're starting to see some cracks here. This is George W. Bush back in October. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDETN OF THE UNITED STATES: Our identity as a nation unlike many other nations is not determined by geography or ethnicity or so our blood. This means that people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The former President here is showing us how another President may have responded to the violence in Charlottesville. Mark McKinnon you worked for George W. Bush. How big a deal is it for him to speak out about a sitting President?
[23:40:10] MARK MCKINNON, THE CIRCUS ON SHOWTIME CO HOST: Well I think it says a lot that he spoke out. It's almost unanimous people thought he is been a great ex-President. In partially because he has kept a very low profile and stayed off the radar screen. But the fact that he came and spoke on that speech as strongly he did testify that how strongly he feels, he also said bigotry seems so emboldened today and public discourse is degraded by casual cruelty. And just echoing what Mark said, that really is the Bush ethos, and that is really what he ran on in 2000. In fact not just a lot but the main focus of the Bush campaign in 2000 is he was running to restore honor and dignity to the White House because he thought it degraded President Clinton. That is what they can't stand is to see that institution degraded.
LEMON: Mark, I have to go. Let me ask you. Did you get any sense that the motivation behind these comments could have come from his attacks, Trump's attacks on Jeb Bush during the campaign?
UPDEGROVE: I don't think so, Don. I think the Bushes are pragmatists.
LEMON: Jamey also said the same thing. He doesn't think it's motivated.
UPDEGROVE: They know they're sharp elbows during a campaign. If I may add I think George W. Bush's speech here in New York City was a clear shot at the bow at Trump, although it was indirect. I think there was a more clear statement at Donald Trump and that was the tweet that George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush both made after Charlottesville, in which they condemned bigotry and anti-Semitism. At a time when Donald Trump did not, at a time there was ambiguity from Donald Trump in terms of what happened in Charlottesville. So that was a pretty clear statement.
LEMON: Mark McKinnon the White House responded to Bush's comments and in the process attacked the legacy of both Bush presidents. It's really quite telling. This is the official statement. They said if one Presidential candidate can disassembly a political Party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had. And that began with Iraq war, and one of the greatest foreign policy in the states in American history. President Trump remains focused on keeping his promises to American people by bringing back jobs and standing up for the forgotten men and women of our great country. So that said the President himself has not gone on the attack. Do you think this statement is a good illustration of the differences between the Bushes and President Trump?
MCKINNON: Well, I do think although it's not directly from the President himself, the classic counter punch. And listen, they took a shot at him, they took a shot back. I think that fair in politics, and it's a fair observation they make. A lot of people that supported George W. Bush support him because of his message about compassionate conservatism. And I think for a lot of Republicans today they're missing that compassionate component of the conservative in the Trump administration.
LEMON: Mark McKinnon, I have to go. But before I do, I want to ask you about your colleague, your former colleague on "the circus." he is been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, in some cases sexual assault. He is lost his position at NBC, at show time among other jobs. What's your reaction to his reported behavior?
MCKINNON: Well, it's inexcusable and indefensible. We never saw a sign of any action during the first two seasons of the circus nevertheless it has been determined that if the show goes forward any role from Mark would be involve in the show would be untenable.
LEMON: And, you know, there are critics that say you have to have known something, you had to have seen something, you worked with him for a long time. What do you say to them?
MCKINNON: As soon as I heard this I also called the production side of the show to ask if anybody else had seen anything, any hint of this kind of behavior, and nobody had and I didn't as well.
LEMON: Mark McKinnon, Mark Updegrove, thank you so much. I appreciate both of you joining us this evening.
When we come back, are liberal liberals too quick to cry racism when it comes to the GOP?
[23:48:57] LEMON: Are Democrats too quick to call their Republican opponents bigots? That is the focus of a new piece by CNN political commentator Peter Beinart in the Atlantic called "Republican is not a synonym for racist." he joins me now, (inaudible) former communications director for Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher. This is going to be very interesting. Peter welcome, everyone, by the way. Your column in the Atlantic asks the question, is American conservatism inherently bigoted. Tell me how conservatives and liberals view bigotry differently.
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think conservatives tend to do bigotry as a kind of conscious act name and aimed keeping a certain group down. I think liberals are more likely to view bigotry as the effect. If your policy has the effects of perpetuating kind of second class citizens for certain people then that is bigotry. The point I was trying to make in the piece is one of the really alarming things about our policies today, is that the Republican Party is becoming increasingly overtly racist and bigoted.
[23:5002] I think both liberals and conservatives have to figure out how to try to define a conservative politics. Conservatives are never going to agree with liberals in a whole bunch of thing, right? But to try to bring the Republican Party back a little bit to where it was in the 1990 or under George W. Bush, when racial hostility was not as much an animating force in American politics.
LEMON: So your conclusion to this question is that American conservatives are inherently bigoted. You say?
BEINART: Well, I think unless Republicans are willing to take on voter I.D. Laws that courts have shown specifically aimed at making it harder for African Americans and other people to vote they're going to be vulnerable to this.
LEMON: Scott what do you say, the column goes on to say that conservatives are fearful of discussing politics, because they dread being called a bigot. Do you feel that way?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Peter's column is interesting. And I agree with many of the points he made in it. I do think that people overstate or maybe read too much into some of the preferences that Republicans have on voter I.D. Laws. I know a lot of Democrats as well that think you should have an I.D. in order to vote. And I also know a lot of Republicans who think we should make it easier for people to get I.D.'s so they can vote. And I think that Democrats have used that issue over the years to try to draw a line between Republican policies and racism, because they don't want African Americans to vote. That is not true for the people I know. I think that Republicans actually want to talk to all voters about how our policies can make their lives better, and that includes African Americans. In fact, Republican politicians I know would love for the Party to do better among African-American voters than we do now. I certainly feel that way. So I thought Peter's piece was really thought provoking and I hope people in leadership in both parties read it because it raised a lot of interesting points.
LEMON: Tara is ready to get in. She is about to come across the desk.
TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: No. I think that there is some validity to what Peter is saying, but the problem is and as much as I respect my fellow Republican Scott Jennings in hoping that our Republican lawmakers would want to get back to the conservatism that I grew up on and I'm sure Scott did too, it's very difficult to do that now when we have seeded the high ground, the moral high ground to what Donald Trump has injected into the political discourse and a lot of this bigotry and some of the effects of that, the tribalism that now has really on both sides, but more on our side just because of the way the Donald Trump ran his campaign, the way he is reacted to things like Charlottesville, those kinds of issues have made it very difficult to have these conversations seriously, because people just point to, well, Trump is the leader of your Party now, so how could you possibly say that you want to do things that don't you know, that don't seem bigoted?
It's difficult, because conservatism is not about that. Conservatism is about individual freedom and the ability to have people, empower people to make their own decisions and live their own lives without the state coming in and taking over. I mean, for the most part in a simplistic way it's a world view. Unfortunately there have been a lot of people come in and perverted what that is and turned it into something where it's actually not.
LEMON: You can't say it's a world view now when you want -- when people want to build walls, when people -- you can't say it's a world view, because even now, globalism is look a big buzz word.
SETMAYER: If you go back to Bush and Milton freedom and Bill Buckley and like the thought leaders of conservatism, it is a world view that those principles remain. But the people who are now representing this are the ones that are fallible here, perverted it.
LEMON: OK. I understand what you are saying, but how can you say that something is not bigoted if you don't for voter I.D. Laws, if you try to restrict the rights of African Americans to vote if you jerry mannered districts and if you do that to win elections if you don't stand up for the rights of all people, if you speak the way that -- just look at the Party platform on gay rights and on and on.
SETMAYER: That is Democrats Jerry.
BEINART: That is why I think that would be the single most important -- I think conservative feel -- there's a lot of studies that conservatives feel that liberals often use the term bigoted in a kind of promiscuous way to kind of shut down conversation. And I think I give some examples of this I think those are actually true. Donald Trump makes it much harder, but even before Donald Trump, we have cases in courts in North Carolina and Wisconsin that have shown that Republican legislators specifically targeted African Americans to try to reduce their voter turnout. And that climate, liberal, conservative are always going to be vulnerable to the claim given the history of the United States. If you are trying to make it harder for African Americans to vote, you're going to have a lot of difficulty in overcoming this label of being --
[23:55:04] LEMON: OK. I can hear people, I can just hear the crowd now saying that isn't that politics, because African Americans tend to vote Democrat. In order to be not bigoted, Scott, instead of restricting African Americans from voting, you need to appeal in ways to African Americans so that they want to go out and vote for you, where you don't have to restrict them from voting, correct?
JENNINGS: Yeah. I agree with that. And I think the Republican Party needs to do a better job of campaigning among African-American voters, Hispanic voters, and nonwhite voters, because for a Party to thrive and grow, you have to be able to win votes among all parts of the population. This voter I.D. issue, I think, is really interesting because there's a way to solve it, and I've seen some estimates about what it would cost to do this. I acknowledge there is a group of people in this country, a lot of African-American voters and other minority and poor voters that would have trouble finding an identification. And I've seen some information about what it would cost to give everybody an I.D. by the federal government. And frankly, I think it's well worth the cost if it means that we get satisfaction among Republicans that we do have secure elections. I am not oppose at all in getting people I.D.'s and making sure the government pays for that, if that could satisfied both sides of this debate.
SETMAYER: I believe Rhode Island did this and it worked. They subsidies and make sure that people got those I.D.
LEMON: It's interesting, I remember having -- this was a while ago, a conversation with Barbara Walters, who didn't drive. Didn't have a driver's license. So to have an identification with her picture on it would be a work id, social security card doesn't have that. People, not everyone has identification just so you know.
LEMON: She is a woman of means, but a lot of poor people don't drive and they don't have identification.
SETMAYER: I think to Scott's point, then, you figure out a way to do that. You need a photo I.D. to buy medicine or get on an airplane or take a bus, then you should be able to do that to vote.
LEMON: Thank you all. When we come back the President just touching down in South Korea just a little over an hour ago. Right now meeting with American and South Korean troops. We're live in both north and South Korea.