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New Wildfires Blaze In Southern California; Undisclosed Emails Show Follow-up After Trump Tower Meeting; FBI Defends Bureau; Mueller's Partisan Attack Team; Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: ...Republican Party, which is the President endorsing an accused child molester in the RNC followed to by transferring --


LEMON: Total of $170,000 to Roy Moore. That is the big picture here. Thank you all.


LEMON: Great conversation. See you soon.

This is CNN tonight, I am Don Lemon, it is 11:00 p.m. right here on the east coast and we're live with the breaking news. More wild fires erupting across southern California. Hundreds of thousands of acres blazing as heavy winds fan the flames. The largest which was a Thomas fire now more than twice the size, get this, Washington, D.C. It is scorching 115,000 acres and destroying at least 439 homes. Across the region, more than 100,000 people forced to run for their lives. Thousands of firefighters and military personnel battling to save the homes and businesses there. We're going to have a live report for you in just a moment right here on CNN tonight.

Plus breaking news on the Russia investigation to tell you about. And it is a CNN exclusive. Sources telling CNN the British publicist who arranged that infamous Trump tower meeting with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. sent multiple follow-up e-mails afterwards to a Russian who was there and to a member of Donald Trump's inner circle. That news coming one day after Trump Jr. refused to talk to congressional investigators. What he and his father discussed after news of that meeting became public.

A lot to discuss in this broadcast. And I want to begin with our breaking news that I told you about right at the beginning of the show. Those California fires. CNN Paul Vercammen is live until Ventura County with the Thomas fire. Paul, you're in the midst of this, the biggest fire, the numbers are staggering, 115,000 acres scorched. 439 homes destroyed. This is a monster. What are you seeing on the ground?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we see behind me Don, extremely successful control burn, this is the North West edge of the fire actually on the center of Ventura County line right now. That faint glow in the background, firefighters fought fire with fire here earlier tonight. This very important corridor, and they were extremely successful. They burned out this part of it so the fire can't advance. There have been some mandatory evacuations in the small city. The beach front community here, it may lead to the south part of the area and as you described, this is a monster of a fire. Just staggering. This fire is as big as the cities of Orlando and Seattle combined.

LEMON: Twice the size of Washington, D.C. Paul, there's another fire in southern California. This is in San Diego County, and it is new front for firefighters there to contend with. Tell us about it.

VERCAMMEN: Another fire breaking out here. What's causing all of this Santa Anna winds, this is a lilac fire --

LEMON: All right. We're having technical issues there with Paul Vercammen as you can probably imagine a lot going on in that area as you look at the wild fires there just raging out of control. Some folks under a mandatory evacuation orders. Half a dozen wild fires all over, more than 100,000 acres that have been scorched there. Number of buildings destroyed, 500 in some areas, 439 in some areas. Thousands of firefighters surrounding towns and cities are coming to assist. Look, there was an emergency alert that was sent out. So much going on California. We're going to continue with that, continue to follow that and bring you the breaking news as we get developments right here on CNN tonight.

Now the breaking news on the Russia investigation. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joins me with the latest on that. Good evening to you, Jessica. So tell us what you're learning tonight about these new e-mails that followed the June 2016 meeting at Trump tower.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, these were follow-up e-mailings after the Trump tower meeting. They were from rob Goldstone, the British publicist who arranged the meeting and multiple sources are telling CNN that he sent several e-mails to both members of Donald Trump's inner circles and the Russians who was present. This e-mails Don, have emerge despite the fact that Donald Trump Jr. had stated that there was no discussion with any participant after the initial June 2016 meeting. Now a lot of questions now that the e-mails have come out.

LEMON: What do the e-mails say, Jessica.

SCHNEIDER: All right. So we know about two e-mails. So one of them was to senior Trump aide Dan Scavino, he is currently the president social media director. So Rob Goldstone, in the e-mail, encouraged Scavino to get then candidate Donald Trump to create a page on the Russian social networking site called VK. In the e-mail, Goldstone also said that, quote, Don and Paul were on-board with the idea. That was a reference to then Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, also Donald Trump Jr. So source tells CNN that Goldstone had actually also mentioned that idea of a social media post at the end of the Trump tower meeting as everyone was leaving. Goldstone continued to push that proposal in the e-mails in the weeks following.

[23:05:10] Now CNN, it's done a search of VK pages, but we could not find any indication that the campaign ever set a page up. Then there was another e-mail, dated June 14, 2016, this was five days after the Trump tower meeting. So in that e-mail, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on Russia's hacking of DNC e-mails, he forwarded that to his client, Russian pop star Agalarov and also to Ike. He was one of the Russians who intended the meeting and in the e-mail, he described the news of the DNC hacks as, quote, eerily weird, given what they had discussed at the Trump tower meeting five days earlier.

So one of the sources familiar though with the e-mail down played the interaction saying that news of the DNC hack was only surprising because in the run-up to the Trump tower meeting Don, the Russian participants had promised information on list that the Russian funding of the DNC, but that dirt was never provided. Sort of downplaying this, but a lot of questions from those two e-mails.

LEMON: Jessica Schneider in Washington tonight with the latest on that breaking news. Thank you, Jessica, I appreciate it.

I want to bring in now CNN political commentator and former Congressman Jack Kingston who was a senior advisor to the Trump campaign and Max Boot, senior fellow at the council of foreign relations and the author of the road not taken. Jack since you are here with me in the studio. Thank you so much for joining us. Good to see you in person. Why the constant drip, drip, drip of information that had come out on this dossier. There is nothing there to hide, why not just come out with it?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with you on the big picture, if there's nothing to hide. Put it all out on the table. This is a situation where everybody's lawyered up. Now frankly, I think I would be a little bit more worried as a Trump supporter if there were responses. And certainly Goldstone would have those responses to these e-mails. So far, we're only looking at his side of the ledger, and it doesn't seem like the bait was taken. As you know in a campaign, lots of people circle around and they have ideas and they want the candidate to go this place, do that, meet with these people and so forth. And it looks like so far, that is what we're seeing in these e-mails.

LEMON: Max, do you agree with that?

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think I have a pretty different view of the situation, which is that I think we are seeing growing evidence that President Trump was probably complicit in collusion between his campaign and the Russian government and we certainly see growing evidence that President Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice. I think those cases become clear every day. And as the drip, drip, drip of information, which cannot be explained in any kind of innocent manner.

I mean, why would, at least 12 Trump associates have at least 52 contacts during the course of the campaign with representatives of the Russian government. I mean there was no innocent topic. They could have possibly been discussing and in fact everything we know suggested they were not discussing their favorite brand of vodka or comparing the weather in Moscow and Washington. They were talking about how to beat Hillary Clinton.

LEMON: Listen, specifically to this, Jack is saying there appears to be no follow-up from Goldstone. Even though Goldstone forwarded a CNN story about Russian's hacking and DNC e-mails.

BOOT: We only know a small portion of what actually happen, what has publicly reported and I think it's significant that every time Robert Mueller, the independent council has acted, he has caught people by surprise, because, for example, nobody expected this plea deal from George Papadopoulos or the very generous plea deal that Mike Flynn got or the charges against Paul Manafort. Clearly he is got a lot of information that the rest of us do not possess, but even the information that we have, I think is extremely damning, and it's not any one data point which can perhaps be explained away.

There is no way to explain away this vast number of at least 52 contacts between the Trump campaign and representatives of the kremlin. There's no innocent explanation for that, and in fact all the evidence suggested there was a quid pro quo where Putin would help Trump get elected and a return. There was an expectation that Trump would lift sanctions on Russia. In fact, there was a Washington Post story on Wednesday which said that Mike Flynn on inauguration day was telling business associates that sanctions on Russia were going to get ripped up. That I think is, extra hard on the case.

LEMON: I want Jack to respond. As you respond, let me say this, we were talking about follow-up, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story -- story about Russia's hacking of DNC e-mails to his Russian pop star client, the Agalarov and Ike, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort describing the news, quote, eerily weird given what they had discussed at Trump tower just five days earlier. Do you find that strange? Do you think that is just a coincidence?

[23:10:04] KINGSTON: I think that is an interesting comment and I think that is one that Mueller should ask about. But I want to say this to Max, who I have a lot of respect for. Very learning man, my daughter worked for foreign policy magazine, I know he is a regular contributor, at the same time, Max, we would both agree that it's been a year and a half, and there hasn't been anything that Mueller or the senate or house committees have produced to show collusion. And the people he is brought in, Manafort, it was for something and nothing to do with the campaign. For Flynn it was for lying to the FBI, for Papadopoulos it was lying to the FBI. If collusion is so apparent, why hasn't there been somebody who has been indicted?

LEMON: Don't just throw that away, for lying to the FBI --

KINGSTON: It's huge, but it has nothing to do with the campaign. I think --

LEMON: But that is part of the scope of the investigation.

BOOT: But it has a lot to do with Russia. KINGSTON: They're stupid and they should not do it. But it's their

own character. He was not instructed to lie to the FBI.

LEMON: Go ahead.

BOOT: That is not a very compelling argument.

KINGSTON: Not if you're a partisan --

BOOT: I'm not a partisan. I'm not a partisan, Jack, I used to be a lifelong Republican until Donald Trump was elected, ok, and I am not a partisan. I am not a Democrat, and I'm not a Republican.

KINGSTON: You have pretty big substantive issues, and I respect that.

BOOT: The reason why that is not, can I just finish the point? The reason why that is not a convincing spin is, that is like saying to the Watergate special prosecutor in early 1974, well, you've been on the job for six months now. Why haven't you delivered a compelling case against Richard Nixon? The fact is, it takes a long time to unravel a very complex case like this, any kind of large conspiracy requires a lot of time, but, in fact, Robert Mueller whose been on the case about half a year now, I think has made stunning progress with the guilty pleas of two Trump aids including former national security adviser to lying to the FBI. And a very compelling money laundering case against Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, and had a lot to do with Russia. A lot from Russia.

KINGSTON: There are a lot of people who cannot accept the results of the election, and they're doing everything they can to discount the Trump presidency, and now --

LEMON: I think that is -- hold on, Jack.

BOOT: That is an absurd spin. That is a ridiculous spin.

LEMON: They're also investigating how Russia influenced the election. And it's not just collusion that they're investigating. If they bring up -- if information about Russia or if someone committed an illegal act, as they're investigating this, what does that -- I don't understand your point here.

KINGSTON: Well, my point is that what Max was saying, there's all kinds of evidence about collusion. Well, you know, that is what we've been hearing now for a year and a half. We haven't seen anything and you can I can tell you this -

LEMON: You are not concern about Russia?

KINGSTON: I am very concerned about Russia and I am concerned about, why the DNC cooperated with the FBI and when they said your computers have been hacked, let's take a look at them. And they would not let them do that. I mean that to me is --


BOOT: This is the smoke screen that Trump's partisan are putting out there.

LEMON: What does that have to do with the DNC not cooperating?

KINGSTON: Well, if it's part of in that e-mail that you just read to me, it's eerily the DNC who paid for the dossier and why won't the FBI tell us --

LEMON: Jack, this is one herring after another, ok.

KINGSTON: A Republican campaigning against Donald Trump started the dossier.


BOOT: One red herring after another.

LEMON: What does that have to do -- that has nothing to do with anything.

KINGSTON: It does.

LEMON: Jack, you're throwing out shiny objects that have nothing to do with anything. There is an investigation going on --

KINGSTON: Going after Paul Manafort's records from before he was involved with Donald Trump is a shiny object.

LEMON: How do you know? You don't know. You're not there. You're not investigating.

KINGSTON: How do you know about the dossier? That is the same thing.

LEMON: You're not there investigating.

KINGSTON: Let's figure out what they're looking at the dossier, who paid it and why won't the FBI just tell us.

LEMON: Why does it matter who paid for it? If the information is -- if the information is correct, why does it matter who paid for it?

KINGSTON: Listen, if you guys really want good information --

LEMON: Don't say you guys, I'm not on anybody's side here. I'm telling the side of the truth. I'm just looking at the truth and there is no there, you keep bringing up -- next thing is going to be Hillary Clinton and her e-mails. Hillary Clinton is not President.

KINGSTON: Put the information on the table, maybe there's --

LEMON: The information is all -- Jack, the information is already on the table. This investigation has nothing to do with DNC e-mails or DNC hacking, this has to do with Russians -- hang on, Russia's influence in our election and also the contacts between the Trump campaign and people tied to the kremlin. That is what this investigation is about. [23:15:00] KINGSTON: And on that point, I agree with you, however, if

we are talking about the blanket statement of Russia's involvement in the election, and Russia was involved with the dossier, isn't it relevant to know who paid for it?

LEMON: No. It's not relevant to know who paid for it.

BOOT: What jack is suggesting --


BOOT: Can I just get a word in edge wise here, what Jack is suggesting is that the attempt by the Clinton campaign to pay this respected former mi6 officer Christopher Steele to investigate the contacts between Trump and Russia that the attempt to uncover those contacts is as bad as the contacts themselves. That is nonsensical. It doesn't stand up to a minute of scrutiny. This is an attempt to create a smoke screen to disguise the very real --

LEMON: Let him finish. You talked a lot.

BOOT: The Trump campaign and the Russians. And I trust that CNN viewers are too smart to fall for this. Because the real scandal here, and this is what we need to keep our eye on. The fact is the Russians subverted our democracy. We know that, U.S. Intelligence community unanimously concluded that there was Russian interference in the election to help elect Donald Trump. And we know that there were tons of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Those are facts, Jack. You cannot explain those facts away. If this was Hillary Clinton who was guilty of these contacts, and if Putin had intervened in the U.S. Campaign to help elect Hillary Clinton, you would be screaming, you would be accusing her of treason. You would be screaming bloody murderer, you would be demanding a special counsel investigation.

LEMON: Let me say this - chilling on a couch somewhere walking in the woods. She is not the President of the United States. And so, it just --

KINGSTON: I'm just waiting --

LEMON: I wish people would stop bringing her up as scary person because you need a foil. That is --

KINGSTON: I'm saying what's good for is goose is good for the gander. And if the question was interference in the election --

LEMON: It's not a good argument for you. And it doesn't make you look great when you do that.

KINGSTON: Well, maybe not the Trump critics.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We'll continue this conversation no doubt. When we come right back, conservative media waging war on Robert Mueller and the FBI. The president charging the bureau is in tatters. It is it all part of the plan to derail the Russia investigation?


[23:20:48] LEMON: Conservative media waging war on the FBI and Robert Mueller as the President charges the bureau is in quote, tatters. Let's discuss now CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is here, legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent joins me via skype and political commentator Jason Miller, a former Trump senior communications adviser. Good morning to all of you. Asha, I'm going to start with you. Today, FBI Director Ray defended his agency against accusations by Republicans including the President that its agents were allowing political bias to seep into their investigations. What's your reaction to what seems to be a concerted effort, looks like a concerted effort to undermine the FBI and the special counsel's investigation?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I would say that it doesn't recognize what agents go through to get into the FBI. There is a new monic that we use to do background check with the FBI. This was applied to agents it is called CARLAFBAD. Which stand for Character Associate Reputation Loyalty Ability Finances Bias Alcohol and Drug. So every agent has to be measured against all of those criteria. And biased is one of them. It's important because any kind of bias, whether it is political, religious, racial, will disqualify an agent from getting in, because the whole idea is that agents need to be able to put aside all of their personal feelings in order to approach cases objectively. And it's a very intensive process. So, I would say, you know, this is extreme vetting for FBI agents, and to impugn an entire agency which is 35,000 people, 14,000 agents for what appears to be political reasons, I think really does a disservice to the men and women who are out there, you know, fighting the good fight and really trying to uphold the constitution every day.

LEMON: Brian, there has been a huge rise in anti-Mueller and FBI rhetoric from right winged media recently. It's just shocking to watch.


LEMON: And, I mean, it's got to be coordinated. Because they're all saying the exact same thing. Some of the same people who praise some of members of the FBI and the FBI not that long ago. Watch this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX HANNITY HOST: Mueller is frankly a disgrace to the American justice system. And has put the country now on the brink of becoming a banana republic.

GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYTS: The Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt. And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become the America's Secret surveillance, intimidation, harassment, and threats. It's like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door. HANNITY: Mueller's stooges literally are doing everything within

their power and then some to try and remove President Trump from office.


LEMON: Is this concerted effort to discredit Mueller?

STELTER: Yes, and remember, this is what President Trump's watching every morning and every night. That is why I think it matters. He is being told on a daily basis going back months, but especially right now, they're out to get you, his investigation is bogus, it is out to reverse the election, they're trying to impeach you, and that message over and over and over again, it must have an impact not just on President Trump, but also on his aids and on his supporters. That is why I think it's so troubling. And I wish, Don, I wish Asha could go on Fox and say what she just said. The problem with shows like Hannity, we're not hearing the other side. We're not hearing the reality of what it's like on the FBI.

LEMON: I disagree with you, we are not hearing. We are hearing it. But Fox viewers are not hearing it. People in Alabama and Conservative viewers are not hearing it.

STELTER: Hopefully they're hearing all the sides, unfortunately too often, folks on the left and right live in bubbles. On the right now on the right that bubble is an alternative reality. It is very intense right now.

LEMON: It's really weird and I wondered, listen, watch Fox all the time, we would talk about it and say why do you watch Fox? You need to know what they're doing. I watched everyone, and now I just -- it's embarrassing.

[23:25:11] STELTER: And if we get to the point --

LEMON: It is embarrassing. I can't watch -- I have many friends over there --

STELTER: It will be partly because of this rhetoric. Partly because of this daily drum beat of anti-Mueller.

LEMON: I wonder, do you think they know what a disservice they're doing to the American voting public? And I know they're probably going to play this, and this is not personal, you can play it all day long on Fox or whatever show, it's not personal, but one wonders, as a journalist, and some of them are not, some will hosts. I'm not saying anything disparaging, but how they can sit there and do such a disservice to the voting public, because we're supposed to be informing people, and they're not.

STELTER: Newt Gingrich is saying there should be an investigation of the investigation. Six months after he praised Mueller. Whether or not they know they're doing a disservice, it is a disservice to the audience. Because after all, Mueller in the case of this one FBI agent who was removed over the summer, he was removed. He is no longer in the investigation.

LEMON: Any time there and also what I wondered if their viewers realize, any time there is a where aboutism and whatever, you know that that is a shiny object because Hillary Clinton is not President. Bill Clinton is no longer President. And these are different times. Especially when it comes to sexual assault and abuse allegations. Even Bill Clinton would not have been stayed in office.

STELTER: Clinton's has been replaced finally after 12 months, Robert Mueller is the new bogey man on Fox News.

LEMON: Ok. Jason, I want to get you in here, because, do you think the president is taking his cues from the right wing media or is it the other way around, sort of circle or an echo chamber that just keeps going round and round.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well Don, it comes as a complete surprise, I disagree with you in the entire premise here.

LEMON: That is ok.

MILLER: During the commercial break, I went and flipped through the several of the largest conservative websites, Breitbart, Daily Collar, News Max, and I didn't see any of their top stories a focus on whether it be the FBI or Mueller. They certainly had other stories they were going into and so, the couple of clips that you showed, there were a couple of Hannity clips and one of the other telecasters over there at Fox News --

LEMON: Isn't that kind of proving the point if they're not reporting on this? On the Russia investigation?

MILLER: No, but I think there are a couple things that are completely fair game. And this even if you go back to you brought up the Clintons and that as the excuse to go back to Bill Clinton's presidency, but, you know, the Clinton White House very much made it a point to go after Ken Starr and folks who are working with him, to call it a certain ideological leanings and certain political activity.

LEMON: I think you're on, you were on the Paul earlier if I am not --

MILLER: Not tonight, but I have been.

LEMON: And he explained earlier. He explained earlier the difference in that. And I will give you that. That Democrats are using some of the same talking points during the Clinton investigation. Also remember, Robert Mueller is a Republican. Ken Star was a Republican as well. Bill Clinton was a Democratic president, also Ken star worked for the tobacco industry which is very anti-Clinton. So it's --

MILLER: Don, you're drifting lanes.

LEMON: No, I'm not. It is facts.

MILLER: Tobacco industry, come on, let's reel it back in and get back to the point here for minute. The point that I was getting to is if you want to go through and raise an issue with say for the fact that someone has sent a bunch of text messages that are anti-Trump. I think that is very fairgrounds for removing them --

LEMON: That is a fair point. And he was removed.

MILLER: That is what I was doing. I was giving him credit for going and doing that. I think that is a very fair point. If someone maxed out whether be to Secretary Clinton or to President Trump, I think that is very fair to raise that issue and say wait a minute, this person has contributed $2700 or $5400. I think that is a fair point of criticism, now I think there's one thing that is going on here also and that is the fact that last year, under Director Comey, I think the FBI at least in the eyes of the American public really became highly politicized. I think some of Comey's actions really kind of cast a shadow over a lot of the hard-working men and women at the FBI. I have a number of friends who work at the FBI who really check their Politico --

LEMON: What does that have to do with now and Bob Mueller.

MILLER: Because what I'm saying is the point, I think it's very fair if folks to want go and make sure that the people who are part of these investigating teams are in fact playing it very nonpartisan. I think that is a very fair point --

LEMON: I don't think anyone will disagree with that.

STELTER: It's different than saying it's illegitimate. Fox is spreading poison. You're aware of that.

MILLER: But, you're making it sound like there's -- you're making it sound like there's a conservative bat signal that is being shot into the sky, and there's some --

LEMON: Yeah, it's called satellite or a telephone or text message or an e-mail. Come on, Jason.

MILLER: No, don, you're being -- this is the kind of stuff --

LEMON: How else would the deep state get in touch with each other if they didn't send out bat signals? Listen, I've got to go. I am two minutes over, and I am in trouble, because they don't to want report on the Russia investigation. They want to give people what they want to hear. Trump supporters don't to want hear about the Russia investigation.


LEMON: Sometimes the truth is a funny thing. Thank you all, I've got to go. When I come back, the President being criticized for planning to attend the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum. People are protesting, boycotting two African American congressmen are now skipping the event. Fair criticism? We'll discuss next.


[23:34:52] LEMON: President Trump's appearance at the Mississippi civil rights museum this weekend stirring controversy. I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Van Jones, Angela Rye and Bruce LeVell, a member of President Trump's reelection campaign advisory board. Good evening, Bruce, it's been a long time. Good to see you back on the program. I have is to start with Angela. Angela, the President is going to the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum. One of the country's most iconic civil rights, John Lewis refusing to attend. President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. Of course, it is his choice, but is he making a mistake by not going, do you think?

23:35:32] ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: he is absolutely not making a mistake by not going. I think what we know about Congressman Lewis and what I think some of your viewers will have yet to learn about Congressman Thompson was famously said, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. These are civil rights heroes who are going to be honored in this museum. Some of them like who would roll over in their graves, which these members of congress also acknowledge. These are folks every day who are fighting. Not just engaging in resistance against Donald Trump, but engaging in resistance against the bigotry that has showed his ugly head since Donald Trump was elected in November 2016. They are showing their constituents that they haven't forgotten who's elected them and demonstrating through black folks throughout this country and other folks who stand with us that they know exactly who this President is. They haven't forgotten the bigotry that he promulgates and they are not going.

LEMON: I've got to get Bruce in here then Van. Here's what the NAACP, says the President Trump statements and policies regarding the protection and enforcement of civil rights has been abysmal and it's attendance is affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement. Bruce are you disappointed?

BRUCE LEVELL, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP 2020 ADVISORY BOARD: Yeah, actually I am, thanks for having me, the falcons just won by the way, yay.

RYE: Boycotting the NFL.

LEVELL: I got to thinking about this with its quite unfortunate, to me, Charles Evers is going to greet the President Saturday at the civil rights museum that they're opening as well as (inaudible) wife. I think it's iconic, it's big. The fact is that here we have a beautiful museum going to be open in Jackson, Mississippi, the President of the United States is going to attend, who Charles Evers did endorse and support President Trump. With the invite from the governor to bring a beautiful museum that is going to bring economic developments, it's going to bring, you know, jobs, it's going to bring tourists through interstate 55. It's a beautiful, beautiful town. And this is what I look at. This is an opportunity for job growth and for opportunities for a lot of people that live in Jackson. And I think it's really unfortunate that Congressman Lewis who we're seeing near CNN in the fifth district would stick way over there in Jackson, Mississippi, and make a comment like that when he should be worrying about his own district and his own constituents which he was voted for by the people. He is voted as -- he should stay in the fifth district where his people are. Where his congress district is.

LEMON: Van, it sounds like he is saying, he is saying it's all about the money. That is what it sounds like he is saying to me.

LEVELL: No, I see it as a job opportunity for everyone.


LEVELL: Economic development. Don that is what I see.

LEMON: Van, go.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me say a couple things. In some ways, you know, President Trump is in kind of a damned if you and if you don't situation, if in fact he had been asked and turned it down, that would have been a reason for some concern, but it's just unfortunate that his record is so bad on civil rights and not just as President, before he was President, his position with regards to the central park joggers case, calling for the death penalty for black kids who were innocent, he is never apologized to them. His entire run, positioning himself to be President, attacking Barack Obama's citizenship. He has a long track record.


JONES: It's very, very hard I think for him to then show up to honor the symbols of racial progress when he is been an opponent of the substance of racial progress. And so that is -- listen, as an American, as a black person, as a human being, it just makes me sick at heart to be in the situation. Yes, you are right, we should be able to celebrate this. This is a big deal. It is a huge achievement that in Mississippi we're finally honoring this history. That is a very positive thing, but we have a President that if he comes or doesn't come, it's still an insult because he is a walking insult to the legacy of civil rights.

LEMON: All right. Listen. Stick with me. When we come back, Alabama senate candidate Doug Jones reaching out to African American voters turn out against Roy Moore. Do Democrats have a pattern of taking black voters for granted? We'll talk about that.


[23:48:53] LEMON: Voters in Alabama go to the polls on Tuesday in a special election to choose a new Senator. President Trump and the RNC endorsing Republican Roy Moore who is accused of sexual assault. Back with me now Van Jones, Angela Rye, and Bruce LeVell. Angela at a campaign event in September, one of the only African Americans in the audience asked Roy Moore for his opinion on when the last time America was great. Here's the quote, I think it was -- I think it was great at the time when families were united even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. Our families were strong, our country had a direction. Is he saying that the last time America was great was when we had slavery.

RYE: I think that is how -- that is the only way -- that is not even funny, but this is like insane. So, this is the only reasonable interpretation. And unfortunately, a pedophile saying something like this isn't at all surprising. The reality of Roy Moore's bigotry and frankly, some of the folks who have been polled talking about this race in Alabama, this doesn't surprise me at all. The fact that folks would rather elect a pedophile to the United States --

[23:45:00] LEVELL: Alleged.

RYE: Instead of -- ok. Whatever. Instead of their cards and yearbook sign by the way, ok, he is been banned from malls, but ok. There's also this Democratic candidate --


RYE: Who has been responsible, Wow? Is exactly what? Wow is exactly right, but there's this other Democratic candidate who, who was prosecuted members of the KKK and they would take the pedophile over the guy who's tried to lock up KKK members. You can't make this stuff up. Come on, Alabama, do better.

LEMON: Go ahead, Bruce. You want to respond?

LEVELL: Look, at the end of the day, 40 years ago like you said -- we don't know what happened, Angela, and if you recall --

LEMON: We're not talking about that now. We're talking about I think it was great at the time when families were united --

RYE: You know you don't want to talk about that, Don.

LEMON: Even though we have slavery they cared for one another. Our families were strong, our country had a direction. That is what we're going to talk about. That is when the last time the country was great again. Saying make America great again was the last time America was when there was slavery.

LEVELL: No, I don't agree and I can't get into Roy Moore's head, I don't know where his thoughts sit on this.

LEMON: When you hear that, what do you hear him saying?

LEVELL: Well --

JONES: Come on now, brother.

LEVELL: Brother, come on.

JONES: We all had -- Van, I know you got your new show and you're making a lot of money.

RYE: Don't do that.

LEMON: Come on. LEVELL: He interrupted me.

RYE: He interrupted you because you are talking that nonsense. He is trying to help you.

JONES: Thanks, Angela.

LEMON: Go ahead, Bruce. What do you think he is saying when you hear those words? You want me to read the quote again?

RYE: Please read it again.

LEVELL: By the way, where did this quote come from?

LEMON: Los Angeles Times.

RYE: In an article.

LEVELL: Who wrote this?

LEMON: We're not doing that, what do you think when you hear those words?

LEVELL: I can tell you. Based on what I see, you know, Don, it's horrible. Slavery was bad back then. You know, we did evolve from a long was as what we saw when we were kids, what we went through as children, I'm in my 50s and we've come a long way a lot of things were bad.

LEMON: What do you think he meant when he said that?

LEVELL: I don't know what Roy was thinking, Don, to tell you the truth.

LEMON: What do you hear what when I read that quote? What do you hear him saying?

LEVELL: I don't know what to way to call it. I really don't. I really don't.

RYE: I can't do this today. Van, please help me, Van, please. I need a break through, please.

LEMON: That was so good. Sorry.

RYE: I know, Don.

LEMON: You know exactly what he is saying. I think it was great at the time, talking about slavery, when families were united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. Slavery. Our families were strong, our country had a direction. What else is he saying? There's no other way to interpret that. He said it and you're a smart man and you don't -- you don't hear what he is saying in that?

LEVELL: Well, only thing -- I don't know what's in Roy Moore's mind, Don, but I can tell you this, things that went on back then it was a bad situation.

RYE: What's in the quote?

LEVELL: Are you going to let me finish? Three against one.

LEMON: I'm just saying, Bruce, slavery is a bad situation. You're not really saying anything. I'm just being honest. Obviously everyone knows it's bad. I'm asking you what you're hearing. You could say, I hear Roy Moore saying something that does not make sense. That slavery was terrible, obviously. And who wants to emulate that and repeat that and say America was great then. That was not America's greatest time. There are many ways you could have answered that question, but instead, you don't know how to do it because you can't figure out a way to defend him. That is what I'm reading from you.

LEVELL: First of all I'm not here to defend him. I don't know the man, I don't know the article. This is the first I've seen it tonight. I don't know anything about it. I can't articulate, Don.


LEVELL: Is this part of the article? Is this the whole article? Is this a piece of the article? I don't know.

LEMON: Van, Van, campaign rally in Florence, Alabama.

LEVELL: A campaign rally. It's not a CNN, not official CNN --

LEMON: What any context make that ok?

RYE: No, no, Don.

LEVELL: I don't like think that would depict anything with slavery.

LEMON: We agree, that is good. Right after the break. We'll be right back.


[23:53:10] LEMON: They were talking all during the break. There was a whole thing going on, it continued. So, Van, you didn't get to speak. Go ahead.

JONES: I -- all I want to say is that this is -- this, what you just saw is the tribalism of American politics. Where, if somebody's on my team politically, I cannot form my mouth to say they're wrong, they shouldn't have said that, they shouldn't have done that, because it's just -- we've gotten to the point where we put Party over principle as a matter of course. And what I would just say is simply this. It's not unusual, what this man is saying. There is a nostalgia. I'm from the south. There is a nostalgia on the part of a certain section of our country who feels that the future is not going to be good for them, what they now call racial anxiety, we used to just call it racism, there is this concern that where we're going is not good and somehow the past was better. They ignore or glorify or polish up the pain of people when it comes

to slavery and segregation. And, you know, people are shocked when they hear this stuff, but it's much more common than what we would think. The tragedy is, stuff like this should be batted back hard by Republicans. Republicans say, we are the Party of Lincoln. We are -- the Republican Party was founded to end slavery. We're not going to become the Party of Steve Bannon. Even when these softballs are served up, Republicans can't form their mouths to say that, that is a problem.

LEMON: Yeah. And -- I'm from the south, too, Bruce, you are there in Atlanta. I remember one of my best friends having to explain to him that the confederate flag was not about southern pride, it was about something else. I just grew up thinking it was about southern pride, but -- there you go, to Van's point. Bruce, I don't want to beat up on you, but I think it's sort of, you know, it really is just kind of -- it is what it is, man. Do you want to say anything?

[23:55:00] LEVELL: Yeah, well, you know, like I said, I can't speak for Judge Roy Moore, the term that he put slavery in there. Obviously, that is wrong and it's bad. We have a bad, bad history in the United States of what's happened, Don. And we laughed, it's not funny, but you know, I am very optimistic about where we were and where we're at. Don I remember coming here back in 1980 to CNN, there were no black news anchors. So, I'm looking in the future that there will be more guys like us that look like us that will grow. I'm not going to put it just on -- put everything in our destiny on this particular guy or anyone.

LEMON: You should know too, just from the recent mayoral election that blacks are fleeing Atlanta.

LEVELL: No, sir.

LEMON: Ah, yeah.

LEVELL: We're are too busy to hate.

LEMON: Facts. Facts.

LEVELL: City that is too busy to hate. Number one city and for business in the country.

LEMON: I just left there three years ago. I leave there for seven years. I know Atlanta.

LEVELL: Number one, the mecca. You're talking to one right now.

LEMON: All right. I like New York.

JONES: Congratulations to the new mayor.

LEMON: Oh, yeah. That is awesome. Thank you, all.

RYE: Say her name. Keisha. Good night Don.

LEMON: Good night, everybody. See you tomorrow.