Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Trump At Pensacola Rally; President Trump History Of Racist Remarks; Wildfires Blaze Across Southern California; Trump Aide Hope Hicks Interviewed By Mueller Team; Trump, Get Out And Vote For Roy Moore; White House On Roy Moore's Allegations; Statement On Trump's Plan To Visit Civil Rights Museum; Top 10 CNN Heroes. Aired 11-12mn ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. President Trump campaigning tonight for Roy Moore in Alabama's special senate race, where voters go to the polls in just four days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need somebody in that senate seat who will vote for our make America great again agenda. Which involves -- which involves tough on crime, strong on borders, strong on immigration. And we want jobs, jobs, jobs, so, get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it. Do it.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is a race that says a lot about the stark divide in America right now. On one side, a candidate who is accused of child molestation, who faces multiple accusations of sexually abusing teenagers. A man who answered a question about when America was last great, a question asked by an African-American voter by saying this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA: I think what's great at the time of the family was united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, incredibly, Roy Moore says America was great during slavery. And supporting him? The President of the United States, the man whose history of racist remarks is so incendiary, two top African- American congressmen, John Lewis himself, a civil rights icon and Benny Thompson, are boycotting the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum tomorrow, because the President will be there. The Congressman saying the Trump's attendance is an insult to the heroes of the civil rights movement. Remember during the campaign when Donald Trump said this about a black supporter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? Do you know what I'm talking about?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Remember when Trump, in an interview with our very own Jake Tapper, refused to condemn KKK leader David Duke?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, ok? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists, so, I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And just in case you don't remember, this was back in 1989, when Trump took out full page ads in New York City newspapers calling for the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers who were wrongfully convicted in the infamous central park jogger case. Of course, you remember what may be the biggest racist lie of all, Donald Trump's support of the false birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. And then, there's the President's response to deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, claiming there were some very fine people on both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me. Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: President Trump slamming Moore's opponent in the race, Doug Jones, as soft on crime. But Jones is a man whose response to white supremacist violence was very different from the President's. Doug Jones prosecuted the last remaining Birmingham church bombers, clan members who killed four young black girls in 1963 in one of the most notorious hate crimes in American history. A brutal attack that exposed the murderous hate at the root of racism. The clan murderers were hiding in plain sight for nearly four decades, but Doug Jones finally got justice for those four little girls.

And the best respond to all of this may be the words of the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., just three days after the Birmingham church bombing, Dr. King spoke to thousands of mourners, black and white at the funeral of three of the girls, saying this -- this tragic day may cause the Whiteside to come to terms with its conscience. In spite of the darkness this hour, we must not become bitter. We must not lose faith in our white brothers. Life is hard, at times, as hard as crucible steel. But today, you do not walk alone. That said, I want to bring in Congresswoman Barbara Lee of the congressional black caucus. Congressman good evening to you. How are you?

REP. BARBARA LEE, (D) CALIFORNIA: Good, glad to be with you, Don.

LEMON: President Trump stumped for Roy Moore tonight, as we have been showing, despite the sexual assault allegations. Despites Moore's praised in time of slavery existed. I want you to listen, and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:05:05] TRUMP: We want Roy Moore, he is right. We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, we can't do it. Can't do it. His name is Jones, and he is their total puppet, and everybody knows it. He will never, ever vote for us. We need somebody in that senate seat, who will vote for our make America great again agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, congresswoman, tonight, he is backing Roy Moore and tomorrow, he is going to the opening of the civil rights museum. How do you feel about those two things?

LEE: Shame, shame, shame on Donald Trump. But you know what? Come on. This man is campaigning for slavery apologists and for an accused child molester. And that is who he is. And for him to go to the opening of the civil rights museum in Mississippi for, really, a photo-op, is despicable. People know who Donald Trump is. And I am so proud of -- and thankful that Congressman John Lewis and Congressman Benny Thompson have called it like it is and refused to show up at this very hypocritical act that he is engaged in.

LEMON: Let me talk about something that we discussed here at length last night, and I mentioned in the opening of this show. At a Roy Moore event back in September, where he responded to an African- American audience member about slavery, he also referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as, quote, reds and yellows. Why do you think those things aren't disqualifying on their own, these are some pretty far-out, crazy thoughts and things that he says.

LEE: They should be. Because these are despicable views and attitudes. These are racist. And these are bigoted attitudes. And he is campaigning on this very, this agenda that really symbolizes the agenda of white supremacists and the alt-right. That is why it is extremely important for the get out to vote effort to be really major, especially in communities of color and African-American communities. Turnout should be high. Because we have to make sure that these attitudes and these views don't come into the senate, because, of course, we know what he will do there. We will promote policies of the alt right and white supremacists which of course is Donald Trump continues to put forth as his agenda, as designed by Steve Bannon. We must remember. This comes from the Steve Bannon alt-right movement.

LEMON: Yes. I got to ask you, and when you consider the polls, they say that they're pretty tight, but I think probably some internal polling will show that Roy Moore is probably going to win, one reason, I'm sure the President is backing him, it looks like he is going to win. When you consider all of those things that he said and represented over the years, especially when it comes to people of color, to gay people and on and on, are you shocked that in 2017, in America, that someone with that history could be neck and neck with a person who helped, you know, to -- who helped put people who -- racist people in jail?

LEE: I'm not shocked, because we have a President in the White House who is leading the charge and has been laying the groundwork for this, for them to surface. But we have to remember that, you know, Hillary Clinton did win by 3 million votes in the country, and so the majority of our country, the attitudes and views are not of Donald Trump. But when you look at what Donald Trump has done from day one, leading the birther movement, tried to delegitimize the first African-American President, everything that you laid out really has set the stage for a Roy Moore to be neck and neck with Doug Jones.

But I, you know, you have to keep hope alive, Don. That people will turn out and vote for Mr. Jones, because we know that an agenda put forth by Roy Moore in the senate would be an agenda that really parallels and promotes what Donald Trump is promoting, and that is, of course, giving tax cuts to the very wealthy, budget cuts, making sure that this new war on drug takes place, which Jeff Sessions is promoting. Not supporting the voting rights act, you know, really rolling back the clock on civil rights, all the policies.

LEMON: Well, I think -- he made an appeal to African-American voters tonight and I want to play part of that speech. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:10:00] TRUMP: I love these guys. Look at these guys. Blacks for Trump. I love you. I love you.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

I love you. By the way, now that you bring it up, black home ownership just hit the highest level it has ever been in the history of our country. Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Ok, congresswoman, I want to get your reaction to that, but

it's important to point out the facts here to our viewers what the President is saying about black home ownership is not true. It is not the highest in history. According to the census bureau, back in 2004, it was almost at 50 percent, now it is at 42 percent and it is actually slightly down from the first and second quarter of this year. What's your response?

LEE: Well, I'm glad you clarified that, because Donald Trump tells lies, constantly. And it's important to debunk his lies. You know, what he said tonight was an insult, once again, but that is who he is. Remember when he was campaigning, he said to the black community, what do you have to lose? Well, we have a heck of a lot to lose. And when you look at his budget cuts, when you look at his tax policies, when you look at him trying to take away health care from millions and millions of Americans, many of whom are African-Americans and people of color, this is who this man is.

And so, we can't be surprised. What we have to do is vote and make sure that his agenda is stopped. We have to have some checks and balances, Don, in the House of Representatives and in the senate. And so we have to encourage people to get out to the polls and vote. And that is how we stop this. But it's very dangerous to have a white supremacist alt-right agenda being promoted by Donald Trump and a new Senator, hopefully, we can stop this, but if he should be elected, he would continue to promote this agenda in the congress, and that is very dangerous. And he would want to take us back to the days of Jim Crow, and we're not going to let that happen.

LEMON: I have to ask you, I know it's not in your part of the state, but people there in California dealing with horrific fires. Anything you want to say to the country about that?

LEE: You know Don, my son lives in southern California, I have many, many friends and colleagues and my thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are, you know, really suffering from this disaster and hopefully we'll be able to -- the firefighters and first responders are doing an excellent job, but we've got to really look at how we can respond quickly to make sure that all of the resources are there, first of all, to stop the fires from spreading, but also in the rebuilding of this, and so, we all are pulling for everyone and we want to help in every which way. We'll continue to pray and help that this fires, help people who are in the direct path of these fires.

LEMON: Representative Barbara Lee, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend.

LEE: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, will President Trump's endorsement tip the scales in favor of Roy Moore, and what would that do to the senate? I'm going to talk to the Republican who says Moore is the last straw, and now, he is quitting the GOP.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:16:40] LEMON: President's rally tonight was not in Alabama, it

was just across the border in Pensacola, but he didn't let that stop him from rallying the crowd for Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore. So, will Trump's endorsement be the deciding factor, or the declining factor, who knows? And what will senate Republicans do if Moore wins? Let's discuss with CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella and Beth Clayton of the Alabama political reporter. Good evening. Thank you all for joining us.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Don.

LEMON: Interesting. It is going to be an interesting weekend. Going to be an interesting week coming up, especially Tuesday. David, more of the President tonight, and then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In our campaign for the presidency, we defied the pundits, the politicians and the special interests, because ours was a movement of the people, and it really was. It was a movement of you, it was a movement of the people. It was a movement to make America great again.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, David, what Trump's -- with his approval rating in Alabama, what is it? Do you think the President secured Moore's victory tonight with the make America great again movement?

SWERDLICK: Don, the real clear politics average has Moore 48 to Jones 46. I think that is too close to make a prediction, but it seems like there's some momentum with Moore. The President is going down there and sort of feeling like he is, you know, just helping tip him over the edge. It's going to depend on turnout. The President only has about -- depending on what poll you look at, around 35 percent approval rating nationally, but he is more popular in Alabama than he is nationwide. So, I do think he is lending a little momentum to Moore. It would not surprise me -- I'm not going to predict. It would not surprise me to see Moore win on Tuesday night, and that would mean that Republicans have decided that it's ok to put someone who has serial allegations of either child molestation or dating teenagers who, by Alabama law, were of age, in the senate, just to have an extra vote in the senate. That is where we are in politics right now.

LEMON: Kurt, we heard some of the President's greatest hits tonight, including this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Working with Republicans in congress, we've already signed 88 pieces of legislation. We get no credit. They always say, well, you know, President Trump really needs this tax bill, because he hasn't passed any legislation. Well, so far, in ten months, we've passed more during this period of time than any other President in the history of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: How is he coming up with these numbers, Kurt?

KURT BARDELLA, MEDIA CONSULTANT FOR BREITBART NEWS: I think he is just making them up and pulling them out of his head like most things Donald Trump says. He lives in a world where he can literally say anything that he wants and his audience, his base, they're going to eat it up. It doesn't matter the fact, truth doesn't matter. We see it every day at the White House press briefing. This is an administration that exists to lie to the American people and really just hone in on the people that he thinks are with them and tell them fairy tales every single day.

LEMON: There was also this. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The City of Chicago, what the hell is going on in Chicago? There are those that say that Afghanistan is safer than Chicago. Ok? What is going on? You know what's wrong with Chicago? Weak, ineffective politicians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:20:18] LEMON: So, just a week ago, on December 1st, Chicago police announced a 14 percent drop in homicides so far this year compared to 2016. I'm wondering, Beth, when the President says things like this, do people down there believe him?

BETH CLAYTON, COLUMNIST, ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, there's a lot of people in Alabama who, the only source they need is what the President says. And unfortunately, when you've got a President, like you said, making stuff up, it's really hard to combat that with truth and logic. But there are a lot of smart people in Alabama and I have faith those people are going to show the country what we are made of on Tuesday.

LEMON: Pensacola is just across the state line Beth, from not just, you know, it's not just -- it's just across the line, so, people in Alabama are seeing this.

CLAYTON: They are, and, you know, I think it's telling that the President chose to go to Florida to tell people to go vote for Roy Moore, you know, because he didn't want to come to Alabama where he had to actually own Roy Moore. They say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones --

LEMON: He doesn't want a photo-op with him, probably.

CLAYTON: Right. It's a little too close for comfort, because when Doug Jones pulls this out, right now, the President can still say, well, he wasn't my candidate. I didn't have anything to do with it. And he can, you know, throw him off to the side just like he is done every other losing Republican since he took office. LEMON: Yes. David, on air force one, on the way to Pensacola, the

White House principle deputy secretary Raj Shaw to the White House and the President believes that the allegations on Roy Moore are troubling and concerning. By holding a rally in Florida and by continuing to say the allegations are concerning, is the White House giving itself an out if Moore loses?

SWERDLICK: Yes, they're trying to have their cake and eat it, too, on this. Having staff go out there and say, in a sober tone, you know, these allegations are troubling, other Republicans on the hill started to say that a month ago when my "Washington Post" colleagues first did the reporting on Roy Moore, but Republicans now have sort of taken this stance up to and including President Trump, not all Republicans, but many leading Republicans, that, you know, it's up to the voters, let the voters decide, which is true, it is up to the voters, but not taking any kind of sort of courageous stand, not drawing a moral line in the stand about who they want to see representing their Party, and, again, it's -- it's not courageous, because they won't disavow Moore, but it's also not courageous, because as was just said, you have a situation where if Moore does lose, if Jones does pull this out, President Trump, I'm sure, will disown Roy Moore as quickly as possible in the same way that he disowned Luther Strange, who he endorsed in the primary, because he saw that the Alabama primary voters were with Moore at that time.

LEMON: So, Kurt, I have to ask you this, and I hate to ask people their political affiliation. You started as a Republican, right?

BARDELLA: Yes.

LEMON: Am I correct? OK. So, you started the year as a Republican, as a Breitbart employee. You are ending the year as a Democrat. Why? Why?

BARDELLA: Well, I think that when you look at what's going on in Alabama right now, with Roy Moore, it's the perfect illustration of how the Republican Party is completely morally bankrupt. They would rather put in office someone who has a serial history of sexually stalking teenagers at the local mall, that they would rather put this guy in office than a crime fighting prosecutor in Doug Jones who went after the KKK, went after white collar crime, who happens to be a Democrat, but that their standards have fallen so low, they would rather have the child molester than the crime fighting prosecutor in office. That is a Party that is completely abandoning any moral clarity. The RNC, the official of the Republican party is behind Roy Moore, they're cutting a check and sending him money, that the President of the United States, the leader of the Republican Party, is just minutes ago said vote for Roy Moore, that is not a Party I want to be part of, Don.

LEMON: That is where we are today. Thank you, Kurt, thank you Beth, thanks David. I appreciate it.

When we come back, e-mails sent from Russian contacts to someone extremely close to the President are raising such alarm that the FBI sent agents to the White House to warn the recipient. What was in those e-mails, and why did the senders lie about their identities?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:28:40] LEMON: Report tonight that Russian operatives tried contacting a top aide to President Trump and that set off alarm bells at the FBI. I want to talk about this now with CNN's law enforcement analyst James Gagliano a retired FBI special agent and CNN contributor John Dean a former White House counsel for President Nixon. Good evening to both of you. James, just after President Trump took office, FBI counter intelligence agents met with White House communications Director Hope Hicks for at least two defensive briefings. They let her know that Russians who had e-mailed the administration were not who they claimed to be. Worse, they were potentially Russian agents, part of an intelligence operation. What exactly is a defensive briefing and how common is it?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, Don, the defensive security briefing is a fairly common briefing that is given, especially to people that are coming into the government for the first time that don't understand how to delineate between classified information and something that is not classified. So, what generally happens, folks from the national security division, the national security branch counter intelligence officers will come in and sit down with folks that are new to the government or coming into a new -- a new administration and basically explain to them between the difference of what is spam, what is a spear fishing attempt. They are very concerned about four bad state actors, it's generally Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. In this instance, it was obviously the Russians.

LEMON: This is the way it is supposed to be. I think it's good they gave her these briefings. He didn't do anything wrong, but it is interesting that it shows that Russia is trying to influence the American government. The administration.

[23:30:00] GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And exhibit A, would be the John Podesta stolen e-mails.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, they did this in the White House situation room. Is that unusual?

GAGLIANO: Not unusual, either. They're going to be talking about classified information. That would be appropriate. It doesn't always happen there, but my understanding is that a number of times it does for high level officials.

LEMON: John, let's go a little bit broader now, because "The Times" is also reporting that Robert Mueller's investigators interviewed Hicks today and yesterday. She has worked for the Trump family since before the Presidential campaign even began. How important of a witness do you think she could be?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think she is a potentially very important witness. She has -- she has not only, as you say, the pre-campaign experience. She is been intimate in the White House. And I understand that the way Mueller operates is, he sends teams of investigators in to go over the issues with the witness, one team after another, so, she is had a couple hard days.

LEMON: The order, John, the order in which witnesses are being brought in by Mueller's team, does that mean anything, I mean, we know that Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus were both interviewed before Hicks.

DEAN: Surely it does. Investigators, they always try to get as much information about a witness, or a potential witness, or a subject as they can accumulate before they actually talk to the person they are interviewing. That gives them the ability to assess the truthfulness, to follow up on leads and information they do have and they don't know the answer to, so, yes, it -- and this means that they're getting closer and closer to the President himself.

LEMON: You're shaking your head in agreement, James, why?

GAGLIANO: I am, I mean, that is normally the course the way you would do it. The only thing that troubles me and I've had a number of people say to me that a lot of this right now are -- you got two individuals, Manafort and one of his associates that pled guilty to conspiracy, shady business dealings. It didn't connect necessarily to Donald Trump. The second piece of those were two ancillary process crimes and those were lying to an FBI agent. And that was George Papadopoulos and General Michael Flynn last week, pleading guilty to title 18 of the United States code, 1,001 which is essentially a false and misleading statement.

Again, Mueller didn't have them plead out to an underlying scheme. Generally speaking, you don't want your cornerstone plea to be lying. Why? Because if he is going to use those two individuals to testify against the President, potentially, he is now -- he is now had them -- they're liars. And that is what the defense is definitely going to jump out at. The fact that they -- Don, I'm going to take a stab here, say my prediction. I believe there are going to be more process crime violations. I believe there may be more business dealings that come out that might face scrutiny. I don't know if this is leading toward collusion right now. There might be an obstruction of justice case, but I don't know if this is absolutely leading towards collusion. I think we're moving further away from it.

LEMON: I have to ask you, because you mentioned Papadopoulos. His fiancee, by the way he is a former campaign foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign -- she spoke up and she said, listen, he wasn't a coffee boy. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMONA MANGIANTE, FIANCEE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: It was foreign policy adviser for the campaign. He helped editing Trump's speech on foreign policy. He attended many events and entertained contacts with a high level of officials of different countries. George Papadopoulos is everything but a coffee boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: John, in another interview with ABC, she described Papadopoulos as, quote, the first domino to fall. What do you make of that description?

DEAN: Well, first of all, we do have to understand that her testimony really is hearsay. She only has second-hand knowledge, what she got from her fiancee. So, that is one problem. Secondly, it was probably pretty candid conversations that they had at some point, particularly when he decided he was going to plea, told her what he was doing and fessed up. So, that would mean it would be pretty reliable information and, indeed, he thought he had a pretty important role and she was able to tell the people that he had talked to, including Flynn and Manafort. I'm not sure it was Manafort. Definitely Flynn. But high level people.

LEMON: John, James, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

When we come back, first the White House called the allegations against Roy Moore, very troubling. Then his spokesperson said that the people of Alabama should decide. But now, the President is all-in for a man with multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with minors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:35:05] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump holding a campaign style rally tonight in Pensacola, Florida, near the Alabama border, urging Alabama voters to get out and vote for Roy Moore. The Republican senate candidate accused of sexual assault. The President didn't mention the allegations, but an aide said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As he has said, and as the White House has said, we find these allegations to be troubling and concerning and they should be taken seriously. Roy Moore also maintains that these allegations aren't true, and that should also be taken into account.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, here to discuss, CNN political commentator Jack Kingston, a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign. Political commentators Nina Turner and Joseph Pinion.

[23:40:00] Good evening all. Hello, Jack. Jack, how can the White House still insist the President is troubled and concerned about the allegations against Roy Moore when he is tweeting his support, rallying 15 miles away from the Alabama border? And the President has left zero doubt on where he stands here, no?

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I agree with you, and I think what he did tonight, he built the case of some of the accomplishments of the administration and then, there was one period when he said, and did you see what they did with the yearbook, they altered it. It left a little doubt out there, and then he started talking about Pelosi and Schumer and then basically said Jones would be one more vote for them, and we, us versus them, we don't want that, because it will keep us from you know cracking down on illegal immigration and being tough on ISIS and getting the tax reform done and so forth and, so -- you know, I think he sent the message that he wanted to send tonight.

LEMON: You say, Joseph, well, first of all, I think that is a sort of wink -- you said it's a wink and a nod, but it is also not prioritizing childhood abuse.

JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: Well, look. To me, again, if you're going to be the Party of family values, if you're going to -- even if you are a Roy Moore supporter, the reason Roy Moore is this mythical figure in the city of Alabama, because he said that the word of god is more (inaudible) in the laws of man. Well there is nothing more (inaudible) in scripture than child innocence. So if you are going to sit here and say that we should spend RNC dollars on a man who has, again, this cloud of pedophilia hanging over his head, I think that on some basic level, you have lost track of the values that you claim to uphold. So, we're in this jumbled mess right now as Republicans, as conservatives, when you have this President of the United States, the leader of our Party, actually actively campaigning, trying to give elbow room for a man who get elected who in many ways is the (inaudible) of what we supposedly acclaimed to uphold.

LEMON: There are a number of Republicans who are saying, I don't want to be a Republican after this. Are you getting close to this?

PINION: No. Here's the problem. I've said before in this program, I think that Jeff Flake should run, not because, even if he believes he has a narrow pathway to victory, because you have to give that 19- year-old child, who is a college sophomore, the opportunity to say, I don't agree with this. Maybe I'll take a semester off and go and work with this campaign, because if he wins or loses, wait to be standing side-by-side with that man. You have to be giving people the opportunity to say, that we reject these principles. This is not the conservatism that I signed up for, so, no, I'm not going anywhere, because, again, on some base level, that is the abdication of the moral responsibility, if you believe that these people are trying to, in my ways, pervert the values that brought you to that Party in the first place.

LEMON: Nina, David Brooks wrote a column in "The New York Times" titled the GOP is rotting. There is no end of what Trump will ask of his Party. He is defined by shamelessness, so, there is no bottom. And apparently there is no end to what regular Republicans are willing to give him. Do you agree with that? NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely, Don. I mean the

poll in Alabama shows very clearly that most Republicans in Alabama are comfortable with electing Roy Moore, even women. So, it shouldn't be shocking that the President is playing to his base, he is playing hard to that base. And he has certainly chosen politics, numbers, counting raw numbers in the senate, in terms of pushing his agenda, an agenda that hurts most working poor and middle class in this country. But he is choosing a vote over the voices of the women who have alleged that Roy Moore sexually assaulted them and even some of them were children. So, they -- the rot, it does stink over on the GOP side, and this is as low as I think they can possibly go.

LEMON: Considering some of the things that he said in the past and he stood for, if this wasn't disqualifying, why would we think this would be disqualifying. But stand by. I'm going to talk about much more. Stay with me. When we come back, backlash growing against the President for his plans trip to the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum. But wouldn't it be just as bad if he declined the invitation?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:48:09] LEMON: Controversy marking tomorrow's opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum. President Trump will be there and that has prompted two veterans of the civil rights movement, Democrats Congressman John Lewis and Benny Thompson to bow out. Saying, in a joint statement, "President Trump's disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and national football league players disrespect the efforts of Fannie L., Aaron Henry, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwermer and countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place." Back with me now, Jack Kingston, Nina Turner and Joseph Pinion. So, Joseph, the White House responded to Congressman Lewis and Thompson, and they said that it was unfortunate the congressmen won't be there, saying in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history. Are they missing a chance to stand and confront racism?

PINION: Well, they missed the chance to stand and confront racism all the time. They missed it in Charlottesville. They missed it when they started talking when President Trump went back --

LEMON: I meant the civil rights leaders. Are they missing a chance?

PINION: Well, I will say this. I'll say this. First and foremost --

LEMON: And to honor the heroes.

PINION: First and foremost, I think that you can't say that Congressman Lewis is unwilling to honor himself. That is just ridiculous. Having said that, and I must say, from the beginning, that this is a man who is literally a living testament to the sacrifices that make my life possible. So, he has earned the right to do what he wants to do or doesn't want to do. Having said that, if you believe that you have a moral obligation to stand up to this White House, when they do things that are inconsistent with what we believe as a nation, and if you believe in the fact that you have an obligation to speak truth to power, you must be willing to be in the room when power walks in it. And so to me, it's a lost opportunity to stand and say, this is who we are.

[23:50:02] We have an opportunity to tell the truth about who we are as a nation. And no one better than Congressman Lewis, to stand in that room and say Mr. President this is how we feel aggrieved and this is why you need to understand the issues that have been playing us for so long and what you've been dealing with kind of inconsistently.

LEMON: I'm not sure he'd have the opportunity to do that there. And maybe that is the reason.

PINION: To me, I think why he wouldn't.

LEMON: One of the reasons -- I don't know that.

PINION: Right.

LEMON: But maybe he feels that by standing there it's a photo op appear some way seen as support of the administration. The museum mission is written on the website and they say they promote great understanding of Mississippi civil rights movement by ask asking the President not to come does to do more than divide than promote greater understanding.

TURNER: Not -- I'm hoping if the President goes there he takes a little time to learn a little something and come out there a changed man. And I do- you know though certainly the Congressman is right, Congressman Louis is right not to want to attend. I wish he would have attended, because he is the personification of this fight right now, the embodiment of this fight in the 21st century, and all the sacrifices that he made. And his trip there is bigger than Mr. Trump. And we must stop allowing Mr. Trump to suck all the oxygen out of the room. You know Mississippi is a place where most of the lynching's happened in the United States of America, you remember when Nina Symone sung that song Mississippi god damn, she was talking about those lynching's and those black bodies hanging from trees.

It would do the President well, hopefully to capture some of the spirit of Fanny Lou Hammer, (inaudible) Baker, Bob Moses and all the African-Americans who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom and liberty in this country for African-Americans. That is the lesson in the brief period of time that I hope that the president comes away a little different, a little deeper and have a better understanding of the racial dynamic in in country.

LEMON: Congressman Mia Love and why the President should attend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIA LOVE, (R) UTAH: I think if anybody should be going to civil rights museums and to -- and to learn about -- about the suffering and I would say the triumph of black Americans it should be the White House and I think that we should welcome that type of participation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Jack does she have a point if the President doesn't understand, wouldn't it be good for him of all people to be there to try to gain understanding?

KINGSTON: I think it would be great for everybody. I have to say I have a little bit of a story here myself. The civil rights museum in Washington, D.C. was the Kingston Louis bill. Jack Kingston and John Louis introduced the bill that got the museum built. But I was not invited to the opening of it and I called John Louis. I think the world of John. We are friends. Both from Georgia. And I said John you know I wasn't invited. And you know I mean it's one of the things I think frankly.

LEMON: Did you end up going in.

KINGSTON: No, I did not, I would have to come back into town for it. I really kind of ticked me off to be frank with you. Because frankly it was well expendable, not important to the cause. I think civil rights museums have an opportunity to bring in people of all races of all cultures and an opportunity to mix and mingle and talk about it, because as Tina is saying when Senator are -

LEMON: Nina.

KINGSTON: Nina, I'm sorry I did that a minute ago. Anyway, I agree with her. This is an opportunity to learn. And everybody can learn from it. And I think part of that learning is you look at the exhibit and then you turn around and talk to each other. I respect John Louis. He skipped the inauguration both of Bush and Trump and he can make a big statement when you do that. But I think being there makes it even stronger statement.

LEMON: I think that is a good note to end on and also an evening stronger statement was your attendance at Joy Reed's birthday party last night and the greatness of you and April Ryan, Jack hanging out in Harlem, my neighborhood, so come back any time. Thank you very much everyone. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:58:35] LEMON: Voting is now underway for the CNN hero of the year here is one of this year as top ten heroes. Meet Amy Wright.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: People with disabilities sometimes the world passes them by. Having a workplace that makes you feel proud of yourself and gives you a sense of community is something we all want. Most of them are unemployed. We really felt like we wanted to do something about it. And it was like, coffee shop.

Hey guys good morning. Welcome it is open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on in. WRIGHT: Other than our two managers everybody that works at Bitty and

Bowes coffee has an intellectual or developmental disability. We figured out their skill set and we plug them in. We now have 40 employees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made them feel welcome.

WRIGHT: Most of them who never had a job before, it's really exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bonjour.

WRIGHT: It's a human rights movement it's given our employees the respect that they deserve when you just give them a chance. They can do anything you ask them to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Vote for Amy any of your favorite top ten heroes now at CNNheroes.com. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. See you back here next week.