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Trump Replaces H.R. McMaster As National Security Adviser With John Bolton; Top Lawyer John Dowd Quits; "The Daily Beast:" Guccifer 2.0 Revealed As A Russian Intelligence Officer; Bolton's Link To Anti- Muslim Activist; Trump's Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self; Howard Stern on Trump's Mental Health; Police Shot Unarmed Black Man At Grandmother's Yard. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired March 22, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast live with breaking news tonight. H.R. McMaster is out, John Bolton is in. President Trump replacing his National Security Adviser with a former U.N. Ambassador and Fox News analyst. The White House officials say the announcement tonight came with little warning -- with little warning. The President, completely surprising them and McMaster's departure comes on the same day John Dowd, the lead lawyer handling President Trump's response to the Russia investigation quit. Another day of chaos in the White House.
I want to bring in now CNN's Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, has joined us by phone.
Jeff, thank you so much. Why was the timeline for McMaster's firing, why was it moved up?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, there's no question that there was a sense inside the White House all day long that the President was not pleased with the story line that was going on. They went to firing or the resignation, if you will of John Dowd, but also the extraneous talk about other people who he has been involved with, other -- the Stormy Daniels and other situations. So he was clearly trying to -- White House officials believe move up the time line of this.
Now, I was told by two White House officials tonight that they were not expecting the news of the new National Security Adviser to come tonight at all. They were expecting it would come as part of a larger rollout of other staff members, but it was accelerated today in their view to potentially change the story line.
So we have John Bolton, as the new National Security Adviser. And he said he was surprised by this in an interview with Fox News earlier this evening. He said he was not expecting this to be announced this afternoon. So, Don, clearly a sense the President trying to change up what was clearly another chaotic day at the White House.
LEMON: So change the story line from Dowd? Is that -- is that what you are saying? ZELENY: Change the story line from Dowd, as well as, you know, the
President of course, as we know watches cable television. He is also, you know, likely watching CNN this evening and watching potentially the Anderson Cooper interview. So, the sense was that the White House was interested in changing the story line. And again, John Bolton was in the Oval Office this afternoon, around 4:00, so, we saw him come in the West Wing.
But even at the point when he left it was not expecting to be announced tonight. And that is exactly what happened. Again, the President, himself, making the decision, we are told, himself to announce this to create a bit of a spark if you will in yet another revolving door episode of the White House.
LEMON: The same as he did when he did when he came out and said, you know, he had news about North Korea, again changing the story line there as well. Jeff, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you very much. I want to bring in now "New York Times" columnist, Nicholas Kristoff.
Nicholas, good evening to you wrote a column for "The New York Times" and in it you said, that you said, "I have a grim feeling in my belly, a bit like I had in a run-up to the Iraq War, that we have a president who is leading us to a reckless, catastrophic conflict." That's pretty some language, what conflict?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well it became much, much grimmer after John Bolton's announcement. I mean, look, I think that the risk of us entering a conflict with North Korea or with Iran is substantially greater right now than it was a few hours ago. John Bolton is, you know, he was an architect of the war with Iraq, 15 years ago and his instinct is to use the military tool box.
I think, he is vastly over confidante about using it. The idea of Mike Pompeo, at the State Department, and John Bolton, as the National Security Adviser, I found it profoundly scary. I mean, the Dow lost 700 points today, because of concerns about the trade war --
LEMON: With China.
KRISTOF: -- if trade war with the China, but I think if the markets are rational, they will lose another 700 points, because of fears of actually shooting war and I think that -- to me this is like the big news of the week, this really, I think reposition the U.S. in ways that are profoundly dangerous and do remind me of the run up to the Iraq War.
LEMON: You're talking strictly Bolton. But listen, considering when I -- the conversation I just had with Jeff Zeleny as well, Dowd, you have this, you've got what happened with the stock market today. You've got -- put this all in perspective for us. You got to him trying to change the headlines, which is, you know, most smart people can see that when he does these things.
[23:05:00] KRISTOF: So, I think a lot of our allies around the world had -- there had been a debate about what to think of the U.S. and where the U.S. was headed in. President Trump would say some extraordinary things about pulling out of NATO. But then he wouldn't actually follow through. Or about trade wars. And he wouldn't actually go in that direction, but I think, there was a feeling that he was being restrained by his Secretary of State, by his National Security Adviser, by his Secretary of Defense.
And now I think there is deep alarm in our allies that those restraints are gone and that the restraint will go to provocateurs at his side in the NSC and over -- at the State Department.
I mean, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton are similar in the sense that they are both very smart. They both, I think well versed about the world. And their instinct is also to use that military tool box and to have vastly excess confidence -- I'd say hubris about the consequences of military strikes.
LEMON: Historically Bolton has been critical of Russia over the years, he's even had this to say back in February. This is an op-ed in The Hill on how to prevent the future Russian attacks.
And here's what he says, "One way to do that is to engage in retaliatory cyber campaign against Russia. This effort should not be proportional to what we have just experienced. It should be decidedly disproportionate. The lesson we want Russia or anyone else to learn is that the costs to them from future attacks against the United States will be so high that they simply -- they will simply co-sign all their cyber warfare plans to their computer memories to gather electronic dust."
So, is Bolton going to be able to influence Trump at Russia or will he tell the president's line, you think?
KRISTOF: I think he will toe the President's line. I mean, in the case of Iran and North Korea they -- they're pushing on an open door. In the case of Russia, President Trump for years has had this extraordinary fondness for President Putin and for the Authoritarian System in Russia. And so I don't think there is going to be a change there. And I do really worry about that the mischief they can concoct in particular in the case of Iran and North Korea. But (inaudible) also a trade war, essentially, you know, we have a President tugging us toward the three different wars at the same time.
LEMON: Yes. So, today the President announced a series of tariffs totaling $50 billion against China. Do you think -- and you saw what happened with the stock market? Do you think we are headed towards a trade war with China?
KRISTOF: So, China is going to respond. I think China's political system means that Xi Jinping has to respond, but in a more muted way against U.S. agricultural products for example, but applied to a few billion dollars of American exports. And I think China hopes that it will be a very small tat to the American tit and that it won't deescalate out of control.
The problem is that trade wars do escalate. And I think, you know my best guess is that this will not get out of hand, but I think the worst-case scenario is that indeed, it will. And that would result in a real recession perhaps worldwide.
LEMON: I think it's interesting that he feels he has to fulfill the campaign promise, you know, with China, because he talked so harshly about China, but yet there's virtually no punishment and then, you know, except for the sanctions recently on Russia about the meddling in the 2016 election.
KRISTOF: President Trump's policy toward Russia is simply baffling. And it can't be explained by what we know. It's completely out of the range of where the debate is among security experts. It's completely inexplicable in terms of the evidence we have. There is something more going on.
Now, whether -- there are some pieces of the puzzle we don't see. Whether that is leverage that Russia has, because it knows embarrassing things about President Trump, or whether it made investments that give it some leverage or something else, I don't know, but there is another part of the puzzle there.
LEMON: Yes. So listen, "The Daily Beast" is reporting tonight that Guccifer 2.0 is a lone hacker, who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee was in fact a Russian military intelligence officer. Isn't it surprising you that -- what does this mean for the Mueller investigation now that there may be some sort of tie between this and possibly the Trump campaign?
KRISTOF: Well, it was already believed that Guccifer 2.0 was indeed Russian. Probably because he had purportedly -- he had claimed to be Romanian, but couldn't really speak Romanian.
[23:10:05] And so it was -- it was indeed widely believed that Guccifer 2.0, he seems to push that a little more in the direction of GRU, the Russian Military Intelligence Unit. And you know, there are more and more pieces of the puzzle that indicate -- you know, during the campaign the Trump campaign repeatedly said that there had been zero contacts between it and Russia. And I think at last count there were 39 that had turned up.
KRISTOF: You know, it keeps going -- it keeps going up. I think Mueller is pretty busy.
LEMON: Do you think -- do you think, this Guccifer 2.0 thing is -- does that mean that Mueller is getting closer to tying Russia to this campaign?
KRISTOF: Well, I mean, there is certainly plenty of ties between Russia and the Russia government and the Trump campaign.
KRISTOF: We don't have ties between President Trump and himself. And --
LEMON: And Roger Stone knowingly communicating with him and admitting.
KRISTOF: And Roger Stone having that engagement. So, I mean there is no question about those links and those contacts. What we don't know is whether there was some quid pro quo, whether there -- to what extent involve the president and exactly what the knowledge of was in the Trump campaign about whatever benefit they were getting from Russia. I think probably Bob Mueller has a much better understanding of this than what we do though.
LEMON: Yes. Nick, thank you I appreciate it. When we come back John Bolton wants to put his past comments behind him now that he is taking on the role of National Security Adviser, but what about some of his bigoted comments?
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: John Bolton trying to distance himself tonight from some of the things he has said in the past as he gears up to replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator, Keith Boykin, Peter Beinart and Ben Ferguson.
Hello one, hello all. They are all here, the gang is all here.
A lot of people taking issue, Peter, with Bolton's politics. You say that he has anti-Muslim ties or ties to anti-Muslim groups. What are they?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, John Bolton wrote the foreword to a book, co-written, co-author by Pamela Geller, called "The Post American Presidency of Barack Obama." And in fact, in the foreword, Bolton says that Barack Obama was a post American President. Now, if you look at the book itself that he wrote the foreword too, the author, Pamela Geller, said that Barack Obama is trying to impose Sharia Law inside the United States.
And in fact, Pamela Geller is probably the most notorious anti-Muslim bigot in the United States. A woman who would literally, repeatedly called Muslims, savages. She said Barack Obama was a Muslim, put on the most vile video of her, but woman -- you know, Muslims having sex with animals, really horrific, horrific stuff. John Bolton wrote the foreword to her book. A book that claimed that Barack Obama was trying to impose Sharia Law.
LEMON: Yes, he wrote that foreword, Pamela Geller's book, again, that's called The Post American Presidency, Ben, about President Barack Obama. She is known for provocative anti-Muslim, some would say, hate speech. Are these the kind of people the President wants to associate with? Do you think?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I don't think I would have encouraged him to write that foreword. I think, Pamela Geller says she plays a role in exposing the truth about Muslim extremism in the world. And some people find that, I think offensive. I think showing videos that she has showed of actual crimes, horrific crimes being committed by Muslim extremists in the world, those are Al Qaeda and ISIS. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. BEINART: No, no, let's be clear. This is a woman who doesn't just
talk about ISIS and Al Qaeda. A woman who had repeatedly, endlessly defamed Islam itself, saying it itself is the problem and suggested that the President --
FERGUSON: Well, in case Barack Obama is a Muslim, trying to impose Sharia Law.
LEMON: Let me play this, Ben. This is in 2016, Bolton gave a keynote address to the American Freedom Alliance which designated as the hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I want you to listen to this. This is part of the speech title. Can Islam and the west co- exist? Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: King Abdullah of Jordan, who is not simply the Muslim king of a Muslim country, unlike our President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He called Obama a Muslim king. Do you think the President cares or is that part of the reason that he chose Bolton, is because of that?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, remember, Donald Trump spent five and a half years lying about President Obama's birth certificate and playing around with these sort of anti-Islam, -- Islamophobic theories as well, catering to this conspiracy theory's crowd and in his base. I think that he had to know that these were Bolton's views. He watches Fox News, he saw Bolton on Fox News where he spewing out this type of venom. And it's consistent with the other people who Donald Trump has appointed all along. He doesn't seem to care, because there are no consequences for this type of behavior, for these types of appointments. And because this is not an appointment that has to be confirmed by the Senate, there is nothing we can do about it.
LEMON: Ben, that doesn't bother you watching that?
FERGUSON: Look, if you have ever seen him, I've seen him speak multiple times in person. He is a very dry sense of humor. You heard the audience laugh there. I think he was trying to be a little bit humorous and funny. I've watched him at multiple different things, speak whether he see back or others, where he does have a little bit of dry humor. I don't think he actually when he was saying that, meant it in serious tone. There's a reason why the audience there, as you heard in the end of that clip, crack up laughing, because that is John Bolton, he is a guy that makes a little bit of a joke and he keeps a straight face while he does it.
LEMON: He seems smiling. BEINART: Yes, even if without the joke. But you can't explain away
all of these different things. He spoke at three times at Pamela Geller, anti-mosque rally in Downtown Manhattan, where he is a long association with Frank Gaffney, who goes across the country --
FERGUSON: Are you referring to the one that was close to the 911?
BEINART: Yes. Yes.
FERGUSON: OK. Some people will look at that as a little bit different than anti-rally. It was about being insensitive and there was a lot of people that agreed with that.
BEINART: Yes, I think -- I think completely unfounded. He also.
FERGUSON: Well, that is an opinion.
BEINART: He got an award from Frank Gaffney organizations. Frank Gaffney goes around the country testifying against the construction of mosques. Saying that Muslims don't deserve First Amendments right, because Islam, it's how he is saying it, political ideology. What bothers me -- what bothers me and I say this as a Jew, is that I know that if someone were saying these things about our people about Jews, that conservatives like you would be up in arms. So, why aren't you when people do it about Muslims?
[23:20:09] FERGUSON: I've been very clear about this. OK. You're connecting people and then putting words in Bolton's mouth which he was not a part of.
BEINART: And he wrote a foreword to the book.
FERGUSON: Again, I said earlier if you listen to what I said, I would not have write my name to the foreword of the book.
BEINART: You don't think it's disqualifying.
FERGUSON: I think, sometimes people in their career, they get ask to do something and they say sure, I write a foreword, clearly looking back, I think it was probably not the best decision. OK? I will say that, I don't have a problem with that, but you're now trying to act as if anybody that he has ever been in the room with that you disagree with is somehow automatically his policy or foreign policy.
BEINART: You are getting awards from David Duke's organizations.
FERGUSON: That is not what we're talking about though.
BEINART: Are the equivalent of David Duke?
FERGUSON: In your opinion, I would disagree with that, I think Pamela Geller has been very clear.
BEINART: Well, you need to learn more about the subject.
FERGUSON: OK. Again, you saying that I need to learn more about it doesn't mean that Pamela Geller has not exposed a lot of Muslim extremism in the world which you then say is somehow bad and equivalent of something that is absurd. That is not the case here.
BOYKIN: Why is he so?
FERGUSON: By the way the Muslim extremists have also tried to kill her, you know that.
BEINART: Absolutely that is wrong.
FERGUSON: OK. So let's -- let's also realize she did show some truth.
LEMON: Go ahead.
BOYKIN: Why is it so important to point out Muslim extremists in the world anyway, when we are in the midst of trying to get out of two wars and with Muslim countries in Iraq and Afghanistan? We have horrible relation with Muslim countries. We need to build better relation with these. Having someone like John Bolton in place does nothing for that. In fact, it moves us backwards. Trump has already moved us backward with his racist with Mexico, with other nations, with a quote unquote, "shithole countries" that he dislike. Now we are moving backwards again with Islam and that is not productive thing for our country, as we -- fighting a trade war with China too. How many wars are we going to fight, Ben? How many wars has come to our --
LEMON: John Bolton on Fox News tonight after the announcement. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: During my -- my career I've written I don't know how many articles and op-eds and opinion pieces I've given. I can't count the number of speeches. I've had countless interviews maybe the majority of them on Fox in the past 11 years. They're all out there on the public record. I've never been shy about what my views are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Not shy about sharing views some of them extreme like bombing Iran and North Korea, but that is now all behind him?
FERGUSON: I think he is saying there is a lot of different things he talked about in different times when there are different issues were going on in the world. Those were policy decisions that clearly have changed now and they would be different.
When he was talking for example about dealing with Iran, it was when we had a real issue with their nuclear program. And aggression they were also, let's not forget, Iran was responsible for the majority of the road -- the majority of the roadside bombs that were killing American soldiers in Iraq at the time and he did say we need to hold them accountable.
And he was opposed to Iran deal.
LEMON: Go ahead.
BOYKIN: He wrote the op-ed saying that we should bomb Iran three years in ago. He has opposed the Iran deal. He said the only way to --
FERGUSON: Right, and I'm posting on radio as well.
BOYKIN: He said the only way to get Iran to agree to anything is through military action. Look, guess what, they agreed without military action.
FERGUSON: Closer now to nuclear weapons.
BOYKIN: He supported the war on -- he support the war in Iraq. Which everyone, including Trump has been opposed to, now says he was opposed to at the time. So, he has been the key War Hawk Warmonger.
FERGUSON: And again.
LEMON: Last word here.
BEINART: Donald Trump got elected saying unlike the other Republicans, he thought that the Iraq War was a terrible decision. So, now he chooses an architect of the War in Iraq.
FERGUSON: He wasn't the architect of the war in Iraq? That's not true.
BOYKIN: He was a cheer leader.
BEINART: He is actually -- changing the evidence that actually brought us into the War in Iraq.
LEMON: We got to go.
FERGUSON: The military would be the ones the architects of war.
BEINART: They were taking orders from the Bush Administration.
BOYKIN: And John Bolton.
LEMON: What advice would the President -- thank you by the way -- thank you. What advice would the President give his 25-year-old self?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't run for President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There is a lot to unpack there.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: With all the chaos in the Trump White House, is it any wonder the President said this today during a summit of young entrepreneurs?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What advice would you give to the 25-year-old Donald Trump knowing what you know today?
TRUMP: Don't run for President.
TRUMP: All my life I've gotten really -- you know, look we all get every once in a while a knock, but I got the greatest publicity, I was getting such great until I ran for office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's all about publicity with this guy. I want to bring in CNN contributor, Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." It's all about publicity for him. He loves to read his name in the newspaper and see it on TV.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure, it's the first thing he ever said to me, is I remember when I got my name in in the paper the first time. I was 14 years old. I hit a home run. It was great.
D'ANTONIO: And then he said to me, don't you remember every time you got your name in the paper. I said, no.
LEMON: No, not really.
D'ANTONIO: It's crazy. And even what he said about how he got such great publicity all along. That is not true.
LEMON: That is not true either.
D'ANTONIO: But it doesn't matter. The truth doesn't matter. LEMON: Go back and read some old newspaper clippings if you -- you
know of Donald Trump and then you'll see what he said it's completely not true. Do you think he regrets running? I mean, do you think he ever wanted to be President?
D'ANTONIO: I think he regretted it the moment he won. I don't think he regrets it now. I think.
LEMON: Did you see his face on election night? Stunned.
D'ANTONIO: Oh yes, he was stunned. When he met with Obama a few days after the election, he was so grateful. He said twice.
LEMON: He was sort of sitting there like this.
D'ANTONIO: Right, I can't believe I'm here.
LEMON: What's happening here?
D'ANTONIO: And twice he said -- this is a really good man about Barack Obama.
D'ANTONIO: And I think it was because Obama was saying OK, you're the President now. Here is how to be a President. And he was the first person to clue him in. It's a tough job.
LEMON: You have known him for a while. You have covered him. And very closely. And you sort of predicted this in a way. Right after the President took office, Howard Stern said this -- this is in February of 2017. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, HOST, "THE HOWARD STERN SHOW": I personally wish that he had never run. I told him that, because I actually think this is something that -- it's going to be very detrimental to his mental health too. Because he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I remember that interview. And I was in a car. And I remember just saying, you know, turn that up a little bit. Because as they say, Howard was reading my soul. I thought the same thing, especially now, a president whose, you know, approval ratings were -- they're in the mid-30s, you know. And do you think that he regrets that? Because he wants to be loved by everyone. He has got the special counsel breathing down his neck now. Is Howard right?
D'ANTONIO: Howard is right. And Howard does know enough about human nature. You listen to his interviews. He is very good.
LEMON: He is the best.
D'ANTONIO: He is. And so he is saying this is detrimental to Trump's mental health. What have we seen other than this man's mood swings? This is a person who is out of control. He is upset all the time.
D'ANTONIO: So today -- well, I'm upset. I'm going to fire McMaster. And then his attorney quits. I mean, this is just one day.
LEMON: But do you think he was upset -- that's not why -- I mean, we've been saying McMaster was going to be out for a while. A number of news organizations have been reporting that. What has been the White House been saying? It's fake, it's a false story. He even said it himself, it's a false story, it's fake news, what have you, even from the podium, right?
Sarah Sanders saying no, they were together today. Basically paraphrasing, he has got confidence, what have you. But then he tries to change the headlines. I think Bolton was a headline changer as Jeff Zeleny reported at the top of the show. He tried to but he can't.
D'ANTONIO: Of course. He tried to but he can't. Why did he need to change the headline? It was because he was upset about what he knew was coming. He knew CNN was going to do this interview with Karen McDougal. He knew McDougal was going to be more coherent than he ever has been. He had been sure anticipated she was going to show more empathy for Melania than he has shown for his own wife.
This woman actually welled up. Her eyes filled with tears. I wonder if the president's eyes ever filled with tears over what he has done to his own wife.
D'ANTONIO: So you got this guy. His mood swings are worse than a 13- year-old's hormones would have them be. And we are all have to cope with it.
LEMON: That is a really good assessment, what you just said, because we don't know about his relationship with Karen McDougal. But he knew about his relationship with Karen McDougal, and he knew how compelling it would be. Whether it changes anything for his face, I mean it certainly affects his family. And there are women out who are going to say, you know what, this is disgusting behavior.
D'ANTONIO: Well, is there anything more despicable than introducing your mistress to your wife and your daughter at the house of -- of the playboy mansion? This is a horrible photo that's now circulating on television and online. And -- and it's just the tip of the iceberg. This is a scandalous life that this person has led and it's all because of his unstable moods.
LEMON: Well talk about trying to change the subject. I'll just going to read this. He tweeted this morning. Remember when they were saying during the campaign that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds but he is spending much less money and not using social media as well as crooked Hillary's large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore.
D'ANTONIO: We now know there was a great big social media campaign, don't we?
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. Always a pleasure. When we come back, it's a story we are all familiar with, but shouldn't be. A police officer shooting an unarmed black man, a man who was in his grandmother's backyard. Police releasing video of the shooting. Stay tuned to watch it and judge for yourself what happened to Stephen Clark -- Stephon Clark, excuse me.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Anger and tears in Sacramento tonight. Protesters taking to the streets as a mayor calls for calm after the deadly police shooting of an unarmed man on Sunday. Police say two officers fired at Stephon Clark, killing the 22-year-old, who was in his grandmother's backyard after a chase. Investigators said they did not find a weapon, only a cell phone.
CNN's Dan Simon is in Sacramento tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Hey, show your hands. Stop. Stop.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The encounter lasts less than a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Come here. What are you doing?
SIMON (voice over): After a brief chase, Sacramento police fired 20 shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Shots fired. Shots fired.
SIMON (voice over): And as the smoke clears, they explain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Something in his hands. It looked like a gun from our perspective.
SIMON (voice over): Ahead in the spotlight, an unarmed 22-year-old black man lay dead in his grandmother's backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): We can't get you help unless we know you don't have a weapon.
VANCE CHANDLER, SERGEANT, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's a very tragic for the family and for officers. The officers felt that their lives were in danger and the subject was pointing a firearm.
SIMON (voice over): So they fired. Apparently fearing for their lives. But no weapons were found at the scene. Just a cell phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right there. Right there was my grandson dead with the iPhone. SIMON (voice over): It does not appear the pursuing officers ever identified themselves as police before opening fire. Now the family of Stephon Clark, a father of two, says they are murderers.
(on camera): Are you angry with them?
STEVANTE CLARK, BROTHER OF STEPHON CLARK: I'm pissed. I'm livid.
SIMON (on camera): You said you wanted his name to be remembered the same way, that people are never --
CLARK: Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown.
SIMON (voice over): Sacramento police arrived in the neighborhood Sunday after 9:00 p.m. Responding to calls of someone breaking car windows.
[23:40:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Going down the street breaking windows of cars.
SIMON (voice over): Police say they found at least three vehicles damaged. They believe Clark was the culprit. According to the sheriff's department, the helicopter crew observed a person breaking windows and picking up a tool bar. Aerial videos shows someone police say as Clark, hopping fences and running from police.
CLARK: The police are trying to slander him, saying he was this and that. He wasn't a gun guy. You know what I mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Five-seven, he's down, no movement.
SIMON (voice over): Moments after the gunfire, Clark lay silent. And the officers reload their guns. Still fearful it seems of being attacked. Minutes later, they approach to administer aid.
(on camera): Where does the family go from here?
CLARK: We're afraid. We're afraid. It's not the first and won't be the last. I think that's what it hurts the most.
DARRELL STEINBERG, MAYOR, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA: Like any compassionate person, I was horrified by what I saw.
SIMON (voice over): Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg pledging full transparency.
STEINBERG: The tragedy warrants not only our sorrow but a deep examination of what occurred and what policies and procedures must be examined and changed to minimize the chance that this does not happen again.
SIMON (voice over): Protesters rallying at city hall this afternoon, at one point entering the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a bomb not a gun. It's a phone not a gun. LEMON (voice over): Dan Simon joins us. Dan, are you able to speak to us right now? All right.
LEMON: It appears -- so Dan has -- there is someone walked into the live shot there. I should tell you that there is a Black Lives Matter protest right outside of the arena there where a ball game just wrapped up. The Sacramento Police Department made no arrest so far at the protest. That is outside the Golden One Arena. That is were Dan was. That's according to the police department there.
The crowd estimates -- they don't have any crowd estimates now. There are no injuries at this point. But clearly people are really upset by this shooting. And they have been out here for all day as you see and the story is building. One of the stories that we don't cover that much since we are covering so much to do with the president and all the chaos in Washington.
If we get Dan Simon back -- can Dan speak to us now or shall we move on? OK. So we are going to move on now. I want to bring in former Los Angeles police officer David Klinger. He is the author of "Into the Kill Zone." Also CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.
Marc, police fired 20 rounds into Stephon Clark and now here we are talking about yet another black life taken, an unarmed black man who was killed. What's happening?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Unfortunately this story is all too familiar. A black man or woman who was outside is vulnerable to state violence. He didn't have a weapon. The police reports were saying that he had a tool bar not a gun. The police didn't enter the chase expecting a gun. They didn't identify themselves as police officers before the exchange began in the yard.
This man was going to his own house and he was in his own yard. This happens far too often and there will be people, Don, who will say, the police really thought that he had a gun. I give the police the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure they did think that he had a gun.
The problem is, too often when black people are outside, we assume they have a gun, we assume they are being violent, we assume they are threat even when they are not. We can't normalize or codify irrational white supremacy anxieties about black bodies in public just because police really believe he had a gun. That's not the point.
LEMON: Yes. David, the officers were in the neighborhood responding to a call about someone breaking car windows. How do you get to deadly force from this crime?
DAVID KLINGER, FORMER LAPD OFFICER: Well, unfortunately, people that commit crimes often times carry firearms. And I have friends that have been involved in the shootouts with people in very similar circumstances responding to a car prowl situation. And so police officers are trained that when they are dealing with a situation where someone is involved in a potential crime and they are fleeing from the police, that deadly force is something that is a possibility.
And it's unfortunate but police officers have been shot in very similar situations. And so that is why police officers respond as they do with their guns out. So on and so forth.
LEMON: Marc, I see you shaking your head there.
LAMONT HILL: Yes, I mean, I'm not sure how that's the point. I mean, no one is disputing that guns could be drawn. No one is disputing that often times bad things happen. No one is disputing that criminals sometimes have guns. The question is, why don't you identify yourself as a police officer? The question is --
KLINGER: Well, in this situation there is a helicopter overhead and he knew the police were there. And he saw.
LAMONT HILL: How do you know what he knew?
KLINGER: Fair point. There is a helicopter overhead. And you're right maybe -- maybe he thought it was something else.
LAMONT HILL: Right. Right. But what we know for sure is that the police could have said, stop, police. I mean, that's something that's very easy to do.
[23:45:02] KLINGER: I don't disagree with that point.
LAMONT HILL: Right. The other question here I think is, why is there such of an over-representation of black people? Why are we disproportionately killed unarmed? It's not to say white people are never been killed. It's not to say that police officers are never in danger. We often think that black people are dangerous when they're not.
There was a study done by (INAUDIBLE) where he talks about how police tend to see black people as older and more guilty than they are. Fourteen-year-old people like Tamir Rice as seen as 20. Toy guns become real guns. Cell phones become real guns in the minds of police officers.
There is something in the psyches of police officers. Black and white. They see black people as unduly dangerous and violent. That's what we have to get to here. That's what we have to unpack.
LEMON: David, let's talk a little bit more --
KLINGER: Then why is it --
LEMON: Go ahead.
KLINGER: Then why is it, Marc, that the vast majority of time when police officers, black and white, confront armed individuals, black and white, they don't shoot?
LAMONT HILL: Again, police are trained not to immediately shoot. The question here is --
KLINGER: Exactly, that's the point. Police officers are very, very restrained. This is a tragic situation where a gentleman who --
LAMONT HILL: Some are.
KLINGER: -- a gentleman afterwards didn't need to be shot. But at the moment, if you look at it from a police officers' perspective, they are chasing a suspect, the subject advances towards them, and the question becomes, was there something in his hand that a reasonable officer could perceive to be a gun. That's what it is going to boil down to.
LEMON: Twenty rounds.
KLINGER: We need to unpack it with all these other things. We have to look at all of it. The situation is --
LAMONT HILL: But the problem is --
KLINGER: I doubt that all 20 of the rounds struck the individual. I'd like to see the autopsy. There is a lot of questions that need to be answered.
LEMON: Marc, go ahead.
KLINGER: That's the point.
LAMONT HILL: Right. But the the other point is, yes, police officers get it wrong sometimes. But we disproportionately get it wrong with black people. We tend to see guns in black people's hands more than other people. That's not a coincidence.
What I am saying is that it is something we need to consider, just like we unpack the evidence, just like we figure out why they didn't identify themselves as police, just like we ask why they turned up the microphones as things are unfolding.
These are all questions we need to answer. But we cannot ignore the fact that this isn't just a random occurrence. White people would be shot just as much as black people if that was the case, but the data suggests otherwise.
LEMON: OK. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere. David, hold that thought. We'll be right back.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: I'm back now with Marc and David. David, you were saying before the break?
KLINGER: In terms of the issue of the number of rounds fired, we need to know the sequence of fire, we need to know the position of the body of Mr. Clark as he was falling, after he fell, whatever the case might be.
We know that most bullets were fired by police officers in situations of this sort, particularly when they believe they are being fired because afterwards you can hear them talking, did you get hit? Did you get hit? So on and so forth.
We don't know in terms of the sequencing of fire, how many rounds were fired at what point. And that will come out in the investigation, probably from the overhead infrared from the sheriff's helicopter. That's something we need an answer to because police officers are responsible for each and every round they fire.
LEMON: Let me ask you. A lot of people have been commenting on this especially on social media and writing about it. Marc, did the Austin police chief is calling the Austin's bomber's recorded confession, the outcry of a very challenged young man? A challenged young man. Do you think that description that we heard about Mark Anthony Conditt, would it be the same if he were black or brown?
LAMONT HILL: Absolutely not. Look, anybody who shoots up school, anybody who sends mail bombs, anybody who is a sniper, anyone who engages in any form of terrorism is a troubled person. We know that. But what happens is when white people engage in forms of terrorism like we see in Austin, we have an explanation, we have nuance, we have complexity, we have a kind of instant push to humanize him.
But when it comes to black and brown people, the first thing we do is want pictures to say he was no angel, he was no good person. They find pictures of you smoking weed. They find you your worst Instagram post. They do whatever they can to demonize you at the same time want to humanize white people.
Again, I don't have a problem giving context to a killer because everyone does have a story even as we critique them for what they did. But black people have a story, too. Black people are human beings too. Black people don't get that level of humanization when they did shot.
We didn't give Trayvon that much love and he was the one who was killed. We didn't give Mike Brown that much love and he was the one who was killed. White people blow up a building and we say, he had a trouble childhood. A whole bunch of black people got troubled childhood (INAUDIBLE) to blow a building. Let's give some humanity to everybody.
LEMON: David, David Simon is a writer and producer for the TV show, "The Wire." He tweeted this. He said, once before I die, I would like to hear a cop or a prosecutor declare a mainstream media report that a confession of a black or brown skin suspect to a crime of violence is the outcry of a very challenged young man, talking about what challenges that led him to this point.
Why do you think police would describe Conditt at such sympathetic terms?
KLINGER: I have no idea. And I'm actually lined up pretty strongly with Marc on this one. Everyone has got a story. We should tell the story. And we shouldn't be looking for ways to try to excuse anybody for any of these heinous these crimes. We want to try to understand. I am fine. But if someone is legitimately a terrorist, let's call him a terrorist.
But I would disagree with Marc that I have heard all sorts of stories over the years trying to humanize many black people, many other minorities in terms of he was about to turn his life around so on and so forth. And so I think that this is something outside of --
LAMONT HILL: Mainstream media?
LAMONT HILL: Mainstream media? I find that's always the counter story because black people are getting disproportionate sentencing. Because we are getting demonized and vilified in the media. We have to actually tell the story so that we don't get 30 years for the same crime that white people getting five years for or probation for.
In general, I don't see -- I didn't see anyone dehumanizing the D.C. sniper, and I'm not saying they should have. I didn't see humanizing (ph) foreign terrorist. But somehow when it comes to white domestic terrorism, we always have an excuse. Again, I think everyone is human, everyone deserves a fair analysis, but let's make it even.
LEMON: Go ahead, David.
KLINGER: I would simply argue that if we go back in time and you look at Timothy McVeigh, I don't think there was anyone trying to humanize him so on and so forth. We can cherry pick.
[23:54:56] My argument is that we should try to understand the context and if there are other people, beside me and you, Marc, who are going to humanize one side and not the other, then that's wrong and that's not fair and that shouldn't be. I don't think we have an argument that way except that you and I would probably disagree about the scope of the data.
LEMON: Marc, David, fascinating conversation. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow night.
[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)