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A Raucous Hearing on Capitol Hill; Lawmakers Getting Personal on Strzok. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 12, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: -- constitutional republic is a form of democracy and yes we have the popular vote and we have the electoral vote, my 12-year-old knows that even if it stump it had congressman there for a second.
What we don't know is why these two sides can't come together for you. They worked for you. We asked all the big Republicans to come on who were big at the hearing, none of them came on, they all went on Fox.
All right. Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon will start right now.
We asked them all, we gave them the opportunity to make the case, they all went to the mother ship and as long as it continues that way it can't be common ground.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It just you just what -- well, that wasn't supposed to be the purpose of today's hearing but that's what it turned into. Of course we know it's going to be partisan. But I mean, this is, this hyper partisanship that we're in now is just really unprecedented. And it's really unbelievable.
I was embarrassed actually watching today. I was sitting there saying, Chris, this is who is running our country? What is going -- and now we know why people want to vote the bums out.
CUOMO: Well, you know what, that's the hope. The hope is people will see this and say we want better, no matter your stripe, right, left or reasonable that you make different choices base on what you're seeing. But look, you know, I'm a lawyer which means that I've very, very good at eating Chinese food.
LEMON: Or reading body language.
CUOMO: What was that?
LEMON: I have no idea.
CUOMO: Sounded like you and me after 10 drinks on the weekend.
LEMON: I don't know. Speak for yourself. But I do have to say, you know, we have to figure out what we're going to do and I don't think the people in Washington, many of them, did themselves a service today. Any service.
LEMON: They did themselves a disservice. Thank you, Chris. See you soon. Nice job.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
What we saw on Capitol Hill today was nasty, a hearing that erupted into chaos from the very first question, a partisan bare knuckled brawl. Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok going head to head with House Republicans well into the night, vigorously defending himself against attacks over his anti-Trump texts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took and the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn't happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It was a day of shouting matches and speeches disguised as questions which he didn't get a chance to really answer or rebut much of the time. All of it playing out on live TV. In one embarrassing exchange after another, like this one about his affair with a former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eyes and lie to her about Lisa--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an issue--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, please--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This intolerable harassment of that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong us? You need your medication?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Do you need your medication. We're going to hear from her in just a moment. And what can you say about this exchange?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R), ARIZONA: This morning I watched -- by the way, I'm a dentist so I read body language very, very well and I watched your comment in actions with Mr. Gowdy. You got very angry in regards to the gold star father. That shows me that it's innately a part of you and a bias.
STRZOK: Sir, I disagree. I don't know if you're saying this experience is like being at the dentist, if that's what you're suggesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ladies and gentlemen, the Congress of the United States of America, our leaders, we voted them in. Playing politics and trying to discredit the Russia investigation just days before President Trump's face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.
One thing is for sure, if Russia intended to sow discord in this country, mission accomplished.
Joining me now is Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat who is on the judiciary committee and was at the hearing today. Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your time.
As Chris said and as Anderson said we invited the Republicans on, none of them chose to come on. We thank you for coming on. What was it like inside the hearing room and did we learn anything new today?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Don, first of all, thank you for having me. And I wish the Republicans had come on because really, Don, truth is non-partisan. And I truly believe that in these hearings we should give the American people hope. Hope in their Constitution, hope in their governance and those who govern.
[22:04:56] What it was like was a shark tank, if I might use unfortunately use a phrase of maybe a popular show. Because there were a group that wanted nothing more than to undercut, to cut down Peter Strzok as opposed to getting facts.
And that's what the American people they can live with transparency and truth. And that is what we wanted to get out, the story. We wanted to reinforce now if I might, these pages and pages of the inspector general.
And for those who don't know an inspector general is in every agency and it has a firewall around it where it can investigate its own. And clearly in this document although bias was evident they said it had nothing do with the investigation or there was no bias in the investigation and it says it specifically here.
All of the Republicans have this document and so they could have chronologically gone through a timeline maybe to show maybe their dislike for Peter Strzok or what they thought was bias even though it was proven not to be but they chose to do that. They chose to be personal, they chose to divide and certainly it looked as if Democrats who really were trying to parse through what a hearing should be, the witness should be able to answer, we should have a certain decorum, we should not talk over the witness.
LEMON: Listen, Congressman, I don't disagree with you on that because I was frustrated watching saying even if you -- whether you agree with him or not at least give him the chance to explain or to respond to what you're saying.
But also I noticed that many of the Democrats were, you know, had praise for him. Some -- I think one said he should have been give a Purple Heart or something for appearing today. Do you think Democrats were maybe a little easy on him?
LEE: I don't think so. I know that there was a lot of emotion there and that emotion obviously evidenced in some very complimentary words but here's the point.
We had read the materials as the Republicans had. We wanted to get to the point of why there was a seaming difference between proceeding with the Clinton e-mail which again has been put to rest by the I.G. report, and the final report, and the Russian investigation which is still ongoing.
And I think it should be evident that in fact what has happened is the side the Republicans did not speak anything about the Russian investigation and that's why I asked that question, Don, at the end. What gave you the sense in 2016 of the seriousness of the Russian investigation?
LEMON: Let's play this.
LEE: That's when he--
LEMON: Let's play it. Let's play it.
LEE: -- and that's when he indicated, if you will, that he felt that they had gotten credible evidence from a credible person and this was extremely serious.
LEMON: I want to play it, and then get your response to it. So here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRZOK: I think trying to keep this at a level not talking about open investigations--
LEE: Only your-- STRZOK: Yes, ma'am. So the predicating information, the information
we had which was alleging a Russian offer of assistant to a member of the Trump campaign was of extraordinary significance. It was credible, it was extraordinarily sensitive and credible source.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So I know you lost your earpiece but I was trying to play that because you were explaining it. So how significant is that?
LEE: I think enormously significant. And I think the important point of that, Don, thank you for playing that, was it goes to the crux of the line of questioning that Republicans were asking is didn't you cover up or shortstop, if you will, the Clinton investigation dealing with her e-mail which is by the way had already been investigated except for that surprise announcement by Director Comey which we later found out had no substance to it.
But the point of this issue was and what we got from Peter Strzok later is, it didn't matter. Yes, many people thought that Trump would not win but what he said to himself or maybe to his staff, suppose he did win, he said even candidate Trump would want to know whether there was credible evidence from a credible person that indicated something was awry.
In this instance the Russian involvement in skewing the election to one candidate versus another. You would think any patriot, any American would want that information and it make perfect sense.
But I think his innocence of answering my question and the fact that he was under oath I think gave it more strength to it and that's what I wanted to get out.
Were you, Peter Strzok, biased or unfair to either candidate and what is a level of seriousness of an intrusion from a foreign entity that is our adversary from a credible source that something was going wrong with the election. I think that was extremely important.
I hope the American people saw that answer and in the truth of the manner in which Mr. Strzok wanted it to be offered.
LEE: That is what we missed in the overall hearing as well as the connection to the administration, to the campaign of a long series of involvement with Russians from Donald Trump at the Trump tower to the dirt on Hillary.
[22:10:07] That should have been the collective impact of this hearing, not an attack on Peter or not an attack on individual members or an attack on the American Constitution.
LEMON: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you. I appreciate your time. I want to get to one of your colleagues now. Thank you so much.
LEE: Well, thank you for having me. LEMON: Absolutely. Joining me now, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson
Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat who was on the oversight committee and she was also in the thick of it at today's hearings. Thank you for joining us this evening, congresswoman.
REP. BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me.
LEMON: You had this -- I want to play this fiery moment that you had with Trey Gowdy. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Starting with the political death penalty and impeachment is not the logical way a neutral dispassionate--
COLEMAN: You know, point of order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, we're demanding equal time.
COLEMAN: He's not testifying here, Mr. Chairman, and if you can't control yourself how do you expect this committee to control itself? You've been out of control since you've been on this committee. Why don't you leave it alone? This is not Benghazi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. I mean, is that how you see today's hearings? Another phishing expedition?
COLEMAN: Absolutely. I mean, let me just tell you one good thing I think came out of this hearing. There is still no indication that whatever Mr. Strzok had on his text message exchanges, nothing has impacted the findings of the investigation.
LEMON: That's what the final report shows. Go on.
COLEMAN: That's what the final report shows. We went into that knowing that, we've come out of that knowing that if we don't know anything else. We really could have been using our time as an oversight committee and a judiciary committee to look at issues that we've not been dealing with that are very important to the American people such as the separation of families and children.
Such as what's happening in Puerto Rico now and after all these months, such as what's happening with criminal justice reform and affirmative action. What's happening with this president who is representing -- I don't know, he's not representing America's interests as he's overseas. Why aren't we doing the kind of oversight and the kind of accountability of the things going on right now?
LEMON: But you know--
(CROSSTALK) COLEMAN: What about the way this president has enriched himself being--
LEMON: But no one -- that does not--
COLEMAN: -- in violation of the emolument.
LEMON: -- but that does not help the party that is in charge right now. It does not help the white House.
COLEMAN: Exactly. Exactly.
LEMON: So congresswoman, I have to say, and again, to the point of what the report showed, what Peter Strzok did and Lisa Page, inappropriate but did not affect the outcome of the investigation in the final report.
LEMON: I want to play this. So this is a -- watch this. Another moment, this is with Congressman Louis Gohmert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: I've talked to FBI agents around the country, you've embarrassed them, you've embarrassed yourself and I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The credibility of a witness is always an issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you no decency?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, this is intolerable. Harassing of the witness.
COLEMAN: What is wrong with us? You need your medication?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. I mean, things that get intentionally personal. Gohmert asked, you know, Strzok about his affair, many saw this as inappropriate, but you said he needed his medication. Do you regret saying that at all? COLEMAN: I probably would not have said it had I thought about it but
I was really quite frustrated at that moment. I was frustrated because I knew that all of these antics that they were displaying were just simply ways of covering up for what this president who is ill equipped to represent us is doing to the American people and to people who have no voice.
I was very struck by how -- being how -- the congressman was -- how unnecessary -- necessarily disrespectful he was even though I recognize that all of this that they are involved in are nothing but tactics to cover up what the president is or is not doing.
And so if I, you know, I guess if I were not so disgusted at that moment and feeling quite frustrated that they were treating this witness as if he were some terrorist that they had caught and not some individual that is flawed like the rest of us maybe I would not have said that but I did say it and he certainly did manifest behavior that questions whether or not he has it all together all the time.
LEMON: Hey, I've to run, congresswoman. So with all due respect can you give me a short answer here? How do you think this played with the people at home who are watching with the constituents? With Americans.
[22:14:58] COLEMAN: I think they're probably very hurt, I think they've very concerned. I think that however, with all the kinds of--
LEMON: Do you think it makes a difference with conservatives or with the president's supporters?
COLEMAN: Well, I don't think anything makes a difference with his core supporters but I think other people have to see that at the end of the day we didn't need to be spending our time on this. They didn't learn that this investigation have been compromised by this one individual who couldn't possibly impact the outcome of the investigation.
He didn't have the last word, he didn't have the next to the last word. So the people should question why would Republicans put so much effort into this and why would they try to tear this individual apart about an issue that we've already resolved and we know that the answer -- we know the answer to.
LEMON: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
COLEMAN: Thanks for having me, Don.
LEMON: Absolutely. When we come back, if you think what you heard so far was contentious, wait until you hear Peter Strzok go head to head with Congressman Trey Gowdy next.
LEMON: Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok forcibly defending himself at a fiery daylong hearing. House Republicans accusing him of bias in the Russia investigation over anti-Trump text messages he sent to a former colleague.
So I want to talk more about this with CNN political analyst, Patrick Healy, national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessey, and counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd who worked for both the FBI and the CIA. Were you guys watching your TV, the TV boxes today? Madness, I tell you.
[22:20:04] PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I'm a former -- I'm a former theater reporter, Don, and this is like nothing I ever saw. It was, I mean, incredible standoff. And I mean, clearly both sides had some quite a bit that they wanted to prove, political points that we've always seen in congressional hearings but the level of sort vitriol and the role reversals of Republicans like really going after the FBI, you know, basically trying to undermine it seemed like an investigation, it was really, it was really just striking.
LEMON: An upside down world, my friend. Susan. So I want to play this moment. This is between Trey Gowdy and Peter Strzok. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Your testimony is Bob Mueller did not kick you off because of the context of your text, he kicked you off because of some appearance that he was worried about?
STRZOK: My testimony was you asked and what I responded to was that he kicked me off because of my bias. I'm stating to you it is not my understanding that he kicked me off because of any bias, that it was done based on appearance. If you want to represent what you said accurately, I'm happy to answer that question but I don't appreciate what was originally said being changed?
GOWDY: I don't give a damn what you appreciate, agent Strzok, I don't appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016.
STRZOK: I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you. You don't have to take my word for it.
At every step, at every investigative decision there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director, and director of the FBI and multiple layers of people below me, sections chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions.
They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we are as the FBI and the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn't happen. And the proposition that that is going on and it might occur in the FBI deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission and it's deeply destructive.
LEMON: Well, damn. So, Susan, he tried to defend himself saying despite these text messages he left his political beliefs at the door that he didn't impact any investigation. Do you think he succeeded?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes. So I think that agent Strzok is pushing back on this notion that we see congressional Republicans trying to conflate again and again.
And that says individuals in the federal government have personal political beliefs, that's not the same thing as bias. And so they have an obligation to take those political belief whenever they hit the front door of the FBI or other parts of the federal government they set them aside and they serve the American people.
I do think the one thing that was astounding about the hearing today was the degree to which Congress, especially the majority members of Congress appeared unable to even understand the concept that you could have a political view and not have it impact your work as if it was so foreign they couldn't even comprehend it.
You know, for individuals who work in federal law enforcement, who work in the intelligence community, all across the United States government and United States military this is not a concept that's difficult to wrap their minds around. And so I really do think that at some level it reflects on the characters of the individuals who are asking and who are failing to understand, you know, this really basic principle.
LEMON: It's difficult to wrap your head around if you're a partisan. But here's my question, Phil, as I was watching that and looking at Trey Gowdy's face. I thought Strzok was effective regardless of what you think of what he did. Yes, it was inappropriate what he did. And you know, have someone given what his role in this investigation he should not have been doing it. But I thought he was pretty effective.
Do you think this is this why they stopped allowing him to answer? When he would get one word out they would cut him off or they start making their questions statements instead of questions?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sure. I mean, let me take you on the other side of this, Don. I've done a lot of hearings in my life, some were friendly, a lot of them were hostile. I take you back before the Iraq war I did a lot of hostile hearings with former CIA director George Tenet.
When you're in that situation especially in an open hearing when members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats know they're on a camera, one of the questions you have is am I going to walk out of this room making news or not? I don't know Mr. Strzok but if I were him walking into this hearing
I'd have a simple question -- my reputation has been damaged, it's been damaged appropriately, he did things he should not have done. Am I going to walk out of this room either damaging my reputation or the FBI's reputation further or am I going to make news? Tell me which of those he did.
[22:24:57] I didn't see any news in the hearing today beyond the fact that Republicans and Democrats can't conduct a sensible hearing for the American people and I didn't see him damaging himself. So I would go back and say the Republicans wanted him to say something that would be embarrassing, he didn't so they wanted him to move on. They wanted him to move on. I agree with you. They wanted him to say something stupid and he didn't.
LEMON: Well, speaking of that, in that vein, they made him read the text messages out loud. We're going to play that and you'll see it for yourself next.
LEMON: House GOP members at today's raucous hearing repeatedly accusing FBI agent Peter Strzok of showing bias as he fought back all through the daylong session.
Back with me now, Patrick Healy, Susan Hennessey, and Phillip Mud. So, as promised, Susan, I want to play more from today's hearing. At one point Congressman Darrell Issa made Strzok read his texts with Lisa Page. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRZOK: You want me to read this?
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Yes, sir.
STRZOK: OMG, he's an idiot.
Hi, how is Trump other than a douche? Trump is a disaster, I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So considering what Phil said just before the break. Was that about highlighting how inappropriate the texts were? Humiliating him or both?
HENNESSEY: Yes. So I think it was an effort to humiliate him. You know, I do think it's worth noting that calling the president an idiot, suggesting he was unfit for the office of the presidency, those were views that were expressed by Republican members of Congress at the very same period if you look at comments made by Ted Cruz, by Lindsey Graham and others.
So, Strzok really isn't dramatically departing from sort of the own party's representations in that moment. [22:30:01] You know, I think what they're trying to do is undermine
the investigator in order to undermine the investigation, in order to undermine the larger -- the larger FBI. You know, that really was the entire goal of what really was sort of political theater today, you know, and I don't think any of the American people can walk away from watching this exchange with any degree of confidence in the ability of the U.S. -- of the U.S. Congress to actually conduct meaningful oversight.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Philip Mudd, that is -- she makes a very good point, and I have said -- made a similar point about that. The difference is, he's in charge of an investigation, right? He's an FBI agent, Philip.
But the question is, I wonder what text messages from the same people who are asking those questions today at that same time would show what they were saying to each other, or friends, or whomever about Donald Trump.
PHILIP MUDD, COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, CNN: There's a simple proposition here, Don, and that is tens of millions of Americans voted. Some of them hated Hillary Clinton, and I'm sure among friends, lovers, spouses, they said nasty things.
The same things were said about Donald Trump. I had a government- issued Blackberry back in the day, I'm sorry to say, at the FBI, I sent personal messages. I admit openly first time in public that I should not have done that. The problem in this case is not whether he sent personal messages. It's using a government-issued phone to say things about politics that are appropriate to say at home.
Everybody during the election was saying stuff that was harsh. His mistake was saying it on a government-issued phone. He should be embarrassed by that. He should never have done that. But to expect that somebody in an investigation doesn't have a political view that means they despise Hillary Clinton or despise Donald Trump, that's not what America was two years ago, you know that as well as I do.
LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about the facts here, Patrick, because if he wanted to influence the election, he could have leaked that there was an investigation, and he didn't do that.
PARTRICK HEALY, POLITICAL EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. Absolutely. I mean, he had plenty of opportunity if he, in fact, wanted to stop Donald Trump from becoming president, potentially, all through October as it seemed like different controversies were blowing up, certainly, kind of, the hacked e-mails on the left, there would have been plenty of opportunities to leak.
And look, Washington agents leak. There was pressure certainly on -- as we know now, you know, within the FBI about whether to disclose an ongoing investigation was going on of the Trump campaign. He could have done that in so many different ways, Don. And then said it's just interesting today, it did remind me a little bit of the Benghazi hearing with Hillary Clinton. The sort of hours of questions kind of going over the same sort of
points, laying bait over and over again, you know, and hopes that someone would either lose their temper, but Trey Gowdy is saying damn, like he -- that's a very conscious decision, you know, on his point.
What Representative Gohmert did about the smirk and the wife, I mean, that is -- this is so clearly about laying bait, and trying to get someone to say something because, frankly, they knew that ultimately, there didn't seem to be any evidence that he actually did, you know, interfere in this investigation, at least according to the I.G.
LEMON: Patrick, Phil, Susan, thank you so much, appreciate your time. When we come back, former President George W. Bush speaking out tonight, we're going to tell you what he says disturbs him about our country's current policies.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former President George W. Bush weighing in tonight on the immigration battle that's roiling the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm disturbed by the debate that's taking place because I think it undermines the goodness of America. I think it doesn't recognize the valuable contributions that immigrants make to our society and it obscures the fact, that the rhetoric does, that the system is broken, and needs to be fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's discuss now with CNN Political Commentator Symone Sanders and Alice Stewart, good to have both of you on. Thanks for joining. Symone, strong words by the former president, and a repudiation of a sitting president. What's your reaction?
SYMONE SANDERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Look, I think I agree with former President George W. Bush. I think all Americans should be concerned about what I believe is a humanitarian crisis at our border which was manufactured by the sitting President Donald Trump. I absolutely am glad that former President George W. Bush is speaking out.
I think that in these times many folks feel that because of decorum, and protocol, and how, you know, that's not how we usually do things to speak out against a sitting president, or to, you know, challenge him so forcefully, that it's not something we can do at this moment. But to see that, you know, the former president felt convinced, and convicted that this is what he should do I think is reassuring to all of us, and I hope more Republicans speak out, and do something about this crisis.
LEMON: It's interesting, Symone, because he never criticized Barack Obama when he was in office. SANDERS: Well, you know, Barack Obama didn't put kids in cages, Don,
and rip children, and put -- after those kids were ripped from their mother's bosom, put them cages in, and what is the equivalent of prison. So there you have it.
LEMON: I was just trying to show that this must be something that he feels extremely strongly about in order to that. Go ahead, Alice.
ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes. I mean, I wish we could stop everything, and play that entire program for the rest of the show, and we can all bask in some presidential civility for awhile. Because it was a -- it was a really nice program at the Clinton school.
And look, President Bush made an extremely important point, that our immigration system is broken, and it does need to be fixed. Unfortunately, the way that the current administration is going about doing it, it has created some incivility, and some problems along the border.
[22:40:04] Look, I support the president's policies of strong border security, and enforcing our current immigration laws, and ending...
LEMON: Which includes...
STEWART: ... chain migration. But I do have a...
LEMON: ... ending the family unification policy but you also agree with what the former president said.
STEWART: I do. I do, because I think the current family separation issue has become deplorable, and the fact that we cannot unite these parents with their children is heartbreaking, and as President Bush said, it just goes to show a very uncivil part of where we have come, and we're not showing the true compassion that we need to those that are coming into this country seeking asylum. And he made some extremely good points, but he did it in, as I view, as a very respectful way.
LEMON: So, listen, Symone, under it occur at -- the Trump administration reunified 58 of the rough 100 families, and they say 46 have been deemed ineligible because some of them have been accused of crimes, and dozens of cases, the parents have been deported. Given the way though that this has been handled, do you trust this assessment? Is that that the end of it you think?
SANDERS: I don't want to -- I don't think this is the end of it, Don. I think the people across the country. And legislators on Capitol Hill are going to continue to demand answers from the Trump administration, but secondly, I also don't trust the assessment.
The Trump administration had no intention of ever unifying these families again. Remember, they took kids, and who were -- who came across the border in Texas, and sent them to places like New York City, Minnesota, and other places that we still don't know, and so I am very concerned about anything that we hear from the Trump administration, and I think everyone should just, you know, be very leery of any numbers coming from them.
LEMON: So, Alice, let's talk about something that we've discussed last night, which was a very tough, very honest conversation we had here (Inaudible). There's been a lot of racial incidents happening all over. We reported on a 62-year-old Timothy Trybus repeatedly harassing a woman at a park just because she was wearing a t-shirt that says Puerto Rico. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY TRYBUS, ATTACKED A PUERTO RICAN WOMAN: You're not going to change us, do you know that?
MIA IRIZARRY, HARASSED BY TIMOTHY TRYBUS: I'm not trying to change anyone. I'm just trying to come here for a birthday party.
TRYBUS: No. The world is not going to change the United States of America. Period.
IRIZARRY: OK. OK.
TRYBUS: You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.
TRYBUS: Are you a citizen?
IRIZARRY: Yes, I am a citizen.
TRYBUS: Are you a United States citizen?
IRIZARRY: Can you please get away from me?
TRYBUS: You should not be wearing that.
IRIZARRY: Can you -- can you please get away from me.
TRYBUS: You should be wearing a United State of America.
IRIZARRY: Officer. Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable. Can you please grab him?
TRYBUS: Are you an American citizen?
IRIZARRY: Please, officer?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, there's a lot there. One, the Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.
LEMON: The other is that the officer didn't do anything, he has resigned, but that man has now been charged with a felony hate crime, why don't we ever hear -- really hear President Trump denounce racist acts of violence. He tweets about all kinds of things. He responds to all kinds of other event. But he doesn't bother with this. Does that -- do you think that this even bothers him? Why doesn't he do it?
STEWART: I don't know why he wouldn't do it. And I would like to think that he -- if he's asked about this would certainly do so. Because this is the very reason why hate crime legislation was created because acts of violence based on a person's social group, or the orientation, or they are -- where they came from, that should -- that should not happen.
And the fact that we have legislation in place goes to show that enough is enough, and this can't be tolerated. And you say this man made several point. There are so many things wrong with this video, but the fact that this man approached this is woman, who is not doing anything wrong, and accuses her of trying to change America because she's wearing a Puerto Rican shirt.
AS you say, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. So she is a U.S. citizen. So this guy is not just bigoted and racist, he's also an idiot because he doesn't know that simple fact, and then also the concern that the officer there didn't step in, and do something, and he has been removed of his duties for that. So, hopefully, it will call attention to this so people will make sure it doesn't happen again.
LEMON: Not to give you sort shrift, Symone, but I have a couple seconds. Do you want to give a word in this?
SANDERS: There's something to be said that the officer resigned, and he was in fact not fired. So often folks do not believe in the justice system because they have not been met with justice.
LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate your time. When we come back, the case that galvanized the civil rights movement, a 14- year-old African-American boy abducted and brutally murdered. The white men accused of killing him acquitted. Why the investigation into Emmett Till's death is now being reopened 63 years after his death.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We are learning tonight the Justice Department has reopened the investigation into one of the most brutal examples of racist violence in American history, the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, more than a half century before Black Lives Matter, in a time when attacks against African-Americans were horrifyingly common, and has a power to shock to this day.
Well, Till was a Chicago kid visiting his family in Mississippi when he was taken from his bed in the middle of the night on August 28, 1955, accused of making advances toward a white woman, a 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant. Well, he was beaten, shot, and then dumped in a nearby river with a cotton-gin fan strapped to his neck, so it would weigh him down. Carolyn Bryant's husband Roy, and his half brother J. W. Milam, well,
they were tried by an all white all male jury. Their defense attorneys called on the jury to acquit their fellow white men, and after less than an hour of deliberation, Bryant and Milam were found not guilty.
[22:50:03] They confessed to the murder the following year, and Milan telling a reporter, quote, I like -- he said the word -- I like niggers in their place. I know how to work them, but I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. That's the end of the quote.
And in 2008, Carolyn Bryant, the woman who claims -- whose claims led to Emmett Till's brutal death told the historian writing a book about the killing that the story she told in court at her husband's trial that Till made sexual advances towards her. She said that story was not true.
Emmett Till's death could have been lost in a long and shameful history of racial violence in America, had it not been for his mother. His mother is Mamie Till. She was so horrified by the state of her son's body that she demanded his funeral be open casket, so the world can see what happened to her son. I warn you though that this image is graphic, but I do want you to see it.
Those photos of Emmett Till publicized in Jet magazine galvanized the civil rights movement in America. Ninety-five days after Till's death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Alabama, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott, and one of the first battles of the civil rights era.
Parks would later say, quote, I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn't move. Now his case has been reopened, thanks to a bill that bears his name, the Emmett Till Act.
It allows the Department of Justice to investigate unsolved civil rights violations. The department is saying, quote, the Till case has been reopened by DOJ based upon the discovery of new information.
And sources familiar with the case tells The Washington Post that new information, details in a book that came out just last year by the same historian who interviewed Till's accuser back in 2008, led to the reopening of the investigation.
But in America, where black and brown people still face a threat of violence every day, will Emmett Till finally get justice after 63 years? Sixty-three years later. Well, joining me now is Keith Beauchamp, maker of the film The Untold Story of Emmett Till, who actually, we went to the same high school.
KEITH BEAUCHAMP, FILMMAKER, THE UNTOLD STORY OF EMMETT TILL: Yes, we did.
LEMON: I think one -- one year or two years...
BEAUCHAMP: Put your age on yourself.
LEMON: So, listen, the -- let's talk about this new information that The Washington Post is talking about from the DOJ. Do you think that it's because Carolyn Bryant, because of the confession she said that it was made up?
BEAUCHAMP: Yes, I'd have to say that was the reason why the case was reopened. I mean, last year, when it was announced, when the news broke that Tim Tyson actually interviewed Carolyn Bryant, and she confessed to him that she fabricated the story, red flags went up every where.
And I myself began to push for the reopening of the case again. So, behind the scenes they were able to do it. And so the news that you're hearing today, of course, is new to a lot of people, but this is something that we already knew about.
LEMON: It was reopened in 2004. They exhumed his body. They did an autopsy, and decided against charges. What happened?
BEAUCHAMP: Absolutely. Unfortunately, the grand jury decided not to indict the two remaining people who were still alive who could have been prosecuted for the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till, and that was Carolyn Bryant who we're all speaking about today, as well as Henry Loggins, one of the black man who is forced to participate in the murder.
LEMON: Why do you think it's going to be different? Do you think it's going to be different this time around?
BEAUCHAMP: You know, Don, that's a great question. You have to have hope. I mean, for those of us who have fight -- fought for civil rights in this country, and continue fight for civil rights in this country, and justice, you can only hold on to hope and faith that justice will prevail.
I mean, yes, this is a 63-some old case coming up on. On the 25th of July, we'll be celebrated Emmett Till's 77th birthday. And so, for many us of it may seem like it's so long ago, for the family it's not. This case still haunts them every single day, not to mention the generations of folk who had moved from the south to get away from this type of horror that took place in Mississippi.
The great migration that we all learned, and we all speak about, we have to remember those folks were affected as well. And when you talk about this particular case being the catalyst that spark the American civil right's movement, I think it's extremely important that we all somehow seek and fight for justice, and closure in this case.
LEMON: I just want to quickly -- Carolyn Bryant who is Carolyn Bryant Donham now, she said -- this is her quote, nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to me.
BEAUCHAMP: I mean, this fabrication of story isn't nothing new to us, thought many of us who are scholars, and who have studied the Till case, and investigated the case, we also know that, you know, when the case reopened in 2004. I mean, that was some of the evidence that I brought forward to the Justice Department that she fabricated that story in 1955.
[22:55:06] The only thing was perjury only held a two-year statute of limitation.
LEMON: Do you think if she has -- had made that quote, and told the truth back then given the Jim Crow South, do you think it may have been the same verdict?
BEAUCHAMP: Yes, unfortunately it would more likely have been the same verdict.
LEMON: So, what does justice look like now do you think?
BEAUCHAMP: You know, justice, I would have to say is truth. I mean, there are so many things that are happening surrounding the name Emmett Till, and his memory right now in the deep south, and the Delta in Mississippi, there's huge tourism industry that goes out, and you can visit the sites where Emmett Till was in 1955. And, you know, all of that is great. I want to see truth and reconciliation in this country, but you have to have truth before you have reconciliation, and that's what we are fighting for.
LEMON: Keith Beauchamp, thank you again. What's -- tell me the name of your movie.
BEAUCHAMP: The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. It was a documentary. It was out in theaters in 2005 that prompted the case to be reopened in 2004.
LEMON: We appreciate your time.
BEAUCHAMP: Thank you so much.
LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.