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Trump Campaign Chairman Facing Questions Over Illegal Payments from Ukraine; Trump's New Policy Proposals; Clinton Campaigns in Pennsylvania with VP; Trump Calls for "Extreme Vetting" to Combat Radical Islam; Historic Flooding in Louisiana. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 15, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:02:01] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Here's exactly what Donald Trump doesn't need right now.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, the man who is supposed to be keeping the candidate on track and on message, facing questions about whether he received millions in illegal payments from Ukraine's former pro-Putin ruling party. Manafort calls the questions silly. And meanwhile, Hillary Clinton rolls out the big guns in her war on Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No major party nominee in the history of the United States of America has -- you know, don't cheer or clap, just listen -- has known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security than Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to get right to the questions about Paul Manafort and his work in the Ukraine -- in Ukraine. CNN's senior investigative correspondent is Drew Griffin and he joins us now live.
So Drew, Donald Trump said a lot of nice things about Vladimir Putin and made some controversial statements about Russia and Ukraine. Now, Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is in the news because his name has come up in connection with a corruption scandal in Ukraine. Tell us what you know about this.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: A real quick backgrounder for those of us who don't follow Ukraine politics, right. So, Paul Manafort worked for this party, the Party of Regions in Ukraine for many, many years, Don. That party eventually took control of the government under President Yanukovych and then it fell apart.
Yanukovych ran basically to Russia to escape probably being put in prison back in the Ukraine. Well, now the current government in Ukraine formed this anticorruption bureau which basically is looking back at the Yanukovych government and uncovering tons and tons of corruption and possible under the table cash payments.
In the course of that investigation, Paul Manafort's name has come up. Why? Because his name has shown up 22 times on these ledgers. They have 841 pages of handwritten notes that seem to be showing payouts to various members of the party. They are all very detailed. And although we don't see Manafort's name on the documents that have been released, we are told by the government agency there that at 22 times, Paul Manafort's name appears next to $12.7 million in what they are saying was designated payments. That specific term, designated payments, is made because they can't really tell if Paul Manafort got that money or not.
LEMION: OK. I have -- I want to read the statement to you from Paul Manafort because he says he's never taken any cash payments. This is the statement here. He really -- he said, "The simplest answer is the truth. I am a campaign professional. It is well known that I do work in the United States and I've done work on overseas campaigns as well. I've never received a single off-the-books cash payment as falsely reported by "The New York Times" nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia."
[23:05:00] "Further, all of the political payments directed to me were for my entire political team, campaign staff, local and international, polling and research, election integrity and television advertising. The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical."
So why are his dealings with Ukraine so important, Drew Griffin?
GRIFFIN: Because it's who he was dealing with in Ukraine. He was -- well, first of all, the importance of these were, in fact, illegal payments made which has not been proven. So that's part of the corruption case. But what's important in terms of this election is that the person that he was basically supporting or working for in the Ukraine is allied now very closely with Vladimir Putin, obviously has very strong Russian ties. There's no real direct connection between Paul Manafort and Russia and/or Putin other than they had this client or Paul Manafort had this client who is now very much allied with Vladimir Putin.
LEMON: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
I want to bring in now CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, and Ambassador James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligent and Jill Dougherty of the Kennan Institute in Washington, she joins us via Skype.
I'm so glad to have all of you on for this a very interesting and intriguing story that we've been dealing with here. Jill, I want to get your perspective first because you have lived in Russia, you reported for CNN on Russia and its relationship with the rest of the world for many years. What do you make of the story of Paul Manafort's dealing in Ukraine?
JILL DOUGHERTY, KENNAN INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON D.C.: Well, I mean, I think objectively if you say that he was hired, it appears, to do a makeover for the Party of Regions. And the Party of Regions is important because that, of course, was the party that Yanukovych was in. It was known as kind of this, you know, party that was aligned with oligarchs and kind of criminal elements and had a very bad reputation. And also Mr. Yanukovych, himself, was very let's call him rough around the edges and needed some sanding off.
So, apparently the job was to create a better candidate, somebody who'd come across more smoothly, who would talk about economics and who would say the right things to the people in the eastern and the southern parts of Ukraine which are kind of more Russian-speaking areas. So, that doesn't surprise me. I mean we know that.
I think the difficulty here is that they have this ledger which really doesn't prove anything at this point. You have to say, it doesn't prove that he took the money. He didn't sign it apparently whereas other people who took the money did sign it. So what does it prove? At this point, nothing concretely, but it looks bad. And it looks bad because, Don, you know, Ukraine has a lot of problems with corruption. Really, it has for years. I've covered this in years. It's a major problem. And when you get involved with people like that, it's a never-ending list of questions about how corrupt they are.
LEMON: Ambassador, I think I heard you there sort of, you know, saying I don't know if it was agreement or what have you, but let me ask you that guest after guest has come on this show and expressed surprise at the level of comfort that Donald Trump has with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Do you think Paul Manafort has any influence on his views of Russia which is surprisingly rosy for a Republican or any political figure for that matter?
R. JAMES WOOLSEY, CHANCELLOR, WORLD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: I have no idea. I don't know -- I never met Mr. Manafort. I don't know what he knows. I do think that the key issue with respect to Russia is that we may need to try to work with them against ISIS just as we worked with Stalin against Hitler in some 50, 70 years ago. And I think that will put a lot of tension on the American system because any of these East European and that reaches all the way to Russia countries in which you have former KGB people in positions of importance, can certainly end up with a lot of corruption and so forth.
And I've got to say just personally, not because I know anything about this particular case, but it does seem to me that this press release is pretty early. That is one somehow ought to do some investigation of whether as Manafort apparently says any money that he got was for his entire establishment which is expensive, et cetera, et cetera. One ought to get on top of the facts here, I think, before we start drawing judgments about whether this was corrupt or not corrupt or somewhat corrupt or whatever.
[23:10:00] LEMON: Douglas Brinkley, I want you to give us some context here. How big a problem is this issue with Paul Manafort and his Russian tie?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think, Don, it's potentially very damaging. Paul Manafort might end up having to resign over this. He's now under the heat lamp. This is a huge front page "New York Times" expose.
Manafort in the past times for example is, you know, back in the '80s, he backed the Marcos regime in the Philippines. So, he's seeming to be willing to do business with people that are enemies of the United States. And we're going to have to see whether he got any cash. It's back to the old follow the money. If it turns out that Manafort did take some of these transactions, didn't report it, he could be under serious trouble and it's a new stress for the Trump campaign who's been hemorrhaging the last couple weeks.
LEMON: He and the campaign have been talking a lot about the media and they're saying, you know, "The New York Times" -- basically building up a case that "The New York Times" can't be trusted. Does it matter? Because he mentioned, you know, that the payment is falsely reported by "The New York Times". I've never done, you know, this, of worked for the government of Ukraine and Russia. Furthermore, a lot of the political payments directed at me went to his entire political team. So he's seeming to say, "You can't believe this, what "The New York Times" says."
BRINKLEY: Well, "The New York Times" in my mind is the paper of record. They put a lot of skin into this, doing a major front page investigative story like this. And it's not a short story, it's a long one, and it's got a lot of details. At the very least, Paul Manafort is going to be an insect in the jar getting shook up here. I don't think just calling something silly, murky transactions are silly. "The New York Times" as a liberal paper is going to work. He's going to step up and come on a show, CNN or Fox or one of the networks and explain some of this because it really stinks from high heaven.
LEMON: Jill Dougherty, how do you think Vladimir Putin is assessing Donald Trump? What do you think he makes of him?
DOUGHERTY: I think it's pretty much the way he assessed him right from the beginning which I think he -- you know when he called him colorful, I think he knows he uses a lot of excitement, bombast, et cetera. And so, I think Putin probably finds that intriguing. I think he definitely likes the comments that Donald Trump has made about Russia, about Putin. Putin is a strong leader. We have to have better relations with Russia. NATO which, of course Russia hates, is obsolete. The comment about Crimea, the annexation of Crimea saying that maybe that's OK, maybe he can accept that. Obviously what Trump is saying, Putin likes.
But I will tell you, Don, that behind the scenes in Moscow, and I was just there last month, there are people who are concerned about the unpredictability of Mr. Trump. It's not clear precisely how he would follow through on these things that he says. Would he really make relations better or would he take a different tact? He is difficult to predict. And the Russians kind of know that. Putin is a pretty savvy evaluator of personalities. And I think he pretty much understands where Donald Trump is coming from.
LEMON: Considering your experience, Ambassador, you know, being an ambassador, I want to ask you, you know, Trump calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails, also saying that Putin wouldn't go into Ukraine although he had already done that, are these troubling statements to you on the way he's handling the historical role that Russia's played in the world events -- in world events, is this troubling for you?
WOOLSEY: I think any discussion of Russia ought to show some balance. One part of the balance is that we may need to work with them against somebody like ISIS and one needs to think what -- how we would do that without causing other problems for ourselves. And I think that Russia is a problem. They remind me a little bit of the old farmer that Abraham Lincoln used to say lived next door to his family when he was a little boy. The old farmer used to say, "I don't need much land, just what adjoins mine." And that's kind of Russia. They keep moving in on Crimea, on Moldova, et cetera, or whatever, without being checked.
And when they are checked, and when one is going through a period of getting along with them, which I was lucky enough to write after the Berlin Wall fell, they can be cordial, reasonable folks to work with. It's -- they're a complicated country, and we need to be firm with them. We need to be fair. But we always need to keep an eye pealed for these KBG connections and under some of the oligarchs that could really distort our dealings with them.
[23:15:07] Whether that's been distorted in the case of Manafort here, I have absolutely no idea. As I said, it seems to me some of these press releases are a bit early in the process before anybody has really looked into the facts.
LEMON: Thank you, all. Wish we had more time. Thank you so much, everyone.
When we come right back, Donald Trump's war of words against ISIS, can he stay on message or will his own past statements come back to haunt him?
LEMON: Donald Trump laying out a list of foreign policy proposals today as he tries to get his campaign back on track. I want to bring in Buck Sexton, a former CIA analyst, Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Andre Bauer, Former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina who is a Trump Supporter, and Bakari Sellers, a Clinton -- Hillary Clinton supporter. You guys make up? You two.
BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We love hanging out. Why do you think otherwise?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're screaming over each other so for some reason we couldn't hear one another's points.
LEMON: OK. All right. All ...
ANDRE BAUER, FMR. LT. GOV. OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I still love Angela.
LEMON: Hold on. That was all the ...
RYE: Bakari, nobody asked.
LEMON: That wasn't Bakari, that was Andre. No the accent. All southerners do not sound alike.
RYE: Yeah, country.
LEMON: OK. Let's start off with this Paul Manafort thing. A report about Paul Manafort, a ledger of cash payments, millions and millions upon millions of dollars. From a pro-Russian party in Ukraine, Manafort says that this is unfounded. He says it's nonsensical.
[23:20:01] Buck, I want to start with you. Do you see a big problem here?
SEXTON: Yeah, Manafort had some clients in the past, including I believe at one point the dictator of the Philippines. He's got a number of clients that would seem to be problematic. This is now an unproven. This allegation yet hasn't been shown beyond any reasonable doubt that he got this money.
But connections to the Yanukovych regime and which very closely tied into Russia would be something that I think a lot of people look at now given the relation for the Trump campaign to say very pro-Russia, particularly pro-Putin things. And when talking about the Russian government, you're really talking about Putin, of course. But that's concerning. And I do think that Trump actually has some damage control to do on this issue or will continue to have damage control to do on this issue. I think for Manafort, we'll see what else they can find. There's a lot of hack and a lot of interesting stuff being leaked these days.
LEMON: All right, Bakari, what's the response on the Clinton side?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I actually agree with Buck. I mean let's have a breaking news cry-on at the bottom. But I do think that this is an issue. I mean when you look at the Trump campaign, when you look at Manafort, it's not just these payments.
This is relationship with Dmytro Firtash. He's a Russian oligarch who was just invited in the Chicago Courtroom recently who he had business dealings with in New York. You talk about Carter Page who is well known with his financial ties to Russia, who is a senior adviser to Donald Trump. He talked about Michael Flynn who as cozying up to Donald Trump with a very, very weird partner in Jill Stein, listening and boosting up Putin every chance they get. And then you hear the foreign policy that comes out of his mouth which it just goes against traditional American foreign policy but embraces Putin.
So you look at all these things together and there has to be some unraveling because what it appears to be is that the Trump campaign is a wholly owned subsidiary of Russia.
LEMON: That's a bit much. RYE: That's a tweetable moment.
LEMON: That's more than I think anybody could prove or support.
SEXTON: As is the Clinton Foundation.
RYE: Here we go, Andre.
LEMON: Go ahead. Let's talk about the Pedesko's (ph) and their connections to Russia? Go ahead, Andre.
BAUER: I'll just say, you know, you want to draw ties. I mean you look at the donations that have flown into the Clinton Foundation, millions upon millions of dollars that have Russian ties. And look at the uranium that went to Russia. I mean look at some of her votes and then look to the dollars that followed her votes are her leadership. And there's clearly ties that we can discuss with the Clintons in Russia.
RYE: You know, their difference, Andre, is today in Trump's foreign policy, national security speech, he is having a love fest with Russia today, the very day after there's a damning "New York Times" piece about Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort's statement today doesn't refute the fact he's got -- he's received payment from some of these sketchy spaces. He also says he didn't get paid from any governmental entity. It doesn't debunk the fact that there was a campaign related entity that he worked for. So although Buck talked about the reasonable doubt -- or beyond a reasonable doubt standard, we don't have to do that in court of public opinion.
SEXTON: No, no, we're just analyzing here.
RYE: All right.
SEXTON: But I would say if we're talking about sketchy foreign donations, the Clintons get a gold medal for that one. They are first. They are number one. Nobody else will even come in the stratosphere of Clintons when it comes to taking money from dictators, the worst of the worst, as long as it's all about ending poverty or whatever it is that they pretend.
SELLERS: But let me -- can ...
LEMON: Last word on this because I want to move on. Go ahead.
SELLERS: Yeah, I just wanted to say that there's a vast difference between the work of the Clinton Foundation and actually gearing your foreign policy in a very dangerous way where you're talking about pulling out of NATO. When you're actually giving talking points in favor of the invasion in the Crimea, I mean, those are two vastly different things. I mean it just goes to z show you that these -- that Russia is having an influence on Donald Trump's foreign policy. That's a fact.
LEMON: OK. Trump talked today about Russia and the context of partnering with them to fight ISIS. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If I become president, the era of nation building will be brought to a very swift and decisive end. A new approach which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East must be to halt the spread of radical Islam. I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Andre, is this campaign too cozy with Russia for your taste or are you okay with it?
BAUER: Absolutely not. And look, if somebody wants us to help fight some of the most dangerous people in the world, we'll take all the help we can get. And the fact someone wants to say we shouldn't engage in a policy whereby we entered into an agreement, we pay twice as much as all other countries combined and they can't pay their little patents, countries that are wealthy, that we shouldn't engage into a discussion that says, "Hey, look, folks, we've been doing all this, we've been carrying the burden, we've been shedding American treasury and blood. You got to come to the table and do what you agreed to and that is pay your bill." That's kind of an international code in agreement that you live up to your part of the bargain.
[23:25:02] The fact that we shouldn't come back and say, "Look, folks, you got to come back and do who you agreed to do, that we shouldn't engage in that. We should continue to put the burden on the tax payers, not that we're already paying more than 50 percent of the total burden.
LEMON: That's not how policy works, though.
BAUER: But then in addition -- and then in addition, we just don't pay everybody else's. Don't worry about it, we'll keep digging the hole deeper her. Put ourselves in a bad financial situation around the world because we don't want to have a discussion with people that should be paying their fair share and not ...
LEMON: OK. Angela, you look confused but I have to get a break in. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Hillary Clinton campaigning today in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with native son, Joe Biden, the Vice President, criticizing what he calls Donald Trump's outrageous and dangerous comments and saying Trump is not qualified to be president. Back with me now, Buck Sexton, Angela Rye, Andre Bauer, and Bakari Sellers. So Buck, I know you think this was by far one of Trump's best speeches today, but I want to ask you about this part. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was saying this constantly and consistently to whoever would listen. I said, keep the oil.
[23:30:02] Keep the oil. Keep the oil. Don't let somebody else get it. If they had listened to me then, we would have had the economic benefits of the oil which I wanted to use to help take care of the wounded soldiers and families of those who died in the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Buck, why do you say that he missed the mark on this one?
SEXTON: Well, keeping the oil or rather going to war for oil was one of the main talking points used both by the American left and also much of the rest of the world that was in opposition to the war. So if you were, in fact, to be seizing oil and using the proceeds, it would look like a colonial venture and there be all kinds of opposition against it, it would inflame the entire Muslim world.
I mean, I think it's on its face very obvious why we couldn't just go in there and be like thanks for everything, we're going to take the oil now this is ours, unless we may gave it back to you.
So this is, look, there were other good things in the Trump speech. He gave more in the way of specifics on what he would do about immigration. Although, rightly, it's been pointed out by other panelists, it's not specific enough. It doesn't take into account the fact that there are some vetting procedures
Beyond, seizing the oil, it's a talking point. It's not a smart one. And it's one of t reasons why the foreign policy establishment is, I think among conservatives even the most critical of Donald Trump of any of the politico groups that you could point out right now.
LEMON: All right. Before Trump speech this morning, Hillary Clinton tweeted this, Andre, this is for you. It says, "Trump says I know more about ISIS than the generals. Do you believe me? You know what? We don't", and then released this web ad. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 50 former national security officials who served as top aides in Republican administrations came out against Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.
CLINTON: Trump, quote, "continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. He would be the most reckless president in American history."
MAX BOOT, REPUBLICAN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: He's saying that he's going to work closely with the Muslim world, at the same time that he's going to bar Muslims from coming to the United States.
TRUMP: A total and complete shutdown of Muslims.
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: He is a stunning ignoramus on foreign policy issues and national security.
TRUMP: What do you think of NATO? Now, you know, it's not like it was my primary subject in all fairness.
What happens if one of these countries gets attacked by Russia? Are you saying you're not going to protect them? I say, well, let me ask you, have they paid?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Andre, he walked back some of these claims today, but does it look like a habit? And I'm wondering, though, is it going to begin to wear thin with voters?
BAUER: I hope not. I hope they'll see some ideas he's a total change agent. That says, "Look, some of these policies we had in the past haven't worked. Making our neighbors and friends pay their fair share is part of how you're supposed to respect each other and enter into these agreements.
LEMON: I mean, walking back, making a launch (ph) and walking them back and wondering if that's going to wear thin with voters. That's what I'm asking.
BAUER: You know, I think continuing to hone a message down and say, "Look, these are my most important goals to take into a new presidency. You know, he's going to continue to focus more and more and get more specific.
And so, I don't know if that's walking back. But at least, saying these are my more top priorities, I think is what he's trying to do now. He's trying to get a more clear and concise message.
RYE: Andre, that's not going to happen.
LEMON: Is this honing a message, Angela?
RYE: Sorry. No, it's not. I mean, Donald Trump is two different individual depending on if his on prompter, somebody wrote that or if he's off prompter at a rally.
He is not honing in on a message. He is still not answering even on Anderson's show earlier, the general can answer the how. The how is the most important part of a foreign policy speech, of an economic policy speech. He cannot answer how.
And so you're talking about honing in, what do voters really need to hear. He's still defending whether or not people believe he was for or against the Iraq war and he's been both. He was doing that in today's foreign policy speech. So he's not honing in on any message. He's still being distracted by the far.
SELLERS: But in part ...
LEMON: Bakari, can go I ahead?
SELLER: Can I piggyback on ...
BAUER: But there's nothing that you could say that she think what was right.
RYE: You right, that's so true, Andre. That the first thing you said that, I guess, been honest. I miss you.
SELLERS But, Andre, and I want to piggyback on Angela's point. Because Donald Trump was for the Iraq war, Donald Trump was for the 2008 Iraq war troop withdrawal. Donald Trump was for the Libya intervention. Donald Trump was for the ouster of Mubarak. All of those things today he was against.
It's not -- he's a change agent simply because he changes his foreign policy position depending on the day of the week. That's not necessarily the true definition of a change agent.
So yes, to answer your question, Don, I think the American public is going to get very wary of this because you can't believe what comes out of his mouth.
LEMON: All right, Buck Sexton ...
SEXTON: I just want to say, look, Hillary Clinton has more foreign policy experience than Trump, that just the fact right?
[23:34:57] So when we line these things, these two individuals up, what you see is somebody with foreign policy experience but a record that many people point to and say was an abysmal failure, and a guy who doesn't have foreign policy experience and obviously hasn't spent a lot of time thinking about foreign policy until he decided to run for president, but who has some gut instinct that some people think would serve him well as commander-in-chief.
I think everything else beyond that is kind of getting into details that we don't really quite have yet. We don't know who Donald Trump's secretary of state would be, we don't necessarily know who his secretary of defense would be. You have somebody with a bad record in Hillary Clinton and you have somebody with no record and some statements that he needs to walk back with Donald Trump.
That foreign policy for Trump is a problem. I don't think -- I think it's very difficult to make the case that this is a major strength for his campaign. Outside of dealing with the Islamic state and radical Islam where I do think that the American people are much more aligned with Trump than they are with Hillary Clinton.
LEMON: All right, thanks, everyone.
When we come right back, Donald Trump says his so-called extreme vetting would protect us from ISIS, but would that actually work?
LEMON: Donald Trump calling today for "extreme vetting of would be immigrants, lots of tough talk but short on specifics. Here to discuss now Bernard Kerik, he's a former New York City Police Commissioner.
[23:40:00] And Harris Zafar is author of "Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions." Gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on.
Today, Donald Trump revealed these ideas for combating radical Islam. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The common thread linking the major Islamic terrorist attacks that have recently occurred on our soil, 9/11, the Fort Hood shooting, the Boston bombing, the San Bernardino attack, the Orlando attack, is that they have involved immigrants or the children of immigrants. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting.
In addition to screening out all members of the sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to start with you, Mr. Kerik, from a law enforcement standpoint, how realistic is it when you listen to this plan?
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, I think it's realistic if you have the manpower and resources, but you also have to have relationships abroad like with Syria, for example.
We're bringing in Syrian refugees. We don't have the ability to have contact with their embassies. We don't know where they're coming from. You have the FBI director, the CIA director and the DHS secretary all three of which have said the vetting probabilities, possibilities for vetting Syrian refugees right now are almost impossible. That's a bad thing.
And I don't care if it's Syrian refugees. I don't care who it is. Anybody that comes into this country, we allow to come into this country, should be vetted intensely to ensure that they're not going to harm this country.
LEMON: We are a country for the most part of immigrants, children of immigrants. So don't you think in some ways having relationships with immigrants, of being just who they are, that doesn't help us as a country, that doesn't keep us safer as a country?
KERIK: No, it does, but don't let the wrong people in. It's a pretty simplistic thing.
LEMON: All right. What's your reaction to -- what's the reaction from Muslims that you're speaking to about Donald Trump's plan?
HARRIS ZAFAR, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY USA: Well, it -- we see Donald Trump as continuing to implement or say some things that are really profoundly ignorant and spreading bigotry by fanning the flames of mistrust and even fear of Islam and Muslims. And he talks about immigrants in general, but really specifically focused on Islam, on Muslims, on Sharia. And when people hear terms that they don't really even know, that it is bound to create misunderstandings.
So we invite Americans to understand Islam. When we started the True Islam Campaign, it was of all about. Go to trueislam.com, find out what Islam is and what extremism is.
We're against extremism and here are the 11 principles that we think can actually enhance our national security and protect this nation.
LEMON: Do you think there should be stronger vetting along the lines that Donald Trump expressed today?
ZARAF: Absolutely. As a member of a Muslim community, our international leader, the Khalifa, has always said that we should -- we have a responsibility to take care of the refugees, a moral responsible but to assure that ISIS and their sympathizers don't sneak into the country under the guides of being refugee.
So we should absolutely have a vetting process to make sure that we're safe while also taking care of our responsibilities of helping refugees escaping warfare.
LEMON: I want to ask you about Sharia law because -- I'm going to ask this to Bernie. Donald Trump citing Muslims who want Sharia law over American law, this is according to Pew. I want to read this, you know, just under 1 percent of the U.S. adult population is Muslim. From what you know about the Muslim community at large here in the U.S., do they want Sharia law here in the United States from what you know?
KERIK: You know what, some say they do. Some Muslims I know say they do. They support it. They would support it, is that the case?
You know, personally, I don't think so. Sharia law, that he can talk more about this than I can, that's the legal system for the Muslim community. Saudi Arabia is run by Sharia law. Are we ever going to have that in this country? No. It goes completely against the constitution. So ...
LEMON: Harris, what do you think, do Muslims in this country want Sharia law?
ZAFAR: Well, because there's no (inaudible) I can't say for, certain, for all 100 percent of them. There's a minority that talk about Sharia law as a system of government. But the vast majority understands that it's not what Sharia is meant to be. There's a reason why we widely condemn the governments of Saudi Arabia, of Afghanistan, of Sudan, is because they try to legislate religion which is not what Islam calls for, which is why one of the principles on trueislam.com is that Islam calls for a separation of religion and state, so all these countries have gotten it wrong.
The Prophet Muhammad said, "You keep them separate, completely" and he had a pluralistic society. He allowed Jews and Muslims and Pagans to live in peace with one another.
[23:45:02] He didn't impose Islamic law on them.
But then, there's other things that people call Sharia. Stoning women to death, that's not part of Sharia, it's not mentioned in the Quran at all. And that's why our, the Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has been so vocal in condemning the (inaudible) Saudi Arabia and other Muslim leaders that call for these things.
So I think it's important to hear these Muslim voices to talk about there's a nuance here and there are Muslims that are on our side to try to defend this nation and the world from peace.
LEMON: Let's listen to another portion of Donald Trump's speech today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community. The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam. This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators and immigration screeners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A commission with Muslims. Good idea?
ZARAF: I think, yes, the commission of Muslims is a great idea. You need it to see Muslims as a part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Now, you have to have the nuanced conversation to understand what these principles even mean. And yes, I'm all for that the things he's talking about, about increasing our security, working with Muslims. But if it's just about protecting America from Muslims, the certain type of Muslims, then we're really spending a lot of money and resources on a small problem.
What about the greater number of deaths at the hands of gun violence, what are we going to do about that?
LEMON: Thank you, both. I appreciate it.
Coming up, the latest on the deadly floods in Louisiana that have forced thousands of people to flee their home.
[23:50:32] LEMON: More than 20 inches of rain have fallen in around my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana over the past few days, resulting in massive flooding and it's not over yet.
Joining me now is Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.
Colonel, thank you for joining us. My gosh, you guys are going through so much down there lately. We've been watching this somatic (inaudible) of the flood all weekend long. You've been out surveying the damage with the governor today. What do you seeing? Tell us the latest.
COLONEL MIKE EDMONSON, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Well, first, I don't know what they're going to throw at us next, Don. It's been six weeks and it's been incredible right here in the Baton Rouge area.
I got a chance to spend the day, we did yesterday with the governor. He's really big on, the governor, going out to these locations. We were in Vermillion Parish, we were in Ascension Parish, we were in Livingstone Parish, St. Mary Parish, Iberia Parish, of course, Easy Baton Rouge Parish.
We went to those locations because that's where the people have been taken out of their homes. So we've got almost 40,000 meters that have been turned off, the electricity is off in that area. We've got 30,000 people that have been rescued. As I'm talking with you, we've got about 14,000 people that are in shelters primarily here in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.
We've had seven people die. This morning, 78-year-old woman rescued out of a tree that spent the night in a tree. The water now is moving towards Ascension Parish. Interstate 10 is closed between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and Bayou Manchac which is the Ascencion line, U.S. 61 at the same location, is also closed we that detoured traffic.
LEMON: These are all major highways, right? And then, you've also said I-12 coming (ph), you can leave the state, but you can't get back in the state. So you have all of that closed.
I was ask -- as we're talking, I want to put up, this struck me today when I looked at this. Someone sent me the cover of "The Advocate" in Baton Rouge showing this, it's a "state of disaster". Is it a disaster there for much of the state, right, especially Baton Rouge?
EDMONSON: It really is because here's the deal, it's a no-name storm. I mean, this something -- somebody said, "Oh, you prepare like a hurricane." No, you don't, because in a hurricane, you can prepare for it. This one, it just came upon us and then just started dumping massive amounts of water.
We go back to our record books, 1983 was a record. Throw all those records out because we surpassed them. So now what the meteorologist tell us, "OK, we can only tell you, you're going to have a lot of water and it's going to be deeper." You know, Interstate 12 was shut down for 30 hours, we got over a thousand cars stranded on the interstate.
Those people, I mean, their own resiliency is in there, but you what? We're going to make this happen. It was packets of water, dry land, there's 12-foot water, dry land. So we couldn't get to them but boat, because you have to pick the boats up and moving.
EDMONSON: So, the water exceed in that area and we're able to, ob course ...
LEMON: So they just sat on the interstate for days I would imagine. Listen, I know that you said it was seven that was dead that you accounted for. But the earlier today, the governor, John Bel Edwards was saying that he won't know the final death toll now for several days. I mean, that must be difficult.
EDMONSON: we won't ...
LEMON: ... for everyone's morale.
EDMONSON: Yeah. We have to go to every house now. Once the water recedes, all these homes that are completely covered with water, we got to go to every single one of those and go inside of them and check for anybody that might be in those areas.
I mean, that's something we've got to deal with. We have a lot of people that people haven't accounted for. Hopefully, they made to somebody's homes. We had a massive failure of our cellular system here, one in the Baton Rouge area. They've comeback, and AT&T has installed some towers and something like that, they brought it back up. But when you shut down -- because most people have gotten rid of their land line phones and use cellular. So when the cellular system is out, you have no communication.
So that's been problematic ...
LEMON: That was the only way I was able to get in touch with my family, the people who had hard lines in their homes. They other ones who got cell phones, it was very difficult to get in touch with them, because it would say all circuits are busy now.
I have to ask you about the forecast, Colonel, because I understand it's stopped raining in some places but, you know, there maybe some rain forecast to other places, how long do you think it's going to take for these flood waters to recede and what are you estimating about cleanup time?
EDMONSON: I think we should probably -- these rivers have to crest. They'll be doing that over the next several days. That water has moved south as while we're right here in Ascension Parish because all those area we're right at the line right here. You can see the water has actually moved -- it's going to move somewhere.
[23:55:00] So as these rivers crest, we're going to get a little bit of rain this week, but nothing that will give us concern. So we just have to track this water here.
We got Ascension Parish has two prisons in it, so we got to check that to make sure that it's not inundated. So we're -- not out of the woods yet, absolutely not. As we're speaking, we're still doing rescues here at Ascension Parish and Livingston Parish and this Baton Rouge Parish.
So those are still ongoing, Don. So we got a long ways to go. And we just need the public to work with us and if they don't need to be on the roads, please stay off the roads. The rest of the country can pray for us, because we've got some human beings here that doing some incredible things. And the resolve for these people, Don, is amazing. I'm proud to be part of it, proud to see. A long way to go, though.
LEMON: Well, I'm glad you're OK and thank you for doing what you do. And, you know, our thoughts are with all the people down there in Louisiana. We want to thank you and we'll tell our viewers now how they can help.
You can help the victims of Louisiana of flooding by texting L.A. Floods to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
And just to show how dangerous the situation in Louisiana, we spoke with Colonel Edmonson just a short time ago. And since that short time, through our conversation, we learn that the number of people killed has increased now to nine, just in less than an hour, so from seven to nine. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Louisiana tonight.
We'll be right back.
LEMON: That's it for us tonight. I'll see you back here tomorrow night. "AC360" starts now.