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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Divider-In-Chief; Puerto Ricans Still Awaiting For Aids; Playboy Founder Dead At 91. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired September 27, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[23:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...retreating and then you throw in the toxicity of Vladimir Putin and his best friend Donald Trump and there you have.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Jack, why are you shaking your head?

JACK BARSKY, FORMER KGB SPY: No, I am in violent agreement. The only way you combat the fake news can take hold is by creating context and that requires education. It requires history. Unfortunately the American public thinks everything about a year old is already too old to remember. That is a big problem.

LEMON: Yes and even stories that are not even a year old. I went home and I was watching Anderson after me and they were talking about different stories, I was like oh, my gosh they brought up Jamal Hill and that was just last week. There's so many. It's like every night it's like drinking from a fire hose when people ask about stories, I'm like I just covered that yesterday. I think you're exactly right. Fascinating conversation. Thank you all. Appreciate it. I will see you soon.

This is CNN tonight I'm Don Lemon it is a little past 11:00 p.m. On the east coast and we have new developments on big stories for you tonight. President Trump doubling down on this feud on the NFL playing part of the provider and chief and telling his base exactly what they want to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the NFL is in a box, a really bad box. You look what's happening with their ratings, I mean frankly the only thing doing well is the pregame because everyone wants to see what's going on. The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem our flag, our country and that is what they're doing in my opinion the NFL has to change or their business is going to go to hell. We have to respect our national anthem. We have to respect our country. And they're not respecting our country and most importantly the fans agree with me. Largely the fans agree. We have to show total respect for our national anthem for our flag for our country, have to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: That as more than 3 million American citizens in Puerto Ricans

are desperately trying to survive in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. Why aren't Puerto Ricans getting the help they need. We will discuss all of that, but first I want to get to CNN political commentator Ed Mark the author of the conservative case for Trump, Michael Eric Dyson, the author of Tears we cannot stop, A sermon to white America, both books are on my desk. I had read Michael's I haven't read yours yet, but I will look in to it Ed. Michael, the President is continuing to use NFL controversy to drive a giant wedge in our country. He is pointing to his base but at what cost is that?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, G.U. SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Well his base instincts are foul and base. The fact is that he could do us all a favor as a nation by galvanizing us, to bring us together. Let me tell you who disrespects the flag, a man who stands up and lies daily. Let me tell you who disrespects the flag, a man who would get in bed rhetorically and symbolically with a person who had been seen as an enemy of the American state Vladimir Putin. Let me tell who disrespects the flag, the man who descents against the precious ideals of American Society who embraces neo-Nazi as equal to the people who oppose them. A flag is a piece of cloth unless it is backed up for the high ideals and the noble aspirations for which this country fought and continues to bleed in order to realize the best for everybody.

So when NFL players take a knee they are not disrespecting a flag or an anthem they instead are going down to make us rise up, to make us look up at the ambitions we hold dear that should be applied to everybody. Right now they're not. Kneeling is not about a flag, it's the degree to which African-Americans and people and other people of color are continually put upon by police people who do not ultimately respect them. The respect issue is right, except in this case it has to do with African-American people who are being mistreated by the police and other forms of racism and discrimination that persists.

If this President want to do well, he would do better that appealing to the base instincts of his base. It is a kind of racist rants that echoes in the chamber of their of private gathering, instead bring us together, show us the path towards real transformation and allow us to see that this heroes from Jackie Robinson to Colin Kaepernick have used their platform to highlight an issue that is initially unpopular, but ultimately comes to be embraced by America as common sense and best route for us to take.

LEMON: I want to bring Ed in, Michael said a lot. Still it is pageantry and ceremony can be hollow and certain standards, what do you make of what he said? Because this is -- everybody is getting so upset about ceremony or pageantry. Why?

[23:05:18] ED MARTIN, AUTHOR, THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR TRUMP: Well, I mean I actually think of it very differently like we're watching two different screens, he and I. What I saw when the President tweeted about progress, I think the Dallas Cowboys showed progress, the men and people who cared to have a protest got down on a knee before the national anthem so there was an opportunity to make a symbolic gesture some of those men were not African-American maybe they were concerned with solidarity with their teammate or something else and then they stood with the national anthem and Jerry Jones said we're going to do something like that. So we have progress. We have a dialogue of issues cared about and also respect for the flag and the anthem. So I think that is progress and I think this President does that a lot, he gets people to have a conversation and it infuriates the doctor. But looking at the polls post want more respect for the anthem than the protests they saw. For whatever the reasons.

LEMON: There's different reasons to respect and disrespect the flag you know that right.

MARTIN: Of course.

LEMON: Have you read the flag code book?

MARTIN: I probably don't remember it.

LEMON: Do we have the example from Donald Trump, from the President's website that we can put up. So this is what I want to show you.

MARTIN: All right.

LEMON: So you see this.

MARTIN: Yes.

LEMON: All right. So this is when I went to do an interview. Donald Trump gave me two "Make America Great" hats. He also has a flag on the side. That is from the website. This said the flag code of conduct said the flag should never been used as wearing apparel. OK? It goes on to say the flag should never be used by advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever, should not be embroiders on such articles on cushions, or handkerchiefs or the like, printed on paper napkins or boxes, on and on so is he disrespecting the flag.

MARTIN: I mean when President Obama showed us the way by putting a flag pin, I guess the point was --.

LEMON: But answer my question is that disrespecting the flag. Should he be condemned by veterans and by people who are saying that this president does not respect the flag and offset to the values of the country?

MARTIN: I think he is celebrating the flag. Not saying I want to make a message about using the flag to send a message. He is saying we love the flag like wearing a flag shirt on the Fourth of July.

LEMON: OK. So you're saying then that he is misunderstood?

MARTIN: No I'm saying are you misunderstood. I don't think anybody is citing the flag code for the reason that they shouldn't kneel.

LEMON: That means it's a right then. Do you understand what I am saying?

MARTIN: Yes. The flag code is sort of a guide line for how we get along. LEMON: Now you're making an argument the other side is making in

taking a knee.

MARTIN: Taking a knee during the anthem is different than putting a flag on to celebrate, because one is a protest against it and the other is a celebration.

LEMON: No it's not a protest.

ERIC DYSON: Can I say something the protest is not against the flag, the protest is not against the flag, the protest is against the injustice that African-American people are subjected to. Let me say this, what's interesting here is that white people want to tell black people who suffer how after suffering white supremacy they should appropriately protest the mistreatment at the hands of those people. So it's like an abusive husband saying, hey, I have abused you, but let me tell you when and where to protest my abuse of you. Here's the point. You don't get the opportunity. You don't get the chance. You don't have the desire. This is the ironclad blindness of white privilege that it is arrogant enough to assume it can impose the penalty to begin with and then put forth the term of restitution.

What we are saying here is simple. We are not protesting the flag. Black people have died for that flag. When American soldiers doing World War II they proved they loved this country so much they were willing to die for something they could not enjoy. Do you know when they returned home many of them were lynched? They were hated. Recanted by the very white people who now lift that flag. And furthermore the confederacy is a traitor label those who hold that flag are the true traitors of America. We must not tolerate mistreatment of black people. We go down on our knees to draw dramatic attention as Martin Luther Jr. did to our injustice.

[23:10:03] LEMON: When is kneeling -- that is a sign of respect.

MARTIN: It is a sign of deference. Kaepernick sat down first and someone said that is not respectful, take a knee.

LEMON: A veteran?

MARTIN: Yes. So if are you going to protest, by the way if it keeps moving some are saying the protests are against Trump now, against this President and deferring to a President you don't like by kneeling seems to me to be odd. But look, that --

LEMON: People are upset with the President Ed, because he called them sons of bitches.

MARTIN: I'm not a fan of that term.

LEMON: Just for accuracy but go on.

ERIC DYSON: Can I remind you Kaepernick started this protest under Obama. It was under the black President.

MARTIN: I know, but listen one of the things about this whole thing what the President said wouldn't you like to see somebody, the employer say instead of Kurt Schilling they fire him for doing something they didn't like. Won't you like to see that stop? Bad word I don't like those phrase.

LEMON: He had a history and they warned him. He was warned.

MARTIN: There is an argument to be head a lot of the American people have joined on the President's side saying protest other ways. You guys have a bully pulpit the men in the NFL have a real bully pulpit because of their success and they should use it. There are other ways to use it and the Dallas Cowboys full of African-Americans protests --

LEMON: Well, but listen, there are other ways to protest, what protest is acceptable?

MARTIN: Well I mean --

LEMON: First of all, two things, number one -- the President is complaining what this is about? It is not what it is about. First of all, he is offering up a false narrative about what the protest is, it's not about the flag or veterans, it's about drawing attention to something that those men find important.

MARTIN: By disrespecting.

LEMON: They are telling you they are not disrespecting it, they are drawing attention, they are not taking away from the anthem, and they are drawing attention to something that is important. That is what protests do. Protests are uncomfortable.

MARTIN: No, you can say it is a protest when someone marches into a square and disrupts traffic peacefully we had this in St. Louis peacefully that is meant to disrupt it to make a point. You pick a place. The anthem is solemn and the disruption is meant to send a message and it may not be disrespectful towards the anthem but it is meant to disrupt it. These men have pulpits Colin Kaepernick is very articulate when he wants to talk about why he did it and the others are in the group dynamic. And the President is right he brought progress, make your point before it starts and then respect the anthem.

LEMON: Nope that is not progress. The progress is these men have a point. And they have a first amendment right to do this. We may not agree or understand it. Why don't we try to understand it instead of demonize, that is progress. The other is not progress.

MARTIN: I don't think you have to demonize.

LEMON: That is what he is doing calling someone a son of bitch. What is that?

MARTIN: That is not a good, I got 30 seconds Michael.

ERIC DYSON: So here's the point the military cannot be the exclusive domain or priority for democracy only in a fascist state does the military define what democracy is. Its citizens do. With all due respect to veterans and military you are not the litmus test for what is authentically American. You prevent disaster coming to this country and we appreciate it, but you cannot dictate the terms of people who suffer how they respond.

LEMON: I got to go. Thank you good to have you on. Appreciate it. When we come back is the President playing politics and can the GOP get its act together to pass any of its agenda and desperate cries in Puerto Rico a week after its hurricane's Maria devastation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:17:38] LEMON: The President's happy with the way everything is going with his administration despite coming under fire for lack of attention to millions of Americans in Puerto Rico. The failure of Obamacare repeal and big loss of chosen senate candidate in Alabama. And real challenge ahead as his divided Party takes on taxes. Let's discuss now, Bill Kristol is here, editor at large on the Weekly Standards, CNN senior economic analysts, Stephen Moore former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign. So good to have both on. Stephen, good evening, I want to start with you. It's been eight months since President Trump took off Republicans control both chambers of congress but still haven't got any major legislation passed. Why not? What's going on?

STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well first of all the economy is doing better that is probably one of the most important things to the American people so I don't think he struck out on that. But you're right when it comes to getting legislation through congress it's been very frustrating for conservatives like me. Whether they could get this tax cut done, I'm not a good person to ask because I always thought they would get this health care bill done I thought Obama would be rolled back or repealed and now they've fallen twice and stumbled on that of I think it really raises the stakes in getting this tax cut done before the end of the year, because if they don't I do think they will look incompetent to voters. You are seeing that in the polls. I don't like the way it looks in 2018 if that happens. If they get the tax cut I think all will be forgiven.

LEMON: This week's health care bill would be a setback but that is not the way he spoke about it earlier today watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I just wanted to say though on health care we have the votes for health care. We have one Senator that is in the hospital, he can't vote, because he is in the hospital. We have two other votes that are coming and we will have them but the problem is we can't have them by Friday, because of reconciliation ends on Friday so we'll do it in January or February, but I feel we'll have the votes I'm almost certain we have the votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: If they had the votes wouldn't the senate the leadership would have voted on it. He has the votes. The Mexicans are going to pay for the wall. The casinos are not going to go bankrupt. He is good at this. I guess he thinks the votes will appear if he keeps saying they have them. Why does he say that? Is that a flat out lie?

[23:20:14] BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD FOUNDER AND EDITOR: They may bring it back up to accommodate different Senators but they're having trouble. The Republican Party the main story that we're looking at is a real civil war within the Republican Party in the next civil year. Maybe it will be healthy will be new blood all this stuff, we will see Trump versus not so Trump primary races. Lots of states with senate races and lots of house districts. Even if Trump nominally supports the candidate which he won't the sentiment in the grass roots is strong. I don't think that is good in the general election or future of the Party. We're seeing something we've never seen, Republicans control the presidency and both houses of congress. Normally the opposition Party is dissatisfied. Out of power. Usually the ruling Party is united for quite a while. Unless it is like Vietnam War here the economy is good and we're not at war and still there's a huge fight.

LEMON: Because it's Trump.

KRISTOL: It's fine. Steve wants to pretend his vision is like his but Trump has totally different vision from conservatives.

MOORE: Can I respond to that, look, Bill, I think one of the interesting things going on politically you're right there is a struggle in the Republican Party with populist wing now represented by Trump and a healthy fight in the Party in the Democratic there's no fight in the Democratic party it is totally left wing party, there's no Clinton Democrats left. Sad to say it's become an extraordinarily left wing party. I don't think it's such a bad thing that we've got a debate going on with our party. I will also add one other point. I think the one issue that really consolidates and brings almost all Republicans together is tax cuts. I do think you are going to see the freedom house freedom caucus come together with some of the moderate Democrats to pass something. This is something, economic growth and jobs is really the center piece for what the Republicans stand for.

KRISTOL: I agree with that statement. Obviously tax cuts this is what the President has been focused on it always brings Republicans together in the end if they don't get it through this calendar year maybe they can do it in January or February. Still will see what effect it has on the real economy. Even if they get it through I'm struck looking at the last few weeks in Alabama, it's not going to stop the civil war but as you say the civil war may not be bad, you could have a healthy debate, don't know if it produces Senators like Moore in Alabama is good for the future of the Republican Party for conservativism, but I guess people are under estimating what this next year will look like. We have not seen this spectacle of majority party in congress having this kind of fight across the board, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, you name it.

LEMON: Two things I want to same, as you were saying that I thought Donald Trump has galvanized the other side through ranker or whatever, he has also galvanized NFL players and owners which has never been done before which is interesting.

MOORE: Don, can I say something about that. LEMON: Let me ask this first then you can respond who does this have

more implications for, the Republican Party or for the President when it comes to the midterms and then the general election in 2020?

MOORE: I'm not exactly sure I understand the question. Let me just make one point --

LEMON: There's so much rancor in his own Party yet he is managed to galvanize the opposition party. Go on.

MOORE: He has but you know who really galvanized the opposition Party was Barack Obama the Republican Party was completely galvanized everything Barack Obama would do. You remember when Bill Clinton came in his first two years and Republican Party came together in opposition to Hillary tax increases, so forth. I don't think this is unusual and I don't think some ideological fights within the Republican Party now about trade, about immigration, about those kind of issues is necessarily such a bad thing.

KRISTOL: I think the Democratic Party has its problems but the Republican Party is now facing a deep crisis. And that is because of Trump. And Trump wanted to create this crisis. I am not being anti- Trump here, Trump run against George Bush, he attacked Mitch McConnell more than Schumer. Shouldn't be surprised that the Republican Party is splitting and cold be on the verge of real serious.

[23:25:12] LEMON: That comes up every time, you know there's a vote here late at night and especially health care and all of the things you hear about John McCain how will he react you see these things play out and it's not been beneficial to the President. Thank you gentlemen. I appreciate. I have to go. Because I have some breaking news. It is sad news. Tonight a man called an American icon, Playboy announcing tonight that founder Hugh Hefner, the man who introduced the world to Playboy Magazine has died at home at the age of 91. When we come back, more on the death of Hugh Hefner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have some breaking news for you tonight. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has died at the age of 91. Hefner change America when he introduced playboy magazine back in 1953. Stephanie Elam has more on the life and times of an American icon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was one of the original American playboys. A magazine tycoon who helped to spark a revolution, one that challenged the nation's view on sexuality.

HUGH HEFNER, FOUNDER, PLAYBOY MAGAZINE: I've celebrated the romantic connection between the sexism and that is part of what Playboy is all about.

ELAM: Hugh Hefner, who like to be called Hef, was born in Chicago 1926 and raise what he said was a strict household by conservative protestant parents. HEFNER: I thought was more to life than what was around me.

ELAM: In 1953 with just $8,000 the aspiring publisher produced the very first issue of Playboy Magazine on the kitchen table of a Chicago apartment.

The cover featuring a photo of Marilyn Monroe and sold more than 50,000 copies when it hit newsstand in December of 1953. Hefner now had the funds to finance another issue and the Playboy Empire was born.

HUGH HEFNER, FOUNDER, PLAYBOY MAGAZINE: I never thought of playboy as a sex magazine I tried to create a lifestyle magazine for men.

ELAM: Hefner divorce his wife Mildred Williams in 1959 and during the early days of magazine success. He decided to not only promote the fantasy he help create, but he would live it as well. Audiences got a taste of Hefner's good life in an early 1960's television show called "Playboy's Penthouse".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on in and meet some of our guest.

ELAM: Having already established himself in Chicago Hefner made to move out west and in the early 1970's when Playboy magazine was selling 7 million copies a month, he made his permanent home in a now famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. In 1989 Hefner uttered two words he might never say again when he married playmate of the year Kimberly Conrad, the couple had two children and separated in 1998. Hefner said, he realized he is much happier as a bachelor.

HEFNER: I'm sexually romantic so I think my life resolves and always has resolved around women.

ELAM: Hefner continued to live out the playboy fantasy even in his later years surrounded by busty blond women hosting extravaganza parties with celebrity guests and shared the small screen in the reality show "the girls next door" in the late 2000s he began on again off again relationship with Playmate Crystal Harris, 60 years his junior, they tied the knot in new year's eve in 2012. Hefner sold his beloved Playboy Mansion for a $100 million in 2016. On the condition he be allowed to live there for the rest of his life. Playboy and provocateur at your Hugh Hefner wants to make the world a happier sexy place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your definition of sanity?

HEFNER: Racism, war, bigotry, but sex itself no. But what a sad and cold world if we weren't sexual human beings that is who we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There is our breaking news. Playboy owner Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. The American icon introduced the world to playboy magazine and build the company into one of the most recognizable brands, peacefully passed away at home, his mansion surrounded by loved ones. He was 91 years old. Want to bring in now CNN Brian Stelter and also Historian Douglas Brinkley. Thank you gentlemen, Douglas to you first, how does he go down in history?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He is a giant of American journalism. He really changed things in the 1950s and 60s not just having an open discussion about sexuality but bringing in Playboy magazine an extraordinary edgy interviews with people. It became a much-read in many ways and he invited me to visit him in the playboy mansion and he wanted me to see his archive. He had giant scrap books he saved everything, his entire life, every ticket and bit and was particularly proud of his role in civil rights he fought against Jim Crowe in the south and integrated the playboy clubs in Miami and New Orleans. He was kind of an avuncular guy with a twinkle in his eye. Had in the women's movement felt playboy was exploitive.

LEMON: Listen Brian you're our senior media correspondent he did change the media in terms of publishing, whether people agree or disagreed with him he got a lot of criticism and may have energized the women's movement.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Indeed celebrating sexuality in print like no one had ever done before. He inspired rip offs and copycat magazines and you think of playboy as one of the most famous brand names in the world. Now it is a shelf what it used to be, it's had tough times recently, but thinking back to the 1970s they were selling 6 million copies every time it came out, it was incredibly successful, incredibly provocative but influential. Cooper his son talked about the role his father played in free speech battles, in social movements that playboy was involved in, that are influential today.

[23:35:15] LEMON: But also with the federal post office some wouldn't deliver he had to fight for that and eventually won to have playboy delivered via the mail.

STELTER: Very different culture and society in 1953 when he decided to launch the magazine and into the 60s and 70s. We live in a society that is a washed, overwhelmed with porno graphic imagery but what he was doing with photos very early on with the magazine.

LEMON: Really mild now in comparison.

STELTER: Absolutely. To be honest how much things have changed even in the past decade for playboy. That is partly why the magazine now having a harder time making a run at it. Even in recent years Hugh Hefner starring in reality show promoting his personal lifestyle as a brand.

LEMON: He was among the first reality show.

STELTER: That is right.

STELTER: When we first got cable was it playboy at night he had a television show at the playboy mansion. Went from people upset about a TV show and all of a sudden he was surrounded by all these beautiful women. He set standards when the playboy debuted in 1962 frequent contributor Alex Haley from "Roots" and he interviewed Jazz legend Myles Davis. There was some really good, smart articles in playboy magazine.

BRINKLEY: Unbelieve smart articles. The classic interviews of the who's who of people in this cold war period. You mentioned Miles Davis interview he would regularly give jazz artists major feature time not only in the magazine but in the playboy clubs as they muster around the country and of the bunny ears became a symbol for sexual liberation in many ways. The thing Hefner did we got to remember playboy took on when Vietnam War was going on he asked what is worse napalm, rolling thunder, bombing south Vietnam or intimacy, having sex, enjoying one's company. In that way he was a big pioneer. It's a big loss to American journalism. But he had a great life. A wonderful run. And had a lot of friends.

LEMON: Also interviewing some of those ground breaking interviews early on and taking on the civil rights movement interviewing Miles Davis, Malcolm x, Martin Luther King Jr. And George Rockwell the founder of the American Nazi party.

STELTER: I was thinking about when you just mentioned a minute ago about the U.S. post office. This is a battle that work its way up and all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. And it was an important free speech battle at the time about whether to deliver playboy magazine, it is a very different age from what we are now in when brands like playboy has been eclipsed but Hugh Hefner was on to something very unique at the time he was launching this magazine. It was difficult at first and he was able to build it into a true empire certainly for his family tonight are in mourning but they recognize their father was able to build up this media property that transcended him personally.

LEMON: I also want to say too, because he broke so many barriers, right. The television series was called "playboy penthouse" he paved the way. This was sent by playboy the publisher the magazine it said he paved the way and it's true. I remember when he my parents would speak of it. He paved the way for first televise program to feature a mixture -- mixed groups of African-Americans when they couldn't get on shows like "band stand "eye and white performance and audience members together and he also fought against racist Jim Crowe laws in the south integrating playboy clubs. Ground breaking, our Larry King interviewing Hugh Hefner. Here's a look back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST LARRY KING NOW: Did you ever envision the success playboy has become.

HEFNER: No, how could I. I started the magazine on $600 borrowed dollars a total investment from friends and relatives of $8,000 just enough to publish the first issue with no notion of what lay ahead.

[23:40:03] KING: What year was that?

HEFNER: 1953.

KING: Who was the over?

HEFNER: Marilyn Monroe.

KING: Good choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hugh Hefner a publishing giant and icon, dead at the age of 91.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let's turn back to President Trump insisting that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem are disrespecting the country, veterans and the flag. Two are joining me now, Terron Sims II and Matt Keil, both veterans of the Iraq war. I really appreciate you joining us. Thank you for your service. I want your perspectives. Matt I'll start with you. You say when you see football players kneeling for the anthem it's a gut punch why is that?

MATT KEIL, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Thanks for having me. I just want to start by saying I agree there's racial inequality in the United States and that is unbelievable for 2017. I believe with the players protesting, I just don't agree with them protesting during the national anthem.

[23:45:00] I just feel that it's a gut punch because it's everything I stood for. Currently the national anthem is the song of the United States. And a lot of people share my perspective here in the United States that it is just simply disrespectful period.

LEMON: Tyrone what do you make of it.

TERRON SIMS II, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I respect Matt's opinion. But going to the founders, Virginia Congressman John Paige in 1789 when defending the reason why the first amendment should be put into the constitution, he stated that in depriving people of the right of assembling under any pretext whatsoever they might be deprived of every other privilege. The fact that these athletes are courageous enough and intelligent enough to use the first amendment to fight for our 14th amendment is extremely commendable. People cannot like why they're protesting and when they protest but the fact that they have the right to protest in said manner is -- that is all that there should be.

LEMON: Can I read something?

LEMON: Yes.

LEMON: This is the American Legion of Veterans Organization that helped to write the U.S. Flag code release this statement today. Having a right to do something does not make it right, the right thing to do. There is so many ways to protest, but the national anthem should be our moment to stand together as one United States of America. Go on, and finish you thoughts. What do you think of that?

SIMS II: Well they are standing united right. We the people. That is what makes America. The flag doesn't make America. These athletes and those who are supporting them like myself and countless number of my friends and my soldiers former NCO's we -- it's important to understand that the flag is a symbol of how great we are. The ideals of what makes America great. So when the athletes are quote unquote protesting, what they're saying is we love our country so much that we are willing to shout out what's wrong. We're willing to bring to light the faulties and frailities of our country and that we all need to stand together to make our country even better or as great as it can be.

LEMON: Matt, I have to ask you, I saw something I thought was a very interesting analogy today that if the players who were kneeling were protesting the way that some of our veterans, some of our wounded warriors are treated when they came back from the war if they took a knee during the anthem would you feel any differently, do you think Americans would feel any differently about it, to draw attention to how our veterans can be treated better?

KEIL: I mean I think that is kind of an odd question in itself because they're not doing that for veterans. They're doing that to promote the fact that they're racial inequality and I agree with that. Here's the thing the NFL players have gotten the attention of the American people and I think that was a big part of this. I think Donald Trump's comment regardless of everybody's view on that also united the NFL. They've gotten our attention what are they going to do now.

I agree with Mr. Sims and here we are agreeing on topics around this issue so where do we go from there. They have our attention. Are they going to meet with congressmen and officials, politicians in D.C.? Are they going to meet with police officers in the neighborhoods that they're from? I think we got the conversation rolling again and I just, that is where I would urge the NFL to push their efforts now.

LEMON: It would be great if we could bring down the temperature and come to some sort of consensus or at least start the conversation. Maybe the President could help with that but at this point it doesn't seem that way. Listen I really appreciate both of your time. I wish I had more time to spend with you but unfortunately, because of the breaking news our time is short. Thank you for your service. We appreciate, we'll have you back.

KEIL: Thanks Don.

SIMS II: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. When we come back Puerto Rico is struggling in the aftermath of hurricane Maria and critics say the President response hasn't been enough. Calling it his Katrina.

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[23:52:12] LEMON: A full week after hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico the situation is more and more dire. Relief workers trying to get supplies of food, water and fuel to desperate people everywhere on the island. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Jason Miller, political contributor Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. So good to have you on. Good evening.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Maria welcome back to the program. Jason. You agree with those saying that this is President Trump's Katrina. Why?

CARDONA: Well, Don, my brother lives in Puerto Rico, as you know. I grew up there. I have a ton of family and friends there that I have been talking to that I have been in touch with, and what you see on television is good as the coverage has been about the destructive images, it is nothing compared to what is going on, on the ground. And as much as Trump wants to Trump it that they are doing such a good job, there is so much that still needs to get done. And his comments recently about not wanting to repeal the jones act because the shipping industry would not agree with it were just so incredibly insensitive, and it really goes to the lack of a priority that this administration has shown regarding the relief efforts of Puerto Rico, which as you know, is a place where 3.5 million American citizens are living, and they have gone through a (inaudible) event and they are desperate.

LEMON: Let's explain. The jones act was established in 1920. It limits shipping into U.S. ports. The President lifted the jones act after both hurricanes Harvey and Irma when Texas and Florida were hit, but he hasn't done so for Puerto Rico. Here is what the President said today. Let's remind our viewers.

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TRUMP: Well, we're thinking about that, but we have a lot of ships and a lot of people who work in the shipping industry that don't want the jones act lifted, and we have a lot of ships out there right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think the President is waiting for?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: With regard to the jones act?

LEMON: Yes.

MILLER: So, Don, I'll be the first person to tell you I'm not a shipping expert but I have obviously studied the comments from the governor of Puerto Rico and looked at what the response has been from FEMA and the fact that they have 10,000 folks that are on the ground. This is an absolute cataclysmic disaster. I mean, Maria is exactly right. You look at how much of the island is still without power, without water. I think there was a different situation from Harvey where they were trying to move the oil. What the governor of Puerto Rico was saying both yesterday and this morning was that they have a lot of that food and that water there in Puerto Rico. The problem is that they don't have the truck drivers and the mechanism to be able to get that distributed through the island. That really seals to be kind of the next point. Tom Busser and Brock Long the FEMA Director are doing a very good job. [23:55:03] LEMON: Look at this. SOS, we need water, we need food.

MILLER: It's a very -- it's a scary situation. I mean, people -- it's --

LEMON: The ships would contain water and food, which is what they need. But it doesn't matter how many -- listen, I know. And they are helping, but to the point, they need food and water and those ships have food and water and they're not being allowed in because of something that can be suspended, but the president just saying suspend it, go on and give them food and water.

MILLER: So two things to that. Based on the comments I've seen from the governor of Puerto Rico, they have the food. They have the water. They have the fuel. The problem is them being able to distribute it and get it disseminated across the island. That is where the crisis is. It's not as far as getting it there. Now, as far as the jones act, it seems to me that this would be an easy one for them to go and flip the switch and take the issue off the board. Again, I'm not a shipping expert, but it seems to me to be -- the fact that we're even talking about the jones act rather than talking about all the good work that FEMA is doing to help people in Puerto Rico is a distraction.

LEMON: Go ahead, Maria.

CARDONA: I was going to say, Jason, you should be careful in talking about at this early point about the great job that FEMA is doing, because people are not feeling it on the island. I have talked to people that work in governor's officials. I have talked to people who work in the mayor's office. They are both asking the President that they need to do more. They are asking for military personnel. They are asking for coast guard personnel. Yes, the issue is distribution on the island. But here is my --

LEMON: The ships are there. They're sitting there with the food and water on them and they just can't take it off.

CARDONA: Exactly. But here is my question to you, Jason. We have seen reporters from our network, CNN, go to the most rural parts of the island and talk to people who have not been contacted yet by FEMA. How is it that a CNN crew and reporter as good as they are, are able to reach all of these people who have not heard from FEMA and they have not even heard about any of the relief efforts that are going on? How can they reach them and yet FEMA with Trump at the helm who supposedly is such a problem solver and somebody who knows how to get things done, how is he not able to figure this out?

MILLER: Excellent question and again, I'd go back to the governor of Puerto Rico who said that he is been speaking with President Trump every single day, multiple times a day. That he is been getting the assistance that he needs from the President and from the administration. As you know, 3.5 million folks who are on the island, there are 10,000 disaster relief people who are on the ground who are helping. Obviously we need more. As you even correctly pointed out and Don pointed out, a lot of those supplies are there in San Juan and other places. And we've got to get them distributed through the island. There's a long ways to go and we have a lot of work to do. But look, this same crew that received very high marks for their work for Harvey, for their work for Irma, these are the same folks who are doing the good job from FEMA and other disaster preparedness in Puerto Rico.

CARDONA: It's not good enough, Jason.

LEMON: This is what John McCain is saying.

CARDONA: People are dying. Jason, people are dying.

LEMON: He tweeted this today and said shipping industry supports jones act because it's protections. Puerto Rico deserves better than policy decisions driven by special interests. That is Senator John McCain. Five seconds.

MILLER: This is a catastrophic event. This was a cat 5 storm that hit the island and obviously there's a long way to go.

LEMON: I've got to go. Not to cut you off.

MILLER: I think the U.S. Government is doing a very good job so far.

CARDONA: How about Trump focus on this priority instead of focusing on the NFL.

LEMON: I got to go Maria.

MILLER: He can do both.

LEMON: That is it for us tonight, thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow. Good night, everyone.

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