Return to Transcripts main page
Another Night Of White House Scandals; President Trump Asked Witnesses About Special Counsel Conversation; President Trump May Sign Steel And Aluminum Tariffs tomorrow. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired March 7, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:15] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. her on the east coast. We are live on a day of scandal for the Trump White House. The President facing bad news on two stories either one enough to dominate the headlines for weeks. Though in this White House who know what might happen. First we learning that President Trump has been asking witnesses about their conversations with special counsel Robert Mueller. Sources telling the "New York Times" the President asked former chief of staff Reince Priebus if investigators had been, his word, nice.
They also say the President went so far as to say that White House counsel Don McGahn should deny that Trump once asked him to fire Mueller. McGahn reportedly had to remind the President that yes he did just that. Then there is a story that you think would strike fear in any White House. The President and the porn star. The attorney representing Stormy Daniels says tonight the President's personal lawyer had a restraining order issued against her and continues to pressure her to keep silent.
Daniels has filed a lawsuit against Trump in which she cites multiple instances of Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen working to keep her from speaking out about an alleged intimate relationship with the President. A lot to discuss. CNN contributor Selena Zito is here. Political commentator Scott Jennings here as well. Republican strategist Rick Wilson. And Max Boot a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations and the author of "The road not taken." Good evening to all of you. Where do we start? Let's start with you Max and the New York Times reporting on that special counsel Robert Mueller's team has learned the President spoke with at least two key witnesses about what they discussed with the special counsel. What does it tell you that Mueller knows about these conversations?
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, it suggests to me, Don, that you know, Donald Trump is serving up obstruction of justice on a big silver platter, like a yummy big Mac from McDonald's. I mean how much more evidence do you need he is attempting to obstruct justice? We don't know if he has been successful in the attempts. But the attempted obstruction seems clear from the time that he fired FBI Director Comey to numerous other instances. His attempts to fire Mueller which were blocked by McGahn. His attempts to get McGahn to lie about what he had done. His attempts to force out Jeff Sessions the Attorney General in order to block the Russia investigation. My goodness, I would think that a second year law student could prove that he is guilty of obstruction of justice. And Robert Mueller is not a second year law student. He is one of the most experienced and fearless prosecutors in America. So I think Donald Trump has a lot of reason to fear. I suspect he needs to launch more trade wars in the coming days to distract attention from the world of legal hurt that he is in right now.
LEMON: Rick, you OK? I see you are scratching your eyes.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I got something in my eye there Don, I am sorry about that.
LEMON: Thought maybe it was a little tear. Who knows?
WILSON: No, no, some pollen I think.
LEMON: Rick, can the President just not help himself? I mean certainly any client would and should know, he should be advised by the attorneys not to talk to witnesses like this. The attorneys can do that for them because there is attorney client privilege and don't have to divulge any of it.
WILLIAMS: I'm afraid the President don't listen to attorneys except when they tell him what he wants to hear. I think the President right now is getting solid legal advice that he is ignoring over and over again. Obviously a whole host of fronts he is working himself deeper into trouble as every passing day reveals.
LEMON: Yes. Selena I want to bring you in here. Because this administration continuously emphasized the President is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, but is he trying to direct it from his end? There have been reports of congressional witnesses receiving direction from the White House about what to answer and what not to answer.
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: Well, I mean, he is always done things outside the boundaries of what any other President has ever done, right. Not really following protocol, operated at a completely different level. I think that goes to -- that is his personal behavior. And he brought it to the presidency. And he extends it in -- in this -- within this story. Although, I did read in the story -- I was surprised -- I didn't know this but I don't know a lot about legal issues, the experts interviewed said this isn't a legal problem. It's not permitted to be done, but it was considered, go figure, highly unusual.
LEMON: Highly unusual and inappropriate.
ZITO: For someone to do.
[23:05:00] LEMON: That is the point I want to talk to Scott about. But she said that this President has not been normal so to speak -- I don't want to put words in her mouth. But that is what she said. Are you worried at all that the President may just be making things worse for himself by talking to witnesses like this? What more could come out in the future, I hope -- Rick is trying to talk with the producer. I'll talk with you Scott until Rick gets the issue fixed, go ahead.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I am worried about that. Salena is right. The reporting makes is clear what the president did is necessarily illegal but certainly inadvisable. There is a reason that lawyers advise clients not to have conversations with other witnesses. And we know about these two in the reports tonight. And there is obviously other people that have come and go gone from the White House that the President may have had conversations with. This not only puts the President in jeopardy but also these witnesses in jeopardy as well, the people who did work for him. I think the President would be wise in this case -- even, the reporting is clear. The President hasn't not necessarily done anything illegal, but it does as you pointed out, make the situation murkier and it could just be bringing more unnecessary problems to an already complicated situation.
LEMON: Especially if the witnesses he spoke to have to go back and testify or is going to have to speak to grand jury. Then that sort of mucks of everything. Max, listen, the bad headlines seem to dog this White House. Stapp turn over the attorney for Stormy Daniels all over TV today discussing her lawsuit against the President and paid off to keep quiet just before the election. Is it a lose/lose for President Trump? He either argues here to agree to pay the hush money and that makes it you know a legally binding contract, or argue there is no contract which then makes her-free to talk about the affair.
BOOT: You know, Don there is no other president that could possibly be having this conversation. I mean, could you imagine discussing a previous President paying off a porn star? This would be such huge news, would threaten the very continuation of the presidency. With Donald Trump it's like the tenth story of the day. I mean, I think in some ways he actually helped because this story is about sex. And so that is kind of an easy dodge for him in the way it was for Bill Clinton. He can say this is just a tawdry affair, a private matter. In fact I think there are public considerations here including the possible misuse of campaign money, and also the way that he was apparently blacked -- he was subject to blackmail, the very thing the Christopher Steele dossier was alleged with regard to Russians. The whole Stormy Daniels thing for Trump, I mean this is Trump change. This is minor stuff, whereas for any other President this is a nuclear blast.
LEMON: To his point, Rick, you think about --
LEMON: The Clinton days, right -- I'm old enough to remember those days. And Monica Lewinsky and the whole thing. People lost their minds about it. Some people rightfully so. The President lied. But no one seems to care when it's President Trump. And they could have broken the law. He and his attorney could have broken the law here.
WILSON: But they well could have and we'll see if it turns out to be the case. They may well have. There are certainly some tax questions, federal election commission regulatory questions. But, I mean, Don, imagine for one moment the phrase Barack Obama paid a porn star $130,000. Or George W. Bush paid a porn star $130,000. This country would be in a complete meltdown if that were the case. This country would be having -- we would be tearing our hair out and rending our garments if that happened. And in this case it's sort of like we have defined presidency down so far -- it's like oh, yeah, Trump and porn star. Of course he is with porn stars. It's a remarkable moment in the political history, because we are now at the point where the President paying a porn star is not the only thing we're talking about in this country. It is -- it's really quite something.
LEMON: When you said -- can you imagine seriously all of you, everybody listening, if that was a headline about Barack Obama? I seriously, everybody's heads would be exploding, conservatives Republicans would be going to the microphones everywhere saying the President should be impeached. He has diminished on the office of the presidency shouldn't be in the oval office. Come on.
LEMON: I mean I was -- go on, Max.
BOOT: I mean, you're absolutely right, don. I was critical of President Obama. I was a lifelong Republican I was critical of the Obama presidency. I have to admit, everybody has to admit that Barack Obama is a class act. He was not an unethical President. He was a great father, husband, leader for our country. A man of principal and charisma. He is somebody whatever you thought of his policy made us proud. Anybody in America who can possibly say that Donald Trump makes you proud? He makes me embarrassed. He makes me cringe. I can't imagine there is anything in these country who is proud to have somebody behaving this way in the White House.
[23:10:12] LEMON: What do you think of that, Scott?
JENNINGS: Well, I think Barack Obama is generally an honorable person. I certainly was not proud of his policies. I was not proud of the way he represented in the United States on the world stage. I thought foreign policy for eight years was an unmitigated complete and utter disaster. All of that having, said, everybody is exactly right. If any other President had done this it would be the top story and we had be having a national freak-out. I do think that there is two issues. The political issue. And the President's you know moral history is already baked into his politics and his approval rating. But then there is the legal question about the campaign finance issues that Rick raised which have yet to be decided. I actually think that is ultimately going to be the most problematic here. I think most people accepted Donald Trump's relationship with women over the years. But what we don't yet know is how this payment went down and who knew what and when. And so I think the moral piece of it is really already baked. It's just the legal piece we have to discover in the near future.
LEMON: I think you're absolutely right about that. And I think most people everyone on the panel agrees with you. Selena I'll get you in on the other side. I need you to stick with me. When we come back President Trump might be very well be on the verge of starting a trade war maybe as soon as tomorrow. And he is fine with that. But what about the rest of his Party? Are they getting more than they bargained for from the President?
[23:15:05] LEMON: Despite all the chaos in the White House President Trump has a pretty good record when it comes to giving some Republicans what they want so far. But is that about to change? Back with me now Salena Zito, Scott Jennings, Rick Wilson and Max Boot. Salena, tariffs the President could start a trade war tomorrow. He says that is good thing. Gary Cohn leaving over that. A lot of Republicans are deeply opposed. A similar dynamic with guns. If the President goes his own moving forward, what happens?
ZITO: On the -- well, you know, I mean, let's step back for a minute and look at what he has done and what he is doing. So he is -- he is giving back, he is fulfilling promises that he gave to the base to the elected him. A thinly woven coalition of different kinds of people. With evangelicals he has been very good with them. Gorsuch was put in on the courts. He has been very good with jurists. And tax reform, he gave back to the rotary Republicans, to the Wall Street Republicans with the tax reform. And on the tariffs and on trade, those Midwest, blue collar independent Republican Democrats that came behind him and in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Iowa, all the great lakes states, on this issue, he is giving back to them. Now, some people would argue this is against their best interests. And it doesn't help the economy. But.
LEMON: So if the rest of the country is paying $3 for a can of coke because it's aluminum, then what.
ZITO: Look I understand the argument. I'm just telling you they're going to look at -- you know, these voters -- it's been ingrained in their psyche for two generations by Democratic union leaders that said, hey, NAFTA has screwed you. And you know an economist had told them, look NAFTA is great for you. And while we know that a lot of this equation was automation. When they hear economists saying, you know this is bad for the country, they're like, we don't trust you guys. You told us NAFTA was going to be great for us. And where did our jobs go? So you have to think about the whole -- what he is do each is an incremental give back to the base.
LEMON: We have to see how it plays out actually in real-time.
ZITO: Right. When you saw U.S. steel also said they are opening a plant in Granite hills in Illinois. It's been idle since 2015. 500 jobs back on the line.
LEMON: Yeah, listen, as the price of steel rises companies like Ford and GM.
ZITO: Right I get it.
LEMON: Even have to eat the cost of risk of trying to pass the tariffs onto consumers. Goldman Sachs projects Ford and GM will both lose a billion dollars each this year, if Trump's tariff's go through. And you know, stocks fell sharply, you know when they found out about this. Scott, listen, the President's decision on tariffs is an appeal to his base in the rust belt as Salena was saying. But is it that simple, I mean this tariff going to hurt a lot of companies, Harley Davidson, even some steel companies it could cost them jobs.
JENNINGS: I think, Selena has a good bead on what voters have been told the last several years in the Midwest and in the towns that trade deals have been bad, that it can be done differently or better ultimately. When Bush did this in 2002, the country lost jobs and lost wages over it. And the tariffs were quickly repealed. So I think that as a macro issue the tariffs are bad idea and inadvisable. But as a micro political issue. If you're trying to slice out a small portion of the electorate who lives in certain areas where they've been ingrained in the anti-trade message it probably plays pretty well. One other issue, I mean if there is one thing about the Trump presidency and the Trump campaign that we know, that it is part of the worldwide rejection of experts. As the experts at the "Wall Street Journal" and economy people and all the experts rage against this, it strengthens and hardens the position of the people who are like, you know what this experts are the ones who told us NAFTA deals are always good for us. They lied to us. They are out to themselves. We're going to go with the President's gut. I think there is some micro politics that could help in the short term. But the macro issue it's likely inadvisable.
LEMON: So I want to ask you this, because you mentioned -- Rick I'm giving you this -- or Max. You're an expert. Let me ask Max and then I'll get Rick in. This was -- you mentioned when Bush tried this before, Scott did -- if 2000 steel tariffs imposed by President George W. Bush cost 200,000 jobs, because of higher steel prices including 10553 jobs lost in Ohio. 9,829 lost in Michigan, 8400 in Pennsylvania. The total wages were about $5.5 billion in today's dollars. What do you say to that, Max?
[23:20:13] BOOT: I say that this is more evidence of just how disastrous these tariffs and trade wars are. The comments you heard previously on the show is there are people in Trump's base who support the tariffs. Well of course that is true. There are people in this country who support all sorts of destructive ideas that are bad policy for the country. But we expect the President to listen to the experts, to get the best advice and make decision attention good for the whole country, not trying to pander to a small number of voters at the expense of the country as a whole. This is the most economically illiterate policy I have seen. Can you imagine a President of the United States saying that trade wars are good and easy to win in there is not a single reputable economist in the world who believes that. This is incredibly dangerous. The United States for 70 years has pursued a policy of free trade. As a result of that the United States which has 4.4 percent of the world's population has 24 percent of the world's GDP. This has been an incredibly successful policy. And now Trump is trying to undermine the very basis of America's prosperity over the last 70 years. This is incredibly dangerous, foolish and ignorant. I don't care if Trump voters like it, it is not what the president of United States should be pursuing.
LEMON: Rick, this is in part about the special election coming up in western Pennsylvania where the national Party is pouring in tons of resources. Is this really about the votes in one district in one special election?
WILSON: Well, it is in part that, Don. There is certainly a lot of impetus to try to save that seat in Pennsylvania 18. Connor Land, the Democrat is sort of a moderate Democrat that seems to be doing well in a state that was held by a Republican previously. But, I think Matt's point is very correct. You know, this is kind of boob bait for a lot of people who are not economically terribly literate. There are about six economists in the country who thinks this is a great idea. And five of them work in the White House and consisting of a diet of lead paint chips and plastic bottled vodka. They are no the main stream of economic thinking. From trade has been phenomenal for this country. Yes, there have been jobs had been lost. But there are economic effects that ripple through the entire economy that be enormously positive for a large flat global supply chain. That has worked for the low tariff regime and has benefitted American consumers, American companies, American economy, the American technology, tremendously. And I think you know, if this is about one political race, one political choice in the pa 18 race. It's a terrible experiment to conduct. Because the market will take a hit. The economy is a big hit. These things are not static, this things are complicated, multivariable problems. And folks will be hurting from this very quickly and in places that they haven't anticipated yet. And it's going to cause a lot of harm to the economy and I think to the President eventually.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Fascinating conversation. When we come back the President versus a porn star, Stormy Daniels, her attorneys arguing his case tonight on CNN. But how will it play out? Our legal experts weigh in next.
[23:27:17] LEMON: Porn star, who is suing President Trump says the non-disclosure agreement she signed is invalid, because the President didn't sign it himself. Does she have a case? Let's discuss this now with CNN legal analyst Areva Martin the author of "Make it Rain," and criminal defense attorney Mark Neigen. So let's talk about President and the porn star. With a non-disclosure, Areva, like this one, how important is it whether or not the President signed the document? Would that invalidate the agreement?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think that is the strongest argument in the lawsuit that is been filed by Stormy Daniels attorney. Obviously it would have been malpractice for the lawyers to file this lawsuit and not raise that issue. I think the bigger issue for me in this case is the, the liquidated damages. In this settlement agreement, if Stormy Daniels breaches any aspect of even the most aspect, she can be fined -- I'm call it fined, a million dollars. Even the settlement only called for her $130 if she breaks any part of this agreement she is potentially liable to Trump for $1 million. And I think that is atrocious. And this agreement shows just the issue we have been highlighting and the whole #metoo and times up movement. Women are silenced by the non-closure agreements and not only can they not talk about the abuse that maybe occurred then they can't even go into an open courtroom and litigate the matter. The matter has been to be even more secretive, because the private arbitrators have providence or have jurisdiction over these matters. It's atrocious we're talking about a President silencing a woman who says she had an affair with him.
LEMON: This was allegedly consensual. But there is a non-disclose which silences the women involved. Mark, Stormy Daniels attorney told Anderson Cooper that there was a restraining order issued against her. Is it normal for arbitration to move so quickly without one Party realizing it's happening.
MARK NEJAME, SENIOR PARTNER, NEJAME LAW: It's not necessarily normal but in this agreement permitted. It's been overlooked from all I've seen throughout the day. But there is a specific provision in the agreement -- I think it is 5.1.3 which allows for an ex-parta, which means one Party can go for injunctive relief before the arbitrator. That is what they did that. They went on February 27th got a Judge without notice to the other side and got her to shut up through the injunctive order. Now they did the right thing by filing the lawsuit for declaratory relief. That he brought it to the forefront. She already said in the agreement she is not allowed to talk. Now there is an arbitrator order saying she can't talk. That was already of existence. No great value.
LEMON: So, I see 5.1.3injunctive relief. Acknowledges and agrees that any unauthorized disclosure to the third party -- yes, you're right. I have the agreement right here.
NEJAME: They have the right to do that according to the agreement.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: We should point out this civil lawsuit may cause this whole agreement to be determined to be just voidable. The court may say this agreement doesn't have to be adhered to and she may be able to tell her story and listening to her attorney all day it's clear she has a story to tell that may include photographs and text messages. So it's not at all certain that it's just he said she said. There may be some other form of evidence that supports her allegation of an affair.
LEMON: In the settlement document -- go ahead, Mark.
NEJAME: The challenge with that, though is guided in the disjunctive and conjunctive in the heading ever the agreement. It says and/or. So it really is going to be a tough road for her to try to get in set aside because it doesn't necessarily list all parties. That is their claim to try to vacate this and set it aside. But the reality is, lawyers sign all the time on behalf of clients. The way this technically reads -- I've been looking at it throughout the day -- they're a tough road to go. The bigger issue is -- let's be honest. She wanted to bring it up for marketing purpose. It's out there. And whether all the scandalous matters come out or not it's pretty clear that Trump knew about this. It's almost impossible, it is impossible. I mean it stretches every definition of sanity to believe that he could have known about this. It had to be brought to his attention. All those matters had to be brought out. That becomes the bigger issue. Will they set it aside? It's a stretch in my opinion. LEMON: Areva go ahead.
MARTIN: I want to push back on the statement that she wanted to talk about this for marketing issues. That is the story and the narrative that Trump and his surrogates want to do. They want to malign Stormy Daniels. But the reality is if she had an affair with the President, obviously the American people have a right to know. We shall have known this before he was elected President. And what we're hearing from her attorney the really strong arm tactics to intimidate her. And we have seen the President use those tactics before. We saw him stand at a rally on national television and say he was going to sue all 19 women that made allegations against him. And he often threatens to sue people and then zero lawsuits are filed. And it's just done to intimidate individuals who have information about him. And that is what Stormy Daniels lawyer says in this case. That they are trying to intimidate and pressure her.
LEMON: The White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the suit today. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the President has addressed these directly. And made very well clear that none of these allegations are true. This case is already been won in arbitration and anything beyond that I would refer to you the President's outside counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's already been won by whom and when.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: By the President's personal attorneys and for details on that I would refer you to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you're aware of them, what more can you share with us?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I can share that the arbitration was won and the in the President's favor. I would refer to you President President's outside council on any details beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That is a confirmation of everything that Stormy Daniels has said, that, you know -- that it's happened -- or that Michael Cohen paid the $130,000. How long can the White House continue to pretend this isn't an issue, this is for Mark.
NEJAME: Yeah, I mean, it's -- it's an issue. The issue is whether they can set this aside or not. And all the salacious details come out. It's inconceivable that Trump didn't know that this was being done. How did it get to it and brought to his attention in the first place? Did she call up Michael Cohen say, hey I have something against your boss? Or did she contact Trump and then he said, handle it. Fix it. And there was a three-day delay between the two signatures on the contract. You don't just say, well you are 11 days before the election and then say what's the status or not the status? No, you have to have some discussion about it. Of course he knew. Not only that, but under section 1.4 of the code of professional responsibility as I understand it in New York you have a duty to communicate. You just can't go Willy Nilly settling things without consulting with your client and having their consent and their knowledge. Of course he knew. It seems like they are digging deeper for themselves. The reality is he knew. Is the contract valid? Will it shut her up, because they will be able to enforce it? If they can't enforce it, then the flood gates are open. But it sounds to me like they got all they need. Because I believe it's a publicity play for her.
[23:35:00] I don't think -- you got to have one side or the other and everybody wins at all. She wasn't telling the truth at one time. She said it didn't happen now saying it happened. And of course we heard the denials from the White House. He knew. She knew what she was doing. And here we find ourselves them trying to set aside whether successful or not I don't know.
LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you very much. When we come back the head of HUD doesn't like the agency furniture or mission statement. Why Dr. Ben Carson is looking at removing the pledge to keep communities free from discrimination.
LEMON: A major development tonight in Florida. Lawmakers taking action on demands by students and parents calling for change in the wake of last month's high school massacre. I want to bring in CNN political commentator Angela Rye, political strategist Shermichael Singleton and CNN political commentator Paris Dennard. Good evening, are they there.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're here.
LEMON: I don't see you guys. There you are.
RYE: We see you.
LEMON: There you are. I see you. Angela, I want to get some news in here tonight. Three weeks after the Parkland shooting, the Florida legislature defied the NRA and passed new gun control bill backing new gun restrictions. Governor Rick Scott has 15 days to either sign or veto the bill. Will he sign you think?
[23:40:11] RYE: You know, I'm not sure. I think the challenge that we have in this country and Don we've been talking about it for over a week, more than a couple of weeks now, the NRA has a stronghold on elected officials to the point where it strangles their ability to connect with people and their conscience. I'm hoping they can understand that while the gun lobby is strong, the ability for people to live and thrive in this country must be stronger. If Republicans are truly pro-life they should want to save some and ensure that the NRA does not have so much control over whether or not people can live and walk freely in their communities, whether or not they can live and walk freely in schools and places of education and of course in their places of worship. And of course -- go ahead. LEMON: Well I was just going to say the bill would allow teachers and
staff to carry guns in school. It's not all one sided. Does the bill seem fair?
RYE: Are you asking me that?
RYE: Having teacher carry weapons in school is insane. This is an all-black panel tonight. I hope we can at least acknowledge, right that having teachers with weapons and with black kids is not going to bode well for black people. At least we can acknowledge that. So just from that standpoint alone this is something that is ridiculous and toxic, hasn't been properly vetted. This is the type of legislation that we don't need when we are trying to move out of emotion. We need to just step back and say what's going to save lives? And that certainly isn't the answer. We saw one really foul issue with a teacher that brought a weapon to school.
LEMON: Shermichael, what do you think?
SHERMICHAEL SINGELTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, I agree with Angela 100 percent. I've actually written about this. Black kids are disproportionally killed by gun violence in comparison to white kids. There was recently a teacher in Florida who was just fired because she was running a white nationalist podcast. Just imagine if someone like that, Don was in a classroom and there was an issue in the room with students and the teacher had the argument, well I felt concerned for my safety so I need to use my firearm. In a place like Florida where they have stand your ground laws that is possible. And so I'm extremely concerned about that. I think it's ridiculous to propose that, at least from the perspective of an African-American. So it's something I do not support.
PARIS DENNARD, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION: Listen, I think every elected official has to be responsive to their constituents. I hope that if Governor Scott believes that this bill is a fair bill something that is actually going to do what we all want it to do, which is to protect the students and increase safety on our schools, which in my opinion are just sitting there as open targets, I think he should do the best thing and do what his constituents are asking him to do. I don't know how this has become -- or can become a racial issue. I mean, let's just say hypothetically.
RYE: Orlando Castile.
DENNARD: He wasn't a student in a school, but what I am saying is -- let's just say if you want to go to the analogy. There is a black school, and you have a black teacher. And are you saying that the black teacher is going to be more inclined to shoot and kill a black student? Or are you saying -- or are you saying.
RYE: Please allow me. Allow who.
LEMON: One at a time Angela first.
DENNARD: Or are you saying that because there are white teachers, white teacher are automatically going to shoot and kill black students.
SINGELTON: Paris based upon your scenario there is no quantifiable data indicating the premises that you just made that is a fallacious argument within itself, go ahead Angela.
DENNARD: No it's a valid point there are black teachers and black students (inaudible).
RYE: Let me answer little hypothetical. I don't want a teacher whether black, white, green, I don't want a teacher carrying a weapon. I want them to carry a textbook. I want them to carry chalk or now they don't use chalk anymore I'm old. I want them to carry a dry eraser marker, I don't want those carrying guns.
DENNARD: A lot of students could be safe.
SINGELTON: Don think about this. Remember there were --
RYE: Let me just say this really quick, they're not going to be safe in classrooms with teachers carrying weapons. Let me give you an example. My seven year old god son was called a threat by his white teacher. She sees him as a threat because she says he could physically harm himself or his fellow students just because he wiggles. He is a tiny child, he sees him as a threat. Is she going to the shoot him in the head, is he going to shoot him in his knee, because he is a threat in he is not even a damn threat Paris. This is ridiculous.
SINGELTON: Don, Don just think about this for a moment.
LEMON: Hold on one at a time.
RYE: It is the issue.
SINGELTON: Don think about this for a minute.
LEMON: Let Paris respond to that.
DENNARD: Angela I think the situation you just highlighted is horrible. And with respect to how people are treating your god son.
[23:45:04] But I think we have to be clear as to what the issue is that we are facing as a nation. It is about people coming onto school campuses with weapons and shooting students. And shooting teachers. That is the issue. It's not having teachers and having their opinion about black students and then them.
RYE: Paris the opinion can form how they use the weapon. Of course it has everything to do with this situation.
SINGELTON: Let me jump in here. Remember there were sheriff deputies in Florida who did not enter that school building. These are individuals who every single day they are trained to use a firearm. That is their job, their sworn obligation. So we are expected to have the expectation that teachers will be able to do what sworn police officers were not able to do number one? Number two. Imagine if it was of an African-American teacher in that building and SWAT Teams, et cetera rushing into the building.
SINGELTON: Those are huge likelihood that guy or woman is probably going to end up being killed.
SIDNER: We know that because there was a Hispanic student in Florida who said well he thought SWAT was there to rescue him and as he went to grab for his phone they pointed their guns at him and said do not move. So Paris, again, men let's be realistic about this.
LEMON: Got to get to the break. When we come back, we'll talk about Ben Carson. There are some changes. If we have time for guns we will do that as well. Will be right back.
[23:50:14] LEMON: And we're back with Angela Rye, Shermichael Singleton and Paris Dennard. Just a quiet conversation going on. Shermichael I have to ask you because you were once there. HUD secretary Ben Carson, you formerly a senior advisor there. He is considering changing the mission statement of the agency, removing promises of inclusion and discrimination-free communities. The new mission statement says, HUD's mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self- sufficiency, there by strengthening our communities and nation. What's your reaction?
SINGELTON: I mean, he is not removing the promise, Don. They're just taking -- they're considering, I should say, taking those words out. I should note for the viewers that in 2003, I believe, the mission state of the HUD, rather, was completely different from what it was now. It was changed in 2010, 2 1/2 years into President Obama's administration. I want to emphasize the word fair, because you read the recent statement. It does say fair. If we can be honest about this and not play with semantics, fair means beyond bias, beyond unjust. So, I don't think, you know, I don't think they're changing the mission or obligation of the agency. I can they're just trying to have something more succinct.
LEMON: The mission statement has previously included the words free from discrimination. Paris, why take that out?
DENNARD: Well, you know, I don't know. You'd have to ask Secretary Carson. But or Shermichael. I think when you look at how the average American reads that, it would seem as if they're saying that that is not of importance. But if you look at what I think the heart of what Dr. Carson has tried to do with his admission centers and really just having a more optimistic and a plan to not just keep people in HUD facilities or HUD homes, but actually having them have the ability to rise and get out of these things that are -- what the mission is all about. I think that is why he is trying to change the mission. But just because you change the mission statement or refocus the mission statement does not mean that they're going to all of a sudden not focus on non-discriminatory practices.
LEMON: This memo is addressed to HUD political staff. It explained that the statement is being updated in an effort to align HUD's mission with the secretary's priorities and that of the administration. So, there you go. What are those priorities? Angela?
RYE: I don't know what the priorities are, but we know what Donald Trump has said for a long time since he was on the campaign trail. We know his own challenges with housing policy given the two times he was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination. Here's what also we know. Self-sufficiency does not in and of itself free you from discrimination. When they were considering the fair housing act of 1968 on the senate floor, there was a great Senator by the name of Edward Brooke. Guess what, happened to be a Republican. During the debate of that bill, Edward Brooke was talking about how he himself had experienced housing discrimination, how he himself, after returning from World War II, could not get a home for his family. So, we understand well in this country it has nothing to do, right, with self-sufficiency. It has everything to do with systemic oppression that is still alive and well in this country. If we don't work clearly and creatively and structurally even in our mission statements and organizations that are supposed to serve the tax-paying American, we will not be able to successfully combat that. So, we have to be bold and clear about what is going on.
LEMON: Shermichael, I understand you say it includes fair.
SINGELTON: Let us not put semantics here.
RYE: It's not semantics.
RYAN: This administration regularly violates the law.
LEMON: Guys I want to go on this next subject. There is a new Quinnipiac University poll released today that showed 41 percent of voters name Trump is the worst president of 13 Presidents who have held office since the end of World War II. What's your reaction, Paris?
DENNARD: Listen, also in that poll it showed that he was the top five, I believe, in those that are -- that have done a great job as President or one of the best Presidents. So, all I see is opportunity to go up. All I see is opportunity for him to increase. All I see is -- (LAUGHTER)
RYE: Spin the hell out of that. Spin the hell out of that.
DENNARD: It's only year one.
LEMON: Ice skates to do that spin. That was a triple axel right there.
DENNARD: Remember real quickly. Remember when George W. Bush was in office he had very low approval ratings as well. Not as low as President Trump.
LEMON: OK. I want to get the other guys in. We're about to run out. What do you think, Shermichael quickly?
SINGELTON: I mean not, I don't think there is any way for him to go above, he is only going to go down. I think this November it will be a further indication if Republicans lose the house of how unpopular Donald Trump is. It was a huge mistake for the Republican Party to support him and we're going to have to suffer with those consequence.
[23:55:12] LEMON: Ok. Angela, the same poll, 38 percent his approval rating. Go ahead, Angela.
RYE: Very quickly I'd say what they say in basketball. Bought on lie and I also say it was a dark and stormy night. That is all I got.
LEMON: Is that it? I'm out of time. I'm out of time, everybody.
RYE: Catch you tomorrow.
LEMON: Great, you all. Good night. Thank you.
RYE: Good night.
LEMON: See you tomorrow, everyone. Good night.