Return to Transcripts main page
Trump's Unprecedented Security in New York City; Trump Appointees Raise Concerns; Hate Speech and Crimes on the Rise; JFK Assassination Caught on Camera by Abraham Zapruder; Mike Pence Watches "Hamilton" on Broadway; Vote for CNN Hero Sheldon Smith. Aired 11p=Midnight ET
Aired November 18, 2016 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:21] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. The President-elect making some controversial choices. And there he is traveling to his golf course in New Jersey earlier tonight for a weekend of meetings with potential Cabinet appointees.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Trump's most anticipated meeting is with Mitt Romney, one of the harshest critics during the campaign. Will Romney join the Trump administration as Secretary of State? I want to begin this hour with CNN's national correspondent Deborah Feyerick who is outside Trump Tower for us. Good evening, Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Don. Well, you know, this is Fifth Avenue without the President-elect here. He's actually in New Jersey as you mentioned. The security is incredibly tight. On my way here, I counted 50 officers. And that's just in a two-block radius, so security is exceptionally tight. You've got a five-lane avenue down to three lanes because of concrete barriers and metal fences.
And so, really, the U.S. Secret Service and the NYPD are doing the best they can to secure this incredibly busy location. And some people are calling this White House north but unlike the real White House, which is in Washington, D.C., this one is a lot more difficult to protect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I realized that this is a whole different life for me now.
FEYERICK (voice-over): For a man used to going where he wants when he wants, the President-elect's impromptu visit to a Manhattan restaurant drew noticeable attention, as his motorcade left his Manhattan residence. Trump Tower is gleaming 58-story luxury high rise in the heart of midtown, but for a Secret Service agents, it's also a logistical and tactical nightmare.
Among the top three concerns --
BILL GAGE, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Check list is going to be the height. The second's probably all of the glass. And then there's the streets around it, the threat from a vehicle-born explosive device.
FEYERICK (voice-over): There's also the threat from the air. The FAA has established a temporary no fly zone four times the height of Trump Tower and expanding two nautical miles along one of the busiest flight quarters on the East Coast. The outside of the building is now tightly guarded to prevent what happened this summer when a climber, using giant suction cups, scaled the all-glass exterior.
And everything inside Trump Tower will have to be secured, from the air vents to the elevators, even floors surrounding both the President-elect's penthouse apartment and his office on the 26th floor.
GAGE: The standard general rule when you're doing a security vantage is one floor below and one floor above, but it doesn't always work.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Screening, now a way of life with anyone going in or out of the building. Fifty-eight stories of residence and commercial tenants, all screened including packages, mail, and deliveries.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: To the extent you can avoid the immediate area around Trump Tower, that'll make your own life easier, and everyone else's life easier.
FEYERICK (voice-over): The building will be protected by heavily armed NYPD officers and the Secret Service 24 hours a day. Counter surveillance and assault teams will be in place whenever the President-elect is inside, and they'll be a team in charge of securing and maintaining an area for top secret conversations.
DAVID BEACH, SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE, NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE, UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE: We have a long standing partnership and a very successful record here in New York City in protecting venues and people, so we're very comfortable with our plan.
FEYERICK: Now, sitting presidents are allowed to have a residence outside of Washington, D.C. But sources are telling me that the Secret Service, already, has a shortage of agents. They've been working around-the-clock not only protecting the President-elect, but obviously Hillary Clinton and President Obama, and so they have really been stretched to the max.
Now, as far as protecting Trump Tower, it is a major operation, and you're going to have a lot of NYPD officers around-the-clock. That means that they're going to incur huge costs. That cost, Don, likely will be passed on to the federal government because the amount of over time that they're clocking is, in fact, significant. Don.
LEMON: And as we both know, traffic anywhere in midtown near Trump Tower, horrific. It takes you hours to get to places that usually normally takes minutes to get to. Thank you, Deb. FEYERICK: Yes.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Have a good weekend. Conservatives are cheering Donald Trump's choice of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, but progressive and civil rights groups condemning the appointment.
Let's discuss now. Michael Higginbotham is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Baltimore. He's the author of "Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America." And Jack Kingston, a former Republican Congressman who's a former Trump advisor to the Trump campaign. Good evening to both of you.
Michael, I'm going to start with you. Senator Jeff Sessions has been offered and has accepted the Attorney General job. Sessions failed to be confirmed in 1986, we've been discussing that here, for a federal judgeship after colleagues testified he used racially charged language. One African-American prosecutor saying Sessions called him "boy," that he called the NAACP and ACLU un-American, and he joked about the Klu Klux Klan. Sessions denies making those remarks. So what's your reaction to this pick?
[23:05:11] F. MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, it's troubling. It's very troubling to me. I think, you know, the question is whether or not President-elect Trump is going to govern as he campaigned. And the campaign was very controversial particularly on questions of race and gender and religion.
And I think this pick, Senator Sessions, is troubling from that standpoint. I think that President-elect Trump should be reaching across those lines now, across racial, across gender, across religious lines. And this pick suggests that he's going to govern exactly like he campaigned, in a very racially divisive way.
LEMON: So do you think the DOJ will be able to be responsive to African-American communities with Senator Sessions at the helm? Former lawyers from the DOJ talk about that being a troubling issue, even with African-American Attorneys General Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder leading the Department. Is this a step backwards?
HIGGINBOTHAM: It is in my judgment. It's very problematic because the Attorney General is our chief justice person, is the chief federal law enforcement officer. He is in charge of enforcing the federal rights, the civil rights that people have fought and died for in this country during the civil rights movement. And so it's very troubling that someone like Senator Sessions -- and, you know, some of this stuff is 20 years old but I'm not certain that he has established anything since then that would alleviate the concerns of most individuals.
LEMON: Representative Kingston --
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: Don --
LEMON: Yes. Let me ask you a question, and I'll let you respond. Senator Sessions failed, as we said, to pass muster in 1986 for a judgeship because others testified to his racial remarks. What's different now and why should he be America's top man?
KINGSTON: Well, number one, he served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years. He's a distinguished member of the Judiciary Committee. And before that, he was a U.S. attorney and Attorney General for the state of Alabama. And I want to say, I think we could -- if we want to reopen the pre-1986, you know, the star witness against him has been convicted of bribing a juror. So much of what -- I think he was politically beat up for reasons I'm not certain. And I don't think there was a lot of substance. There's a lot of hearsay.
But as a member of the Senate, he has co-sponsored a bill to give Rosa Parks the Congressional Medal of Honor. He got a $1 million earmark for her museum. He's worked on a bipartisan fashion with Dick Durbin to reform the cocaine and the crack laws, which has been a big problem and a big complaint of African-Americans. I think if you just look at what he's done, he hasn't done all these inflammatory or racial things, you know, as a U.S. attorney. He fought for desegregation, a very solid record on that. I think, over 10 different pleadings. And so, you know, this is a guy that has good bipartisan grades from everybody.
I know that, right now, many people on the left are very upset that Donald Trump became President, and they're looking for something to rally behind. But I don't think Jeff Sessions is going to provide them the red meat that they're looking for. You have the senior members of the Senate, the ones who are a little bit more balanced, saying we're going to take a look at this, we think he's a good guy. He supported Eric Holder's nomination and voted for him, for example.
LEMON: Let Michael --
KINGSTON: And he voted to extend the Civil Rights Act by 30 years. So I mean this is not anything that --
LEMON: Congressman, let Michael respond to that. To the Congressman's point, do you think maybe people should be looking -- American voters should be looking at Senator Sessions' entire record and maybe excuse some of the sins of the past, that maybe he has evolved on some of these issues?
HIGGINBOTHAM: I think Congressman is correct in that the Senator has served for 20 years, and he does have additional record. I think that's important to look at. And I think what the Congressman said, I think those examples are important.
But there's also other examples, and I want to know where Senator Sessions stands on President-elect Trump's statement about Muslim immigration. I want to know where he stands on building a wall. I want to know where he stands on stop-and-frisk policies applied to minorities. These are all things that President-elect Trump talked about during the campaign. They're very divisive.
Many minorities are concerned about whether or not their civil rights will be enforced. And so I want to know what Senator Sessions' position is on these controversial issues and policies.
[23:10:01] LEMON: He takes a hard line position on immigration as well, Congressman. What do you expect to see, if he is confirmed? Will there be mass deportations?
KINGSTON: Well, you know, I do want to quote President Obama here and say that elections have consequences. And the President is entitled to pick his own team, and he is not going to pick somebody in his team that reflects the values of the progressive left. And that's something that people should get used to. I think he is going to be a guy who adheres to the Constitution, who is going to enforce the law of the land, and he's going to follow what Congress ends up passing.
I mean, if people don't like the way he voted or his stance on immigration, maybe it's a good way to get him out of the Senate. I like the way he voted. I like his principal stand on immigration. That's why Donald Trump was elected.
LEMON: To my question, do you think there are going to be mass deportations? That was the end of my question.
KINGSTON: I think that what they're going to do is start on the 2 million illegal aliens who are here who have broken laws, who have been identified. And he has said that's where we're going to start that and then we're going to take a look at things. And so, as you know, that's going to have to be passed by the House and Senate. There's going to be a lot of debate about it before the day is done, but Donald Trump does plan to follow up with his campaign promises, which, I think, is the proper thing for a newly elected person to do at any level of office.
LEMON: Yes. Since the election, there have been a number of incidents of minorities being attacked, taunted, chants of "build that wall" and so on. There's a lot of fear out there. Can you understand why minorities might be worried about the choice of Senator Sessions, Representative?
KINGSTON: I can understand why the left is not satisfied with his picks because they don't represent --
LEMON: But my question was about minorities, not Senator --
KINGSTON: Well, I want to back into that, Don. Remember, he got more African-American vote than Mitt Romney or John McCain did because African-Americans are interested in his urban agenda, his agenda that will fight crime, increase education, and give jobs and opportunities to not just African-Americans but everybody in a lot of cities.
LEMON: Seven or 8 percent -- I've got to push back on that, Congressman. Seven or 8 percent of the African-American vote is not the bulk of the African-American vote by any means.
KINGSTON: But, Don, think about this. Here's a guy who is getting a lot of criticism but he goes to Milwaukee, goes to Flint, Michigan, he goes to Detroit and he says, what do you have to lose? I want to bring jobs here. I want to talk about education. I want to address the crimes. Last weekend, Chicago had 37 shootings. I think, year to date, 690 murders, 3,900 people shot for the whole year. And --
LEMON: Just for time purposes, Congressman, if you can just specific it, can you understand why minorities may be concerned about Jeff Sessions' pick?
KINGSTON: I think once that once they know more about Jeff Sessions and see what he did with Dick Durbin and see what he did for Rosa Parks and her memory and her honor, and they look at his voting record and his consistency standing up for what's right, I think that they're going to like Jeff Sessions a whole lot and be very comfort with him.
LEMON: OK. Michael, I want to get you in here. When you're considering some of the incidents that have happened around the country recently, can you understand why minorities may be concerned?
HIGGINBOTHAM: Yes, I can. And I can answer your question directly. They're concerned about whether or not their civil rights are going to be protected. President-elect Trump talked about imposing stop-and- frisk practices that were utilized in New York that a federal judge claimed is racially discriminatory. He talked about imposing those in Chicago to reduce crime. I think there are many people very concerned about those policies and others that President-elect Trump said he would impose. Also, I have to mention --
KINGSTON: Michael --
LEMON: I've got to run, guys.
LEMON: I've got to go. I'm sorry.
KINGSTON: The judge said the way it was applied in New York was unconstitutional.
LEMON: I'm out of time. Thank you, Congressman.
KINGSTON: They did not say the law was unconstitutional.
LEMON: Thank you, Michael. I appreciate it.
HIGGINBOTHAM: My pleasure.
LEMON: Up next. Muslim and African-American activists expressing concern tonight at Donald Trump's choices for key national security positions.
[23:17:40] LEMON: Since Election Day, hate speech and crimes are on the rise. There's fear and concern among many Muslims and African- Americans. President-elect Trump's picks for key national security positions, many making those fears worse tonight. CNN's national correspondent Kyung Lah has a story for us. Kyung?
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, these appointees have been described as hard-liners but Muslim and African-American activists go further, calling them a potential threat to minorities.
SALAM AL-MARAYATI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Look at the Assistant Attorney General for national security --
LAH (voice-over): The wait is over for these Muslim activists who say they know see the real President Trump. His appointments sound the alarms from D.C. to Los Angeles.
AL-MARAYATI: Whether you're talking about widespread surveillance or detentions or deportations or denaturalization.
LAH (on camera): This becomes more real?
AL-MARAYATI: Yes, absolutely. We have to accept their rhetoric. We can't wait until the policies are rolled out. These people represent that mentality.
LAH (voice-over): Al -Marayati is talking about Trump's national security appointments. Muslims most concerned about retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn --
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (Ret), FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Radical Islamists and failed tyrants.
LAH (voice-over): -- offered the role of national security advisor. He said this over the summer.
FLYNN: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.
LAH (voice-over): For African-Americans, their main concern, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions nominated for Attorney General.
RASHAD ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLOR OF CHANGE: Senator Sessions overseeing the Justice Department should send chills down the backs of anyone of good faith in this country.
LAH (voice-over): Look at history, says Robinson. In 1986, during Senate judiciary hearings as Sessions sought a federal judge position, testimony included accusations that he joked about the KKK and called the NAACP un-American.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to Blacks.
LAH (voice-over): Sessions was denied the federal judgeship. The NAACP releasing a statement calling Sessions' appointment as the head of the U.S. Justice Department "deeply troubling," and that by every means available, the NAACP will continue to stand against the regressive and intolerant views that Senator Sessions espouses.
[23:20:01] AL-MARAYATI: It's the time for religious leaders to come together -- LAH (voice-over): Al-Marayati says minority groups are furiously reaching out to each other, building a coalition, preparing for the worst in Donald Trump.
AL-MARAYATI: He is one person and he cannot rule by the iron fist. This democracy will be upheld. We believe in our democracy.
LAH: So what exactly does he mean by? Well, the grassroots level, what they are trying do is to create a coalition of minority groups to create a larger opposition party and in Washington, using their influence to try to affect policy, advocating for their positions. History has taught them, say these activists, that the very worst mistake is to be quiet and invisible. Don.
LEMON: Kyung, thank you very much. I want to bring in now Nicki Pancholy whose car was vandalized and left with a hate note. Nicki, thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
NICKI PANCHOLY, CAR WAS VANDALIZED AND LEFT WITH HATE NOTE: I'm fine, Don, thank you. Thank you for having me.
LEMON: Now, I understand that you have been hiking up Mission Peak in Fremont, California?
LEMON: You call it a peace walk. Tell me about that.
PANCHOLY: Well, I started on September 24th, and I began the walk to bring some calm in the social media. I began to see a divide happening between my friends, and then going out wards in the community. And within our own world, I saw such global unrest and I wanted to just spread a little bit more calm and awareness of the self and self-compassion.
LEMON: So on this day, you were hiking and a ranger contacted you. What did he tell you?
PANCHOLY: On the day of the --
LEMON: You were -- yes. Yes.
PANCHOLY: So I had come down from the Peak. I was descending from the Peak and the ranger, he -- yes, he left a note on my car. I did not speak to a ranger.
LEMON: And what did the -- the note said, "Hijab-wearing bitch, this is our nation, now get the eff out." What was your first reaction?
PANCHOLY: Well, that note was not from the ranger. That was inside my car. But my reaction was shock. I was definitely shocked, but then I did feel -- I felt compassion and forgiveness for someone who has such self-loathing and self-hatred.
LEMON: And you weren't even wearing a hijab. So tell us why were you covering your head?
PANCHOLY: I wear this because I have lupus and I don't have hair. It was a personal choice, a personal decision that I made. And when I hike up the Peak, the sun is not -- it does not suit me, and so I wear this bandana to protect me from that. And then I lower the back so to protect me from the sun and on the back of my neck.
LEMON: So the person who wrote the note thought that you were Muslim, but you're not. Your ethnicity is Rajasthani-Indian, and you were born in San Jose, California. Fremont is actually a very diverse city.
LEMON: Were you surprised by this hateful act?
PANCHOLY: I was. I was definitely surprised. I was taken aback by the ignorance that was definitely prevalent but not known. I did not know that it existed in our --
LEMON: When you seeing some like this, what do you think about the kind of person who would do it?
PANCHOLY: I think that they are in such a state of disillusion. I think that they have lost their sense of self. They're experiencing self-hatred and they can no longer see the community as one, a common unity. They have created a division within their own mind.
LEMON: Yes. You aren't alone. Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that 437 acts of hateful intimidation occurred. What's your reaction?
PANCHOLY: It is definitely of sadness, and it breaks my heart that violence is spewing everywhere. It definitely -- it's causing me -- it makes me wonder what our children will be facing, how will they cope with this. It's a different America that they're experiencing, something that's new to this generation.
LEMON: And I have to say, right after this happened, Nicki wrote a daily blog about inner peace as well as global issues and it was well received. Thank you so much, Nicki Pancholy. I appreciate it. Take care.
[23:25:10] PANCHOLY: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. Straight ahead, it is considered the first viral video, the snippet of film that captured the end of JFK's life by Abraham Zapruder. His granddaughter joins us next.
LEMON: There are very few moments in American history that fall into this category, "the everybody knows where they were when it happened" category. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is one of them. Even for Americans too young to remember, we all know that tragic
footage filmed that November day by a man named Abraham Zapruder. His granddaughter is Alexandra Zapruder. And she's the author of "Twenty- six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film" and she joins me now. I cannot wait to read this. Thank you so much for coming on.
ALEXANDRA ZAPRUDER, AUTHOR, TWENTY-SIX SECONDS: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE ZAPRUDER FILM: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: In the break, you said, I can't believe you do this every night, it's intense.
LEMON: It's been intense, you know, for the media lately.
LEMON: And we'll talk about this film, but did this sort of inspire the -- what's going on with the media now, the atmosphere inspire to you do this?
[23:30:03] ZAPRUDER: No. I mean, in fact, it didn't. My reasons for doing it were so personal. This came in the aftermath of my father's death, my father's rather early death, and I had questions about the film and questions about the life of the film and our family, and I wanted to sort of know more for us. And then the more I began to research it, the more questions I had, and the more I wanted to learn.
LEMON: What effect did this have on your grandfather and your family at the time?
ZAPRUDER: You know, my grandfather was -- I think it would be safe to say traumatized by what he witnessed. You know, he witnessed the assassination, at close range, through the zoom lens. And it was devastating for him, and he loved the President. He, you know, was there because he wanted to record this and share it with his family. So to have it go so terribly wrong was very painful to him.
LEMON: Yes. But it has shaped your family's legacy. How did it affect you?
ZAPRUDER: Well, I grew up in a family that really valued discretion around the film. We didn't really talk very much about it amongst ourselves, and we didn't really talk very much about it publicly. My father had to do many things related to it but in general. So, for me, I didn't know very much about the film, and didn't think very much about the film until I was an adult. And in some ways, that's what made writing the book so interesting, was to come to it with a clean slate, not knowing very much at all.
LEMON: Can you can believe it? We're coming up on the 53rd anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and your grandfather's moment in history, shall we say. What do you think he would make of the media landscape today? ZAPRUDER: It's hard for me to even imagine what he would have
thought, not only about the effect that film itself had on media culture but just how far we've traveled, you know. In some ways, the film marks the beginning of a change in American life and in American media culture and raised all of these questions about what people should see and under what circumstances and who should decide.
And is there such a thing as privacy and should you respect the Kennedy family, for example? These are questions that have completely gone by the wayside and more and more, I think, with every passing week.
LEMON: He was able to stand right there in Dealey Plaza and capture that video of the motorcade. Is there a comparison to today? Do you think the media has as much access as he had then?
ZAPRUDER: No. I mean -- well, I don't know about what the media has or doesn't have, but I do know that it was a different time. I mean, I would say that, you know, the idea that President Kennedy was riding down the street without the bubble top on his limousine in the most reactionary city in America is pretty astonishing. And it really reflects the innocence of that moment, I think.
LEMON: Yes. But it was also a very divisive time politically, as well, back in 1963. It was just as polarized, its hostility towards a liberal Kennedy, you know, a Catholic President, especially in Dallas at the time, yes.
ZAPRUDER: Absolutely. Dallas was called the city of hate. I mean, it was the absolute epicenter of that kind of reactionary politics, and people were concerned for Kennedy for exactly that reason, absolutely.
LEMON: There's been this consternation in the media about the President-elect sort of ducking the media this week and going, you know, to a restaurant by himself. Do you understand the importance or do you see the importance of having a press pool around the President and the President-elect?
ZAPRUDER: Certainly, of course, I do. I mean, I believe in, you know, a free and democratic media.
LEMON: Does this epitomize that, do you think, this?
ZAPRUDER: Well, you know, this is different. I mean, this Zapruder film is a home movie. You know, my grandfather wasn't a member of the media. He was just an ordinary person who happened to accidentally catch this moment in time.
I think where it does overlap is this idea of, you know, what should the American people be able to see and what should they be allowed to know and who decides. And the films, you know, the story of the film is the story of the American people demanding to see it and eventually getting to own it and have it become theirs.
LEMON: Yes. You said you thought it was a much more innocent time then because they had the bubble top down and --
LEMON: And what about in terms of language and tone and rhetoric? Do you think that has changed since that time?
ZAPRUDER: I mean, it certainly has changed enormously. I mean, not to say that those in Dallas who were speaking against President Kennedy didn't have their own rhetoric, but it's nothing compared. I mean, even the worse things that, you know, were said in the "Dallas Morning News" were nothing like what we are seeing today.
And I actually have been thinking a lot about this in recent weeks, about what a press, you know, conference was like with President Kennedy and how well-spoken he was and how respectful and polite and charming, and just very how far we've come.
LEMON: And people couldn't believe that they had this footage, right, this Zapruder footage? Imagine now, there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras out. I mean, it was such a different, different time.
ZAPRUDER: It was a different time. And one of the things that I traced in the film is the way in which this film -- the film always stays the same. You know, the film never changes but everything around it changes. So, now, you know, it's not only what we see. The content of what we see is so much more graphic, got so much more common, but the speed in which we see it. This film was embargoed for 12 years. The American people didn't see it as a film for 12 years. And --
[23:35:08] LEMON: It would be uploaded on the internet immediately.
ZAPRUDER: And the fact that it's everywhere, any time, all the time. I mean, it's just a completely different situation.
LEMON: Yes. We're going to talk about one of those moments that uploaded right away, coming up after the break. But I want to tell everyone the book is called "Twenty-Six Seconds." It's by Alexander Zapruder. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
ZAPRUDER: Thank you.
LEMON: And it's a great read. I can't wait to read it. I've heard it's getting great reviews.
ZAPRUDER: Thank you so much for having me.
LEMON: Thank you so much.
LEMON: Yes. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Vice President-elect Mike Pence is one lucky man scoring a ticket to "Hamilton" tonight, the hottest musical on Broadway. His reception at the theater tonight was mixed, greeted with cheers and some boos.
And as they took their curtain call, one of the stars of the musical had this message for him, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON DIXON, ACTOR: You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us, just a few more moments.
[23:40:05] There's nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There's nothing to boo here. We're all here sharing a story of love.
We have a message for you, sir, and we hope that you would hear us out. And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide. OK?
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at "Hamilton: An American Musical." We really do. We, sir -- we -- are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our family, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
DIXON: Again, we truly thank you for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN's political commentators Matt Lewis, Tara Setmayer, Kayleigh McEnany, and Angela Rye. This is New York. We let you know how you feel.
TARA SETMAYER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right, sure.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Tell me about it (ph). You sure do.
LEMON: What do you think?
MATT LEWIS, AUTHOR, TOO DUMB TO FAIL: Well, I think it's a shame that some people booed. I think that the comments at the end were fine and appropriate. But I just have to say I love the "Hamilton" sound track. I haven't seen the musical, but I think it's one of the best things that's happened for America in years.
ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Yes.
LEWIS: And I think it's cool that Mike Pence wanted to go see it.
LEMON: He's saying work on America -- he said work on America on behalf of all of us.
RYE: All of us.
SETMAYER: You know, I have to say, for me, watching that -- and I grew up, you know, going to the theater. My mom was in theater and I love Broadway and it's such, you know, integrated, you know, environment there. Everybody -- there's no race, there's no color, there's like -- you know, everybody gets along.
And I look at that and it actually saddened me that we're at a point in America where people feel as though our elected representatives, as Vice President and President, does not represent everyone. That there's this palpable fear with so many people in this country that they would have to do that.
LEWIS: But that sort of --
SETMAYER: We've got to do something about it, and --
LEWIS: My concern though is -- I worry though that -- but what if Marco --
RYE: And that's because of the kind of campaign Donald Trump ran.
LEWIS: No. What if Marco Rubio were the President-elect and Mike Pence were his running mate and Mike Pence went there tonight? I think he would have probably gotten the same harsh treatment, and I think that's unfortunate.
MCENANY: Amen. Absolutely. And that --
LEWIS: I don't think it's just about Trump.
SETMAYER: I don't think that's possible.
MCENANY: This is in the middle of --
SETMAYER: I don't know Marco Rubio would have chosen know a Mike Pence as a vice presidential candidate.
MCENANY: This is -- it's so funny to me to watch that, honestly, because you're standing in the middle of New York City at a Broadway musical where tickets go for, I just checked, $835. These are the elites that were dethroned when Donald Trump became President-elect. They were rude.
SETMAYER: Yes, but he wasn't booed.
MCENANY: And then this --
RYE: I'm sad that that's how the only thing you got out of that.
MCENANY: And the booing that I saw, first of all, it was disrespectful. But --
LEWIS: There was cheering, too, like a little.
MCENANY: But, second, it just shows how out of touch the New York, L.A., D.C. elites are --
RYE: Can I --
MCENANY: -- from mainstream America.
SETMAYER: Let me just --
LEMON: Why did he go?
RYE: Or maybe people really feel that way.
LEMON: Well, hold on. Why did he go then?
MCENANY: Why did he go?
MCENANY: Because I think he wanted to enjoy a Broadway musical. I don't think he expected to be chastised by the actors on the stage and booed by the crowd here in New York City --
SETMAYER: Can I just please --
LEMON: All right. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
MCENANY: -- that is deeply out of touch with Middle America.
LEMON: Hold on, hold on, hold on. Mike Pence works for those people. Those people don't work for him.
MCENANY: Sure, of course.
LEMON: Those people in that audience and America hired him to work for them. They are free to express their opinion whether they like him or not. What's wrong with them --
MCENANY: Of course they are.
LEMON: -- expressing their opinion?
MCENANY: Of course, they are free to do so, but --
LEMON: And then -- but I don't understand calling them the elites. I mean, I'm sure a lot people worked really hard to pay for those tickets. Not everyone who goes to Broadway shows pay $800. People stand outside of TKTS -- T-K-T-S -- all the time to get cheap seats. Most people who go to those Broadway shows don't live here in New York City. They're tourists who come here from Middle America and they don't make a lot of money.
RYE: Can I push back --
MCENANY: Well, people --
LEMON: And they save up their money to --
MCENANY: The people on that stage in this Broadway musical chastising the Vice President-elect and say --
RYE: No, I --
LEMON: They didn't chastise him.
MCENANY: Yes, they did, in saying that you need to be --
LEMON: He said, we don't want to boo.
MCENANY: Saying --
LEMON: But he said I want you to work for all of us.
RYE: Can I just --
LEMON: Like, do you want to play -- let --
MCENANY: Saying that --
RYE: Before you play it, let me just push back a little bit. I think this is so important because of who Alexander Hamilton was and this cast, which I -- I happened to get to see this musical last year. We spent way too much money on the tickets. You can call me an elite. I'm just being very honest. Like, it was a sacrificial offering to go to this play.
And what I want to say is this. This cast is so far from the elites. This cast is the representative of the American dream. They worked hard, they pulled themselves up by boot straps before they had the boots on. They worked really hard to make it in an industry that there wasn't space for them.
[23:45:06] And, Tara, I know you said that race doesn't matter in this space, oh, but it does. And so often --
SETMAYER: No, I'm talking about the way that theater folks get along with each other --
RYE: Right, but --
SETMAYER: -- and work with each other.
RYE: I hear you. But so often -- SETMAYER: I'm not saying the opportunities. That's different.
RYE: Right. So often that's not story that we can tell, but this cast is diverse. They had a Latino man playing Alexander Hamilton. They eliminated race barriers through this play. And the one thing that I would say -- it's so important to frame this -- is the lead character playing Hamilton now, no longer Lin-Manuel --
RYE: Manuel, sorry.
LEMON: Yes, right.
RYE: He is --
LEMON: Openly gay.
RYE: -- an openly gay, HIV positive man.
RYE: And let's talk about --
LEMON: Javier Munoz. And he was part of Out --
RYE: But --
LEMON: -- "Out Magazine's" 100 --
RYE: But, Don --
RYE: this is against a Vice President-elect who wanted to use HIV/AIDS money for conversion therapy.
RYE: Can you imagine what that psych for that man in that space? I think we can't just always say, you know, it's about the elites or whatever.
MCENANY: But look --
RYE: We have to, like, look at things for their full experience.
MCENANY: But this is --
MCENANY: This is the point I'm trying to make. You have the Hollywood elites, the media elite, the political elites who looks at Donald Trump and his supporters, insult this supporters as deplorable.
RYE: Some of them. MCENANY: Everyone who supported Trump was racist, xenophobic,
homophobic, all of these different words and labels.
RYE: Some of them. Some of them.
MCENANY: And they laugh at the prospect of a presidency, a Donald Trump presidency, but he prevailed --
LEMON: Kayleigh, that's all true, but how is that --
MCENANY: And he prevailed --
LEMON: How is that --
MCENANY: He prevailed because he had tailwind --
LEMON: How is that what this is about?
SETMAYER: You're right on that.
MCENANY: He prevailed because he had tailwind for working Americans behind him.
LEMON: I agree with you. You're right. I'm giving you -- I'm conceding that.
MCENANY: But hardworking --
RYE: He agrees with your point.
LEMON: But I want to know how --
MCENANY: Here's how. Here's how.
LEMON: And I know Javier Munoz.
LEMON: We were both part of "Out Magazine's" 100 people who they honored for being out in the media and out in the world. And he's a very nice guy, openly gay, and HIV positive. And to her point, can you imagine how that feels, when Mike Pence has rallied and railed against gay people and tried to shoot down and block gay legislation? To him, this wasn't an attack. He is saying, I'm giving you a chance. This is how I'm listening, with an open heart to him. I'm giving you a chance, give me a chance.
MCENANY: Mike Pence loves all people and President-elect Donald Trump already said he's not going to fight the roll back --
LEMON: Mike Pence does not love gay people.
MCENANY: President-elect --
LEMON: His record shows that he does not love gay people.
MCENANY: But, Don, President-elect Donald Trump has already said he's not going to try to roll back the rights that we've seen in the gay community.
LEMON: I agree with you on that. Mike Pence has not said that.
MCENANY: But my point is there are a lot Americans who can't even think about an $835 ticket to the theater because they can't even afford to put dinner on the table for their families. Those are the Americans --
LEMON: That's not what this is about. That's not what this is about. We're not talking about that.
MCENANY: And when you jeer at Mike Pence, you're jeering at those Americans.
SETMAYER: No, you're not.
LEWIS: You know what I hope, though? I hope that conservatives out -- sorry to interrupt.
SETMAYER: No, that's OK.
LEWIS: But I hope the conservatives out there watching who haven't heard the sound track or seen the musical aren't turned off to this because this is great, and I think, for me, it's conservative. But it's patriotic.
LEWIS: It's a great story and everybody should -- but then that's the --
SETMAYER: And also --
RYE: That's my point.
LEWIS: -- politicization of embattled middle class.
RYE: That's my point. It's a political statement.
SETMAYER: But also, we shouldn't continue to dismiss, just because Donald Trump won and because Middle America had their voices heard -- and that's great. But we shouldn't dismiss the millions and millions and millions of other people that don't live in the Rust Belt and other places like that and the red states that feel the way they feel.
You know, millions of people voted for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump because of the way he ran his campaign. So to dismiss that and just call people elites, somehow that doesn't make their feelings valid, I think, is doing the same thing that you're criticizing the people who criticized Donald Trump for. It can't be both ways.
Obviously, this is a real feel feeling. There's real division in this country. And Donald Trump and the way he ran his campaign and his supporters --
LEMON: Let Kayleigh respond.
SETMAYER: -- need to understand that.
SETMAYER: There needs to be some empathy for that.
LEMON: Go ahead.
MCENANY: Sure. They are real feelings, and I respect that. I respect that there are a lot of raw wounds right now. But what I don't respect are the attempts to further divide us. I respect, immensely, President Obama. He has done such an amazing job these last few weeks. I respect Hillary Clinton. She was so gracious in her concession speech, and they sought to build bridges and unite us after President-elect Donald Trump called for unity.
They're not trying to divide us, and there are a lot of people out there who are trying to build up their name by dividing America further.
LEMON: But this was message --
SETMAYER: I don't think that --
RYE: What is --
LEMON: I saw this message as one of unification.
RYE: I did too.
SETMAYER: That's right.
RYE: And part of it is we have --
LEMON: I didn't see it as a divisive message.
RYE: I think that it gets really dangerous when we can't even hear the message of a protest. I think that it wasn't even -- it was like, listen, this is a problem for me and I'm trying to accept you --
RYE: -- but you haven't accepted me, right?
LEMON: I also have an issue with the whole elite thing.
SETMAYER: I know, I know. LEMON: Because I grew up in the South. I've lived in the Rust Belt.
I've lived all over. There is a reason that New York City is New York City. There is a reason that Washington, D.C. is Washington, D.C. There is a reason that Los Angeles or Hollywood is. It's because it exemplifies the best in the country --
SETMAYER: That's right.
LEMON: -- in certain industries. This is the center of fashion. This is the center of economics.
LEWIS: It's the greatest city in the world, according to academics (ph), right?
RYE: It's great, actually.
MCENANY: No, it is the greatest city in the world.
LEMON: It is the greatest city in the world created by people like Alexander Hamilton and others.
SETMAYER: That's right. That's right.
LEMON: There is a reason that people live here. I don't mind --
[23:50:01] LEMON: I'm actually very proud to live in a city called "elite" --
SETMAYER: But, Don, where does your President-elect live?
LEMON: Hold on. In an elite city, Washington, D.C. And he lives --
SETMAYER: Right. I mean, I think that's --
LEMON: And he lives here.
LEWIS: You know, I'm sorry to say, he lives here.
SETMAYER: That's right. If we're talking about elites, right, excoriating elites. And Donald Trump is a billionaire who lives in a tower on Fifth Avenue with his name in gold everywhere he goes. And yet that's not -- he's not an elitist.
MCENANY: It's because he took the time to listen
SETMAYER: I mean, that irony is not lost to me.
MCENANY: Because the problem is New York and D.C. and L.A. have been ignoring Middle America for far too long.
SETMAYER: I think that's true.
LEMON: Very true.
MCENANY: And they woke up and they said, enough.
LEMON: Very true.
MCENANY: It's time to listen to me --
SETMAYER: They elected --
MCENANY: -- because we're the back bone of this country.
SETMAYER: Sure, with the elected officials, right?
RYE: I still don't think that's what this moment was about.
SETMAYER: I don't think so either at all.
LEMON: No, I thought this was one of unification. I thought we're going to talk about unification but there, that's not what we're talking about.
MCENANY: But I don't --
RYE: I think that part of what we can do, what we all can do, being media elites because we're all sitting here hilariously (ph) --
RYE: -- talking on a Friday, is to try to hear each other, too.
LEMON: I agree.
RYE: Because I don't think that it was negative. He could have gone up on that stage and said --
LEMON: OK. I got to go, elites.
RYE: -- what, Don?
LEMON: I got to go, you, elites. You media's elites.
SETMAYER: Can I have --
LEWIS: Because I know we're present.
SETMAYER: Can I have --
LEMON: I got media elites.
SETMAYER: I come from a blue collar family, first to go to college in my family.
RYE: He could have stood up and bailed, that's what I'm saying. Like, what?
LEMON: We'll be right back. Y'all have a great weekend. If I don't see you, have a great thanksgiving. But maybe, I'll see you next week. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Voting is now under way for the CNN Hero of the Year. Here is one of this year's top 10 heroes. Meet Sheldon Smith.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELDON SMITH, FOUNDER, THE DOVETAIL PROJECT: Being a dad has taught me to overcome because I didn't have any father figure around that taught me what being a dad is. Fatherhood doesn't come with a map. Fatherhood doesn't came with a manual. And sometimes you can learn from others, or you learn on the fly.
[23:55:12] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in this program trying to do better, so my son won't have to go through what I went through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
SMITH: Seventy percent of African-American children grow up in single parent households. So what I wanted to do was figure out how to provide these men with the skills and tools that they need to stay involved in their children's life and really support the next generation, their children.
My goal, at the end of the day, when I started the Dovetail Project was to break the cycle because I grew up in the community where a lot of young men face the same issues that I was facing, and no one was doing anything about it. There aren't too many places where a father can go and get the help and support that he actually need. Being able to have those resources that you actually need and whether they make an impact on your child's life like employment or some type of assistance is key and very important. And I really wanted to be the person who built the hub for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Vote for Sheldon or any of your favorite top 10 heroes now at CNNHeroes.com. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. Good night.