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President Donald Trump refused to rule out military action against Iran; U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley condemn the aggressive actions of Russia to Ukraine; Yemeni bodega owners go to strike and flood the streets of Brooklyn, protesting the president's travel ban; President Trump called for prayers at the national prayer breakfast; Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the coauthors of a new book about their son, Trayvon Martin; Aired 11-12p ET
Aired February 2, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:01:10] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President's Trump tough talk on Iran.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The president today refusing to rule out military action against Iran saying quote "nothing is off the table" and planning additional sanctions in the wake of Tehran's ballistic missile test Sunday. How worried are world leaders by all about this?
Plus free speech under fire. U.C. Berkeley, the home of free speech explodes in violent protest. And the Breitbart editor's talk there is (INAUDIBLE). Will President Trump punish the university?
I want to get right now to CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde, senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kozinski and Jim Sciutto, chief national security correspondent.
Jim, I want to go to you first because there is raid in Yemen is under at its scrutiny after the death of chief special warfare operator William Ryan Owens. You have got some new reporting on that? What is the latest?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, you have heard the Trump administration in the last couple of days say that, well, this was an operation that was actually signed off by the Obama administration. But I have spoken to Obama administration officials and some have now spoken out publicly saying that's just not true.
And second of all, that's just not the way things are done. That you would not sign off on operation in late January weeks or months before. There are many issues on the ground. You could only make a judgment on at the last minute.
We also learned today that President Trump himself was involved, directly, personally, in those final deliberations leading up to the moment just a few days before the mission, that he gave the final order to go ahead. So you have the Obama administration passed officials there disputing this idea this was actually a sort of joint operation as it were between the outgoing administration and the incoming administration.
LEMON: David Rohde, I want to get to you now because there has been some tough words flying around. The president saying nothing is off the table in response to Iran's ballistic missile testing. What are your national security sources telling you?
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that line I know is on the table. Many presidents have said that. But this is a critical issue. This is the Persian Gulf, obviously, it is a critical area in terms of oil supplies. So the rhetoric is dangerous because Iranians have this habit. They have been having a speed boat sort of come very close to American warships in the Persian Gulf in the past. The Obama administration would respond by firing, you know, flares of these boats. If the U.S. were to fire on those smaller running boats, you could see an escalation on both sides. So, it is, you know, danger situation. And again, during the campaign, you know, President Trump said he was going to tear up the Iran deal. That's a terrible deal. He was going to back Israel to the hilt. So, will he follow through on that?
LEMON: Does this sound you like a president on administration that is now softening? It is sounding a lot like the Obama administration, at least these policies.
ROHDE: Yes. You know, there was the separate signal today calling on Israel not to build new settlements. There was a tough talk against Russia in the U.N. from Nikki Haley. So we don't know but let's give, you know, President Trump credit.
LEMON: Yes. Do you think he should be given credit for this because you think this is a good turn in policy rather than being so hard line?
ROHDE: Yes. To most experts yes. Coming in this early and having all these wild disputes with Mexico, Australia and China, you know, this is a better few days for President Trump and let's give this administration credit for, you know, stepping back from some of those bellicose rhetoric.
LEMON: Michelle, what about Israel and the building of new settlements. The White House issued a statement on Israeli settlements tonight. And it reads in part, while we don't believe existence of settlements is impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.
Is that a change of policy?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's different from what we heard from President Trump while he was on the campaign trail. I mean, strongly aligning himself with Benjamin Netanyahu, criticizing the Obama administration very harshly for abstaining from the U.N. Security Council's council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. And that was the first time the U.S. had abstained. So he thought that was horrible.
But now we see this statement. And granted, if you are going to speak out against the settlements comparatively to the Obama administration, it is a very soft statement saying it may not be helpful.
And in fact, part of the statement from the press secretary today says that President Trump really doesn't have a position on this yet. He is going to wait to talk to Netanyahu face-to-face this month. And you compare this statement to what the Obama administration said about settlements just in December. I mean, they said that it undermines the pursuit of peace and this is not how good friends talk to each other.
So for Trump himself, there seems to be a change there but it is quite a soft - I don't even want call it condemnation. It is quite a soft criticism when you compared it to the prior administration.
[23:06:05] LEMON: Jim, can we talk about another hostile? Let's talk about Ukraine. Russia has been threatening them for years. They took Crimea by force. The Trump administration has said nothing until today. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has some very tough words. Listen and then we will talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years in which United States representatives have needed to do that. It should not have to be that way. We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Jim, if you close our eyes or if you are just reading this on paper, it would sounds like Samantha Powers. President Obama also strongly condemns Russia's action in Ukraine, right.
SCIUTTO: No question. So the question is, is Nikki Haley speaking for the administration or for herself, you know, right? Because you have to balance her statement today which was very much in line with the Obama administration's view. You are right, it sounds like Samantha Powers sitting in that same chair there. But balance that against the public statements over the last weeks and months throughout the campaign and since the inauguration from President Trump, praising Russia, refusing to criticize Russia and not just military action in Ukraine but also for interference in the U.S. election.
And keep in mind Nikki Haley's comments today are in response to, you know, grave escalation in the violence inside this in Ukraine just over the last several days and couple of weeks. So, you know, it's an open question because, yes, as David Rohde was saying, you must give the administration credit for moving to the center as it were on somebody's positions. But we have to balance what you have seen in the last 72 hours against the previous weeks and months from the president himself and his most senior advisers. Is it a real change? It is a representation or demonstration rather a dispute within the administration? You know, there were different camps. You have the president's own choices for senior cabinet positions contradicting him on major policy issues. So where is the direction here? We don't know definitively yet.
LEMON: Michelle, are some of these actions by President Trump a realization now just how difficult these problems are that the realities on the ground overtake campaign rhetoric?
KOSINSKI: That's the question. I mean, that's why we are talking about it now, right. That is the analysis out there. Everybody trying to, you know, mine their sources within the administration to find out what exactly does this mean right now and what does it portend for the future.
But I think there are many out there who feel like, you know, there's tempering of the message, there is a kind of a broader message. You know, President Obama, many, many times even after the election said that reality has a way of creeping in and, you know, governing is not nearly the same thing as campaigning. Maybe that is what's happening now. And I think when we heard the new secretary of state Rex Tillerson today on first day at the state department with this humble message and acknowledging dissent within the department, I think that, too, made a lot of state department employees feel like OK. I mean, there are still going to be problems out there and suddenly differences of opinion, but there's plenty of room for workability.
LEMON: David - go ahead, Jim.
SCIUTTO: No. I was just going to say, at the same time, you have nearly a thousand state department American diplomats sign a dissent letter disputing the president's move on this travel ban affecting Muslim majority countries.
So I just think that with this administration we have had so many swings that we have to be careful, you know, sort of overestimating the swing towards the center if that's what's happening here. I mean, it's certainly plausible and many administrations of different parties have done that. You know, the campaign one way and then when you are in the actual seat of power you have to lead differently.
But keep in mind, you know, we have weeks and months and even the last several days major raucous public disputes with close U.S. allies, whether it be Mexico or Australia. So it's hard to say is it substantive or symbolic or is it a representation of a dispute within the administration. We don't know yet.
[23:10:32] LEMON: David, I think it is interesting because the former president, President Obama went around visiting allies trying to sort of calm their jittery nerves. But now I found members of Congress, I think it is interesting, are speaking out now. John McCain is speaking out. Senator Ryan, Senator Corker, sending reassuring messages to Australia just today. What do leaders make of this? Do you think that that reassures them? ROHDE: No. There are a lot of anxiety out there. My colleagues at
Reuters all over the world hear this. And the real concern from foreign leaders to sort of, you know, crucial services is Steve Bannon. He has seen as a very, you know, provocative person who pushed this ban and it is going to be very clear to see - let's see where we are in a week. Good couple of days according to experts. Let's see what happens.
LEMON: Yes. I said Senator Ryan. It is Speaker Ryan. Pardon me.
OK. Thank you. I appreciate that.
When we come right back, protest in Donald Trump's America, the latest example Yemeni bodega owners go to strike and flood the streets of Brooklyn, protesting the president's travel ban.
[23:16:05] LEMON: Since President Trump's first day in office, Americans are making their voices heard in ways they haven't in a long time if ever. The CEO of Uber drops out of the president's business advisor council because of the immigration order. Nordstrom will stop selling Ivanka Trump's products, do the fore sales amid a boycott and aid to Senator Schumer tweets tonight that senate offices are being bombarded with a million-and-a-half phone calls per day this week.
And then there is a protest at U.C. Berkeley turning violent forcing a cancellation of a speech by right-wing commentator.
Here to discuss, Tom Gitlin, professor at Columbia University and author of "Sixties, years of hope, days of rage," CNN political commentator Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist and Robert Reich, professor at Berkley and author or "saving capitalism fir the many not the few."
I have been wanting to have this conversation because this has been a big issue about free speech on campus and conservative voices being heard.
Mr. Reich, my first question to you is, does the violence that we saw, this violence we saw at Berkeley, we have it live here on CNN last night, it ultimately - it plays right into the hands of the right- wing, white supremacist, someone like Milo Yiannopoulos.
ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, U.C. BERKLEY: It absolutely does, Don. And I want to be very, very clear. I was there for party last night and I know what I saw. And those people were not Berkeley students. Those were outsiders, agitators. I have never seen them before. For, you know, there's rumors that they actually were right- wingers. They were part of a kind of a group that were organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event.
So Don, you know, Donald Trump when he says Berkeley, you know, doesn't respect free speech rights, that's a completely distortion. That's a complete distortion of the truth. I mean Berkeley opened its biggest auditorium to this right-wing Breitbart news character. It was hateful odious person. But said free speech is most important thing we stand for and it was these outsiders who caused the police to finally come in and have to cancel it.
LEMON: You think this is a strategy by Yiannopoulos or right-wingers, they put this on so they could in effort to show that, you know, there's no free speech on a college campus like U.C. Berkeley?
REICH: I wouldn't bet against it, Don. You know, again, I saw these people. They were very - they all looked very - they are almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. And I have heard - you know, again, I don't want to say factually, but I heard that there was some relationship there between these people and the right-wing. And the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.
LEMON: It is interesting because there have been protests but nothing this violent. We haven't seen anything to this level.
Tom Gitlin, I have to ask you, Berkeley College Republicans posted on the Facebook page. They were writing. They said the free speech movement is dead. They go on to say that the protesters' success is to defeat for civilized society and the free exchange of ideas on college campuses across America.
I mean, this is where the free speech movement was born in the 1960s at Berkley. What are your thoughts? Is this a betrayal of that?
TOM GITLIN, PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM AND SOCIOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, many of the leaders of the free speech movement who are still among us wrote an open letter to "the Daily California" two weeks saying we believe in free speech. This guy is detestable. His views are rancid. And we really believe in free speech. So don't want to show up, don't show up. If you want to yell, yell. But this kind of thing that we saw last night, not at all what the free speech people have in mind.
LEMON: Alice, what do you think of what Robert said? Do you think that these could have been paid actors?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think with all due respect to Robert, I think it's absurd to think that those on the right had any part in these -- the violence that ensued last night. And look, I think it's insulting to protesters to call these people protesters. These are violent left-wing vandals is what they are. And they are --.
[23:20:04] LEMON: Vandals, yes.
REICH: Wait a minute --
STEWART: For them to throw things at stores and set fires and mace people wearing Trump hats, that is violence. It is criminal behavior and it is not protesting in any way shape or form.
REICH: Let's all agree and let's stipulate, this is bad. And I also want to stipulate that Berkeley as university opened its doors wide to Yiannopoulos and said, you know, we don't agree with you. Some of us, but it doesn't matter. Free speech comes first.
Now, when you say, Alice, that these are left-wingers who did this, I don't know that that's true. And you know, you say it's absurd to even surmise that it might some other group that really wanted to incite, you know, to create the impression that there was no free speech and kind of give some substance to claims that free speech doesn't matter.
I don't know. I mean, we just simply don't know. I think it jumps to conclusion on both sides. These were outsiders, I can tell you that. Because I was there. I know the students and I know these people had nothing to do.
LEMON: Quick response, Alice, and then we want to get Todd in. Go ahead.
STEWART: You have to give it to Berkeley. As we have say this, the birthplace of the free speech movement, opening up its doors to this speaker. To someone with alternative views to many of those on the campus. You have to hand it to them for that.
But also to follow up on what Todd said about the leaders of the free speech movement and the letter that they wrote, also written into op- ed in the paper. It wasn't necessarily calling attention to the difference in tone of his speech but they called him out and out a racist. And that is simply not true. But the speech and context of the speech was not racist comments whatsoever. It was just simply from right leaning perspective.
LEMON: You don't think Yiannopoulos is racist or makes racist comments?
STEWART: Absolutely not. Look. I think when he is talking about cultural appropriateness, when you adapt different aspect of different cultures and use them as your cultural appropriation.
STEWART: That is not racist. But that is the way it has become phrased and looked upon but that's not racist. And that's the tone of the speech.
GITLIN: Excuse me. Yiannopoulos is a bomb thrower. The folks wearing the balaclavas, therefore, we don't see their faces. We don't know who they were are bomb throwers. Like Steve Bannon have declared total war. If that balaclavas wears the black gloc so-called, actually could be taken at face value, they declared total war on banks and probably smashed Starbucks like that's some sort of revolutionary act.
Bannon wants to declare total war on Islam. So they are equivalent. Behind the mask is Steven Bannon.
STEWART: That's an extreme comment to make and I think it is dangerous to be talking like that.
GITLIN: Dangerous? It's metaphorical.
STEWART: Behind the masks are violent people who are trying to shut down free speech and there is no place for that --
LEMON: But it is interesting, I have to say, Alice, what Robert said. Listen, we don't know. I mean, everyone is assuming that these were students who did not want free speech for someone who is -- I hate to even call him far right-wing because he is really on the fringe. Really, up there on the edge.
But they didn't check the voter registration cards. I don't know who has been arrested and if it's in fact proven that they were proven that they were U.C. Berkeley students.
REICH: Don, can I say something here because I think there's a larger context. And that is that Donald Trump and since the beginning of the Republican primaries and other Republicans in the primaries are not completely innocent, but Donald Trump has released, has legitimizes, has given permission for a certain degree of hatefulness and hate speech in this country and hate acts in this country that I have never seen before.
I mean, people who are, you know, you have Jewish community centers being threatened. You have many more acts according to the FBI, hate crimes like we have not seen before, particularly against Muslims. What is going on here? I mean, the context of what we are seeing is unacceptable. And to say that Donald Trump has nothing to do with it and Steve Bannon has nothing to do with it is completely just itself a fact-free comment.
LEMON: I think Alice deserves a response.
STEWART: Look. I think it is easy scapegoat to blame everything like this on Donald Trump. And that's what happens every time we have this type of behavior. But what we see with a lot of this, what we saw with the women's march here, a lot of people protesting against Donald Trump. Look, a lot of these are people that are just frustrated that they lost the election. And that's their freedom to come out and speak. But what we are seeing there at Berkeley is clearly violent people exercising not the right to speech but the right --
[23:25:03] LEMON: It is uncalled for.
GITLIN: The largest demonstration in American history took place not on behalf of those who were the minority of the vote, but those who won the majority of the vote. They are not frustrated. They are angry and disgraced and disgusted and embarrassed that this regime of know-nothing bomb throwers, unreliable, falsehood speaking clowns are driving America's generations, driving America's history into the dirt. They are angry about that. And why shouldn't they be?
STEWART: Well, you can call them names, you can call him a clown but he is president of the United States. And the people that are out here burning windows and throwing fireworks into a Starbucks store who is actually part of the left.
GITLIN: They're like him. They are him with bricks in their hands.
LEMON: Yes. I have got to go. I'm out of time. Thank you. We will be right back.
[23:29:57] LEMON: It should be no surprise that President Trump called for prayers at the national prayer breakfast. But he wanted those prayer for someone you might not expect.
Let's discuss now. CNN political commentators Kayleigh McEnany and Charles Blow, given a new glasses. Also, political contributor Hilary Rosen and political commentator Paris Dennard.
Good evening to all of you.
Hilary, the president turned a few heads this morning at the national prayer breakfast when he asked a room full of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger so that ratings of his new show NBC's "the Apprentice" would go up. What do you think?
[23:30:38] HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, actually, I don't really see what the big deal is.
LEMON: It was funny.
ROSEN: You know, I find that probably too many Washington institutions end up being too self-important somber and my guess is the prayer breakfast has gotten that too. And I don't want all these, you know, Catholics and Christians to start writing that I'm (INAUDIBLE) here. But just saying, the fact that the president made a joke at the prayer breakfast doesn't really bug me that much.
LEMON: My God. Well, we have to mark this down. Anybody surprise -- ?
ROSEN: There you go, right. Go ahead, Charles, have at me.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They were funny and lighthearted. I mean, we all know that President Trump talks about his ratings and it was a joke at the prayer breakfast that I think was in good taste.
LEMON: The consensus.
ROSEN: There is something, though, that bothers me more which is the sort of the presumption that we take the full kind of force of government and all of our leaders go to a Christian prayer breakfast and have a conversation really about, you know, in some respects this kind of Christian oppression. I really bothered me more that he was talking about destroying the Johnson amendment and you know, that there were rumors about how that they couldn't wait to get out there and, you know, let loose religious freedoms which really to so many of us feel end up feeling like, you know, a cheer for discrimination. That's troubles me more than the Arnold Schwarzenegger joke. MCENANY: That's not true. Maybe you don't follow some of the stories
that happened around the country. But I know personally several pastors who had their sermon notes subpoenaed, a doctor down in Georgia recently, Dr. Eric Walsh (ph), was actually fired from his job because the government took his sermon, scrutinized them and because he professed traditional views fired him from his job and lashed about it on his voice mail. These things happened. It's not discrimination. It's people having freedom of speech. And for Donald Trump's point, that was a welcome breakfast fresh air to many of us.
LEMON: Is this happening on the masse level?
MCENANY: It is happening all across the country. In several states, there are mass stories about sermon notes being subpoenaed and people fighting back and in some case, the government setback like in Georgia and other cases they don't.
ROSEN: Well, I think it's a little --
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It causes a chilling effect across pulpits where that should be something that should be sacred. We should look to our religious leaders to give us spiritual guidance but also talk about morals and values that are in line with the doctrine of the church. And so, you would never want that government to come in and be oppressive of any religion, especially in United States of America.
And this prayer breakfast is an important thing, I think for the country to see and also for the District of Columbia where it was held because this is not just Republican thing. I think our audience should also know that President Obama and other presidents on both sides of the aisle, when they are in office, attend this breakfast and do so gladly. So I think it is an important thing to --.
LEMON: Go ahead, Charles. I think it is interesting we are having this conversation when there are people who say that the U.S. with this ban is being oppressive of religion and that's Muslim.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, the one thing about it, and maybe you can look at it and say it is kind of a joke in a way, but there's something a bit disconcerting and a bit kind of makes you ill at ease to have him constantly make things about him all the time. There is a point at which diplomacy dictates, whether it is domestically, no matter what space you are in, you figure out how to go into that space and to respect the people in that space. It doesn't mean that you have to put them on a pedestal. It doesn't mean you have to be - you can't make jokes or whatever, but it's not really always about you. There's something about there is a quirk in the man that's odd, that it truly is always about him and about his -- I mean the fact that --
BLOW: Bandwidth in any human being is kind of limited commodity. It has brakes on it. There is a lot he could be talking about laugh than we thinking about. And the fact he is constantly talk about him and ratings, it does throw you a little bit. It just says -- it's inappropriate.
LEMON: Well, since you said that, back to the subject. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to twitter who has his old job on the apprentice, "Celebrity Apprentice" and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, HOST, CELEBRITY APPRENTICE: Hey Donald, I have a great idea. Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV because you are such an expert in ratings and I take over your job and then people can finally sleep comfortably again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:35:13] ROSEN: Yes the funny thing about that of course is that earlier before Schwarzenegger posted that video, he actually put out a statement that basically said my ratings are a lot higher than yours are since the majority of the country is disapproving of you right now, which is true.
I do think that Charles makes interesting point which is the sort of lack of grace that the president seems to exhibits some times in moments where you think maybe a little more grace would be called for. But I go actually want to go back to this kind of substantive point about discrimination versus political correctness versus religion --
LEMON: Can we do that after the break? I got to get a break in, Hilary, and then you will talk in and then we will hear from Paris and Kayleigh on the other side. We will be right back.
[23:39:50] LEMON: Back now, Kayleigh McEnany is here. Here is Charles Blow. Hilary Rosen and Paris Dennard.
You said you wanted to make a point about discrimination, Hilary?
ROSEN: Well, Kayleigh raised earlier that there are pastors and other religious figures who feel that they don't have free speech. I'm all for free speech. I think what we have seen, though, in today's conversation with Sean Spicer at the podium and in the rumors coming out of the White House over the last two days, is that the administration is considering an executive order to so-called - to declare so-called religious liberty for certain things, but that that is really a code word for allowing businesses and organizations to discriminate against people whose views they don't agree with, particularly gay people and trans people. And that's where you take sort of free speech and turn it against people. That's un-American. That's where we want to draw the line. The president didn't go there today, but they hinted at it at White House for the last two days and I think that we all have to draw the line at that next step. [23:40:58] LEMON: Paris, especially as you have been at White House
in the last two days, go ahead. What's your response?
DENNARD: Well, you know, I disagree with her assumption about what the administration is wanting to do and how she characterizes religious freedoms and religious liberties based upon what a religious leader wants to do or business wants to do based upon the tenets of their faith.
But I also think context is important, Don. And in the same speech, where he did allude to the low ratings that "the Apprentice" out of the Arnold Schwarzenegger, he also said we have seen peace loving Muslims brutalized, victimized, murdered and oppressed by ISIS killers. We have seen threats of extermination against Jewish people. We have seen the campaign of ISIS (INAUDIBLE) against Christina. Then he said, all nations have a more obligation to speak out about against such violence. All these other duties to work together to confront - and to confront viciously if we have to.
And so, it's important for the president of the United States to make it clear that it wasn't just about oppression of Christians, but it was oppression of Muslims, it was oppression of Jewish people at this faith meeting that was held today. And so, it's great to hear President Trump talk about these issues in relation to religious freedom and religious liberty here in America.
LEMON: Kayleigh, go ahead.
MCENANY: Yes, that's exactly right. And it comes down to not just Christianity as Paris said but the separate spheres of government and religion. And when we say separation of church and state, we don't just mean, you know, an organized religion, we mean the church truly being able to be separate. The synagogue, the mosque. And what that means is being able to say what you want to say without having the government as to give you a second care that Houston mayor saying that five pastors had to turn over their sermons, their notes, et cetera, et cetera, to rescinded request were only because the people rose up.
LEMON: Charles, go ahead.
BLOW: Well, I mean, you can't have it both ways, right. If you want to truly have a separation, if you are going to have tax exemption, that means -- what comes along with that is truly being separate from the state. And not getting involved in becoming basically a political organ. And the moment that you do that you have now inserted - you have mixed the two yourself. So you can't say I want the church to be separate from the state when I want to say something, and then I want to be able to introduce myself into the mix of church and state when I want, you know, when I want to be involved in politics. You can't have it both through those.
LEMON: Thank you everyone. Fascinating conversation. We are out of time.
Coming up Trayvon Martin's parents on their son's legacy and the future of race relations in Donald Trump's America. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[23:47:16] LEMON: February is black history month. And that means you will be hearing a lot of speeches and conversations about how far we have come in this country and how far we still have to go. My next guests have a lot to say about that. They are the parents of 17-year- old Trayvon Martin, who is unarmed when he was shot to death by George Zimmerman nearly five years ago. Outrage at the killing spread across the country reaching a fever pitch when Zimmerman was found not guilty more than a year later.
Earlier, I spoke with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the coauthors of a new book about their son.
LEMON: A new book is called "Rest in Power: the enduring life of Trayvon Martin." And I have to say that is a beautiful cover. Beautiful book and I can't wait to read it.
Thank you so much. How are you guys doing?
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We are doing well, very busy with the book.
LEMON: Yes. I want to play this as soon we are going through this political time and this is, you know, I want to talk about the former president. Remember former president Barack Obama? This is spring of 2012 reacting to the death of your son. Watch this.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
LEMON: I think many people remember where they were when that happened.
Tracy, you know, even with all the protests all around the country demanding justice for your son, you felt that there were major injustices when it came to the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Tell us about that. You write about it in the book.
TRACY MARTIN, TRAVON MARTIN'S FATHER: Yes. We felt as though as family that we didn't get justice at all. We felt that as though the state of Florida didn't prosecute as they should have prosecuted. We also felt as though, you know, they had the evidence, we just felt as though that it wasn't laid out how it should have been laid out.
LEMON: Sybrina, Ms. Fulton, in the book you write that somehow you felt that your son was on trial too. I know that you have talked about it. But it's interesting in the book how you write about it. Tell us about what you wrote in the book. FULTON: That was my first trial. And as I sat through the trial, it
seemed that Trayvon had shot and killed someone and not George Zimmerman. And so, it just seemed that, you know, more focus should have been placed on who Trayvon was and his character. I mean even if his family and friends should have been able to be brought in so that they can be a character witness for him. That did not happen. The state did not allow that to happen. And so, he has friends and he has family and people who knew him. And we should be able to say who Trayvon was.
[23:50:11] LEMON: It didn't feel like they portrayed him as a human, as a 17-year-old child, right. He became a symbol. That must be tough when you are, you know, having to deal - obviously, having to deal with the death of your son. Your son becoming a symbol and not even human to some people. What that was like?
FULTON: Well, it started back from when it first happened. You had a 17-year-old that was dead on the ground, and yet the police and Stanford police department did not even knock on doors in the neighborhood to find out whose child that was. And then when Tracy went to the police station and called the police station several times to try to get information, they would not give him information.
You know, any parent would want information on their 17-year-old child. And we just felt that it was so unfair what was going on and we just felt that it was nothing that we could do. We felt so hopeless, like there was not anything to be done. And so, you know, we are not feeling anything. We are not asking for anything that any parent would not have wanted, which are answers for what happened to their child.
LEMON: When I mentioned the movement, it sparked your son's death sparked a movement called black lives matter. Do you think that you have made progress, Tracy?
MARTIN: I think that there is a small portion of progress being made. But overall I don't think we have gone far enough, especially when we talk about black lives matter, we talk about in the context of I can't walk down the street or I can't walk away from the police with my hands up. I am still getting shot in the back or I am driving in my vehicle and my hands are on the dash board and I still get killed in front of my child or I get choked out on the streets in front of a store.
So, those are -- when we speak of black lives matter, these are the lives being taken away in those instances and no other nationality is being taken away from us like that. So we know that all lives matter. But black lives are being affected by the police brutality (INAUDIBLE) all the killings that is going on.
LEMON: You see what happens with the police officers. And the difference is when people say, and you know, there are crime happens in the black community. But police officers are sworn to uphold justice. They are supposed to be the ones who are keeping justice and peace on the streets and deescalating situations. And too many times you see that not happening. You campaigned with Hillary Clinton with a group of mothers. And then
it did not turn out the way that you wanted it to turn out. You became friends with her as you said. Do you think that this country can come together under a Trump presidency?
FULTON: It is going to be very hard because it seems like the country is divided. But I think if we have a common goal, and that is what the women's march on Washington was. There was a common goal. The reason why we were there was for women's rights. And so, regardless of if it was -- if you were Republican or Democrat or Independent, whether you are black, white or Latino, it did not matter. We came together for one common goal, and I certainly believe that can happen again.
LEMON: You think it can happen under this - you want - you are willing to give this president a chance, the principles that he --?
FULTON: Well, I have listened to some of the things that he has said. And it doesn't seem like he is trying to bring the country together. It seems like he is dividing the country even more. And so, I don't know what plans he has and what plans he has laid out to his administration, but from what he has said, it does not seem like he is bringing the country closer together.
LEMON: That is a very honest answer. And would you run for office? I think you write you say you would like to.
FULTON: One of the things I did say is that I was exploring the idea because I certainly believe that if you want to be part of the change, you know, if you want to make change you have to be a part of the change. And so, that is just something we are taking a look at to see if there is something, what position that we can apply for. What position that we can be a candidate for and run for. And so, once we get all of the information we need then we will determine if we are going to run or not.
LEMON: It will be interesting to watch. Can you tell me about the foundation before I let you --about the Trayvon Martin foundation?
MARTIN: Well, the foundation has been here for since 2012. And what we did, we have mentoring programs. We have a scholarship program for our children. We give two scholarships away every year to children that attended the same school that Travyon attended. We have a circle of mothers, a circle of fathers programs which outreach programs to mothers who have lost children to senseless gun violence and to fathers alike. And so, what we do, we try to get out in the community, stay involved, stay engaged, we try to educate, we try to continue progress in our pursuit for justice.
[23:55:14] LEMON: I have to ask you, was this cathartic anyway? Is it tough? Was it?
FULTON: Absolutely it was. Absolutely it was. I mean, it is like by writing the book we had to retell the story. We had to live the story again in order to write the story. And so, just so many feelings came up. So many emotions. But that is why the book is so real. That is why the book is so emotional for some people because we want them to kind of experience what we went through.
LEMON: The book is called "Rest in Power, a parents' story of love and justice and the birth of a movement, the injuring life of Trayvon Martin" by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
Thank you so much.
FULTON: Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you.
LEMON: Appreciate it. You guys have handled yourself with nothing but dignity and class. Thank you so much.
FULTON: Thank you.
LEMON: And that's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.