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CNN TONIGHT

Sessions Grilled By Senate Judiciary Committee; White House Not Being Up Front About Niger Attack; Remembering The Fallen; Trump's Feud Over His Remarks To Widow Of Fallen Soldier. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired October 18, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[23:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...and they take time. So the fact there's a circulating draft in May before a final draft in July is not at all surprising. Another thing I thought was important from the hearing that the conversation between Democratic Senators and Sessions is this, Sessions was asked by Blumenthal is it true the President is expected to be in districts where you are subject of inquiry, New York, Florida, district of Columbia and it seemed as if the answer was he may be. That is something I think we have to keep our eye on, the notion that the President would potentially be vetting people who would then have jurisdictions as a law enforcement matter over his cases is a serious concern.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Ok. Hey, Ken, I want to get this in because I think it's important. At the hearing today, just the latest in a busy week for various Russia investigators. Speak with former chief of staff last week and former White House communication Director Sean Spicer just yesterday. And today meeting with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky was interviewed by the intelligence committee does it feel to you that the Russia investigation is picking up steam here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd be shocked if he didn't interview all those people I mean certainly you look at the boundaries of his jurisdiction and all of those fall squarely in it. However people think how Robert Mueller handles his job no one doubts that he is the at the top end of his profession he will go through every name on that list and I'd be surprised if he didn't talk to them. This is going to proceed forward. Nobody wants it to linger. Let's see what he has to see and what his conclusions are.

LEMON: Ken, Michael thank you so much. I appreciate it. This is CNN tonight. I am Don Lemon. It's a little past 11:00 on the east coast. And we are live in a few developments tonight. The White House waging war over comments you first heard here last night. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson saying President Trump told the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson who last his life in the Niger raid, quote, he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt, as the President feuds with the congresswoman, Senator John McCain said Trump administration is not being up front about the attack that left four U.S. soldiers dead and two wounded. In the Pentagon Is looking for answers as to how 50 ISIS affiliated fighters ambushed those soldiers. Is this the President's Benghazi that is the question being asked? And when will we know the truth about what happened. Let's get it to it now. CNN National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto is here, our Global Affairs Analyst Kimberly Dozier and military analyst Lt. Mark Hertling and Col. Steve Warren. Good evening to all of you. Jim I will start with you. You spoke with the former CIA Director John Brennan tonight, what did he say about the past 48 hours and the message that is been coming from the White House about the four fallen soldiers in Niger?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I listened to former Director Brennan speak for more than an hour this is a Director that served multiple administration through the years. I will run through few of the headlines, overall situation under Trump, he said from his view it's a great cause for concern about stability in the world from the perspective of U.S. Leadership. On the Iran deal the President is either woefully ignorant or willfully misleading to the American people. Regarding the American allies saying the transatlantic lives are in crisis. Regarding North Korea put the chance of military conflict over 25 percent. That is a few of the headlines in an hour of him talking about his impression of the U.S. Foreign policy in the national security space under Trump. I asked a question about Trump's handling of fallen U.S. Soldiers in Niger. Remember he went to the CIA, he stood in front of that memorial wall, those stars that marked the CIA agents in the field which is not a friendly reaction from folks from CIA, because it was seen as disrespectful. In light of that how did you view his handling and he gave a very heartfelt emotional response, have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Mr. Trump has his own way of dealing with things that I see as inconsistent with what some of his predecessors have done and how they have treated it and I'm not going to dignify in anyway some of the comment that is have been made which I think does not underscore the importance, significance and sacrifice of these individuals. So I think it would just behoove everyone to treat this in a manner that really is as respectful as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:05:16] SCIUTTO: That was restrained, frankly. John Brennan there, earlier in his answer to my question, he lamented the lack of a Presidential response to these things, in this environment many folks label people, including former Director of the CIA as political but a reminder, he was in the CIA since 1980, Republican and Democratic.

LEMON: Speaking of responses, because as I understand the White House drafted a response that was never delivered why is that.

SCIUTTO: Was confirmed by my colleagues in the White House. They drafted a response October 5th the day after these four soldiers died. Originally in the name of the President and the first lady then the White House tells us it would be more powerful to elevate it to have it delivered by Sarah Sanders the White House press secretary, I don't understand that justification, what could elevate it more than the President's lip. Regardless of that judgment the President himself said nothing about these four fallen soldiers for 12 days, nearly two weeks after they died. Why is that? He commented via twitter and interactions with journalisms and opportunities to release printed statements he commented on everything from the NFL to Bob Corker, why not on these fallen soldiers. It's a low bar for the President's most weighty duties which is commenting onto ultimate sacrifice.

LEMON: Why would the White House draft a statement and then not give it and then use the excuse it would be more powerful for the press secretary to deliver it rather than the President of the United States.

STEVE WARREN, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Honestly, I think that was a mistake, there is no why for that. I think the President giving out that statement is going to be more powerful, plain and simple. To have that come from a spokesman or press secretary seems like it is less powerful. The higher up it comes from the more power it has, so this was a miscalculation and a mistake.

LEMON: general Hertling, I would like your response, what's going on here?

MARK HERTLING, RETIRED ARMY FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL: I doesn't know, Don but I think we're talking a lot about form versus substance and truthfully when the President had his initial statement on Monday where he started off in a very good way commenting on the death of sergeant Johnson and then he twisted and started blaming or suggests President Obama didn't do the kind of things he did, that was shameful, that is the word I used the other night on CNN now I will say this has turned into something that is disgusting. Sergeant Johnson is a member of the family, when you're talking about the military, he has a family that is mourning and that is grieving his death. To have politicians on both sides, both the Democratic and Republican sides making this into a volleyball in terms of what the President's doing or what the President's not doing, and truthfully, I have to say this, Don, having the media chase this story and use Sergeant Johnson and his widow in the middle of it, to me, it's disgusting. This is a member of my army family. We have to wrap our arms around the widow and her children and make sure that they are protected. We can debate what the President did or didn't do, that is one thing, but when we're bringing the family member into it, the widow and her children into it, that is just wrong in my view and we've got to knock this kind of stuff on. It's contrary to what we do in the military.

LEMON: Hey, listen, I think you're exactly right. If you watched this program tonight from start to finish the focus of the questions is what happened over there to cause these men to lose their lives, that is been the focus of this conversation, so I think you're exactly right. And what took this administration so long. Did that have anything to do with it, when they are trying to, perhaps Kimberly maybe they thought this was a hot button issue they didn't want to touch. Maybe that is why the President in this administration had a statement drafted, didn't deliver it, because they wanted to stay away from it.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: I think they were trying to figure out what happened before they had the President make a statement about something that maybe turned out to be an incident that happened because of an error of someone on the ground. I think they were trying to get more facts about what happened before having the President have what is a searing conversation for a grieving family, something that is etched in their mind. I would like to think that what they wanted was all the facts.

[23:10:15] Now, those conversations are tough. I've had them. I know the general, the colonel have both had them, and you sometimes say the wrong thing. And you can see it from the spasm of pain that goes across the face of the family of the fallen who you're talking to. But what you do then is you try to say you're sorry, try to make up for it, somehow honor the fact that you were trying to say the right thing but you just caused them more pain, that is what we haven't seen from the President yet and I think that is what could inject a certain amount of healing into this situation that has really snowballed and these families can only imagine what they're going through. Right now it's a political football.

LEMON: They're watching it play out onto news. They really do want answers. Speaking of that this has been the deadliest combat incident since President Trump took office. What do we know about the affiliated attack on October 4th? More to the point John McCain Senator of the armed service committee what's he want to know.

SCIUTTO: He said in so many words today that the administration has to be up front. John McCain has an over sight responsibility on this and he says they've not been given the information that they need to have. These are the real questions here. Beyond the President's handling of this, is why did these troops die? Did they have the support that they needed? This is an outpost of the U.S. Military. How many Americans knew before this that there were American service members in Niger, I bet not very many? Why are they there? Because they're affiliates of ISIS battling now. The group carrying out this attack is called Islamic state in the Sahara. Last year they changed flagged to join former jihadist group now under the ISIS flag. Regardless, it is a real threat. Why are U.S. forces there did they have the support that they need. There were questions about whether there was search and rescue necessary after this. They were relying on French air assets and relying on a private contractor for evacuation.

Is that enough for U.S. Troop who's come under fire. Who should be held accountable the general on the ground or the President? Are there enough resources, those are the questions need to be answer.

LEMON: Let me ask our military expert here, how could Sergeant La David Johnson's body been left behind for 48 hours?

WARREN: There's three buckets full of questions that need to be asked, the strategic question do we have these men and women in the right place for the right reason, and operationally, where were these asset that is maybe they could have used, intelligence and logistics and evacuation assets, and then tactically, what happened on the ground. A fire fight there's nothing like it to compare in the human experience, it's terrifying, fast-paced, confusing, often bloody, there's screaming, dust and heat all these things happening. These combat will never leave anyone behind but sometimes confusion become so much you don't know what happened until sometimes the dust settles.

HERTLING: You got a couple initiatives in the heart of Africa, one is chad base initiative which is about five countries with special operations forces, training five different African nations they have been going after Boko Haram and another organization have formed and gelled into this new group Jim just said, ISIS in the Sahel. What's interesting is when you talk about five or six or seven Special Forces soldiers with company of African fighters you're going to have confusion coming under fire with 50 insurgents with rocket propelled grenades. I had an incident in In Iraq when a soldier was killed and he crawled off in the bushes and wasn't found for six hours after he was wounded and he died. Those are things when you talk about getting people out of there, retro grading trying to fight the enemy someone may get left behind. On October 5th African command started an investigation on this. The day before this incident happen, 15-6 type investigation was started and all of that is taking place right now to look at the things that Jim just mentioned, did they have the right support and conduct the right risk mitigation before they went out, did they have a good feel for intelligence. The kind of investigation that goes on and issue like this is unbelievably intense and always occurs when there's a death of an American. That is taking place right now.

[23:15:30] LEMON: Thank you all. I didn't mean to rush you, but we want to pay tribute to these four men. Thank you so much. It all began, this whole narrative with the congresswoman really we really want to honor these folks. Sergeant La David Johnson is one of four U.S. Soldiers who lost their lives on October 4th in Niger where they were helping local forces fight terrorists. Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright was 29, he came from a family deeply rooted in military service all the way back to 1812, and this being the first service member they lost in 205 years. 39 year-old Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson was a chemical and biological, radiological and nuclear specialists who earned dozens of awards and decorations, he leaves a wife and two daughters. Sergeant Bryan Black was a 35 year-old Green Beret medic, he communicated directly with the people, and he is survived by a wife and two sons. And 25-year-old Sergeant La David Johnson who lost his mother as a young boy, was raised by relatives, married his childhood sweet heart, he is survived by his pregnant wife and their two children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:21:01] LEMON: Paying respects to fallen troops and their families, one of the most solemn duties of American President, yet President Trump's phone call to the widow Sergeant La David Johnson ended up becoming a political headache, putting the White House on defense. Joining me now is Peter Wehner, he is a former adviser to President George W. Bush and CNN Contributor Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The truth about Trump." Gentlemen thank you so much for coming on, Peter, I just want to start by playing a clip of the President today reacting to this growing controversy. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Didn't say what that congresswoman said, didn't say it at all,

she knows it and she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said. And I'd like her to make the statement again, because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, the wife who sounded like a lovely woman, did not say what the congresswoman said and most people aren't too surprised to hear that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why even go there? Why? We don't want to put the families -- shouldn't the commander-in-chief understand not to put the families in the middle of this, what did you think of that.

PETER WEHNER, CONTIBUTING OPINION WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: I was appalled by it but not surprised. Of course he should step away, there's nothing to be gained by it. I think the key point is that Donald Trump can't step away from it. This is a person psychologically and emotionally not well. He is not stable. It's not just this incident, this is one of a series of incident there's data point after data point in the campaign and during the presidency. This is a person who has a disordered mind. He is impulsive and vindictive. Even if when it is on a self-interest not to do certain things like drag General Kelly son in to this, t drag President Obama in to this, get in to fight with the Khan family or go after john McCain, he continues to do it. There's no strategy. This say person not in command of his emotions and feelings and his actions.

LEMON: Listen. I don't take the words of General Hertling lightly, he said it is disgusting. I agree with him this is part of the job as a President and maybe we should consider that before we go to the polls.

WEHNER: Absolutely. I used in three administration.

LEMON: The last three Republican administration.

WEHNER: Yes this is extremely important, your commander-in-chief is sometimes your pastor in chief. Sometimes it is duty of the President to bring healing grace to people who are wounded and in pain and in sorrow. President Trump not only can't do that, he takes these wounds and makes them deeper and wider and creates more pain, not less. That is important because it's deeply painful for the families. It also tears at the civic and social fabric of a country.

LEMON: Why is he continuing to dig deeper and picking fights, Michael, do you understand it?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it is a partisan matter. As Peter was saying, Presidents from both parties have been inconsistent in moments of comforting people in tragedy and loss. For Donald Trump there's a consistent thing in his background if anything is consistent and that is that his initial thought is always to do the thing that he imagines will profit him. So that first question that he answered at the Rose Garden meeting on Monday was about what happened in Niger. And his response was to deflect a little bit and then go to this conversation about what President Obama may have done or not have done and what other Presidents did. And I'm not sure that he is ever aware of how he is being heard by people who don't agree with him.

[23:25:13] LEMON: Even people who do, even his own supporters, this is a bridge too far. Listen, I want to get this in because I think it's important. The Washington Post reporting tonight the President told one gold star father that he would write him a check for $25,000 after the man was killed, because the man's ex-wife was going to get the death benefit. What does that say about the president would make such an offer?

D'ANTONIO: That is a strange thing to respond with cash to someone's grieve. Also in that conversation what was reported by the father was they bonded over the issue of wives whom they divorced and how troublesome they could be. This is a very crass level to bond with another man at the moment they're talking about a deceased son. It's beyond our experience as humans who don't respond with money to every question and don't respond defensively with every inquiry and the President has a problem in both these areas.

LEMON: The post reported the check never came, but tonight this the White House putting out a statement saying the check is been sent. It is disgusting that the media, of course deflecting and it's always somebody else. The media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture made privately by the president and using it to advance the media bias agenda. You think that is a coincidence that - what do you think of deflecting - it is the media, the former President Obama, you know it is always somebody else, what do you think of that?

WEHNER: No there were other charitable gifts that weren't delivered until the post was going to go with the story. So it's really weird and odd that he would make the offer and then that he wouldn't do it until the post called him on it goes to a sort of deeper pathology. What strikes me about Donald Trump is there's nothing sacred for the man. And that almost everything he touches is degraded. And these people are in tremendous amount of pain and they need somebody to help come alongside them and instead he is making everything worse for them.

LEMON: Peter, Michael thank you so much, I appreciate your insights. American service members killed and military operations abroad, health care hangs in the balance, but the President finding time to tweet about the NFL and why players shouldn't kneel. What the commissioner has to say about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:32:18] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying players are not trying to be disrespectful to the flag when they kneel during the national anthem, but also saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISIONER: We believe everyone should stand for the national anthem that is an important part of our policy and it is also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in former NFL players Chris Valletta and Marvin Washington, good evening to both of you. Thanks for coming on. Chris I am going to start with you. President Trump took aim at the NFL on Twitter saying NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for our national anthem total disrespect for our great country. NFL too much talk, not enough action, stand for the national anthem. As someone who was on "The apprentice" when Donald Trump was a host, why do you think he is spending so much time on the NFL, do you think is a distraction to recent stumbles?

CHRIS VALLETTA, FORMER NFL PLAYER: No, I don't think he is trying to use it as a distraction. This has been around quite some time, since last year, I do think that President Trump is highlighting this because nationalism is eroding in this country. That is just what I see. That is my opinion. The reality is what the national anthem represents is the fact that 1.1 million American soldiers have given their lives in defense of the freedoms we love every single day. The freedoms that we enjoy and revere in this country. Those freedoms are celebrated by singing the national anthem. It is the one time all of us can stand shoulder to shoulder and proclaim and love the fact we live in this amazing country that affords us the right to protest whatever the heck we want.

LEMON: Doesn't it also afford you the right to protest and right of the first amendment and freedom of the speech and expression? If you use the same thing about nationalism and support the national anthem shouldn't you do so for the people who have the right to take a knee as well, to basically genuflect to bring attention to an important subject to them?

VALLETTA: It's just confusing, because you're protesting during the one thing that allows you the right to protest in the first place.

LEMON: Are you taking patriotism is eroding or nationalism. Nationalism is not necessarily a positive term.

VALLETTA: No, I look at nationalism as patriotism. What scares me the most, where we are 20 years from now, are we no longer singing the national anthem, because we're not going to deal with this protesting thing.

LEMON: Good question, why do we sing at a game. It is not a military event. If you play a national anthem when a soldier sadly comes home in a casket, everyone should stand for that. But at a sporting event, basketball, baseball, soccer match, we know we're on American soil who cares.

[23:35:15] VALLETTA: Because sports is recognized as one of the great unifiers of the world not necessarily the country or people.

LEMON: Great point, it's a great unifier but these men don't feel they have the same rights in a country that is supposed to be unified, the United States of America as everyone else is. VALLETTA: I'm not arguing the merits of their protest, I'm arguing

when they are doing it. They started not protesting the national anthem then don't kneel, stand up, protest another time, take a knee when you score a touchdown.

LEMON: how can you as an American citizen who believes in the first amendment and in the constitution and everything you say about the anthem, how can you tell another citizen how and when to protest? That is un-American.

VALLETTA: It is not un-American. I take offense to that. I'm a bold American.

LEMON: You may be bold but that is misguided, even if you dependent agree with it, you should fight for the right for others to do whatever they want. That is what the constitution said.

VALLETTA: Sure and at one point 1.1 million Americans had fought and died for the right for us to protest whatever we want.

LEMON: In North Korea they're told they have to stand.

VALLETTA: They're told not even to whisper.

LEMON: We're not in North Korea under a dictatorship.

VALLETTA: We celebrate that fact by at least standing shoulder to shoulder and recognizing we live in an amazing country.

LEMON: You're not making sense. This is not a dictatorship. Totalitarian country you can't tell people when to stand and when not to otherwise we would be living in North Korea and Kim Jong-un would be our leader.

VALLETTA: Thank god we're not.

LEMON: Exactly.

VALLETTA: Thank god we are not. All I am saying is the national anthem is represented by the time we get to celebrate that fact you and I disagree. Thank god we can sit here on public television -

LEMON: I'm not going to tell you as an American that you should stand or sit and tell you how to protest. That is the height of me being arrogant, you don't tell other Americans how to be Americans, how to protest, you don't tell me what to do with my body, what to do when some song is played. That is un-American.

VALLETTA: Some song?

LEMON: Yes.

VALLETTA: I just don't look at the national anthem as some song. I look at the national anthem as a symbol.

LEMON: Exactly it is a symbol. The living part of the national anthem is that people can stand or kneel or lay down or get a beer or get chicken wings or do whatever they want. That is what freedom is about.

VALLETTA: I agree but celebrating freedom is having this one moment we can all stand shoulder to shoulder with our hands on our heart and actually proclaim the fact we might disagree --

LEMON: That is when you do with the pledge of allegiance you don't have to do that with the national anthem, as matter of fact it's not in the rules of the NFL.

VALLETTA: So why don't you take a knee.

LEMON: Because that is how I feel. You may feel something else as an American, it is not my right to tell what you to do. That is what being an American and patriot is, to fight for the right for somebody else even when you disagree with them. Freedom of speech is for speech and actions you disagree with. That is why it is there. I got to let Marvin get in. I'm sorry, I've been going on. This is driving me crazy ever since it happened.

MARVIN WASHINGTON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I totally disagree with that. When would you like for us to protest. You know with black lives matter it was too violent. Should do non-violent protests and it was dying down until Donald Trump said hold my beer three weeks ago in Tennessee and reignited it. It's not about disrespecting the soldiers or the flag, it's about criminal justice reform. And addressing racial inequality. That is what it is about. My dad was a World War II vet and he is buried in the national cemetery right now but I bet you he would fight and go to war for these players to stand, sit or whatever they want. That is what it is about. You want it mandatory go to North Korea, there's plenty of countries it's mandatory.

VALLETTA: By the way I'm not arguing the merits of the protests.

WASHINGTON: Yes you are, where do you want us to protest?

(CROSSTALK)

VALLETTA: I actually think -

WASHINGTON: Where do you want us to protest?

VALLETTA: Take a knee when you hit the end zone.

WASHINGTON: OK. It's about making the comfortable uncomfortable. Where do you want us to protest?

[23:40:02] VALLETTA: All I am saying is don't do it during the national anthem. Do it elsewhere.

WASHINGTON: You can't say that. You're going down a slippery slope, if you believe in the first amendment you going to make them stand for the national anthem and the next President may say I don't like guys with tattoos and long hair, I demand they get their haircut and cover their tattoos. So he is going to come after football players and next he is going to come after you.

LEMON: Thanks you guys. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here is a possible violence in Gainesville Florida ahead of a speech tomorrow at the University of Florida by white nationalist, Richard Spencer. Earlier I spoke with the mayor of Gainesville Lauren Poe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR LAUREN POE, GAINESVILLE FLORIDA: We can't afford to play the word game. We need to protect public safety. We know on based on Charlottesville and on social media there are folks from the alt-right to come here and the term make Gainesville a battle ground has been put out there. We need to keep our citizens safe, and keep their right to free speech protected. That is what we're going to try to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Here to discuss CNN Political Commentator Angela Rye, Andre Bauer and Amanda Carpenter, hello everyone. Angela the mayor of Gainesville preparing for the worse. You say it's a manmade disaster. Explain that.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Charlottesville is case in point. If you have folks agitated and amped up and had been gene up by leadership in this country, I think it is manmade it is a situation where we know what this country was established upon. I think many of the reasons why folks are taking a knee per your last segment has everything to do with white supremacy in this country and it is manmade. These are choices. If white supremacy is a choice and folks can lean into this ideology you can also choose to lean into the violent rhetoric aspect of this idea.

LEMON: Are you saying they shouldn't be allowed to, because that is also a violation of their first amendment rights?

RYE: I think there's a difference when speech incites violence. I think that is where you have an exemption that should be applied.

LEMON: What do you think of that Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I just don't think it is a free speech issue. I think the University of Florida should be free to decline or to host and give Richard Spencer a platform. Listen, he is not a student, he is causing the students to be in danger. The school had to spend more money on security that Richard Spencer is paying --

LEMON: $500,000 Amanda.

CARPENTER: Yes I want the University of Florida to make the academic case why Richard Spencer needs to come to campus, because other universities have declined. If someone really wants to talk it about their ideas should be in an academic setting where it could be debated intelligently and students are taught how it's dangerous. What's more offensive Richard Spencer is picking his media of event. I can't imagine why University of Florida is letting him do that. If he gets to speak, because of his first amendment rights should also be afforded to journalists who could cover it in an intelligent way.

LEMON: What do you think Andre?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As a tax payer thinking the federal government is going to spend $500,000 to protect this individual, I think the President of the University of Florida made a good statement and said don't give this guy any attention. Shut the fire down by not giving it attention. The more people that turn out and more the media, you're show is highly viewed, he is getting millions of dollars of free publicity, quite frankly I didn't know anything about it until this segment tonight and did homework on the individual. It encourages people to follow him and give him a bigger platform than he really deserves.

LEMON: OK. Listen I got to take a break. We are going to talked about this. One school name after confederate leader changing its name. We will discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:53:03] LEMON: Back now with my panel. We have been talking recently about the debate over the commemoration of confederate leaders and public spaces. Jefferson Davis, Ivy Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi changing its name next year. Oh my gosh. Barak Obama Ivy elementary school. That is according to the "Washington Post." the process started when one of the elementary school students had a conversation with her mom about Jefferson Davis. That is going to be a firestorm or it already is.

RYE: I love it. I think it's so good. If this country is really about pursuing the American dream and ensuring that we understand our history so we don't repeat it, this is a great way to do it. There were some really treacherous aspects of Jefferson Davis' character. What a better way to rename it than with the first Black President.

LEMON: Amanda?

CARPENTER: You know, I think it's hard -- this is the reason why with the monument issues polls really well. It's hard to go back and change institutions that people feel attached to, especially if it's like a road name, a school. So if you went to Jefferson Davis elementary and that is -- there's a lot of people that don't think about it and all of a sudden it's taken away, it's just a little bit sad for some people. And I understand the need to change it, but I do wish the school -- I wonder if they made that consideration or if they tried to made a nod to preserve some of it so people don't feel that loss even though it probably is time to update things.

LEMON: I know you don't agree with that, but I've got to get Andre in. What do you think? BAUER: I just don't believe in revisionist history. I think if you

try to do away with history that you don't get -- to make sure you don't forget it and there are things that we should not be proud of in this country but to wipe it out and not teach people about it and immediately react I think is wrong of the and of course I definitely don't want you to do away with Andre Bauer intersection and so I believe in keeping the monument --

RYE: Fake news.

BAUER: Remembering why we don't have them and fall into that trap again.

[23:55:04] LEMON: You have --

RYE: I do. I'm just going to be really quick. So I don't really care if slavery and their abolishment makes people sad. Amanda, because you make it fluffy and feel good doesn't make it more digestible to me and my ancestors. I've got to disagree with you on that.

CARPENTER: We'll disagree. Things like this, changing institutions is hard. I'm not saying they shouldn't be updated. Frankly, when I moved to Virginia, I thought it was a little weird that they did have Jefferson Davis highway, but when people say its JD highway for so long, just changing it can be hard, especially when you change it to the name of a President that a lot of people didn't think had a successful presidency. But I understand why it's a nice nod to -- you give a nod to the first black President. I don't know enough about the --

BAUER: But what if 50 years from now, people say we don't like him.

LEMON: It's not about liking. It's about what they represented. I've got to go.

BAUER: Caused a bad problem.

LEMON: I've got to go.

CARPENTER: Not as bad as Trump.

BAUER: Good evening.

LEMON: This is CNN tonight with Don Lemon. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching us. I will see you right back here tomorrow.

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