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CNN TONIGHT

Trump, the Press Makes Me More UnCivil Than I Am; Uranium Sale To Russia. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired October 25, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Using's his words.

LANZA: So when he is out there defend, by the way, he is defending the electoral majority that brought him into the presidency and the White House.

LEMON: So we shouldn't put his own words on TV.

LANZA: You should always use his own words, use them in the proper context and understand what he is doing.

LEMON: What is the context BS or mocking the reporter? What's the context of that?

LANZA: Well, the context is the American public is frustrated with Washington, D.C., they think it's broken and the last 30 years has failed a lot of these communities in Wisconsin...

LEMON: I don't understand, Brian, I don't want to be rude, but I don't understand what that has to do with him saying nasty things and mocking people and coming up with nicknames. What does that have to do with that? If the press points that out, how is that getting the perception wrong? How is that portraying him in a negative light? Isn't he doing, in essence, doing that to himself? If he didn't want that perception out there, then he wouldn't do it.

LANZA: I think what you have is sort of two parallel tracks here. You have him manifesting the frustration of the country which is what he is doing and he is speak the language of the Americans with the frustrations with Washington, D.C. And you're trying to layer another component on here that is sort of less than sophisticated.

LEMON: I don't see a lot of people mocking reporters with disabilities and calling people funny names a lot, but that is just me. Scott, you don't get a chance to get in I'm sorry because we're way into the next show. I go have to say to you, happy birthday in about an hour or so. And Angela Rye as well, happy birthday to both you. I'll see you next time.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Don.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you. LEMON: This is CNN tonight I'm Don Lemon, it's a little past 11:00.

We are live in breaking news in the Russian investigation. We're learning that last summer during the campaign WikiLeaks Julian Assange was contacted by a Cambridge Analytica and company link to the Trump campaign seeking access to e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server. That is according to four sources familiar with the outreach -- with the outreach. Also Julian Assange today confirming he was contacted by saying WikiLeaks did not cooperate. And those missing 30,000 e-mails well they have never materialized. Also tonight white NAACP is warning black passengers to be careful when they fly with American airlines. The incidents add up to a pattern of targeting African Americans.

Let's get to the breaking news. Here to discuss that is CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, Bob Cusack editor in chief of the Hill and Betsy Woodruff who first break the Cambridge Analytica story for the Daily Beast. Good to have all of you on, thank you for joining us. Betsy, you first. Tell us what you've uncovered tonight about Alexander Knicks who heads Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: That I learned is that Alexander Knicks told associates that he reached out to Julian Assange during the campaign to ask Julian Assange, in short, to offer the services of Cambridge Analytica to Julian Assange for the purposes of publishing or distributing those 33,000 missing e-mails that Republicans so badly wanted to find. Alexander Knicks also said, according to my sources, that Julian Assange rebuffed him. After I reported that, I got a comment from Julian Assange who told me that that was correct, that he did, indeed, rebuff outreach from Cambridge Analytica. In the time since my story broke, the Trump campaign has pushed back against it in kind of an oblique way suggested they relied more on the RNC for their data needs. However, the Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica up words of $5 million over the course of the election cycle. It's hard to distance yourself from a company when you've given them that much cash.

LEMON: So how are Trump donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon all connected to this?

WOODRUFF: Robert and Rebekah Mercer are basically the majority shareholders or owners of Cambridge Analytica. Steve Bannon for years was the top outside gatekeeper to the Mercers. And Alexander Knicks e-mailed according to CNN's reporting Bekah Mercer saying that he had these communications with Julian Assange. Bannon was previously on the board of Cambridge Analytica and at least at one point he had a share of the company worth between $1 million and $5 million. What you have to understand when we talk about Bannon, the Mercers, and the Trump campaign, is that these are relationships that have been in place for years. The Mercers are, it's a father-daughter duo, and they're billionaires. Robert Mercer has a health fund that is extraordinarily lucrative and he is been investigating in years in the kind of conservative causes that Steve Bannon has championed. They've developed a relationship and then when Bannon got on board with the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, the Mercers's support was right there as well. Bannon and the Mercers go hand in hand. To so to find out that Alexander Knicks who was the CEO of Cambridge Analytica a company for all purposes we can assume the Mercers control reach out to Julian Assange brings together all these relationships in a way that is kind of, it's fascinating to behold.

[23:05:11] LEMON: Jim Sciutto your turn now. I want to play President Trump during a press conference. This is July 27, 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens. That will be next.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The timing of that statement raising questions tonight because just two days after the Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $100,000, how much in total did the Trump campaign give to Cambridge Analytica?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some $6 million over the course of the final weeks of the campaign. $5 million in one go, payments quarter of a billion dollars here and there and as they say sooner or later you're talking about real money. There was certainly a financial relationship there. To this point, you know, until the investigation got into pace, there was no, there was implications, there were public statements from Trump for instance going the Russians to get those e-mails. There were tweets from a Roger Stone in advance of some of the WikiLeaks releases that seemed to imply fore knowledge of those releases. Until those investigations got underway that was all you had.

Now at this point have you this e-mail reaching out to Julian Assange, rebuffed apparently but at least reaching out to Julian Assange so showing something of an interest to work with Assange on those e- mails. You have the June 2016 Trump tower meeting where there was offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton and that was something that Donald Trump Jr. was aware of when he took that meeting. Whether those bits of information add up to something that begins to get you to the category of collusion or cooperation, whatever you want, it's not clear that they have that yet. But a few months ago had you nothing. At this point you at least have an e-mail here, a contact there that showed at a minimum some interest.

LEMON: Yes. I want to ask you, Bob, today the Trump campaign released a statement about data analytics and it reads in part here it says we, as a campaign made the choice to rely on the voter data of the Republican national committee to help elect President Donald J. Trump. Any claims that data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false. So, Bob, the statement does not address contacts between Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks and contradicts what Jared Kushner the President's son-in-law told Forbes magazine in November 2016, here's what he said. He said we spent a lot of time figuring out how to build a bridge between the Trump campaign and the RNC so we can analyze the resources they are available. We found they had a pretty good ground force that we could leverage. We used some of our best practices and some of their best practices. We kept both data operations going simultaneously and a lot shared in between them. And by doing that, we could scale to a pretty good operation. So, Bob, how do you reconcile the two?

BOB CUSACK, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE HILL: I think it's difficult to reconcile them, Don. I mean, I think the best he is reporting is very important. I also think that we're seeing the nastiest campaign in history and we're learning more details about it both from Hillary Clinton and the DNC, funding, the dossier report, as well as this new revelation. And I think, remember, these are foreign nationals. Now you can, you know, you can compare well British spy compared to the Russians. And that is why I think Mueller's investigation is so important to find this stuff out. And really, you know, if you think about it, all sides try to get opposition research. But the statements, the public statements from both sides suggesting kind of hiding it. That is the real problem, Don.

LEMON: Just own up to it.

CUSACK: Exactly.

LEMON: The Clinton campaign should own up to it, the Trump campaign should own up to. We do opposition research, we pay companies do that and that is just how it's done, right?

CUSACK: Bingo. That is why the cover-up is always bigger than the crime itself.

LEMON: Betsy, what open questions still remain tonight?

WOODRUFF: What will be interesting to find out is the specific day that Alexander Knicks sent this e-mail. My understanding, I don't think it's widely confirmed what day that was, it will be fascinating to get a sense of at what specific point in the month of I believe July that he sent that communication to Bekah Mercer. That could give us a hint as to what might have been motivating that. It will be fascinating to see the actual complete text of that e-mail. My understanding is that no media outlet has reported the complete text. That may provide us more clues into the way that the Mercers and Knicks were thinking about any potential relationship or work that they hope to engage in with Julian Assange.

[23:10:06] Of course, on top of this another big question is how the plethora of investigations into the Trump-Russia question respond to this new information. There's a number of investigations on and off Capitol Hill at both the state and the federal level. This piece of information, it's not likely that every investigator in every investigation has access to this information.

My guess, this is a guess, but my guess is it was probably news to some of the people working on the Trump-Russia project. What they do with it, if they decide to dig in more deeply on the Cambridge Analytica question, if they decide to start looking at the work that the Mercer did for the Trump campaign, that will be a big question and something that I'll certainly be keeping an eye on in my reporting. LEMON: We hope you'll come back and share it with us. Jim, before we

go I have to ask you about what the President said today about Watergate in the modern age. Let's listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well I think the uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done so underhanded with tremendous amounts of money being passed, I actually think that is Watergate modern age.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do we know about this? Tell us about that?

SCIUTTO: Well, this relates to a deal whereby uranium operation was sold to Russia during the time that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. And the allegation is that at the same time there were donations that went to the Clinton foundation. So the question was, was that an attempt by Russia to influence positively the then serving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help make that deal happen? That is what, that is what Donald Trump is referencing and, you know, the Watergate reference probably something that he'll reference because that term has been used to describe Russian interference in the election and whether there were questions about Trump campaigns ties to that interference and the election. So it's a story with still many questions that haven't been answered.

LEMON: Yes. Bob, is Watergate an overstatement?

CUSACK: I think if anything Watergate, until we know the proof, I think is an overstatement. But at the same time this gives the Republican Party and specifically President Trump the ability to muddy the waters on Russia, because of the uranium deal. And questions are ongoing and people like Senator Chuck Grassley say very respective legislator who's gone after many administrations. I think the other thing here is, these investigations are going to be going on for a long time and there's going to be a lot of fatigue. We could see investigation going well into 2018 as well as 2019.

LEMON: Oh boy. Joy. Thank you all. I appreciate it. When we come back, more on our breaking news. What will the revelations about the Trump campaign and the Cambridge Analytica mean for the Russia investigation?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:17:09] LEMON: We're learning more tonight about the Trump campaign and the Cambridge Analytica story. The company that be contacted Julian Assange and WikiLeaks about Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails. What will all this mean for the Russian investigation? I want to bring in former CIA operative Evan McMullin who ran for President. CNN political commentator Jack Kingston and a former Congressman and senior adviser to the Trump campaign. Gentleman, good evening to you. Evan, you first. I want to get your reaction to this breaking news. At the head of Cambridge Analytica, a company linked to the Trump campaign reached out to Assange about missing e-mails. Assange has confirmed this on his twitter account. What's the significance of this?

EVAN MCMULLIN, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's take a step back and remember what WikiLeaks is, ok. WikiLeaks is a Russian proxy that has stolen classified information from the U.S. Government previously and distributed it to the world. That is what WikiLeaks is. You then sort of step back into the campaign and remember Donald Trump's statements about encouraging WikiLeaks and how he loves WikiLeaks, he would say it over and over in the campaign. Now you have this data firm reaching out to WikiLeaks for help in acquiring information about Donald Trump's primary opponent. His main opponent. I mean, that is, again, we're talking about a Russian proxy that is stolen classified information from the U.S. Government and distributed it previously. These are the kind of people they were willing to deal with during the campaign. It's unacceptable and others will decide about the legal ramifications but it should be politically unacceptable for any campaign do such a thing.

LEMON: Jack, what's your reaction?

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I think WikiLeaks is a little bit like James Comey. Both parties have cussed them depending on who they were embarrassing. As we all know they released a whole lot of e-mails along the way that world leaders had about each other and great embarrassment on the world stage. But, again, Republicans and Democrats equally cursed and praised them depending on who is ox they were are going. I think in this situation what the Trump people are saying or general population was, well if Hillary Clinton is saying she is destroyed her e-mails or if the FBI isn't going to release her e-mails or whatever happened to them, maybe WikiLeaks is the source to go to. And, indeed, they turned out to be the ones drip, drip, drip, that put out the e-mails that I think did have some influence on the campaign.

LEMON: But still no 30,000 e-mails by the way. No one has recovered or seen or put out 33,000 e-mails.

KINGSTON: But I think to answer to it, I think this is all so complicated at this point, and there is some investigation fatigue, as you talked about in your earlier panel that I think people are saying, you know what?

[23:20:05] I can't keep up with it all, there's just too many names and too many things are going, too many accusations and there hasn't been a smoking gun for either side on either Party. In the meanwhile if I'm going to get my taxes cut or new healthcare options or North Korea's going to misbehave that is where I'm going to put my time and worry, because that is what affects my life more than the investigations that are going on in Washington, D.C. I don't think it's going to have a huge --

MCMULLIN: That is exactly the kind of thing Trump surrogates would want the American public to think. That somehow --

KINGSTON: They're.

MCMULLIN: No, somehow their ability to choose their leaders unimpeded infringed by a foreign power is somehow less important than tax breaks. Give me a break. The other thing is this, Jack. At the beginning of your comments you tried to portray WikiLeaks as somewhat of a political football that sort of each side sort of liked and doesn't like.

KINGSTON: It's not a political football.

MCMULLIN: That is absolutely nonsense.

KINGSTON: Well, I've been an elected office. What did you serve in Evan?

MCMULLIN: I mean, I know it's a political football, because I lived in a political environment. Were you in congress? Were you in the state legislature?

KINGSTON: How do you know what political people are thinking about? You ran for office once and I have great respect four doing that, but that doesn't mean.

MCMULLIN: Jack.

KINGSTON: That you're an expert on what's not political football.

MCMULLIN: I did not serve as an elected member of congress, but I was the chief policy Director for the house of Republicans, I know quite a lot about the way they think and the way people like you think.

KINGSTON: Then you know WikiLeaks was a political football.

MCMULLIN: Let me tell you something. There are plenty of people, most people who understand that WikiLeaks is a Russian proxy that was stealing classified information from the U.S. Government and distributing it all around the world. And there were plenty of people that used to have your position and it's shameful that you don't uphold this kind of perspective, there are plenty of people who all along said that WikiLeaks was a problem and never said that WikiLeaks was a good thing. So don't gas light the American people about this?

KINGSTON: No, Evan.

MCMULLIN: This is a proxy of a Russian intelligence service that is stolen classified information repeatedly from the U.S. Government and distribute today around the world and here you saying it's in the eyes of the beholder.

LEMON: I can ask you something, Jack.

MCPIKE: Politicians smirk about WikiLeaks when it's embarrassing the other side.

LEMON: Why are Evans bona fees any less credible than Donald Trump? He was never elected to office but he is the President of the United States. So why is he, is Evan any less credible than the President of the United States who never held a political office? KINGSTON: Because, Don, Evan was saying that WikiLeaks was not

considered a political football, which is absolutely inaccurate. Politicians in Washington, D.C. have smirked about WikiLeaks. Not saying it's a good thing. I think we all in fact universally believe WikiLeaks has been evil. But at the same time there has been smirking when they've embarrassed opponents of either Party. That is the reality of it.

MCMULLIN: I don't know that. That may be true in some cases shall but there are other patriots out there who never went down that road. And, Jack, you take personal shots at me? Why not focus on the substance? Is the substance so troubling and difficult for you to address that...

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: There are plenty of patriots out there.

MCMULLIN: There are and the fact that you deny they exist.

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: Has anybody said anything on this panel to make you think they're not patriots?

MCMULLIN: That is absolutely ridiculous. There are patriots out there who simply understand what WikiLeaks is and have never accepted it as a good thing at all.

LEMON: Let's get back to the subject matter at hand, because I want to ask you this, Jack, because the Trump campaign is saying they only relied on the information from the RNC. But then we've also learned that after President Trump won the nomination, his campaign started a series of payments totally nearly $6 million to Cambridge Analytica and they're denying any contact with Cambridge Analytica or that they use Cambridge Analytica's material. That seems like a strong tie to the company, if you didn't use their material why are you paying them $6 million?

KINGSTON: It's a legitimate question. I don't know the answer to it. I think that that is a question that the congressional committees need to find out. But here's what I'm also saying. Is there's so many things like this on either side going in any direction about mule, he about uranium too, about the Clinton foundation, about the Trump connections, that I think the American people, patriotic American people, Evan, are do have some fatigue about all these investigations and I think what they're worried about more is their mortgage, their jobs, their paycheck, their taxes. And I think that that is where their focus is. So the question is where did all these investigations lead to? I'm not certain that they're going lead to anywhere. I think both parties are putting too much faith in these investigations shifting the outcome of the next election. And I think the better thing to do is focus on the policies.

LEMON: Evan --

MCMULLIN: So --

LEMON: Let me just say this, and I'll let you respond. I agree with you Jack that people have fatigue, but it doesn't mean that the investigation shouldn't happen or that the media shouldn't cover it or that the people who are involved in it shouldn't make sure that it comes to -- they see fruition of something from it. Yes, people are concerned about their everyday lives. But just because they're not concerned with it doesn't mean that these investigations should not take place. It would be a dereliction of duty for journalists not to cover it and also for investigators for, four intelligence communities and our politicians not to follow up on it.

KINGSTON: I'm in agreement with you on that.

LEMON: Evan.

MCMULLIN: People are fatigued, jack's got that right. But they're fatigued because they have a President and his surrogates who continue to gas light them about the fact that Russia engaged in a multifaceted, expansive effort to influences our politics during the election. People like you, Jack, I'm sorry to say and the President continued to mislead the American people and muddy the water. And, yes, it causes fatigue and, yes, we should be focused on simplifying the tax code, lowering taxes, a range of other things, improving the healthcare system in our country. But, by the way, what has this President done on any of those? He is not only --

KINGSTON: I'm glad you went there.

MCMULLIN: He is done very little.

KINGSTON: Let me say this, 1.2 million new jobs, a stock market that has added 5 trillion in new money to the economy going to 23,000 on the low --

(CROSSTALK)

MCMULLIN: So they're doing very well. What about the people who are living paycheck to paycheck?

KINGSTON: You asked me a question, you have to yield the time. The highest consumer confidence in over a decade, these things are real. Taken off the regulatory burdens to unshackle them will American business.

LEMON: How much credit do you give the former administration that went years of a stock market that was increase, the jobs that were doing better in the economy doing better, how much of that does this President contribute and you to the former administration that helped put him in this position?

KINGSTON: Don, I would say that they do get some credit, there's no question about it. But as we all know, and we can admit whether you're new in office or well, I mean, if you're just elected you often get credit for a bridge that the other congressmen or administration built, but you were the one there for the ribbon cutting. And unfortunately that is kind of the rules of the game. But, let me say this, for example on ISIS. ISIS now down to 3 percent of Iraq and 5 percent of Syria. We would all agree as in a good thing. A lot of this was started under Obama. Now it was accelerated under Trump, but, you know, the current administration tends to get more credit than the previous administration. Just like when the stock market went up, under Obama a lot of it you could say it started to turn around with tarp under President Bush but Obama gets the credit for it. And that is the way it is. But I do think that among adults we can admit that previous administrations certainly had a hand in whatever success --

LEMON: I think that is a bit of revisionist's history not to dig in on you but I think you (inaudible) history a little bit. Because you remember when Obama was in office and people were saying this economy was going off a cliff, they had emergency meetings before he was even inaugurated to try to figure out how to save the economy so I am not sure what started under Bush, where that information comes from but you have to give Obama credit, it was the worst recession since the great depression that we were digging ourselves out of a hole.

MCMULLIN: Look, there's nothing wrong with giving President Trump credit for things that he is done.

KINGSTON: You're absolutely right.

LEMON: And confidence in the market, absolutely.

MCMULLIN: Look, but this is stuff that is just basic for a Republican President. A Republican President should be hard on terrorists. A Republican President should have accelerated the war against ISIS so, great. A Republican President should have fixed problems that we had with regulation that was impeding the business community and the business environment of the United States. This stuff is basic for a Republican President.

There are other hard issues like the fact that we have expanding automation and A.I that is displacing jobs, we have a healthcare system that doesn't work for everybody. These are the harder issues and we've got a majority, the Republicans have a majority in congress, they control both chambers, they control the White House. Where are they in handling these bigger issues? So you can, Jack, you can point to, well, Donald Trump is focused on these other issues that are important to the American people and we shouldn't worry about the Russia thing, I disagree with that. But you can make that argument in a more compelling well. If he were actually moving major pieces of legislation and he isn't.

LEMON: I got to ask you Jack and if you can answer quickly because I've over time here. Listen, as I said, it all should be investigate and if there's something there we'll find out. But why do Republicans and Trump supporters put Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the same level? You realize she is not President of the United States and has never been President of the United States.

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: You know, part of it I'm going to blame on Clinton and part of it I'm going to attribute to us. The fact that she is out there frankly is helpful for our Party, it reminds people why Donald Trump is President. She is helpful to us politically. But the other part is she just doesn't go away. This book tour, she is on TV every night and getting cursed or getting praised and so, you know...

LEMON: She is not President of the United States. There are a lot of people that are on television every night that George Bush gave a speech the other day, Barack Obama gave a speech or whatever. She is on television every night, but she has no political power. She is not President of the United States.

KINGSTON: You know, that Barack Obama and George Bush have kind of, I think, very tastefully stepped back.

LEMON: Are you hearing what I'm saying? She is not never nor has she ever been President of the United States. Now she is someone who is selling a book and on a book tour.

KINGSTON: But she is extremely significant in history. Her husband was President, she was a U.S. Senator, she was a Secretary of State, and I think very involved with some Russian stuff that we're going to have to investigate now.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate if the when we come back the NAACP warning African Americans to steer clear of American airlines. Why they say the airline could be racially biased.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:53] LEMON: The NAACP warning African-American travelers to think twice about flying on American airlines, that is after noticing when it calls a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by black passengers. Let's discuss now. CNN contributor Cornell William Brooks, former President of the NAACP. Thank you so much for joining us. So walk us through.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here, Don.

LEMON: Walk us through what happened that caused the NAACP to issue this travel advisory.

WILLIAM BROOKS: So according to the NAACP's statement, they received a number of complaints from passengers, also had some interaction with flight attendants around the discourteous, disrespectful treatment of African-American passengers. In the wake of these complaints, the NAACP decided to issue a travel advisory or warning. Not unlike with the state department does in the case where there's concern about how Americans are going to be treated if they travel to foreign countries.

And so the NAACP has really taken a pretty strong step. In other words, American airlines is nation's, nations and the world's largest airline and world's largest civil rights organization is saying the African-American customers are representing in terms of consumer spending $1.3 trillion of the American economy to spend their money elsewhere. So this is a very serious step and the NAACP has made it clear that they are receiving complaints and that they're continuing their investigation.

LEMON: Let me read the statements since you brought it up. This is the CEO of American airlines releasing the statement and it reads in part it says of all the really important things our team members do and that list is long, bringing people together is at the top. We fly over borders, walls, and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientation, so we were disappointed to learn of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP regarding American airlines.

It states that it seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination. That is a mission that the people of American airlines endorse and facilitate every day. We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns. So, Cornell, what measures do you think American airlines will have to institute for the NAACP to lift its advisory?

WILLIAM BROOKS: So as both the former CEO of the NAACP and as a civil rights lawyer, one of the things I would imagine is important for them do first as the CEO has indicated, sit down with the leadership of the NAACP to determine what kinds of complaints they have received, how many complaints they've received, the kind of treatment that has been described, number one.

Number two, conducting some kind of internal assessment in terms of not only determining what kinds of complaints that they're receiving from their end, both as an airline, also looking at complaints that may have gone to the government, but also determining whether or not their internal controls, their internal measures in terms of making sure customers are treated fairly and in a nondiscriminatory way that those are indeed strong.

Number three I think it's critically important to look at diversity within the company, that so to say that to make sure that your suppliers are diverse, that your leadership is diverse, that your management is diverse. Why? Because to the extent that you have diverse management, diverse frontline, diverse board, it ensures that your customers are treated in a way that reflects the values of inclusiveness, the values of customer service in a way that ensures that all customers are treated fairly.

[23:40:02] And so this is not merely a matter of responding to only the complaints you received, but making sure that complaints that you have not received that may represent a problem that you've not yet considered or fully considered it is, in fact, addressed. Critically important.

LEMON: Cornell Brooks, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much. When we come back, our questions about a major airline's treatment of black passengers, symptoms of a bigger issue in the United States? We're going break it down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The NAACP warns black travelers away from a major U.S. Airlines, what does that tell us about the state of race relations in America today?

[23:45:06] Here to discuss. CNN political commentators Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson. So Marc, this is a serious move by a respected organization against the largest airline in the world. You say President and his supporters have made the environment right for hate incidents like this, explain that.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think America has made this, this is not new. Before you get to a Trump presidency you still have racist airlines, racist restaurants, and racist corporations. This is what it means to be black in America every day, but I think part of what President Trump's America has done is embolden people who may be secretly racist and privately racist to articulate that sentiment much more publicly. I don't blame Donald Trump per se but it's the moment. It's what this moment represents and what this moment excused.

LEMON: Ben, "The New York Times" describes each episode in detail. Reverend William Barber removed from a flight after exchanging words with two white passengers. Baldwin who had first class tickets was moved to the back of the plane while her white friend was allowed to stay up front. Tamika Mallory was removed from a plane after questioning why her seat assignment had been changed. And Brianna Williams and her child were ordered off a flight by the pilot after arguing about with him about her stroller. All of them feel like they were racially discriminated against. Why shouldn't the NAACP call out American airlines?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, if they think this is based around race, fine. I also just think, though, this tells us about the state of the monopoly of the flying business in America right now. They don't give a crap about anybody and they'll move anyone.

LEMON: I thought you were going to say a bad word there.

FERGUSON: I'm not going to do it. I'm not going there. You had a famous white actress recently that complained about how she booked airfare in first class and she got moved out of that seat back into coach. The bottom line is, the airlines suck. Their customer service is awful. They'll drag you off a plane. They purposely overbook flights. They'll fake cancel a flight saying there's a problem with the airplane when they realize they can combine two flights to the same city in one destination. They do it all the time. I've been taken off a flight before, because it was oversold against my will where I paid for that flight.

Were they racial profiling me? No. There are horrible airlines like American that do not care about any of their passengers. They don't. They say they do. And they'll put up a nice advertisement saying it's the friendly skies, no, it's the skies from hell. And this airlines do not care. They're unregulated by the government. You should never be able to oversell an airplane on purpose knowing that you might have people not show up so you can make even more money, but the government allows them do this, which means if everyone shows up, somebody always get screwed and that is the airline industry. LEMON: Mark, what, were you going to say?

LAMONT HILL: I love when Republicans are crying out for more regulation and more protections against poor people.

FERGUSON: I fly all the time, they suck put got to admit they suck, though.

LAMONT HILL: Right. But this classic Republican --

LEMON: Let him finish, Ben.

LAMONT HILL: It's like it affects me I want regulation. But, again, this is what happens in American racial conversations. It goes from being a conversation about race to a colorblind everybody gets screwed by airlines conversation. Both could be simultaneously true. Airlines can suck across the board, that may be true, but it can also be simultaneously true that there's an increased burden and increased pressure on black passengers that increased levels of discomfort placed on black passengers and that is what so many of us are talking about. I can't tell you how many times I get on an airplane and I get different treatment than my white counterparts. First class whether I am flying whatever it is, it can still happen. It's important for us to not lose sight of the racial dimension of this because every day black people get different treatment.

FERGUSON: Look.

LAMONT HILL: One more second. And we're always told it is not just you it happens to everybody, it's not because you're black it's because they're rude or poor.

LEMON: I got to get to the break.

FERGUSON: If there's a place where anyone's discriminated against it's the airlines.

LEMON: Ben, Marc stick around. When we come back a growing controversy over a poll that shows a shocking 55 percent of white Americans think their race faces discrimination in America.

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[23:53:11] LEMON: A new poll shows that the majority of white Americans believe there's discrimination against their race. Back with me now, Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson. So, Marc, don't start already.

LEMON: I haven't gotten, go on.

LAMONT HILL: White people are amazing. Do your job. I don't want to mess up your job, man. Go ahead.

LEMON: This is what a new NPR study shows. 92 percent of African Americans feel they're discriminated against, right, and then it says 55 percent of white people think that America discriminate against them as well. Go on.

LAMONT HILL: We can't get nothing. We can't even get discrimination like to ourselves. Look, the problem is often times when you are in a position of privilege and power, when that privilege and power is taken away, even a little bit, what equality feels like oppression, discrimination to you. White people are not oppressed for being white. White people systematically disenfranchised for being white. White people face all kinds of burdens for a lot of reasons, part of it means to be human, but whiteness is not an impediment to social mobility, prosperity, to success, happiness. As a systemic issue it doesn't happen to white people.

LEMON: Ben?

FERGUSON: I would say go talk to any kid that is trying to get into school right now and ask how hard it is to get into certain medical schools or law schools specifically, because they are white. You have had several students that have purposely mismarked their forms after not getting into schools to see if they could get in as under a minority or other marking, and it worked for them, because they were discriminated against people they were white. I also think.

LEMON: That is 55 percent of the white population?

[23:55:00] FERGUSON: No. I said some. I said some. Come on. Be intellectually honest. I said some at the very beginning. You heard me say it. I said all.

LEMON: It says 55 percent of white people...

FERGUSON: I said some young people would I that. The other thing is there is a big racial divide in this country right now and I think there's a lot of people that do profile of all races. Right now it's pretty clear in this country there's a large divide, and I'm sure that it's not crazy for some people that are white to think am I being profiled, because I am white? And there's a lot of people that are talking about white privilege and that you get everything and there's some people that want to stick it to white people. I think that is also very clear. That is what a divided America looks like.

LEMON: Marc, I'll give you the last word.

LAMONT HILL: First of all, white privilege isn't about saying white people get everything. It's about saying that there are certain things you get in life just for being white is that we should all have. Are this is what it comes down to. Oftentimes when white people don't have complete power and control over a situation, they read their situation as somehow on oppressive situation. I don't doubt that 55 percent of white people feel discriminated against. I think there's something wildly irrational that 55 percent of white people think they're being discriminated against, because they are white. That is simply untrue.

FERGUSON: Is it widely irrational that 94 percent of African Americans think they're discriminated against when in reality it's not even close to that in America? We are a free country? You both laugh, because I'm white and I mentioned the obvious statistic there that is 94 percent are...

LAMONT HILL: No.

LEMON: I'm laughing because I don't see where one has to do with the other. I'm not doubting that you feel that way. Yes.

FERGUSON: You can't just say that one group is allowed to have these feelings and the other group because they're white.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You say one (inaudible) yes. I've got to go.

LAMONT HILL: I'd love to have the last word. Oh, man, see, Ben took my last word, that is what white people do.

FERGUSON: That's is right. I'm the only one guy on the show tonight, the token white.

LEMON: I got to go. Good night.

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