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Trump Spars With Civil Rights Icon, Intel, NATO, Merkel, China; Representative John Lewis: Trump Not A "Legitimate" President; Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Speaks At MLK Breakfast. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 16, 2017 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. "AT THIS HOUR" with Berman and Bolduan starts now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. Great to see all of you. The start of the most consequential week of Donald Trump's life. Things you would expect on the to-do list, wrap up your inaugural speech, round out your cabinet, and lay the groundwork for your first big policy announcements.

What you would not expect to be on the very same to-do-list is to get into a fight with the CIA director, a civil rights icon, and European allies. But that's exactly how the president-elect is kicking off his Monday.

BERMAN: So first, Donald Trump versus the intelligence community. The outgoing CIA Chief John Brennan told Fox News that the president- elect should trust his agency when it comes to matters including Russia, and that Mr. Trump's words can affect national security. The director also didn't care for the president-elect comparing intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany.


JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: What I do found outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany. I do take great umbrage at that and there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.


BERMAN: The president-elect responded suggesting that Director Brennan might have been behind the leak of the unsubstantiated dossier about Donald Trump.

A lot to talk about with CNN's Sara Murray from outside Trump Tower. Sara, what's the latest from Fifth Avenue?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, John, Donald Trump is a number of spars as you pointed out. It's clear his fraught relationship with the intelligence community is not thawing whatsoever over the weekend. But that was just one of his many controversies.

The other was his fight with civil rights icon and congressman, John Lewis. It's questionable timing, today is Martin Luther King Day. Let's take a listen to what really set Donald Trump off, what John Lewis had to say about Trump's victory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have forged relationships with many presidents. Do you plan on trying to forgery a relationship with Donald Trump?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be hard, it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.


MURRAY: So you hear him there questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidency and Trump, as he is wont to do, took to Twitter to fire back. He said that Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested, rather than falsely complaining about the election results, all talk, talk, talk, no action or results, sad.

Now in addition to maligning the congressman's districts which has its share of wealthy residents as well as its share of poverty, there are also a number of Democrats who are deeply offended by the notion of Donald Trump calling a civil rights icon "all talk and no action." As a result, two dozen Democrats say they will be skipping Donald Trump's inauguration. Back to you, guys.

BOLDUAN: More to come on that for sure, Sara. Thank you so much. Great to see you.

On that front, soon Congressman John Lewis may be speaking for the first time since this back and forth with the president-elect over the weekend. Right now he's at an MLK Breakfast in Miami.

A lot of folks have been taking to the microphone and speaking. We're keeping an eye on this event. It seems to be running a little behind schedule. We'll bring you his remarks live as soon as they begin, if he will be speaking this morning.

BERMAN: All right, in the meantime, I want to bring in our panel, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" reporter, Abby Phillip, CNN political analyst, "New York Times" reporter, Alex Burns, counterterrorism analyst and former CIA official, Phillip Mudd, and intelligence security analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Abby, I'll start with you, and the dust-up between Congressman Lewis, who we're waiting to hear from right now, and the President-elect Donald Trump. The president-elect issued these tweets, he's very negative about the civil rights icon. One question that Elijah Cummings, a congressman from Maryland, posed this morning was, "If Donald Trump has a problem with Congressman Lewis, at this point, this close to the inauguration, why not just pick up the phone and call him?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the answer is that Donald Trump really never does pick up the phone and call anyone, and this whole incident has really highlighted his unwillingness to ever back down from any kind of fight, even if it is against someone who is beloved by Republicans and Democrats alike.

You know, Elijah Cummings is also expressing a feeling among Democrats that, you know, maybe Trump disagrees or has a right to disagree with Lewis on the legitimacy issue, but his response to Lewis went to a different level.

He went after Lewis's history of action and that's the part that has offended people the most. I think what they really want is for this to be over.

[11:05:08]I don't think anybody really wants to be in the middle of a back and forth between Donald Trump and a civil rights icon. But everyone recognizes that's not really Trump's preferred way of handling situations like this.

BOLDUAN: And Alex, I mean, Trump's team says John Lewis started it. He started it in that interview with Chuck Todd, questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidency. If there is one thing that gets under Donald Trump's skin, it is just that.

And we have seen that over and over again. But what are you hearing, to Abby's point, what are you hearing from Democrats? Are they uncomfortable with kind of where this stands today, especially on this day? I mean, 20 of them now are joining them in boycotting.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I spoke to some Democrats on Friday, after Congressman Lewis made his initial remarks. There definitely was a level of anxiety about, we want to fight the guy, many of them would privately say we don't think he's legitimate president, but we're not sure legitimacy is where we want to go with the public fight right now.

I think Donald Trump did everybody on the Democratic side a huge favor that they think he did them a favor by going nuclear on John Lewis especially on this weekend of all weekends, right? Where now the Democrats are in the position of being able to circle up around a heroic member of their conference rather than all of them having to straight up answer, do you think he's legitimate president or not.

BERMAN: So I know you're all wondering how we're going to segue into our intelligence experts on this. Bob Baer, here is how we're going to do it. If you're Vladimir Putin and you wanted to sow discord in American society, isn't that what this is what he would want to do? I mean, John Lewis is questioning the legitimacy of the president that is the institution of the presidency he is questioning right there. Isn't this what Putin was after? ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly, John. I mean, this is a classic KGB operation, you know? Calling the legitimacy of the government, put false stories out, hack elections, and get a country's leadership to be fighting. Putin has won this, absolutely.

I think this whole legitimacy question is going to hang over this presidency for at least the next four years, every time Putin makes a statement against NATO, makes a statement against the E.U., he's going to be questioned, his loyalties, whether it's to the United States or to Russia.

I mean, he just simply can't deal with Russia as presidents have in the past. He's not in the position that Reagan was when he went to Reykjavic. I think this is just a catastrophe for our political system.

BOLDUAN: Phil, I mean, this isn't just a fight with John Lewis. He's now in a fight again, I guess, it's a recurring fight now with John Brennan, the director of the CIA, who is not going to be there if Donald Trump's nominee to be the next CIA director is confirmed, which seems likely. Since that's the case, what does all of this, this now continued fight with the intelligence community do to everybody beneath the CIA director, many of which, most of which will still be around?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Watch this space. I think what it does is lead to more pressure on the nominee, who as you say, should be the CIA director pretty soon, that's Mike Pompeo. This is not just a fight between John Brennan, who will be leaving soon, I presume, and Mr. Trump.

This has two other characteristics that I think are critical in the coming weeks that relate to the nominee, that is, it's a message to the workforce that when the president speaks out, the CIA director will speak out publicly to defend the workforce.

Believe me, the people around the water coolers in Langley, Virginia, CIA headquarters, are watching this. And the second message implicit in this is to Mike Pompeo. If this continues after Mr. Pompeo is confirmed, I think the workforce will be saying the previous director not only protected us privately but spoke out publicly, will you do the same.

This is sort of a preface to a book. That book will be written by the new CIA director. The contents are pretty simple. Is he going to protect the workforce in the face of attacks by his new boss?

BERMAN: That's going to be a good book. The question is will it be a thriller or will it be --

BOLDUAN: A drama.

BERMAN: Exactly. You know, Bob Baer, one more question on this front. The Senate Intelligence Committee has said it will investigate these alleged ties or conversations or contacts between the Trump campaign during the election and Russian officials, Russian operatives.

One person who hasn't answered whether he will investigate is James Comey of the FBI. He's dodged that question specifically. Bob, you're an intelligence guy. I'm wondering if you can tell by the way he's answering whether or not you think there is an FBI investigation.

BAER: Well, it was a reluctant FBI investigation. This story about the Moscow trip, Trump's Moscow trip in 2013 goes back at least a year. I heard it, I didn't necessarily believe it.

[11:10:10]It's been out there. The FBI didn't look into it. But then Comey, right before the election or ten days before, comes out and announces a new investigation into Hillary's emails, which is arguably affected the election, just as Putin's hacking did.

So I don't know what's going to come out of this. I know that the FBI and the Department of Justice were reluctant to get into the elections, the last couple of years. But they did by announcing that investigation of Hillary and Comey should be investigated. Why did he put the stuff out about Hillary and not Russia?

BOLDUAN: Alex, walking down the "if" kind of path here, if the Senate committee or the FBI if they are investigating, if they would reach a conclusion that yes, the Trump campaign had been in touch with Russian operatives, Russian officials, I truly wonder, what then? What actually does this mean?

BURNS: Then I think we're in totally uncharted territory.

BERMAN: Aren't we already?

BURNS: We certainly are. We've already had members of Trump's own party express grave concern about where he stands about Russia. You've heard his own nominees for senior roles including Mike Pompeo, also James Mattis, the defense secretary designee, take drastically different positions on European security and the American relationship with Russia.

If it were at some later point to come out that, you know, Trump had not been entirely forthright about his own relationship with Russia, I think it would be a political crisis of a kind we haven't seen before.

We're obviously not there yet, but the -- we may never get there, but the investigation alone just the presence of these investigations --

BERMAN: All right, hang one second, here is Congressman John Lewis speaking in Miami right now, the first time he's spoken since he said he doesn't think Donald Trump is a legitimate president.

LEWIS: -- a boy in Georgia, born and reared in rural Alabama, to come to the state of Florida, the beautiful city of Miami. I'm delighted, very happy, and very pleased to be here. I've prepared a speech, but I'm not going to use it. I've been deeply inspired by being here.

Senator Rubio, thank you. Thank you for being here. Senator Nelson, to all of the honorable elected officials, the mayors, members of the school board, to all of the young people, role models. The judges, lawyers, the doctors, the teachers, thank you for finding a way to get in the way.

Thank you for standing up, thank you for speaking up. Thank you for being role models for these beautiful, handsome young men. I feel more than lucky. I feel honored and blessed to serve in the House of Representatives, to serve in the Congress as your elected official.

But to be in the presence of Senator Rubio and Senator Nelson and my good friend and sister, Congresswoman Wilson, sometime on a Wednesday, I come without a red tie on and she said, John, where is your red tie? I said, I just didn't wear it today. She said, I'm going to get you another red tie.

So I have another red tie, thank you. I'll wear one from now on. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do. Young men, I grew up very, very poor in rural Alabama, 50 miles from Montgomery. I was in a little town called Troy. My father was a share cropper, a tenant farmer.

Back in 1944, when I was 4 years old, and I do remember when I was 4, how many of you remember when you were 4? What happened to the rest of us? My father had saved $300 and a man sold him 100 acres of land. We're still on this land today.

On this farm we raised a lot of cotton and corn, lots of peanuts. I don't eat too many peanuts today. Don't tell the people in Georgia, where we raise a lot of peanuts.

[11:15:09]I ate so many peanuts when I was growing up, I just don't want to see anymore peanuts. Sometimes I would be out there working in the field, picking cotton, gathering peanuts, pulling corn. My mother said, boy, you're falling behind, you need to catch up. And I would say, this is hard work, this is hard work.

And she would say, hard work never killed anybody. I said, it's about to kill me. As a little child, when I was growing up, my mother made me what we call a book bag. We call them backpacks.

I got up early in the morning and put my papers and books in my book bag and went to the front porch to wait for the school bus to come up. When I heard the school bus coming up, I would run out and get on the school bus and go off to school rather than to the field to work.

I had a wonderful uncle, one of my mother's brothers, who told me to get an education. He inspired me. He went in the military and served and came back, finished college, became a high school principal. He taught me.

I had a wonderful teacher who told me in school, "Read, my child, read." and I tried to read everything. On the farm, it was my responsibility to care for the chickens. Your Congresswoman has heard me tell this story from time to time.

I fell in love with raising chickens. I know some of you like chickens, right? We had eggs for breakfast, right? Eggs come from the chickens, right? But as a little boy I fell in love with raising chickens.

The only thing about raising chickens, one young person there, thank you, young brother. When the setting here was set, I had to take the first eggs, mark them with a pencil, place them under the setting hen and wait three long weeks for the little chicks to hatch.

Some of you smart young scholars are saying, now, John Lewis, why did you mark those fresh eggs with a pencil before you placed them under the setting hen? Well, from time to time another hen would be in the same nest and there will be some more fresh eggs.

You had to be able to tell the fresh eggs from the eggs that were already under the setting hen. So do you follow me? So when the little chicks were hatched, sometimes I would cheat on the setting hens.

When I looked back, it wasn't the right thing to do, not the most loving thing to do, not the most nonviolent thing to do. But I was never able to save the money for an incubator from the store.

Young men, you're not old enough to remember the Sears Roebuck store, the Sears Roebuck catalogue. Some people call it the wish buck, I wish I had this, I wish I had that. I kept wishing. As a child, 8 or 9 years old, I wanted to be a minister.

I wanted to preach the gospel. From time to time, to help with my brothers and sisters and cousins, we would get all of our chickens together in the chicken yard, together here in this room. And the chickens would gather in the chicken yard.

But my brothers and sisters and cousins, and I would start preaching to the chickens. Some of the chickens would shake their head. They never quite said amen. But they tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me today in the Congress.

Senator Rubio is an exception. Your Congresswoman Wilson is an exception. And I tell you, those chickens inspired me because they listened. Listen to your teachers. Listen to your mothers and fathers and be the best you can be.

[11:20:05]When I finished high school in May of 1957, 17 years old, I wanted to go off to college. There was a little college ten miles from our home called Troy State College, now known as Troy University. I submitted an application, my high school transcript. I never heard a word from the college.

Long before 1957, in 1955, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. 1957, I met Rosa Parks. So because I didn't hear from this school, I wrote a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I didn't tell my mother, my father, any of my sisters or brothers, any of my teachers.

I told Dr. King I needed his help. He invited me to come to Montgomery to meet with him. In the meantime, I had been accepted at a little college in Nashville, Tennessee, where I spent six years studying at American Baptist College and Fisk University. After being in Nashville for about three weeks, before I went to Nashville, an uncle of mine gave me a $100 bill, gave me a foot locker, one of these big upright trunks, put my books, my clothing, everything except those chickens in that foot locker.

And I took a Greyhound bus to Nashville, Tennessee, to study. I told one of my teachers I had been in contact with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This teacher knew Dr. King. They had studied together at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

He informed Dr. King that I was there. Martin Luther King Jr. suggested when I was home for spring break to come and see him. Saturday morning, in March of 1958, I boarded a bus, traveled from troy to Montgomery.

And a young lawyer, young African-American lawyer by the name of Fred Gray, who was a lawyer for Rosa Parks, for Dr. King, and the Montgomery Movement, met me at the Greyhound bus station and drove me to the First Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery, and ushered me into the office of the church.

I saw Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy standing behind a desk. Dr. King said, are you John Lewis? Are you the boy from Troy? And I said, Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis. And he called me the boy from Troy.

He told me, John, if you attempt to continue your effort to enter Troy State, now known as Troy University, your parents could lose their land. Your home could be bombed or burned. Something could happen to you.

But if you want to go, we will support you. Go back home and have a discussion with your mother and with your father. My mother was so afraid. My father was so afraid that they could lose the land. The home could be burned or bombed.

So I continued to study in Nashville and it was in Nashville, Tennessee, that Dr. King would come and speak, Rosa Parks would come and speak, Thurgood Marshall would come and speak at Fisk University and others, and I got to know these individuals.

One day on Fisk University campus, Congresswoman Wilson walking across the campus and Dr. W.E. Dubois was walking across the campus. He said, hello, young man. Being there inspired me to stand up, speak out, with a group of students, from Fisk University, Tennessee State, Peabody and American Baptist, we started studying the way of peace, studying the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence.

We started sitting in, at lunch counters and restaurants, to desegregate those places. Standing in at theaters.

[11:25:05]When I was growing up, and you go to downtown Troy or go to Montgomery to see a movie, all of us children would go upstairs. All the little white children went downstairs to the first floor. I kept asking my mother, my father, grandparents and great-grandparents, why? They kept saying, that's the way it is, don't get in the way. Don't get in trouble. In Nashville, yes, I did get in trouble. I stood up. I spoke up. I spoke out. I got arrested and I say to you now, when they told us in Nashville, if we continue to sit in, we may get arrested.

I didn't have much money, but I wanted to look clean if I was going to go to jail. I wanted to look -- some young men called then, I wanted to look fresh. I wanted to look sharp. So I went downtown to a used men's store and bought a suit, a used suit, a vest came with it.

If you ever have an opportunity to come to Washington and visit my Congressional office, in the office is a large photograph of me being arrested for the first time and I did look fresh. I did look clean. I did look sharp.

So just think, a few short years ago, in the nation's capital, to travel through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, we were on our way to New Orleans to test a decision of the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way we were beaten and jailed. This was May, 1961. My seatmate on that trip was a young white gentleman. We arrived in a little town in South Carolina and tried to enter a so-called white waiting room. A group from the Klan attacked us and left us lying in a pool of blood.

Many years later, to be exact, in February '09, one of the men that had beaten us came to my Capitol Hill office. He was in his 70s with his son in his 40s. He said, Mr. Lewis, I'm one of the people that beat you and your seatmates, had been a member of the Klan.

He said, I want to apologize, will you accept my apology, will you forgive me? I said, sir, I accept your apology, I forgive you. His son started crying. He started crying. They hugged me. I hugged them back and I started crying.

It is the power of the way of peace, the way of love, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, hate is too heavy a burden to bear. And I say to you as young men, the future leaders of this state, the future leaders of this nation, the future leaders of the world, you must never, ever hate.

The way of love is a better way. The way of peace is a better way. So I say to you as role models, never give up. Never give in. Stand up. Speak up. When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet.

Yes, we have come a distance. We made a lot of progress as a nation and as a people, but we're not there yet. The scars and stains of racism are deeply embedded in American society. We must not be at peace with ourselves as a nation until we held the change that Dr. King dreamed of.

If it haven't been for Martin Luther King Jr., I don't know where I would be.