Return to Transcripts main page


John Lewis' MLK Day Speech; Orlando Shooter's Wife Arrested; Trump Promises Free Insurance for Everyone; Trump Plans to Evict Press Corps from White House West Wing. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 16, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D), GEORGIA: 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 hail the change that Dr. King dreamed of.

If it hadn't been for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I don't know where I would be. Still down in rural Alabama, maybe preaching to chickens. If it hadn't been for Martin Luther King Jr, I wouldn't be a member of the House of Representatives since 1987. If it hadn't have been for Martin Luther King Jr, I don't know what would have happened to our nation. He freed us. He helped liberated us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The camera just froze up right there in the middle of a moving speech for Congressman John Lewis, of course, a civil rights leader in the '60s.

I think we have it back.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have it back. Let's go.

LEWIS: -- Jacksonville, Florida, moved to New York City, and became a champion of civil rights, human rights, and labor rights. Mr. Randolph said over and over again as we met, he said, "Brother, maybe our poor mothers and our poor fathers all came to this great land in different ships but we all in the same boat now." Dr. King would put it another way, "It doesn't matter whether we're black or white, whether we're Latino, Asian-American, or native American, we're one people. We're one family. We all live in the same house, the American house, and we must look out for each other. If not, we're fools."

So, I say to you, as we pause and remember Martin Luther King Jr, you must do your best. Stay in school. Study. Read. A wonderful teacher told me, "Read, my child, read, my child." I tried to read everything. When I was growing up, we were too poor to have a subscription to the local newspaper. My grandfather had one and each day he would pass it on to us.

You're more than lucky. You're blessed. We hadn't heard of the Internet. Facebook, what is that? We didn't have cellular telephones. We had a party line. You had to wait until someone else got off the line. So, use the Internet. Use the tools. Use your education. Get to know other role models. Thank your teachers. When I see law enforcement individuals, police officers, I say, thank you for your service. When I see the TSA representatives, I say thank you for your service. They wear a uniform. They have on badges. It's hard to say to our teachers, thank you, when you see them on the street, see them in the store. They don't wear a uniform. Say thank you to your teachers. Say thank you to your parents. Say thank you to people who are trying to help you.

Let me close by saying we've almost become participants in the Democratic process. When you get old enough to register to vote, go and register and vote.


The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent instrument or tool Democratic society. And we must use it. Just think, a few short years ago, especially here in the American south, people are trying to make it harder and difficult for people to register to vote. In my native state of Alabama and in places like Georgia, sometimes people were asked to count the bars of soap or jelly beans in a jar. People in Alabama stood in an unmovable line. High school principal, colleges professors, lawyers and doctors, were told they could not read or write well enough. The only time that someone could even attempt to register to vote in Selma, Alabama, were the first and third Mondays of each month. We had to change that.

[11:35:19] When I spoke at the march on Washington on august 28, 1963, I was 23 years old. I had all of my hair and a few pounds lighter. I said, one person, one vote. That day, when the march was all over, President Kennedy invited us down to the White House. He stood in the door of the Oval Office greeting each one of us. He kept saying, you did a good job, you did a good job. When he got to Martin Luther King Jr, he said you did a good job and you had a dream. That was my last time seeing the president. He was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963.

But 18 days after the march on Washington and the bombing of the church in Birmingham, where four little girls were killed on a Sunday morning, that inspired us morning anything else to go to Selma and intensify efforts. There were black lawyers and black doctors and black teachers that had been trying to register for many, many years. We would go down there, stand in line. The sheriffs would push us, arrest us, take us to jail. We would come back over and over again. We got the civil rights act passed in 1964. President Johnson signed it into law. Dr. King met with him and said, Mr. President, we need a Voting Rights Act. And the president said, I just signed a civil rights act. We don't have the votes in the Congress to get a Voting Rights Act passed. If you want it, make me do it. So, we intensified our efforts in Selma.

On Sunday, March 7th, 1965, a group of us, about 600 of us, left the AME church, walked 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, to show to the nation and to the world that people of color wanted to register to vote. There were young children, young men and young women your age, walking with us. All the people, 75, 80, 90 had been waiting to register to vote. We were walking in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion. I was wearing a backpack before it became fashionable to wear backpacks. In this backpack, I had two books. I thought we were going to be arrested and go to jail so I wanted to have something to read while I was in jail. I had one apple and one orange. I wanted to have something to eat while I was in jail. I thought I would be in jail with my friend and colleagues. I wanted to be able to brush my teeth. So, I had toothpaste and toothbrush.

To get to the highest point on the Pettitte Bridge, a young man from the Dr. King organization walking beside me said, John, can you swim? I said, no, what about you, Joe? Joe Williams. He said, a little, John. I said, there's too much water down there. We're not going to jump. We're going forward. And we continued to walk. And we saw hundreds of members of the state troopers. Behind the state troopers were the sheriff's posse. We came within hearing distance. A man spoke up and said, "I'm Major John Clowell, this is an unlawful march, it will not be allowed to continue. I give you three minutes to disperse to your homes or church." Joe Williams said, "Major, give us a moment to kneel and pray." He said, "Troopers advance, troopers advance." I said, "Major, may I have a word?" He said, "There will be no word." The troopers came toward us, beating us with whips, nightsticks. I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a night stick. I was the first one to be hit, knocked down. My knees went from under me. I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die on that bridge. I thought it was my last nonviolent protest.

[11:40:16] I made it back to the church. I don't know how I made it back. A thousand people trying to get in the church, more than 2,000 outside trying to get in. And someone asked me to say something to the audience. I stood up and said something like, I don't understand it. How president Johnson can send troops to Vietnam and can't send troops to Selma, Alabama, to protect people who only desire to register to vote.

The next thing I knew, I was admitted to a little hospital. A group of nuns took care of us. And if it hadn't been for those nuns, I don't know what would have happened to many of us. That was on a Sunday evening. Early that Monday morning, Martin Luther King Jr, someone I loved and admired, was my hero, came to my bedside and said, "John, don't worry, we will make it from Selma to Montgomery." He said, "I'm calling on religious leaders to come to Selma."

On Tuesday, March 9, more than a thousand ministers, rabbis, priests and nuns came to Selma and walked across the bridge. A few days later, I was up and I went into federal court with Dr. King and Reverend Abernathy. Attorney Fred Gray testified before a federal judge, a young man, Frank M. Johnson, who had been appointed to the bench by President Eisenhower. This judge did the right thing. His home had to be guarded around the clock. The FBI had to guard the home of his mother in downtown Montgomery because they were threatened. He had the courage to stand up.

So, I say to you young men, you must have courage. You must be bold. And never, ever give up when you know that you're right. Be brave. You've been trained to get a great and good education. People expect you to get out there. You can become lawyers, doctors, scientists. Maybe, one day, one of you will be a mayor or city council person, a great teacher, a member of the House, a member of the Senate, governor of this state, maybe a president of the United States of America.

Dream dreams. And never, ever give up on your dreams.


LEWIS: I close by saying thank you. I wish you well. Just go for it. Just go for it. People all over this city, all over this state, all over this nation, are pulling for you. Stay away from violence. As I said earlier, never hate. The way of love is a better way.

Thank you very much.



BOLDUAN: Right there, Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement. He went up to the podium saying, "I have a speech prepared and I'm not going to give it." And he gave his message, recounting his amazing role in this country's civil rights history.

BERMAN: He told his story, but it's really America's story. It's a wonderful, important story. He told the people in that audience, I think predominantly young men, he said be brave, have courage, don't give up, when you know you're right, keep on fighting.

What he did not address --

BOLDUAN: What a lot of people were waiting for.

[11:45:00] BERMAN: -- his back and forth with President-elect Donald Trump. On Friday, he said he does not consider the president-elect to be a legitimate president. He did not bring that up. Maybe observe obliquely, he said s peak up, don't be quiet.

BOLDUAN: You can't really tell if the message for then or lessons for now? Was it to be directed to the president-elect? We do not know. But John Lewis speaking right there in Miami at a scholarship breakfast on this Martin Luther King Jr day.

BERMAN: I'm glad we got a chance to listen to that.


BERMAN: Coming up for us, "insurance for everybody." President-elect Trump promises a cheaper, better plan. What are the specifics? How will he pay for it? And will Republicans, not Democrats, will Republicans agree with it?


BERMAN: Insurance for everybody? That's a pledge now made by President-elect Donald Trump regarding his replacement for Obamacare, a plan he says is almost finalized, although he really has released few details. BOLDUAN: Here is the key line from Donald Trump's interview with "The

Washington Post." He says this, "We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."

Joining us now, Joseph Borelli, New York City councilman and Republican commentator; and Cathy Areu, contributing editor to "The Washington Post" magazine.

Guys, great to see you. Thanks for being here.

Cathy, this line, I will read it again with dramatic effect, "We are going to have insurance for everybody. There's a philosophy in some circles if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen."

Is that everything you asked for?


[11:50:23] CATHY AREU, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE: If you could defy gravity, I would love to see it happen. Put me in the skeptical camp. We all should become Missouri, the show me state. Show me. How are you going to do it?

BERMAN: Is that universal health care we're talking about here, Joseph?

JOSEPH BORELLI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. If you look at both the Paul Ryan plan and the plan or whatever Rand Paul has been touting, they both talk about expanded state-run Medicaid programs, allowing states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility to continue to do so.

BERMAN: They're talking about block grants for Medicaid.

BORELLI: Block grants for Medicaid, yeah. And Rand Paul says expanded block grants.

BOLDUAN: Insurance for everybody, is this a situation where you think Donald Trump's words need explaining?

BORELLI: No. I think what you're see is him reacting to the rhetoric from folks on the other side. Democrats are settling into this opposition party role, and they have passed the health care hot potato to the Republicans, who earned it by winning elections over the past six years. They own it now. If I could be objective, I think the Democrats are probably correct in passing the hot potato, but Republicans, going forward, whether in practice or in even perception, can't be the party that is seen to just kick people to the curb. They can't do it.


BERMAN: Just be clear, if sounds like you are giving advice to Republican members of Congress to be careful here. BORELLI: You can't come up with a plan that puts the Republican Party

on the defensive in two years and four years and down the road.

BERMAN: That's politics. But you are saying they can't come up with a plan that leaves people in the lurch in terms of their insurance, right?

BORELLI: There has to be an alternative where states, whether it's through block grants or some form of this plan that Trump did say will be releasing with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan soon, it has to account for people who are low income, people who can't afford plans. It just has to.

BOLDUAN: If they find -- if they thread this needle, if they find said plan, there are a lot of -- there have been a lot of plans that Republicans have talked about. Are Democrats going to reach out and help? From everything I've heard from Capitol Hill, the answer is no. You guys do it, and we'll see how this lands.

AREU: Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have said they want to be bipartisan, and it was a partisan bill, so they want this act. The Trumpcare has to be bipartisan. How is that going to happen? It took 14 months to get Obamacare enacted and hundreds of hearings. He thinks it's going to just happen, insurance for every, and here we go. That's Trumpcare? If this happens in the next few weeks, it's going to be a disaster, and in four years from now, someone is going to run against Trumpcare and probably win.

BERMAN: Just for practical purposes, he will need eight or nine Democratic votes --

AREU: Exactly.

BERMAN: -- to come up with plans to replace it.

AREU: It's complicated. It's not something that happens overnight. Just as we found out with the Affordable Care Act. This took 14 months. He is telling people to hurry up where, no, it's complicated, and Ryan and Mitchell have said, no, this is going to take a long time. We can't just make it happen.

BORELLI: That's why Democrats should take their advice and wait for a plan. The Democrats say we'll know what's in it when we pass it. Even though Donald Trump has not come out with this formal plan yet, we should take a step back and wait until he does unveil something with both leaders.

BOLDUAN: Guys, hold on one second.

We are getting breaking news. We want to go to Washington right now. Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has breaking news with regards to the Orlando shooter at the Pulse Nightclub.

Pamela, what are you picking up?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We've learned that FBI agents have arrested the wife of the Pulse Nightclub shooter. This happened earlier this morning in San Francisco. We're awaiting more details from authorities in Florida who are in charge of the charges against her.

As you may recall, after the attack happened, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, we reported, Kate and John, that the wife had told authorities that her husband grew increasingly aggressive and that at one point he had expressed interest in launching a jihad attack, but at the time she claimed to shorts that she didn't know of his specific plans to go to Pulse Nightclub and launch the attack, but investigators have been interviewing her over the course of the last several months since June trying to build this case for press charges, and now we're learning that this morning in San Francisco, near her home there, authorities did arrest her. And we're waiting to find out more details about the specific charges against her.

Back to you.

BERMAN: Could be they're not getting as much information as they think they should be getting or what they are getting isn't true or doesn't check out. We'll have to wait and see.

Pamela Brown, very, very interesting. Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

And, Joseph and Cathy, thanks so much for being with us. Sorry, we had to get to the breaking news right there.

We're going to be following all of this.

We'll be right back after a break.



[11:56:19] ROB LOWE, ACTOR: Hey.


LOWE: You got my note?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: About moving the press room to the EEOB? I did.

LOWE: And?

LOWE: Don't let anyone ever know that you wrote it and don't ever mention it again under any circumstances.

LOWE: Moving the press room?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: See what you did? You mentioned it.


LOWE: No, I didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You were about to.

LOWE: Just the EEOB, just across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: We're not getting a swimming pool, Sam.

LOWE: No, we're not getting a swimming pool but we can get much- needed office space. And we can put a little physical distance between the press and the president. And we can put them just across the street in a state-of-the-art facility.

UNIODENTIFIED ACTRESS: By state-of-the-art, you mean?

LOWE: A room with electricity.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: The press doesn't want physical distance from the president. And the American people would prefer the president didn't have physical distance from the press.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: We can't exile the press.


BERMAN: Life imitating art, if that can be considered art.


That was from the "West Wing" but that could become reality for the press corps. "Esquire" magazine suggests the press corps no longer having offices in the West Wing under the president-elect. The magazine says, according to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump administration.

BOLDUAN: Incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, he is downplaying kind of the idea of the contours of this story right now.

Let's discuss this right now with Brian Stelter, the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."


BOLDUAN: I was saying I will watch it, by the way, and you're in big trouble.

Rob Lowe coming at you in three, two, one.

Brian, Sean Spicer says this isn't what it was being reported. They are looking to move the briefing to accommodate more people. The press will stay, though, in the West Wing with that close access to the president. Is this all settled now?

STELTER: Maybe this is the "Art of the Deal" in action. Right? We're seeing a proposal on the table via "Esquire" leaked on a Saturday night, and then Sunday and Monday, Trump aides downplaying it. There is something real going on here. Sean Spicer and his team thinking about moving it to a bigger room likely across the street. They say it's not decided. Sure sounds like it is decided. White House correspondents are concerned about the precedence this sets and the slippery slope. Right now, it's about moving the briefings. What happens a year or two from now? That's the overall concern.

BERMAN: What happens here if they do move the presses -- I'm not sure people fully understand that there is a White House press corps that works in the White House --


@ -- in the "West Wing."

BOLDUAN: That access is --


BERMAN: -- from the Oval Office, right?

STELTER: There used to be a swimming pool. You have to go down a set of stairs.

BERMAN: The important part is you can walk into the press office, you can walk in and ask the deputy press secretary, the press secretary a question. Having that kind of access and instant information is crucial.

STELTER: The president can come to the podium at a moment's notice if he wants to or needs to as well. Spicer and company are saying that part is not going to change. The work space isn't going to go away. But that's where the slippery slope concern is for now. A year or two from now, maybe that would change a year or two from a now. Rank-and- file correspondents and staffers and videographers working the White House every day are very concerned about what the Trump administration may do with regards to the press just because there are so many unknowns and because of Trump's hostile treatment of the press during the campaign.

However, I think the counter argument here is that the Trump administration doesn't yet know how much it needs the media. If it is going to try to change health care, make all these other policy changes, then it's going to be important to have the cameras there on a daily basis, very accessible. This may be a learning curve issue for Sean Spicer and his colleagues. They don't know how the operations work. That was true for Bush and Obama and for others --


BOLDUAN: But Sean Spicer has been around this game for a long time. He knows this stuff. (CROSSTALK)

STELTER: I agree, but right now, he has 400 reporters calling for these daily conference calls. That's not going to happen at the White House briefing. There may be a learning curve here. We'll see.

BERMAN: It's a good message to the world to have reporters working right alongside, covering every second of the administration.

BOLDUAN: All you have to do is look to the West Wing.

BERMAN: Rob Lowe will confirm all of it.

Brian Stelter, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Thanks.

BERMAN: It's appreciated.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR, guys.

"Inside Politics" with John King starts now.