Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump to Attend Opening of Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi; Protestors to Demonstrate against President Trump at Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi; President Trump Holds Rally in Pensacola, Florida; President Trump Endorses Roy Moore for Senate in Alabama; Wildfires Continue to Burn in Southern California; Army and Navy Square Off in Annual Football Game. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 9, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:41] DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Dianne Gallagher in this Saturday for Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
President Trump is aboard Air Force One right now heading to the opening of a Mississippi Civil Rights museum.
GALLAGHER: But an icy welcome awaits him in Jackson where he's likely going to be greeted by protests. Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis is leading the charge, calling the president's visit a mockery of the civil rights movement and saying that he plans to skip the event because President Trump is there.
BLACKWELL: The NAACP will hold a news conference this hour where they plan to say this. They plan to call out the administration's divisive policies. This right after the president tweeting his full endorsement to the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore this morning, a man who says America was last great during slavery, also a man who's an accused child molester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it.
So get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: CNN national correspondent Athena Jones filed this report looking ahead to today's event.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CE..: Protests are expected to greet President Trump at the grand opening of Mississippi's civil rights museum. Organizer Talamieka Brice told CNN affiliate WAPT News the say no to hate demonstration she's helping to lead will include hundreds of people from across the state.
TALAMIEKA BRICE, MISSISSIPPI'S CHAPTER OF PANTSUIT NATION: Some of us will kneel and some of us will turn our backs. We'll probably turn our backs to hate, turn our backs towards the motorcade as it drives by.
JONES: And Brice isn't alone in opposing Governor Phil Bryant's decision to invite the president. NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson denounced Trump's record on civil rights, saying in a statement "He has created a commission to reinforce voter suppression, refused to denounce white supremacists, and overall has created a racially hostile climate in this nation."
U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson who is from Mississippi and John Lewis, a civil rights icon, are planning to skip the event in protest, writing "President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. And while some Mississippi Democrats called on the governor to rescind his invitation to Trump, Bryant defended the move.
GOV. PHIL BRYANT, (R) MISSISSIPPI: The president of the United States should be able, and we're very thankful that he is going to come for this historic occasion.
JONES: The White House expressed disappointment with the planned protest and boycotts.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that would be, honestly, very sad. I think this is something that should bring the country together to celebrate the opening of this museum and highlighting the civil rights movement and the progress that we've made.
JONES: President Trump has been criticized for racial insensitivity. He launched his campaign in June of 2015 by bashing Mexican immigrants.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists.
JONES: He questioned the judge's ability to rule fairly in a Trump University lawsuit because he was Mexican-American.
TRUMP: We're building the wall. He's a Mexican.
JONES: And he has repeatedly slammed mostly black NFL athletes protesting racial inequality.
TRUMP: When somebody disrespects our flag, I say get that son of a -- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!
JONES: But it was his response to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer that drew the ire of people in both parties when he equated neo-Nazis and white nationalists protesting the removal of a confederate statue with activists demonstrating against them and the ideas that they represent.
TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.
JONES: He revised those remarks two days later.
TRUMP: Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
[10:05:06] JONES: But then said --
TRUMP: You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
JONES: Today's event is an opportunity to answer some of his critics.
JONES: I talked to him already, thanks. Yes, President Trump is going to be arriving here shortly and he is going to be skipping the fanfare outside, the program, the longer program set up outside this museum. Instead he's going to be touring the interior, giving remarks to a smaller group gathered indoors, civil rights activists, museum patrons, and other elected officials, and so in that sense he'll be avoiding potentially being involved in this larger program and the potential protests that he might see. Dianne?
GALLAGHER: All right, Athena, yes, beyond the president's controversy surrounding his presence there, big, important day. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Well, as you've heard, prominent black leaders are protesting President Trump's visit. Many are looking to the president's remarks about African-Americans and two African-Americans as the reason for shunning him or boycotting this event. Here are some of the president's comments. These are his words. Watch and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a -- off the field right now? Out? He's fired. He's fired!
TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
I think there's blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either.
BLACKWELL: "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape all falling apart. All talk, talk, talk, no action or results. Sad."
TRUMP: You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. And 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?
Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?
You know what they use to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you.
Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously.
He was so obnoxious and so loud he was screaming. And I don't know, rough up, maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacist in this election?
TRUMP: Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK. I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy.
Well, you have David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a problem. This is not exactly the people you want in your party.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The state of Hawaii says this is official. He was born in Hawaii on this date, here it is. Why do you deny it?
TRUMP: A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.
BLITZER: Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.
TRUMP: No, I think you are, Wolf.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He insisted to CNN that the so called Central Park Five were still indeed guilty. At the time Trump took out full page ads in newspapers calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty.
TRUMP: If the woman died, I think they should be executed.
BLACKWELL: President Trump tweeted "Sadly because President Obama has done such a poor job as president you won't see another black president for generations. A great African-American president hasn't exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who were so happily and openly destroying Baltimore."
BLACKWELL: Listen, for the sake of time, we were unable to include all of the president's comments on two African-Americans. We want to get to our conversation here, Van Jones, CNN political commentator, also the former special adviser to President Trump and the author of "Beyond the Messy Truth, How We Came Apart and How We Came Together," also Bruce Levell, executive director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and a member of President Trump's 2020 advisory board. Gentlemen, good morning to both of you and welcome.
Let me start with you, Bruce. Does any you just watched any of that make you uncomfortable?
BRUCE LEVELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRUMP NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION: No. Thanks for having me. I wish I had 30 minutes to go down line item that CNN so generously went out and showed a certain side of the president that he's not. And it's interesting that we're going to, obviously we see that we're going to try to go down and through this racial game on the president as we go into 2020, but it won't work.
Today should be honors. Victor, you invited me on the show to talk about the historic grand opening of the Mississippi museum that's going to have -- honor Medgar Evers who was slain in 1963, he brother Charles Evers and his sister -- excuse me, Medgar Evers' wife is going to meet the president and they're going to honor what happened to her husband there, who Charles Evers did endorse the president of the United States. Evers. And so therefore, you know, this is historic.
[10:10:09] Not only that, going down Interstate 55 and having this awesome museum for economic development as well as job growth and et cetera, this is a great shot in the arm for economic development for Jackson, Mississippi, which had a 0.5 GDP rate. So this is historic. This is big. It's an honor everything that's happened in Mississippi --
BLACKWELL: Let me get Van in on this conversation. We've got just about seven minutes together, but I want to bring Van in. Van, your reaction on what we just saw and your thoughts on these boycotts from Congressman Bennie Thompson and from John Lewis, and also from the mayor of Jackson, the NAACP?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, to be fair to President Trump, he's in a no-win situation. Had he been invited and refused to go, he would have come under criticism. At the same time, having been invited and then showing up, he's subjected to even worse criticism because it's easy to show up for a symbol of racial progress. It's hard to actually stand for the substance of racial progress. And President Trump has not only not been there on the substance, he's put the car in reverse in so many ways.
The time for him to show his true leadership was when you had an American citizen murdered in the streets by Nazis who used ISIS tactics of driving a car into a crowd and murdered, frankly, a white activist who was opposing Nazis in America. That was the time to come forward and give a complete slam dunk, no holds barred defense of Americans from white terrorists. He failed to do that. He tried to equivocate. He went here, he went there. He actually wound up defending people who deserve no defense at all.
And at that point his credibility to speak to civil rights or to show up to events went away. So now the country's is suffering in a situation where literally the president of the United States can't even go to the civil rights museum without offending the sensibilities of millions and millions of Americans. It's a sad day in America. It should be a happy day, but it's a sad day.
BLACKWELL: Bruce, the president will not be speaking publicly today at this grand opening. Do you think -- I can't remember a time when a president has attended an event like this and has not spoken. You do think he should be? Would you like to hear from him? Do you think people should hear from him today publicly?
LEVELL: We don't know. He might, Victor.
BLACKWELL: He won't be. We've been told by both the White House and the by the organizers of the museum.
LEVELL: I think maybe it's a time, like he's going down there to see this beautiful museum being open and talk to a lot of civil rights leaders there. You know, Victor, you know, Van, I disagree. I don't see millions of people, you know, against this, and the reason why is because the president is, as you see, we've had a very, very tremendous gain in our economy. I always say the numbers speak better than anything. We're at a 4.1 unemployment rate and black unemployment is down the best in 19 years.
So there's a tremendous amount for this president that's coming in in this administration. So I say that this is a light. You know, this is light. This is hope for a lot of us people of color as myself as a businessman here in Atlanta for 25. I came to this town with $35 and look at me. There's a lot of hope to this. And I wish Congressman John Lewis would put away his personal differences and embrace the fact that this president is coming to celebrate this awesome opening and the fact that this president recognizes what, you know, happened down there, wants to memorialize Medgar's home and for folks to come in and have dialogue and understand it.
The other thing too is this puts, you know, Jackson, Mississippi, on the map as far as economic development. So there's a bigger bright table to this than just this false narrative of trying to paint the president into something he's not.
BLACKWELL: Van, I see a grimace from here. What's the reaction to what you're hearing?
LEVELL: Come on, brother.
JONES: Well, I -- look. I certainly agree that the people of Jackson, Mississippi, and, frankly, the people of Mississippi and America should be celebrating the fact that this museum is opening. In my father's lifetime, my grandparents' lifetime, my mother's lifetime, you know, there were times when it wasn't clear that civil rights would prevail and certainly not to be celebrated in this great way.
The problem that we have is that economic development and good economic projects and even a good museum doesn't deal with the fact that Monday morning we have somebody who's going to wake up in the White House who does not seem to actually believe in the things that Medgar Evers gave his life for, which is that we have to have an aggressive, forward leaning approach in our country to bring people together, to find common ground, to use law when it's appropriate to deal with discrimination. Those are not the things associated with this White House, and that is unfortunate.
I also just want to say, you know, John Lewis showed tremendous courage as a young man being willing to go places that nobody else was willing to go. He was beaten, he was arrested, he was on a bus that was bombed and burned. He almost lost his life, many, many times. He showed courage as a young man going places where nobody else wanted to go.
I think he's now showing courage as an older man, refusing to go where most people would be happy to go. Most people would love to go where the spotlight is, where the president is, where the cameras are. He's showing courage and integrity by saying I won't go because I don't want to lend my credibility -- he was the last living person who stood with Dr. King on that stage with the "I Have a Dream" speech and had a chance to speak himself, and he does not want to lend his credibility to a president who seems to be an enemy of most of what Dr. King stood for, and I applaud John Lewis for his consistency.
BLACKWELL: I've just got to wrap it. I want to make sure that we don't overshadow the people who are immortalized in this museum inside by just talking about the president who will be visiting. One of the persons we talked about, Medgar Evers, but Fannie Lou Hamer, a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The country met her in 1964 at the Democratic convention that nominated then President Johnson. I want you to hear at home what Fannie Lou Hamer said back in 1968 as part of a documentary in a context of the civil disobedience protests the president has been criticizing NFL players who were kneeling during the National Anthem at games. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FANNIE LOU HAMER: We know that this flag is draped with our blood. So what the young people are saying now, give us a chance to be young men, respected as a man, as we know this country was built on the black backs of black people across this country. And if we don't have it, you ain't going to have it either because we going to tear it up. That's what they saying. And people ought to understand that. I don't see why they don't understand it. They know what they've done to us. All across this country, they know what they've done to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: An icon in civil rights history there in Mississippi. We'll talk more about this throughout the day but I wanted to make sure we at least heard from someone in Mississippi who is inside that museum who's immortalized there. Bruce Levell, Van Jones, we'll see if the president, if we hear anything from the president after he tours this museum and speaks with people. Thank you both so much for being with us.
JONES: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Van, congratulations on the show starting next month right here on CNN. Dianne?
GALLAGHER: All right, still to come, why did Congressman Trent Franks allegedly offer to pay an aide $5 million to have his child? We'll be right back.
GALLAGHER: All right, right now President Trump is on his way to the opening of the Mississippi civil rights museum after spending part of his evening rallying votes for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. But he may get a less than warm welcome in Mississippi. Protesters are planning to show up and some prominent civil rights leaders as we've been telling you will be boycotting that event. To discuss I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip and Sabrina Siddiqui, politics reporter for "The Guardian." So, look, the president is emphatically at this point endorsing Roy Moore, a man who is accused of child molestation and also a couple months back said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think it was great at the time, even though we had slavery, we cared for each other. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong. In the other directions, then we corrected a lot of the problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Yes. So that's Roy Moore basically saying the last time America was truly great was also during the period when we had slavery. So the question here is that the president seems to be talking about the politics of this. He needs to make sure he does not have, in the president's word, a Nancy and Chuck ally in the Senate because of this small margin they have.
But Sabrina, I want to go to you first. Why isn't the president going to Alabama then? He's going around, he's visiting all the states that surround it. Why isn't he going to Alabama?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER FOR "THE GUARDIAN": I think that there was still some reluctance to actually show up on the campaign trail in support of Roy Moore. But what you're really seeing here is this unprecedented moment of tribalism that was in many ways paved by the victor of Trump himself last year where many of the Republicans who supported Trump in the election were uncomfortable with the statements that he had made on a number of other issues. Every other week there was a new controversy, but they made the argument that anyone is better than Hillary Clinton. That at the end of the day, you vote along party lines.
And so you're seeing that same playbook executed in the case of Roy Moore where even the Republicans who just a few weeks ago said that he should step aside, there should be a write-in campaign, they're now saying this is up to the voters of Alabama to decide. Ultimately anyone is better than a liberal, Doug Jones, who by all accounts is actually a conservative to moderate Democrat.
So the question now is what will Republicans do if and when Roy Moore wins? Will they move to expel him from the Senate as they say suggested they will do, or are they willing to embrace him despite his controversial record and the mounting sexual assault allegations he faces?
GALLAGHER: And Abby, if Roy Moore, does win, Roy Moore is not necessarily just going to fall in line. Like Sabrina said, much like Donald Trump, Roy Moore is his own man. He doesn't really answer to anyone and sort of paved his own path here. Roy Moore could prove difficult even though he's a Republican for the president once in the Senate if he's elected.
[10:25:15] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's very true. There's a reason why the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell doesn't really care for Roy Moore and probably doesn't want him to be in the Senate. There's a lot of concern among establishment Republicans that what Roy Moore is going to be is a kind of maverick really pushing against the leadership, pushing against the agenda, and that they may not be able to rely on him on votes because of how conservative he is and really how far out he is.
One of the issues with Moore is that clip that you just played not too long ago. It isn't just the really serious allegations of sexual abuse but it's also a long history of controversial comments that Republicans think will dog them in the midterms and make it much more difficult for them to hold on to the House and hold on to the Senate.
But the president is gambling that if he backs Roy Moore at this really critical time, that will create even more loyalty on Moore's part to the president. It's not clear if that will work, but that's the political gamble here. If he hangs on to him at the time everybody abandons him, maybe when he gets to the Senate he'll vote with Trump.
GALLAGHER: I want to move to one of the stranger stories coming out of this sort of groundswell we're seeing when it comes to sexual harassment and abuse and allegations of people being hurt. Congressman Trent Franks' resignation, he reportedly offered $5 million to a former aide for surrogacy. I know the details are still a little bit murky on this. But, Sabrina, this is one of the more unusual cases we're seeing.
SIDDIQUI: Absolutely. What I've heard from sources on Capitol Hill is that there were more than one staffer who said that Trent Franks had approached them offering them money in return for acting as a surrogate. And the women, it wasn't clear to them if he was suggesting they do so through in vitro fertilization or if he was wanting to pursue sexual relations with them. Certainly they interpreted this by all accounts as unwanted advances and highly inappropriate given his position. And he really tried to coerce more than one of them to carry his child.
He did say he and his wife struggled with infertility. But I think what you see from Paul Ryan was very swift action. They wanted to get out ahead of the story. You'll note it didn't actually leak to the press but there was an internal investigation that sped up. I think notably you saw the resignation or at least the intention to resign, that announcement come on the same day that Al Franken resigned. I think there's an eager necessary on the part of House Speaker Paul Ryan to make sure this isn't framed as a partisan moment as you have this watershed conversation on sexual harassment that both parties are holding their members accountable, especially when Republicans are facing a lot of heat for still supporting Roy Moore.
GALLAGHER: All right, Abby Phillip, Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you both so much for your insight.
SIDDIQUI: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Now to the west coast, these wildfires burning in California out of control, and conditions, we're told today, are threatening to make it worse. CNN's Stephanie Elam is there in southern California. Stephanie?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. And 170 acres burned here in California, thousands of people who have evacuated. I'll have an update for you from the California wildfires coming up.
[10:32:00] GALLAGHER: Welcome back. I'm Dianne Gallagher in for Christi Paul this morning.
BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
There is a critical fire threat in southern California. These out of control wildfires may get even worse today.
GALLAGHER: One person has died, multiple firefighters are injured and hundreds of buildings are destroyed. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is keeping a close eye on the weather conditions in California, but we want to start with CNN's Stephanie Elam who live in Ventura County. Stephanie, the sun is come up there. You can just get an even better look at how horrible, how horrific and devastating it really is out there.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's glaring, Dianne, when you see up close how it looks once the sun has come up here. This is one house. I just want to show you what has happened to this house. Completely leveled and decimated by this fire. You can see it ran through here, ran through the bushes and the trees nearby.
And then if you look over here, you can see part of the wall of their house still standing. This is one of the nearly 500 buildings that have been destroyed by this fire. They're getting a handle on some of the smaller fires, but this big one where I am, the Thomas fire, it's still churning north. In fact they're saying it's going closer and closer to Santa Barbara and making its way to Santa Barbara County now.
But look at this. You see how this house has been demolished? If you look up there above the bushes that are burned, that house totally made it. That's what's so devastating and so hard for people coming back into these neighborhoods to that this is how arbitrary. And you combine the fact that humidity is so particularly low here in California right now, southern California, and the fact that we are dealing with no rain and these winds picking up early today, Victor. It could be another dangerous day here or full on weekend.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Those people -- I just can't imagine getting -- you know we saw a little earlier today where you see the picture of what is left from your home and there's nothing, nothing left.
GALLAGHER: Just gone.
BLACKWELL: Ashes. Stephanie Elam for us there in Ventura, California. Thanks so much.
The question here, when will California see relief from those dry conditions? CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar tracking the forecast for us.
[10:35:03] ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. And unfortunately it's going to get worse before it actually gets better. Starting tonight those winds are expected to pick back up.
So the concern is not only for these main fires that you have here but also the smaller fires because that could turn into big fires as the winds being to increase. Tonight we talked about it, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, you could be looking at winds about 40 percent to 60 miles per hours. But then as we transition into tomorrow it could get, say, as high as 70 miles per hours. And that will take those embers that are already burning and spread them very rapidly and, again, possibly turning them into much bigger fires.
The other concern is they need moisture, they need rain. But there just simply isn't going to be any in the short-term forecast. Where we do have the moisture, that's all out in the eastern half of the country. We've already seen a lot of snow being dumped across areas of the southeast. Now it's tyke for the mid-Atlantic and the northeast to get their chance for some rain and snow showers.
Here's look, widespread, we're talking about two to four inches, but there are going to be some heavier pockets within here that could pick up say six-plus inch of snow. However, the overall winners, if you could call it, of snowfall are going to be folks in the south. We've had areas just outside of Atlanta that have picked up seven to 10 inch. College Station, Texas, picking up five inches.
But Dianne, Victor, here's the thing. That means they've had more snowfall so far this year than Chicago, Buffalo, Minneapolis, Green Bay, take your pick.
BLACKWELL: It's piling up down in the south.
GALLAGHER: Definitely, and just seeing it out there. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: So President Trump will land any minute now in Jackson, Mississippi. He is planning to attend the opening here of this civil rights museum. Next, African-American leaders are trying to send a message to the president by not joining him for that opening.
[10:41:08] GALLAGHER: President Trump should be landing soon in Jackson, Mississippi, where he's going to attend the opening of the state's civil rights museum. Now, protests are expected at this event.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Several African-American leaders have already refused to attend, one of them, civil rights icon John Lewis. Joining me now to discuss this and more, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He's the former mayor of providence and sits on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman, good morning to you.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D) RHODA ISLAND: Good morning, Victor. Good morning, Dianne.
BLACKWELL: First let's start with the big story of this morning going into the afternoon, the president's visit to the museum in Jackson, Mississippi. The mayor of Jackson, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, will not be at the museum opening with the president. He said this. "The president's policies don't reflect his statements that this is a movement that will bring people together. Trump has not demonstrated a continuing dedication to the ideals the civil rights movement upholds."
So let me ask you. Do you think the president should be there? Do you think the mayor and Congressman John Lewis and Bennie Thompson should be there?
CICILLINE: I think the mayor's statement is exactly right. Let's not forget this is a presidential candidate or a real estate developer who discriminated against African Americans, who as president has called white supremacists fine people, who has engaged in very decisive behavior, has people like Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon with ties to white nationalist organizations that were part of his administration, has shown a complete contempt for anyone who is trying to protest or petition their government for the protection of civil rights or for equality, particularly in the African-American community.
So John Lewis is someone whose commitment to this cannot be questioned. I had the privilege of walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis and hearing the story about him almost having his head beaten in and almost losing his life as a fighter for equality and fairness, and to end discrimination against African- Americans.
So John Lewis, Bennie Thompson also has spent his life devoted to this work. So I think the reality is this president has divided our country in many fundamental ways on the issues of civil rights, has done nothing to advance civil rights. And sure, he's free to go to the opening of the museum, but I deeply respect the work of John Lewis and Bennie Thompson. And I think if you do a fair analysis of it, the president has undermined the efforts to bring this country together as a country has really divided us. And I think people protesting is important.
BLACKWELL: Congressman, I want you to respond to something that the president said last night during this rally in Pensacola, Florida. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside. And, you know, there's no country like our country, but we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions. And we're working very hard. We've got a lot of them straightened out, but we do have -- we really do. We have a rigged system in this country and we have the change it. Terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: It's rare to hear a sitting president speak about the government in this way. What's your reaction to what you just heard from President Trump?
CICILLINE: Well, there are many things about the system that are rigged. They're rigged in favor of people like President Trump. You know, very wealthy people have a lot of power in Washington. The Republicans just passed a tax bill which reflects that. Huge tax cuts for the top one percent, the expenses will be borne by middle-class families who will see their taxes go up. Companies will be incentivized to ship American jobs overseas.
And it was written in part by the lobbyists. You remember the Republicans had handwritten notes in the bill and the lobbyists had the provisions before many members of the Senate did. So the president is right. In many ways the system is rigged but it's rigged against hardworking Americans who are looking for better wages, better jobs, and a better future. And the president is fighting really hard to get Roy Moore into the Senate because this tax bill is prevailing by one or two votes. Susan Collins says she's reconsidering.
So, look, the president is right, but he's speaking -- he describes the system as rigged, somehow rigged against him. It's rigged against working people who don't have a voice.
BLACKWELL: Councilman, I hate to cut you off but we're running out of time. I want to get one more thing in here.
CICILLINE: Sure. BLACKWELL: You sit on the House judiciary. We saw earlier this week
that the ranking Democrat, the Dean of the House, John Conyers, retired and left on that day. Also on this committee is Congressman Blake Farenthold. And we know that he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in part using $84,000 of taxpayer money. Do you think he should resign as well?
BLACKWELL: Simple answer.
CICILLINE: Women have a right to be able to work in a work environment safely, free from harassment and in a workplace that protects them to do their job. No one should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. And Mr. Farenthold doesn't belong in Congress.
BLACKWELL: Congressman David Cicilline, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.
GALLAGHER: All right, teammates on the battlefield, rivals on the football field. We are live at the Army/Navy game.
But first voting is now under way for CNN Hero of the Year. Here is one of the top ten heroes. Meet Amy Wright.
AMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: People with disabilities, sometimes the world just passes them by. Having a workplace that makes you feel proud of yourself and gives you a sense of community is something we all want. Most of them are unemployed and we really felt like we wanted to do something about it. And it was like, coffee shop.
Other than our two managers, everybody that works at Bitty & Beau's Coffee has an intellectual or developmental disability. We figured out what their skill set was and we plugged them in. Now we have 40 employees. For most of them who have never had a job before, it's really exciting. We always say it's more than a cup of coffee. It's a human rights movement. It's given our employees the respect that they deserve. When you just give them a chance, they can do anything you ask them to do.
GALLAGHER: You can vote for Amy or any of your favorite top ten heroes right now at CNNHeroes.com.
[10:52:16] GALLAGHER: Last year Army snapped Navy's 14-game winning streak. So the question is are the midshipmen going to get their revenge or is Army going to start a streak of their own, Victor? BLACKWELL: Let's see if that happens. Coy Wire is right in the
middle of the action, and he's got a lot of folks around them. Hey, Coy.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Baby, it's cold outside. It's a winter wonderland for the 118th Army/Navy featuring the future defenders of our nation from our naval academy Navy --
WIRE: And our Army.
WIRE: One player, Jake Hawk, he's in a precarious situation. He plays for Navy, but his dad and two brothers are all Army. He's truly in a house divided.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE HAWK, NAVY OFFICER: The reason I wanted to serve is because my whole family has served. Like if you go back generations, it's all Army, Army, Army. My brothers, they were both serving at the time. My dad has retired, 20 years in the Army.
JOHN HAWK, JAKE'S FATHER: Anybody that can love my son as much as they love him, I have to support them wholeheartedly. Talk to his brothers, they'll say go Army, beat Navy, but we support Jake.
HAWK: My mom's stance on support is always with me, and to my understanding, she'll be a Navy fan for the rest of her life.
NADJEE HAWK, JAKE'S MOTHER: I root for Navy. That's it.
JOHN HAWK: The Army/Navy game in this household, it's an important game.
JAKE HAWK: The Army/Navy game last year, it was a tough time.
NADJEE HAWK: His heart is crushed, so that upsets me.
JAKE HAWK: I've never felt that bad after a loss. I don't think I'll ever feel that bad after a loss again. My brothers definitely rubbed it in.
NADJEE HAWK: I spoke to my other sons who were like, well, mom, we're in the Army, and all I could say was, but you didn't play in that game.
JAKE HAWK: Thanksgiving this year is going to be -- I don't know. I'm not sure what to expect because we're all going to be back together for the first time in a long time.
NADJEE HAWK: There's always a little trash talk. They can't help themselves. It's who they are.
JOHN HAWK: Until May of 2019, I will be a diehard Navy fan. The day he throws his hat in the air and he's no longer a midshipman is the day I switch back my loyalty to the Army.
WIRE: Since 1890, one of the greatest spectacles in all of American sports. Are you ready?
WIRE: Are you ready?
WIRE: It's about to be on, the 118th Army/Navy game live from Philly. Go Navy!
CROWD: Beat Army!
WIRE: Go Army!
CROWD: Beat Navy!
WIRE: Back to you.
GALLAGHER: Best assignment.
BLACKWELL: Yes, absolutely.
GALLAGHER: Thanks, Boy.
We are moments away from President Trump's arrival in Mississippi to help open the civil rights museum there. I want to thank you for watching.
We're going to take you there. I want to thank you for watching.
BLACKWELL: Yes, there is much more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom with Fredericka Whitfield that starts after a quick break.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the east coast. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.