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AMI May Face Legal Trouble; Lawmakers Not Satisfied with Matthew Whitaker's Answers; President Trump's Golf Course Hires Undocumented Immigrants; Blackface as the New Fashion; Facebook Turns 15. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired February 8, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatening to call acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker back for questioning. Congressman Jerry Nadler saying he's not satisfied with Whitaker's answers at todays' fiery hearing.
Whitaker testified that he hasn't talked to President Trump about the Mueller investigation. But when asked how many times he had been briefed about the special counsel's probe, Whitaker got into a testy exchange with Chairman Nadler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It is our understanding that at least one briefing occurred in December, before your decision not to recuse yourself on December 19, on Christmas Day, is that correct?
MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: What's the basis for that question, sir?
NADLER: Yes or no?
WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, again, what is the basis for your question? You're saying that it is --
NADLER: I'm asking the questions. I only have five minutes so please answer yes or no.
WHITAKER: No, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to. You are asking me a question. It is your understanding. Can you tell me where you get the basis --
NADLER: No. I'm not going to tell you that. I don't have time on get into that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, speaking to an audience of one, and if there is any question about exactly who that one might be, the White House appears to be pleased. One official saying, Whitaker's testimony went as expected.
Let's discuss now. Shimon Prokupecz is here. Shimon has been following all of this very closely. He knows this like the back of his hand. Shimon, Whitaker said that -- good evening to you. Whitaker said that there hasn't been a decision in the special counsel investigation that has required him to take action. What does that tell you?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So, it could be two things here, Don. Either, a, you know, despite that he has been briefed, that he really has had no say in this investigation, and that it's really being led by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has been overseeing Robert Mueller and his team.
The other thing this could indicate is that all of the heavy lifting and all of the serious decisions, and any kind of really serious activity that was going to be conducted by the special counsel's office, happened before he got to the Department of Justice. So, there are two things here that it could mean.
It could also tell us that, you know what, he came toward the end of this investigation. That things are starting to wrap up here and that really, his only involvement in all of this was just to be brief. And that he didn't really have to make any significant decisions.
You know, and the other thing I want to point out, Don. You know, it's right. He was speaking to an audience of one. But people at the Department of Justice, the rank and file, certainly were not happy with his performance with today. And you know, people that I've talked to certainly were embarrassed by what he did today.
And quite honestly, people at the Department of Justice really never thought that he should be in the position that he was in. So, yes, he may have been brief but I don't know that anyone ever really wanted him making any serious decision at the Department of Justice.
LEMON: Very interesting. So, Shimon, Whitaker he wasn't open with his conversations with the president about Michael Cohen.
LEMON: Does that signal anything to you?
PROKUPECZ: Well, yes. So, in particular to whether or not we had done some reporting, our team had done that, the president was pretty angry at the Southern District of New York and their investigation of Michael Cohen and how they essentially implicated him in the hush money payment.
Remember, he's referred to as individual number one. Well, our reporting indicated that the president confronted Whitaker wanted to know what was going on at the Southern District of New York why they were doing this. And basically, it seems that Whitaker really didn't have any answers
for him. He would not go there today, Whitaker. Obviously, he kept saying he didn't want to talk about his discussions with the president. It could also be that the Southern District of New York, as we said on this show a couple nights ago, are kind of doing their own thing and they're not telling the Department of Justice.
Sor this very reason, you know, they're trying to keep this separate. Keep this from the political hands of the Department of Justice, of the White House and they've not been briefing the Department of Justice on parts of their investigation.
So, he may not have known what was going on at the Southern District of New York. But nonetheless, whether or not he had those conversations with the president, he would not go there.
LEMON: Let's talk about Jeff Bezos. Right.
LEMON: Because we're learning that prosecutors are looking into Jeff Bezos claims about the National Enquirer to see if they indeed violated any immunity agreement. What do you know?
PROKUPECZ: This spell big problem, I think for AMI, for David Pecker.
[23:04:57] The Southern District of New York is not playing around. If they get any sense here, there prosecutors there, they're pretty aggressive, they're relentless. If they think that AMI and David Pecker went against this deal. They gave them this non-prosecution agreement. They weren't prosecuting them for their involvement in the hush money payment.
If they get any sense that this team, the AMI had been doing this, that there was anything criminal here, they're going to rip up this cooperation agreement, this non-prosecution agreement. And AMI could potentially now face some legal jeopardy.
The fact that they're even looking at this, the Southern District of New York, they're going to have lots of questions. They are going to want to know how did the National Enquirer get their hands on this material --
PROKUPECZ: -- which could spell even more trouble for this group. And where did it come from, and whether or not it was politically motivated. This is going to open all sorts of doors that I think is going to lead to a lot of problems for AMI.
LEMON: So many questions.
LEMON: Shimon Prokupecz is on top of it. Shimon, thank you. I appreciate your time. PROKUPECZ: Sure.
LEMON: I want to bring in now the former director national intelligence, Mr. James Clapper. Director, good evening. Thank you for joining us.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Give me your takeaway from the acting A.G., acting A.G. Whitaker's testimony today. Did you find him to be credible?
CLAPPER: Not really. All I could think about was, you know, I spent 25, 27 years in various capacities testifying on the Hill. His performance was truly cringe worthy starting with the reminding the chairman that his five minutes were up. You just don't do that. And I thought that was truly amateur hour.
The other of course, is he just came across as not credible at all. He conflicted with himself and I thought he ought to get the booby prize for the Fred Astaire tap dancing award. He was terrible. And obviously in over his head.
More seriously though, I thought, that was six hours of a reminder of how the independence of the Department of Justice has kind of taken a beating with him as the acting A.G.
LEMON: Interesting. Let's dig in a little more. He refused to answer an important question. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you overseeing a witch hunt?
WHITAKER: Congressman, as I mentioned previously, the special counsel investigation is an ongoing investigation. And so, I think it would be inappropriate for me to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't oversee a witch hunt, wouldn't you? You would stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you?
WHITAKER: Congressman, it would be inappropriate for me to talk about an ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the acting attorney general, the person in charge of the Mueller investigation, refusing to say it isn't a witch hunt. Something just about every other law enforcement official has said.
CLAPPER: Well, to me, you know, there have been earlier references on your show tonight about, you know, he was playing to an audience of one. And so, I guess he didn't feel that he could disagree the president's characterization of the Mueller investigation being a witch hunt. And again, it was sad to use the overworked term. LEMON: Yes. Director, Shimon and I were just discussing Jeff Bezos,
the allegations about the National Enquirer and AMI. Bezos suggested that Saudis could be involved in putting out negative stories about him. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says that he doubts that he played a role. Can the Saudis be trusted?
CLAPPER: No. And this whole Jeff Bezos thing, you know, the interesting context, this is someone who the president intensely dislikes, resents and I think he's jealous of for one, because of his wealth and success with Amazon and Washington Post, so.
And then there is the potential Saudi connection and this suck up publication that the National Enquirer put out, extolling the virtues of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman's reform program and all that.
Well, just a very curious context here. And I do wonder as previous segment you were discussing breaking this immunity agreement and where that leaves AMI. So, to me, the more interesting question is the bigger context.
[23:09:53] LEMON: Yes. Today was also the deadline, Director, for the Trump administration to provide a report to Congress on the Saudi crown prince's role on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. But the administration declined to meet that deadline. What message does that send?
CLAPPER: Well, I think it is pretty obvious. They -- you know, the administration has already indicated, they're not going to point the finger of blame where it actually belongs which is at the doorstep of Mohammed bin Salman.
As I've said before there is no way this whole operation could have gone down without his knowledge, acquiescence and indeed, direction. And I think the White House knows that. I think that is the position of the assessment, pretty high confidence assessment of the intelligence committee, notably the CIA, that concluded exactly that. There is no way this could have happened without his direct involvement. And the White House, you know, there are going to avoid pointing that out.
LEMON: Can I just ask you, when you -- when you worked in government, did you ever ignore a congressional deadline?
CLAPPER: No. I mean, sometimes if it was a written request or something like that, that maybe required more time to prepare, you communicate with whoever the interested party was on the Hill and say, we're working at this. We'll have it for you on this date. But just to blow him off entirely, no. They just, you know, do that.
LEMON: So, to do that is unusual, you say.
CLAPPER: Yes. To say the least.
LEMON: We may find -- yes, we may find out later and maybe they are asking for another, for an extension. Who knows? But at this point that is -- that remains to be seen. That's the question. The Washington Post has reported that the CIA has concluded that Bin
Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing. Do you think the Trump administration is trying to bury this?
CLAPPER: Well, sure. I think it is pretty obvious. And you know, I thought it was really interesting when Gina Haspel, the director of CIA, finally went to the Hill and testified, and then the commentary that was made by the Republican senators about the complicity of Mohammed bin Salman.
And boy, to me, I read a lot into that. That the intelligence assessment is probably pretty devastating and the evidence they had to back it up. And that's not -- that's not where the White House wants to be with Saudi Arabia.
LEMON: Yes. Director, thank you. Have a great weekend. OK?
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: The feds are very interested in Jeff Bezos' charges that the National enquirer's parent company tried to blackmail and extort him and that may spell trouble for AMI's cooperation deal with prosecutors.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So federal prosecutors are now looking at whether the National Enquirer's parent company violated its non-prosecution deal in the Michael Cohen case. That's after the Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos charge AMI who tried to blackmail and extort him.
Let's discuss. Mr. Mark McKinnon, Mr. Elie Honig. Both are here.
Good evening, gentlemen. Mark, I need to get to you weigh in on this. I've been waiting to talk to you about this. It's an explosive story. It has it all.
MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": Yes. Just when you think the pluck could get any thicker, it just goes, you know, hardens into cement. And there are so many potential angles on this. You do a Venn diagram of the Saudis, of Trump, of AMI. There are so many intersections in places this could go.
The thing that's most striking to me is that if you're willing to jeopardize cooperation agreement by putting a threat in an e-mail, that suggests a level of panic and concern that really, you know, should get everybody's antenna going and I would suspect, especially prosecutors.
So, Elie, I would ask you, first of all, what kind of exposure does the violation of a cooperation agreement present? And then two, won't the prosecutors be able to go to AMI and find out where they got that material?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so it's a good question. Violating the non-prosecution agreement here by AMI is sort of a double risk. Because remember, that non-prosecution agreement protects AMI against charges in the hush money payments that were made to Karen McDougal.
So, now any non-prosecution agreement says you shall not commit any further crimes. Now you're on our watch, we're the prosecutors. So if they committed a crime, that non-prosecution goes out the window and now AMI, Pecker, perhaps, are facing potential charges for the hush money payments and potentially for extortion as well.
Because, and again, there is a healthy legal debate out there about whether AMI's actions constitute extortion. I think they do.
LEMON: But what about -- what about the second part of his question where he said, what about how they acquired this material?
HONIG: Yes. Look, the southern district absolute can and should ask that. AMI may well claim up at this point. AMI, if they realize that the writings on the wall, and they are going to get in trouble on that non-prosecution agreement is going to get written up, their lawyer I would suspect tells them, it's over, guys. This non-prosecution agreement is over. We're going to take the fifth, we're going to go our separate ways if they can figure it out.
But there may be a crime there, too. If they hacked to get in those messages, the text messages, there could be a crime separate and apart from extortion here. So that's another place that AMI could be in trouble.
LEMON: Why do you see -- say, Elie, that you would bring these charges even though others say they wouldn't?
HONIG: Yes. So, Don, I sort of grew up as a prosecutor, prosecuting the mafia here in New York City. I think AMI took a page right out of the mob's play book here. The extortion means using threats, fear or intimidation to get someone to hand over something of value. Some property.
And so, let's break it down. The kind of cases I used to do was sort of almost like Hollywood level obvious. I did a trial once where a mob guy threatened to cut someone's fingers off if he didn't pay him every week.
Obviously, the facts here are not that clear cut but I still think you have enough. Let's break it down.
[23:20:01] What did AMI do? Did they make a threat darn right? Look at that e-mail that Jeff Bezos published. Right? We're going to out these humiliating photos. Were they trying to get something of value?
Well, this phony statement that they wanted Bezos to make sort of clearing them of any wrongdoing would have had enormous value to them. And then the tricky question is, was it wrongful?
There is sort of fine line between hard knuckled business negotiation tactics on the one hand and something that crosses the line. I would absolutely be willing to stand up in front of a jury and say these e- mails when they were threatening to put out these lured lewd photos of Bezos, putting in these details like you were wearing your wedding ring at the time, that is over the line that crosses the line from just standard business practice.
MCKINNON: Since we got here --
LEMON: Mark -
MCKINNON: -- since we have a prosecutor here, Don, can I ask another question?
MCKINNON: Elie, what is it in that cooperation agreement beyond what we know about, the payments to the two women, might the prosecutors be interested in getting that's of value to them beyond that -- those initial facts?
HONIG: Yes. When someone cooperates with the Southern District of New York, we do it a little different than other districts. It's all or nothing in the southern district. You have to tell us everything you know. Other districts sometimes will tell a cooperator, or someone a non-pros scenario, you can just sort of answer this narrow band of questions.
In the southern district, the standard rule is you got to tell us everything. It's all or nothing. And so, I think I would guess that in this scenario the southern district has AMI and Pecker at the ready. And if they want to ask questions or demand documents or e-mails, then I would guess up to this point, assuming nothing has gone wrong, that AMI and Pecker had been producing everything they have to the southern district.
LEMON: The big -- a big question, too, Mark, is why. Right? Why all of this? Why do you think David Pecker's, what was his main goal in reporting on Jeff Bezos? Because the National Enquirer, you don't hear about folks like Jeff Bezos that much. This all comes back to Trump, right?
MCKINNON: Yes. I think the obvious answer is the simplest one which is that he feels bad about the position he's in now with the president because of that cooperation agreement and he's trying to get back in his good graces through this subterranean route and has only accomplished the -- complicating the situation by a lot.
LEMON: So, AMI is denying, right? That they tried to blackmail Bezos. They're now saying that they are going to investigate the allegations, Mark. How can they investigate themselves on something like this?
MCKINNON: Well, you certainly can't by just asking your board to investigate. You know, they all have an interest in the company surviving and the chairman surviving. If there were really any interest in finding out what went on, they would bring an outside firm, an independent firm, and independent investigators. So, I mean, that's just ridiculous on its face.
LEMON: Eli, I'm not sure if you saw it earlier. John Dean was on with Erin Burnett. And John said that Pecker could do some jail time. Do you think it's a possibility if in fact he violated that non- prosecution deal?
HONIG: Yes. Of course, absolutely. Look, if the southern district decides he committed a new crime, they would tear that agreement up and Pecker is back to square one. Only now he's produced all this evidence over to the southern district, right?
So, the only thing that was protecting him before was that non- prosecution agreement. If he violated it, it's out the window and he is outright exposed. So, things could really collapse around him.
LEMON: Interesting. A lot of people -- a lot of people -- this president hasn't -- a lot of people face jail time. The president hasn't so far to face jail time because of their relationship or lying are covering up for this president.
Mark, I got to ask you about this, I think it's fascinating that your team talked to Hillary Clinton about Mueller for this week's episode of The Circus. Let's listen to the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of consternation from Democrats about whether the findings of the Mueller report are going to see daylight. Are you worried about it when you look at the landscape?
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that anyone in a position of responsibility has a duty to keep the American people informed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
CLINTON: And I would expect that duty to be fulfilled. And if there is a report, that report should be sent to the Congress and made public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Most people agree that the report should be made public. The question is, will it, Mark?
MCKINNON: Well, I think it will. I actually have confidence in Bill Barr. He had a pretty good record as a former attorney general. He says he's not going to fire Trump and that there will be a report.
And I think, you know, it's in the prerogative of the attorney general to redact certain things that may be a national security issue. But I think under any circumstances, the truth is going to get out about this report one way or the other.
LEMON: "The Circus," Showtime this Sunday. Make sure you tune in. My thanks to Elie and Mark McKinnon. Elie Honig and Mark McKinnon. (CROSSTALK)
MCKINNON: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I appreciate it.
HONIG: Thank you.
LEMON: "The Washington Post" reports that over a dozen men and women from Costa Rica worked at the president's golf club in Bedminster without legal status. One of them says my whole town practically lived there.
[23:25:01] We're going to talk to one of the reporters who broke that story. That's next.
LEMON: A major investigation by the Washington Post details a pipeline of undocumented workers from Costa Rica to New Jersey where they got jobs at President Trump's national golf course in Bedminster.
Joining me now one of the reporters who broke the story, "The Washington Post's" Nick Miroff. Thank you so much. It's so good to have you, Nick Miroff. It's so good to have you on, sir.
[23:29:53] So this story is fascinating. You're reporting uncovers a whole new angle on President Trump's use of illegal workers at his companies. Explain what you learned and how it adds to our understanding of what they've been doing for all these years.
NICK MIROFF, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Sure. Well, this is a long story. But you know, in December, we saw a couple women come forward including one who was working at Bedminster and attending to the president and his family up until -- up until the end of last year. And that really got us on to the on, to this trail.
And you know, sparked this curiosity as to how many people have worked illegally at the club and starting when. And eventually led us all the way to Costa Rica and to this small town where we found really a whole village of former Bedminster employees who worked illegally.
LEMON: I just want to read a quote, Nick, from the article. OK? And it says, "Over the years, the network from Costa Rica to Bedminster expanded as workers recruited friends and relatives, some flying to the United States on tourist visas, and others paying smugglers paying thousands of dollars to help smuggle them cross the U.S.-Mexico border, former employees said. New hires needed little more than a crudely painted phony green card and a fake social security number to land a job, they said."
So, I mean, it sounds like what the president talks about all the time, accuses other people of, and he's using the exact same practices. It's interesting and they talk -- you talk about people overstaying their visas. Which is maybe a bigger problem than even, you know, the people crossing illegally on the southern border. Did the people hiring these workers know that they were undocumented?
MIROFF: Well, these former workers said that yes, they did. That their managers knew. It was well known at the club that all of these workers, and we're talking about grounds keepers, house keepers, kitchen workers, table bussers, that sort of thing.
That it was well known that they were illegal, that their documents were phony. They would present phony documents at the time that they were hired. But it was essentially an open secret at the club and there was no sort stigma about it whatsoever. And it was also well known in the town of Bound Brook near Bedminster where so many of these workers lived.
LEMON: The Trumps have been forced to fire illegal workers at five of their golf courses. Just recently, and they promised to use the E- Verify system. The president had previously claimed to be using the system already. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we going to do about illegal hiring? Because the Republicans joined the Democrats and said in that bill a couple of years ago, we're going to stop illegal hiring because that's the mandate.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're using E-Verify and with the various methods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you for it?
TRUMP: I'm for it. I use it. You know, I'm using E-Verify on just about every job at Doral. I'm using it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP: But I'm using it on the building on the old post office on Pennsylvania Avenue that I'm building into.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good job.
TRUMP: It will soon be a phenomenal hotel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But is it --
TRUMP: And I'm using E-Verify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Nick, if they aren't using it, is it because they didn't want to be found out?
MIROFF: Well, you know, that's a good question. What we've seen is that properties and golf clubs in particular, that want to be especially rigorous about checking the status of their employees, have in fact signed up for the E-Verify system.
So, some of the president's competitors, so to speak, in the gold industry are using the system. But his, the Trump organization can only confirm that they have been using E-Verify at three properties, up until now.
Eric Trump told us that there are a few others, without naming which ones those are. But of the 12 courses that the Trump organization has in the United States, only three were using E-Verify up until now. In some cases, that was because it's a state law requiring large employers like this to use it. It was not in place at Bedminster.
LEMON: Here's what your reporting reveals, that workers earn $10 an hour or less for seeding, for watering, mowing, building the sand traps, they're driving -- and driving bulldozers. A licensed heavy equipment operator would have received an average of $51 to $55 per hour.
If the Trump properties, if they can't use cheaper legal labor, what will that mean for their businesses?
MIROFF: Well, a lot of the workers that we've talked to had the same question.
[23:34:51] They wonder, you know, if the Trump administration, sorry, if the Trump organization is going to require, is going to use E- Verify and hire only legal workers, then they will likely face a real crunch starting this spring when they have to hire for not only Bedminster but these other properties where they say that they are going to use E-Verify and they're only going to hire workers who have been rigorously checked for their immigration status.
But, you know, the spring season is coming up and they're going to need to hire a lot of workers and it's not clear where they are going to come from.
LEMON: I got to say, this is some really amazing reporting. Nice job.
Nick Miroff, we really appreciate your time. Please come back.
MIROFF: Thank you. Any time.
LEMON: Virginia's governor and attorney general fighting for their political lives over putting on blackface. Why this is keep happening, we're going to discuss.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A source tells CNN that the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has no plans to resign after -- this week after admitting and then denying that he was in a photo. Featuring people in blackface, and KK robe -- and a KKK robe in his medical school yearbook.
He is not the only one facing a racist controversy in the state of Virginia. The Virginia's attorney general admitted this week that he had put on blackface at a party back in 1980.
Why is blackface back in the news? The Washington Post's Robin Givhan is here to discuss. Robin, your article was fascinating. Please help up -- and thank you, I should say, for helping guide our viewers through this.
We're in the middle of black history month. We're talking about elected officials putting on blackface and fashion labels are referencing blackface. And it feels -- it keeps feeling like, you know, this conversation that we need to have. It keeps coming back. Why do people get caught up doing blackface?
ROBIN GIVHAN, FASHION CRITIC, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I don't think that we were ever not caught up. I mean, one of the things that to me, is striking, is that, you know, as much as we sort of say that it's in the news now, I think it is in the news politically and intensely in Virginia. But it never seems to really go away.
I mean, every Halloween, essentially it comes up. And when I was writing about it, you know, my goal was really to sort of try and understand, parse out why it is that it just won't go away. That it just keeps coming -- it keeps being repeated in different iterations, and yet it's still the same thing.
LEMON: Yes. And you know, I keep looking online and I see more and more people showing yearbook pictures in frat parties wherever where people did blackface in the late 70's or 80's and even into the 90's. When it first came out, I said this is not surprising, we're going to see more of it. And surely, more pictures started to roll out.
LEMON: I want you to --
GIVHAN: (Inaudible) sent in, you know, a picture from his own yearbook saying, you know, he went back and there it was.
GIVHAN: So, yes, I mean, it's -- and this was I believe he said in Colorado.
LEMON: Wow! So, let's -- let me read a bit of your piece and have you talk about this more. You say, "blackface is in essence a kind of fashion. One rooted in the dark, arrogant insecurity of white supremacy, one inspired by this country's original sin that keeps evolving year after year until each iteration is a little bit different from the previous one." How has it evolved throughout?
GIVHAN: Well, I think it's become, you know, less blackface and more black make-up, more brown face paint. I think it's become glossier and, you know, sleeker. I mean, you see in it fashion magazines as a kind of, you know, edgy boundary pushing aesthetic. You see it you see the connections in high-end design. Whether you
know, we mentioned Gucci and Prada. And I've seen on it the runway where designers have painted entire models' bodies black. And not really made the connection.
So, I think it's just gotten so far distanced from the history that, and people are distanced from that and feel like it's someone else's history. It's not their history and so they don't have the sort of personal and emotional connection to it.
And I think that, you know, we tend to think of sort of bad race- related things in terms of some Hollywood film with people in hoods and so forth. That's just not necessarily the case.
GIVHAN: And so, people don't think that it is race related because they're not racist in the traditional classic sense.
LEMON: Yes. Here's what I thought. You write it in here. You really helped me understand because I was trying to portray to people who didn't understand it just how personal it is for people of color.
And you say, "so often the people who are reprimanded for people wearing blackface are emotionally disconnected from the its history," you say. "After all, if it is not your past, then it's not personally painful or hurtful. It's all just weird looking tchotchkes, intellectual fodder, creative inspiration. And for a lot of nonblack Americans, African-American history is separate from theirs. It isn't shared history." You summed it up right there.
[23:44:55] GIVHAN: Yes. I always think it's striking when someone, you know, is revealed to have a blackface moment in their past and they apologize. And their apologies aimed at the so-called black community.
And always think to myself, well, you know, you should be apologizing to everyone because this should be offensive to everyone. In the same way that anti-Semitism should not just be offensive to people are Jewish but it should be offensive to everyone because it chips away at our humanity, our shared humanity.
And, you know, as so many historians have pointed out, that you can't have American history without African-American history. It's one and the same. So, people should take it personally. Whatever color they are.
LEMON: What about the folks -- a guy said that he dressed up like Kurtis Blow, they dress up as artists, it's an homage to -- what do you say to that?
GIVHAN: Well, you know, I think that is one of the sorts of complicated things that people feel that because they're appreciative of the work that, you know, a black celebrity or a black person may have produced, that any sort of mimicry is sort of OK. But you know, I think that what you're sort of getting into is you're
not sort celebrating the work of the person. You're really sort of turning their identity into a costume. And you are using it for your amusement. And I think any time you start sort of taking on the identity of someone, and using it for your own personal agenda, then you're treading in really sort of treacherous waters.
LEMON: Robin, Robin Givhan, thank you. From the Washington Post. Everyone should read this article. It is fascinating. It's called blackface is white supremacy as fashion and it's always been in season, by Robin Givhan. Thank you.
GIVHAN: Thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Have a good weekend. We'll be right back.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Facebook is turning 15 in the midst of a storm of controversy. So, what's really going on inside the most powerful social media company on earth? CNN got unprecedented access. Here's a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is, there is a bit of game of thrones culture among the executives. One of the problems about having a really tight-knit set of people making all these decisions, if you keep the same people in the same places, it's just very difficult to admit you're wrong. Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company is powerful and after spending time behind Facebook's walls, there was another them that emerged. Folks who had something to say but were afraid to say it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Working at Facebook can feel a little bit like being part of a cult.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This former employee asked us to protect their identity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaking out against the company is not welcome. There's a career impact where you might get blacklisted and you're not going to get hired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ironically, in a place that's connected billions, this former employee cites a disconnect within.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People aren't really encouraged to bring bad news to Mark because generally Mark doesn't handle bad news well.
In a public setting, he politely argues against it. In a private setting, he is more like likely to really aggressively go against that information or challenge the source to challenge the assumptions to honestly not believe the bad news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Facebook is in transition. Many executives have left over rumor disputes about the company's direction, including the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Amidst all the controversy there's been speculation. Should Zuckerberg, who is CEO, chairman and the majority shareholder of Facebook step aside?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: That's not the plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: that's not the plan. Would anything change that?
ZUCKERBERG: I mean, like, eventually over time. I mean, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to be doing this forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It's interesting. Facebook is always interesting and there's always intrigue. Laurie Segall joins us now.
Laurie, it's always fascinating when you go behind the scenes of Facebook. As you say, there's been a lot of pressure on the company. What do you think are the biggest challenges for them right now?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: I think fully accepting this responsibility. You go in, Mark Zuckerberg has always had this mission to connect the world. Well, congratulations, you've connected the world and there are all these, you know, massive issues that come along with it.
I think having spent some time behind the walls of Facebook, I think bursting their own filter bubble to a degree. You know, you hear their former chief security officer Alex Stamos in that clip talking about this insular group. And I think it's really going to be these challenges ahead of Facebook are massive.
There are issues of free speech of journalist and there are all of these issues that are beyond the walls of Facebook and I think it's really going to be going outside those walls and beginning to get help from the outside going forward, Don.
LEMON: So, you've seen it firsthand. From what you have observed, Laurie, what is the environment like?
SEGALL: You know, it's in transition. I think, you know, some folks it was hard to get a lot of sources to actually come on camera and talk about some of these issues with nuance because the company is so powerful.
Now that being said, I think there's a massive will to change things and to, you know, to make things better as we head even towards the 2020 election. What happened with Russian interference I think, you know, has shaken the company and they've tried to do quite a bit to get in front of that.
And I'll give you a little anecdote. back when Facebook was going public, they had to shift towards mobile. They hadn't really made the app for mobile and this was a massive thing. And everyone at the company, everyone had to go to Mark if they had a product and it had to be mobile first.
[23:55:01] Now the same, you know, that same attention is being put on interference and getting in front of a lot of these issues with security and protecting democracy. And I think it's something they're taking incredibly seriously.
Because as we've seen what happened in the last election, it was just unacceptable that they didn't anticipate the bad things that could happen on the platform.
LEMON: Wow. Interesting. I have to say I went want to Facebook headquarters in New York recently. And you know, when you walk into our offices, right, television come, and you see TVs everywhere. On the elevator when you come in there were no televisions. All the TV folks were like where are the TV monitors. That's the future.
SEGALL: Yes. Yes.
LEMON: Yes. Laurie, thank you. Always appreciate it.
SEGALL: Thank you.
LEMON: I can't wait to see this report, it's a CNN special report. It's called Facebook at 15, it's complicated. It airs Sunday night at 9. We'll be right back.