Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Philadelphia Shooter Still Barricaded; Smart Tips To Beat President Trump In 2020; Trump Spreads New Conspiracy Theories; Army Veteran Body-Slams A Boy For Not Removing Hat During Anthem; Jay-Z's Roc Nation Entering Partnership With NFL. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 14, 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.

A sea of red on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones fell 800 points after the bond market sent a strong warning signal to investors that the United States could be heading towards recession. That and ongoing trade tensions China sending investors into a panic.

Today was the worst day for the stock market this year and that spells bad news for President Trump if the U.S. is possibly facing tough economic times.

For his entire presidency, he has bragged about the strength of the economy and he has banking on that in his bid for re-election. It's part of his strategy to win a second term along with rallying up his base with his near constant racist rhetoric about immigrants.

So, what if the economy turns sour? How much of a political risk is that for the president? Let's take a look at the big picture tonight.

Let's discuss now, Michael Bender is here. He's a White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal," and Laura Barron-Lopez, a national political reporter for Politico.

Good evening to both of you.

Michael, I'm going to start with you. Big picture I said. The president's 2020 strategy has been centered on the strong economy, stoking his base with racial division. How worried are they at the White House tonight about this?

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, Don, as you very specially pointed out here the economy is the ball game here for this president. This is his key to getting swing voters in the suburbs, getting the establishment kind of country club Republicans who should be on paper locked down for this president.

I know there's been a lot of ups and down in the economy over the last week. But you know, big picture here over the last three years, they should be looking at their 401Ks, looking at their investments and no doubt about it in the bag ready for a second term. The problem as you mentioned for these sort of swing voters is the

racial divisions that are being sewn here. Trump's free willing Twitter account the embarrassment they feel when this president goes overseas, when he talks, speaks in public when he's out in Twitter.

And that it may be a base strategy but I got to tell you, the base is already there. I had dinner tonight, Don, with an official from the Trump super PAC. And it's a little different we were talking about the gun issue.

But what's the interesting part there was that what he said was that he thought that Trump could push, if he wants to, for tougher gun laws and not be hurt by the base. And the reason, his reason was that this president can do almost anything he wants without offending the base.

LEMON: Yes. Laura, you say this is a dilemma of Trump's own making.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. So, Trump from the beginning, from even before he launched his 2016 campaign, early on, he was pedaling the birther conspiracy theory against former President Obama and then when he launched his campaign, very explicitly called Mexicans rapists and criminals.

And a big piece of his campaign in 2016 and also heading into 2020 is about racial identity and the politics of white grievance. And so, this is something that he feels will rally his base around him.

But again, the campaign is also trying to expand its coalition. I've talked to some officials who have said that they want to expand amongst Latino voters and build a Latino coalition. And that they're trying to push in places like Nevada. And so, it's difficult to see how they're going to be able to do that as the president continues his rhetoric.

LEMON: Michael, there is a new Fox News poll it found that 59 percent of voters say that President Trump is tearing the country party, including 92 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents. First of all, I mean, I think that's pretty extraordinary. Right? I mean, it's also a big warning sign for 2020, one would think.

BENDER: Yes, definitely. I mean, again, this is a base election. And he's got to get some, he has to get some independents here. And what we're going to see eventually, the strategy here is for Trump to make this election not about himself but about his Democratic opponent. That's how he won in 2016.

It was made Hillary Clinton so unpalatable that people held their noses and voted for Trump. So that's part of the strategy here is to make, without a Democratic nominee yet, he's trying to make the Democratic Party writ large unpalatable.

And you know, he has stepped quite a bit for a lot of his advisers too far into the -- you know, in stoking these racial divisions that it's not just ramping up the base but turning off people in the middle.

[23:05:06] LEMON: Laura, I mean, it's pretty astounding, don't you think that six out of 10 people who were polled think that the president is literally tearing the country apart. It's kind of the opposite of what the president should be doing of his mission as president.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is a striking poll number. And again, I think that this -- my reporting has shown, and in the lead to the third -- to the second presidential debate for Democrats, that Trump is setting the tone on racial identity and on the message for 2020.

And so, Democrats have a moral question pretty much laid at their feet, which is whether or not they explicitly and overtly speak to black and brown voters, or they go with conventional wisdom which is that they somehow need to not overtly talk about race and go with what they've done in the past.

LEMON: Laura, Michael, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. I want to discuss now more from former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. He is the author of "Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism."

Governor, good to see you. Thank you so much.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to see you, Don.

LEMON: The Dow dropped 800 points today because of a warning sign of a possible recession. The president has brought us, you know, into a trade war with China. That new Fox News poll out tonight about the president's approval rating, it's falling three points to 43 percent. Disapprove at 53 percent. Does this explain the president's Twitter anxiety tonight?

MCAULIFFE: Let me tell you. The trade war, the economy, this is going to be his downfall. You know, we are now in 10 years. It started in June of 2009, the recovery. And now you see signs that a recession is coming. He's tweeted us into a trade war, you know. He's done a tax cut for the wealthiest. He's made prices go up for individual families all across the country.

And you look where we are on trade today. And people are being hurt. He said he was going to be tough on trade. He has been tough. He's been tough on farmers.

LEMON: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: I think of Virginia, when I was governor in 2016, we did about $584 million of egg exports with forestry. And $500 million of that was soybeans. This year, in the first six months, we have only sold about $18 million worth of soybeans to China.

You know, what's happened to all these farmers now is, they're not been able to sell their products all across the globe. Their products are now rotting on the ground, and they don't want a bailout from the federal government. They're hard, earnest working people. And they want to be able to raise their crops and they want to sell them. And they can't do that now because of Donald Trump. So, we are now, if you look at the indicators we could be heading

toward a recession and it's Donald Trump's fault. He has tweet us into a trade war. He should have built an alliance around the world to go after China. He alienated all of our allies around the world and then he went at China solo with the United States of America and we're paying a horrible price today.

And without a good economy, there is no way that Donald Trump can win re-election. He starts around like a stuffed turkey; he's going to get plucked. I'll tell you; people have had it.

LEMON: Well, I think I misspoke. His approval is 56 percent. I may have said 53 percent. But listen, with the way things are going, Governor, is there an opportunity for Democrats to be taking, to be talking more about the economy going into to 2020? Taking more stock in the economy?

MCAULIFFE: Absolutely. I've been trying to say this now for several months. This is a great opportunity for the Democrats to talk to the American people about exactly what they are going to do for them to help their lives. We should not get caught up in the tweets by Donald Trump every single day. We should stay away from that. Don't let him get us into these social divisions.

We ought to talk about the economy. We ought to talk about prescription drug prices are we are going to bring them down out in a network hospital cost, what we're going to do on infrastructure, what we're going to do on workforce development. That's what the American public wants to hear from us.

And Trump, you know, he lost to -- he's lost the trade war and now he wants to start a race war here in the United States of America. And we shouldn't play that game. We ought to the American public. They want to hear from us what are you going to do for me every single day.

And that is a great opportunity and we need to take advantage of that opportunity and talk directly to the American public.

LEMON: In July, Elizabeth Warren wrote a medium post about an impending economic crash. And in that she said, she said, "When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again. I see a manufacturing sector in recession. I see a precarious economy that is built on debt. Both household debt and corporate debt and that is vulnerable to shocks. And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy shaky foundation to crumble."

Listen, there is a lot there, a lot may be true.

MCAULIFFE: And I agree 100 percent with Elizabeth Warren.

LEMON: But, I mean, is it far too early to say that we're heading into a recession?

MCAULIFFE: Well, you don't want to talk yourself into a recession. But you've seen the inverse yield curve that's going on, it has predated every single recession we've had. [23:09:58] Look at manufacturing. Look at the auto industry. Look at

the housing industry today, they're all stressed. And look at people's individual debt. And that is a big concern that we have.

But Trump is not doing anything to stimulate the economy to help grow jobs in our economy today. He inherited a great economy and now he is tweeting us into a recession. This lays at his feet. And without a good economy Donald Trump -- because he's sewn such division in our country, the only thing that prop him up was the economy.

And now with the actual wind sign of strain people are going to go elsewhere, they are going to go to Democrats. But I do implore to the Democrats wanting for president you got to lean in and tell the public exactly what you're going to do for them.

The big issues that they care about every single night when they go to bed, what they worry about. And don't play Donald Trump's game. Forget his tweets. It's not worth the time.

LEMON: Governor, listen, we have some breaking news that we can report tonight. That the former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will end his candidacy tomorrow. We don't know his future plans or if he's going to decide to run for Senate. Remember that there is some talk about that.

Is this a natural winnowing down of a large Democratic field at this point? How do you respond to that?

MCAULIFFE: Yes. And listen, John Hickenlooper was a great governor. I hope he runs for the United States Senate. A big piece of 2020 is not only winning the White House but picking up those three seats we need to the United States Senate.

And what happened in these campaigns is that it's not that your ideas aren't good anymore. You just plain ran out of money. And we've got a great group of candidates running for president. I think it's going to narrow down very quickly as we go forward. The field will begin to consolidate. And it's a good thing.

I'm glad all these candidates ran. They are out putting a message out to individual folks all over the country. But it's now time as we move forward to lay out our plans, begin to coalesce. But let's all fight hard in the primaries.

We, as Democrats, got to come together. No matter who you support in the primaries, when it comes to the general election, we all got to support the Democratic nominee for president. We've got to beat Donald Trump and we got to win control the United States Senate and help our lead now in the United States House of Representatives.

LEMON: Terry McAuliffe, thank you so much.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

MCAULIFFE: You bet.

LEMON: Six police officers wounded in a stand-off in Philadelphia. The suspect still barricaded in the house. A live report from the scene is next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Six police officers shot and wounded in an hours' long standoff in Philadelphia. The suspect barricaded in the house. The mayor furious at the guns and the ammunition on the city streets.

Joining me now, CNN's Jason Carroll, and Sam Rabadi, a former ATF special agent-in-charge of the Philadelphia division.

Gentlemen, good evening.

Jason, I'm going to start with you. I have to play this new eyewitness video of the shootout there. Listen and then we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get your (muted) up here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get up here, Pam (Ph). Get up here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kids in the (muted) house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're shooting for nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kids in the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Jason, it was pandemonium on the streets. And only a short time ago we learned that the officers and the hostages were freed by SWAT. Give us the latest.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that video, Don, just perfectly sort of lays out just how tense, how volatile it was for several hours out here. But the very latest, those six officers who were injured were released from the hospital.

And the two officers who were barricaded for several hours on the second floor while the suspect was shooting through walls on the first floor, SWAT team help those officers escaped along with the prisoners that they were holding as well.

So, here's what we -- here's what we stand. You've got the suspect still hold up inside that raw house just down the block from where I'm standing right now. During the last hour we heard officers trying to reach the suspect on loud speaker. Those officers met by silence.

And again, this all began at about 4.30. That's when the initial call came in. Narcotics officers responded. They were met by gunfire. Officers having to jump outside of the windows in order to escape the gunfire.

And then for the next several hours there were dozens of people on the street, dozens of officers that were here as well as the suspect inside continued to shoot. And then you have those officers injured but thank God those officers are OK tonight.

So, this is where we stand at this point. Negotiators are still trying to reach the suspect inside. But still, the standoff continues. Don?

LEMON: Jason, let me bring Sam here. Sam, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spoke out up passionately about guns just a short while ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JIM KENNEY (D), PHILADELPHIA: And it's aggravating. It's saddening and it's just something that we need to do something about. And if the state and federal government don't want to -- don't want to stand up to the NRA and some other folks, then let us -- let us police ourselves.

But they preempt us on all kinds of gun control legislation. Our officers deserve to be protected. They don't deserve to be shot at by a guy for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and unlimited supply of bullets.

So, it's disgusting. And we got to do something about it. And we need to do something about it quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Sam, he's angry and disgusted about the kinds of guns and ammo that are on the streets. I mean, this is something we hear a lot of local officials and law enforcement talk about.

SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, PHILADELPHIA DIVISION: Absolutely. There's just way too many illegal guns on the streets of many of our urban areas. You know, police work is just inherently dangerous, just the different kinds of events that you're going to be responding to.

But responding to a situation like this where you're trying to arrest an individual and they're armed with a high-powered rifle with a ton of ammunition. There could be no worse scenario for any police officer to face.

LEMON: Sam, Jason, thank you so much for the update on this. We really appreciate it.

The President of the United States promotes a baseless conspiracy theory and not for the first time.

[023:19:59] Is he playing to our paranoia and turning us into a conspiracy nation?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: President Trump using his massive platform on Twitter to retweet and spread a baseless false conspiracy theory linking the Clintons to the death of Jeffrey Epstein in prison. Is he turning us into a conspiracy nation?

Joining me now to discuss is Matt Lewis and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Good evening. Matt, you got a new piece in the Daily Beast. So, we're falling into a whirlpool of paranoia and you say conspiracy theories that were once the realm of cranks and whack jobs are now being pushed by the president. Talk about that.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I mean, conspiracy theories have always been around but normally, presidents try to tamp down on them. And instead, Donald Trump is stoking them, and I would say exploiting the paranoia that already exists out there.

LEMON: Yes. I was just -- anyway, I'm surprised that so many people buy into the conspiracy theories, Max.

[23:24:59] I mean, listen, he launched his political career with the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born into the United States. And then he promoted many more. Among them were he suggests that Ted Cruz' father was involved in the killing of JFK.

He continues to claim that millions of voter illegal in 2016. He said that windmills cause cancer. What did he say after 9/11, there were people cheering? I mean, why, he's such a powerful person. Can this get worse? Why is such a powerful person spreading so many lies?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Sadly, Don, I think Trump is kind of reflect of the larger culture. I mean, at one time I remember back in the 1990s when the internet was first getting started, there was a lot of this kind of gee whiz techno utopianism around. We're going to have perfect information, perfect knowledge. Everybody is going to know everything.

And instead, what we're seeing is that the worse information often spreads the fastest online. I mean, this was brought home to me, you know, a few months ago when I was talking to my 13-year-old stepson. He was mentioning that he was seeing videos on YouTube arguing that the world is flat.

And yes, there is a noticeable minority of the population which actually believes the world is flat just as there are people who believe that vaccines cause autism, which is another one of these crazy conspiracy theories that Trump himself once helped to spread. And people are actually getting sick and infected because you're seeing diseases like measles arise again because people are not vaccinating their kids.

So, this has deadly consequences. I mean, it's affecting our health, it's affecting our society. We need a president who fights back against this information and conspiracy mongering. And instead, Donald Trump is promoting it and making the problem worse. LEMON: Yes. Listen, Matt, you write in a piece and I'm quoting here.

You said, "part of the problem with discovering how crazy the real world is that it makes other crazy things seem plausible. If our government would lie to us about a, why couldn't they lie to us about b? And when you consider the fact that Trump and Clinton are both proven liars it's more evidence that for decades now our elites have contributed to our distrust."

OK. So, of course, you know, leaders shouldn't lie. But how much responsibility do people have to find out the facts for themselves?

LEWIS: Well, look. I think that we live in crazy times. And ultimately, it is our responsibility. But it's tough out there. And part of it is, because, you know, there was a time, John F. Kennedy, when people trusted institutions and they trusted elites and it was thought to be well earned.

But then you had Watergate, you had Vietnam, we've had presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump again proven liars. We've had institutions that were respected like the Catholic Church. The Major League Baseball with the steroids scandal, the police. Now we -- thanks to cell phone and video, we now know that some of the things that we might have given them the benefit of the doubt on in the past, they don't deserve that benefit of the doubt.

There are a lot of reasons to question authority. And look, I think that this whole cleanse body count thing is horrible. Right? Absurd. But is it weird that to question this Epstein story? I don't necessarily think that we should trust the official story handed down by the DOJ or the prison.

LEMON: But you're not saying it's OK for the president to tweet out a conspiracy theory?

LEWIS: No, no.

LEMON: Yes.

LEWIS: Again, I think that what he's doing is exploiting and stoking this paranoia which has been going on for a long time.

LEMON: Listen. Max, Trump has attacked Biden's mental fitness over his gaffes. But you write in The Washington Post that Trump's conspiracy peddling goes well beyond any of Biden slip-ups. Is this going to be an issue do you think in his re-election?

BOOT: It will definitely be an issue. The question is whether it's going to make a difference, Don. And my concern is that we've become kind of inured to the craziness of the commander-in-chief.

The fact that he says the stuff on Twitter that we all know is blatantly false, it's a conspiracy. And I'm imagining how we would react if this was President Obama who was saying, you know, Bill Clinton murder somebody in prison or George H.W. Bush murdered somebody in prison. I mean, this would be a front-page news, right? Everybody would be

going crazy. Because this is the last thing in the world you would expect from somebody who is kind of saying in rational like Barack Obama. But with Trump, we're kind of used to it. It's barely a blip in our consciousness. You know, we move on. There's other stories. It gets very quickly subsumed.

So, the problem is, I'm sure that whoever the Democratic nominee is going to point this out and try to make this an issue. The fact that you have a president who lies incessantly who spreads conspiracy theories. But we knew that when we elected him. And sadly, people kind of used to it. They think -- they seem to think this is kind of the new normal.

LEMON: Imagine also if there was an Obama administration official who was trying to change what the statue --

BOOT: Right.

LEMON: -- with the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

BOOT: Yes, exactly.

LEMON: Don't you think that your former Republicans would --

(CROSSTALK)

BOOT: Yes, of course.

LEMON: Their heads would be --

[23:29:55] BOOT: Yes. This would play into all their conspiracy theories about how Barack Obama is from Kenya, he's anti-American. He's supporting America. And you have Donald Trump who is actually literally trying to rewrite what America is all about and they're OK with that.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. I appreciate it. An army veteran with a traumatic brain injury pleads not guilty to assault after he has allegedly body-slammed a 13-year old. Why he is using the Trump defense, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A U.S. Army veteran pleaded not guilty today to a felony assault charge in Montana after allegedly fracturing the skull of a 13-year-old boy, who wouldn't remove his hat during the national anthem. The man's defense? He says he was convinced he was just following the orders of his commander-in-chief, Donald Trump.

[23:35:01] Scott McLean has details of the controversial reaction to his argument.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to find a more beautiful setting than Superior, Montana. But on August 3rd, it was the site of a very ugly incident.

According to the police affidavit, 39-year-old Army veteran Curt Brockway picked up a 13-year-old boy by his throat and slammed him on to the ground, all because he was wearing a hat during the national anthem at the county rodeo.

The boy had a fractured skull, a concussion, and was even bleeding out of his ears. Brockway's alleged action seemed impossible to explain. But his lawyer, Lance Jasper, tried anyways.

LANCE JASPER, ATTORNEY: You have a person that doesn't have much of a life. They only have what's core to them. And his core, he's a veteran. So he's going to listen to whoever he identifies with.

MCLEAN (voice-over): President Trump has had tough criticism for recent high-profile protests during the national anthem.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing. You shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Jasper thinks his client took messages like these to heart.

(On camera): But what makes you think, though, that he's being influenced by the White House specifically and not just sort of a blind patriotism?

JASPER: It simply boils down to his statements. He understood that everybody is to observe the national anthem.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The incident quickly became a lightning rod. Jasper has the hate mail to prove it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Maybe this attorney of yours, Lance Jasper, will have some integrity, honor and patriotism, and address the idea that this kind of behavior is actually not patriotic, that being a disabled veteran is not an excuse for assaulting people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Jasper, how can you possibly defend this (bleep) that slammed this kid and then blamed the president? I hope the partners in your firm fire your (bleep).

MCLEAN (voice-over): Jasper says other messages have been threatening. What is missing amongst the outrage is context. Veterans Affairs diagnosed Curt Brockway with a traumatic brain injury after he suffered a car accident in 2001 while enlisted in the Army. His lawyer says in some ways, his cognitive abilities are at a third grade level.

(On camera): He can't read the legal documents in this case?

JASPER: No, it has to be explained to him.

MCLEAN (voice-over): His lawyer also says he struggles with impulse control, a trait typical of people with similar brain injuries.

(On camera): Does he understand that he's done something wrong here?

JASPER: Yes.

MCLEAN (voice-over): How do you know that?

JASPER: Because he feels terrible for the little boy. I mean, he knows that hurting a little boy, it wasn't his intention. I mean it. Again, it goes back to his impulse control. It just wasn't there. If it would have been there for a split second, it wouldn't have happened.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Brockway's limitations have caused trouble before. In 2010, he was convicted on a charge of assault after he threatened a group of people with a gun. He can no longer own one and spent nearly the past decade on probation. A psychological evaluation will be done before Brockway's next court appearance. He will be on house arrest until then. Some in town worry he's still a danger.

In court, Brockway pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault on a minor. Meanwhile, his lawyer is merely pleading for the public to see the shades of grey.

JASPER: It's not black and white. That is the whole thing here. It's not. You have a tragedy that needs to be explained, and you have a boy that is innocent in it, did nothing wrong, but he's injured, but he's injured by someone that is also impaired. And so you have to evaluate it all.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Scott McLean, CNN, Superior, Montana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Thank you, Scott. Brockway's lawyer isn't alone in using the president's words as a legal defense. I want to discuss now with Elie Honig and Areva Martin. Areva is the author or "Make it Rain." Good evening to both of you.

Areva, we just heard Curt James Brockway's attorney pointing to the president's rhetoric like his attacks on people protesting the national anthem. What do you think? Is that enough of a defense?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: It's a not a viable defense, Don. The judge may take into account his cognitive issues and some of the brain damage issues that his lawyer referenced in that piece, you know, when we get to the sentencing stage. But there is no viable "Trump made me do it" defense.

What is so shocking about this case is Brockway is not alone. There are like 10 cases that are part of 36 cases that are actually in the courts today, federal and state courts, where people have used this "Trump made me do it" defense. They've cited Trump's rhetoric as inciting them to either, you know, take violent action or threaten some kind of violent action.

And what is so startling about this is that under President Obama and under President Bush, we never saw and there is some research, no one going into federal or state court saying that Obama or Bush, you know, incited them to the kind of violence that we're seeing defendants like this defendant used, you know, trying to justify his actions.

[23:40:08] I am quite frankly concerned that he is a danger to his community, and I am concerned that he was taken off probation, particularly given the seriousness of his offense in 2010. And now to say he has no impulse control, then what prevents him from engaging in similar conduct when Trump continues to ratchet up the language that we know he is known for?

LEMON: Well, considering -- Elie, considering what Areva just said, you know, his attorney pointed out, you and I were talking about it as it was going, he was pointing out a car accident, that he has a cognitive ability of a third-grader, says he has issues with impulse control, this traumatic brain injury, is this exactly what critics say?

Because Areva said you can't really blame the president. If people are impaired in some way, right, that they may hear the president and his rhetoric, and then they act on his mention.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think that's exactly the concern here. I agree with Areva. This is not a viable defense that can allow someone to beat a case.

LEMON: Did you say there were like -- did you say 36 cases, Areva?

HONIG: Yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah, 36 cases where Trump's name has been invoked, right.

LEMON: That's according to ABC News.

HONIG: I don't think you're going to find people who are going to get acquitted, as Areva said. I don't think you're going to find people who are going to be found not guilty. But, where it is going to play in is sentencing. And you're seeing a lot of people say -- what you just said, Don -- my client had diminished capacity.

Essentially, there is a lot of kindling out there and fiery rhetoric can set it off. FBI Director Chris Wray said just recently that people can be influenced by statements from public figures. Well, who is a more influential, more powerful public figure than the president of the United States?

And we just saw an example with the pipe bomber, Cesar Sayoc, who was sentenced a week or two ago. He was looking at anywhere from 10 years to life in federal court here in Manhattan, and he made the Trump defense. His lawyers, very good lawyers, public defenders here in the city who are top shelf lawyers, argued the quote from -- the brief was something like, "In his darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald Trump."

The judge ultimately sentenced Sayoc to 20 years, which I think was a fairly lenient sentence, all things considered. And I do think that the fact that Sayoc was perhaps triggered by Trump and look at his van, if you need any proof, led him to get a slightly lower sentence.

LEMON: Interesting. Areva, where do we go from here? Give me the last words, please.

MARTIN: Obviously, we are not going to be able to stop Trump from using the rhetoric. In fact, Trump says his rhetoric brings people together, that it does just the opposite from what this defendant and other defendants have, you know, tried to use in a court of law.

I think we've got a whole people accountable for their violent acts. I think we have to continue to press Donald Trump to, you know, stop using that kind of rhetoric and the only way we do that is to vote him out of office because we can't control him or his Twitter account.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, Areva. Thank you, Elie. I appreciate it.

Jay-Z teams up with the NFL despite having blasted the league in the past over his handling of Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest. Why he has changed his mind, next.

[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was Jay-Z then. But now, he and his company, Roc Nation, are now saying they are partnering with the NFL. Roc Nation will advise on live performances including the Super Bowl halftime show and work to amplify the league's social justice efforts.

Well, the move was announced just ahead of the anniversary of former NFL Colin Kaepernick, his first kneeling protest. Kaepernick, who was not involved in the deal, tweeting, "Today marks the three-year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression. I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement. The movement has always lived with the people."

So joining me now to discuss is Jemele Hill, staff writer at The Atlantic, and Ephraim Salaam, a retired NFL player.

Good evening to both of you. Thank you for coming on. Jemele, I am going to start with you. Jay-Z is getting a lot of criticism for this, especially considering how critical he was at the NFL in the past, and now he tried to get other performers to drop out of last year's Super Bowl halftime show. What do you think, fair criticism or no?

JEMELE HILL, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think the criticism is definitely fair. As we found out based off what he said in his press conference today, that when he advised Travis Scott, who performed at the Super Bowl last year not to perform during the halftime act, that that wasn't really about Colin Kaepernick. It was about the fact that he thought that Travis Scott would be playing second fiddle to Maroon 5, who was the headline performer.

Now, here is the thing about why this is so baffling to a lot of people. Jay-Z has been on the forefront and been the leader of so many different social justice causes. He's created content around some of the real issues that have impacted the black community from a documentary on Trayvon Martin to a documentary series on Kalief Browder to another documentary on Meek Mill.

So his credibility and work in this area is very highly regarded. And so I guess I'm just confused like everybody else why he thinks he even needs the NFL if he wants to continue furthering his social justice causes and why would you partner with the same league who is keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the league and on one end trying to reposition itself as some kind of social justice champion.

Why are you helping them essentially play both sides of the fence at their convenience? It seems like the NFL is trying to use Jay-Z's cultural capital to give back in with the community that frankly feels a little ambivalent about them because of the way that they treated Colin Kaepernick.

[23:50:04] LEMON: Well, let's hear from Jay-Z. He defended his decision at a press conference earlier today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, AMERICAN RAPPER: I think that we forget that Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice, correct? So, in that case, this is a success, right? This is the next thing, right? There are two parts of protesting. Go outside, you protest, and then the company or the individual say, "I hear you."

What do we do next? Reach millions and millions of people. And -- or we get stuck on Colin not having a job. I think we have passed kneeling. I think it's time to go into actionable items.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does he have a good point? Move forward?

EPHRAIM SALAAM, RETIRED NFL PLAYER: You have to move forward in the protest. Now with his point, when I listened to the press conference and I read all of the news that was coming out, the first thing that jumped out of me was this was an entertainment deal. Roc Nation will be responsible for the Super Bowl acts which, you know, a lot of people didn't really feel that the halftime show last year and then moving forward other artists being a part of the NFL doing original songs for them, and all that be managed by Roc Nation.

So to me, it seemed in first glance like, hey, this was a money play and a music play, right? And then the social activism came later. They added that piece to kind of like, hey, this is what we're going to do. It's easy for Jay-Z to do that because he was on the forefront of say, telling the NFL, no, we don't need you, you need us.

So now, he is basically saying, hey, look, I am going to join forces. I hope, I really, really hope he means what he says when he says, "Look, the protest started outside. Now, we're inside. We're talking to the heads of the heads, and we need to make change. And I'm here to help do that." I hope it's not just a music play because that would be embarrassing.

LEMON: He's saying that we're past moving. Is that really where we are, you think?

SALAAM: When he said we're passed kneeling, no, because I don't think the NFL has done enough since the beginning of this three years ago to move passed it. Signing Jay-Z and Roc Nation doesn't alleviate all of the things that they haven't addressed as an organization.

LEMON: Jemele, listen, you pointed this out on Twitter. You said that New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, is a big supporter of President Trump. It was just last week the Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, came under massive criticism for hosting a big money fundraiser for Trump in Hamptons. Is the NFL using Jay-Z to shield themselves, do you think?

HILL: Here is the thing. I mean, "use" is such a tough word because we are talking about one of the true businessmen, you know, that we have seen. I mean, he's hip hop's first billionaire. He didn't get that way by being used or taken advantage of.

LEMON: I think you said they want to capitalize on his credibility or something with the community --

HILL: Yeah. I mean, they definitely --

LEMON: Right.

HILL: Correct, they definitely want to capitalize on that part of it. It also helps with the larger strategy. I mean, when those tapes -- when The New York Times obtained those tapes about what went on in the meetings between the NFL owners, the executives and the players, during the height of this protest when they were trying to figure out solutions into how they can calm down all these negative headlines and negative tensions, of the many things that came out of that meeting is the NFL wanted to move the protest from the field into other areas.

They also wanted to key in or lock in on a significant figure that could help them transition into these kind of conversations and that would help them essentially with their public relations and connecting with certain communities of color. And they found it in Jay-Z. And I hope that Jay-Z understood what strategy at play here was. They went for the head of the snake and they did that for a reason, the head of the snake being Jay-Z.

I mean, again, he is the most influential entertainer in the world. All those entertainers this past year that passed in the Super Bowl, the Rihannas, the Cardi Bs. Now all of a sudden, they see Jay-Z giving his blessing to the NFL. So, of course, naturally, they are going to feel like it is OK now to align themselves with the NFL, which is exactly --

LEMON: OK.

HILL: -- what the league wanted. They wanted back in to black audiences, black culture, and frankly to a lot of black fans --

LEMON: OK.

HILL: -- who were turned off by how they treated Colin Kaepernick.

LEMON: I got about 15 seconds left. Ephraim, I will give you the last word.

SALAAM: I just think I really hope this isn't about music and about money. I hope it's about really making change and moving forward, not only for the NFL but for us as a community and the social injustice that we witness.

[23:55:00] I really hope Jay-Z can put aside the music royalty and really take a look at the social injustice.

LEMON: Yeah.

SALAAM: We need that. The NFL needs that and our community needs that.

LEMON: Ephraim and Jemele, thank you so much. I appreciate the conversation. See you soon. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)