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Don Lemon Tonight

Testimony Concludes In Kyle Rittenhouse Trial, Closing Arguments Expected Monday; Defense Attorney Requests No More Black Pastors In The Courtroom; January 6 Committee Gives Mark Meadows Ultimatum; Prices In America Surging More Than They Have In 30 Years; Civil Rights Groups Say Senators Failed Americans On Voting Rights And Demand Action After Blocked Voting Rights Bills; War On Books? Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 11, 2021 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): The defense wrapping up its case. Up next in the trial, closing arguments from both sides and the judge's instruction to the jury before deliberations begin.

Also tonight, a shocking request by one of the defense attorneys in the trial of three white men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery. No more Black pastors in the courtroom. You're going to hear for yourself just ahead.

And the January 6 Committee turning up the heat on Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, threatening to pursue criminal contempt charges if he refuses to appear before the committee tomorrow as required by the subpoena.

We'll start now with the Rittenhouse trial and CNN's Omar Jimenez.


UNKNOWN: This is not a political trial.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But politics and questions of bias emerged from the backdrop of this trial from the defense's tenth witness, Drew Hernandez, the self-described commentator on the streets of Kenosha the night of the shooting.

THOMAS BINGER, PROSECUTOR: Have you ever posted anything on social media?


BINGER: In support of Kyle Rittenhouse?

HERNANDEZ: One could argue, yes.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): It was a recurring theme brought out by the prosecution.

BINGER: Your videos that you have captured of these incidents that you call riots -- they are very slanted against the people who are rioting. You characterized them as antifa, Black Lives Matter rioters. Correct?

HERNANDEZ: Because they are rioting in the footage, yes.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Hernandez was called by the defense largely to draw a contrast between Joseph Rosenbaum, the first killed by Rittenhouse in August 2020 in the aftermath of protests in Kenosha.

HERNANDEZ: Rosenbaum was charging Kyle Rittenhouse from behind.

UNKNOWN: You hear that real time?

HERNANDEZ: Hear and saw it in real time.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Compared with Kyle Rittenhouse.

UNKNOWN: Did you observe him acting in an aggressive manner to anyone that you observed?

HERNANDEZ: In no way, shape or form. The first time I saw Kyle, he actually deescalated a situation.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But notably an objection led the judge to admonish the prosecution for the second consecutive day.

BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE: I am a little bit challenged when you say, is there something that I'm saying that draws the face that you are making? Go ahead. Say what you want to say.

BINGER: I have to say, your honor, yesterday, I was the target of your ire for disregarding your orders. Today, the defense is disregarding your order.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The day began with establishing a meticulous timeline of what happened, looking at slowed down video of the moments in and around the shootings that night, including the second set of shots fired that began with the still unidentified person known in court as "jump kick man" and testimony from a use of force expert called by the defense.

MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What occurred first, the kick to the face by "jump kick man" to my client or the first gunshot?

JOHN BLACK, TRIAL WITNESS: Based on my analysis, the kick to the face occurred prior to the gunshot.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Those shots missed. The next one to the chest of Anthony Huber would be deadly. And then the shot to the arm of Gaige Grosskreutz. All of it just shortly after the four shots that killed Joseph Rosenbaum.

BINGER: Can you tell us the amount of time that passes between the first shot, observation number eight, to Joseph Rosenbaum, and the final shot to Mr. Grosskreutz?

BLACK: Approximately one minute, 20 seconds.

BINGER: In that one minute and -- approximately one minute, 20 seconds, the defendant fires all eight shots?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The day after Rittenhouse's at times emotional account of what happened in that (INAUDIBLE), Gaige Grosskreutz, the only survivor of those shots that night, felt it wasn't genuine.

GAIGE GROSSKREUTZ, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: To me, it seemed like a child who had just gotten caught doing something that he wasn't supposed to. More upset that he was caught and less upset about what he had done and what he had taken and the numerous lives that he affected.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Omar Jimenez, CNN, Kenosha, Wisconsin.


LEMON (on camera): All right. That is in Kenosha. Now, I want to turn to the trial of the three men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a 25- year-old unarmed Black man who was out jogging.

CNN's Martin Savidge is covering the story for us and he joins us live this evening. Martin, good evening for you. Today, we heard testimony from the owner of the under-construction home that has been the central focus of this case. What did we learn?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, it's interesting, Don. The entire day of day five of testimony was consumed by the interview and testimony of just one man. But this one man is a crucial witness. What is also interesting is that he could be a crucial witness not just for the persecution. He could be a crucial witness for the defense as well. Today, he was testifying on behalf of the state and key testimony. Take a listen.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): A key witness on the stand.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?



SAVIDGE (voice-over): Larry English, Jr. own the home under construction in Satilla Shores that would become a source of concern and tension in the neighborhood. The same home Ahmaud Arbery seen visiting and running off from the day he is killed.

UNKNOWN: Is that a fair and accurate representation of your house?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): In testimony recorded in September due to health reasons, English says he placed security cameras at the property because it was normal for people to come and go from a construction site and he worried about liability. His cameras captured people on the property several times in late 2019 and early 2020. On October 25th, 2019, English sees a Black male on the property and calls 911.

ENGLISH (voice-over): Got a trespasser there. So, he's a colored guy, got a real curly-looking hair, he's tattooed down both arms.

UNKNOWN: Did you ever see that person take anything that night?


UNKNOWN: Did you ever see anything in his hands, bag, flashlight, anything?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): The same male is seen several times visiting the property at night. But over and over on the witness stand, English was asked the same thing.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Was anything ever taken?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Instead, English said he believed, at the time, it was an unidentified white couple on the property that was responsible for items missing from his boat, something he told police in this 911 call.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): How many are there?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): There was a male and a female.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Three white men, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and William "Roddie" Bryan, Jr, are accused of chasing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in vehicles and killing him in their neighborhood last year.

Defense attorneys say the defendants were attempting to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery, who they suspected of burglarizing English's home after word began to spread of the intrusions on his property.

As he did on the witness stand, English told CNN he never believed Arbery had taken anything.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you believe that Arbery stole anything from your house that day?

ENGLISH: Not whatsoever.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But on cross-examination, the defense argued English has changed his story after receiving death threats, and that he originally did see the Black male on the property as a threat and suggested the same to police and neighbors in Satilla Shores.

UNKNOWN: That's not what you told the police, is it?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was spotted inside the same home under construction. He was not seen just by surveillance cameras but also a neighbor who called 911. It would be that sighting moments later which would trigger a deadly confrontation.


SAVIDGE (on camera): This is another example, Don, of how the state is methodically trying to take apart one of the key pillars of the defense here and they're of course claiming these three men, that they were trying to make a citizen's arrest because they thought there was a burglary that had taken place at Larry English's property. But Larry English with his testimony today is essentially saying, there was no crime in my home. Don?

LEMON: Martin, I want to ask you about -- there is a shocking moment that Defense Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William "Roddie" Bryan, Jr., objecting to civil rights leaders attending the trial to support Arbery's family. Talk to me about that.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Yeah. Kevin Gough is known for his off-the-cuff statements and statements that hardly seem like they are or should be made in a court of law. So, today it was actually during a break from that testimony you were just watching that outside of the jury, the jury was not in yet, Kevin Gough gets up and he says, your honor, I'm really concerned. And then he launches into what is almost like a kind of legal rant.

He was upset, he said, because he had realized the reverend, Al Sharpton, had been in the public seating area of the trial the day before. It wasn't like he recognized it on the day of. This is after the fact. And he was very upset that he thought it could influence the jury. Here is the statement.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR WILLIAM "RODDIE" BRYAN, JR.: If we're going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we're going to bring high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that is intimidating and it is an attempt to pressure -- could be consciously or unconsciously -- an attempt to pressure or influence the jury.

We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here or other -- Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim's family trying to influence the jury in this case. If a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks sitting in the back --


SAVIDGE (on camera): Okay. That is when the judge cut him off right at the knees because no one knew where he was going with the Colonel Sanders thing. And quite frankly, I mean, what appears to be a person who has no understanding of the parameters of this case, it is all about race.


SAVIDGE: It's three white men that are accused with the murder of a Black man who was doing nothing more of a jogging. And here is Kevin Gough getting up in this court setting and saying, we don't need any more Black pastors, which is almost implying like we don't need any more of those rabble rousers in this community. Remember, this case is being tried in a jury that is predominantly white. It went over awful in court and the judge was glad to move on.

LEMON: Feels like the 1950s. By the way, can you confirm, Jesse Jackson was not in the courtroom. He said that.

SAVIDGE: No, he was not. Not at all.

LEMON: Marty, always a pleasure. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: You bet.

LEMON: So, joining me now, the former mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings Blake. She is also a former defense attorney. Good to see you, mayor. Thank you so much for doing this.


LEMON: Yes. Race was already a major factor in this case. What do you think when you heard that comment about not having any more Black pastors in the court?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: If there was ever a doubt of the feeling of this defense team, this notion that they get it, that their clients are being seen as racist, that being seen as -- they're confederate sympathizers. I think the defense attorney's statements today are consistent with that, which is really sad in today's time.

LEMON: Yeah. Testimony wrapped up in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial today in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We could know the jury's decision as soon as next week. Did Rittenhouse's lawyers, in your estimation, make the case that he was acting in self-defense?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: The defense attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse made a big gamble and I think it was a big risk and a big pay-off. They gave him a chance to be an empathetic person in the minds of some of the jurors. Understand he doesn't have to get all 12 of these jurors to believe his -- as some people say crocodile tears. All it takes is one good soap opera fan and they might believe, some people are saying, his performance.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's look at these two cases together. Quite a stark contrast of how young Black man and young white man can be treated in this country.

RAWLINGS BLAKE: The problem with race in this country is on -- that is on trial, when you take a look at these cases. The fact that in one case, you have someone who was willing to put their life on the line with an automatic weapon to protect property that is not even his. And then you have the same thing with the Ahmaud Arbery trial.

When -- you also have the same individuals talking about how they'll do anything to fight and protect life when it comes to a woman's right to choose, yet they are so willing to cast aside the life of a Black man in this country.

LEMON: I want to turn now to the Astroworld tragedy because I know that you have knowledge about this. A ninth person is now dead after sustaining injuries at the concert. You have spent time with Travis Scott in the past few days. What is he saying, mayor?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: He is devastated. I spent time with him and his team for the last two days and he is simply devastated. When the news came of the latest death, he is -- he is mortified. He is so determined to make sure that something like this never happens again. And that is why I'm trying to be helpful, because I know that there were lots of institutions that had to break down in order for something like this to happen.

There are so many people, institutions that are responsible for safety on the ground. What we know for sure is it is never an entertainer's job to plan security, plan the layout, plan emergency management, emergency response. None of those things.

My goal is to work with him so that we can put things in place so that no one else loses their life when they are enjoying what should have been the time of their life.

LEMON: As you know, there has been a discussion about what has happened before about Travis being arrested twice for inciting crowds at previous concerts. He pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an incident in 2015 and 2017.

There is a 2015 GQ interview and I quote here. It says how to rage, it is on how to rage. And he said he wanted his concerts to feel like high energy wrestling matches. Is he -- look, you said it is not on the entertainer, but is he thinking about how the culture of his concerts could possibly be putting fans in danger?


RAWLINGS BLAKE: What we know is he has done over 300 concerts. I think about 50 Astroworlds. Something like this has never happened at one of those big shows. In the past, he did plead guilty because he knew that he -- the power of his word. He learned the power of his words. That was -- you're talking about something that was like five or six years ago.

What I saw when I spoke to him was a person who has matured, who understands. He has stopped his own shows to check on his fans in the past subsequent to those incidents because he knows that he wants people to have a great time. But he also wants people to be safe.

So, to have something like this happen in a city that he loves, a city that he has dedicated so much time and his effort to make better, he is really -- his heart is broken for his fans, for the families.

LEMON: Did he talk about why he didn't stop this one? Has he said why? That is the question. If he stopped them before, why didn't he stop this one? I don't know what he saw, but there is videotape of people saying stop the concert and so on. Go on.

RAWLINGS BLAKE: Right. So, I was saying, you know, I mentioned that he stopped the concert before because when he saw and knew that there was a problem before, he stopped the concert before. He said very clearly to me when I spoke to him that he could not see what was going on. He could not hear what was going on.

LEMON: He was wearing an earpiece. So, no one told him in his earpiece?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: No. He is connected to the concert. He wasn't connected to security. The fact of the matter is 20 minutes after the first incident, you see on tape police officers standing in front of him, members of the -- high-ranking members of the police department who have the same vantage point that he has, and they couldn't see what was going on.

So, this notion that he had an earpiece that was connected to the fire marshal or the police department is just not true. He didn't know what was going on at the time, neither did the police officers and public safety individuals who were right there where he was, and that's a tragedy.

LEMON: Where is the breakdown then, mayor? Because you know what people are going to say. Something goes wrong on this show, it doesn't matter if it is a producer or writer or production assistant. They're going to say it is Don Lemon's fault. As the head of the show, I have to take that. They're going to say it is Travis's fault.

What was the breakdown? Why wasn't there communication with the, you know, with the safety people, law enforcement, the medical people? Why wasn't there a way for people to say there is an issue in the back of the crowd or stage right or stage left or in section four, stop the concert or -- I don't know. It just seems -- why not?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: The deal is, Don, that it is not his fault, but he wants to take responsibility for making sure that this doesn't happen again. What you talked about, those breakdowns in security, we need to figure out what that is.

Houston is a beautiful city that has huge events all the time. There are cities around this country that want to make sure that they can have these types of concerts, high energy, where people can enjoy themselves, and commune with each other and do it in safety.

That is why I'm working with him and working to put some best practices in place so this doesn't happen again.

LEMON: What is his demeanor like in the last couple days? How has it been for him?

RAWLINGS BLAKE: I was awestruck by his overwhelming sadness. This is a person who loves his fans and who loves his city and who is devastated to his core that something like this happened at his show.

LEMON: Mayor, thank you. I appreciate your candor. Thank you for coming on. I will talk to you soon. We'll continue to talk about this. Thank you very much. And invite Travis so he can come on and speak whenever it is time. Thank you so much.


LEMON (on camera): Thank you. An ultimatum for the former White House chief of staff appears before the -- appear before the January 6 Committee tomorrow or risk criminal content. And a delaying tactic buys the former president time. But what will it all mean for the investigation?


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): It is not going to slow down our investigation and I expect that, you know, keeping the Supreme Court potentially aside, we'll have these documents fairly soon.





LEMON: So, here's our breaking news. The January 6 Select Committee threatening to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt if he doesn't appear for a deposition tomorrow and turn over documents.

So much to discuss now with CNN White House correspondent John Hartwood and former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman. I love having you guys on. Good evening to both of you. Good to see you. John --

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is becoming a major stand-off between Meadows and the Select Committee. What can you tell us?

HARWOOD: Don, what we know is that Donald Trump has no interest in the truth, in the rule of law or the integrity of American democracy. That attitude filters down to his team. We saw that in their conduct after the election, we saw it on the January 6 insurrection, and now we see it in their blanket resistance to the congressional inquiry here.

[23:24:55] HARWOOD: So, what they're trying to do, throw up legal obstacles, try to drag out the effort to drag them in for testimony as long as possible. If they're shut out the first time, then they try to appeal.

If they show up, not talk, and count on the fact that the Justice Department may not be very fast to bring criminal contempt proceedings -- you know, you were talking in the last hour with Mark Meadows -- sorry -- with John Dean and making the analogy to Dean's testimony against Nixon and wondering about whether Meadows might do the same thing and all the wrath that would fall upon him.

John Dean decided that what happened in the Nixon White House was wrong and he was going to expose it. That is why it made it worth it for him to take that flack. There is no indication that Mark Meadows or the leading members of Trump's team think what they did was wrong or have any intention of saying so.

So, I suspect that the most consequential thing that could come out of these various court fights is the documentary evidence like the memos that Meadows wrote as opposed to his own testimony.

LEMON: John Dean just spit up his night cap when you confused him with Mark Meadows. I'll move on. Harry, let me bring you in. The January 6 Committee's letter to Meadows' lawyer says in part here, simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows's continued resistance to the Select Committee's subpoena.

So, how do you see this playing out? Do you think he is going to be held in contempt?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first, what Meadows's lawyer said in response was, it is not fair that Biden makes the decision when other presidents haven't. That is a really weak position. And if Judge Chutkan's ruling holds up and it should, that says it is the current office holder who gets to decide, not the previous one, then Meadows will be on very weak ground.

I agree with John he'll do anything and everything he can, but if we pause it that the other case moves expeditiously and holds definitively there is no executive privilege here, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on and it is not just the documents.

You know, the testimony of recalcitrant witnesses is not often very illuminating. It can be grudging, it can be squirrely, but he'll still have to talk. So, I think it has now become all kind of coordinated or aligned with the opinion that is working its way up now into the D.C. circuit because that will be the cleanest way.

If it really establishes no executive privilege, get out of here. Then the Meadows, Bannons, and Clarks of the world are in a very different position, including in criminal contempt because there is no intent issue at all. They're just dead to rights.

LEMON: So, John, also tonight, we want to talk about the federal appeals court pausing release of Trump's White House records, but it is just temporary. So, now what?

HARWOOD: Well, there is a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals which appears to be one that lines up well for the Congress and the attempt to get these records. These are all democratic-appointed judges, including one appointed by President Biden himself.

So, if the case is decided expeditiously and the Supreme Court does not decide to take up the case, then you could have this happen very quickly. I'm sure the Trump team counts on the hope that a Supreme Court stacked with several Trump appointees might ultimately vindicate their position.

But, as Harry indicated, it is not a particularly strong position given that Donald Trump is not president anymore. And so, I think the prevailing assumption is that sooner or later, they're going to get those documents.

The problem with the delay strategy of the Trump team is you've only got about a year in all likelihood given the political dynamics that Democrats will control the House. And so, they are trying to slow it down as much as possible.

LEMON: Harry, I have got 10 seconds, really. I'll give you the last word.

LITMAN: Okay. That is the big if. Kinzinger said it. John, too. The D.C. circuit will hold and affirm, then it'll go to the Supreme Court. If they even just take the case, we're out till June and it is too late. That is the question, will the court take it sometime in December?

LEMON: And here we go again. Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

Prices surging on everything from gas to milk, sparking major concerns over inflation. Now, President Biden is changing his tune on how long it could last.




LEMON: Consumer prices surging across the country more than they have in 30 years. So, what is being done to deal with inflation? Joining me is Kai Ryssdall. He is the host of Public Radio's "Marketplace." Kai, let's get to a lot of stuff. Good evening. Thank you for joining us.


LEMON: Consumer prices are up more than six percent from just a year ago. That is the highest spike, as I said, in 30 years. The price gas, heating oil spiking. How much trouble are consumers in heading into the winter holiday season?

Well, look, it is going to be really tricky for consumers, especially with consumers who have to heat their homes with natural gas and propane. Those are up. We're spending more for gas. Holiday gifts are going to be expensive.


RYSSDAL: And I'll tell you what. It is going to last for a while. I think you are looking at the end of next year probably until this works its way through the system. It is just going to be tight for a lot of people.

LEMON: The president had been -- and his top economic people had been saying, inflation, oh, it's only going to last a short amount of time, whatever. But he is now changing his tune, you know, that it is going to be longer, that this is transitory.

RYSSDAL: Well, look, he is changing his tune because he has politically, right? But there is almost zero that a president can do to fix this kind of inflation, right? It is a supply/demand thing. It is a thing that is out of his control.

We were pent up through the pandemic. And now, we just want to buy stuff and the supply chain is messed up and there is consumer demand. There is not really very much a president can do up to and including making the ports work 24 hours, right? He is dealing with it as a political problem.

The place you have to look is for consumers. When we finally feel that we've had enough and the Fed, Central Bank, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary Yellen, they're banking on the middle of next year. It is going to be a while.

LEMON (on camera): You interviewed her, Treasury Secretary Yellen this week. I just want to play a part of it.



JANET YELLEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY (voice-over): If this turns out to be something that's endemic in the 1970s, we saw supply shocks turn themselves into endemic inflation. We're not seeing that now. I don't believe we will. But if that were the case, the Federal Reserve would have a role to play to keep it under control.


LEMON (on camera): Look, I am old enough to remember those days. A lot of people are asking why the Fed isn't acting right now. Should they be?

RYSSDAL: No, I don't actually think the Fed should be. I think the Fed needs to wait to see what happens once this once in a lifetime pandemic that hit this economy works its way through. That is just flat going to take a while.

Believe me when I tell you that Jay Powell is watching this as closely as anybody. And as soon as he sees indications that it is not transitory, that it is not just going to go through the system, then he's going to raise interest rates. I promise you he is going to do that. Yellen told me that the other day. Everybody, I think, just needs to hang on for a second and see what happens.

LEMON: We're not going to go back to gas lines? Are we in odd and even number license plates?

RYSSDAL: I hope not. Here's the deal. It was a different kind of shock in the 70s. We're having the supply shock now but it was a different kind of shock back then.

LEMON: Got it. Thank you, Kai.

RYSSDAL: All right.

LEMON: Always a pleasure. Thank you. So, he wrote books so children of color could see themselves in the books that they read. So, kids could see diversity on their shelves. Then his books were banned. Jerry Craft, the author of "New Kid," here next.




LEMON: All right. I want to get to James Clapper now, Director James Clapper, to talk to about what is going on in Washington. Thank you, director. I appreciate you joining. By the way, happy Veterans Day to you.


LEMON: I don't know if you recognize the necktie I am wearing this evening, but I want to say thank you very much.

CLAPPER: Oh, thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate you joining us, former director of National Intelligence. So let us talk about it. I want to read a letter that you and others sent to Congress. It says this. It says, the rampant spread of election disinformation and the efforts to undermine confidence in the democratic process jeopardize our national security in a number of dangerous ways. What threats are you worried about, sir?

CLAPPER: Well, the threats are both internal. That is domestic and foreign. And I think Mike Hayden and I co-authored an op-ed -- it was in "The Washington Post" today -- that kind of dwelt on the foreign aspects of this.

So, as we assault our voting apparatus and the right to vote and all this sort of thing, that generates a vulnerability and a weakness that foreign adversaries, most notably Russia and perhaps -- and probably China, will exploit.

So, the point here is this has serious national security implications as we consume ourselves with this polarization and divisiveness particularly as it affects our very democracy.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, let me just read it. You mentioned it is with General Michael Hayden from "The Washington Post" and just about disinformation. You say, a society struggling to separate fact from fiction is a perfect environment for these actors to further erode electoral trust and kick democracy into a death spiral.

Those are really strong words. Disinformation is coming from the GOP. It is coming from Russia. Where else could it come from?

CLAPPER: Any other adversary, particularly those who have gone to school and what the Russians did starting with our election in 2016. As I've spoken before, Don, we discussed this, this country has a bad case of what's called truth decay. And that is fundamentally corrosive to a democracy. That is what the letter was getting at, about the corrosive effects of not being able to agree on a set of facts.

LEMON: You talk about how bad actors could use these election fraudits to their advantage. You write this.


LEMON: You say, they might also seek to take advantage of the exposure of sensitive information about election equipment or voter data that resulted from recent hyper-partisan election reviews such as Arizona's. What could our foreign adversaries do with that kind of information, sir?

CLAPPER: Well, they can manipulate the outcome of an election, particularly if they do gain access into the actual voter mechanics and voter machines and this sort of thing.

So, if they want to affect an election through technical means, quite apart by the way from what they do in the way of social media to push a particular agenda, well, that is really fundamentally dangerous to our electoral process. That is fundamental to our democracy.

LEMON: Today, as we mentioned, is Veterans Day. We're honoring all those who fought to protect this country and our democracy. What message are we sending to them if we can't protect our most fundamental right?

CLAPPER: Well, I'm one of those who spent a lot of time, in my professional life, defending the country. I think this is of great concern to veterans as a group, the sacrifices of veterans and their families have made. So many, of course, paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve those very institutions of this country that have made this up until this point experiment in democracy flourish.

And that is in jeopardy. I think the message here to the public is that veterans have a big stake in this in the outcome of whether or not we preserve our democracy as we've known it.

LEMON: Well, again, thank you for your service. And say hello to General Hayden and to Mrs. Clapper. You have really great taste in ties. I like that one. But I have to tell you, I told Director Clapper that I liked his tie when he was on the show and it showed up in the mail. You're a good man.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

CLAPPER: You got a great memory.

LEMON: Have a good night, sir. See you later.

Parents complained and his books were banned until they read the books. Jerry Craft, the author of "New Kid," there he is. He's next.




LEMON: The manufactured outrage over critical race theory reaching new heights in Texas. One school district in the state removed children's books by an award-winning author from its library and postponed a virtual event with him because of a complaint his books promote the graduate level theory.

The books -- I can't believe it. "New Kid" and "Class Act," great books. They are by Jerry Craft. They tell the story of a seventh and an eighth grader who attend a prestigious private school known for its academics, but when were they are among the few kids of color in their grades (ph). After review, Katy (ph) Independent School District put the books back in the library.

The story doesn't stop there. A Texas lawmaker has since launched an investigation on 850 books on race and gender that he claims could cause discomfort to students. And those two books by Jerry Craft, they are on the list.

Author Jerry Craft joins me now. What a story. Thank you. I'm so glad you're here.


LEMON: What do -- okay. So, there is a lot of back and forth. Why do you think parents complained about these books in the first place and what do they say now?

CRAFT: You know, I focus on the positive. I mean, "New Kid" is in like 13 different languages, okay? So, there are kids all over the world reading it. I get emails from teachers talking about their kids, reluctant readers, who have never read the book, and they read it like four or five times. So, I really don't know what is going on.

It's the only book ever to win the Newbery, the Coretta Scott King, and the Curtis (ph) award. Not the only black book, the only book.

LEMON: Yeah.

CRAFT: So, when I first heard of this, I was, like, wow, these kids are really missing out because they really bond with the book.

LEMON: So, listen, I just have to tell people. If you're talking to people in academics, if you're talking to people, I said I wanted to write a children's book, there are publishers who said, if you're going to write a children's book, it has got to live up to this. They send me "New Kid" and "Hey, Kiddo."

CRAFT: "Hey, Kiddo" was also on the list, I believe.

LEMON: Yes. So, I'm just saying, these people are really -- there it is. These people are really missing out here. So, you wrote these books based on your own experiences, right? Because you didn't see characters like you represented in books and you wanted kids today to feel seen.

CRAFT: Right, right. I absolutely hated to read. I read Marvel comics and that was it. Because I never saw any books with kids like me that weren't enslaved, a gritty urban tale, the grit of today's urban grittiness. I don't want grit.

I grew up in a Brownstone in Washington Heights and I went to a private school and I just wanted to show something different. I wanted kids to be seen where it wasn't always gloom and doom. Apparently, that was the problem.


LEMON: So, what do you say to people who say, hey, listen, critical race theory, he is teaching that in the book, it is in there? What do you say to these folks?

CRAFT: I had to Google it just like everyone else, you know. And it's really -- you know, in "New Kid" -- let me explain. It is a graphic novel. So, there are pictures. It is a big comic book.

LEMON: Yeah.

CRAFT: And it is stuff that really happened to myself and my sons, loosely based. There is a lot of humor. There are kids who are -- they read it and they're cracking up.

LEMON: Yeah.

CRAFT: So, again, I was very shocked. But, you know, I really keep it positive. There are kids who have cried because they are like, mom, I have never seen myself in a book before. And those are things I get letters from Brazil and New Zealand.

So, I don't think that they're letting the kids read it. These are adults who have preconceived notion. And if they let a focus group of kids read it and then talk to the kids and find out what they did and what they get from it and how they feel seen, I don't think we have a problem.

LEMON: Jerry, it's a pleasure to have you on, and I'm going to go and re-read them again. Thank you so much.

CRAFT: You got it. Thank you.

LEMON: Thanks, Jerry. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.