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Don Lemon Tonight

Kyle Rittenhouse's Fate Still Undetermined; House Committee Looking To Charge Mark Meadows Of Contempt; Steve Bannon To Go On Offense; House To Vote On Rep. Gosar's Bad Behavior; Rep. Peter Aguilar (D-CA) Was Interviewed About House Committee's Next Move; Race Issue Divides Americans. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The cases and the massive cases including that of Steve Bannon and what happening with Congress and these subpoenas about contempt of Congress, it is really unbelievable, Chris, that we live in a time right now where people who are supposed to believe in the law, the law-and-order folks are defying the law.

People who have been in Congress before are defying what they did once they were in Congress. The standards that they held other people to, they're not even living up to that. I'm talking about Mark Meadows.

And Steve Bannon really making a mockery of America by standing out on the courthouse steps and, you know, the way he talks about the government and the administration and then really what he was doing it for was his podcast.

And these are the times that we're living in right now. It doesn't -- the truth doesn't matter. They're coopting people who really should know better, but they don't, because they're getting their information from the wrong people. And in many ways because they want to get misled in a certain way.

And so, I just think it's sad that the legal system really doesn't matter for these folks anymore. What matters is the court of public opinion. That's all they care about. Cliques, who gets to see them on their blogs, on their podcasts, and on whatever obscure thing that they are promoting or, I don't know, that is their platform. It's really unbelievable and sad.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: If you look at any of the agents of animus, they all share one thing. They do what they do not out of a sense of conviction, but out of convenience. It works. And the difficult reality is it will continue to work until someone beats them with a better idea.

You got to have a marriage of message and messenger that overwhelms the animus. It's not easy. But you know the beautiful expression from the doctor. Darkness doesn't take out darkness. Only light can. But it is not easy.

LEMON: Yes. But the folks have to be receptive to change. I'm not sure people are receptive to change. What they're receptive to is winning. What they're receptive to is having their beliefs reinforced. Not about this grand idea of what America is and what the, you know, our republic should be and should look like. Not of what our forefathers envisioned for us.

CUOMO: That's all too high-minded. People are scared. You have to alleviate the fear. Don't deny it. Don't blame them for it. Don't --


LEMON: But what's wrong with being high-minded? I don't think -- listen, I'm not speaking -- I'm speaking of ideals this country, people who say that they believe in the Constitution. That's not high- minded.


CUOMO: But make it relatable to their life.

LEMON: That's the very base of our country.

CUOMO: Everybody believes in the Constitution. Everybody believes in freedom.

LEMON: Well, I don't know about that.

CUOMO: You got to make it apply. I guarantee you, the people who say they are for these guys on the right all believe that they're patriot, and they believe in the Constitution and what the law enforced and all that other stuff.

And what gets lost in it is that their desperation makes it OK for no matter what the tactics are, as long as these people have the right thing and have their back, then ultimately that's the greatest good. And that's wrong. But somebody has got to make that case.


CUOMO: And overwhelm it. Otherwise, this is where we are.

LEMON: Otherwise, you get an insurrection, and you get people who defy subpoenas. Thank you, sir. I'm going get to the big cases that you mentioned. Have a good night.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, I love you. We got to be reporting on these and keep people clear-eyed about the realities, because the outcomes are going to reverberate.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. You're the best. I'll see you soon.


And we have major developments on two big trials. And I want to talk about Congress as well. But we are waiting for the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. That's one in Kenosha. The prosecution rests its case tonight in the trial of three white men accused of murdering a 25-year-old black man. I'm talking about Ahmaud Arbery. So those are the two cases.

In this Ahmaud Arbery case, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, their neighbor -- neighbor William Roddie Bryan, Jr. they are accused of chasing down and killing Arbery while he was out for a jog in a Georgia neighborhood. But it took months, I don't know if you guys remember when we were covering this case in the beginning, it took months for them to be arrested, which happened only after a video of the shooting surfaced.

Well, today the judge denied repeated efforts by one of the defense attorneys in that case who has said, quote, "we don't want any more black pastors coming here, to have a court keep a record of everybody attending the trial."

Some 250 pastors are expected to come to Georgia later this week in a show of support for Ahmaud Arbery's family.

Meanwhile, in Kenosha, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has ended its first day of deliberations. They're going to be back at work tomorrow at 10 a.m. Now Rittenhouse who is on trial for shooting two people to death and wounding a third during protests in august in August 2020 over the shooting of Jacob Blake randomly selected the six alternates to a lottery. Look at this. How odd, right?


It's like they're doing bingo. It's a lottery that is usually left up to a member of the court, not the defendant. So, let's get to that straight away.

CNN's Sara Sidner live for us in Kenosha with the very latest. Sara, what are we hearing about the jury and their deliberations thus far?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They deliberated about seven hours or so today. They were then as the day started to wrap up, the judge checked in with them, as he said he would. He said it was up to the jury as to how long they deliberated this evening.

They decided to go home, and they will be back in the morning to continue their deliberations in this case where there are five very serious charges and a couple of lesser charges against Kyle Rittenhouse. This has been a couple of week trial.

And as you might imagine, there is a lot of information for this jury to get through, including the testimony of more than 30 witnesses, hours of video from the streets, and some from the sky, and there are pictures for them to also review. And of course, all the of the things that the defense and the prosecution said in this case in their closing and opening arguments.

We also know that the jury did ask some questions. So, they are taking this job very seriously. They had asked for jury instructions, and they wanted copies of those jury instructions, the first few pages. And then they basically said just give us 11 copies of all 36 pages of jury instructions, and that may be in part because when the judge was giving those instructions, it became very confusing to the average person. We're all listening to it wondering what is going on.

So, the jury wanted to see it down on paper, each of them being able to look at it very closely to see how they can apply the law to the evidence that they actually listened to throughout this trial, Don.

LEMON: And what about the atmosphere in Kenosha? What is it like as everyone awaits this verdict, Sara?

SIDNER: It's very different than it was this summer. You do have a few -- usually not more than about a couple dozen protesters, if that who come to the court on a regular basis, including Jacob Blake's uncle. And as you will remember, that the protesters that in some cases turned to riots were here because of the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer who was never charged in that case.

So, his uncle does come out. He comes out with a few people. There are others that joined. There are some folks that are here that are in support of Kyle Rittenhouse and want him to be considered not guilty by this jury, and there are other folks who want to see guilt.

There is a lot of talk about the trial outside the court, and at times I was in the courtroom this morning, you could hear the protesting inside the courtroom. It's very low, but you can hear some of the folks who are on megaphones in the court.

But the jury has been, you know, sort of out of the courtroom for all day today, basically, until it was time for them to be told that they can go home. And they're not being sequestered. We can also tell you the jury consists of seven women and five men, all of them Caucasian except for one person of color.

This will be an interesting case for them to go through, because there is quite a bit of evidence for them to really parse through. No one knows just how long it's going to take this jury to decide whether or not they think Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty in this case.

LEMON: All right. Sara Sidner. Sara, we'll be watching. Thank you very much. We appreciate that.

Meanwhile, in Washington there is news tonight on the January 6 investigation. More subpoenas coming this week. Which has got to be making team Trump wonder who is next. Thirty-five of them have already been subpoenaed. The committee telling CNN that they're considering their options, including a possible criminal contempt referral for Mark Meadows after he blew off a scheduled deposition on Friday.

The chairman of that committee Bennie Thompson signing a letter tonight recapping the committee's demands and sending a message to the former president's chief of staff, we're giving you one more chance is basically what the letter says.

But being indicted on contempt of Congress charges hasn't made Steve Bannon any more cooperative. He won't talk to the committee. But he sure has a lot to say, and he is saying it on his podcast recorded not incidentally at the Willard Hotel in Washington. You know the hotel where team Trump set up their so-called war room before the insurrection at the capitol.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER White HOUSE ADVISOR: They don't know how to handle when MAGA is punching back, and MAGA is punching back. OK, we're not going to sit here and take it anymore at the months and months and months and months and months of the rhetoric and trying to weaponize the law and weaponize DOJ. We're not going to take it, OK? We're going on offense.


LEMON (on camera): Going on offense? Wow. By defying a subpoena? As if he is above the law. By refusing to tell the committee what he knows about the brutal attack on our nation's capitol? Look, I'm not the only one who has said this, that Bannon is loving this.


But how far the party of Lincoln has fallen, embracing the big lie that erupted in a bloodshed -- into bloodshed at the capitol, shrugging off threats of violence against members of Congress.

Think about it. The House is set to vote tomorrow on a resolution that censures Congressman Paul Gosar, and removes him from two committee assignments for that anime video showing him appearing to kill Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swinging a sword at President Biden.

The resolution saying, and I quote here, "that he used the resources of the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials." Gosar took down the video after a storm of criticism but hasn't apologized tonight.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): We had conference this morning. I explained to them what was happening. I did not apologize. I just said this video had nothing to do with harming anybody.


LEMON (on camera): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a video that shows violence, but has nothing to do with harming anyone. OK. I don't know how that makes sense, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling out Kevin McCarthy for letting it slide. A quote here again.

"It's become very clear that the Republican leader Kevin McCarthy intends on doing nothing about it." Crickets. From most Republicans tonight. But there are a few standing up for what is right. Of course, Adam Kinzinger tweeting today that they have to hold members accountable who incite or glorify violence and saying that he'll vote yes on the Gosar censure resolution.

Liz Cheney who just this week was ousted by the Wyoming GOP for having the courage of her convictions blasting McCarthy for not having the courage of his. Another quote. "The notion that leader McCarthy won't full-on condemn what Gosar did on multiple occasions but seems to be entertaining this move to push the 13 off of their committees, I mean, it's indefensible. Morally and ethically, and it's crazy politically."

And that is quite honestly the GOP leadership today. Still in the death grip of a disgraced twice impeached one-term former president who wants to push 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill, to push them out. The kind of thing both parties used to vote for all the time because it's good for the folks back home. He wants to punish them for doing the right thing for the people who elected them.

But Kevin McCarthy is afraid to do anything about Gosar because it might make the former president mad. That's the GOP today. The GOP today more dysfunctional than ever.

Now back to Kyle Rittenhouse. The case in the hands of the jury right now. Seven women, five men, one person of color. And we are learning tonight that a jury consultant who helps select jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial is working with the Rittenhouse team. What will it mean for the case?



LEMON (on camera): The jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse wrapping up day one of deliberations. Seven women, five men tasked with deciding if the now 18-year-old was acting in self-defense when he shot three men, killing two of them during the unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

So, joining me now Paul Bucher, a former district attorney for Waukesha County, Wisconsin. He has become a frequent guest to cover this. So, we're glad he is here. We're also glad that Robert Hirschhorn -- Hirschhorn is here with us as well. He is a jury and trial consultant.

Gentlemen, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining. Let's see. Paul, let's start with you.


LEMON: This is your area here. The jury asked for extra copies of their instructions twice today. First, they wanted the pages relating to provocation and self-defense. Then they asked for the remainder of the jury instructions. Does this tell you anything about what's going on inside of that room?

BUCHER: No. I think the judge should have just given them -- everybody should have had their own instructions. I mean, it's 36, 38 pages, self-defense. Self-defense being core of the case. I think they wanted -- I think they wanted to take another look at what self- defense really means. But once they started talking about that, then I think they started

looking at the substantive offenses. I mean, there are, what, six -- six counts plus the two lesser includes. So, we have eight counts --

LEMON: Right.

BUCHER: -- that they're looking at in that decision.

LEMON: What do you think, Robert? Do you agree with Paul?

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, JURY & TRIAL CONSULTANT: Yes. So, the fact that the first notes requesting those copies tells you right now they're totally invested in this case, Don. They are very conscientious. And I tell you. Here is what this case is going to boil down to.

And the fact that there was a jury consultant, a great jury consultant that the defense hired, they knew that this case is all going to boil down to the second amendment. It's gun rights kind of jurors versus gun control jurors.

Defense is looking for guns rights juror, because those kind of jurors are more open to self-defense versus gun control jurors. They can't imagine why in the world anybody would bring a high caliber weapon to a protest, right? So that's where I think these deliberations are really going to turn is their views on the second amendment, the whole idea of gun rights versus gun control.

LEMON: Well, let me ask you, and what do you think of that? Because, Robert, the jury is made up of seven women, five men, including one person of color. How does that factor in to everything you just said there?

HIRSCHHORN: Yes, sure. So, my view is race has nothing to do with this case. Again, it's all going to be about the second amendment versus, for example, Georgia that case is all about race. But this one isn't. This is about the second amendment and self-defense.


I personally think that women are good jurors in these kinds of cases because if they felt that they were trapped and they had a weapon, what would they do?

But I got to tell you, Don. I can't imagine a woman would really think about bringing a high caliber weapon to a protest of all things. That's just asking for trouble.

So, look, the other thing that came out today that was remarkable, Don, I don't know if you're going to get to it, but that whole idea of the judge letting the defendant pull out the names of the jurors that are going to be taken off his jury. That was nothing short of remarkable for two reasons.

One is it showed a bond with the jury and the defendant. And number two, Don, the judge had his clerk standing three feet away from this defendant. You don't put your staff in harm's way. So, the fact that the judge had his clerks that close to the defendant sends a subliminal subconscious message to the jury maybe this guy isn't a danger.

LEMON: So, what are you saying about the judge there, Robert?

HIRSCHHORN: Yes, so, you know, it is completely in his discretion. I think he threw the defense a bone. You know, by letting the defendant do that. Don, I've been doing this for 35 years. It's remarkable. Never seen anything like that. It's usually the court staff that does that.

I think the judge said afterwards, Don, that in all cases where the defendant is facing 20 years or more, it's been his practice to let the defendants do that. I think from the defense side, I think it's a remarkable practice --


LEMON: Do you --

HIRSCHHORN: -- because it really does humanize the defendant.

LEMON: So, you think what, it should be a bailiff of some sort that's doing that?

HIRSCHHORN: Court staff. Don, it's always a court staff member that does something like that.

LEMON: Interesting.

HIRSCHHORN: That's why it was truly remarkable.

LEMON: Paul, you know this judge. What do you think?

BUCHER: Yes. I just think he is trying to be a nice guy. He is an ordinary Joe. I mean, he is the type of guy who brings his lunch to work in a lunch box. But I -- I've been doing it 42 years. All together we've been doing it a heck of a long time. And I've never seen a judge do that. I'm still amazed he used a tumbler, but they do. But I've never seen a defendant actually pull out the alternates.

I mean, there is no conspiracy theory here. He didn't add anything to it, et cetera. I disagree that it showed a bond, but it was a little strange that he let him do that. I don't know. Again, jury consultants know better. I just think it was a little strange that he allowed that to happen.

But there has been a lot of strange things in this case. And now they're saying the prosecutor violated the law by pointing the gun and having his finger on the trigger. I mean, Don, there has just been a lot of things that have gone on in this case which underlines my point that I've been bringing up all along.

This case is out of control. The prosecutor -- the prosecution lost vision of this case a long time ago when they charged it. They're not focusing on the homicides. I don't think this is about second amendment possession of firearms. It is about self-defense, of course, which deals with firearms. But it's out of control. And the judge has not taken control of it. And the prosecution has lost vision of what this case.

This case is about two dead people and their families and a person whose arm was blown off. And they've just -- they charge curfew violation and they spent too much time in his ridiculous charge of possession of the firearm. I would, as I said, it's two homicides and an attempted homicide. And self-defense should be in there whether it's -- when they want to describe a second amendment. Fine. But it's just becoming a real circus. I can't wait to see what (Inaudible).

LEMON: Look, it's interesting that you guys are pointing this out, because we get to see televised trials all the time. Right? So, we go through these things. Charges dropped, whatever it is. This is applied, is that, whatever. That is normal.

But to hear, Robert, you talk about the judge and that is not normal, and maybe it's subliminal, that's something that the average person wouldn't know, but someone who is -- who works in a courtroom, a judge, an attorney, a prosecutor, you would know those things and how they might affect the jury. This jury got to hear the defendant himself. This is Kyle Rittenhouse when he broke down on the stand.


KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: There were -- people right there --

UNKNOWN: Take a deep breath, Kyle.

RITTENHOUSE: That -- that's why I run.


LEMON (on camera): So, Robert, in the prosecutor's closing, he said that Rittenhouse broke down crying about himself, not about anyone else. Will that resonate with the jury or turn them against the prosecution if they feel that that moment humanized Rittenhouse?


HIRSCHHORN: Yes, so it clearly humanized him to some extent, but the question, Don, is what brought on those tears? Was it tears of how he was feeling about himself or towards the victims that he just shot? Was there any testimony during his trial that he displayed any remorse immediately after this happened?

So here is the idea. Again, I don't think the jury is going to -- going to decide this case on those tears. Some jurors may think they're crocodile tears. Some jurors may think it's legitimate tears. What this case is all going to be about, Don, and this is why I think it's going to take a really long time for these deliberations, except for that third charge of the person that pointed a gun to him, right. That third one that got injured --

LEMON: Right. HIRSCHHORN: -- but didn't die. He pointed a gun at the defendant. You point a gun at someone, bad things happen. You bring a gun to a protest? Bad things are going to happen.

So, here's what I think the deliberations are going to be about to these jurors. Was this defendant acting as a vigilante or was he acting in self-defense? If it's vigilante, he's convicted. If it's self-defense, he's acquitted.

LEMON: Yes. You have been saying something that I've been talking to producers and my colleagues in news about. It comes down to what is -- and Paul, you can tell me if you think I'm wrong here -- where is the line between patriotism and vigilantism, right? If he was acting.

Because he is saying this is what -- this is the narrative. He was doing something that the government should have done, that the police should have done, and they weren't able to do it. Is that patriotism or is that vigilantism? Paul, I'll give you the last word.

BUCHER: It's not patriotism, but it's Kyle Rittenhouse is not a hero. Kyle Rittenhouse is not a vigilante that was out for revenge. Kyle Rittenhouse made bad decision, bad judgment, stupid, immature. You're right. He shouldn't -- and I said this the very beginning. The jury is going to wonder in the back of their head, what the heck were you doing here with an AR-15.

Well, that's not relevant to self-defense, it's relevant to their verdict. We have two dead individuals. He is not going walk away from that. He is going to get clipped on a homicide. I can't tell you which one.

LEMON: All right. Well, we'll be here, and you'll be here with us covering it. You guys are so great together. I love having you on. Please come back. Thank you, gentlemen. Have a good evening.

HIRSCHHORN: Thank you, Don.

BUCHER: Thanks, Don.

HIRSCHHORN: I appreciate it. It was an honor being here.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you. Absolutely.

Another top Trump adviser just won't comply. So, what is the committee investigating the insurrection going to do about Mark Meadows? I'm going to ask a member of the committee. Congressman Pete Aguilar is next.



LEMON (on camera): January 6 select committee is zeroing in on the former president's chief of staff Mark Meadows and weighing a criminal contempt referral against him. And more subpoenas are likely on the way. So, let's bring in now Congressman Pete Aguilar -- Peter Aguilar,

excuse me, Congressman. He is on the committee. I appreciate you joining us, Representative. Thank you so much.

REP. PETER AGUILAR (D-CA): Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: So, more subpoenas expected this week. Mark Meadows is getting another shot to comply. Do you think that anyone connected to Trump, that they're going to start cooperating now that the Justice Department is prosecuting Steve Bannon for criminal contempt?

AGUILAR: What I can tell you is that they have a duty to comply. Any citizen who received a subpoena would. And clearly, their posture here is to stonewall. And that's going to have consequences. Their defiance for the rule of law is really the problem here. But we're going to continue to plow ahead. We're going to continue to do the work to find the truth.

LEMON: You think they will make -- they will use the Trump national archives case as a reason to stall while that gets resolved?

AGUILAR: I think that crew will do anything they can to try to stonewall and evade our lawful search for the truth. But the reality is we've had over 200 interviews with witnesses. We've looked at over 25,000 documents.

We continue to make significant progress, irrespective of this, you know, fight that some of this small group of advisers continues to put forward. Our seek and determination for the truth and to find out what happened that day on January 6 and leading up to it will continue.

LEMON: You know, Congressman, we heard about Congressman Mark Meadows possibly using a private cell phone, first mentioned by Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney and your colleague Zoe Lofgren. Zoe Lofgren is asking what happened to that cell phone if he had one.

I mean, it sure sounds like you all know that he had this cell phone. Do you have reason to believe that he did not retain those phone records or submit them to the national archives or possibly got rid of them?

AGUILAR: Well, I think that's clearly a question for Mr. Meadows. But, you know, that's one of the questions. And by the way, that type of question is not remotely near privileged. And so, his continued defiance, and we will build the record and the record will show the types of questions and the line of questioning that we would offer if he chose to come before us.

But those are the exact types of questions that he should have to answer for because we don't believe that there is a record of it.


LEMON: The reporting was, as we were covering it back in August that the committee told 35 phone and internet companies to preserve records of certain lawmakers and people of interest here in the committee's investigation. Has the committee since sent a request for records, and if so, have you received them?

AGUILAR: I'm not going to get into the investigative steps that we have taken. It was publicly reported that we asked some of those companies for preservation orders, and that's exactly what we did.

But I'm not going comment on the next steps and the documents that we've seen other than to say, you know, the 200 witnesses that we've talked to and the 25,000 documents speaks to a volume that we have received. And there continue to be individuals who are complying and are helping us put through the facts of exactly what happened.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about those 200 individuals, nearly 200 people the committee has spoken to. How would you characterize that you have spoken to staffer, attorneys, aides to the vice president. Who are you talking to?

AGUILAR: A number of people. And we've talked about this, you know, publicly. We've talked about the importance of seeking out individuals who had information related to the planning and coordination of those rallies. The rallies happened on January 5th and January 6th.

So this isn't just about advisers near the president. This is about the totality of what happened leading up to January 5th and 6th, including who funded these rallies, how was that paid for, and who knew what when both in and out of government.

And so that's where the witnesses come forward, and they have been honest and truthful, and many of them have been very forthcoming and have shared other conversations that they know took place with people who are both in and out of government.

LEMON: Chairman Thompson said that Jeffrey Clark would get a little more time to reconsider his refusal to testify. That was 10 days ago. Has the committee followed up on that threat or heard from him at all?

AGUILAR: If a witness is not -- someone who received a subpoena is not come forward and they continue noncompliance, they're going hear from us a number of times. And so that there have been a number of conversations back and forth.

And so we're going to continue. Because our hope here is that people just follow through, and they do exactly what the subpoena says. And that's to comply and to produce records and to produce testimony. That's our goal here.

You know, we don't take any pride in Steve Bannon going before a federal magistrate. We just want the truth. And when people aren't going to give us a truth, there will be consequences. And we've clearly shown that we're not above exercising those consequences.

LEMON: Congressman Aguilar, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

AGUILAR: Thank you so much, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. Two murder trials have made major implications for this country. I'm

talking about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. Now, I'm going to talk about that and much more with these two gentlemen, Spike Lee and his brother David. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse and the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery raising questions about race and justice in America.

In Wisconsin, you have Rittenhouse, a white teenager who crossed state lines with an AR-15-style rifle. Killed two men and wounded another and was told by police to go home.

And then in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man was chased down by three white men and fatally shot while jogging through a neighborhood in Georgia. The defendants in both trials claiming self- defense. But with both cases playing out against the backdrop of a racial reckoning in our country, what do they tell us about where we are now?

Perfect people to discuss, in studio with me filmmaker Spike Lee, his brother David Lee. They're out with a new photo book that covers spike lee's career called "Spike." I'm going to show ahead it's sitting here. I have a signed copy on my desk. We're going to talk about it in just a minute. But I want to get to these criminal trials.

Good evening to both of you.


LEMON: It's so good to see you. Spike, this is exactly what your movies were about and what you -- what your art is about.

I want to talk about the criminal trials. Rittenhouse told by police to go home. Ahmaud Arbery, his accused killers weren't even arrested until a third prosecutor took over and that video emerged online. You had been covering these issues. What do you think about these cases?

DAVID LEE, SPIKE LEE'S BROTHER: It's the same old thing.

S. LEE: It's the same old thing. And it's very sad, but there is two Americas. And two judicial systems. And always on the short end of the stick. You know, you have video, photographs, and then they just -- it's the okey-doke, you know.

LEMON: That's my line. I have fallen your life. Don't fall for the okey-doke.

S. LEE: Okey-doke.

LEMON: But do you find yourself -- look, I'm in this business. I find it painful to watch, even watching the trial, especially -- well, both of them. Looking at the video of Ahmaud Arbery, but also Rittenhouse and listening to the judge. He had this off-colored joke about Asian food, and he has made -- he seems to be -- he has clashed with the prosecution. What do you think of his handling of the case?

S. LEE: To be honest, I'm not really -- I've not looked at it because it's painful.

LEMON: You sound like you're tired. Are you tired?


S. LEE: I'm tired of being tired, you know. And it's the same thing. And, you know, we -- the judicial system is set up against us. So, you know, it's disgusting, I think. I'm worn out. I'm worn out.

LEMON: I found that looking back, when you look at the massive Black Lives Matter protests, Spike, we saw in 2020, it seemed like an inflection point. Do you think things have changed?

S. LEE: Well, I think things have changed. Especially if you watched TV, you watch the commercials, I haven't seen that many black folks in commercials in my life.

LEMON: And racial couples.

S. LEE: And racial couples. But here is the thing, though. Their -- the clock is ticking when this thing is going to be over. Like, we've given you -- you know, we've got your money and stuff and it's going to go back to the same. So, I hope that doesn't happen.

LEMON: What do you mean go back to the same?

S. LEE: I'm not doing somersaults thinking that we've achieved everything where we need to be. Let's -- we're not there yet. So, I think that it's going to -- I hope it's not -- it doesn't happen. But things are going to go back to the same thing.

LEMON: You worry that some of this is just lip service or eye service where you see the diversity on the screen but it's not necessarily real.

S. LEE: This -- I've never seen so many black couples, interracial couples in commercials. I mean, and you know all of this is post George Floyd. But how long -- I don't know if it's guilt is what it is. How long is this real, it's revisal. how long is it going to last? We'll see.

LEMON: So, listen, Spike and his brother have been chronicling this through photographs in the book, a lot of what's happening today and what has been happening. We're going to discuss that. We're going have more after the break on Spike's new book. It is unbelievable.

S. LEE: And?

LEMON: And David. And David's new book. It is entitled Spike, though. And David. D. LEE: I'm just --

LEMON: We'll be right back.

S. LEE: I'm the oldest brother.

D. LEE: We'll talk about that more later.



LEMON (on camera): We're back now with Spike and his brother, David. This is incredible. I got it. It's in this bag with peace on it. Thank you, a signed copy. Thank you. This is an incredible book that, Spike, is a retrospective photography book of your career. Your brother.

S. LEE: My brother.

LEMON: I know it's your career, but your brother is behind the camera lens with this. Why did -- why did you guys -- why did you guys do this?

S. LEE: Well, it was a gentleman Steve Crist who came up with the idea, and I've done books, but nothing that has really documented the four decades of filmmaking. And my brother right here has been there from the beginning.

LEMON: You've had a front row seat to your brother's filmmaking. What has that been like to watch? You have your own successful and important career, then you're alongside your brother, filmmaker, photographer. What has that been like?

D. LEE: Firstborn, the chief, the general. You know, from early, early on when Spike was in film school and even before that, when you're going out and doing, you know -- I don't know if you did it when you were doing the riots or the blackout of '77, but my recollection is that I was always tagging along. Spike was always asking me to go out and photograph what he was doing.

So, in film school, I was already doing photography, so Spike was just utilizing what talents I had and to just kind of document, you know, document his art.

LEMON: Were you surprised when he was making these films that the contro -- the conversations were so controversial coming out of this and how it fostered conversation and a little bit of tumult sometimes, and for the good.

D. LEE: Yes. "Do the Right Thing" was absolutely a changing point. You know, it just -- it changed, kind of, the interaction, the dialogue with a lot of white people in my life. Because "Do the Right Thing" was just -- there was a complete divide, just a split in how black people and white people saw that movie.

You know, and I've said this before, but a lot of white people -- not my friends, my friends are, you know, great -- I end up having conversations with white people. White people would come up to me and kind of try to get my -- get my take on looking through the trash can, through the window and for them trying to understand. You know, so, just --

S. LEE: A black person would never ask you that.

D. LEE: Yes. Yes.

S. LEE: White looking through the window.


D. LEE: It's really --

S. LEE: It would never happen.

LEMON: That's so funny because I opened the book and it came right to this which says, Mookie left, royalty on the right, Mookie and Aussie. I mean, yes.

S. LEE: We've been blessed to work with some of the great, great, greats. Again --

LEMON: They got it. When you said a black person has never asked you why, they also got it. They were more than just actors.

S. LEE: They were part of --

D. LEE: Yes.

S. LEE: They were side by side with Malcolm and Dr. King.

D. LEE: Exactly. Exactly.

S. LEE: You know, they were right there in the movement.


D. LEE: Sixty-three, they were there, in March, they were. Aussie did the eulogy, famous eulogy, famous black folks.

LEMON: "Do the Right Thing" is 1989.

S. LEE: Yes.

LEMON: Do you think America is ever going to do the right thing, get there?

S. LEE: The country?


S. LEE: Well --

LEMON: Are we close to it? Are we anywhere near? [22:55:01]

S. LEE: Here's the thing, Don. This country is based upon stealing the land from native people, genocide from the native people and slavery. That's the foundation. So, the foundation was broke from the get-go.

LEMON: That's all -- David's response --

D. LEE: There is an ideal, you know.


S. LEE: But we got to keep -- we got to keep.


S. LEE: It's a struggle. We have to keep at it. Keep hacking away.

LEMON: I see your 1619 sweatshirt.

S. LEE: Yes.

LEMON: I see your beautiful photography.

D. LEE: Thank you so much.

LEMON: And this is through this. I see your beautiful career --

S. LEE: Thank you.

LEMON: -- which is still going.

S. LEE: And I'd like to say, you're doing a dang thing, too, man.

LEMON: Thank you, Spike.

S. LEE: My brother, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you.

S. LEE: Thanks so much.

LEMON: The book again is called "Spike."

So, it hasn't happened in more than a decade but tomorrow the White House is going to vote to censure one of their own. Stay with us.