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North Korea's New Threats Against U.S. Assets; Border Wall Could Block Deal on Trump's 100th Day; Drastic Rise in Acts of Anti- Semitism in America; Workers Hide During Take Down of Confederate Monument in New Orleans. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired April 25, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:54] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It is now day 96 of the Trump presidency.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The president getting down to the wire when it comes to keeping all of those promises he made for the first 100 days. But could one of his biggest promises, the border wall, block a deal to stop the looming government shutdown?
Plus President Trump tells conservative journalists at the White House tonight he is, quote, "not so sure if Kim Jong-un is as strong as he says he is."
As tensions rise with North Korea, Pyongyang detains an American citizen and threatens to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier.
And an American nuclear submarine heads towards South Korea in a show of force.
Let's get right to CNN's chief national security correspondent, Mr. Jim Sciutto.
Jim, North Korea has started making threats against U.S. assets in the region. What can you tell us and what's been the reaction from the White House?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, now North Korea is threatening -- claiming that they have a weapon that could sink a U.S. aircraft carrier. This is of course as the USS Carl Vinson has been ordered to the seas closer to North Korea. That threat not clear from the U.S. position whether that is true or North Korea has that capability. They are making the threat. They're also threatening saying they have a missile already capable of hitting the West Coast of the U.S. and saying that they have a capability to light off a hydrogen bomb.
Again capability that the U.S. does not know or necessarily believe that North Korea has but they're bracing themselves now for both the possibility of a missile test and perhaps another -- an underground nuclear test. President Donald Trump saying throughout that there has to be a new approach to North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable. And the council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile program.
This is a real threat to the world whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem. And it's a problem we have to finally solve. People who put blindfolds on for decades. And now it's time to solve the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: What's interesting about President Trump's comments there, Don, is he's talking about additional sanctions on North Korea, not military action. You'll remember in the last couple of weeks you had some tweets from the president, other comments seeming to warn of perhaps preemptive action, pressuring China.
That comment about additional sanctions, that's a very measured you might response and more in line with the responses of both the Obama and George W. Bush administration where North Korea has taken steps like this.
LEMON: Jim, I want to talk about Russia now. There have been reports about the Senate investigation into Russia and the slow of pace frustrating some senators. What do you know?
SCIUTTO: I'll tell you, Don, I have spoken to a couple of senators today, Democrats and staffers as well, who have said that they are upset and they're frustrated with delays.
Mark Warner, I have spoken with someone familiar with his thinking today, says that he's very unhappy with the pace. Senator Ron Wyden saying it needs to be sped up. They want quicker access to documents relevant to the investigation. They want faster progress towards public hearings where they call some of these witnesses that they want to speak to like the Carter Pages of the world, Paul Manafort, and others. Frustration there.
And what's important about that is the Senate Intelligence Committee was meant to be the adult in this conversation. You had the clear partisan split in the House Intelligence Committee, blowing up with the controversy over Devin Nunes, his comments, his recusal. The Senate more balanced between Democrats and Republicans was supposed to be the leader on this. Now we're seeing some of that bipartisanship perhaps challenged.
I will say, though, that, Don, I also spoke with r senators today and an independent senator, Angus King, on the committee, they disputed this. They said that from their perspective it's still a bipartisan effort. They're going to give it time.
LEMON: Jim Sciutto, in Washington. Jim, thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you. LEMON: Now I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Michael
Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA.
[00:05:01] General Hayden, thank you so much for joining us.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: As a former CIA and NSA director, do you think the Russian investigation is moving along fast enough? Because a lot of people are putting their hopes in that investigation after the House investigation became mired with controversy.
HAYDEN: Yes. I saw the same report in the "Daily Beast" that talked about the limited staff that the Senate Intelligence Committee has on their problem.
Look, I know both the chair and vice chair, Senators Burr and Warner, they are very strong players. I've got a lot of confidence in them. But I guess the bottom line here, Don, is these guys are designed -- these committees are designed to do oversight, not investigation. So this is a bit of a heavy lift for them.
They've got a useful role here. I do think public and closed hearings will help educate the American people on what's going on here. But I think the investigation itself is going to take place about a half dozen blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue at the Hoover Building.
LEMON: OK. OK. So you say that this is a heavy investigation. Do you -- do you think there should be an independent investigation so much like a 9/11 Commission into this?
HAYDEN: No, I don't. We've got a criminal investigation underway --
LEMON: Well, the poll shows 73 percent of Americans would favor that, by the way. But go on.
HAYDEN: No. No, no, no. No, I understand. All right? But I do like things done in regular order. Every time we meet an unusual problem we have to create a new structure. And so frankly as problematic as the Senate Intelligence Committee effort has been, limited number of staff, not quite in their wheelhouse, you realize you have to create something totally independent from scratch, which would take months to set up, in addition to actually getting the Congress to do it. And so I'm comfortable with going forward on what we have now.
But again, I'm looking at the real fact finders to be the FBI whereas the Senate committee plays a powerful role, I think, in public education.
HAYDEN: As to what is going on.
LEMON: So you're confident they'll get there? That they'll -- OK.
HAYDEN: I -- look, I am confident enough to let it ride for the moment.
LEMON: OK. So, General, you recently said that national security is undergoing a tectonic shift. Explain what you mean by that and what challenge does this -- that pose for the intelligence community?
HAYDEN: Well, look. I think there are fundamental shifts going on in the international order. I'll give you one, Don, that I think we have high confidence in. We are seeing the melting down of the post-World War II, American liberal, Bretton Woods, World Bank, IMF world order.
All right? That's a natural phenomenon because the world is very different than it was when we created that order 75 years ago.
The real question before us now, Don, is how does American intelligence inform American policymakers as to what role we should play in creating 2.0? How much should we play a role in creating it and how much American power should we invest in sustaining it? Big questions.
LEMON: I want to move on to a very important subject, and that's North Korea.
LEMON: Because you have been critical of how President Trump has handled North Korea. We learned today from a U.S. Defense official that the USS Michigan, an Ohio class nuclear powered guided missile, by the way, a submarine, expected to make a visible port call in South Korea on Tuesday. Why is that action significant?
HAYDEN: Well, look. We are showing some strains in and around the Korean peninsula. And Don, I have really not been that critical of the Trump administration approach to this. I felt that they have concluded, and I think they're right, that within our current definition of acceptable risk, we are seeing North Korea on this inevitable path to an ICBM with a nuclear device that can reach the Pacific Northwest.
And so I think what we are now announcing to the world is we are seriously recalibrating our definition of acceptable risk, hence the Vinson battle group, hence the Ohio class submarine in the port of Pusan. Hence the things that Vice President Pence and President Trump have said.
And here, Don, the audience here is not trying to influence the North Koreans.
HAYDEN: The audience here are the Chinese, trying to influence them to do more to help solve this issue.
So you any this action is OK? You're OK with this?
HAYDEN: Look, I know what the product of strategic patience has been.
HAYDEN: And that has been North Korea on this inevitable arc towards an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on board.
LEMON: Do you think that North Korea will launch a test soon -- another test soon?
HAYDEN: Yes, I think so. Either a missile test or, heaven forbid, a nuclear test. And there the heaven forbid part, Don, is that's really, really going to upset the Chinese a lot more than it's going to upset us. So maybe that actually creates an opportunity for American diplomacy to pull the Chinese to a more powerfully mutual view on the danger that the Kim Jong-un regime represents. Not just to us but to them.
[00:10:07] LEMON: Since you brought up China, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said today that China is, quote, "helping to put pressure on Kim Jong-un." President Trump spoke to both the Chinese President Xi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Sunday night.
Is the president working these relationships to the country's advantage because that's the type of thing that he promised to do as a candidate? And is he succeeding?
HAYDEN: Yes, I actually think this is a case where he's established good, personal relationships with two very important leaders in the far east. And he is working them again to create this broader zone of pressure on the North Koreans, hoping to get the Chinese to do more.
Look, I think the Chinese have marginally done more. I think they can do more. But, Don, don't operate under any illusions here. When they say jump the North Koreans don't say how high. They, too, have limited influence on the North Koreans.
LEMON: All right. General Hayden, on Saturday morning North Korea detained a U.S. citizen for unknown reasons as he was planning to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport. Third U.S. citizen detained in North Korea.
LEMON: Why is Kim Jong-un doing this?
HAYDEN: Well, that's the playbook, Don. This is right out of the standard script. I often half jokingly say that North Korean security policy looks like it's written on the bottom of a shampoo bottle. Create a provocation, demand concessions, repeat. That's what they are doing with their tests, that's what they're doing with keeping these Americans under these pretext in Pyongyang.
LEMON: General Hayden, always a pleasure. Thank you.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, President Trump promised to get a lot of things done by his 100th day in office. With only days left before that deadline, how is he doing?
But first I wanted to take a look at the CNN original series "SOUNDTRACKS: MUSIC THAT DEFINED HISTORY." This Thursday night at 10:00 a look at the songs that took on a whole new meaning in the wake of 9/11. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DWAYNE JOHNSON, HOST: The music and the artists post-9/11 they are reflective of the many emotions we feel.
BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN: We ain't going anywhere. We played for an audience of police, firemen, and emergency rescue workers. And they needed a boost. I put a fireman's helmet on the piano just to help me concentrate because if I didn't have that I might have just lost it. It is kind of an anthem for New York City. I didn't think of that when I wrote it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The events that transpired defined a music and made it bigger than it was intended to be.
JOHNSON: The music will always remind us that it is possible.
RANDY JACKSON, MUSICIAN/PRODUCER: Somebody has got to put these into words and emotions. That is what anthems are made of.
ANNOUNCER: SOUNDTRACKS. "Songs That Defined History." Thursday at 10:00 on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[00:16:36] LEMON: A lot on the president's plate as the clock ticks down to his 100th day in office including the looming possibility of a government shutdown on Friday. But his campaign promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico may have to be postponed.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta has more -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, tonight, there appears to be some cracks on the president's demand that a wall be paid for as part of these negotiations for a spending bill to keep the government open, a White House official confirms to CNN that the president will not insist on border wall funding as part of these negotiations for a bill to keep the government running at the end of the week. That will come as a relief to Republicans on Capitol Hill who thought the White House was going to take all of this to the brink over one of the president's biggest campaign promises.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It just might be the biggest barrier standing in the way of a deal to prevent a looming government shutdown. President Trump's quest for funding to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The president is ramping up the pressure, tweeting, "The wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth and many others. If the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will never be fixed the way it should be."
White House officials are also pushing Congress to make sure wall money is included in any bill to keep the government running.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We need that wall. It will help us complete the promise that the president has made to the American people. That's what they want, the American people have a right to expect it and I believe Congress will eventually deliver.
ACOSTA: But that lies in the face of what's perhaps the president's biggest campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall.
TRUMP: We're going to build that wall, don't even think about it. And who's going to pay for the wall?
(CROWD SHOUTING "MEXICO")
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We feel very confident the government is not going to shut down.
ACOSTA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insists the president isn't going back on his word.
(On camera): ACOSTA: On the wall, why has there been a discussion about shutting down the government over paying for the wall? Isn't Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?
SPICER: Well, I think, Jim, the president has made very clear that initially we needed to get the funding going and there has to be several mechanisms to make sure that that happens. That funding piece will happen in due time.
ACOSTA: In his campaign's contract with American voters the president vowed to introduce a bill on his first 100 days in office that would force Mexico to ultimately pay for the wall. One of several promises he hasn't kept.
Now the White House is releasing its own 100 days highlights. Posting the military strike on Syria, the administration still frozen travel ban, his Supreme Court pick, and efforts to help women and minorities, nearly all stemming from executive actions.
The White House is also looking to make a big splash on Wednesday when the president is expected to outline his tax reform plan, including a massive cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent, but the administration is not insisting that any of it be paid for.
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth. ACOSTA: And as for the president's proposal to lower the corporate
tax rate that trial balloon is going over like a lead balloon up on Capitol Hill where a top Republican congressional source tells CNN that they're going to insist that that proposal be revenue neutral, something the White House is not promising at this point -- Don.
LEMON: All right, Jim Acosta. Thank you.
Now I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst, Mr. Mark Preston.
Mark, you heard Jim's reporting there. A new "Washington Post"-ABC poll shows the president has the lowest approval rating at the 100-day mark compared to prior administration.
[00:20:02] But his supporters, they're sticking with him. At least 96 percent say that they would support him again. What does that tell you?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things. One is that they're willing to give him more time than these 100 days in office to try to actually get things done. But another thing is that to them they feel like he has accomplished some things. And we have to give him credit where credit is due in the sense that he has accomplished some things but he did it in a way without Congress. That's very easy to do. And that's by the use of executive order and you hear that a lot on air, Don. And we talk a lot about how Donald Trump has rolled back EPA regulations, business regulations, stuff along those lines. However --
LEMON: How long can he continue to do that?
PRESTON: Yes. Because you have to start working with Congress to try to get legislation passed. That's why we have the separation of powers. You have a White House, you have a judicial branch. And then you have a legislative branch. And we've seen so far that his work with the legislative branch hasn't gone so well. Look at health care.
LEMON: Yes. OK. So let's look at it. And this is not the media, this is his critics saying this. This is what he said that he would get to. All right. And get done in the first 100 days. Some of the legislative proposals the president said that he would fight for in the first 100 days, his words. OK. The middle class tax relief and simplification act. He's unveiling a tax reform plan on Wednesday. Repeal and replace Obamacare. That fell apart in the House. And then in the legal immigration act, he's still pushing hard for funding for his border wall as part of the government budget. So, I mean, he hasn't delivered but -- well, he could say -- still say that these are works in progress.
PRESTON: Right. No question. So a couple of things. One is let's just look at the tax -- tax relief. You know, they came out today and said that they wanted to draw up the corporate tax relief from, like, 35 percent down to 15 percent. Well, the opposition is not going to be Democrats necessarily in Congress. It's going to be Republicans. Because if you were to do that, then you are going increase the debt that we currently hold right now. And Republicans don't want to do that. So that itself is going to be difficult to do.
In addition to that strategically he has gone about this the wrong way. He could have come into office as basically a Republican but the ability to reach across party lines in some way to get things done, he could have started with an infrastructure bill, a jobs bill, to create jobs because that's what he talked about, Don, all through the campaign.
I am going to help the economy and I'm going to put you back to work. If he had done an infrastructure bill, got Democratic buy-in, he's able to help create jobs, help the unions, then he'd be in a much better place today.
LEMON: Why didn't he do it?
PRESTON: I don't know. I don't have an answer for you. I mean, it would seem to be the smart thing to do. But he also made this vow and pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, thinking that if he just said it, it would happen.
LEMON: Yes. And build a wall. He said who would have thought that, you know, healthcare --
PRESTON: We would have thought the wall would have been built by now.
LEMON: Yes. Yes.
LEMON: So he signed 28 bills into law. So let's get back to this. He signed 28 bills into law. And these are -- this is what you were talking about. More than the last five presidents, none of them are major legislative victories as you say. Does this say more about the president or more about how Congress is operating?
PRESTON: Well, I don't begrudge him for using these executive orders to get some things done because, I mean, that is within his purview to actually do so. But I do think that he would have been smarter to work closer with Congress, not only Republicans but Democrats as well to try to get some things done.
And here's the deal. Even if he wasn't able to get things done, he would have looked like he is working across party lines and Democrats have been obstructionists. If you look back at this past 100 days, other than the Gorsuch nomination where Democrats tried to stop his nomination and then Mitch McConnell had to do some parliamentary maneuvering to lower vote threshold to name to the Supreme Court, you haven't seen much from Democrats at all. You haven't heard much. The opposition has been from Trump's own party.
LEMON: It is said, he looks at Gorsuch as an accomplishment. It did happen on his watch but that was Mitch McConnell.
PRESTON: Absolutely. I mean, I look at Judge Gorsuch as a Supreme Court -- Justice Gorsuch as Mitch McConnell's justice in many ways. He put his neck on the line. He's the one that went out there and did the nuclear option which basically changed the rules of the Senate to ensure that all he needed was a simple majority to get.
LEMON: But it was President Trump's nominee, though. It was his -- he's the person he wants.
PRESTON: That's fine but the bottom line is without Mitch McConnell he would have never gotten him into court.
LEMON: Thank you, Mark. Appreciate it.
When we come back, anti-Semitic incidents rising, a stunning 86 percent in the first three months of this year. What's behind the massive increase and harassment?
[00:28:21] LEMON: Israel and Jewish communities around the world just observed Holocaust Remembrance Day but a shocking new report from the Anti-Defamation League shows a drastic increase in acts of anti- Semitism in America. And I want to discuss now with Deborah Lauter, the Anti-Defamation League's senior vice president of policy and programs. I almost said ADL, because that's the short name for it.
So you have a new report out that details these anti-Semitic acts here in the United States. Tell us what you found.
DEBORAH LAUTER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND PROGRAMS, ANTI- DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Right. So it has been doing an audit of anti- Semitic incidents now since 1979. And what we found was a dramatic increase for 2016, actually a 34 percent, and then in the first quarter of this year an 86 percent increase.
Now these are incidences of assault, harassment and vandalism. These were incidents that started the trend around the campaign in November. And we've seen it continue through March.
LEMON: You said it started around the campaign. Do you think that the campaign -- is there any direct correlation you believe to what happened in the campaign, the rhetoric said on the campaign?
LAUTER: Yes. We believe that the campaign was a particular toxic atmosphere. There is a lot of hurtful rhetoric and that it did seem to enliven, embolden, engaged particularly the extremist movement in this country today. So the ADL for years has been monitoring extremists. And we can absolutely show a correlation between the ramping up of activity and during the campaign season.
LEMON: Some of it -- some of these incidents happened, though, it came from outside the United States. There was one with -- that was over a jilted girlfriend that they were using that as an excuse for what they wrote.
[00:30:03] LAUTER: Right. But our statistics are pretty accurate. We've -- I mean, as I said, we've been doing this a long time. And the numbers, particularly the numbers of harassment incidents are the ones that we're very concerned about. And what really troubled us this time is that we saw the incidents increasing in schools, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, in terms of harassment of Jews and others. So this is -- the rhetoric of the campaign somehow has filtered into our children's minds and we're very concerned about it.
LEMON: So the simple question is this. When you sat here, I said, what in the world is going on? What's going on?
LAUTER: What's going on? So, again, there is a toxicity that has happened. I think one of the things ADL has been proud of is that we have delegitimize hate. We've made it so that leaders, media stars, you know, if they engage in anti-Semitism or racism there is consequences. Right? They'll lose their job, they'll be rebuked, something.
What we saw during the campaign season was this sort of free for all where people weren't held to account for it. And it kind of gave signals that it's OK to engage in that kind of rhetoric. And that's what we're seeing the consequence now, that people actually acting out on hate ideology.
LEMON: It's so awful. I mean, disheartening isn't a strong enough word for it. I'm disgusted by it. But can you put the Genie back in the bottle?
LAUTER: Yes. Of course you can. I mean, we're always optimistic that you can. It takes a lot of work. So there is not one way to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. What we always tell people you have to do a multi-pronged approach. You litigate, you legislate and you educate.
So, you know, litigation, for example, the woman who was harassed in White Beach, Montana, the story of Heather. She is litigating. She is taking action against her harassers to the court system. ADL takes a lot of work with legislative and hate crime legislation, making sure that sound and effective, and we train law enforcement to make sure that they are detected. And then we run one of the largest anti-bias education programs in the country today. So we're in those schools and we're working with administrators and teachers and students, teaching respect. So we have to put -- you can use Genie back in the bottle or the lid back on the sewer but we have to do it.
LEMON: I think the lid back on the sewer is a better way of putting it.
LEMON: And I'm glad you said that. And also we have to get our leaders, right? The people who have a platform to speak out against that. And just yesterday the president delivered a video message to the world, on Jewish Congress, marking Israel's Day of Remembrance for the victims and the heroes of the holocaust. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Jews across the world have proved the truth of these words day after day. In the memory of those we lost, we renew our commitment and our determination not to disregard the warnings of our own times. We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Deborah, the president has been accused of not doing enough to denounce anti-Semitism in this country. Do you applaud his effort?
LAUTER: Absolutely. That statement that he made yesterday on Yom HaShoah is exactly the kind of statement that we like to see from him and from others.
LEMON: He is scheduled to speak at the U.S. Holocaust Museum tomorrow. What do you want -- considering the previous mistakes. Well, later today. Yes, because it's after midnight. Later today. But considering the previous -- remember that Holocaust Remembrance Day that he omitted any specific mention of Jews, what do you want to hear from the White House?
LAUTER: I think the message that he gave yesterday is the same message we want to hear that anti-Semitism and any form of prejudice cannot be tolerated.
LEMON: I want to read -- this is Ivanka Trump. She tweeted this today. This is yesterday. Said, "Today we honor the six million Jews whose lives were taken during the holocaust and pledge never again."
The president has often highlighted Jared Kushner and Ivanka's faith when he faced questions about anti-Semitism. How do you see their role here?
LAUTER: So I think they can play an important role. It's been fascinating to actually watch when there's been controversies in the White House, as I mentioned, we monitor extremists so that we can see where extremists are attacking Kushner as a Jew. They're engaging in heavily anti-Semitic rhetoric and -- so I think for them to be able to say they're personally experiencing it, and it's not acceptable and how they process it could actually be an effective thing for people to understand that it does impact you as -- your identity and as an individual.
LEMON: Deborah Lauter, thank you. Learned a lot. And let's hope it works. Let's hope we can put the lid back on the sewer.
LAUTER: Thank you so much. Appreciate you having me.
LEMON: When we come right back, more on these startling statistics, what will it take to stop anti-Semitism?
[00:38:52] LEMON: Anti-Semitism has spiked in the U.S. since the 2016 election. So who's to blame? What's to blame? Let's discuss now.
Defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, the author of "Taking the Stand: My Life and the Law." Also CNN political commentators Ben Ferguson, Symone Sanders and John Philips. Good evening to all of you -- or good morning, depending on where you
are. So, Alan, I'm going to start with you because the Anti- Defamation League is reporting the rise in anti-Semitism incidents in the U.S. since this election. It jumped 86 percent in just the first quarter of 2017. Why is that happening?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first, the ADL is a great organization. It also fights against anti-Islamic, extremism, and bigotry, anti-black bigotry, anti-homophobic bigotry, it fights all defamation.
DERSHOWITZ: And its statistics are very accurate. I think what we leave out, though, is there are two forms of anti-Semitism. There's the anti-Semitism that comes from the hard right that nobody accepts. Everybody delegitimized. You'll never find anybody saying it's OK to put Swastikas on gravestones. But then we have the more subtle forms of anti-Semitism that are occurring on university campuses today where you have anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents merging together.
[00:40:06] And that is creating a legitimacy for certain kind of anti- Semitism disguised as anti --
LEMON: This is online activity, social media --
DERSHOWITZ: A lot of it. A lot of it.
LEMON: Passed on?
DERSHOWITZ: Sure. People used to talk in bars together. You can now talk on the Internet.
LEMON: Online. Yes.
DERSHOWITZ: And it's internationalized as well.
LEMON: Ben, the ADL report says that the amount of anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism in grade schools, it's unbelievable.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
LEMON: Doubled since the 2016 election. She was just telling me about. The American Federation of Teachers, the president Randi Weingarten says that President Trump is to blame. Is she wrong about that or is she right?
FERGUSON: I think that's absolutely irresponsible to say that Donald Trump is to blame for this. I mean, in my opinion, you look at sweat house, you look at the Donald Trump, and you look at the people that were around him. Many of them are very, very, very pro-Israel. In fact he took a lot of heat for how much he was willing to back Israel and how much he was willing to back Jewish people in general. And they said that he was too aligned with Israel. So to somehow claim at the same time that Donald Trump should be held
responsible for ignorance and bigotry is absurd, especially when he's been on the complete opposite side of this. What I do think is there's two part of this. One is, you were seeing people that hide below their computer screens and are willing to bully people online because you don't necessarily have to back it up. And that's the reason why I think you see some of these numbers spiking.
The good news is that we're finding out about these bullies and we're finding out about these bigots because now people are also able to expose them and feel more comfortable reporting this behavior.
FERGUSON: So I think we have to look at the bigger picture here. And that is that some good is actually coming out of this. People are willing to speak up now and maybe they weren't before.
LEMON: I want to get my other panelist in here because Deborah Lauter who was the senior vice president of policy and programs at the ADL said that she sees a direct correlation to, you know, some of the accounts here, according to the ADL report, there were 34 incidents linked to the election. For example in May of 2016 graffiti posted in Denver said "Kill the Jews. Vote Trump." In December 2016 a St. Petersburg, Florida, man was accosted by someone who told him Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.
I mean, John, do you think he did enough to condemn support -- supporters like that?
JOHN PHILIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Alan Dershowitz is right. I think that much of this is largely non-existence on the right. Richard Spencer, who is this big gall white supremacist who appears on TV and seems to write press releases every day, just spoke at Auburn University, and you think oh, my god, there is a student group at Auburn University who invited an anti-Semitic white supremacist to come give a speech? As it turns out, he rented the room himself for $700 and everyone came wearing the same things. They all dressed as empty chairs. No one showed up. The guy has no following.
But there is a new anti-Semitism that we're seeing on college campuses and it's really toxic. There is a speaker that's going to be giving the commencement address at the City University of New York.
PHILIPS: Who supports Sharia law, who supports violence against Israel. And they are allowing her to give the commencement address in a big university like that? To me, that's appalling.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think we have to be honest that our political discourse and the rhetoric that has been present throughout the campaign, throughout this new administration has definitely fuelled some of the things that we've seen. Fringe elements have been brought into the mainstream and we cannot talk about the rise of anti-Semitism, of white supremacist, of all -- some of these really, really bad things that are happening across our country and across our world, about talking about the rhetoric that this White House has used, about talking the fact that this White House, this administration is demonizing people of color, it traffics in the uttering of people who traffic on bigotry. And that I do believe is a direct correlation.
DERSHOWITZ: But I think we're seeing increased extremism on both the right and the left. Look at the French election the other day. The communists are now going to support Le Pen. The extreme right and the extreme left have always had in common bigotry, intolerance, anti- Semitism. And I see a great danger around the world of extremism on both sides. And we have to look at this phenomenon together. Populism and extremism breeds bigotry.
SANDERS: But wait.
FERGUSON: There's one thing here --
LEMON: Let Symone respond and Ben, I'll let you --
SANDERS: I just want to make a really quick point that we have to be careful when we talk about populism. You know, populism is a thin ideology that is always married with a thick ideology. So there's populism, and there could be economic nationalism. There could be ethno-centrism. There could be nationalism. There could be racism. So there are levels to populism if you will so we have to be careful when we talk about it like that.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that. I agree with that.
LEMON: A quick response, Ben, please.
[00:45:01] FERGUSON: Some of these extremists are being very calculated and doing whatever they can to use people for them to get their moment of fame or to get their extremist group out there. And that doesn't mean that they are necessarily a part of that group or that party. Whether it's on the left and on the right. And I agree, this is happening not just in American and around the world. But let's not overreact to it or imply that that now is somehow the mainstream.
There are crazies out there that know that they just say the name Donald Trump somebody in the media will cover them and/or their event, just like we saw in Auburn. If you say something that connects you to somebody that is bigger than you and you can grandstand off of that then people act as if somehow it's part of this movement or it's part of Donald Trump when it's just not. (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: And John --
DERSHOWITZ: But I think President Trump understood that. And yesterday's statement and hopefully tomorrow's statement --
DERSHOWITZ: -- will really do a tremendous amount to undo anybody on the extreme right who thinks that Trump is encouraging.
LEMON: Yes. Look, it took a while for him to get there. But what I do have to say is, is that you can say that it doesn't exist, when you look at certain cases up 36 percent and then another is up 86 percent.
DERSHOWITZ: Yes. Yes.
LEMON: That is a real problem.
DERSHOWITZ: It is.
LEMON: That we must deal with. And we can't pretend that it does not exist -- hold on.
LEMON: And we all should, from the very top, the very bottom, if you have a platform, we have to condemn this. And I think it's up to our leaders to do the most.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree.
LEMON: So everyone, stick around. When we come back, workers in New Orleans tearing down the city's Confederate monuments. But death threats are causing them to wear bulletproof vests.
[00:50:25] LEMON: New Orleans is now beginning to dismantle four monuments honoring Confederate history. The first was removed today but why are workers receiving death threats?
Back now with my panel.
So, Ben, I gave you a short shift the last time so the "Times- Picayune" is reporting that police snipers were positioned on nearby rooftops as the First Confederate monument was removed today. The work had to be done at night because police were concerned about the workers' safety. What do you think of removing these monuments?
FERGUSON: Look, I think if the citizens in that area want them removed, then they should be removed. Many people are very upset because they felt like the mayor did this without having even listening to the people around him and he did in the cover of night, without notice, and just deciding that he was going to do this. So that's one of the reasons why I do think there are some who are angry and upset about this because they feel that the mayor did not include the community really enough in this decision.
I will also say it's really sad that when these are coming down, that you have workers that have to cover their faces and wear bulletproof vests and you have to have snipers up on the building and do it at nighttime. But ultimately most people that I talk to down in New Orleans on my radio show said they were upset, and this included Democrats, included whites and African-Americans, who said this mayor did not do a good job of talking to the people about this. And it looked like an executive order, an executive decision, and that's why so many people are so upset.
LEMON: OK. But, Symone, let's talk about what some of these monuments represent. Because --
SANDERS: You know what I'm upset about, Don? The memorialization of slavery, erecting monuments that remind people who fought to keep the system of slavery in place. What I'm not upset about is those monuments being taken down.
LEMON: Yes. So, again, to your point, they received death threats, they had to wear tactical vests, masks as they -- and masks as they broke down. This one called the Battle of Liberty Place monument. This monument was put up to honor the killing of police officers by white supremacists. I mean, so -- so why would anybody be upset about that? That's what I don't understand.
Back to you, Symone.
SANDERS: You know, Don, I think this speaks to a deeper thing. We still -- and I say this often because it's true. We still have not grappled with the impact of race has had in our country. We still not having straight enough conversations, not in follows, but really across the aisle, if you will, across ideology, and when things like this happens, when somebody decides to tear down -- to take down a monument that is offensive to a number of people, these things wear its ugly head because we haven't dealt with the root cause of the issue.
DERSHOWITZ: You know --
LEMON: I'll let John get in because, John, you didn't get in the last time. John, what do you think of this? And by the way, according to the "New York Times" a group proposing the removal of these statutes said it had collected 31,000 signatures for a petition. Are you surprised at how many people wanted to keep these monuments in place?
PHILIPS: Well, I'm a believer that you should be honest about the Confederacy and not to take an eraser to it. Teach the history but teach it honestly. If you don't understand the history of the South, you don't understand the present South. It drives me crazy here in California, I'm a fourth generation Angelino, and for whenever reasons politicians are trying to strip the state from all of our alliances or all of our memorials to the Spanish missionaries. They took the cross off the county seal here in Los Angeles County. They want to take down the statue of Father Serra. And I just -- I think that's a bad thing because if you don't understand those people you don't understand present-day California.
LEMON: So what is that truth of those --
SANDERS: So what are you saying? Are you saying to keep the monuments?
LEMON: What is the truth of the Confederacy? If you say that we should be teaching the truth of the Confederacy, what is the truth of Confederacy?
PHILIPS: No, it's a horrible part of American history, but teach it honestly. If you pretend like it didn't happen, then you do a disservice to all --
SANDERS: I don't think that's true.
DERSHOWITZ: I think there's a difference between teaching and --
LEMON: Yes, go ahead, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: No. There's a big difference between teaching and making heroes. The white supremacy memorial had no place ever in American democracy. You know, a statue of Robert E. Lee, that's much more debatable. He was a military hero but he fought for the wrong side, he fought for slavery. I think that we do have to teach and educate but we can do it without making heroes of segregationists and slave owners.
Look, what are we going to do with Thomas Jefferson?
FERGUSON: But, Don --
DERSHOWITZ: What are we going to do with other American heroes who did own slaves. Thomas Jefferson did not only own slaves, he put out rewards for recapturing slaves. Here's a man who wrote about the "Pursuit of Liberty," and then he chased the slaves and beat them when he caught them.
[00:55:04] SANDERS: A man who was a hypocrite. Yes. We talked about that.
DERSHOWITZ: So we have to teach history but we still don't want to take down the Jefferson Memorial.
LEMON: Yes. Can you go quickly?
FERGUSON: And look, you look at Robert E. Lee, for example. Is Robert E. Lee -- and there's many people that say that a lot of statues across the south of Robert E. Lee should come down and he should not be looked at as even a historical figure.
When you start taking things down like that, and there are people that definitely advocate for it because of Robert E. Lee in general, they say, well, they can only look at them one way and none of the rush of the history.
FERGUSON: You don't want to erase history.
LEMON: That's not what they removed in New Orleans, though.
SANDERS: But, Don, I just want to know.
FERGUSON: No, but let me say this. Let me say one thing. If you erase history --
LEMON: We're almost -- we're out of time.
FERGUSON: -- then we are going to repeat ourselves.
FERGUSON: When it comes to history because we don't know what happened.
SANDERS: We are not even talking about slavery. We just had a whole conversation about the Confederacy. And we're talking about what the Confederacy really was. We did not talk about that literally American, quote-unquote, heroes, took up arms to fight for the rights to continue to own people because it benefitted them economically.
DERSHOWITZ: And we have to teach that.
SANDERS: So, yes, we do need to --
FERGUSON: That is part of history. No one is disputing that.
SANDERS: We have to teach that. That is part of history but we didn't say it.
SANDERS: And when we don't do the intentional words, to speak it, we cannot confront this issue.
LEMON: OK, I'm out of time. I'm out of time.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I'm out of time. That's it. Thank you very much. I agree with Alan. You can teach it, but you don't have to erect a monument to bigotry and racism and to horrible part of the history of this country.
That's it. Thanks for watching. See you back here tomorrow.