President Trump In His Last Hours As President; Trump Snubs Joe Biden's Inauguration; Obama's Class No Match With Trump's Tantrums; All Eyes On Law Enforcement. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 18, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): It's an African, it's to slave him. And it became the title of a book that rocked people's minds in the 60s, a collection of essays. And it was written by somebody who was a colleague of King's who was mesmerized by King and frustrated as well. And it is a perfect statement of where we are today. Why am I saying it to you? Because one of us has taken time to look into it and see where we are and see ourselves in the same mission.
"CNN TONIGHT" with its big star, D. Lemon. He is that man. No more water. The fire next time.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The fire next time.
CUOMO: Either you learn to love and you learn to reject hate or things can only get worse.
LEMON: So, I have been, do you see that? That's from James Baldwin. This is one of my copies from the 1990s. I thought it was my first one but I have been informed that it's got notes like on every, almost on every page, right? And it's all -- but there's one that's floating around that's all torn and whatever I think that I had before this.
But this inspired me to do something. I was, this has been 30 years in the making. So maybe 35, Chris. And so what -- during the George Floyd thing, as you know, I was sitting here and leading a lot of the coverage and people were asking me what do I do, what do I do, what do I do? And I didn't know what to do.
And I -- one night I just sat down and I started scribbling things and I contacted someone and so -- and we came up with this, which has been really rushed, it's been really short, it's been like less than six months to put this out. And so, this is an ode to James Baldwin and "The Fire Next Time" and it's called "This is The Fire."
And for me this is not about selling books because you know I have a full-time job, I do two hours here, I do a bunch of other things. But this is, this is, I really think this book will help heal America in the way that conversation that you just had with Secretary Cohen about white people having conversations around the dinner table and wherever they are.
And so, all those people who contacted me and even beyond on social media everywhere, even people who may disagree with me, who may not like me, you're going to get something from this book because this book is about grace. Since we're here on Dr. King, one of the most graceful people that we know in our history and I really think it's going to heal.
Again, this is not about selling books for me. This is something that came from my heart and just poured out with late nights of jotting things down and writing things and working with a collaborator. It's short, like this, and it starts like this, although it not derivative. It is really inspired by James Baldwin.
It starts off with a letter to my great nephew. And I start by saying I dedicate it because you know over the years, past couple of years I've gone through a lot, we've covered all of this. And I just want to read something to you, OK, because this is how I start.
I start with -- I said it's to the memory of those who paved the way with gratitude to those who march in their footsteps, James Baldwin, my sister Leisa and all the not so obvious heroes who daily take a stand for truth, like the not so obvious heroes who were at the capitol who were helping to save our democracy and the lives of people like those police officers who were there.
And I start with a letter to my nephew, my great nephew like James Baldwin. I said his name is Tishard (Ph). And I said and I sat down and this was on May 25th. I said, I heard a dying man call out to his mama and I wept for the world that will soon belong to you. And that's how I start this book.
CUOMO: And remind people, "Fire Next Time" was very resonant in the 60s. It was two essays that had come out earlier, Baldwin, we all know he was.
CUOMO: And he was a correspondent of the time, as well an influencer of the time. First was an essay to his nephew, which obviously Don is adapting, and the next one was really important about where we are right now.
LEMON: Where we are right now.
CUOMO: Which was an essay about Baldwin realizing his place as an African-American growing up in Harlem and also looked at the lens of religion. Which I think is one of the hard, sticky bits that we have to start talking about here that is really taboo. You don't question people's faith in this country especially when they're Christian.
And it is time if we want to get to a better place to realize that just putting it in the bio of your Twitter account does not make you a follower of Jesus Christ.
LEMON: Amen. And this is, he says, that the chapter that you're talking about it is, which is really (Inaudible) where this came from. It says down at the cross, letter from a region in my mind, and that's where this -- a region in my mind, how do we -- how do we deal with this? That's all I kept thinking, like, how can I help people, how can I help people, how can I help people?
Let's be honest. Unless you do Harry Potter, I'm just going to be honest, you don't really, you know, what -- what you get from a book is not really that financially amazing, right? I mean, it can be helpful but this is really for me something that I just -- I just honestly want people -- I just want to help.
And I think this book is going to help them and I sat back and read it and when the publisher sat back and read it and the editors, they were like, we got to get this out like, immediately. Because this is all what's been happening in the world.
CUOMO: Why is it going to help?
LEMON: Because they are going to -- because people are going to -- because people are going to have conversations that are even stronger than the conversation you had with Secretary Cohen, that's even stronger than the conversation that you have, that you and I have every night, that's even more fulfilling than a conversation that I had with, you know that officer Michael Fanone? Every day I talk with him.
he's like, this, I think he wouldn't mind me sharing. He said one of the good things that happened out of this horrible thing is that I get to have -- I get to have conversations with you. And in those conversations, we get to know each other and our awareness of each other and America and the world expands because we're open to it.
Nothing in common. You know, he's got kids, he's a straight white guy, got kids, whatever, law enforcement. And here I am this guy on CNN, who no kids, engaged, you know.
CUOMO: So why do you talk every day?
LEMON: Because it helps. Because it helps both of us understand this - this particular moment where we are. If you want to call it kismet, whatever you want to call it. Here we are. So, what do we do? And if we are truly going to continue this grand experiment that we call America, then we're going to have to do it together and we're going to have to have some grace with it, we're going to have to understand each other.
We are going to have to -- this is why I think it's going to help -- because I think maybe him and those people who went into the capitol and a lot of people out there have been taught a history about America that's not necessarily true. Yes, we are a great country. We are the greatest democracy on earth, but there is a lot of our history that has been whitewashed, that people have not been taught in school or given the wrong history.
And so now they are angry because they are -- because the truth is coming out in many ways and they don't believe it.
CUOMO: So that's how they get stuck.
LEMON: And so there are -- there are lessons in this book about the history, the true history of this country and things that we were taught that are not necessarily true, that there are more people who contributed to the origins of this country and building this country than just white men. Go on.
CUOMO: Here's my pitch for the book -- the hard part of this, right, because we're not new to this.
CUOMO: You've lived it and have I been today what's called an ally, right, which really should just be a conscious human being --
CUOMO: -- who isn't a black person. Here's the sticky bit. People don't want to hear what makes them feel guilty, which makes them feel wrong, which makes them feel uncomfortable such that what Don just said is demonstrably true. OK.
There is a whitewashing of history. We've seen it in school and we know why it exists. Here's the problem -- do you have want to hear that if you are struggling and why and you do want the blame, you're tired of hearing it, you worry about yourself, and then somebody like Donald Trump who has a lot of power and prestige of a position that we gave him puts out on the same day that we celebrate Dr. King's legacy.
This stuff from a 1776 society, whatever that's supposed to mean that says, you know, a lot of people believe that this country was founded on slavery and therefore a lie that there was something disingenuous about equality from its very beginning but no, no, no slavery was the rule in this, not the exception.
Therefore, America cannot be blamed for starting in a basis of slavery but wanting equality, it was only what was natural at the time --
CUOMO: -- even for Christians.
CUOMO: And that feels better. Yes, I like that. Yes, that's good. Yes, that's better. Not this I should feel bad stuff.
CUOMO: This is better.
LEMON: Well, that -- CUOMO: How do we deal with that?
LEMON: That's not what it's about. How do we deal with it? Read it. And then we'll -- that's how you figure out how you deal with it.
CUOMO: This is a book club book, Don.
LEMON: This is --
CUOMO: You should be in a book club.
LEMON: Yes. Which one?
CUOMO: Who has a big book club? Who has one?
LEMON: Oprah? Is that what you --
CUOMO: Oprah Winfrey. That's who I was thinking of.
CUOMO: This is a perfect book club book because you get these collections of people who are only similarly situated by the curiosity of what they can learn together.
CUOMO: What's better than this book, Lemon?
LEMON: Yes. We're talking about important stuff and I'm being told to move on. It's just, it's -- please, we're dealing -- this is what we're dealing with in this country. That's why this is Dr. Martin Luther King Day, the insurrection on the capitol, the racism. This is the news what we're talking about now.
But I do have -- you're right. But I do have to go because I have to get to what we have planned here. But everybody read it, "This is The Fire." And I promise you it will be helpful and I thank you for doing what you just did.
CUOMO: I thank you for doing what you are doing.
LEMON: Thank you.
CUOMO: I love you, Don lemon.
LEMON: I love you as well.
CUOMO: This is just one reason why.
LEMON: "This is The Fire." This is the conversation I have with my friends about racism, what I say. Thank you for indulging me. Thank you, everyone for tuning in. I really appreciate it.
This is a special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. edition of CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Tonight, we are just a day and a half away from the moment Joe Biden raises his right hand and he's going to take the oath of office becoming the 46th President of the United States, short time away.
The capitol is under lockdown right now as more and more National Guard troops flood the city. This is the moment that we're in. We're learning tonight the current president has recorded a farewell video bragging about his accomplishments, though he hasn't been seen in public since last week.
This is not going to be like any inauguration any of us has ever seen, can you bet on that, but it's exactly what we have come to expect from a disgraced president, a president who lost the election and it's the first in American history to have been impeached twice.
The final days of his administration completely on brand, classless, baseless, unpresidential, all about ego. And here we are tonight in the divided states of America. We've seen where the president's hostile rhetoric and incompetence has taken our country, to violent insurrection in our national -- in our capitol, I should say, threatening our democracy.
And it is threatening our democracy to the brink of a horrifying, 400,000 Americans dying dead of coronavirus. That's the America Joe Biden will inherent in just hours. Donald Trump's divisive damaging president coming to an end on the day we remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. less than two days from the moment that Kamala Harris makes history as the first black South Asian woman to become vice president of the United States.
The Biden-Harris administration was elected to represent all Americans with more than 81 million people voting for them. But it was voters of color who put them over the finish line, even as the current president, until Wednesday at noon anyway, deliberately tried to divide us.
That as more and more of the Republicans who supported this president, who stood by him through everybody racist attack, even as he tried to disenfranchise millions of American, many of them voters of color. Those Republicans like Mike Pence, who are putting out empty tweets quoting Dr. King's words, can you believe it? Amazing.
Like Mitch McConnell, who supported a president whose actions supported everything Dr. King stood for. Like Lindsey Graham, who allegedly called Georgia election officials to get them to throw out legal votes including large numbers from black voters.
Ted Cruz, who even after the riot on Capitol Hill still voted against certifying the Electoral College vote. Ivanka Trump who called the rioters American patriots and then deleted the tweet.
One Republican after another apparently hoping that you'll forget their support for a president who used race to pit Americans against each other. Since you seem to want to understand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let
me give you another quote from him. Maybe you'll learn something. In his letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. King wrote in frustration about the white people who just didn't get it. The people who stood in the way of progress and I quote here, "shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Luke warm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
You might want to read it. And you might want to stop and pay special attention to this part, another quote, "so the question is not whether we will be extremists but what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?"
We know which kind of extremist Dr. King was and which kind of extremist Donald Trump is. Donald Trump created an environment where white supremacists and conspiracy theorists overran the capitol of the United States of America. He used race to divide us from the very beginning, from the birther lie that the former President Barack Obama was not born in this country, to both sides in Charlottesville, to dancing around the question of whether he disavow the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility, I'm not saying it happened, I'm saying it's a real possibility, then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.
You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same pictures as you did.
Well just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): All of that is the opposite of what Dr. King stood for, what he died for more than 50 years ago. The former first lady, Michelle Obama, with wise words today and I quote here. She said "leadership based on lies and mistrust and demonizing those who don't agree with you or look like you, that kind of leadership will always end badly, whether in destruction, lawlessness or death. But leadership based in honesty, she says, truth, compassion toward others, leadership driven by Dr. King's inescapable network of mutuality, this is true patriotism."
She's right. That's true patriotism. That is love of our country. Remember how the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House four years ago? Look at that. Class, grace. Remember how they had to -- so much -- they had so much respect for our country that they did their duty. Even to the birther in chief and his first lady birther in chief.
But in spite of that, the Obamas showed a grace this president completely is incapable of. Remember this scene in the Oval Office?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I believe that it is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences to now come together, work together to deal with the many challenges that we face.
I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Imagine if the Obamas had acted the way this president acts. Can you imagine that? And if anyone had the right to, they certainly did, after his racist lies about their family. But Barack Obama said this, it was this his final press conference as president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad. I believe tragic things happen. I think there's evil in the world, but I think that at the end of the day if we work hard and if we're true to those things in us that feel true and feel right that the world gets a little better each time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Boy, the contrast there. I mean, the contrast there in just four years, four years later, is stunning. What he says, his demeanor, even the way he's dressed. Even the way he addresses the media and the American people, stunning contrast.
The current president is fleeing Washington in disgrace hours before Joe Biden takes the oath of office, snubbing the new president. Melania Trump refusing to invite Dr. Jill Biden for a walk-through of the family living quarters, leaving them to be greeted by the White House chief usher. Luckily for them though, they are already pretty familiar with the White House. Yet Melania Trump in her farewell video says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Be passionate in everything you do but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified. When I came to the White House, I reflected on the responsibility I have always felt as a mother to encourage the strength and teach values of kindness. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Kindness. Kindness. Kindness. Enemy of the people. What a nasty question. Racist. Don't treat them nicely. Very fine people on both sides. Grab them by the you know what.
Kindness? OK. This from a first lady who can't be bothered to show the next first lady around a house that doesn't even belong to her. That's entitlement. Because this is the people's house. And also, the first lady who talks about values and integrity? Never forget that's why I said the birth lady birther in chief, she was a birther, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. TRUMP: In one way it would be very easy if President Obama just show it.
UNKNOWN: But it's not --
M. TRUMP: Because it's not only -- it's not only Donald who wants to see it. It's American people who voted for him and who didn't voted for him. They want to see that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): But all the Trumps care about is getting out of town with the president's ego intact. Moving trucks already at Mar-a- Lago, the President of the United States turning his back on the incoming president, turning his back on the people of this country after four years of disgrace and dishonor.
But America is turning the page in less than a day and a half. Americans who can't attend the inauguration represented by more than 190,000 flags and 56 pillars of light on a deserted National Mall. Joe Biden will make the most important speech of his life on Wednesday, speaking to a deeply divided America, his Vice President Kamala Harris saying this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we look at where we are as a country today, when we look at recent events, we know that the fight that Dr. King was engaged in is still a fight in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So tomorrow, President Donald Trump's last full day in office, that's when it is. And he's expected to issue a flurry of pardons and commutations, about 100 in all. Trump's been out of sight since last week but he's taped a farewell message that will likely be released tomorrow.
I want to bring in now CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, and CNN senior Washington correspondent, Mr. Jeff Zeleny.
Good evening to both of you.
Kaitlan, I'm going to start with you. President Donald Trump is about to leave Washington as a twice-impeached president, one-term president, who incited an insurrection. He's hold up right now in the White House and he's now recorded a video message. What do you know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it's kind of unbelievable that this is how the last few days of Donald Trump's presidency looked like, where he is completely walled off from the media, he is staying inside the White House, he has not interacted with us in almost a week now. And so he has now recorded this video.
As Jeff noted earlier, he recorded it in the residence of the White House, basically listing what he believes are his accomplishments of his time in office. And that's of course going to be parallel with what people are looking at, these controversies of his time in office including this most recent one given the way he responded and the fallout from that attack on the U.S. Capitol.
But the president is not enjoying these last few days in office. We were told he's actually been in a pretty foul mood according to several people who spoke with him and it's just notable given this is someone who relished the pomp and circumstance of being president and now it's about to go away for him, he's about to be an ex-president.
And instead of being out in front of the media like you typically would see a president who is on his way out the door, he is instead staying inside the residence, and staying behind closed doors for the most part.
LEMON: Jeff, President-elect Biden on Wednesday will be speaking to a deeply divided nation that's grappling with a deadly pandemic. What are you learning about his inaugural address?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Don, we are learning that the inaugural address is still being written. And this is classic Joe Biden. He is involved in the speech writing process with a team of others until the very end. And this time of course so much to say. But I'm told it is going to be steeped in history, as many of his speeches are, and it is going to of course being talking about what he's talked about since the moment he got back in this presidential campaign back in 2019, talking about restoring the soul of the nation.
And I think if it was ever a clear message of what that means, it is now. So, he is I'm told going to directly confront and address what happened in the very building, the very place where he is standing on the west front of the capitol. That is where all the rioters tried to break in, that is where people were climbing on the rafters. So, he's going to acknowledge that. But I'm told he is not -- he did
not change his speech significantly because of that, but it's certainly he's going to go infuse in it. But he's had a variety of people helping him out, this Jon Meacham, of course, the historian and a presidential scholar and author has been weighing in as some others. But it is going to be about unity and also about competence, that we are here to restore your faith in your government.
LEMON: All right. Kaitlan, Jeff, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
He's got the lowest approval rating of his presidency but he wants to throw himself a celebration on his way out of the White House? Does Trump really get what's going on here? Anthony Scaramucci and Nia- Malika Henderson, they're going to weigh in next.
LEMON (on camera): Well, President Donald Trump will not attend Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Sources saying that even in these final hours of his presidency, he is still insisting that he won the election, that it was stolen from him.
Let's discuss now with CNN's senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson is here, and Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director for President Trump.
Good evening to both.
Anthony, let me start with you. This president is desperate for a big crowd to see him off at Andrews Air Force Base. He is skipping the inauguration. It's all about his fragile ego. You got an invitation. Are you going to -- are you going to go see him, see him off?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: No. I mean, are you going to be my guest? I mean, if you're going to be my guest, then I'll cancel all my plans. I was going to have my finger nails pulled out tomorrow morning instead of go to that. But if you're going to be my guest, I'll go with you. How does that sound?
LEMON: I might take you up on that. But go on. I'm not kidding. But go on.
SCARAMUCCI: Now look, I mean, look, the point is, they had to send out a massive e-mail, Don, for me to get that e-mail. You know, I haven't given money to the Republican Party for three and a half years. So, he's probably having a hard time, like all things, they'll staff it, they'll fill it with staff and I guess it will soothe his ego. But I don't think so.
I think that the real issue for the president is who is going to indict him first? Is it going to be a state, a federal indictment? Is it going to be the city of New York that indicts him? When is that indictment coming? Is that right after Vice President Biden soon to be President Biden's speech? Is that the day after? I think somebody is going to make a very big name for themselves and declare an indictment here in the next couple of days.
LEMON: So, but you know him. That's the reason I started with you first. Because you got the invitation but you know him. Does he -- does he -- does he understand that he is leaving in shame and making the country clean up his mess?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think he's got a reality distortion field around him. I mean, people that really know him know that underneath all of that he's not fooling himself. You know, he used to say that on the campaign plane, that he knows what he's doing, he knows where the exaggerations are and the lies are.
So you know, he's not fooling himself. He is probably saying all those things that your sources are telling you that he's saying, meaning I won the election and it was stolen but he doesn't really believe that. There's no -- there's no way he believes that.
SCARAMUCCI: So, yes, I think there's a lot of shame there and I think here's a lot of desperation because he's got a whole slew of things that are about to hit him, Don.
LEMON: Yes. Nia, I got a -- I got a question but there's a long quote in here so let me -- I just want to get your reaction. The White House releasing its 1776 report on Martin Luther, Jr. Day. And here's what it says.
It says many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil. It is essential to insist at the outset that the institution be seen in a march -- in a much broader perspective. It is very hard for people brought up in the comforts of modern America to imagine the cruelties and enormities that were endemic in earlier times but the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.
Are they -- are they making excuses for slavery? Are they whitewashing history here, which Chris and I just talked about at the beginning of the show?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, this is obviously a reaction to the brilliant 1619 Project Nikole Hannah- Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for. And the argument that that package of articles makes is that slavery was central to the founding of America. It was of course essential in the years previous to America's founding and the 200 or so years after that founding.
So, you can't understand any American history without understanding slavery and the role that black people played in subsequent years after slavery in pushing America towards a multiracial democracy. That's why I encourage people to read I didn't read this 45-page, you know, Cillie report, by this Cillie Commission.
But I do encourage people to read that 1619 Project Nikole Hannah- Jones, a brilliant historian. There are brilliant historians of slavery, right? People like Heather Williams, people like Nell Irvin Painter. People like John Blassingame. Those are the people that you should read not this garbage report put out by this reactionary White House that is afraid, really of the truth getting out and laid out so brilliantly by those writers in the New York Times and that 1619 Project.
LEMON: Every time they just try to do something it just makes -- they just embarrass themselves --
LEMON: -- further and prove to people -- to everyone they are exactly what we have been saying what people think they are. If it walks like a racist and talks like a racist, then it's a racist.
So, Anthony, President Trump incited an insurrectionist mob that included white supremacist, included anti-Semites. They were carrying out his wishes to try to overturn the election. That will be a part of this president's legacy forever.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Listen, it's a great sadness. I mean, you know, it was literally my birthday that day. I was watching it with great sadness. One wonders though about the president, is he going to put a section of his Trump presidential library related to that? I mean, that's how disturbed he is as a human being.
And so, it was a horrific event. Hopefully those people will be prosecuted. And hopefully President Trump himself will be convicted in the Senate.
Let me tell you something quickly, Don. If they don't convict him, then when would you convict somebody as president in terms of lawlessness and lawless behavior? That's the real issue right now. And I hope they convict him there. He's got these other vectors hit him, state, SDNY city, et cetera.
LEMON: Nia, I want to play some video, shocking video, it was released by the New Yorker and a warning to our viewers, it does have some profanity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: You're outnumbered. There is a fucking millions of us out there and we are listening to Trump, your boss.
UNKNOWN: Knock, knock. We're here.
UNKNOWN: Is this the Senate?
UNKNOWN: There's got to be something in here we can fucking use against these scumbags.
UNKNOWN: We're not going to fold, man!
America's republic. No, this is good stuff.
UNKNOWN: Hey, we're not going to fold!
UNKNOWN: This is a good one.
UNKNOWN: Hawley, Cruz. I think Cruz would want to us do this.
UNKNOWN: So, I think we're good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): God. It's so -- it's awful. The ignorance. It's so embarrassing for anyone who has supported this president and even for -- and especially for those who continue to make excuses for him and vote to say that the election was fraudulent. They should be embarrassed.
At the end of that clip you hear those insurrectionists say the names of Hawley and Cruz speaking of who should be embarrassed. You hear one of them say that I think Ted Cruz would want us to do this. How problematic is this for his enablers?
HENDERSON: You know, it is deeply problematic. But it shows us what was going on that day. They were taking their orders from Cruz and Hawley and Donald Trump, who said let's walk to the capitol.
He of course didn't walk there with them but that's exactly what they were doing. There's no doubt about it. They were following up on the big lie that he told them over and over again, this idea that they could go there and take their country back by force and overthrow this democracy.
Listen, what is also striking about that video is the sort of ordinariness of those people. We kind of like to categorize them as fringe people but in fact, these are people's neighbors and teachers and school psychologists and in some ways, cops were in that audience, too, and former military folks.
So that is what I think is so frightening for a lot of people --
LEMON: And Nia --
HENDERSON: -- to see that, that that is reflective of folks who are in our neighborhoods, who are brainwashed by this presidency, in some ways have been radicalized by this president and we'll see in the years to come how much those original words by this president has mattered with those people and really continues to fuel white nationalism and white supremacist terrorist acts.
LEMON: Well, Anthony, I see you shaking your head. But I just -- I have to get this from Nia, I'm not sure if we're going to talk before the inauguration. What has this been like for you as a woman of color, journalist, watching the last four, five years?
HENDERSON: Listen, I, like you, Don, and I think like a lot of African-American journalists, we saw this coming. You know, I remember being on panels talking about white grievance politics, talking about the ways in which Donald Trump was using racial division and racist language and I might have been the only one saying that and everyone else wanted to talk about the economy being the reason why people were flocking to Donald Trump's presidency.
Right now, I'm deeply afraid. I'm in Washington, I came into CNN Tonight obviously, I had a military economic point that had to -- you know, I had to show my I.D. before I got into this building. And that is all Trump's doing. So, it's incredibly frightening.
You know, if you read history, this is what happens, right, when there is sort of progress by African-Americans and people who aren't white, there is a backlash that's happened throughout history and that's exactly I think what we're seeing now.
So, I'm deeply frightened for the years ahead for this country, for people who are going to be caught up in this backlash because white people are afraid of where this country is going. It is finally becoming a multi-racial democracy and it's only been that way for maybe a decade or so.
And it's because of the work of people throughout decades like Martin Luther King, like Shirley Chisholm and Ella Baker. So, yes. I mean, we've been often on the same side of this, Don, the only voices saying listen, racism is real coming for this president but not enough people listened to us initially.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Well, Anthony did finally. I didn't mean it that way, Anthony. You know what I mean.
SCARAMUCCI: I got it.
SCARAMUCCI: I got it. My offer to take you expires at midnight. So, you better call quickly.
LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.
HENDERSON: All right. Thanks.
LEMON: Good to see you. So, Nia just mentioned 25,000 National Guard troops on the ground in D.C. The FBI is even vetting them. And new reporting tells us they've got good reasons to. That's next.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON (on camera): So, we're getting some breaking news in. The Washington Post is reporting this, that an FBI intelligence report warns that far-right extremists have discussed posing as National Guard members to try to infiltrate Joe Biden's inauguration.
The document obtained by the Post saying that both lone wolves and QAnon supporters have indicated that they plan to come to the capitol for the swearing in ceremony.
So, let's discuss now. Chris Swecker is here. He is a former FBI assistant director for the criminal investigative division.
Chris, good evening to you. Every time we get this reporting, and every time we hear it just seems to get worse. It's very disturbing. The Post is reporting that, you know, about the FBI and they also said that it observed people downloading and sharing maps of sensitive locations in D.C. How are the authorities supposed to stop an attempt at infiltration like this?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Don, you won't find anybody that admires the military more than I do, but I will say over the years we have had reports, I've seen many of them over the years in the 90s, the 2000s, I'm sure there are more than what you just talked about out there about extremists finding their way into the military. It has happened and it is happening and it will happen.
So, I think it is prudent to -- for the FBI to do those background checks. What you don't want is someone giving away the game plan, for example, giving away vulnerabilities in the security or God forbid even committing some type of act from the inside.
Now I will say also, Don, most of them have been in the military are drummed out fairly quickly. Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, et cetera. I could go down a long list of ex-military who were drummed out and later became extremists or heightened their extremism and took action.
LEMON: The ones you -- the ones you figured out, right, because they're, again --
LEMON: Yes. So, 25,000 National Guard members will be in the D.C. area for the inauguration. They're being repeatedly, repeatedly vetted by the FBI to avoid insider threats. That's a lot of people to vet, right? So, what do authorities look for? What are they looking out for?
SWECKER: Yes, I'm not privy to the depth of the check they're going to do, but I would suspect of course they're going to do an indices check, and FBI indices which isn't just criminal records.
[22:50:05] It's any mention in an FBI file whether they've been a subject of a case or an associate or mentioned or interviewed or that sort of thing. The criminal -- the usual criminal checks. The military does a criminal check but they don't -- I don't think they update it very often.
So, this is a massive effort. I can't imagine how many analytical resources, how many analysts are going to get diverted from other things to do this when there's already, you know, a lot of intelligence out there they have to sift through.
SWECKER: So, it's too bad we have to do it but it's got to be done.
LEMON: Well, Chris, listen, there is an army reservist with security clearance among those charged. The several people involved in far- right groups have been charged in this riot. And then you've got, you know, ProPublica and other people doing reports on still what's happening online and the disinformation. Let's talk about that after this break.
LEMON (on camera): So, Chris Swecker is back with me. He is a former FBI assistant director for the criminal investigative division.
So, Chris, as I mentioned before the break an army reservist with security clearance is among those charged for the riots. He is described as a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer in court documents. How many of these extremists are in the ranks of law enforcement and the military?
SWECKER: That's a good question, Don. I mean, the military is aware of this. You know, and as I mentioned, we were hearing about this in the '90s and in the 2000s. It is a project inside the military to try to -- to try to identify these folks and get rid of them as quickly as they can.
My concern, is there enough screening on the front end? If you're coming in as an E-1 enlisted rank member, do they really do a thorough check? I think they mainly do a criminal check. I don't think they go knock on doors and do a lot of deep background check. But it's been known for quite some time that far right-wing extremists, mostly, have gotten into the military.
SWECKER: They, as I mentioned earlier, they get rid of them as quickly as they can when they identify them.
LEMON: Yes. And then as I mentioned before, Chris, we'll have you back to talk about it but a lot of these people are radicalized online and they're trying to crack down on that. But we'll see how far they get with it. And we'll see what happens in the days to come.
Chris, I really appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you so much.
SWECKER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Joe Biden has a big agenda just for day one. Next, Biden's first hours and Trump's last in the White House.