tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN January 18, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
no more water, the fire next time. it's a slave hymn. 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 kings, 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 the big man d. lemon. either you love or things get worse. >> this is one of my copies from the 1990s. i thought it was my first one and it's got notes on almost every page but there's one
that's floating around that is all torn and whatever that i think that i had before this. but this inspired me to do something. 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 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, less than six months to put this out. and so, um, 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. i really think this book will help heal america, in the way that conversation you just had with secretary cohen about white people having conversations around the dinner table and wherever they are. 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 really think it's going to heal. this is not about selling books for me. this is something that came to 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 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, okay, 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 foot steps, james baldwin, my sister lisa and all the not so obvious heros 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 great nephew like james bad ldw and i saturday down and this was on may 25th and i said, "i heard a dying man call out to his mom p mama and i wept for the world that will soon belong to you." and that's how i start this book.
>> 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, he was a correspondent and an influencer 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, which was an essay about baldwin realizing his place growing up as an african-american in harlem and the division. up -- religion. you don't question people in their faith in this country. it is time to realize that just putting it in the bio of your
twitter account does not make you a follow are of jesus christ. >> amen. >> it says down at the cross, letter from a region in my mind, how do we deal with this? that's all i kept thinking, how can i help people, how can i help people? unless you do harp harry pottert you get from a book is not really that financially amazing, right? 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 immediately. >> why is it going to help? >> 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 and i have every night, that's even more fulfilling than a conversation that i had with, you know that officer michael fanone? every time i talk with him. 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 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, no kids, gaengaged, you know. >> so why do you talk every day? >> because it helps. it helps both of us understand this particular moment where we are. if you want to call it kismit, whatever you want to call it.
if weep 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. 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 to the been taught in school or given the wrong history. so now they are angry because they are -- because the truth is coming out in many ways and they don't believe it. and there are lessons in this book about 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. >> here's my pitch for the book -- the hard part of this, because we're not new to it, you lived it and have i been today what's called an ally, which should really just be a conscious human being 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. 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 white and you dope don't want the blame, you're tired of hearing it, and then someone like donald trump who has a lot of power and prestige
of a position we gave him puts out on the same day that we celebrate dr. king's legacy in stuff from a 1776 society, whatever that's supposed to mean that says, you know, a lot of people bleacelieve this country founded on slavery and therefore that there was something disingenuous about equality from the beginning but no, no, no slavery was the rule, not the exception. therefore, america cannot be blamed but starting in a basis of slavery but wanting equality, it's only what was natural at the time, even for christians. and that feels better. yes, i like that. yes, that's better. not this i should feel bad stuff. this is better. how do we deal with that? >> that's not what it's about. how do we deal with it? read it. >> this is a book club book, don. who has a big book club? who has one? >> oprah? >> oprah winfrey.
that's who i was thinking of. this is a perfect book club book. you have people who are similarly situated. >> i'm being told to move on. please, we're dealing -- this is what we're dealing with in this country. this is dr. martin luther king day, the insurrection on the capitol, the racism. this is the news. you're right. i do have to go because i have to get to what we have planned here. 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. >> i thank you for doing what you are doing. i love you, don lemon. this is one reason why. >> this is the conversation i have with my friends, this is what i say. 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.
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 is the first in american history to have been impeached twice. the final days of his administration completely on brand, classless, braceless, 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 capitol threatening our democracy. and it is threatening our democracy to the brink of a horrifying, 400,000 americans dying dead of the coronavirus. that's what joe biden will inherent. on the day we remember the life and work of martin luther king, less than two days that kamala harris will 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, including large numbers from black voters, ted cruz, who even and 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 fl support for a president who used race to put
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, he 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. you might want to stop and pay special attention to this part, another quote, so the question is "not whether we will be extr extremeists will we be. will we be extremists for hate for love, for the preservation of justice or the extension of
justice"? >> we know what kind of ext extremist dr. king was and what kind of extreme donald trump is. donald trump created an environment where white supremacists and conspiracy theorists overran the capitol. united states of america. y u-- he used race to divide us from the beginning, from the birther lie that barack obama was not born in this country. >> 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 beau oth sides -- excuse me, i saw the same pictures as you did.
excuse me, i don't know anything what you're talking about david duke, i don't know anything you're talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. >> the former first lady, michelle obama, with wides words today. she said leadership based on lies and distrust 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, truth, compassion toward others, leadership driven by dr. king's inescapability network of mutuality, this is true pat patr 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 -- 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? >> 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. >> 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. >> 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. >> boy. the contrast there. i mean, the contrast there in just four years, four years later, is stunning.
what he says, husband 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 prefusing to invie dr. jill biden for a walk-through of the living quarters, leaving them to be gro greeted by the white house chief usher. yet melania trump in her farewell video says this. >> 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. >> kindness. kindness. kindness. enemy of the people. what a nasty question. racist. hmm. don't treat them nicely. very fine people on both sides. grab them by the you know what. kindness? okay. 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. >> in one way it would be very easy if president obama just show it. 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. >> but all the trumps care about is getting out of town with the president's ego in tact. 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. >> 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. i want a bucket of chicken... i want... ♪ it's the easiest because it's the cheesiest. kraft. for the win win.
so tomorrow, president donald trump's last full day in office, that's when it is. 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 kaitlan collins and jeff zeleny. president donald trump is about to leave washington as a twice-impeached president, one-term president, who incited an insurrection. he's hold up in the white house and has now recorded a video message. what do you know? >> reporter: 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, has not interacted with us in almost a week now. he has now recorded this video. as jeff noted earlier, he recorded it in the white house
and basically list his accomplishments. given the wachl 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're told he's been in a pretty foul mood and it's notable given this is someone who relished the pom many 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 out the door, he is staying indoors behind the doors for the most part. >> what are you learning about joe biden's inaugural address? >> we are learning that the inaugural address is still being written. this is classic joe biden. he's involved with the speech righting process with a team of others until the very end. this time i'm told it's 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, restoring the soul of the nation. if it was ever a clear message of what that means, it is now. he's 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, where people were climbing on the rafters. he's going to acknowledge that. but i'm told he did no change his speech significantly because of that butch it' it's going to infused in it. he's had a variety of people helping him out, john meecham, a scholar and it is going to be about unity and also about competence, that we are here to restore your faith in your government. >> thank you very much.
he's got the lowest approval rating of his presidency but wants to throw himself a celebration on his way out? anthony scaramucci and nia mallika henderson will weigh in next. ut cheese till you find the perfect slice... even if everyone asks you... another burger truck? don't listen to them! that means cooking day and night until you get... [ ding ] you got paid! that means adding people to the payroll. hi mom. that means... best burger ever. intuit quickbooks helps small businesses be more successful with payments, payroll, banking and live bookkeeping.
experience the wonders of the mexican caribbean at nizuc resort & spa, where paradise is personal. nizuc is a world to discover unto itself, day or night, indoors or out. something wonderful awaits. 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. nia mallika anderson is here and anthony scaramucci, former
communications corrdirector for president donald trump. andrew, this president is desperate for people who see him off. you got an invitation. are you going to go see him off? >> are you going to be my guest? 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. >> i might take you up on that. but go on. >> they had to send out a massive e-mail for me to get that e-mail. i haven't given money to the republican party for three and a half years. 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. i think 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 it right after soon to be president biden's speech? i think somebody is going to make a name for themselves and declare an indictment in a couple of days. >> you got the invitation and up know him. does he understand he is leaving in shame and making the country clean up his mess? >> i think he's got a reality distortion field around him. people that really know him know that underneath all of that he's not fooling himself. he used to say that on the campaign plane, that he knows what he's doing, he knowsexagge are. he's probably saying all those things that your sources are telling you he's saying meaning i won the election and it was
stolen and there's no way he believes that. there's a lot of shame and desperation there he has a whole slew of things about to hit him. >> nia, here's what it says. it says many americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely american evil. 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 making excuses for slavery? are they whitewashing history here, which chris and i just talked about at the beginning of the show? >> this is obviously a reaction
to the brilliant 1619 progeny c -- project that nicole hanna jones won a prize for. slavery was central to the founding of america. it was 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 stslavery and the role that black people paid in years after slislavery. i didn't read this 45-page silly report by this silly commission. but i do encourage people to read the "1619 project." there are brilliant historians of slavery, and those are the
people you should read not this garbage report put out by this reactionary white house that is afraid of the truth getting out and laid out so brilliantly by those writers in the 1619 project. >> every time they do something they embarrass themselves further and prove to. >> t-- prove to everyone that they are exactly what we've been saying that are. if it walks like a racist and talks like a racist, then it is a racist. anthony, the insurrection will be a part of this president's legacy forever. >> listen, it's a great sadness. it was literally my birthday that day. i was watching it with great sadness. one wonders about the presidency, is he going to put a
part of his presidential library related to that? that's how disturbed he is as a human being. it was a horrific event. hopefully those people will be prosecuted. hopefully trump will be convicted in the senate. 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 investigateors hit him, state, sdny, et cetera. >> nia, i want to play some shocking video and a warning to our viewers, it does have some profanity. >> there is a [ expletive ] million of us out there! >> we're here! knock, knock. >> there's got to be something
in here we can [ expletive ] use against the scumbags. >> we're not going to fold, man! >> america's republic. oh, no, this is good stuff. >> hey, we're not going to fold! >> here's a good one. >> i think cruz would want to us do that. >> absolutely. >> so i think we're good. >> god. it's so -- it awful. it ignorance. it's so embarrassing for anyone who has supported this president 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. you hear one of them say "i think ted cruz would want us to do this." how problematic is this for his
enablers? >> it is deeply problematic. they were taking their orders from cruz and hawley and donald trump, who said let's walk to the capitol. he of course cadidn't walk ther with him but that's what he was doing. 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 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 is so frightening for a lot of people 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 word by this president has mattered with those people and really continues to fuel white nationalism and white supremacist terrorist acts. gli >> i have to get this, 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? >> listen, i, like you, don, and i think like a lot of african-american journalists, we saw this coming. 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 -- 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. 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 a decade or so and it because of the work of martin luther king, like shirley chism and ella baker. we've been the voices saying racism is really kcoming from
this president but not enough people listened to us initially. >> anthony did finally. i didn't mean it that way, anthony. >> i got it. my offer to take you expires at midnight. >> thank you to both of you. 25,000 national guard troops on the ground and the fbi is even vetting them. new worreporting tells us they' got good reasons to. that's next.
inauguration. it says both lone worms and qanon members plan to come for the inauguration ceremony. chris, good evening to you. every time we get this reporting and every time we hear, it just seems to get worse. it ve it's very disturbing. the "post" is reporting about the fbi and says 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? >> 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 anct from the inside. i will say also most of those who have been in the military are drummed out fair lly quickl timothy mcveigh, eric rudolph, et cetera. i could go down a long list who later became extremists and took action. >> the ones you figured out, right, because they're, again -- >> right. >> so 25,000 national guard members will be in the d.c. area for the ceremonies. they're being repeatedly vetted by the fbi to avoid insider threats. that's a lot of people to vet. what are authorities looking out for? >> yeah, 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 fbi indices check, which isn't just criminal records. it 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 usual criminal checks. i don't think they update it very often. this is a massive effort. i can't imagine how many analysts will 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. >> yeah. >> it's too bad we have to do it but it has to be done. >> several people involved in far right groups have been charged in this riot. and then you've got, you know, other people doing reports on what is happening online and the disinformation. let's talk about that after this break.
so chris is back with me. a former fbi assistant director. as i mentioned army reservist security clearances among those charged for the riots. described as a white supremacist and nazi -- how many law enforcement are in the ranks in the military? >> good question, don. the military is aware of this. as i mentioned, weapon were hearing about this in the '90s and in the '00s. it's a project inside the military 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 do a thorough check? i think they mainly do a criminal check. i don't think they knock on doors and do a lot of deep background check. it's been known for quite some time that far right wing extremists, mostly, have gotten into the military. as i mentioned earlier, they get rid of them as quickly as they can when they identify them. >> as i mentioned before, chris, we'll have you back to talk about it but a lot of these people are radicalized online and trying to crack down on it. we'll see how far they get with it. we'll see what happens in the days to come. chris, i appreciate it. thank you so much. joe biden has a big agenda just for day one. next, biden's first hours and trump's last in the white house. between what is hoped for and what can be,
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