tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN December 26, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thank you so much for joining us. well, president trump finally, finally visited troops in a war zone today after nearly two years of being in office. it is a good thing that he went to iraq. but as with this president, the comments he made there, the mess he left at home requires a whole lot of fact-checking, and we'll do that for you this hour. however, just like previous presidents, he and the first lady were enthusiastically greeted by service men and women in a dining hall decked out for the holidays. some troops even took selfies with him and mrs. trump at the air base, which was near baghdad. back at home, some service members, some 42,000 of them
protecting america's coast, they're working without pay because the commander in chief shut down the government before he left. and even if a combat zone, this president, well, he can't tell the truth to our troops, lying right to their faces, telling them they got them a 10% pay raise this year and that it was the first they have had in ten years. that's a lie. troops get an annual raise. that means they get one every year. some years it's more than others. this year, it was 2.8%, not 10%. and even on his first visit to troops in a war zone, usually it's a morale booster. it's supposed to boost morale, right? you say positive things. you thank them for their service. this president took the opportunity to tout his policy on syria, specifically defending his decision just one week ago to withdraw u.s. forces from the country against the advice of his own national security advisers, his top generals, and party leaders, creating a crisis
at the pentagon. the defense secretary, james mattis, even quitting his post and publicly rebuking trump's policy. but today the president is telling reporters he made the right decision. >> i think that a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. it's time for us to start using our head. >> so president trump also claiming falsely last week that isis had been defeated. remember that? well, today he walked back those comments, slightly, saying isis is very nearly defeated. >> we've knocked them out. we've knocked them silly. >> but he's also suggesting iraq could be used as a base for potential future missions against isis in syria. so isis has not been defeated, and the pentagon brass knows it. president trump out of washington on the fifth day of a partial government shutdown,
chaos largely of his own making. and the ones paying for it, hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are either furloughed or forced to work without being paid. the big battle remains the border wall. the president is demanding congress give him $5 billion for it, but he doesn't have the votes in the senate. and he's still not backing down. he was asked just today how long the shutdown may last. >> whatever it takes. i mean we're going to have a wall. we're going to have safety. we need safety for our country, even from this standpoint. we have terrorists coming in through the southern border. >> the president as well as investors, though, getting a christmas break on wall street. the dow jones soaring more than 1,000 points today, erasing what was a disastrous, disastrous christmas eve loss. president trump is only adding to the market's chaos and volatility. he's said to be upset with the treasury secretary, steven mnuchin, doesn't feel he's doing enough to calm wall street
jitters. and the president's been hinting that fed chairman jerome powell's days may be numbered in that post. here's what he said just yesterday. >> what about the fed chair? >> well, we'll see. they're raising interest rates too fast. that's my opinion. >> today, a white house official sought to calm markets and investors by saying chairman powell's job is safe. we shall see. we've heard that before. we have a lot to get to tonight with samantha vinograd, lieutenant general mark hefrt ling who served two tours in iraq. we're so glad to have all of you here. thank you so much for your service. gentlemen, good evening, and happy holidays to all of you. general hertling, your last job was commanding u.s. forces in germany. the president just left the air base there following his visit to iraq, his first visit to a war zone. what does it mean to our troops to have their commander in chief meeting with them on foreign soil, especially during
christmastime? >> it's very positive, don. having experienced it during three tours in iraq actually, all of the presidents visited while i was active duty in the war zone. president bush famously came during thanksgiving and served dinner to our troops. what's interesting is you're jazzed for it. you're excited about it. you're seeing the commander in chief. you like to take selfies. you like to get autographs. all of those things are important. they come with a little bit of rock star image to them. but at the same time, what they don't do is politicize the event. and unfortunately as we saw some of the commentary by the president today, that's exactly what he did. and it puts the soldiers, truthfully all of the military personnel, in a very bad position because the military has regulations against doing exactly that. but the president pushed that in both iraq for a short period of time. he was there for about three hours. he landed at the air base at
about 2:00 this morning, stayed about an hour and a half there, met some additional probably -- mostly all airmen there, and they're excited to see him. but what happens at those bases is somewhat confounding when he says, as you said before, the lies about paycheck, the lies about what they're doing to isis because the soldiers more than anybody else know that. i mean spider will tell you we get what's called a leave in earnings statement every month that says, here is your pay. and when you get a pay increase, it tells you exactly what it is. so he's not fooling any of these military members who get that leave in earnings statement every month. >> spider marx, weigh in on that. >> i think it's as mark indicated. it's wonderful that the president visited. the key thing, albeit it's been, i think, contrived. the reason that he went now is that he couldn't go to mar-a-lago because the government was shut down. but let's put that aside, and let's be thankful that he's there. i would say that the key thing
is you need to be in the moment. when you're with the troops, soak up and marinate in the joy as mark indicated. look, you are the president of the united states. this is a big deal. they want to see you there. they want to be a part of your world. you're now enjoying the opportunity to be with them. just kind of be in the moment. just have a few opportunities to chat, pat some backs, drink some coffee, tell a few jokes. >> mm-hmm. >> be joyous that they're there defending america's freedom. it's the day after christmas. they're deployed from their families. make it about them. don't put the spotlight on you. you really don't have to do that. >> it really was perplexing watching his message today, and then yesterday i do have to tell you, i tried not to because i was with my family. but when we turned on cnn and we saw the president politicizing a christmas message, it was like we kept saying, he's like the grinch. i'm being honest. >> no, he stole christmas. >> instead of being positive with the troops, saying this is
about the troops, it's not about me. i'm here to thank you for your service, whatever, even if reporters ask him questions. this is not about me. this is about the troops. maybe he should have said it's unfortunate that some of them are not getting paid. we'll come to an agreement and make sure everyone gets paid, the 42,000 members of the coast guard. let's be positive about christmas. it was so negative and so -- you want positivity when it comes to christmas. it is perplexing. why would he visit the troops and do that? >> well, don, to be candid, i hope that this trip helped from a morale perspective. but from a national security perspective, for all the reasons that you just listed, the president should have stayed home. he traveled to iraq where service members are defending our homeland. they're not protecting another country. they're defending our homeland from isis, an enemy that we know has attacked the united states. and he made this about himself. these visits that presidents undertake -- i served for a year in iraq. i helped execute some of president obama's trips to afghanistan and iraq -- are
about the troops. they're about their mission, and they're there to tell the troops what they're doing matters. this trip was about president trump trying ostensibly to score political points and to list his accomplishments instead of telling the troops that what they're doing matters and clearly outlining a mission for them going forward. how many unknowns do we have right now about when our troops are leaving syria, when our troops are leaving afghanistan, and what's going to happen in iraq as a result of that. there should have been clarity during this trip, and the focus should have been on the troops. >> mm-hmm. you know, this president is defending his decision right now to pull u.s. troops out of syria. he says that isis is, quote, nearly -- very nearly defeated. i mean he's qualifying that. what is your reaction given a week ago that he said that isis was defeated? that's for you, general hertling. >> it's not, don, and anyone who says it is doesn't know anything about terrorist organizations. spider, i think, will back me up on this because he's a lifelong
intelligence officer. what we know is they have been pushed back on their heels. they certainly have gone to ground, and they're in areas in syria and in iraq. the new prime minister of iraq has admitted that. the new president of iraq, a kurd, has admitted that. these are individuals who are still looking to come forward. and truthfully some of the comments last week has given isis and other terrorist organizations a huge propaganda victory because they again have been called dead, and they're not, and they know it. so they're going to rise back up again. this is going to be unfortunate. i say that as a guy who has fought these organizations for a while, and it's just unfortunate that in fact you have to drive them into the dirt. you can't stop when there's 10% or 20% or 30% left. you still have to continue to fight these individuals and their ideology. the idea is not dead. there may be fewer people on the
battlefield, but the idea certainly can rise like a phoenix. >> can i ask you, general marks, who is -- you know, james mattis is not there, leaving early, right? january 1st, he's gone. you know, we've been talking about adults, what have you. so if the president is in front of troops, giving these messages to people in their home, a lot of people are watching. who is -- who is in the government saying to us -- who can say to us, americans, you are safe? is there anyone left in this administration who can calm the fears of americans and make us feel that we are safe and that we're doing the right thing abroad, especially when it comes to our troops and for national security? >> don, it's a great question. you know, the short answer is if you look into the face of any soldier who is out there deployed today, that's the answer. that's the response that says, hey, look, everybody, it's okay. i'm out here on the horizon.
i'm on the edge of the universe. i'm doing what the nation's asking me to do, and you're okay at home. when you're asking to put a face on this at the top level, certainly jim mattis and his team have been phenomenally gifted in terms -- as i think i've said earlier, this really is jim mattis' our generation's george marshall. he's got that gravitas. he has all of the credentials that match that type of a description. but, look, you do have a president of the united states and a vice president. you have a congress. you have a supreme court. you have this incredible government that we've created. our founders made this magic occur. we have young men and women that are going to raise their hand. they're going to do what needs to be done. and the message needs to be clear through every one of those elements of government that we're okay. we're doing our job. we have challenges. we have troubles, but we're all right. we're going to be okay. we're going to weather this storm. >> yeah. >> but here's the problem, don. >> sam, can you hold because i just want to play this.
i want to get your thoughts. i think it goes into this. this is this president, okay, criticizing the former president barack obama for withdrawing troops too quickly from iraq, using inflammatory language when he did it during the 2016 campaign. watch this. >> isis is honoring president obama. he is the founder of isis. he's the founder of isis, okay? he's the founder. he founded isis. he's the founder of isis. i do. he was the most valuable player. i give him the most valuable player award. i give her too by the way. >> but he's not sympathetic to them. he hates them. >> i don't care. he was the founder. the way he got out of iraq, that was the founding of isis. obama is the founder of isis. the founder. barack obama is the founder of isis. because of his weak policies and
because he failed -- he failed -- because he failed to get them out, because he failed to do something about it. >> i wanted to play that just so folks could see, number one, that's hypocrisy because he's basically doing the same thing he accused the former president of. but also does it matter because doesn't the buck stop with the president, what everyone else about him says? >> that's exactly it but what have we been seeing for two years? you could argue there was a national security council. there were people he picked that did try to emit strategy and messages about what we were doing all around the world, whether it was iraq. the president gave a speech on afghanistan last year and laid out a strategy. his team was working. they may have stopped now. but when he goes out and he makes statements like on isis or on the taliban or politicizes troop deployments, he is trumping his own team. the buck stops with the president, and despite what they're doing, despite the
talking points that they probably onerously worked on for this trip, he went to the podium. he described isis the way he felt like he wanted to describe isis, and all their work is for naught. until we have a president that listens to his team and actually coordinates his messaging, i don't know that it matters to t -- who the secretary of defense is at that point because the president isn't listening. >> don, if i could go back to your question about who is leading the charge now and keeping america feeling like their safe, what i would say is this. that what we really have to depend on, there's a lot of institutions and organizations. we have a great country with a great intelligence community, a legal system, a justice system. and we need leaders that exhibit -- and we've been saying this for a very long time -- the character that people can depend on, that rely on integrity, on telling the truth, in searching for facts, in having the intellect to know that you don't have all the answers and you
have to depend on everybody else around you who are the smart people. that's what we've gotten away from. it can't just be one individual who is constantly lying, who is constantly telling untruths, who feel they can be the only one that solves the problem. leadership -- you know, spider and i study leadership in the military. it's part of a doctrinal manual. there are certainly things you must do, and one of those things is to have integrity. another one is to have empathy and humility. we've lost that. but there are certainly a whole lot of people in government who still maintain that. they've got to stand forward and rise to the forefront again, particularly some of our members of congress on both sides. >> yeah. >> perhaps one side more than the other have to stand up when they hear lies, when they hear facts being distorted, and where people aren't listening in terms of what is the best interest of not a certain base, but the
entire group of american people that depend on leaders to guide our nation forward. >> when people like you speak, i believe them. we count on you. i hope that you are right. i do have to say it did not go unnoticed, though, general marks, your christmas outfit. i love the sweater. >> hey, that's my bride. she laid it on. >> it's the perfect christmas outfit. it's warm and fuzzy and cozy, and it also gives us a sense of comfort. >> fuzzy and cozy, thank you, don. i've never heard spider marks be called warm and cozy before. >> i hope you had a great christmas and whatever holiday you're celebrating, everyone. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> merry christmas. president trump visiting troops in iraq while the federal government is in the fifth day of a partial shutdown with no end in sight. and another wild day on wall street. is chaos now the norm under this president?
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there's lots of logistics, so he surprised the troops, but this has probably been in the works for a while. he is following in the footsteps of presidents before him. >> yes. >> what stood out to you? what would be a normal visit for a president to make? >> well, first of all, don, you're absolutely right. you know, presidents before this president have done this before. what stood out is that it took this long. that's what stood out. many of the troops want to see that. it's a morale booster. but i talked to congressman elijah cummings today, who is the incoming majority leader in the government oversight reform committee, and he said, you know, he needed to do this, especially at a time when he's losing general kelly and general mattis. he said he needed to do this. he said at issue is the fact that once he does this, what happens next?
what's next? but this is definitely something that should have happened a long time ago. he did it, but i mean should we really be commending him because presidents have done this before. it's just been a while. it took him a little bit longer to get there than we expected. >> yeah. patrick, speaking to the troops, i mentioned this in the open of the show. the president overstated the pay raise the soldiers got every year. he said, because of me, you got a pay raise. you got a 10% pay raise. you know, you haven't got one in ten years. it's not the truth. they get one every year. some are larger than others. usually it's around 2-point something. i think this one was 2.8%. so he's lying to the troops, right to their face. >> details and facts have rarely mattered to this president. what he's going over there to do is what he usually does. he likes to brag. he likes to brag about himself, and he likes to often overstate what he thinks he's doing for the military. i mean this is a president who said that, you know, through the trump foundation, you know, through his own support, he was
going to be better for the troops, better for the military, than any president in history. and by so many measures, that hasn't proven true. but his view of leadership is one, again, of bragging and making claims to make himself sound, you know, like this historic figure who has got the tro troops' back. oftentimes the facts don't measure up. >> april, it's interesting because during his visit, the president defended his decision to withdraw troops from syria. he faced questions about the government shutdown. was it surprising to you the way he answered it because usually the answer -- i guess, well, a more fitting answer is, listen, we face problems. we're america. we will get through this. but this trip is to support our troops and give credit to the men and women who keep us protected. but still he sort of used it as a -- almost as a campaign, you know, stomp to talk about his policies in defending the shutdown in syria.
>> a campaign stop in iraq to defend his policies. i mean some of the troops, hats ready, those red maga hats ready. and there's a question right there for that. you don't use your troops to campaign for yourself. nothing surprises us any more with this president. again, we've said it over and over. it's overstated that he's non-traditional. but the question is does he understand what he's doing when he goes beyond, well beyond the norms and says things like this? i mean these things, what he's doing is setting a precedent for other presidents to see what he is doing to get away with or what he's allowed to do or not to do. the troops deserve more. these are people who are fighting for our freedoms, and they deserve more, and they do want to come home. but the matter is how and if he can do it the right way. >> mm-hmm. this is all happening amidst a partial government shutdown. we're just a few hours from day six. i just want to play for you
something the president said when he was in iraq. >> how long do you think the shutdown will last, mr. president? >> whatever it takes. i mean we're going to have a wall. we're going to have safety. we need safety for our country. we need a wall. so when you say how long is it going to take, when are they going to say that we need border security? >> patrick, what? why? >> yeah. i mean he's so -- he is so preoccupied with the phrase "the wall." that is sort of his focus, and he knows that is what helped get him elected, that that is what the base of supporters that, you know, the president still has left after the midterm shellacking that he experienced in the suburbs and with traditional republicans. it's the base that's left wants a wall. but the problem is the republicans -- >> but that's why they were defeated because people don't want a wall. >> again, he doesn't see it as a defeat. he saw it as a massive victory. they won north dakota. that's where the future of the republican party resides nationally.
you know, that's what he tells himself. the thing is the republicans for years won this battle over immigration because they focused on border security, this phrase that encompassed, you know, a great many things. it encompassed workers. it encompassed drones. it encompassed fencing. there was, you know, some sort of perimeter security that got into border security when they focused on that. you know, president trump is so focused on the wall and sort of making that the -- you know, the animating idea for his base, keeping out the others, keeping out those people, those sort of dangerous people. and as long as he keeps talking about the wall, which is something the democrats, you know, are never going to support, sort of the literal wall idea, you know, he's losing a battle that republicans often won when they just kept it to border security, to a comprehensive package of policies to keep the border safe. but, you know, he can't get off that one phrase. >> i kept listening to him when he was talking about this is
being built, and we're doing this contract and that. i'm like what is he talking about? >> on christmas morning, bringing up -- >> what is he talking about? things that are just factually not true, provably false statements and just lying through his teeth like nothing. like, oh, yeah, i had eggs for breakfast. >> it's 115 miles. it's 200 miles. it's 500 miles. >> the original wall that mexico was supposed to pay for is 2,000 mile as long the border. now it's five. >> it's a big, beautiful wall that no one would be able to get over, and now it's steel slat. >> we're going to talk about that. maybe he should be more focused database. >> with a pretty door. >> maybe he should be more focused on his separation policy at the border rather than the wall because another child died in dhs custody. we're going to talk about that, and we're going to talk about who wants and who doesn't want this wall. we'll be right back. gentle means everything,
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on monday he tweeted that he had signed a contract for 150 miles of the wall. the president doesn't award construction contracts. and sections of the wall are being -- sections of the fence are being renovated, but there is no new construction going on. >> right. >> what is going on here? >> right. smoke and mirrors. the president wants to be perceived as a winner and that he's winning. in all actuality, you know, congress goes back next week, and democrats are saying they're going to let the president stew in this right now. so he's trying to show that he's winning when he's not. and they say that when they go back, the democrats in the house say when they go back, they're going to possibly work on something to reopen the government because of the stalemate over this wall that he wants $5 billion for. >> yeah. i just want to play something. this is what the president said today about why democrats won't
support funding for a wall. watch. >> have you come down from the $5 billion ask to $2 million? >> here's the problem. yeah, here's the problem we have. we have a problem with the democrats because nancy pelosi is calling the shots, not chuck. and chuck wants to have this done. i really believe that. he wants to have this done. but she's calling the shots, and she's calling them because she wants the votes. and probably if they do something, she's not going to get the votes, and she's not going to be speaker of the house, and that would be not so good for her. >> again, here is another fact check, okay, patrick? nancy pelosi locked down the votes for speaker of the house a while ago. so that's his explanation. that does not make sense. also, thank you for sending me this quote because i didn't see it today. this is from "usa today." representative nancy pelosi of california, a democrat, who is expected to be elected speaker next week told "usa today," he says we're going to build a wall with cement, and mexico is going
to pay for it. while he's already backed off of the cement, now he's down, i think -- now he's down to, i think, a beaded curtain or something. i'm not sure where he is. >> yeah. >> this has only just begun. >> no, it's going to be two years. nancy pelosi has president trump's number pretty well as we saw in that white house meeting, you know, when she schooled him quite a bit on how politics works and how the congress works. and the reality is, is that, you know, president trump's political analysis of her claim, her chances of becoming speaker are pretty off. i don't think she has to worry about getting the votes because of what she does or doesn't do on -- >> she's boxed him in. >> she's really boxed him in. what they're looking at now is the shutdown continues into next week and the democrats take the gavel and nancy pelosi is in the leadership. there's a likelihood that the democratic-led house will pass the bill that the senate, the
republican-led senate, has already approved, that has money in their for border security, that the republicans have agreed to, but doesn't have the wall money that president trump is, you know, screaming for. and if the democrats approve that and the republicans in the senate re-approve it again, it will go to the president, and he'll have to decide whether to veto a bill that senate republicans and a lot of republicans like on border security. so nancy pelosi knows the strategy that she's pursuing here, and the beaded curtain quote is, you know, is characteristic of how she knows how to get under his skin. >> april, a serious subject when you talked about there's been another tragic death of a child, an 8-year-old guatemalan died in border patrol custody on christmas eve. the second child to die in custody this month. dhs is now doing medical screenings for all children in its custody, but it's another example of the severity of the problems and also the lack of
preparedness to deal with them. >> yeah. you know, when the white house was asked about the first death, they were saying things like, you know, it's a sad situation, but it would have never happened if the parents would not have allowed them to come across the border. and the white house is deflecting and throwing the onus on the parents, who are trying to find a better way of life, and it's about humanity at this point. i mean when you have two children who have fevers over 103 degrees, 105, 105-plus, that's not good. that's saying something. you have to figure out what are you going to do. you can't just keep deflecting. these are humans. these are children who are dying in the midst of looking for a better way of life, and they're coming to our country dying. something has to be done, and they have to figure this out because it doesn't bode well. two within the last month. two within just a matter of weeks doesn't bode well at all. >> yeah. thank you both. i appreciate it. >> thanks, don.
speaking of wanting to help your children, maybe fred trump, donald trump's father, wanted to help him in some way. so we're going to discuss bone spurs. did they help keep donald trump from military service in vietnam? did his father help him with that? next. it's a revolution in sleep. the new sleep number 360 smart bed is on sale now during our lowest prices of the season. it senses your movement, and automatically adjusts to keep you both comfortable. it can even warm your feet to help you fall asleep faster. so you wake up ready to make your resolutions, reality. and now, the queen sleep number 360 c4 smart bed is only $1299. ranked #1 in customer satisfaction with mattresses by j.d. power. plus, 24-month financing on all beds. ends new year's day. sleep number. proven, quality sleep. i am all about living joyfully. the united explorer card hooks me up. getting more for getting away. traveling lighter. getting settled. rewarded.
president trump making a surprise visit to iraq to visit u.s. troops. news of his first visit to a war zone coming as the daughters of a queens doctor, new york foot doctor, say their late father diagnosed donald trump with bone spurs so he could avoid the vietnam war. they say he did it as a favor to trump's father, fred trump, a powerful real estate developer at the time. here to discuss, michael d'antonio, the author of the truth about trump. very interesting story. michael d'antonio, thank you so much for joining us. do you believe this story about a podiatrist diagnosiing trump
with bone spurs in 1968 to avoid the draft? >> i absolutely do believe it. you know, the clincher for me was the reference to it being a favor. so the trumps forever have dealt in favors. you do something for me, i do something for you. and these daughters of this podiatrist talked about how forevermore, he was able to call up and maybe talk about the rent not going up so quickly and get a repair made here and an adjustment made there. and fred trump was good to people who were good to him. and i'm not even sure actually that the president knows the truth about this. this is the odd thing. he may have been examined. he took off his shoes and tried to show me these bone spurs. i didn't see anything. >> i thought he said they healed over time, michael. how does that -- is that -- i'm not a doctor, but is that medically possible?
you have bone spurs, and then all of a sudden they miraculously cure themselves, heal themselves? >> no, they don't generally heal over time, and he really did think that he was showing me something and that i saw it. you know, he pointed to his heels and said, see, right there. you know, if you're a polite person, you don't say, well, i don't see anything. you say, uh-huh. so, you know, this is the problem with the president, is so many of his biographical details are hazy in this way. in this case, i believe these women. i don't think there ever was a medical issue. >> do you think that people should be requesting these medical records like he requested the former president's birth certificate? >> well, i think they should. i don't think they're available from what "the new york times" reported, there weren't any records left behind. and, you know, the irony here is
that fred trump was trying to do something for his son. donald was not a conscientious objector, but he really did not want to serve, and he was like millions of other young men during the vietnam war who tried whatever they could do to get out of their service. now we have a situation where there are all these parents who are trekking across latin america, trying to get their kids out of harm's way, and the irony is now that they're in custody in united states facilities. so there's confusion and ironic details going in every direction here, and i wish the president would step back and think about those parents and their motivations being the same as his father's were in 1968. >> very interesting.
difference, though. these are poor people. he and his dead had had plenty something. he likes to name people. he has the name now, president bone spurs. thank you, michael. i appreciate it. >> i'm afraid he's stuck with it. thanks, don. outrage leading to an emergency meeting tonight after a high school wrestler was forced to cut his dread locks or forfeit a match. was the referee just following the rules, or is this a case of racism? we'll talk about that. little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats differently. for psoriasis, 75% clearer skin is achievable, with reduced redness, thickness, and scaliness of plaques. for psoriatic arthritis, otezla is proven to reduce joint swelling, tenderness, and pain. and the otezla prescribing information has no requirement for routine lab monitoring. don't use if you're allergic to otezla. it may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
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that they're deeply troubled by it. the referee insists johnson's hair and headgear are not in compliance with league regulations. the aclu says this has nothing to do with hair and everything to do with race. amal sinha the executive director of the new jersey aclu was at the board meeting. thank you both. everyone has been watching this video, the story and troubled by it. what came out of this meeting? good evening. >> not a lot. they held it on the day after christmas while school is out trying to make the statement they are taking positive steps, that they are paying attention to this. and they're hearing from people. people are incredibly upset by this video. they actually took testimony from the public. one woman spoke out that was particularly emotion. >> what led up to this? do you have a sound bite? let's play this, sorry. >> as a mother raising children in this community, it broke my
heart. it didn't matter if he was black, white, green or purple. it broke my heart to watch that young man stand there and be humiliated like that. >> which is a natural reaction. >> that is the sensibility you're hearing across the board. but there are two different agencies now investigating this. one other thing they said in the meeting tonight is let's wait and give the family some space and wait for the facts to come out before we start drawing conclusion what's this was all about. >> my question is then what, led up to this? i understand the referee was late to the match. >> he was late for weigh-in when they would do the initial assessment of the wrestlers. when he got there, he did a quick assessment, didn't have any issues when this young man got on the mat. that's when he said the hair's a problem. it's not in its natural state meaning that it was dreadlocks which he kept referring to as braids, say the family. that adds a racial context to
it, as well. they're just upset all the way around. the lawyer for the family is saying they don't blame is the woman actually cutting the hair or the coach talking to him and trying to keep him focused. he won that match, by the way. they blame the referee. they're keeping focus on the referee who insisted either the hair goes or he forfeits the match. >> amal, the director of the aclu of new jersey, why do you think this student had to make a choice, had to choose between can youing his hair or participating in this match? >> well, if you ask the referee, he'll tell you it's because the student was out of compliance. but there's got to be a step in between not being compliant and being forced to choose between can youing your hair or forfeit package is the match. it seems unconscionable there was no other alternative. as miguel mentioned, i think this is incredibly ininextricably intertwined with
race. there's a mayortive going on throughout the united states. we see black folks and people of color generally carrying the burden of enforcement of rules that seem to be race neutral on paper but when they're applied, it has a racial diskrimtarily impact. >> i would imagine he has been wrestling with this same hair obviously to get to this point and has not had any trouble before. >> that's right. and to force the student to make a decision within 90 seconds is incredibly coesive and puts him between a rock and hard place. what's he going to do? >> you're sure it was discrimination? into it smells of implicit bias. we all carry these with us and every institution including schools in particular have them within their ranks. it's important to view it through that lens. >> miguel, give us the facts, what are the rules when it comes to hair? >> they follow national rules. the hair can't be below the eye
line, can't bebelow the ear lobe. can't hit the collar. if it's longer there are rules for that, tied back in a helmet with a hair net to keep it in place. that's what he did the week before. >> why wasn't that an option? >> that's why the family is focusing on this referee. for whatever reason, they're saying the referee did not listen to the young man, didn't listen to his trainer or coach. they were all pleading with him to let him wrestle as he did before and he wouldn't allow it. >> is the referee saying anything? >> he was just saying it was not in a natural state, that he kept referring to them as braids. >> hasn't put out a statement? >> has not and we're not naming him at this point because it's difficult to know exactly what happened there and that's what he this investigation by the attorney general's office in new jersey is all about. >> what do you want to see happen? >> some sort of uniform policy change here. we should make sure there is no
discrimination whenever laws and policies are enforced. we've got make sure this sort of situation is addressed before the match, that any sort of hair accommodation that's able to be made to any other student is applied equally across the board. and we need guidance at the stout level for this. >> go on the website and watch this video if you haven't seen it. it is heart breaking. thank you amol, miguel. thanks for watching. our coverage continues. are you a christian author with
a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! good evening to you. hope you had a very good christmas holiday. jim sciutto sitting in for anderson. president trump and the first lady just landed at ramstein air base in germany on their way home from a surprise visit to the troops in iraq. the kind of visit he had been criticized for not doing yet
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