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CNN TONIGHT

A Comparison Of New Cases Of Coronavirus In Past Week Versus Previous Week; A Plan To Stop The Spread Of COVID-19 In The U.S. By October; Attorney General Barr Calls Russia Investigation Bogus; Republican Super PAC, The Lincoln Project Attacking Trump's Record In Series Of Ads; NFL Cancels Preseason Games Due To Coronavirus; Sinclair Drops Segment Featuring Smears Against Dr. Anthony Fauci. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 27, 2020 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. The coronavirus pandemic spiraling out of control in this country. More than 4.2 million Americans have now been infected. Close to 148,000 people have died and tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning it could get worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASES: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we will going to have further suffering and further death. And that's the reason why, as I often said, many, many times, there are things that we can do right now in the absence of a vaccine that can turn us around. The fundamental things of avoiding crowds, physical separation, universal wearing of masks, closing the bars, hand hygiene, those things matter and they can make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why is the president painting this rosy picture about what is happening in this country, and why he is suggesting governors should open up their states? Isn't that what got us in to this mess in the first place? The reality is, more and more Americans are getting sick. More and more are dying and we need a president who deals with that reality.

So, let's discuss now, John Harwood is here, he is our White House correspondent. John, good evening to you, Good to see you. So, I thought the president was supposed to be shifting in his handling of the pandemic. Remember that was our question in the last week, but instead, he didn't address almost a 148,000 dead Americans today. He is saying everything is great and encouraging more states to open up. What is going on?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, I think there are only so many concessions to reality that this president can make in this situation. Yes, he has started telling people to wear masks. He did wear one today on that trip in that facility. That is something that people have been asking for. So, that's a good thing.

On the other hand, this is a president who needs for his own psyche and for the image he portrays to others to believe that he is succeeding in whatever situation he is in, and to him, reopening the country, getting things going, getting baseball back, getting pro sports back, getting schools open, getting businesses and bars and restaurants open, that is a sign that he is succeeding in running the country and dealing with this pandemic.

Now, obviously, that is becoming increasingly difficult. So he made a statement today about states needing to reopen, as Deborah Birx, one of his top public health advisers was in Tennessee, telling Tennessee they needed to close down bars and reduce capacity in certain kinds of businesses.

Not surprisingly, the Republican Governor of Tennessee said, no, I'm not going to do that. He was following the lead of Trump and that is the hazard of the messages that come from the top when they don't comport with the reality of the facts on the ground.

LEMON: We learned today about Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien testing positive for coronavirus. Wolf Blitzer asked Dr. Fauci about that earlier. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Are you confident that this doesn't present a risk, let us say, to the president himself or other senior officials in the White House?

FAUCI: Well, you know, it depends on when Bob got infected and when he knew he was infected and the exposure that he had. I mean, I have been in the same room with him, you know, a week or two ago, it depends on when he was infected. But as you know, you have to have contact in a situation where you're there long enough and close enough to have an increase risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: John, we know O'Brien is a key member of the president's team who meets with countless people. What is the White House saying?

HARWOOD: Well, the White House is being a little bit dodgy about it. But we know from the pictures, for example, from Robert O'Brien's recent trip to Europe that he wasn't in the habit of wearing masks when meeting with others. He has rarely -- you don't often see him around the White House wearing a mask. So obviously there's some risk. The question is, how often is he in close contact with other top officials including the president?

The president said today, well, I haven't seen him lately. That says something on its own if the president doesn't meet regularly with his national security adviser. I've covered White House's for a long time and the national security adviser is among the two or three aids who most normal president see most frequently, maybe not this one.

[23:05:18]

LEMON: Yes, let's talk about the polls. Polls after poll. Poll after poll shows that Americans strongly disapprove of how this president is handling the coronavirus, right? Handling this pandemic. He needs to turn this thing around, turn around his own political fortunes, but the Washington Post are siting people who are close to the president, reporting that he can't do it because of an almost pathological, unwillingness to admit error.

A positive feedback loop of overly rosy assessments and data from advisers in Fox News and a pension for magical thinking that prevented him from fully engaging when the pandemic. Is that a tune -- is that in tune I should say with what you're hearing?

HARWOOD: Yes, and what we have observed for a long time. It's entirely consistent with the message that Mary Trump included in her book about the president. That one of the things he needed to do at all times was not acknowledge when things were bad even when they were really bad.

Again, as I mentioned a moment ago his ego needs to feel reassured that he is the best, that he is succeeding, that he is winning, and so that compels him to try to force out, push down bad news.

That has a one set of consequences when you're a private business person dealing with business set facts. It has a wholly different scale of consequences when you're dealing with a pandemic that is ravaging the country right now.

More than nearly a 150,000 people have died and the president needs to think -- to feel that he asserts it constantly, where the best testing in the world and we're doing fine unless you look at the south and west. These are silly statements to people with common sense. But the president feels the need to assert them.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, John. I will see you soon. Have a good night. I want to turn now to Andy Slavitt. He is the former acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Andy, thanks for joining us. You have a long incredible tweet thread where you explain that we can get back to a reasonably normal existence within weeks, including schools and travel if we throw the kitchen sinks at this virus. OK, how do we throw the kitchen sink? What does that mean?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR AT THE CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Well, Don, if you ask ourselves why are we not as successful as other countries around the world in fighting this virus.

We learn quickly that it is possible and the things that had been done in other countries where they don't have yet a vaccine. They don't have yet therapies that we don't have is because they had enough -- they made a decision that they were going to seriously prevent the disease from spreading. You know, the only way that this -- it stays alive if I give it to you

or you give it to me. If you and I stay away from each other, the disease has nowhere to go. So, one of the things that I think the country here has never considered is that the virus -- COVID is much -- is whether or not to take an approach that is much more like we've had in other parts of the world where, you say for four or five weeks, to make sure the disease has nowhere to go, what happens then?

Then you wake up and it's September and you have a small number of cases if any. And you have way more testing than you need, not enough testing. You have contract tracing and you can go to school. We will be able to do a lot of the normal things we've be able to do again. So, it's something that we should probably be talking about in this country.

LEMON: And you think it's possible by October?

SLAVITT: If we wanted to do this, we can look at what happened to Italy, we can look at Spain, we can look at Germany. We look all over the world. And it takes really several weeks of just making sure the virus has nowhere to go. Those are gifts that we have.

So, it's not because of science that we're not doing. This is because we have decided as a country and it's not necessarily an easy thing to do. To say we are going to commit the four to five, six weeks that it would take in order to do that.

But the power of doing it is being able to open up the economy again, being able to travel again, being able to vote in person in the election, having being be able to send our kids to school.

LEMON: You're right.

SLAVITT: And then we still have cases but there will be -- we could have small numbers.

LEMON: You're right. It's like that we are living in this limbo now. And listen, we have been following the rules, you know, in my household and the rules say, well, you can go to dinner with this number of people, right? But you still kind of like, well, should I be really with all of these people?

[23:10:00]

And what does it mean that we are all sitting at the table? Like. It's kind of confusing, right? But, you know, it's like we're living in this limbo that is not going to be over because we just won't face the reality that we need to just get it over with.

SLAVITT: Right, its death by 1,000 cuts versus saying, let's take more short term pain and to put it behind us. And I can tell you that I talked to people in Italy today. They are going about their business at a much more normal way.

Now, cases will come up, but if we have cases that come up in the future after we have done this, we will be able to handle it. It's when you have 50,000, of 60,000 cases that you know of every day that it becomes very difficult to feel like we are not going to just go on and on in this situation for quite some time.

LEMON: Let me ask you this. And if we -- can we please put that graphic back up, please. Because you say universal mask wearing, bars restaurant, churches and transits close. No interstate travel and no travel into the country, people would symptoms, isolate in hotels at no cost, and that 90 percent lockdown.

The question is, Andy, what would this do to the economy? How would you handle all of the lost wage wages and the impact on businesses?

SLAVITT: Well, look. This is what I call the kitchen sink. And it's not the (inaudible) you need to even know all of this. But the point is for four to five weeks, we would suffer. Well suffer the rest of the summer, our economy would suffer. We would have to get supported through it.

The difference is that at the end of it, as we got to the end of it, we would all start to feel safe again. Kids can go to school. Kids can go to college. We can go to work. We can get on airplanes. We can ride in cars again.

Look, I think this is something we have to debate. I wouldn't suggest that any one person in the country can make a decision like this. But this is never really been fully put on the table. And considering this and rejecting it is akin to saying, we are fine to going on the way we are going on for possibly quite some time.

And if that's choice the country makes, it's a different one that has been made in the rest of the world. But we should know we have this option. Because if we chose this option, again I'm not saying it's an easy option but if we chose these options those are the results that we can get.

LEMON: I just feel like it's groundhog's day. Every day it's like, OK. We are just sort of in limbo and we are really just deluding ourselves. Because -- and we are going to have to just do the hard work and get it over with. Andy, thank you, I appreciate your time.

SLAVITT: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Up next, a combative William Barr headed testimony on Capitol Hill tomorrow claiming he acts independently of the president. Also ahead, a Republican Super PAC is on the attack. But they are not going after the Democratic candidate. They are going straight for President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:00]

LEMON: So, here's our breaking news. The Attorney General Bill Barr planning to accuse congressional Democrats of seeking to discredit him and what's shaping up to be a very contentious hearing on Capitol Hill tomorrow. The Justice Department tonight providing CNN with Barr's opening statement before he goes in front of the House Judiciary Committee. He claims that Democrats are going after him because of his investigations in to the origins of the Russia investigation.

So, joining me now is CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, is Evan Perez. And here he is. So, Evan, good evening to you. Barr's opening statements, very -- statement very combative. What is he saying?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don, it's very fiery. He accuses Democrats of essentially coming after him simply because he has sought to investigate the origins of the Russia investigations. I will read you a part of the prepared remarks that he's going to deliver tomorrow.

He says, ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus Russia gate scandal, many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I simply the president's factotum, who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions.

Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing that appears to be your agenda today. We expect that Democrats are going to come out firing as well, Don. Simply because it's been a long time, months since the Attorney General has appeared before any of these committees in Congress and they have a ton of questions not only about his handling on some of the Russia investigation stuff, but also some of the more recent things that had been going on in this country.

LEMON: Is he seeking to inoculate himself? Because why do that in a statement? Why not just answer the questions and then instead of you know, putting out this narrative, this caveat before they even ask the questions.

PEREZ: Well, you know, I think this is Bill Barr. This is vintage bill Barr. I think he is expecting a knife fight and he is showing up --

LEMON: But doesn't that kind of prove the Democrats' point? That he feels like he has to do that before he even answers the question? Doesn't that just proves that --

PEREZ: Right, I think it does play into the idea that the Attorney General is trying to use frankly some of the rhetoric that the president uses, and in that way, frankly, just damaging the impression or certainly the reputation of the Justice Department, which is supposed to be on this somewhat independent of the president.

LEMON: Yes, because he says that he acts independently of President Trump. But we know, we've covered -- there has been a lot of different incidences of the actions of Bill Barr that, you know, had been called in to question. And that should be called in to question.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly, everything from intervening in the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, to his intervention in the Michael Flynn case, the pattern that we have seen, Don, from the Attorney General is one that he seems to be very hands on. He gets very involved when it has to do something that is very close to the president's heart.

[23:20:10]

That is something that the president gets very agitated over. We have not seen any indication that he gets involved in cases that frankly have nothing to do with the president.

So, that's the reason why there is this impression that has been given that the Attorney General is essentially just another lawyer for the president, instead of the lawyer for the entire country, for the United States.

And so, you know, it's one of those things that you know, if you establish a pattern like that, and if people determine and see a pattern like that, it becomes fact, and I think that's the impression that the Attorney General is going in fighting here. I can tell that even inside the Justice Department, Don, I think people have gotten that impression that the Attorney General is looking out for the president more than the --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Evan, I want to get this in real quick -- not to get cut you off -- before we run out of time, I really have to get to the next guest because it's breaking news. I didn't factor this in. But a lot of people want to hear about the protester, the gassing of those protestors when the president wanted to do his photo op. He's going to have to address that.

PEREZ: He is going to have to address that, and you can expect that he is going to defend it. But I think, Don, you can see the pictures yourself of what happened there, and I think the Attorney General is up against those.

LEMON: All right, Evan Perez, thank you. I appreciate you coming on for the breaking news. Always a pleasure. Thanks, my friend.

So with fewer than 100 days left before the election, polls show President Trump lagging behind Joe Biden that is a Republican Super PAC. The Republican Super PAC, the Lincoln project is targeting the president with ads like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. .

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: So my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, (inaudible).

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Person, woman, man, camera, TV. If you get it in order, you get extra points.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now to discuss, political strategist and a co- founder of Lincoln project Reed Galen. And Reed, thank you so much. This ads -- have you put on a very effective and very interesting. Tell me about your goal. What is your goal?

REED GALEN, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL STRATEGIST: So as we said when we launched last December, we have one goal, which is to defeat President Trump on Election Day and to try and excise Trumpism from the American political system.

And as you said, we have got 99 days to go and the president is lagging well behind his approval rating, they are absolutely in the tank. He's I think at 61 percent disapproval and so I think that for now on, you know, everybody who can and should, you know, do everything they can to focus their efforts on making sure that Donald Trump is a one term president.

LEMON: I want to play this ad from the Lincoln project that takes aim at the president handling of coronavirus. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The reason we have more cases than other countries is because our testing is so much.

Kung flu.

I think at some point that is going to sort of just disappear. We are likewise getting it under control.

We showcases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. We want to get our schools open. I didn't listen to my experts. We have therapies and we have vaccines. We are losing a lot of lives by keeping things closed. So we are about at a 135,000 and we will be at somewhat higher than that by the time it ends. It will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better. That's the way it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Who are you targeting with these ads and what's the message?

GALEN: Sure, I mean, we are targeting those voters who probably never really liked Donald Trump to begin with. Maybe in 2016 that they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton. Maybe they were OK with the antics and the tweets as the economy was good. 401-Ks are strong, and the stock market was up, but now they are trying -- they are truly seeing what Donald Trump is which is just truly incapable of doing the job.

And so from our perspective, especially that last line, you know, it just shows a just true misunderstanding and incapability of just how deeply this coronavirus epidemic and the deaths that it has caused, the 3 million sick, the millions of people out of work, it's just rupturing this country, and again, I just don't know that he is able to process exactly how devastating this is too many Americans. But I think the Americans are certainly seeing it and they are blaming him for it?

LEMON: And you think this ads it will turn the election against Trump?

GALEN: So, there's a couple of things we do. I mean, you know, the president is -- we always know where he's going to be, right. He will be in the residence every night. He might be watching us right now. And if he is, I hope he's having a nice evening.

[23:25:07]

But what we also know is that he is susceptible to these sorts of advertisements and what we've seen is that they tie him in knots. And so, for example, you played the last piece with the woman, camera, TV piece. You know, we started asking, you know, is Trump well?

We asked that probably six or eight weeks ago. As of a couple days ago, he is still trying to convince the American people that he is cognitively able to do the job. But what's more important is that he is the ultimate projectionist.

When he does that, he is actually trying to convince himself that he can do the job. And so, that is the one piece that we do. But also, you know, we have tens of thousands of people across this country and all of the target electoral college states that have come organically to the Lincoln project so we are now ready to start rolling out a ground game that for the next 99 days we will ensure those soft Republicans and independent voters that Joe Biden is a great choice for leading these country in to 20 -- you know, 2021 and beyond.

Because we know this, that Donald Trump will not solve the coronavirus. Joe Biden will bring in the team necessary to try and make those things happen.

LEMON: Reed Galen, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. We'll see you soon. Good luck.

GALEN: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: While the coronavirus is raging the NFL is canceling preseason games and major league baseball postponing some games because of an outbreak on the Florida Marlins. What does all of the say about the safety of reopening? We will discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have some breaking news tonight. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the cancellation of the entire slate of preseason games because of COVID-19. And after just one week end of play, Major League Baseball is postponing at least three games over the virus. Eleven players, two coaches on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the virus, according to ESPN.

Marlins first learned Sunday morning that there was an outbreak on their team but played against Philadelphia Phillies anyway after the players discussed it in a group text chat.

So let's discuss now. Hall of Fame sportscaster, Mr. Bob Costas, joins us. Hey, Bob. Good to see you.

BOB COSTAS, HALL OF FAME BROADCASTER: Hi, Don.

LEMON: So let's talk about these NFL players and so on. They are reporting -- the NFL players are reporting for training camp tomorrow. The preseason games are off. Are they trying to minimize risk before the games that actually matter? What is going on here? What does that say about the danger of playing?

COSTAS: Well, they actually had a number of preconditions. They wanted no contact to strength and conditioning at the beginning. They modified contact as they built up for the regular season.

And they saw the preseason is coming too soon. I think the owners were willing to agree to that because there is not all that much revenue in the preseason. You're not going to have fans in the stands. The television revenue is negligible, alongside where they get to the networks for regular season games. That's what they're pointing toward if they can play.

But already at last count, 59 NFL players have tested positive. This is before they start contact, before they start playing games.

When you think about the size of NFL rosters, the fact that there is contact and significant contact on every play, the fact that like baseball, they're not a bubble like hockey and basketball, and the fact that they're going to play in the fall and winter when the best guess is that there might be yet another surge, to get from point A to point B or point C, whatever you look at it to leave the whole thing, that seems pretty problematic when it comes to the NFL.

LEMON: Wow. Bob, let's talk about baseball because it has only been one weekend, right, with COVID cases already popping up among players and coaches. Games are being cancelled. Is this season on the verge of falling apart?

COSTAS: I'm not going go that far. Commissioner Manfred said this afternoon that he doesn't consider it a nightmare scenario. They expected something like this to happen. They just couldn't guess exactly where. They think their protocols will take care of it.

It is worth saying that the 11 Marlins players who tested positive are all asymptomatic at this point. That is a third of their roster, though, at this point, more than a third of their roster. They have to bring up players from the minor leagues. There is no minor league season, but they got 30 extra players that they can tap into.

But the problem yesterday was that it wasn't the commissioner's office that was informed of the Marlins situation and made their decision. And because of confidentially, they couldn't step in and name any of players, and the players decided they go ahead and play.

Well, that meant that they exposed the Phillies and all their players have to be vested now. And they also exposed the people who work in the visiting clubhouse. That is why the Yankees can't play the Phillies tonight. That game was postponed because the Yankees --

LEMON: Bob --

COSTAS: -- have to be in the same visitors' clubhouse as the Phillies.

LEMON: Let me play this sound bite because this will help out what you're saying. Miguel Rojas, the shortstop for the Marlins, said this about the decision to play yesterday. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL ROJAS, SHORTSTOP, MIAMI MARLINS: We made the decision that we want to continue to do this. We want to continue to be responsible and just the play the game as hard as we can. We knew this would happen at some point. And we came to the ballpark and ready to play. It was never a thought that we weren't going to play.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, Bob. So go on. So what is the danger in that? And I cut you off. Finish your point.

COSTAS: The danger in that is that they exposed the Phillies players. They exposed the nonplaying personnel who work in the ballpark, in this case the visitors' clubhouse, which is why the Yankees couldn't play tonight in Philadelphia.

[23:35:02]

COSTAS: In addition to the fact that the Phillies had to be tested, the Yankees would have been occupying the same visitors' clubhouse as the

Marlins just left.

Now, in fairness, the overall positive rate of players and all major league personnel has been less than one percent since they started summer camp. But now you have an outbreak on one team. And it is possible -- I am in no position to predict. I am not an expert and the experts are just offering best educated guesses. But it certainly seems possible that at some point, it could be not confined to a single team.

This situation, if it stops here with the Marlins, is not going to end their season and it is not going to end the MLB season. But if something like this happens again and there is an exponential effect, these guys are not in the bubble, they're travelling, where are the Marlins? They're in Miami, in South Florida, where it is exploding now. It is pretty problematic.

LEMON: And they are in a place that was warm. Remember, first, it was thought -- this president said and even some experts said the heat -- they were talking about the transmissibility in heat and that it might go down. But Florida is a warm place, you know, and it's still happening in these warm places.

COSTAS: Yeah, (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Yeah. Major League Baseball has nearly unlimited resources. They are still having these issues. What do you think that says about where we are, you know, in a country against this fight right now?

COSTAS: Well, sports often is an indicator. People pay attention to sports. It influences how they feel and it appeals to people across very wide swath of America, all demographics.

And some people might be saying to themselves, look, with all the resources, as you said, and with being able to test players on a regular basis, they are hiring private contracts, so people are less resentful of that. They are not going to hospitals or taking away from medical personnel that the general public is depending on.

But still, with all of those resources brought to bear, if baseball is not able to complete its season, and I'm not saying that is going to be the case, but it's certainly a possibility, that is going to, I think, get a number of people to reconsider other more essential things looming on the horizon, going back to school.

LEMON: Bob Costas, always a pleasure. Be safe. Thank you, sir.

COSTAS: You, too, Don. Thanks.

LEMON: As coronavirus cases surge all across the country, one of the biggest TV station operators was all set to air a segment full of smears against Dr. Fauci. Why they pulled it, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Sinclair media dropping a segment featuring a false conspiracy theory, a false one, of Dr. Anthony Fauci, after a lot of uproar over it. But it's not the only false story making it on to big platforms. Here's CNN's Brian Stelter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sinclair, one of America's biggest owners of TV stations, is now disavowing a debunked segment that featured a kooky conspiracy theory, smearing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

During this segment on Eric Bolling show, a banner on screen said, did Dr. Fauci create COVID-19, attacking Fauci in service of supporting President Trump. That has been the right-wing media's playbook all spring and summer long.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The number I gave out --

STELTER (voice-over): But this interview stoked so many concerns and complaints that Sinclair showed it over the weekend and confirmed on Monday that it will never air. Sinclair went on to -- quote -- "reiterate our appreciation for Dr. Fauci."

A small victory for truth at a time when conspiracy theory seemed to be winning and the truth is losing.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: They're, you know, oversampling Democrats --

STELTER (voice-over): Eric Trump on Fox with Jesse Watters, claiming that posters are part of a mask conspiracy to fool America.

In this interview, Watters brought up QAnon, a virtual cult that touts Trump and casts Democratic politicians and other elites as evil child abusers.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Twitter has basically just crackdown, eliminated about 7,000 accounts --

STELTER (voice-over): Watters's most concerned, Twitter removing the cult's lies would hurt Trump's reelection.

WATTERS: Because, you know, Q can do some crazy stuff with the pizza stuff and the way (INAUDIBLE), but they've also uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to Epstein, when it comes to the deep state.

STELTER (voice-over): A shocking thing for a TV host to say since aspects of QAnon are downright delusional. It's connected to PizzaGate, which allowed a man to show up in a D.C. pizzeria with guns.

The FBI was warned of the QAnon conspiracy being a domestic terrorism threat. But Watters said they've uncovered a lot of great stuff. Eric Trump then drew a false equivalence between Q and some Democrats he doesn't like.

E. TRUMP: Guess what? Adam Schiff does a lot of crazy things. Jerry Nadler and Eric Swalwell, they also do a lot of crazy stuff.

STELTER (voice-over): Watters eventually came out with a statement that said, in part, "My comments should not be mistaken for giving credence to this fringe platform."

STELTER (on camera): But the problem is that every time someone like Jesse Watters promotes QAnon, these crazy conspiracy theories become more mainstream. They become more validated.

[23:45:00] STELTER (on camera): Here's the good news, however. This garbage can be called out. It can be exposed. Sinclair backs down after CNN and other organizations questioned why this segment might be airing. That is the good news here. Sunlight, Don, sunlight is still the best disinfectant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

Walmart is banning a couple for wearing face coverings emblazoned with Nazi swastikas. The woman who confronted that couple joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, on the day Minnesota's mask mandate took effect, a couple shopping at a Walmart in the town of Marshall decided to make a disturbing statement about it.

The couple, who have not been identified, were captured on video at the checkout while wearing the German Nazi regime's flag on their faces. So, I just want to warn viewers that what I am about to show you may be hard for some people to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): You can't be American and wear that mask. You cannot. We literally had a war about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a Nazi. I'm trying to show you what's going to happen in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): You're wearing a swastika.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're living under a socialist state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you vote for Biden, you're going to be in Nazi Germany. That's what it's going to be like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: People are so ignorant. In a statement to The Washington Post, Walmart called Saturday's events unacceptable. The company added that store management had offered the man and woman a disposable face mask, which they refused. The couple was then asked to leave after they became belligerent. Walmart is now barring the two from their stores or at least -- for at least a year.

So joining me now is Raphaela Mueller. She is the woman who filmed the incident. Good evening to you. Shocking. What were your first thoughts when you saw that couple and when you saw what they were wearing? RAPHAELA MUELLER, CONFRONTED WALMART SHOPPERS WEARING NAZI MASKS: I was speechless. I was shocked that I would see something like this with my own eyes. I mean, I'd seen other events similar to this that had happened in different parts of the country, but I never thought that I would see it with my own eyes.

LEMON: Uh-huh. I wonder what the reaction was for other customers because this happened on the same day Minnesota started requiring masks. So what -- how did other people react in the store?

MUELLER: Aside from one other person, who is also visible in the video, he is the middle-aged man with the braid, kind of to the left of the screen, aside from him, nobody really stepped in.

A lot of people were watching, of course. But everybody just kind of tried to keep their head down, I suppose. Mostly are watching, not saying anything.

LEMON: And they were -- they looked like proud. They weren't embarrassed. I'm embarrassed for them, but they weren't embarrassed, were they?

MUELLER: Yeah. I suppose when I -- when I first -- I first took a picture and the woman noticed that I was taking a picture. She started waving and posing. That was one of the most shocking parts of all of this, to me, was that she was so proud to be wearing a mask like that.

LEMON: Yeah. So you were born and raised in Germany, and you grew up hearing how your great grandmother fought against the Nazis as part of the underground. How did that influence your decision to confront this couple?

MUELLER: Majorly, really. I mean, it was the main reason why I decided to say something, because I thought to myself that, if I don't say something now, what did my great grandmother risked her life for all those years fighting against the first wave of Nazis?

LEMON: The woman says that she's -- quote -- "not a Nazi," yet she is literally wearing the Nazi symbol. Do you think this -- do you think they fully understood how offensive their actions were?

MUELLER: Probably not. I mean, from her comments, it's also very apparent that she doesn't quite understand the difference between socialism and democratic socialism and national socialism, which, of course, has -- there is a big difference between the two.

So, I also get the feeling that she may not entirely understand just how offensive that symbol is to a lot of people.

LEMON: Yeah, I don't think that they would -- they get that. But I actually think they know it is offensive. Otherwise, why would they wear it? They didn't think it was offensive, they wouldn't have worn it.

The governor of your state, Tim Walz, tweeted out about this incident. He said, "Disgraceful, plain and simple. Thank you to the bystanders who stood up to this unacceptable, hate-fueled behavior."

What other reaction have you gotten since this video has gone viral?

MUELLER: I have gotten a lot of Facebook messages of support. Some e- mails, even, of support. The comments on the original video, of course, are more of a mixed bag. But, so far, the overwhelming majority of reactions that I have received were -- were really positive.

LEMON: There were people who condoned this? Why am I asking that? Of course, there are. What do you say to them?

[23:55:00]

MUELLER: I -- by now, I honestly don't know what to say to them anymore. I mean, there -- there have been so many incidents and so many people have shared their story and said how much it hurts them to see symbols like this. And they're still not listening. So, quite honestly, I'm at a loss for words there, too.

LEMON: I got to run. But they would take the face masks off, right? Because they didn't want people to see who they actually were or did they eventually take it off?

MUELLER: I would hope that most people would, yeah.

LEMON: No, did they take it off? I'm talking about the people in the store.

MUELLER: Oh, no. No, they didn't. I mean --

LEMON: No. They were cowards.

MUELLER: I mean, the store manager or the store employees offered them disposable masks and they refused.

LEMON: They never revealed their identity to you, when you were there?

MUELLER: No. No, they didn't.

LEMON: So they were cowards. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Raphaela. I appreciate it. I'm glad you stepped in. Thank you so much and have a good one.

MUELLER: Thank you.

LEMON: Be safe. Thanks.

MUELLER: Thank you.

LEMON: Yeah. Ignorance. That's where we are right now. Good night.

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