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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Disagrees With CDC Director, Dr. Redfield; Blue States Having More COVID-19 Casualties; Vaccine Coming Late; Heat Ray Used On Protesters; A.G. Bill Compared Lockdowns To Slavery. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I hear you. And I understand the frustration. Why vote if things don't change. And look, just because somebody said something doesn't mean they are going to do something. But if they don't say anything, nothing is ever going to happen.

CARL DAY, PASTOR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: But Pastor, thank you very much. I appreciate you being honest with us. God bless going forward.

DAY: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Pastor Carl Day. September 16 today very special day in my life. It is the day that my mama was born. Matilda Nancy Raffa Cuomo. Look at her there. She looks even better today. I love you, momma. Happy birthday. Enjoy being 51.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with its big star, D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Mrs. Cuomo.

CUOMO: She doesn't like you.

LEMON: Happy birthday. It doesn't matter. I love her.

CUOMO: She loves you. She loves you.

LEMON: I love her.

CUOMO: You know why? Because you're pretty.

LEMON: Please. Because she's a smart lady. Talk about pretty. I don't know -- you know.

CUOMO: Thanks.

LEMON: You did not get her looks or your dad.

CUOMO: Sorry. I thought you're talking about me.

LEMON: So, no, I'm talking about your mom.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: She does --

LEMON: Look at that. I mean, she is gorgeous.

CUOMO: I was at her house today. She was talking the talk.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: How is she doing?

CUOMO: She told me how I got to look. I got to wear different suits. She doesn't like my hair. All kinds of --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: She doesn't like the same outfit every night.

CUOMO: She doesn't like anything. It's all about improvement. She loves me I'm her baby.

LEMON: You got to listen to mom. Mom doesn't -- you know when I cut my hair in the summer. My mom is like, there's lot of hair on your head, you don't look good that way. Stay out of the sun.

CUOMO: They really know how to hurt you.

LEMON: I know. But what a wonderful lady. Mrs. Cuomo, sincerely, happy birthday. Now let's talk about. I had the pastor on last night. Let's talk about this. To people like my mom who vote every time. To the church going -- I was talking about the women in the church hats.

What the pastor said is very frustrating for them. Because what they will say to you is, did Dr. King not vote because things weren't changing fast enough? Because the candidates weren't perfect. And they will say no. He voted. And that's how we got to where we are now.

They think there's one choice in this election. Especially this one. And you know what that choice is. And if, you know, you talk about how black women are carrying the party and always, you know, help --

CUOMO: Statistically.

LEMON: Statistically. I think that I always say, and I've learned this from political strategists. Know when to be strategic, know when to be an activist and there are certain times where you have to be one not the other. And there are certain times when you can be both together.

You know this because you come from a political family. No candidate is perfect. Not one. There's one candidate, there's one -- one group of people running. Two people running where there's a person of color on the ticket. OK? So, there's only one person who has a color on the ticket or person of color in the ticket with them. And that is Joe Biden. And the candidate takes you -- it's like getting on a bus. It's like

public transportation, the person who takes you the closest to your stop, to where you want to be. That is the closest to what you want to get done because no one is going to get everything done. That's the person you vote for.

It's not like an Uber that drops you off right at the location and shows up when you want. It is a public transportation. You don't have to fall in love with the person. Republicans know this better than anyone. They fall in line.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Because they know this is the person that's going to carry out what I want most likely to carry out what I want. And I think Democrats want to fall in love, they want a perfect candidate and on and on. And then they end up that's what happened Hillary Clinton 2016. Jill Stein, then everyone -- you don't complain if you vote for a third-party person and you don't get what you want because --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You say Jill Stein. She was the Green Party candidate. The pastor Carl Day voted for Jill Stein in 2016. Just one question and I've leave you alone.

LEMON: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: I agree I have been told this by you and many other people in the black community frequently. OK? The position of Day and others as you know, you feel it all the time, is right but we're frustrated too. And I'm not going to vote for Trump which is what the pastor say. No way.

But, you know, what am I getting other than this terrible guy not getting him, right? This is their perspective. At least tell me that you're going to try to do something for me because otherwise my frustration gets the better of me.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Response?

LEMON: That's -- listen, that's all fair. And as I told him last night you can vote for who you want to vote for. I'm not -- you know, if you want to vote for a third party for whatever, fourth party or fifth, that's your business. That's your prerogative. I'm just -- I'm just analyzing. I'm just giving you analysis at this point.

What people have to realize and no matter who, what side you're on no matter who you're going to vote for, the Supreme Court for the next 50 years is going to be decided in this election. So, do you believe in a women's right to choose or not? Do you believe in same-sex marriage? Because that maybe an issue with that.

[22:05:05] Do -- what do you believe? What are you willing to compromise to vote for a third party or to stay at home? And I think --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Because the third party won't win.

LEMON: Because the third party never wins. And again, I'm not telling you who to vote for.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Whatever. But the third party never ever wins. I personally think that this is everyone says it's hard. I don't -- I can't see how anyone -- anybody is undecided. This is the easiest --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: There is a very low number by the way.

LEMON: But I think people who are undecided are just making excuses because they want to support someone but they just don't want to say it. That's just my personal opinion.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: But --

CUOMO: So, you think undecided break, right?

LEMON: I think undecided tend to break right. There are people who are afraid right now or don't want to say at this moment that they want to support President Trump.

But here's what I will say. I -- I think this is the easiest election to decide. I just think because the two people who are running -- the four people who running are so completely different. That if you cannot make up your mind between Joe Biden and Donald Trump or Kamala Harris and Mike Pence. I think it's the easiest election ever.

CUOMO: Well, you want to hear the good news?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: On the morning of November 4, you know who will probably be together?

LEMON: You know what?

CUOMO: Watching the results with me?

LEMON: What did you say?

CUOMO: On the morning of November 4, the day after the election. Do you know who will probably be together watching the results trickle in? LEMON: My gosh.

CUOMO: And all of the counting that is still yet to be had and how close the race actually is.

LEMON: The night owls.

CUOMO: And the discussion of --

LEMON: CNN after dark.

CUOMO: -- people who voted in person versus the signatures that they're going through.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Captain handsome here and you.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: That's who it's going to be.

LEMON: All right, captain. Love you. I'll see you.

CUOMO: I love you, Don Lemon. Thank you for the analysis. It helps me understand things that I don't understand as easily.

LEMON: Easy -- this is the easiest election ever. Really. This is decision wise. Thank you, sir. I love, I'll talk to you soon.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.

And we do have some breaking news. It is 48 days to election day. Nearly 200,000 Americans -- 48 days is a -- that's not a long time. Nearly 200,000 Americans losing their lives to a deadly pandemic, dead Americans, day after day, every night I report their numbers, every night for months, every night, hundreds and hundreds more, a thousand more, 1,200 more.

Does it sicken you? Because it sickens me to sit here every night and just report deaths. And it seems that not much is being done about it. Does it feel like you're just standing at the end of the ocean and yelling out who is listening, who is hearing this.

It's -- it's all of this is so pointless. Not meaning having to report it. But what is going on. It's so unnecessary. It's so much a pain, such a waste at this time. If you've ever lost a loved one, you know. It is excruciating. It never really leaves you. How much more excruciating is it when it could have been avoided?

This president never thinks about that. So today the CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield told the truth about the situation we're in. He said a vaccine might not be widely available for up to a year. He said masks might be an even better defense than a vaccine to keep Americans safe to keep more people from dying.

But the crime of telling truth Dr. Redfield gets thrown under the bus which backs over him and then drives over him again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said you spoke with Dr. Redfield earlier and you said that he made a mistake. Did --

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think he made a mistake. Yes. We didn't go -- I didn't go doing a great job.

COLLINS: He is.

TRUMP: I was -- I was very surprised to hear it. It doesn't really matter. Here's what does matter. We're set to distribute immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're twice contradicting the director of your own CDC on the science who testified before Congress today.

TRUMP: No, he's contradicting himself.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should the American people --

TRUMP: I think he misunderstood the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was testifying under oath. Why should the American people --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You know what I think? I think you understood. I told you. I don't have to go through this. I think he misunderstood the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should the American people trust you on the pandemic when you're contradicting the head of the CDC in your own administration?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Because of the great job we've done. Because of the great things we've done in other fields also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, this is -- you decide. I want you to decide who to believe. And I want you to listen to exactly what Dr. Redfield said about a timetable for the vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: If you're asking when is it going to be generally available to the American public so we can begin to take advantage of a vaccine to get back to our regular life. I think we're probably looking at third, late second quarter or third quarter 2021.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:10:07]

LEMON: So, CDC head, right? Remember, I know more than the generals. He's the head of the CDC. So, does he sound confuse to you? Me neither. Now I want you to listen to exactly what Dr. Redfield said about masks. And remember. Dr. Redfield is under oath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REDFIELD: These actually, we have clear scientific evidence they work. And they are our best defense. I might even go so far to say that these face masks is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID-19 vaccine. Because the immunogenicity maybe 70 percent. And if I don't get an immune response the vaccine is not going to protect me. This face mask will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he is citing clear scientific evidence, facts, the truth. Not of that seems to matter to this president. And so, Dr. Redfield falls on his sword. Why he does this? I cannot say, a CDC press official telling CNN this tonight.

They say, in today's hearing Dr. Redfield was answering a question he thought was in regard to the time period in which all Americans would have completed their COVID vaccination. And his estimate was by the second or third quarter of 2021. He was not referring to the time period when COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans.

OK. So, a senior official at the CDC telling CNN Dr. Redfield was and I'm quoting here, "a convenient punching bag for President Trump."

I want you to go back to April. And remember this when Dr. Redfield told the Washington Post that having coronavirus and the flu circulating at the same time this fall could be more difficult and complicated. The president didn't like that either. So, he made Dr. Redfield fall on the sword then too. It's an assault on the truth. But it's worse than that.

The president has broken the compact that has governed this country from the beginning. Listen to him right out loud just dismissing the lives of Americans in blue states in the middle of a pandemic. Making it very clear he only cares about the red states that give him electoral votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we do a really good job, we'll be at about 100 -- 100,000 to 240,000 deaths and we're below that substantially. And we'll see what comes out. But that would be if we did the good job. If the not so good job was done, you'd be between 1.5 million. I remember these numbers so well and 2.2 million. That's quite a difference. So, we're down in this territory. And that's despite the fact that the

blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we're at a level that I don't think anybody in the world would be at. We're really at a low level. But some of the states they were blue states and blue states managed them. By the way, we recommend they open up their states. I think it's very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, if you take the blue states out, if you just ignore the deaths of tens of thousands of people who happen to live in states run by Democrats, what could get him to care about the Americans who live there and their families? Maybe he would care if we told him that in some of those blue states the election was really close. It shouldn't matter.

But I guess if you live in a state that went to Hillary Clinton no matter how narrow the president thinks it shouldn't, it shouldn't really count if your loved one died. You hear that, New Hampshire if your loved on died? You hear that, Minnesota? Nevada? How about Maine? All states that were just narrowly blue in 2016. Too bad you didn't vote for him then. Maybe he would care.

And by the way the Washington Post crunched the numbers since mid- June. A majority of the new coronavirus deaths each day have occurred in red states. This president wants to ignore the people who died in blue states. By the way, no pressure. He's also like you to open, open up your states. Never mind the pesky deadly pandemic. So, is it any wonder that Joe Biden says this today?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don't trust Donald Trump. At this moment the American people can't either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I guess it is no surprise the president thinks the way he does. All he wants is to be the anti-Obama. All he wants is to be the opposite of the man who said this at the Democratic convention way back in 2004.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:15:08]

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It is that fundamental belief I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper. That makes this country work.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams. And yet, still come together as one American family, E. pluribus unum, out of many, one. Now, even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us.

The spin masters. The negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and conservative America. There's the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There's the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. Red states for Republican, blue states for Democrats. But I've news for them too, we are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Can it be that was all so simple then? I still have glad (Ph) and patty on my mind. But what it -- it seems like a lifetime ago. By the way, I remember being in Chicago working there, covering that story about a Chicago guy speaking at the convention. And I was in, I think a bar or restaurant where they were holding a watch party. And right then I said, maybe just maybe. And sure enough, it happened. He became president.

But did you hear what he said? He said not red states, not blue states. But the United States of America. That used to be something that resonated. That used to be the kind of idea that could get someone elected. Like President Barack Obama.

Now tonight, if you're in state that voted for the president your life counts. If you live in a state that didn't, he thinks your death shouldn't. That is wrong. Quite frankly, that is un-American. And that is the belief of the current President of the United States, undermining the experts, throwing them under the bus while Americans are dying.

We're going to break down the truth of what happened today. Kaitlan Collins, Dana Bash, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta after the break.

[22:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, the president completely contradicting his own CDC director claiming that Dr. Robert Redfield was confused and mistaken on both this time line for getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the American people and the effectiveness of wearing masks.

Let's bring in CNN -- CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. Good evening to all of you. Good to see you.

Kaitlan, you first with the news. President Trump threw the CDC director Robert Redfield under the bus. You were right there, did it multiple times at this presser today. You pressed the president on all of this. What was that about?

COLLINS: Yes. It was a remarkable press conference where he contradicted the CDC director on two of the biggest things that he said today while he was testifying on Capitol Hill, one being the time line for a vaccine and the second being how effective wearing a mask can be.

When it comes to a vaccine time line, basically what Dr. Redfield was explaining was really something that we've heard from other health officials in this administration working on this vaccine effort. Which is that, basically when one is ready it is still going to take a little bit of time for the entire population to be able to get it in a way where there is widespread immunity.

The time line, Don, that he gave was about six to nine months and the president disputed that. Saying he did not think it was going to be like the timeline Dr. Redfield offered. And then he also disputed him on masks. Because he was talking about how valuable they can be in preventing COVID-19.

LEMON: Right.

COLLINS: Limiting the spread of it. And the president said he did not believe that a mask was as effective as a vaccine could be. That is a comparison that Redfield made. And it was just, you know, it was a remarkable moment to see the president rebuke the CDC director in that way.

And then of course we saw Redfield responds in a way that was not either correcting his statement to be in line with the president, nor defending what he said on Capitol Hill today when it came to a vaccine timeline.

LEMON: Yes.

COLLINS: So that is something we'll likely see to continue to play out over the next few days. But it was quite stunning to see that discrepancy in their two positions on these two crucial factors.

LEMON: It was an I know better than the generals moment. Dr. Gupta, once again the president is undermining his experts. He's claiming that Dr. Redfield made a mistake and was confused on vaccines and masks. You know Dr. Redfield. Did he sound confuse to you?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. He didn't sound confused. I mean, he seemed to understand the question perfectly and gave an answer. You know, when it came to the vaccine, I can tell you the answer that he has was very much in line with what you've heard from other people as well including the chief adviser at Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui.

I talked to him last week, Don. And this exact issue came up. When is the virus potentially going to be authorized and if after that it is authorized, when would it be ready? Listen to how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONCEF SLAOUI, SCIENTIFIC HEAD, OPERATION WARP SPEED: If it's shown efficacious (Ph) in November or in December. We don't have enough vaccine doses. We have a few million in November and maybe 10, 20 million of each in December. That would be enough to vaccinate certain populations. Start vaccinating certain population but not the whole population.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And when he's talking about certain populations, there's about 29 million people that would be considered essential workers. That includes healthcare workers, maybe another 75 million who would be considered high risk.

[22:25:01]

Take a look at the timeline in terms of vaccine availability. And we're putting this up. This comes from the federal government from the Operation Warp Speed in terms of, you look at end of October the number of doses available, two vaccines, likely the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines which are furthest along in trials.

But look, Don, by the end of December 35 to 45 million doses maybe. And keep in mind this might be two doses per individual. Right? So, you got to divide that by half. So, you know, maybe 20, 25 million people possibly by the end of the year.

LEMON: Well, listen, doctor, I mean, people would love to have a vaccine yesterday. But you know, the science shows you, you know, what can happen and the time line. And you just put the numbers up from the administration, Operation Warp Speed.

Dana, I was watching earlier -- or listening to you earlier. I heard you on Sirius. As i listen to you earlier and, I mean, you came right out and you said you called what the president said today propaganda.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I really didn't feel happy about saying that. It -- what was, you know, reluctantly doing so because we're talking about the President of the United States and we are in a pandemic.

But the fact of the matter is, Dr. Redfield and every other member of the president's own scientific team who are trying to fight this pandemic, say over and over and over again, wear a mask.

I mean, the surgeon general had a PSA, I think it was just this morning. Describing in detail how to wear a mask, the reason to wear a mask, how to do it properly. That's the kind of thing that the President of the United States could do if he wanted to accurately and adequately mitigate the virus currently until the vaccine gets here.

And so, the fact that he contradicted his own CDC director, not just on the vaccine which Sanjay just laid out in terms of the details of how that would work. But more importantly on, from my perspective on the notion of propaganda on the notion of masks because it doesn't make any sense, except for the fact that the president is trying to meet the people who support him where they are, which is that they don't think the masks are worth it.

We've heard that from Trump supporters over and over again as opposed to standing up there either wearing a mask or talking about a proper way to wear a mask, to bring his supporters to the place where we can try to as a country, as a society, mitigate this pandemic.

LEMON: And someone tested positive for coronavirus at the White House. We'll discuss right after the break.

[22:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So, we're back. I want to bring back in back in our White House correspondent Kaitlan Collin, chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent.

OK. So, this is just in. And all of you but I'm going to give this to Dana. The Attorney General William Barr was speaking at Hillsdale college to an audience there, an event about the constitutional hurdles of forbidding a church from meeting during COVID-19.

During that, he -- someone asked him about -- I guess they were, you know, they were just talking. He said, the Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said the national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic is like house arrest and a civil rights intrusion nearly unequalled in American history. But he says it is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties other than slavery in U.S. history. Dana Bash.

BASH: I'm kind of speechless. I really am.

LEMON: I saw Sanjay's face, by the way.

BASH: I mean, I started to think about trying to pick apart the reality of what he said. Like, I don't know. That when people were enslaved, human beings were enslaved in this country, they were owned by other people. I mean, the civil rights was like, the notion of having civil rights was a pipe dream. They had to be free. And then they could think about civil rights.

I mean, this is a pandemic where people are being asked to think about one another and their safety, security and health because it is so easily transmittable.

LEMON: Yes.

BASH: And that is why this country was locked down or was shut down. LEMON: Yes.

BASH: Not in order to keep people from having rights. It was to keep people from dying.

LEMON: Yes. And he wants African-American votes. OK. Listen, Dr. Gupta, I'm always aware that you're not political. It's not your role to be political pundit on the show or a consultant. But slavery was about oppressing people's lives. This is about saving people's lives. As a medical professional, you can talk about that.

GUPTA: This is a public health emergency. The virus does not discriminate at all. There were places around the world that may have needed to shut down for a short amount of time in order to control this virus and then they did. And then there was some sense of normalcy that was returned.

I mean, it's absolutely preposterous to equate this to civil rights infringement. There have been public health emergencies before. So this isn't without precedent. And you know, 100 years ago, 102 years ago there was another significant pandemic to which the world responded in similar ways. People had to stay at home for a while. Kids had to stay out of school for a while.

[22:34:57]

This is -- this is a worldwide storm and as Dana said, we're all in it together. We're all in it together. We all have to be behave ourselves and we're all dependent on each other. So, in some ways it's the exact opposite.

I just have a hard time, Don, I guess to your point of conflating a dedicated scientific evidence base public health response to some sort of civil rights intrusion. It just takes us in the exact wrong direction.

LEMON: It's really just stunning. You talk about since slavery interment of the Japanese. I mean, there's a whole lot of -- I can't. Anyway, Kaitlan, I want you to respond this. Because you are often out with the president and with the crowds and people who are really mimicking the president if they are not already, this will probably become a talking point. And the president will start talking about it as well and using the same talking point.

COLLINS: Yes. And so, sometimes there are things that the president says or does where people think it's just the president who feels that way. And we've heard him rail against these lockdowns that we've had where business, certain businesses were closed. People were urged to stay home and not go into the office.

He has urged schools to reopen, states to reopen, businesses to reopen. Even if those communities have not felt like it's the right time. And now with the statement from the attorney general you see that there are officials in this administration who agree with the president on this. High ranking officials like the attorney general who say, you know,

they are comparing this in a way to slavery which he says was, quote, "a different kind of restraint." Yes, it was very much different kind of restraint.

And so, you know, to see how they've responded to this, and as, you know, as Sanjay was saying, no one was forced to stay home in their homes in the United States. Those were recommendations made. That was a decision that was made not by the president no matter what the White House says about lockdowns.

Those were decisions that were made on local levels by governors, by mayors, by business owners who decided to send their staffs home. And so, I don't -- I'm not sure it's the same comparison at all. Not -- obviously not since. But also, if you look at what other countries have done.

There are places -- you know, in Israel they are about to go into a lock down where you cannot go more than 1,500 feet from your home. We saw how strict they were in Italy and in other countries. And the medical experts in the administration have talked about that.

That you know, when we talk about shut downs and lockdowns in the United States they're not the same that you've seen in other countries by any stretch of the imagination.

So, to see the attorney general make this argument, you see why the president then makes arguments that he makes. Because he's not the only person in this administration who feels this way about the -- what the medical experts have recommended we do in wake of the pandemic.

LEMON: Yes. And there's undecided black voters out there. OK. So, I just want to say this before I let you guys go. You don't have to respond. But Kayleigh McEnany confirming today that just one person tested positive a White House staff member. And then as we get more on that we'll continue to follow. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

We got some have breaking news at the D.C. National Guard official was asked if his unit had a heat ray to use against protestors in Lafayette Park in June. I'm going to give you the details next.

[22:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here's the breaking news right now. A D.C. National Guard official says that he was asked if his unit had a heat ray to use against protestors cleared from Lafayette Park -- Lafayette Square in front of the White House. Remember that was back in early June so the president could have his photo op.

Let's go right to CNN's Jim Acosta. He's our chief White House correspondent. Jim, wow.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. LEMON: Fill us in. What are you learning?

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, file this under things I didn't think I would be reporting on, Don. But yes, the whistleblower at the center of this a major in the D.C. National Guard, Adam DeMarco, provided written testimony to the department of -- or excuse me -- the committee on natural resources in the House of Representative.

And he was asked about what kind of weapons were used or requested for potentially clearing protestors at Lafayette Park on June 1, the day that the president marched through Lafayette Square and then held up that bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church.

And according to Adam DeMarco, he said hours before that all took place, he received a request from a military officer as to whether or not they had some sort of acoustic device that could send off a very loud noises to protestors to try to get them to disperse. And then also something called an ADS, an active denial system.

Don, this is a high-powered heat ray. We can put up on screen a little bit of what is in Adam DeMarco's testimony. It says, the ADS can immediately compel an individual to seize threatening behavior or depart through application of a directed energy beam.

That provides a sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin. The effect is overwhelming causing an immediate repel response by the targeted individual.

Don, I mean, this is extraordinary stuff. Not only were they using tear gas, not only were they roughing up protestors outside Lafayette Park to clear the area so the president could have that photo op. Apparently, according to this major at the D.C. National Guard as (Inaudible) listening to all of this, there were military officers who were asking whether or not they could use this heat ray on some of the protestors there.

LEMON: This picture we have up now is just stunning. It's just stuns me to see that. It's so fake that he's standing there. And what they did to the protestors is just outrageous. Now think about this. This sort of torturous kind of mechanisms that they want to use or wanted to use in order to push these protesters back. It makes you --

ACOSTA: Right.

LEMON: -- it just -- you just have to question, Jim. And if you can go quickly, please. Is this America? This is America. This is unbelievable.

[22:44:59]

ACOSTA: I mean, it was a shameful chapter, I think, when we saw protestors cleared out the Lafayette Park for a photo op. No question about it. But to think that the military, I guess to try to, you know, be in the good graces of President Trump, would even contemplate using a heat ray type device. Now keep in mind, this is something that President Trump asked about

this kind of device, it's something he asked about to use on migrants down on the borders. CNN confirmed that. The New York Times reported that at one point.

And so, you know, Don, how are we getting to a point in this country where, you know, our fellow Americans could even contemplate or fathom using these kinds of experimental weapons on our fellow citizens who are just trying to protest. Obviously, there were some troublemakers there. But why would you use that kind of equipment when police can just use normal tactics?

And I talked to the attorney for this whistleblower earlier this evening, Don. He said there is nothing routine about asking for a heat ray device to use on Americans trying to exercise their First Amendment rights.

And you know, I don't think this is the last we've heard from this whistleblower. He is, I mean, he is doing something patriotic here, Don. He is blowing the lid off of our government using what are some pretty ridiculous tactics, harsh and un-American tactics on our fellow citizens.

LEMON: I don't -- I don't even know what to say. Thanks, Jim. Thank you. I appreciate it.

ACOSTA: You bet. Sure.

LEMON: Every night I sit and I don't -- I don't know what to say. I mean -- no words. I -- let's just go to the break.

[22:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, President Trump is contradicting his own -- is contradicting his own CDC director, claiming he made a mistake for suggesting a vaccine won't be widely available in the U.S. for up to a year. The president claims a vaccine could be released by mid-October.

Joining me now to discuss is the former FDA commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan. He is now the director of the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy. Good to see you, Dr. McClellan. Thank you for joining us.

MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Hey, Don.

LEMON: As former FDA commissioner, you know vaccine timetables, so who's right here, Trump or Redfield?

MCCLELLAN: Well, we are likely to have a vaccine for a limited number of people, much sooner than the middle of next year, Don. Put but if you listen to what the scientific experts at the FDA say and what a lot of other people who are involved in the clinical trials say, it's going to happen in a step-wise fashion. So, first thing is we have to finish the clinical trials and see that

the vaccines really do reduce the rate and severity of infections. And then FDA is likely to authorize it first for the people who can benefit the most to protect them. Not enough to get to herd immunity. And then we'll get more experience with the vaccine. People can hopefully get more confidence in it, and it's going to take time to get more vaccine out to more people.

So, I think the CDC director said some pretty helpful comments about getting expectations right for when a vaccine will be widely available.

LEMON: Yes, listen, and you just mentioned herd immunity. That -- if you just did herd immunity without the -- that means millions of Americans would have to die in order to achieve that. But, listen, I want you to take a listen to the president's plans to distribute a vaccine. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: To get the vaccine into the hands of American people, we're fully mobilizing the awesome power of American industry and also our military. This is the largest, fastest and most advanced vaccine distribution effort in American history, by far.

We've manufactured all of the necessary supplies so that as soon as the FDA approves the vaccine, and as you know, we're very close to that, we'll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and a large number much sooner than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen, everyone -- as I was talking to Dr. Gupta previously, everyone would like a vaccine yesterday --

MCCLELLAN: Yes.

LEMON: -- but even with emergency use authorization, does that seem realistic to you?

MCCLELLAN: Unlikely to get to 100 million by the end of the year. We still haven't seen the trials in, and there are independent reviewers who are watching the trials as they go along, and the trials aren't going to end until we get a result.

And at that point, the FDA has said that they're going to have some public review with written comments about what the trials showed and about FDA's view on it, a review by independent experts again. And more steps before the vaccine would be available even for emergency use.

When it does become available, Don, it is probably going to be for a limited number of people. And I do give credit to CDC and HHS for trying to put together a reliable, fast way to get the vaccine out. But when we're trying to get to really large-scale use, and, again, that's 2021, we're going to need a lot more help than just the military.

We're going to need doctors involved. We're going to need community leaders involved. We're going to need a lot of people to help get the vaccine out to everybody who can benefit. And to help make sure they can make informed decisions about it.

LEMON: Dr. McClellan, thank you very much. I'll see you soon.

MCCLELLAN: Good to be with you.

LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. The attorney general of the United States actually saying out loud that he thinks that calls for a national lockdown to save lives in the middle of a pandemic are the greatest intrusion on civil liberties other than slavery in U.S. history.

[22:55:01]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here's our breaking news, an incredible statement from the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr. Tonight, he said it, claiming that pandemic closures are the greatest intrusion on civil liberties since slavery.

Presidential historian Jon Meacham is here. He's the host of the new podcast "It Was Said". Jon, I really appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. I am glad that you're on to discuss this.

So, in a speech at Hillsdale College tonight, the attorney general said this about the national lockdown to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I don't know what to say honestly, Jon. What do you say to that?

[22:59:51]

JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Well, its incendiary hyperbole designed to feed a sense of paranoia and fear on behalf of an administration that is relying not on a message or an agenda of hope grounded in traditional American understandings of liberty.