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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Downplayed The Pandemic; U.S. Passes Grim Milestone of 200,000 Coronavirus Death Toll; SCOTUS Nominee To Be Announced By Trump; Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) Is Interviewed About The COVID Situation; Family Betrayed By Trump; Russia Repeats Its Interference; Nuance Candidate Intends To Help Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 22, 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: But the rest remain he gets what he wants, was getting rid of Obamacare. That's the easy part.

As my Pop used to say, any jack ass can kick down a barn. But it takes a good man or woman to build one. What are they building? What will it mean for the 21 million who could lose their health insurance or the 131 million people with pre-existing COVIDs -- condition. Sorry. That was a Freudian parapraxis. COVID is a pre-existing condition.

Be on the lookout. D. Lemon. "CNN TONIGHT" right now. He's on the lookout.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm looking.

CUOMO: He's on the lookout. You hate --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm looking --

CUOMO: You are just a hater.

LEMON: No, no. I'm looking for the president's healthcare plan.

CUOMO: OK.

LEMON: I wish I had a magnifying glass --

CUOMO: I take it back.

LEMON: -- or a compass, or a map. Or maybe it's like Pokemon thing that you have to look for it. Like, where is it?

CUOMO: I don't know. But whenever you tell me you're looking for something around me and you say you're using a magnifying glass I get nervous.

LEMON: You're stupid. You stupid. You are crazy. Listen, so, I can't believe it. You said last night -- remember I said man, I'm going to be in trouble, right? I said I was going to be in trouble because we were taking so much time?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: But that wasn't what I was in trouble for. I woke up and saw these headlines. Like Don Lemon is calling for the abolishing of the Electoral College.

CUOMO: Blow it all up.

LEMON: Yes. But I was responding to you when you said we want people with integrity.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, no, I wasn't even there.

LEMON: No, but let me tell you. I don't care. But I was responding to you when you said we want people with integrity in the office.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And I said, well then, we have to blow up the whole system. Right?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: But I said here's what Democrats can do.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And I said that's the danger. They can stack the court. But all of a sudden, I am calling for the abolishing of the Electoral College and what else do they say, and that I'm a Democrat because I said we. I mean, the American people.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: But anyway.

CUOMO: But listen, you forgot something very fundamental.

LEMON: That you weren't there at all.

CUOMO: I wasn't even there. But I'll take your word for what happened. But I'll tell you this.

LEMON: I lost my pen.

CUOMO: A black guy can't say he wants to blow anything up right now. I mean --

LEMON: What is wrong with you tonight?

CUOMO: People are waiting for you to come and destroy their houses --

LEMON: My gosh. I know. CUOMO: -- with people like me, your cookie white friends.

LEMON: I know, it's crazy, right?

CUOMO: So, you can't say you want to blow stuff up because you are playing into the narrative.

LEMON: So, you can say that stuff. You can say that -- you can say that but I can't. See, I would get in trouble because then, you know, Don Lemon is joking about violence and --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You have to.

LEMON: Blah, blah, blah, blah.

CUOMO: We have to mock it. We have to mock the intention to demonize people. You have to mock it.

LEMON: It's hilarious.

CUOMO: Because if you go at it straight you give it too much dignity.

LEMON: Yes, I usually don't give it oxygen -- oxygen. I usually don't respond but I thought this one is the context was so egregious. And they take the sound bite like a little part that we say and not the context of the entire conversation.

But here's what I say. Run and tell this. I do think that the -- that we need to look at the Electoral College because I think that it disenfranchises voters, both Democrats and Republicans. If you're in a blue state, and all of the electoral votes go to the Democratic person, then the Republicans votes aren't counted, the people who voted for the Republican candidate.

So, I do think it should be looked at because I think it does disenfranchises certain people. Should it be abolished? That's not for me to say. I'm saying, this is what Democrats are saying. Stack the courts. Get rid of the Electoral College. But there is no nuance and no context anymore. So --

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: Who really cares?

CUOMO: And by the way, if they want to blame you for talking about problems with the Electoral College, boy, you must matter a lot.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, because --

CUOMO: I have been hearing about it for about 40 years.

LEMON: Yes. But also, I am also responsible for the Biden campaign denouncing violence when Joe Biden had denounced violence before. I mean, all kinds of things. But you know I was here when they established the Electoral College. I have a good doctor --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You've held up well.

LEMON: I got some good doctor.

CUOMO: No wonder your car is so old. You bought them all new.

You're nuts. How are you doing? The interview you did last night -- I've got to run but I just want to tell you that was a great interview. And you can't expect this administration to tell the truth, ever.

CUOMO: I don't like having a former lieutenant general looking out --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You just have to --

CUOMO: -- from a podium like that and seeming so honest if what he's saying is demonstrably not true. They better put out the paper work --

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- that she was fired with cause.

LEMON: Yes. Well, here we go. We're getting close to election day. And we got a lot going on. I will see you, my brother.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I love you too. I'll see you soon.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here is your breaking news. On the day the pandemic death toll in this country passes 200,000, more than 200,000 American families mourning their dead. Can you believe it? Think about it. Try to -- try to put into context 200,000 people dying within the span of six or seven months.

[22:05:05]

It's hard to even imagine. This president doesn't want to talk about that number at all. These are the numbers he wants to talk about. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I will tell you, you see what's happening you see the numbers as well as I do. You are on your way to I think maybe economically the best year, this next year will be the best year we have had, and the third quarter, wait until you look at the third quarter. Look at the numbers. They will be out before the election. But I predict they will be very good. But the way, if they're not, I deny I ever said it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Funny joke. Ha, ha. You mean, funny, ha, ha? Remember good fellas. Well, anyway. To hear this president, you hardly know, that there was a pandemic going on right now. Seriously. Ha, ha, ha. Look at all the people there.

You hardly know from this crowd that's packed. This packed crowd not a lot of masks in sight. But the fact is more than 200,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus. And the president would also rather that you didn't ask him questions about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why haven't you said anything about the U.S. hitting 200,000 deaths?

TRUMP: Go ahead, Anybody else?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Anybody? Going on to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I think it's a shame. I think if we didn't do it properly and do it right, you'd have 2.5 million deaths. If you take a look at alternatives you could have two and a half million deaths or something there about. You could have a number that would be substantially more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: As this country faces the brutal truth of what the pandemic has done to us the president still trying to dodge responsibility. But he can't dodge this fact. Two hundred thousand seven hundred twenty-four Americans have died of the coronavirus as of tonight.

Again, just try to imagine that number of people. Every single one of them matters. We know this milestone was coming. We knew it. But it doesn't make any -- make it any easier to take. It hurts. It hurts to think of the people we've lost.

Last night I talked to two sisters of a 28-year-old doctor. Just 28 years old who was infected while treating coronavirus patients, died after battling the virus for months. And it didn't have to be this way. Lives were put at risk, lives were lost because we have a president who has downplayed and distracted from the very beginning even though he knew the truth of this deadly virus.

Now more than 200,000 Americans are gone. And Kayleigh McEnany claims the president is losing sleep over that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the 200,00 deaths. Will the -- will the

president recognize that publicly today? At a speech or on Twitter. I mean, is this something that he would like to express remorse over or sympathy to people who have lost?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president throughout this pandemic has done just that. He has said before that it keeps him up at night thinking of even one life lost. This president has taken this incredibly seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Really? The president who Kayleigh McEnany says is kept up at night thinking of even one life lost. Just said last night, and I'm quoting here, "it affects virtually nobody." He's falsely implying that only elderly people are affected and young people are not at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that's what it really affects. That's it. You know, in some states thousands of people, nobody young, below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system. Who knows?

You look -- take your hat off to the young because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing. By the way, open your schools. Everybody, open your school.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Tell that to the sisters I spoke to last night of a 28-year-old doctor it doesn't affect young people. Callous, doesn't sound like it keeps him up at night thinking of even one life lost. Not when he says it affects virtually nobody.

This virus has killed more than 200,000 Americans. And by the way, open your schools? Too bad for any older teachers who might be exposed to the virus. The lack of empathy here is really stunning. Don't worry about it unless you are somebody's grandma or grandpa, unless you got heart disease or other problems.

[22:10:05]

And let's not forget the president himself said way back in March, his words, it's not just old people.

(BEGIN VPICE CLIP)

TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob. Just today and yesterday some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older people. Young people too.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Yes, exactly.

TRUMP: It's plenty of young people.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: Same person, different words. Like I said, he knew the truth. He knew it more than six months ago. And yet he and his White House are still trying to hide that truth, downplaying it while Americans are dying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCENANY: The president never downplayed critical health information. The president never downplayed our COVID-19 response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You got to wonder do they remember that this -- this stuff is on tape?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

WOODWARD: Yes, I --

TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, and as the President of the United States tries to dodge responsibility for the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans on his watch, Dr. Anthony Fauci calls the toll sobering and stunning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering and, in some respects, stunning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joe Biden who consistently wears a mask while the president mocks him for even -- for it even tonight. Biden tweeting, 200,000 Americans have died from the virus. It's a staggering number, that's hard to wrap your head around. But behind every COVID-19 death is a family and community that will never again be the same. There's a devastating human toll to this pandemic. And we can't forget that.

And with the pandemic raging with election day just 42 days away, the battle is heating up over the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The president ever the showman, teasing that he'll announce his pick Saturday at 5 p.m. That as this party is falling in line.

As today, Senator Mitt Romney who voted to remove this president, this president from office during impeachment said he will consider and vote on the president's nominee. And so now it appears that the president has the votes. And he kind of already knew that when he said this yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you have the Senate, when you have the votes, you can sort of do what you want as long as you have it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does that remind anybody of another time? Donald Trump said that he could do anything he wants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (muted). You can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And that's the way Donald Trump operates. When you're a star, when you have the votes, when you're in control, you can do whatever you want. When you have the votes, you can continue to ignore Russia's election interference. Interference that U.S. intelligence assesses is still going on today. Right now.

When you have the votes, you can ask another country to attack your perceived political enemy. When you have the votes, you can push through your nominee for the Supreme Court with only 42 days to go until election day. When you have the votes, you can downplay a pandemic that kills more than 200,000 Americans.

The question is, will this president have the votes come November?

Our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. Good evening, doctor. So good to see you.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Doing OK?

GUPTA: You, too.

LEMON: Yes, I'm good.

GUPTA: Yes, doing well.

LEMON: So, listen, I can't over state this. I've said it a lot. And I think we should continue to say it. Over 200,000 -- I should say, more than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. I don't care if we have said it before. It didn't have to be this way. And this isn't over. GUPTA: This was definitely not inevitable. And I'm glad you raise

that, Don. Because, I mean, that's sometimes the sort of the perception people have. This is how it was going to be. We actually did a good job, you know.

What struck me about the fact that, you know, the president said we give ourselves an a-grade. It's that, it's sort of saying that this is the best the United States can do. The best this country can do. Be the worst in the world in terms of the number of deaths over all.

I mean, I hate to beat up on this country. I'm a physician within the medical establishment here. But we could have done a lot better. I can also tell you this, Don, just talking to so many families over the past several months, families who have lost people.

[22:15:01]

One thing they don't like to hear is that their loved one died a preventable death. I mean, who would like to hear that, right?

LEMON: Right.

GUPTA: I mean, that it didn't have to happen. It's tough to have these conversations and the thing that they keep reminding me of, I guess to your point is that we're not through this yet. There have been lessons that have been learned. Their death should not be in vein because we should learn from those things. We're still in it.

Let me just show this real quick, Don. Nineteen eighteen.

LEMON: OK.

GUPTA: This is by the closest model we have to what's going on here.

LEMON: Wow.

GUPTA: And you've seen this before, Don. But there were three waves. So, the first wave was sort of the time frame of the year. It was sort of similar to this time frame. Started in spring, six months, 75,000 people died. Then things got a lot better for a while. And then look what happened during that second wave. I can tell you, Don, 195,000 people died in one month. That month was October.

That is what we're trying to prevent again here. And it's within our power to do so. So, that is -- that is I think why there's such a sense of urgency from the public health community right now.

LEMON: Listen, I'm not a doctor like you are, Dr. Gupta, but I would imagine that this doesn't help the president with his packed rally and even mocking Joe Biden for wearing a mask. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's like 100 yards from the nearest human being. He's got a mask. He feels good about the mask. I wonder in the debate it will be him and I on the stage. Is he going to walk in with a mask? Will he leave it on during the debate? Because it's a little hard -- and I'm all for a mask. When you need them, I'm all for it.

But when you're making a speech and the nearest person is like where you are. And you're on the stage by yourself. And then he had a habit of taking it off and it hangs down on his ear as he's speaking. He feels comfort -- it makes him feel comfortable. And you know honestly, whatever makes you feel good is OK with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A couple of things here, Dr. Gupta. Listen, and you don't have to even -- I don't want you on the political part. I just think that's --

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: I don't find this -- I don't find this funny at all, Don.

LEMON: OK. Good.

GUPTA: I just got to say.

LEMON: OK.

GUPTA: It gives me a little pit in my stomach. You know, because, again, I'm imagining families watching this whose loved ones died because people around them didn't have the courtesy to wear a mask. And people keep saying, hey, you know, people didn't tell us from the very start to wear a mask so why should we wear them now. As if, you know, we don't learn things about this virus along the way.

We learned sort of end of February and early March that people without symptoms could spread this disease. Asymptomatic spread. That was different than the flu. That was different than other virus because typically you're sick when you're contagious. You are coughing, you're sneezing, you stay home.

When we learned that people could spread this without symptoms that changed everything, everyone needed to behave like they have the virus. We've been saying this for six months now. I mean, it's important. And it's still important. I mean, we're not through this yet. So, it's still important people wear a mask. Especially if you're indoors because we now know this virus can even, you know, sort of linger as aerosols.

So, I just -- I just don't find that funny, you know, Don. You used to live here where I live in New York. Now I imagine things are very different because you guys red lined up there. And I imagine you go out --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Everybody is wearing a mask, Sanjay. Everyone is wearing a mask and --

(CROSSTALK) GUPTA: Don, your old neighborhood, I got to tell you, I go through

there sometimes, and if I run through there and I'll throw my mask on if I want to be by people outside. I get funny looks. I mean, that mocking does translate, you know, into, a, it's not important, b, I can even sort of mock people who do wear a mask.

We're in the middle of a pandemic. We're in the middle of the worst public health disaster that most of us will probably ever experience in our lifetimes. You know, millions of people around the world may die from this. So, how is this funny?

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: I mean, we don't have a vaccine yet. This is all we have.

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: Why wouldn't we do this? It works.

LEMON: And listen, I spoke with -- when you're on stage like that you're projecting, right? So, the droplets, again, I'm not a doctor, you can talk about this.

But I spoke with Erin Bromage last night and he talked about coughing can go as far as 26 feet. And when you're projecting and speaking it -- I would imagine it can possibly reach an audience if it can go 26 feet when you're coughing.

It's just -- I mean, I don't understand it. He is supposed to be all for wearing masks. That's a message. And that's what Kayleigh McEnany would tell you. That's what he will tell you except when he's in front of the crowd. I don't get it. It -- that doesn't help things.

GUPTA: It doesn't -- it doesn't help. And you know, I mean, your actions speak louder than words. right? I mean, people always say that. But it's definitely true right now. I mean, you know, especially as you look at these numbers again. You know, it took seven months 200,000 people have died. Now they're saying in half that time three and a half months, 200,000 more people may die.

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: Meaning, the doubling rate is -- I mean, the rate of death is doubling now at this point in this country. It's really frightening.

Again, 75,000 people died in those first six months of the 1918 pandemic.

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: And then you saw what happened after that. We cannot let that happen.

LEMON: Yes.

GUPTA: We can't, Don. It will crush us not just physically, but psychology. That we just didn't rise up to this occasion and save our fellow, you know, community members, our fellow citizens.

[22:20:06]

LEMON: yes.

GUPTA: It's all within our power right now.

LEMON: Yes. And then, listen, I want to make sure I get this in. And I don't give you a short trip because you actually did a very important interview. You spoke with somebody who does know what they're doing. Dr. Anthony Fauci. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: You can make a reasonable assumption, Sanjay, that some aspect of transmission can be and is by aerosol. The interesting thing about that it doesn't change anything that we have been saying. It means wear your mask. It means avoid close contact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Doctor, respond to what he's saying.

GUPTA: So, this has to do with this back and forth of the CDC. Quickly, Don, on Friday the CDC put something on their web site that says we now acknowledge that this virus can spread through aerosols. Not just through respiratory droplets but that the virus actually can suspend in air, can linger for a long period of time and travel further than six feet.

Think about that. Think of it more like a smoke rather than respiratory droplets. So that was -- that was a significant change. Then on Monday yesterday, they took it down again which a lot of people said, you know, it's a mess over at the CDC. You say one thing, you take it down. It's a mess.

What the science reflects when Dr. Fauci was saying there is that yes, it can travel like an aerosol in certain situations. If you're indoors even if you are further than six feet from somebody, you should wear a mask. You have to kind of imagine like if you think of it like smoke, you have to imagine that these viral clouds could potentially infect you.

It's just the way to be as safe as possible especially inside. Outdoors you got a lot of dispersion, so you're going to be a lot safer. But indoors, even if you are far away from people, you need to wear a mask.

LEMON: I want to -- I think last night I gave you a short trip because Chris and I went on a long time. And I don't want to do that. Did you cover -- did you tell the viewers everything you wanted to tell them in the segment? Is there anything more you want to talk about, Sanjay?

GUPTA: No, I think -- I mean, those are the important points. I really think that this idea that, you know, even short of a vaccine, Don, which everyone sort of, banks on. I think we're a country that used to home runs and touch downs and knock outs. We want the, you know, the big, sort of knockout punch.

And a vaccine is going to be important. Don't get me wrong. But that's going to take a while. And it's going to take a while for that vaccine to have the impact that we wanted to have. In the meantime, just wear a mask. Keep in physical distance.

Doesn't mean we got to shut things down. We can still keep things open. Other countries around the world have returned to a real sense of normalcy even without the vaccine. We can do the same. We can absolutely do the same. And save a lot of lives in the process.

LEMON: How simple is that? Just put a mask on your face and stay away from people. That's not --

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Two ear loops.

LEMON: That's not too much to ask. Right? It's not even asking people to stay in their homes anymore. You know what I'm saying? So, right on.

GUPTA: Nobody wanted this pandemic, Don.

LEMON: Right.

GUPTA: Nobody wanted this pandemic. I think it like a storm that's come. It's a long-term storm. We will get through it, absolutely. Nobody wanted this. But we can't -- we can't just unnecessarily not take care of people and do the right thing.

LEMON: Thank you, Dr. Gupta. I'll see you soon.

GUPTA: You got it, Don.

LEMON: OK.

GUPTA: All right.

LEMON: On the day the coronavirus death toll in this country passes 200,000 with cases pushing seven million. Many states are turning red again on that map. It's up to 24 tonight.

Plus, the president says he'll announce his Supreme Court pick Saturday. Is there anything Democrats can do to stop a vote? That and more. Senator Jon Tester. There he is up on your screen, after the break.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: On the day the pandemic death toll in this country passes 200,000, the president claims the death toll would be much higher if it wasn't for his actions. But what about the lives that could have been saved if he actually told the American people the truth about this virus?

Let's discuss now. Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana is here. It's good to see him. By the way, he's the author of the new book, "Grounded." Thank you for joining, Senator. Best of luck with the book. How are you doing?

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): Doing well. Thanks, Don. I hope you're doing the same.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, under the circumstances, right, more than 200,000 people, Americans have now died from COVID-19. It's a sad day. Yet, the president continued to say that we're rounding the corner. How many people have to die before this president starts telling the truth about the virus?

TESTER: Well, I don't know. I don't think he thinks it's real to be honest with you, even though he has been updated and told, I think the tapes show that from Woodward. But the bottom line is, he hasn't taken this seriously. He doesn't.

I do think it translates into the general population too, the fact that he doesn't wear a mask and pokes fun of people who do wear mask, when in fact, if you listen to science, they will tell you that social distancing and masks are the key until we get a virus -- until we get a vaccine.

LEMON: Yes.

TESTER: And so, it's really, really important that people listen to science. You have had a number of doctors on. There are doctors in Montana right now that are cutting advertisements saying to people you need to wear masks. It's a good way to prevent this virus from spreading.

And folks just need to listen to it. And here's the deal, Don. The economy is in bad shape because of this virus. If we get the virus under control the economy will snap back much quicker. You would think the president would understand that, but obviously he doesn't.

LEMON: Amen. I think he started out thinking it wasn't going to be this bad, maybe. Well, he knew. So maybe that's out the door. But that if he could just get people to somehow will this virus away and then get his folks to say it's not real because he wanted the economy to be great. That it would just go away and everything would work out.

But his strategy is the exact opposite of what will work. As you said, you get the pandemic the virus under control, and the economy -- people want to go out, they want to spend money. They want to be doing things. People aren't taking vacations.

You know, so, I agree with you 100 percent. I got to ask you about the Supreme Court now. The president says on Saturday at 5 p.m. He's teasing it. Then he said this. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:30:01]

TRUMP: We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots, they're sending. It's a scam. It's a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else. So, you're going to need nine justices up there. I think it's going to be very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, before you respond, Senator, let me just give you facts first -- first. Mail-in ballots are not a scam or a hoax. But just today, Pennsylvania's Republican Party said that they plan to appeal the Supreme Court, a state court decision over how long absentee ballots can be counted. Does this worry, does this worry you?

TESTER: Yes. I mean, the truth is mail-in ballots have been around for a long, long time. I voted by mail since I got elected to this job because I don't know where I'm going to be on election day. It's easy. It's safe, and it's accurate. And I think that the president has -- look, we've seen he tried to make a mockery out of the news media. Now, he's trying to make a mockery out of our elections.

And quite frankly, if he can discourage people to vote because he is saying that vote by mail doesn't work, then his goal will be accomplished. The bottom line is people need to vote, they need to register today and they need to vote in this election. This is the most important election in my 64 years on this earth, and it's the best way you can impact change in government, whether it's a local state or federal levels.

So, I think it's really important. Does it bother me that he's implying that he is going to take this to the Supreme Court and they are going to overturn vote by mail. If that's what he is saying, that's really, really, really unfortunate and it's not a good sign for the future in this country.

LEMON: For the democracy and for our republic. Listen, you are out with this new book and I want to talk about it before we run out of time here. On winning back rural America, you're a Democratic senator in a red state, what's the answer? Because as you know, things are more divisive now than ever.

TESTER: Yes. So, I think it's all the more important to show up, it's the first rule of politics. And then talk about the issues that are important. I think Democrats line up much closer with the values of rural Americans than the Republicans do. Why do I say? Because we are for affordable accessible healthcare, we fight for it. We're for solid public education, we fight for it.

We're for Medicare and social security, we fight for it, we don't undermine it. We're for making sure our veterans get to live up their promises that we gave them when they served in our military. The list goes on and on and on, Don. And I think if Democrats show up and talk about the values and listen and be authentic, I think we can be rather well in rural America.

LEMON: Are you hopeful about November 3rd?

TESTER: Yes, I'm very hopeful. I mean, if people vote I think it's going to be a good election. If they are dissuaded by what comes out of the president's mouth or anybody else who is trying to make this election something that isn't, I think it's a big problem.

And you know what? The president knows that too. He knows that if everybody votes in this country, then he's probably in big, big trouble. But the bottom line is that this is a very, very, very important election, and everyone should vote.

You know, my folks always said, if you can't vote, you can't complain. And that's a fact. And that's one of the reasons I voted in every election and I plan to continue that, and I would encourage everybody else to do that.

LEMON: Yes.

TESTER: And look, the mail-in ballot is an easy way to vote because there's not a lot of pressure. You don't have to stand in line. But I would suggest that folks vote early, plan for your -- plan for your voting and vote early, and then -- and then track those ballots. There's web site out there that allowed you to track the ballot to make sure that they get in the clerk and the court office in your individual county.

LEMON: Today was national voter registration day. But let me just tell you. I want to thank you. And I dig the haircut, high and tight, very nice, compliments to your barber, Senator. I'll see you soon. Best of luck with the book. OK? It's called "Grounded." Thank you so much.

TESTER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

TESTER: Pleasure to be here.

LEMON: Absolutely. President Trump claiming the coronavirus affects virtually nobody. Try telling that to the families of the 200,000 people who have died. Try telling that to Kristin Urquiza who lost her father to the virus. She says her dad was not a nobody. And she joins me next.

[22:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As we have been reporting here, more than 200,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus, 200,000. But just yesterday the president claimed it affects virtually nobody. Falsely implying only elderly people are affected. In what world is more than 200,000 deaths virtually nobody?

These are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, neighbors. Like Mark Urquiza, an Arizona man who died from coronavirus in June, his daughter Kristin spoke about her dad. Her dad's death, I should say, at the DNC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTIN URQUIZA, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19: My dad was a healthy 65- year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life. The coronavirus has made it clear that there are two Americas, the America that Donald Trump lives in and the America that my father died in.

Enough is enough. Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Kristin Urquiza joins me now. Kristin, thank you so much for joining us. How -- how are you and your family holding up now?

URQUIZA: What a question. It's hard, especially whenever we see the president continuing to downplay the virus, saying that our loved ones were nobody. It's tough. I'm not going to lie. We're having a hard time.

[22:40:07]

LEMON: I can -- I was going to say, I can only imagine. I actually cannot imagine. And I'm so sorry for your loss. Today we passed a very grim milestone. I'm sure you're aware of, 200,000 American deaths from this virus. The president barely acknowledges when he was asked about it directly, he said it's a shame.

What would you -- what would you like to hear from this President of the United States? If anything.

URQUIZA: I mean, I -- the only thing I've ever been asking for is a coordinated data driven national response from this pandemic. And he continues to show us time and time again that he only cares about himself. His image and it seems like his rich friends.

LEMON: You said that one of the last things your father said to you was that he felt betrayed by Donald Trump. Can you talk to me about that?

URQUIZA: Sure. Right before my dad went into the hospital, I asked him about how he felt about the president. My dad and I, we talked about politics all the time. We never agreed on anything. But we still talked about it. His tone was different. He told me he felt sideswiped. And I said, do you feel betrayed? He said, yes. I feel betrayed.

And what my dad meant by that was he believed the president when in May he said we were on the other side of the pandemic. That if you didn't have an underlying health condition that it was safe to resume normal activities. My dad did what people do. They're supposed to do during times of crisis. That's follow the direction of people in charge and you should not have to pay with your life for that. LEMON: Before I let you go, can you please tell me what you would like

to say to the other family members and loved ones of the 200,000 people who have succumbed to this virus.

URQUIZA: You're not alone. I've launched an organization called marked by COVID-19 where I'm connecting with families to help them share their stories. And together I believe we can get on the other side of this pandemic, remembering our loved ones, mourning together. We have a week of mourning coming up October 4th through 11.

And so, I hope people join me so we can show that there are so many somebodies who have been lost and millions of other somebodies who have survived this virus. And we still don't know yet what the long- term impacts of that mean.

LEMON: Markedbycovid.com, is that where people can find it?

URQUIZA: Yes.

LEMON: Markedbycovid.com. Thank you, Kirsten. I really -- Kristin, excuse me. Thank you so much and our thoughts and our prayers with you and your family. Be well.

URQUIZA: Thanks so much, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. New reporting sounding the alarm over election interference by Russia and pointing the finger directly at Vladimir Putin. The leader that President Trump still says he likes.

[22:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A stark warning from the FBI saying foreign actors may spread disinformation about election results by exploiting the delay that could come with mail-in ballots.

And tonight, the Washington Post says the CIA has assessed Russia is currently interfering in our election, probably at Putin's direction, the Post citing a CIA report that says this. And I quote, "We assess that President Vladimir Putin and a senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia's influence operations aimed at denigrating the former vice president, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November.

Let's discuss now. CNN's Senior and our Chief National Correspondent, Jim Sciutto joins us.

Thank you so much. Good to see you, Jim. So, this is a big deal because it puts Putin himself at the center of his interference that it happening right now. Is this a repeat of the 2016 election and should we know better by now?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is a repeat. And it's a stark reality, Don. It can't get lost in all the news. Russia is interfering again. It's doing so to denigrate Donald Trump's Democratic opponent, Joe Biden this time around and to help Donald Trump. And the president has refused consistently to warn Russia away from doing this. He's never publicly warned them away from doing this. It's remarkable.

And we know, for instance, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has met with someone who is a known Russian agent supplying misinformation. It's a disturbing reality. And adding to it, Don, is that a lot of that disinformation now that we saw in 2016 it's being sourced from inside this country, amplified by the president himself at times, including attacks on the vote as a rigged election.

I spoke with Fiona Hill today, President Trump's former senior adviser on Russia and Europe, of course, witness in the impeachment hearings, and listen to what she had to say about how we as Americans as a country are contributing to this in 2020. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE & RUSSIA, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We are increasing scenes in object of pity including by our allies. Because they are so shocked by what's happening and certainly how we are eating ourselves alive with our divisions. You know, we are the ones who are creating all this. It's not, you know, the Russians or the Chinese or anyone else. I mean, we are doing this to ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Don, an object of pity. These are remarkable words to hear from someone from a very senior level inside this administration.

LEMON: Let's talk about this president who is making all sorts of head-scratching comments about Russia over the past week, from refusing to answer question about a poisoned Russian opposition leader to attacking his FBI director. Listen to this, Jim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:50:07]

TRUMP: If I got along with Putin, somebody said, he gets along well with Putin. I'm saying to myself, but isn't that sort of a good thing? Is that bad? He gets along with Putin. That's a bad thing. But, you know, you saw the head of the FBI yesterday started going Russia, Russia is looking in our election, Russia. Here we go again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think poisoned Alexei Navalny in Russia?

TRUMP: We'll talk about that at another time.

We have been very rough but at the same time, we get along. I like Putin. He likes me. You know, we get along. It's been -- wouldn't you say it's smart to get along? OK? Smart?

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: I have -- the FBI director. OK. So, he praises Putin and

refuses to criticize Russia time and time again despite the intel, despite what the FBI, despite the intelligence agencies. Why, Jim?

SCIUTTO: We don't know, right? We honestly don't know, Don. The most consistent feature of Donald Trump's foreign policy is an unwillingness to stand up to Putin. It's in his public comments. He laughs about it at his rallies, I get along with Putin.

The fact is Putin does not get along with America. His intentions are to denigrate, to undermine America. That Putin paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers. He armed the Taliban in 2018 to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

He's attacking the U.S. political process again. Russian aircraft and ships repeatedly challenge dangerously U.S. aircraft and ships. This is the thing. He can laugh about it at rallies, but if you speak to anybody in national security in his own administration, they say Russia is an adversary that is seeking to damage the U.S. And the president repeatedly refuses to call them out. It's a remarkable reality through four years of this administration.

LEMON: Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. I appreciate you and your reporting. See you soon.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

LEMON: CNN learning more about who is behind Kanye West's presidential campaign, and it's someone who has a long history of controversial work for Republicans.

[22:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Kanye West pushing ahead with his presidential run despite the fact that there is no statistical way for him to win the White House. But he could play a spoiler in several key states. Now we're learning that Kanye's campaign has hired a Republican operative with a big price tag.

Here's CNN's Sara Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know Obama was heaven sent, but ever since Trump won it proved that I could be president.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kanye West's ill-fated presidential bid has shelled out nearly $1.5 million to an Arizona firm run by a man with a long history of controversial work for the GOP.

NATHAN SPROUL, FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, FORTIFIED CONSULTING: Our company had a systematic effort of quality control. MURRAY: The address for the mysterious newly formed company, Fortified Consulting, instead leads to Lincoln's strategy group, a GOP consulting firm founded by Nathan Sproul. Sproul has worked for Republicans for years doing voter registration, consulting, and polling.

His firm even worked for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Sproul's involvement in history with the GOP add to suspicions that the billionaire rapper's run is little more than an effort to siphon votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden and boost President Donald Trump's re-election run ads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make a man great again had a negative perception. I took it, boy. Rock to give it a new direction.

MURRAY: That perception also fed by West's prior support for Trump.

KANYE WEST, RAPPER: I love this guy right here. Let me give this guy a hug right here.

MURRAY: West, who did not comment for the story, has no mathematical shot at winning the presidency, but is shouldering on.

WEST: I'm running because I was hit with the idea to run in 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

WEST: Now, the outcome is up to God.

MURRAY: His campaign, meantime, faces complaints across the country over allegedly submitting fake signatures, duping voters, and to signing petition supporting West, or, according to reporters in Wyoming, asking voters to sign a petition to, quote, "take votes from Biden.

RICK HASEN, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: I think this campaign's attempt to get on the ballot has been unusually rocky. There's always people willing to take your money, if you're saying you're willing to get on the ballot and given the time frame and the difficulty of getting on the presidential ballot in such a short time period, people cut corners.

MURRAY: Complaints have not been tied directly to Fortified or Sproul, they are similar though to complaints Sproul's firms have faced before. Though, Sproul and his companies have never faced charges. Sproul told CNN every presidential cycle his firms are subjected to a predictable series of scurrilous and defamatory political attacks designed to score cheap political points. And call the allegations completely without merit.

In 2004, a Sproul company faced allegations it destroyed Democrats voter registrations and forge registration cards, setting off investigations in Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. Investigators in Oregon cleared Sproul of wrongdoing. But noted, paying workers per signature gathered, rather than hourly, lends itself to fraudulent activity. In 2012, suspicious voter registration forms in Florida were linked

led to a Sproul company. Two former workers wound up with probation, another sentenced to a short jail stint. The Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney's campaign dropped Sproul's firm.

SPROUL: Rumor and innuendo won rampant. And I think it is a sexy news story 30 days out from a presidential election to scream the word fraud. And it's unfortunate.

MURRAY: By 2016, Sproul was back, working for the RNC and the Trump campaign. Sproul says this time he's working for West because Kanye 2020 transcends traditional partisan labels.

[23:00:01]

West's campaign is drawing support from GOP operatives across the country and scorned from critics who say Republicans are taking advantage of the music mogul.