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CNN TONIGHT

Hours Away From Second Trump Impeachment Trial; Trump's Legal Team Says Trial Is Political Theater; QAnon Shaman Is Disappointed In Trump And Regrets Storming The Capitol On January 6th; Donald Trump Telling Aides He Believes He'll Be Acquitted; Republicans Grapple With Future Of Party; Experts Raise Alarm Over Racial Disparity In Vaccine Distribution. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 8, 2021 - 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 (on camera): The second impeachment trial of the former president begins in just a few hours. Senate leaders laying out a set of rules giving each side both House impeachment managers and Trumps legal team up to 16 hours to present their case.

Meanwhile, President Biden is planning to stay focused on his agenda, especially getting his massive COVID-19 relief package passed. One White House official saying its unlikely Biden will watch much of the trial on TV. And there's some good news in the battle against coronavirus. The number of new cases last week down 20 percent from the week before.

Let's talk about, joining me now, CNN's presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean. I'm so glad to have you both here on the eve of this historic event. By the way, John is the author of the book Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and his followers.

Doug -- John is. Yes. So, I thought I said Doug. But good evening. Doug, I want to speak with you first. We're just hours away from Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, happening at the scene of the crime, with jurors who are victims themselves. I mean, this history in the making. Critical week for our country.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN (on camera): Unbelievable week. We are going to finally see, what is the Republican Party doesn't have a spine. And I think the evidence is so overwhelming against Donald Trump already that he should be impeached. I say that Don, because, you know, when Bill Clinton was impeached, we weren't even really emailing, right. In the mid 90s, there were no iPhones. The technology wasn't there, he got nailed on a DNA issue, which was considered edgy, and new.

But today, we have all of the evidence. We are running it on CNN, over, and over again, that Donald Trump led an insurrection. He called at the event a march to save America and it was really a march to raid the Capitol and destroy democracy. And so, it's going to be hard to imagine how these Republican Senators sit there with a straight face, and not go after Trump, and say yes, he created grave crimes against our nation by his behavior with the big lie, after the election, and all of his insurrectionary activity in January of this year.

LEMON: John, listen. Trump's lawyers are essentially arguing that people are not supposed to believe what they heard the president say with their own ears. In their brief, they write in part and I quote here, Trump used the word fight a little more than a handful of times, and each time, in the figurative sense. A simple search shows that he use the word fight 20 times. And they are ignoring the drumbeat of lies that he pushed for months. Does this strategy make any sense?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL (on camera): I don't think it will work, but then again, you have got at least a substantial body of Republicans who go on any of this. They want to hear any of it, they want a fig leaf to cover it, something to get out from underneath from the facts.

So, some of it might, but Don, you know, this is my fourth impeachment. I was scheduled to be a witness in the first one, which gave a case and to go back and read those that proceeded where I might be a witness.

And then I, of course, I followed the Clinton as a commentator, and now, again, with Trump two, both, one and two. I have to say the charges. I've looked at all presidential impeachments closely.

The charges in this one are the most serious that had been brought against any president. And they are fundamental to our democracy. So, this is a big time play. And if Republicans brush it off and make it disappear by ignoring the facts, I think the party is in deep trouble.

LEMON: Do you think they are doing that because they know how serious it is, John, and don't want to have any sort of complicity in what is happening? Like, oh, we cannot go down in history as the folks who enabled us?

DEAN: These are intelligent men, they know exactly what is going on, and they want to get away from it. They know what a problem Trump has been for them, and for the party. They know their party is, really, imploding in front of them. And they are part of it.

[23:05:06]

So, they don't have any easy solution, and why they don't take this exit, which would get them away from Trump forever, and show some spine, and do the right thing, which is always is the best solution, Don. I don't get it.

LEMON (on camera): John, we are told video is going to play a big role, an important role in the trial. Here is what some of what we could hear. This video is from Parler, and it's posted on Just Security. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Capitol.

(CHEERS)

UNKNOWN: Yes.

UNKNOWN: Invade the Capitol building.

UNKNOWN: Take the Capitol.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will stop the steal.

(CHEERS)

UNKNOWN: Yeah.

CROWD: (CHANTING) Stop the steal.

TRUMP: We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you are not going to have a country anymore.

CROWD: (CHANTING) Fight for Trump, fight for Trump, fight for Trump.

UNKNOWN: Donald Trump asked everybody to go home. He just said, just without a tweet, it's a minute long, yes, everybody, go home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (on camera): So Trump is arguing that these people stormed the Capitol on their own, but that is not with this video shows. It's not what they are even saying themselves. Douglas?

DEAN: Is that for me, Don?

LEMON: It's for Douglas.

BRINKLEY: Well, you know, exactly. And you know, I was stunned today, Don, by the gall of Senator Johnson of Wisconsin to start trying to flip this and blame Nancy Pelosi for sabotaging her own office, and stealing laptops.

It's right now. We are in an environment where the Democrats are united, Donald Trump is laying low in Florida, and if Mitch McConnell does not turn and go after Trump here, you are looking at a deeply divided Republican Party, and Donald Trump is going to try to go after the Republicans that aren't on his side. You know, they have already started his movement to go after those 10 Republican Congress people that voted for impeachment.

LEMON: That person that you -- the last person you heard from John, in that soundbite, from whatever the name of that company is, Just Security. The person you heard from, Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon shaman. This is what he said, this is a statement his lawyer provided to Chris, earlier tonight, he said, I am deeply disappointed in the former president, former President Trump, he was not honorable, he let a lot of peaceful people down.

I have to leave judging him up to other people. I have to leave judging him up to other people. I mean, it is a remarkable reversal. Is that likely to be part of the trial? Is he just doing just to save his own hide? No pun intended?

DEAN: Well, maybe it is to preserve his organic diet. You know, I don't know what he has got in mind, and I think a lot of the witnesses, and the people who were involved, had second thoughts. We had a lot of people who were QAnon people, who have now come out and said, I was misled, and therefore, I don't want any part of this movement any longer.

Some of them, involved in the insurrection at the Capitol, some not. So, I think this is going to happen a lot, Don. We are going to see more of it, and hopefully, hopefully, the managers have some witnesses that they can vote to call for the Senate and really have a real trial. Because we didn't the last time, we didn't have witnesses, and they make a huge difference.

LEMON: Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate it. I want to bring in now, CNN chief domestic correspondent, that's Jim Acosta. Jim, what is the latest on the former presidents thinking?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Don, talking to my sources, the former president has been confident. He believes the he is going to be acquitted, that there won't be enough Republican Senators to join Democrats to arrive at that number of 67 Senators that you would need to convict the former president on these impeachment charges.

And I will tell you Don, I think he is probably right. At this point, it does look like Republicans in the Senate are looking for an escape hatch, and it appears to be this process argument that you can't try and convict a former president, who is now a private citizen, while he is out of office.

And that is where Republicans are, essentially, turning to at this point, to have some kind of way to dodge this larger question as to whether or not the former president incited a riot on January 6th, incited his supporters to storm the Capitol.

He is also feeling very ventral. I would as he expected to be watching this trial in the Senate. He's going to be taking note of which Senators side with him during these proceedings. He did that during the House impeachment proceedings, he was zeroing on the Wyoming Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, taking note of the fact that she voted to impeach him when the proceedings were underway over there in the House.

[23:10:06]

The other thing we need to point out, Don, is that in these arguments of the Trump impeachment team is begging, they're essentially saying that the president was just as alarmed, and just as horrified, and just as confused as any other American during all of this. And that aides were scrambling behind the scenes and that the president was scrambling behind the scenes to contain what was happening on January 6th.

I will tell you Don, I talked to a former White House official about this recently who said the former president, when he was in office on January 6th, was essentially delighting in the spectacle that unfolded on January 6th. That he was, quote, "loving watching the Capitol mob."

That is something that the Trump impeachment team is going to want to avoid, by enlarge. They are trying to steer clear of those kind of comments that he made on January 6th, when he was saying that his supporters had to fight like hell.

They are going to try to rest their case by enlarge, on this process argument. That you can't try, and convict, a president after he has left office, because they know that is how they are going to get enough Republicans to, essentially, side with the former president to some political cost, possibly.

But decide with the former president to make sure he avoid that dreaded conviction as the trial wraps up. The timing of that looks like at this point could be early next week. But that will preserve Donald Trump's ability, if he wants, to run for office in four years. Don?

LEMON: Jim Acosta, thank you very much, I appreciate that. The former president, hold up in Florida, plotting revenge, pulling the puppet strings of a party he still leads. A former member of the White House, Anthony Scaramucci is going to weigh in, next.

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[23:15:00]

LEMON: On the eve of the former president's impeachment trial, sources telling CNN, he thinks that he will be acquitted. He is fixated on punishing the Republicans who voted to impeach him in the House, and will likely be closely following who goes against him in the Senate.

So, joining me now, the former Trump White House communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci.

Good to see you Anthony. So, first question. You heard Jim Acosta's reporting. How is vengeance driving Trump right now? Is he just sitting at Mar-a-Lago, plotting revenge?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, FOUNDER/ MANAGING PARTNER, SKY BRIDGE CAPITAL (on camera): Well, I mean, you probably saw him last night, he is sitting there. Nobody is paying any attention to him. He's at the Super Bowl Party, dressed in a suit, God only knows why.

But now, I mean, this is all postulating on his part, positioning himself, he's threatening them to try to slow everything down and to scare them. That's really his last move, Don. But I mean, he's approval ratings have descended, he is in the low twenties, if you actually look at the polling now.

The president, President Biden, is 61 percent. You just have to think about that reversal, and thinking of all the people that have left the Trump faction, if you will. And so, it is a little astonishing to me, the cowardly nature of these Republicans given with all of that data.

LEMON: Yes. That was my next question. Why? Because only 10 out of 211 House Republicans voted to impeach, even though he, you know, was just days away from leaving office in just five in the Senate.

SCARAMUCCI: I mean, you know, it's a little bit like investing this way. People are looking at past performance, and they are tracking it, and they are seeing him, and they are saying, OK, he's a big ogre, their political consultants are saying stay away from him, you're going to end up getting somebody out there to primary you. And all of these sort of stuff.

But the bloom is off the roads for him. And the flower has started to dry up now. So, this threat I think is an idle threat. The Republicans would be so much better serve whether it was John Dean saying it to Professor Brinkley, they'd be so much better serve to hold the line here. History will be better for them. But also, the party, and the direction pf the Party is going to go on and will be better for them.

I mean, there is no chance that he can run again, Don. You know, people can say whatever they want, but he's not going to run again. He's twice impeached, he never got the popular vote. He never got an approval rating above 50 percent. He lost the House, and he lost the Senate, and the presidency during his term.

So, I mean, it's literally one of the worst records n the modern day, I mean, he's a modern Herbert Hoover. You know, it's almost like Herbert Hoover and Andrew Jackson had a baby and it was Donald Trump. And so, I mean, it's just no way that this guy can run again. So, he can say all the stuff that he wants.

LEMON: You know, I mean, I know his ego, but listen, he can't stand losing again. I agree with you on that. And he does run a big chance of losing if he actually run again. And I don't think he want to -- I agree with you. Listen, you can comment on that but also, I think it's like a kid when you turn the light on the night.

He's like, there's a boogeyman. You turn the light on, you let him look under the bed and said, there's no boogeyman. So, Republican either turn the light on. There is no boogeyman hiding under the bed. They have control. All they got to do is turn the light on, and they will realize it. Go on, Anthony, sorry.

SCARAMUCCI: I think that is the right analysis. They won't do it though because again, the precedent is weighing over them as opposed to the future. So, my recommendation to them is be visionaries, be leaders, see into the future. And see the hopes of that party and the potential for that party to return to its principles, don't go back to the personality cult that you just left, and the horror of that personality cult. If you convict Donald Trump, it is over for Trump and it's over for

Trumpism. And so, you know, the likely of them doing that is (inaudible), Don. So, you know, we're going to be talking about the scratching our heads for a while.

LEMON: Listen, you can't say that, you know, be visionary when you are, you know, supporting a QAnon conspiracy theorist in the Congress. Listen, and speaking of, the Senate minority WHIP, John Thune, saying this to CNN today. I think if we want to speak to the issues that people in our country care about, the longer we are tied to a cult of personality, I just don't think that is a good, durable model for the future.

[23:20:23]

Wow, he seems to be channeling you. Are you channeling him? I mean, this is a Republican warning of a cult mentality. That is how you see it.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I think also Senator McConnell is trying to give air cover to people like John Thune and Senator Sasse and obviously Senator Romney has been out at the front of this. He's a total leader with a great vision. But you know, it's unfortunately it's a minority of people. You can't, right now, look at the Republicans and get to 17 votes at this moment.

Maybe these tapes that are bout to be shown this week, and the horrors of this and the organizational strategy that Trump and his acolytes had will put them over the edge. But if these guys like power more than they like principle, and so if they think that voting to acquit him is the highest likely for them to keep their personal power, they're respective if it's the right thing to do for the country or the party, that's what they are going to do, Don.

I don't like saying that, because it sounds so cynical but that's my observation of these people. And you know, we're trying to move them, and we're also, there's a group of us that are preparing to break a chunk away from that party, which will really put those lights out, the QAnon nonsense, all of that hard right stuff.

It will get liquidated by reasonable people that love the country and would like a center-right party that's normal that is willing to bridge the gap with the Democrats, so one or the other. They can either vote for a forward direction for that Party, or a very good likelihood that a block of that party is going to break away.

LEMON: Well, Anthony, you know speaking of -- you did wear a mask, I saw the pictures at your Super Bowl Party, you were wearing a suit with a long, red tie. So, I mean --

SCARAMUCCI: Not me, man.

LEMON: Who wears those?

SCARAMUCCI: I was eating chips on the couch by myself. I was a like train wreck, it was a personal train wrecked yesterday, actually. LEMON: Who wears a suit to a Super Bowl Party? We know one person. But

anyways, thank you, sir.

SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here.

LEMON (on camera): Good to see you. The former president has revenge on his mind, but other Republicans who already come out against him are doubling down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (D-WY): We have to make sure that we are able to convey to the American voters, we are the party of responsibility, we are the party of truth. We should not be embracing the former president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[23:25:00]

LEMON: We're just a few hours away from the beginning of the second impeachment trial of the former President Trump. Senate leaders laying out the rules, giving each side both House impeachment managers and Trump's legal team up to 16 hours to present their case. The Trump legal team already arguing the trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer president.

Joining me now, CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and senior political analyst, Kirsten Powers. Good evening. It kind of goes against everything that we've heard, because he's saying that he doesn't want people to refer to him as the former president. But yet his legal team is arguing that this is unconstitutional because he's the former president. So, you know, hey, hi, Charlie.

FMR. REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-PA), CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Hey, Don.

LEMON: It doesn't make since, does it?

DENT: No. The incoherence is part of the Trump legacy. It makes no sense at all. Look, this impeachment is not that different from the first one, in one sense. The facts are not on their side. And so they're going to argue process once again. And that's what you do. If the facts are as awful as they are, and the prosecution has a very strong case to make.

The president obviously violated his oath of office, sick a mob on the Congress, and as a result, you know, this is an impeachable offense and he should be convicted. So, they will argue process, it's unconstitutional that he's a former president, there's no reason to do this, all that, but because they just can't argue facts.

LEMON: Do you think that this is going to be a missed opportunity for your party?

DENT: Of course. I think it's an important time for the party to set down a marker, to have a clean break from this guy, who has been twice impeached, disgrace and has behaved so recklessly with the big lie of the election fraud.

I think Liz Cheney is spot on what she's talking about on the party needs to stand for truth. And it also needs to stand propounding principles like democracy, rule of law, reason. I mean, we shouldn't be debating policy among ourselves. We should be talking about fundamental principles. And I think that there are a core group out there now who are trying to lead that effort. Granted, they're in the minority within the party, but at least they have got a little bit of a foothold and they're pushing back.

LEMON: The Republican, Kirsten, are relieved that they found this unconstitutional argument, because if they had to defend the president on his merits, they couldn't do it. If this isn't impeachable conduct, then when do you know what is?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on camera): Well, I mean, they'll make up any excuse that is necessary. And, you know, it's not unconstitutional, I mean, there is no -- that argument just holds no water.

[23:30:01]

But they're always targeting their arguments towards their voters, right? So -- and particularly to the voters that support Trump.

And so it doesn't really matter to them whether it's true or not, it's just what will be said and what will be repeated and that will sort of become truth in their world.

And so the way that something becomes truth in their world is if they say it or Donald Trump says it. And so therefore, facts be damned, their kind of story that they're telling becomes the story.

So that's basically what they're doing. They're going through the motions, you know, just trying to get behind them, and there will always be a story about poor Donald Trump who was so, you know, maligned and persecuted by the mean Democrats.

LEMON: Yeah, and you're right, and then because you said they're arguing to their -- they're arguing to the Trump --

POWERS: Yeah.

LEMON: -- base because then they'll go on Fox News or --

POWERS: Exactly.

LEMON: -- OANN or Newsmax, right?

POWERS: Newsmax, yeah.

LEMON: And so then -- then it becomes an echo chamber of the president is a victim again.

POWERS: Exactly. Exactly, yeah, you can't listen to anybody else because they're fake news. I mean, t's just a very convenient little cycle that they have going.

LEMON: Yeah. Wow. And it's very odd. OK, so, listen, Charlie, some House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are now going on offense like Liz Cheney. She was censured for her vote, but she's standing by it.

Representative John Katko is backing down from his vote earlier. Asked if he had no regrets, he said -- quote -- "hell, no." And then representative -- he is not backing down, as you said, and when asked if he had any regrets, he said, hell, no.

And then Representative Tom Rice was censured by his state party, and he says that he hasn't second-guessed his decision. Adam Kinzinger, he is warning that we could still see more violence if Trump isn't convicted. Do you share that worry?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I do. Look -- and I say good to all those Republicans who are owning their votes. I mean, I think this is the time to play offense. This is not the time to hide. They all know that they've taken a political risk by doing this and there may be a negative consequence.

But sometimes, in order to save your job, you know, you have to risk it, and that's what they've done. But they're standing on the right side. These guys have resigned themselves to the fact that they've done the right thing and they have to push back hard.

So this is the right thing to do. I can't emphasize it enough because right now, maybe they're in some trouble, but, you know, we have a long time between now and the next midterm election. As we learn more about this insurrection and the FBI reveals more facts, I guarantee you, their vote are going to look better and better over time, and they should be vindicated.

That's why I think they are -- I talked with many of those -- several of those members. But I think they feel pretty strong right now and comfortable where they are.

LEMON: Yeah. And their votes don't look bad now. Let's be honest. I mean, to any --

DENT: No, no, I think they look good.

LEMON: Yeah, but you said it's going to look better over time. I'm just -- yeah, I'm just helping you out here, because it --

DENT: Yeah.

LEMON: -- doesn't look bad now because they're telling the truth and they're rational people.

DENT: Yeah. But politically, I think -- I think --

LEMON: Yeah.

DENT: -- it may be better for them over time. I think they did the absolute right thing for the country and for the party. So I think they're on good ground.

LEMON: It is also a critical time, Kirsten, for President Biden and his COVID rescue package. Do you think getting relief to Americans will be in a holding pattern until this trial is over or do you think that, you know, the old cliche, you're going to walk and chew gum at the same time?

POWERS: Yeah, but can they?

LEMON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

POWERS: That's the question. So, I mean, they'll certainly try to. But, yeah, it is hard in Washington when you have something as big going on as this one, it sort of takes up all the oxygen in the room.

But, you know, it would be -- you know, I certainly sincerely hoping that they can walk and chew gum at the same time because this is critical to get out into people's hands as soon as possible because there is so much suffering in the country, and obviously suffering that really has been -- has gone largely ignored for the last year with President Trump. So it's particularly critical.

LEMON: Kirsten and Charlie, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

DENT: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: This is a quote from a CNN photojournalist. "Is this how I die?" That's what he was thinking as rioters stormed the Capitol. He tells us his story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

23:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So look at this. That day, CNN photojournalist Joshua Replogle went to work inside the Capitol building when rioters broke through the window and stormed inside, right?

You can hear Joshua being ushered around, ushered away from that window he is looking out of, and with others moved to a safe location. Due to security concerns, CNN is not -- is intentionally not showing any footage that could identify the space where Joshua and staff within the building were taking shelter.

And you can hear in that video (bleep) -- did you hear that? You can hear insurrectionists outside the building of the room, where Joshua and others -- they were -- where they were hiding. You can hear their voices. And listen to what they were chanting.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Trump, Trump, Trump!

[23:40:00]

LEMON (on camera): They were chanting the former president's name, invoking his name after he incited the insurrection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Defend your Constitution!

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Defend your liberty!

(DOOR BANGING)

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Guess what? America saw.

(DOOR BANGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (on camera): So joining me now is CNN photojournalist Joshua Replogle, and he wrote an op-ed, by the way, for CNN digital about his experience at the Capitol that day. It is titled "Is This the Day I die?"

Joshua, I'm so glad you are here. Thank you so much. It sounds frightening just watching. I can't imagine being there in person. We are all glad that you made it out safe. When you went to work that day, did you have any idea?

JOSHUA REPLOGLE, CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: Huh, no, of course not. I was supposed to be inside covering senators racing around, talking to senators, confirming Biden's electoral victory, which was a relief. A lot of people on the mall influx into town, Trump supporters, they weren't wearing masks, so I was happy to avoid getting breathed on. So I had no idea.

But that -- that situation got out of hand pretty quick. One moment, looking out the window, and then the storm just kind of turned on us. The domino started falling all around me. And in my peripheral, I can feel a lot of movement. And the next thing I know, I'm running. I don't know where I'm running to. I'm just running to a voice. And lot behind the door, barricaded.

LEMON: So they moved you away, right? You were moved away from the window, correct?

REPLOGLE: Correct.

LEMON: So -- then walk us through. You said you were just being jostled around. Walk us through. How did you know? I mean, you knew things were getting out of control.

REPLOGLE: Yeah. It was real blurred, the lines of how it happened. You are looking at the crowd, and I knew that it was something different because the crowd broke through a barrier. They are in this area where they are not supposed to be. There were police in force.

And what took it to the next level was hearing everything around me that hallway, talk from other journalist saying, we are going to be evacuated to a chamber if they get in.

My producer, pacing back and forth, yelling and screaming, and then screaming my name to run, run -- I don't know where I am running to. I'm just running the corner.

LEMON: Yeah. Where do you run? What do you mean because no one had ever expected anything like that to happen in the Capitol? You can -- you know, it was dark. You just heard the rioters trying to get into where you were sheltering. So what happened? When they said to run, did you run? Did you stay in place where you were sheltering? What happened?

REPLOGLE: I -- I ran to where my producer was calling me to run, around the corner, and there was a secret hideaway, an office hideaway, a safe spot.

But the next part, I really want to get into the fear that happened inside of that room. And it was twofold. One is that I didn't have a choice of anything that was going to happen. I was barricaded inside of this bathroom, and it wasn't my choice, whether or not these rioters would get through the door. It wasn't my choice of the door would hold.

It wasn't my choice if they chose to go away or not, which leads me to the second point, and that was the fear of the realization that I had heard the story before. I had interviewed several survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting when I was a reported down in Florida and the Parkland shooting a few years ago.

And I've heard from these survivors who were telling me what I was envisioning in that place right there and that moment. They were cramped in a bathroom, cramped in a tight space, and there were footsteps that they were just praying would go away.

And that realization that I could have been in their shoes was absolutely horrifying. It brings me back to my first point, I didn't have a choice. I didn't have a choice whether or not this might be my last moments. It was out of my hands.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. You know, Josh, eventually, police were able to safely escort you and the people you were sheltering with out of the building. We are looking at the video of that up on the screen. I'm sure it was a huge relief that you are safe, but still it happened.

REPLOGLE: So, the hours just went by very quickly. The amount of adrenaline we had, not knowing when it would be safe to come up or when we were rescued by Capitol police and escorted to the basement. You could smell tear gas, some sort of crowd disbursement gas. You could smell it and made your eyes water.

[23:44:59]

REPLOGLE: And it was just a staging area for soldiers. You know, normally, you would see business suits there, but instead you saw riot gear and people getting ready to go back to a frontline that they were still holding. They were still holding back rioters. We were escorted out we got to see that. It was just wasn't the Capitol I recognize coming to work on a daily basis.

LEMON: Yeah, I was going to say, and yet this is happening, not is some foreign country but the U.S. -- United States Capitol.

Joshua, thank you very much. Glad you're safe. Great work.

REPLOGLE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. Disinformation and historical distrust, why Black Americans are more hesitant to get the vaccine and how black health experts are trying to change that.

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LEMON: So, tonight, encouraging news in the battle against COVID-19. The number of new cases dropped last week by 20 percent from the week before. The CDC says that more than 42 million Americans have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. Pfizer is telling CNN that upgrades and production have allowed it to double the output of its vaccine in the last month.

I want to bring in now Dr. Thomas LaVeist. He is the dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University. Doctor, you're part of a group of 60 black members of the National Academy of Medicine urging Black Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19. We appreciate you being here.

So nationwide, Black Americans have died at 1.5 times the rate of white people. Yet, when you look at the populations of people who are getting vaccinated, you can see numbers like this. Why aren't more Black Americans getting vaccinated?

THOMAS LAVEIST, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND TROPICAL MEDICINE, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Well, I think there are three levels of problems here. One is that there is a vaccine hesitation issue, which we are talking about today. But another issue is that there just isn't enough vaccine yet.

So, we don't get enough in Louisiana, where I co-chair the governor's task force on COVID health equity. We looked at distribution here in the state. We don't get enough vaccine to really meet the needs for the entire state.

And also, there is an issue with the locations of where you would go about distributing the vaccine. So if you look at the points of distribution, if you use the normal process of using hospitals, clinics, other facilities like that, they're not always located in communities where people of color live.

Because the country is racially segregated, there are communities that don't have access to these facilities. So it becomes more difficult to get the vaccine into those communities.

LEMON: You and your group reviewed the research and testing that went into these vaccines. What can you tell us tonight that might assure African-Americans, in particular, that these are safe?

LAVEIST: Yes. Well, what we can say is that the safety and efficacy profile of the two vaccines that currently have emergency use authorization, that's the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, have very high safety and efficacy profiles. It means that everything we know about them tells us that they are very safe and effective.

And you have to also consider the risk of COVID. What we do know about COVID is that it's a deadly disease. It has killed over 450,000 Americans in just one year. Those that have survived COVID, we know many of them continue to struggle with health problems that may be lifelong problems.

LEMON: Yeah. So doctor, Vice President Kamala Harris is one of the leaders in the White House working to boost confidence in the vaccine. She got her first dose on camera at University Medical -- excuse, United Medical Center in D.C., which serves predominantly black patients. How important is it to show prominent people getting the shots to those who might be hesitating?

LAVEIST: I think it is really important that those frontline health care workers get vaccinated and that they are the ones that are bringing the message to the community.

You know, we never would have thought that members of the National Academy of Medicine was going to speak to the broader community and people would say, oh, well, they are NAM members saying you should get vaccinated.

What we are trying to do is reach people who influence the broader community, the pastors, the coaches, the teachers, the people that working with people on a day-to-day basis that have those trusted voices within communities.

If we can get people like that to become more assured that this vaccine is safe and effective, then, you know, we can get the important voices to speak to the people.

LEMON: You know, disinformation about COVID and the vaccine have spread over social media, reinforcing long held mistrust of health institutions in the black community. How damaging is this misinformation, doctor?

LAVEIST: It can be quite damaging. I have conversations pretty much all day with people around COVID-19 and we talk about the vaccine and how we get out of this pandemic. I hear all sorts of myths and misinformation about the disease, as well as the cure for the disease.

You know, people are operating with a lack of information and believing things that are just not accurate. We just need more people putting out the truth.

LEMON: Dr. LaVeist in New Orleans, thank you, sir. Appreciate you joining us.

LAVEIST: It is my pleasure.

LEMON: Yeah. And thank you for watching, everyone. Make sure you tune in tomorrow. CNN special live coverage of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial starts at noon.

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