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Don Lemon Tonight

Trump's Voter Fraud Claims Not Going Anywhere; Joe Biden Will Take COVID Vaccine with Expert's Approval; DOJ Will Not be Run by Joe Biden Alone; U.S. Seeing More Dark Days Ahead; GOP Members Congratulates Joe Biden; Biden Need to Reach Out to Trump Voters. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 03, 2020 - 22:00   ET





LEMON: Congratulations, though, Jake. It was a great interview. I'll see you. By the way, is that music? Are you at a party? What is going on?

TAPPER: There is a music thing going on here outside the White House. They're blasting a lot of hip hop and rap. Thankfully the song that they're playing right now -- these are protesters against President Trump. Thankfully the song they're playing right now is G-rated. They haven't all been.

LEMON: They did it just for us. Jake, thank you. Congratulations.

TAPPER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I'll see you soon.

TAPPER: Thank you.

LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

I hope you enjoyed that interview with Jake and the president-elect and the vice president-elect. I certainly did. That was an exclusive interview, by the way. So, let's talk about that interview and what Jake and I didn't mention. We didn't talk about Dr. Fauci and the coronavirus.

It is raging right now tonight. And the vice president -- excuse me, the president-elect promising that he's going to get vaccinated as soon as Dr. Fauci says it's safe. Here's some of it.


TAPPER: Do you plan to get vaccinated before inauguration day, and will you do it in public the way that Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton have suggested they're willing to? JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll be happy to

do that when Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine that is safe. That's the moment in which I will stand before the public and see that it matters what a president and vice president do.

And so, I think my three predecessors have set the model as to what should be done, saying once it's declared to be safe, and I think Barack said once Fauci says, that's my measure, then obviously we take it. And it's important to communicate to the American people it's safe. It's safe to do this.


LEMON: Well, the president-elect also laying out a dramatically different approach to fighting the pandemic, saying that he'll ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes the oath of office.


BIDEN: I think my inclination, Jake, is in the first day I'm inaugurated to say I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask. Not forever. 100 days.


LEMON: Americans dying from this virus at a rate of one every 30 seconds. That is a dire reality that we're facing tonight. Compare that with the current president, ignoring the pandemic, increasingly detached from reality, holed up in the White House, erupting at his attorney general for saying that the DOJ uncovered no evidence of fraud that would change the election outcome.


UNKNOWN: Do you still have confidence in Bill Barr?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask me that in a number of weeks from now.


LEMON: So, a number of weeks from now, ask me that. He just couldn't answer. Why couldn't he just say yes, I have confidence or no? But anyway, he is who he is. In a number of weeks, he won't be president whether he is ready to admit that or not.

But for now, he is having multiple meetings about pardons including talking about preemptively pardoning his adult children, Jared Kushner, and potentially Kushner's father. Compare that to what the president-elect says tonight about the Justice Department.


BIDEN: It's not my Justice Department. It's the people's Justice Department. So, the person or persons I pick to run that department are going to be people who are going to have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted and who doesn't.


LEMON: So, I want you to listen to this, such a stark contrast to the current administration. The vice president-elect says about whether what she says about whether the DOJ would prosecute President Trump. Here it is.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job. And we are going to assume -- and I say this as a former attorney general, elected in California, and I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the United States -- that any decision coming out of the Justice Department, in particular the United States Department of justice, it should be based on facts, it should be based on the law. It should not be influenced by politics, period.

BIDEN: I guarantee you that's how it will be run.


LEMON: So, just to highlight more of the stark contrast here, this is all happening as the current president is pushing doomed lawsuits. More than 30 of them thrown out in the 30 days since election day, including Wisconsin's Supreme Court today refusing to hear a Trump election lawsuit.

And in a really stunning display of just how detached from reality this president is, in the middle of a meeting with Mitch McConnell on trying to keep the Senate, he brings up Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Green's support of the baseless and dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory, OK?

A course telling CNN that the president claiming QAnon is made up of people that, quote, "basically believe in good government." The room silent at that. Probably shocked into silence. Until Mark Meadows said he had not heard the group described that way.


And there's a really good reason for that because QAnon's lies and bogus theories include claims that dozens of Satan-worshipping politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse.


UNKNOWN: You have the QAnon shirt and one of the things QAnon believe and there's is this conspiracy theories, Satanic pedophilia. Do you believe in that?


UNKNOWN: Do you believe there are Democrats and celebrities who are in a pedophile ring?


UNKNOWN: Well, you know what?

UNKNOWN: Yes, I do.

UNKNOWN: You do believe --

UNKNOWN: You know what?

UNKNOWN: Yes, I do.

UNKNOWN: Where does that come from, that belief?

UNKNOWN: Where does that come from? Why don't you ask little kids?

UNKNOWN: Pizza is code word for child pornography. Cheese pizza, child pornography. We are saying it's crazy, it's the Satanists who are hurting children, not the people who were trying to expose it and save us.


LEMON: As I say, earth one, earth two. The real world, La La Land. Good government, huh? I guess he also thinks its good government that QAnon followers believe that there is a so-called deep state effort to take down Trump.

This is a group that the FBI has labelled a domestic terror threat, yet the President of the United States, the current one, refuses over and over to denounce them.


UNKNOWN: Let me ask you about QAnon. It is this theory that Democrats are a Satanic pedophile ring and that you are the savior of that. Now, can you just once and for all state that that is completely not true?

TRUMP: So, I know --


UNKNOWN: And disavow QAnon in its entirety.

TRUMP: I know nothing about QAnon --

UNKNOWN: I just told you.

TRUMP: I know very little. You told me but what you told me doesn't necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia; they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.

UNKNOWN: They believe --


LEMON: If you had a family member who said stuff like that, who did not even half of what this president does, you would say that's, you know, that's the -- there's always one in the family. But somehow millions of people allow the rantings of -- whacko rantings of a man who is somehow lost touch with reality or maybe never has.

Just being honest. Can you imagine if your Uncle Bob or Dave or cousin Joe said you would -- that's the person you would be talking about in the kitchen at Thanksgiving like, you know, he's -- something. Just -- it's the truth. So, why do -- why do so many people allow that behavior? It's not the first time that this president claimed that he didn't know anything about QAnon.


TRUMP: Well, I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much. Which I appreciate. But I don't know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity.


LEMON: They like me. That's good enough for him. But there's more.


UNKNOWN: Mr. President, the talk of the theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Does that sound like something you are behind?

TRUMP: Well, I haven't -- I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? You know? If I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it. I'm willing to put myself out there.


LEMON: They think they can save the world like mighty mouse. Here I come to save the day. He has purposely happy to take support from QAnon which backs his chair to completely bogus belief that there is a deep state trying to take him down. It apparently doesn't bother him that they also believe Satan worshipping politicians and celebrities are working with world governments to abuse children.

That is crazy. All of it is crazy. The lies, the conspiracy theories, yet this president refuses to say so. Think about that. The President of the United States is so detached from reality, he not only refuses to denounce QAnon, he claims they believe in good government.

Guess its par for the course for a president who himself is continually spreading lies about bogus claims of voter fraud while election officials in his own party are being threatened around the country.

[22:10:04] Like I said, he is completely and dangerously detached from reality while our actual painful reality is, we're seeing the equivalent of another 9/11 every single day. It's getting worse and worse.

The task force warning the risk to all of us, all Americans, is at an all-time high. Mass death day in and day out. Day after day. While so many people can't seem to do simple common-sense things, just simple. Just wear a mask.

Maybe not have crowded indoor holiday parties, the kind of parties this White House is throwing, invitations reportedly out for at least 20 holiday parties even while the president's own task force is warning against indoor gatherings. Dangerously detached from reality. And Americans, the people they are supposed to serve, are paying the price.

So, let's bring in now the White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins. Kaitlan, good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining.

I want to talk to you about a lot. We had the big interview with Jake this evening. But let's talk about Biden and Harris, OK, on pardons, the DOJ, on COVID. They are making it clear their administration is going to respond totally different than President Trump.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's a primary focus right now because that is what the president is considering on his way out the door. And of course, we've seen what he has been saying about the Justice Department undercutting his claims about voter fraud.

And you saw there, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris telling our colleague Jake that they plan on running a Justice Department completely differently and that plan on focusing things on the facts and not politics, which of course has been a major factor in Donald Trump's time in the White House.

He has wanted people at the Justice Department to go after his political opponents. And he's been unhappy when they haven't. For example, this investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. That's been one of the main points that has pitted Donald Trump against his attorney general right now.

And so I thought it was very interesting in that interview when Jake asked senator -- former Senator Harris about her comment last summer when she was running for president when she said she believed a Justice Department under her administration would have no choice but to prosecute Donald Trump once he's out of office.

And we know that's a concern that he has faced in recent days that he's been talking about privately. Tonight, he's said their Justice Department would be guided by the facts, Joe Biden said he could guarantee that it would be decisions made on that and not based on politics.

LEMON: President Trump has raised more than, Kaitlan, I think yesterday we said it was $170 million. Now it's $270 million since the election telling his supporters that there's -- since the election telling supporters there's election fraud. It's an astounding number and really probably shows why he refuses to concede.

COLLINS: It's exactly why he's refused to concede. That's in one month they've raised that much money off of the president and his legal team and his Republicans allies who were still pushing these claims saying this is a fraudulent and rigged election.

And so, people keep asking, you know, why does the president keep up with this? He's failing in court. You're seeing some Republicans like Lindsey Graham say that his strategy is not working out. They keep asking why does he keep doing this?

You're primarily seeing it, because the money that the president is raising, 75 percent of it is going to a political action committee that he founded in mid-November. That is all going to be money that Donald Trump can use to have influence on the Republican Party long after he leaves the White House here behind me. And so, it's very clear why the president continues to push this conspiracy theory, this baseless theory about the election day in day out.

LEMON: Yes. I'm being told by my trusted producer. I said 270, 207 million, not 270. But we'll see. Stick around, right? Kaitlan? Raising a lot of dough.


LEMON: Thanks, Kaitlan. I'll see you soon.

Just 48 days to go until inauguration day and top Republicans are still refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden as even the president-elect. But he says that he is confident about what needs to be done to restore this country's soul. Question is who will be working with him.



LEMON: President-elect Joe Biden charting a new course for America as he prepares to take the reins of government on January 20th. His major priority, stopping the deadly spread of COVID-19. Biden also saying the Justice Department will operate independently in his administration.

A lot to discuss now. CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here, and senior political commentator David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. I love it. I got the A-plus team on the perfect night on the perfect subject. Good evening to both of you. Gloria, let's start with you.


LEMON: President-elect Biden he was asked about his optimism of working with Republicans who haven't even acknowledged that he's even the president-elect. Listen to this.


BIDEN: There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who have privately called me and congratulated me. And I understand the situation they find themselves in. And until the election is clearly decided in the minds when the Electoral College votes, they get put in a very tough position. And so, that's number one. Number two --


TAPPER: So, you think the fever on that will break after the Electoral College meets.

BIDEN: Well, at least a significant portion of the leadership. I don't know that it's going to break across the board.


LEMON: Gloria, we'll see. I mean, we know the times we're living in right now. He says he gets the position that they're in. But the fact that he is getting calls from Republicans, do you think some are relieved that Trump is out?

BORGER: Well, I'm sure some are. I think it's quite remarkable and it's the times we live in that more of them have not reached out to Joe Biden. And I think it's very gracious of the president-elect to say, look, I understand the position they're in because what he is not saying is that he understands that they're afraid of him.


He understands that they want to keep control of the Senate, so they don't want to poke the bear before the Georgia primary run-offs on January 5th and that he understands the world in which they live.

And Biden said later in the interview, he doesn't hold grudges. And I believe that to be the case. And I think he understands that he's going to have to work with these guys because most of the people who were in the Senate when he was there are not there anymore.

LEMON: Do you really think, Gloria, that they -- I know he's going to have to work with them? But I mean, for the last 12 years --

BORGER: To try.

LEMON: -- you know, during his presidency for eight years when his vice presidency, and then now they won't even acknowledge during Trump's presidency now they won't even acknowledge. Do you really think they're going to want to work with him? Because if you are -- if you are really going to support someone --

BORGER: Well --

LEMON: -- if I'm going to support you Gloria, I'm going to let the public know. Gloria, I'm in support of you, congratulations. I'm not going to pick up the phone and say, hey, look, I want to but can't really say it in public, I'm sorry. Come on.

BORGER: Well, you know, they're going to do -- they're going to do what they believe is in their own self-interest. They understand that Donald Trump got 74 million votes that he's doing everything he can do undermine Joe Biden. Right now, they are partisan in the Senate. But they understand what's going on with COVID.

They have different solutions about how to deal with the CARES Act and the economy. But they're going to have to do something for their own survival.


BORGER: Now they're not going to agree with him on everything, but on a few things right out of the box they might. And by the way, Joe Biden will start signing executive orders.

LEMON: Yes. OK, David, you're the perfect person. I want to play some sound bite. But you're the perfect person, David, to weigh in on this because you were there for what I just said in my last question to Gloria.


TAPPER: President Trump has not said if he's going to attend your inauguration yet. Do you think it's important that he's there? You're laughing.

BIDEN: I think it would -- important only in one sense, not in a personal sense. Important in the sense that we are able to demonstrate at the end of this chaos that he's created that there is peaceful transfer of power with the competing parties standing their shaking hands and moving on.

I think that's an important -- what I worry about, Jake, more than the impact on the domestic politics, I really worry about the image we're presenting to the rest of the world.


LEMON: OK. David, listen, I hadn't intended to play that sound bite. What I meant I think was confused. I will play a sound bite later, but I wanted to ask you about -- so, same question goes for the president. But let's get to the president later.

But do you think that it is wishful thinking that Joe Biden thinks that these people are going to work with him when they won't even congratulate him publicly?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think he has to make the effort, Don. One of the reasons he elected was because he wanted, he spoke about reaching across the aisle and trying to get things done for the American people. Most Americans want to do that. The reality is though that the Senate is a different place than Joe Biden served in for 36 years when he regularly worked across the aisle. And I have no doubt that he'll find partners on some small things. But

in terms of his big economic program, for example, will he find partners there? And then he's got another problem which is, you know, Donald Trump is just moving down the block on election day. He's not going away.


AXELROD: That money that you talked about earlier, that's going to be used in part to be a player in the political scene. And the people who are afraid of him now, the question is, will they be afraid of him later because they all worry about primary elections. And he's sent a signal that he's going to be a player in those elections.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: That's going to be a problem for Biden. So, he's going to make it -- he's going to make the effort. And as you saw in that interview, he's very good -- and this is why he was good in the Senate at understanding what the other guy's issues and problems are and concerns any factor into his thinking. But whether they have the flexibility or feel the flexibility to cooperate with him in a major way, that remains to be seen.

LEMON: OK. And listen, everyone wishes him luck with that because we all need to come together. So, in that you heard the sound bite when Jake asked him that, you know, is it important for the current president to attend your inauguration, he smirked, and I then thought he gave a really good answer. But do you think President Trump cares about any of that? Do you think that he's going to go, David?

AXELROD: Well, I mean, you know, on the one hand, he's not one to pass up a big TV audience. But generally, that's only when he's the star of the show.

LEMON: So, you don't think he cares about any of that? But you do think it will.

AXELROD: No, no. I mean, look, norms, rules, laws, institutions mean nothing to Donald Trump. Everything is a big reality show. You know, he's -- there's talk that he's going to hold an event on that day or the next day to announce that he's running again.


He's going to continue to insist clearly that the election was stolen from him in contrast to every conceivable bit of evidence that shows otherwise. So, I really don't know. He says he knows what he's going to do, but he's not going to tell us right now.

And I don't know. It's hard for me to imagine him sitting there -- I think a lot of Republicans would like him to because they agree with Biden that the image is bad of a president balking at the inauguration. First time in history the inauguration of his successor. But I don't think that will bother Trump. I think it may bother him more to sit here -- there and watch someone who beat him get sworn in as president of the United States and he becomes a private citizen.

LEMON: That's going to be a big tug of war. Do you go for the big ratings --


BORGER: Don, I have to say --

LEMON: -- or do you go for the, my gosh he's going to beat me and watch him. Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Right. Well, Don, I have the thought just came into my mind as the Biden team kind of struggles about how to do an inauguration and how you do it in a safe and distanced way and how you limit the crowds.

Couldn't you see -- and there would be some sort of symmetry in this from the beginning of the Trump term to the end -- with Trump holding a rally and claiming he had a bigger crowd somewhere because, of course, I don't think he would be allowed to do it on the mall because of the inauguration. But couldn't you imagine him saying, I had a bigger crowd than Joe Biden had at his inauguration? I mean, wouldn't just be terrific --


LEMON: You mean on the same day --

BORGER: -- for Donald Trump?

LEMON: You mean on the same day? You mean on the same day if he had a rally?

BORGER: On the same day.

LEMON: I don't think anybody would watch it.

BORGER: Somewhere else.

LEMON: I know but he may have a crowd of people, but I don't --


BORGER: He have to -- well, that's the problem.

LEMON: -- think anybody would watch.

BORGER: Well, well --

AXELROD: I mean, the thing that Donald -- the thing that Donald Trump knows is --


BORGER: He could claim it.


AXELROD: What he likes -- his great inspiration is that when he -- when you light yourself on fire, people come. You know, and so --

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: -- don't put anything past him.

LEMON: Gloria, maybe you're right.

BORGER: Well, he'll certainly put out pictures. He'll certainly put out pictures of the mall and say that my inauguration had more people because the Biden -- who knows what team Biden is going to do about limiting crowds, et cetera. But you can predict --


LEMON: You're probably right.

BORGER: -- that he'll do that.

LEMON: Yes. There will be an asterisk and they'll say it was in the middle of a pandemic.


LEMON: So, can you really judge any of that fairly?

BORGER: Exactly.

LEMON: One side ignored and one side paid attention.


LEMON: Gloria, it's always a pleasure to see you. And you as well, David. Both of you be safe.

BORGER: Good to see you.

LEMON: Thank you.

AXELROD: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I'll see you soon.

BORGER: Good to see you.

AXELROD: Good to see you.

LEMON: The pandemic in this country is worse than it has ever been and there are fears of a huge spike after Thanksgiving and Christmas after that. But how long after the first vaccinations can we hope to see effects?



LEMON: So, we have now passed over 14 million cases of coronavirus in this country. There were over 203,000 new cases reported just today, the second highest single day of new cases since the pandemic began. We set a record for hospitalizations today over 100,000. And worst of all, over 2,700 deaths reported today.

Joining me now is Dr. Chris Murray. He is director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Doctor, good to see you. Thanks so much.

So, we're breaking records on an almost-daily basis. Give me your assessment. Where are we right now?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: You know, we're in a full-on winter surge, and I think we have to expect with Thanksgiving, the holiday season, seasonality working against us, the numbers are going to keep going up. They'll keep going up probably well into January. So, we have some dark months ahead.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that. Because it's just been a week since Thanksgiving. Our test positivity rate is over 10 percent. Dr. Fauci has warned that it might cause a surge superimposed on a surge. Are we just beginning to see the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings and travel on these cases?

MURRAY: You know, I don't think we've seen the impact of Thanksgiving yet.

LEMON: Give it some time, right?

MURRAY: Usually it's about two weeks before we'll see the impact. And so, next week we'll probably start to see the surge on top of the surge.

LEMON: Right. And then just weeks after that, we'll have the Christmas holidays and then wow.


LEMON: So, and what about deaths? If we are already around 3,000 a day, which is horrific, where could this go?

MURRAY: Well, you know, it can go very badly. It can go up into, you know, 4,000, 4,500 deaths a day. But it depends on what we do as individuals, but most importantly what state governments do.


MURRAY: So, what we've seen in Europe, big surges there, governments reacted pretty quickly. They put in place a package of mandates, and that sort of largely worked to bring the numbers down. And so, what happens will depend on the states.

LEMON: The -- let's talk about the CDC in this country agreeing today that health care workers, long-term care residents should be first in line for the vaccines. How long until we start seeing the impact of the vaccine on the case numbers?

MURRAY: You know, we've incorporated into our projection and vaccination. And we've incorporated what we think is a pretty realistic but, you know, amazingly fast scale up, given historical standards. But despite that, we don't think that vaccination will do much about this winter surge. We'll start to see a big effect of vaccination, you know, after April to a larger extent. Some in March.

LEMON: So really late spring, early summer.




MURRAY: It means we'll get back to normal much sooner because of vaccination, and that's fantastic. But it's not the tool that's going to avoid the deaths in January and February.

LEMON: So, I hope you saw my colleague Jake Tapper had an interview with the president and vice president-elect and President-elect Biden saying tonight that he's going to ask the public to wear a mask for 100 days, try to bring the virus under control. How much do you think that will help?

MURRAY: That can make a huge difference. So, you know, for months, we've been pointing out that if we can get everybody to wear a mask or even 95 percent of people to wear a mask, we can really put the brakes on transmission in many places. So, between now and about April, you know, if everyone listening to President-elect Biden, we could save almost 70,000 lives.

LEMON: Wow. Doctor, the California Governor Gavin Newsom today announcing new stay-at-home restrictions tied to the availability of ICU beds. There are also restrictions at local and county levels at the local and county levels. So, a lot of people are confused. That's going to make it harder to get these numbers down.

Do you think -- so my question is too, so should there be some sort of, I don't know, nationwide or statewide mandate or advisory instead of all of the local and everybody is doing something different?

MURRAY: Yes, it's a big debate because I think people want to minimize the sort of economic harm of the restrictions. But on the other hand, I think what we've learned in a number of places is that if you have to local a set of pack of restrictions, you know, people move around too much. And so, then being that you need to act more at the state level than at the very local level when things are really out of control.

LEMON: All right. Doctor, thank you so much. You be safe. I appreciate it.

MURRAY: All right. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, the Biden administration preparing to lead a nation in crisis as the president-elect and the V.P.-elect lay out their priorities tonight. Presidential historian Jon Meacham is here to discuss next.


BIDEN: I'm determined. I'm confident that what I've said from the outset, I've never changed my view in this whole campaign for going on 600 days, exactly what had to be done. We have to restore the soul of this country, meaning honor, decency, honesty, basic, basic fundamental decency.




LEMON: President-elect Joe Biden drawing stark contrast with President Trump in tonight's CNN exclusive interview, Biden laying out his plan to fight the pandemic and vowing the DOJ will be independent, that as President Trump ignores the virus, rages at his attorney general, continues to push bogus election conspiracy theories.

Biden also saying that despite top Republicans staying in lockstep with the president, many GOP senators have called to congratulate him.

So, let's discuss. Presidential historian Mr. John Meacham is here, who has been helping write some of Joe Biden's speeches. He's also the author of "His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope."

Always a pleasure to have you on, Jon. Thank you so much.


LEMON: Was it good for the country to see the president and vice president-elect laying out their priorities in a major prime time interview. It makes it clear there is going to be a transfer of power to them.

MEACHAM: It was a kind of flash of normalcy. Right? It was like a dispatch from planet earth as we used to know it, where you do have leaders who are totally versed in the vernacular of policy, in the details of the problems confronting the country, unique problems.

And I think historically speaking, Biden and Harris fit into the archetype of presidents and vice presidents who take the responsibilities of the task seriously, who are not simply in it for entertainment or ego, but who are in fact interested in governance and interested in the rest of us, not just themselves.

LEMON: Yes. And who are not in it for profit as well. So, Jon, listen, Anderson Cooper and Bob Woodward tonight we're recalling Woodward's interview with President Trump. And I just want to play a clip that they brought up. Here it is.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Is there any lesson you take because I think this is so important. I have -- you know, I keep -- because I'm in the business of trying to understand other people, I keep learning about how do you really understand people? How do I understand you? I mean, you and I --


TRUMP: You don't -- you don't understand me. You don't understand me. But that's OK. You'll understand me after the election, but you' don't understand me now.

WOODWARD: You don't think so?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so.

WOODWARD: What -- why -- what --


TRUMP: I don't think you get it. And that's OK.

WOODWARD: What are the questions I've not asked that have not been answered?

TRUMP: I think you've asked me a lot of very good questions, a lot of personal questions. I think you've asked me a lot of good stuff.


LEMON: OK. So, we're past the election now, Jon. We're seeing what the president is doing. What do you think we understand or don't understand about him now after this election?

MEACHAM: Well, I think one of the things that surprised a lot of people, and I was among them, was the durability of the president's support. And I would never presume to try to guess what's going on in the president's head. But I suspect that what he was trying to signal to Bob was that he was -- Woodward was a Washington figure and Washington never fully understood Trump's visceral reaction to so many folks.


You know, we're entering a fascinating period. And I don't use the word unprecedented much because I think most things are from the first chapter of Genesis forward, most things have a precedent.

But we haven't really had a former president who I believe will be as overtly active in opposition as Trump will be. And you know, it's -- we were talking about this today in my class at Vanderbilt. A colleague was pointing out that, you know, nobody thought Jimmy Carter was going to run again. Nobody thought George Herbert Walker Bush was going to run again. Trump will play this out for a long time and is addicted to attention.

And so, one of the issues that President Biden will have to deal with that none of his predecessors have had to deal with is a predecessor devoted actively to undermining the unfolding actions of governance.

LEMON: Can I --

MEACHAM: Still in a pandemic.

LEMON: Can I jump in there? Because I think you're right. But don't we see an indication or an example now of how Biden and the -- and Harris, the president and the -- the president-elect and the vice president-elect, how they're going to react to it because basically they have just kept moving and ignored it and it seems to be working for them, no?

MEACHAM: I don't think there's any other strategy. I haven't talked to either of them about it. But you -- I -- that makes sense to me, is you move -- you set out as you wish to carry on in the old expression.

LEMON: Because if they respond to it --


MEACHAM: George W. Bush --

LEMON: -- they give him -- they elevate it, right? They give him oxygen. And if they don't, he is muted because they have the biggest microphone, the biggest pulpit right now at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sorry, go on.

MEACHAM: No, I sighed because I hope you're right. And I've thought that. Just the past couple of days, this is almost like political therapy. Thank you.

LEMON: Go on.

MEACHAM: Just -- there are -- you know -- I don't know what you're going to charge me for the 50 minutes. But you've got -- you've got an immense number of folks out there who did not vote for Biden and did vote for Trump. And most former presidents retire into at least the veneer of dignity. Trump is not going to do that.

I think that the president-elect and the vice president-elect are doing exactly what they should do. And I hope what you just said is exactly right, that in fact there is a restoration of a kind of consensus and convention that we can then begin to address the serious problems facing the country.

I just think and I've thought for a long time that we're living in the political equivalent of climate change, of extreme weather. And I don't think that's going to go away altogether on January 20th.

LEMON: No, I think you're right. I don't think it's going to go. So, let me help you here, and I'll send you my bill. So, what I think is what my therapist would tell me is you cannot control what someone else does.

So, what you need to do is lean into what you do right. And if they lean into doing the business of the American people, Trump will have his audience. But he doesn't have to make -- they don't have to make their audience his audience.

So, that's what I mean by not giving it oxygen, not elevating it, let him talk to his, you know, circular firing squad of an echo chamber and hopefully the media doesn't elevate it because it won't matter. Unless he runs again, OK, fine, then we'll have to cover him if he's legitimately thinking of running for president when it is needed.

But if he just says, I'm going to run, OK, we'll see. But I don't think that -- I think that once he is out of office, the klieg lights should go away as William Cohen said the other night on this program. It should go away, and we should focus on the business of the American people and the president and vice president who are in office now you. You say?

MEACHAM: From your lips to God's ears. But I wouldn't -- I think there might be static on the line.


MEACHAM: Because I hope you're right. I've argued for three or four years that Trump is like Joan of Arc. Right? Demagogues and populists burn out fairly quickly. But no demagogue, no populist demagogue has gotten as far as Trump has. And it's not just the Trump -- the core 40 percent, right? It's the 46.5 percent. That's the -- it's that 6.5 percent that fascinates me.


And the one thing I would dispute with what you said is it's -- President Biden does need people who voted for Donald Trump to buy into things he wants to do for the country. Otherwise, we're just going to continue in this Hobbesian (Ph) war of all against all, this constant tribal warfare.

One of the tasks sitting in front of Biden is how does he reach people who did not vote for him. Because great presidencies are defined in two ways. One is presidents who add to their support, the other is presidents who challenge the assumptions of their bases.

Trump never -- Ronald Reagan did it with the Cold War, Nixon did it with China, LBJ did it with Civil Rights. Great presidents do that. I don't know what Biden's test case will be on that. But that will be a fascinating and he does need to reach out to those folks. And I know liberal Twitter will now go crazy because they're saying, don't -- you don't reach out to these people, they are beyond the pale. Well, democracies don't work that way. Right?


MEACHAM: I mean, we're link one to another and what came -- LEMON: I hear you. And listen, I don't disagree with you. But what I'm saying is that he has to do the business of the American people as he is saying he is going to do. And if he makes those people even the people who supported Trump, if he makes their lives better. If he helps them during pandemic. If he gets the businesses back on track.

If he helps them get -- if he makes health care easier for them to get and job, then he will win them over without even having to respond to Trump's unbelievable, irresponsible rhetoric. I got to run. That's all I'm saying.


LEMON: You can't afford me, so this one will be pro bono on the house. Thanks, Jon. Always a pleasure.


LEMON: Be well. Remember during the 2016 election when Trump said the world was laughing at us. Well, take this. A senator from his own party says that's exactly what our adversaries are doing now under Trump's leadership.



LEMON: So, take this, and it is no joke. You saw Senator Mitt Romney telling CNN tonight, America's adversaries are laughing at us over the president's false claims of massive fraud in the election. Telling Wolf Blitzer Trump is hurting the democracy while Russia and China are chuckling.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): For the president or anyone else to go out and allege widespread fraud and say the election is rigged and the election was stolen, that obviously strikes at the very foundation of democracy here and around the world for that matter.

People watch America. If we can't have a free and fair election, how can they have it in other nations of the world. So, this is critical for the cause of democracy, Russia and China have to be laughing. Going smiling from ear to ear.


LEMON: Is Mitt Romney throwing a little shade in President Trump's direction? Because remember, President Trump has said time and time again the world was laughing at us.


TRUMP: The world is laughing at us, folks.

They are laughing at us at our stupidity. They laugh at us.

They are laughing at us, it's just crazy what's going on.

Everybody is laughing at us.

They are laughing at us. We don't know what we are doing.

They are laughing at us because they think we're with stupid.

The whole world is laughing at us. They are laughing at this, at what's going on in our country.

The world laughs at us, folks. The world laughs at us.


LEMON: He may got -- he got -- he's gotten some of that right, because the fact is, they weren't laughing then. And if they are now, the joke is on us. Courtesy of President Trump. Will the laughing stop in January when the new administration takes over? Joe Biden and Kamala Harris exclusively telling CNN their plans tonight. Stay with us.