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Don Lemon Tonight

Biden Proposes Massive $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Vaccination and Economic Rescue Plan; Trump Explodes at Nixon Comparison; FBI Concerned about Online Chatter Before Inauguration; Officers on the Line During the Capitol Hill Riot; Suspects Identified in Wake of Capitol Siege; Man Beating Police Charged; A Source Says There is no Love Lost Between Senate GOP and President Trump; Wrestling with White Supremacy After Capitol Riots. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 14, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. There's a lot of breaking news tonight. President Trump shutting down any suggestion that he might resign. Sources are saying that he explodes at any comparison to President Richard Nixon.

Also, FBI Director Christopher Wray saying he is concerned about extensive online chatter, leading up to Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday which includes calls for potential armed protests. FBI investigators also identifying more than 200 suspects in the deadly Capitol riot and making more than 100 arrests.

Also, tonight, President-Elect Biden proposing a nearly $2 trillion plan to pay for a nationwide vaccination program and to give direct economic relief to millions of Americans devastated by the COVID pandemic.

Let's discuss, our White House correspondent is John Harwood. Our senior political analyst is Ron Brownstein and there they are magically appearing on your screen right now. We thank them for joining.

So, John, the president, the Trump presidency is unraveling. He is vengeful, lashing out, banning any talk of Richard Nixon. What can we expect from Trump the final few days in office? I won't have to ask you that question in, what, five days.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's a dumpster fire and it's going to be that way through the end. You've got aides fleeing, associates fleeing, a very small number of people around Trump.

The West Wing is largely empty. Not that many people showing up, and Donald Trump is left in the torment of knowing that he has been disgraced in a way that no other president has. And it's not surprising that he would been mentioned of Richard Nixon. When Donald Trump came of age as a young man, Richard Nixon was the epitome of a failed president.

Watergate forced him to become the only president to resign. And that disgrace is something that Donald Trump is now in the same league with. In fact, when you look at what Donald Trump has done, the nature of his presidency, he's worse than Richard Nixon. He makes Richard Nixon look like a titanic statesman.

So Donald Trump is in a bad way. He's looking at financial pressure and trouble when he leaves as epitomized by the loss of that golf tournament and legal trouble as well. Whether he tries to pardon himself or not, he's got big, big problems and he knows it.

LEMON: Yes. Well, Nixon resigned before they impeached him, so he never officially was impeached. Donald Trump has been impeached twice so this is beyond Richard Nixon. Ron, we're told that Trump doesn't trust that Mike Pence would pardon him if he resigns, like Ford did with Nixon. Thousands of Americans are dying by the day, and this is what's consuming him right now?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's really the point. I mean, that's been the story really for months and months now. As we have been living through really, I think the greatest national security crisis facing the country since World War II and maybe even before that with the death toll is almost unimaginable.

I live in L.A. County, which is being, you know, taken to its knees by the magnitude of the virus outbreak, and the president has simply been AWOL for months from his job.

He's like, as I said, like the navy captain that walk off the bridge when the ship was under fire to retreat to the stateroom and wonder of how to save himself. And what's striking again, you know, we just come back to the same story -- for months and months, not a peep of complaint from Republicans in Congress as he has really abandoned Americans at this critical moment.

And even the impeachment vote. Yes, 10 Republicans did vote to remove him that is the most ever for a president facing in his own party, but you can certainly argue this was the single most egregious act by a president ever.

You know, I refer to Doug Brinkley if he can find something else. But I think when Liz Cheney said no president has betrayed his oath of office for thoroughly, I think he's right -- she's right. And to look at only 10 Republicans who said that this was worthy of sanction. Again, it's just extraordinary.

LEMON: Its head scratching. So, John, we're learning that the president has been talking to Steve Bannon of all people in recent weeks. What's this all about?

HARWOOD: Well, Steve Bannon was one of the architects of his campaign in 2016. He's nuts like Donald Trump is nuts. He's facing federal fraud charges, and that's the kind of person that is left for Donald Trump to be a confidant. Because the more respectable class of advisers that he's had around him have been forced out or left of their own accord.


Steve Bannon has encouraged him in these fantasies about trying to overturn the election, and Donald Trump is drawn to people who will tell him what we want to hear. It's instrumental for Steve Bannon to suck up to Donald Trump, because Donald Trump in the final days of the presidency has the power to pardon Steve Bannon, and it would not surprise anyone if President Trump used that power in that way.

LEMON: Gentleman, always a pleasure. I'll see you soon. Probably tomorrow night. We'll see. Thank you. I want to bring in now CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez and CNN's counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. Hello, Philip, it's been a while. You're doing OK? Good to see you.


LEMON: Yes, good. And let's start with you, why don't we. So the MPD officer Daniel Hodges is speaking out about his experience in the riots. He was pinned against a door by rioters. I want you to listen to what he said.


DANIEL HODGES, D.C. METROPLOTIAN OFFICER: The guy ripping my mask off. And he was able to rip away my baton and beat me with it. He was frankly foaming at the mouth. So these people were true believers in a worse way. Just the absolute zealotry of these people, how they would -- they 100 percent believe that they -- what they were doing was right, and that they were the patriots and that no one would get in their way.


LEMON: So, Phil, it is stunning that these insurrectionists were willing to do anything to achieve their goal.

MUDD: It is. I mean, I got get on an airplane myself in about two weeks and I had a friend of mine today, Don, text me -- I double mask when I travel, and it's a paper mask and a fabric mask.

And my friend said, because you're on CNN, you got to wear a hat. That never occurred to me where I got to go into an airport and be concerned. I'm not in a Capitol, I'm in an airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, that somebody is going to come up and berate me. Maybe attack me.

I think to be clear, Don that in some ways we are focused too much on Donald Trump. Donald Trump is representative of what is happening in America. Americans are saying, look, civil discourse doesn't matter to me. A country that was built on immigrants doesn't matter to me. Immigrants are not welcome in this country, despite the fact that I came, and myself included, came from a family of immigrants.

I think the most disturbing aspect of the last four years in America is not the president, it's the president has exposed an America that most of us -- and I mean more than 50 percent, are uncomfortable with. And that America is showing up at the Capitol throwing fire extinguishers at cops saying I want to overturn the election. It's not about Donald Trump it's about America, Don.

LEMON: Evan? Hello. So, Officer Mike Fanone is also -- talking about his heroing experience protecting the Capitol. And if you look at this video, you see him there, he's got his -- the gear on. He was beaten by rioters. I want you to listen to how he describes what happened.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPLOTIAN OFFICER: I was just, you know, trying to fight as best I could. I remember like guys were stripping me of my gear. These are rioters, pulling my badge off my chest. They ripped my radio off of my vest, started pulling like ammunition magazine from their holder on my belt. And then some guys started getting a hold of my gun and they were screaming out, you know, kill him with his own gun.

At that point, you know, it was just like self-preservation. You know, how do I survive this situation? And I thought about, you know, using deadly force. I thought about shooting people. And then I just came to the conclusion that, you know, if I was to do that, I might get a few, but I'm not going to take everybody, and they'll probably take my gun away from me and that will definitely give them the justification that they were looking for to kill me if they already didn't made that up in their minds.

So, the other option I thought of was, you know, trying to appeal to somebody's humanity. And I just remember yelling out that I have kids. And it seemed to work.


LEMON: I mean, wow. I mean, it goes to what Phil just said. But Evan, this fits exactly with what you have been reporting. This investigation goes on and on, we're going to learn so much more about how bad this could have been. Imagine what we're going to learn when that body cam footage comes out, Evan.

PEREZ: Right, look. Don, I got tell you that it's a public service what you just did, playing the clips of these two officers giving us, for the first time, perhaps, you know, in their own words, what they went through. And this is what I have been hearing from -- you know, talking to federal law enforcement what's in that building.


And they told me that the Metropolitan Police, the Washington Police, the local police here, had to fight their way into the building. They came to the aid of the Capitol police who were overwhelmed, outnumbered, out geared by these people who came radicalized. They had been radicalized by the president and the stuff that the president has been saying about a stolen election and they were hell bent on trying to capture members of Congress. It's clear. You can see that in the court papers, including tonight.

The prosecutors have said that -- this is what they wanted to do. And so those two officers are describing the hell that they went through.

Mike Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney described it as armed combat in that building. And what these officers heroically did is that they bought time so that the security that was protecting the leaders of Congress to be able to get out to their hiding place and then get out of the building. And they bought important time to save their lives.

LEMON: Well, the officer told me the backup, when they were being called to come in -- he said he hasn't worn, he's on the street. You know, he's a detective, he hasn't worn a uniform since picture day, right. So, he puts on his uniform. And they were all coming in as backup.

And he said that the guys who are protecting that door, where you see them going heave ho and the car door, that he was relieving guys and others who had been there doing it for like 40 minutes. He said that they were even -- there were -- the chemicals they were using, they had more and better than the police.

PEREZ: Yes, they were using bear spray that had a farther reach. Correct.

LEMON: It's really unbelievable. Listen, guys, thank you, it's so good to have you on too to talk about this. I really appreciate it. I'll see you soon.

PEREZ: Right.

LEMON: So many of the rioters at the Capitol last week committed crimes in full view of cameras and we're learning more about them tonight.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: From January 6th alone, we've already identified over 200 suspects. So we know who you are if you're out there. And FBI agents are coming to find you.




LEMON: The FBI Director Christopher Wray confirming tonight that they have identified over 200 suspects for the Capitol Hill attacks. Investigation is still unfolding, but over 100 arrests have already been made. One of those suspects is Peter Francis Stager. He is seen on this video beating a police officer with an American flag. Here's what he had to say the day of the riot.


UNKNOWN: Everybody in there is a disgrace. That entire building is filled with treasonous traitors.

UNKNOWN: Yes, sir!

UNKNOWN: Death is the only remedy for what's in that building. Every single one of those Capitol law enforcement officers, death is the remedy. It is beyond (inaudible).

UNKNOWN: They have to find their oath.

UNKNOWN: If those come back, this time not with the bible.


LEMON: Wow. Death is the only remedy. Our senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt joins me now. Alex, hello, I'm so happy you're OK. You were out in that crowd, man. And you handled yourself very well. So, glad you're around. And thanks for joining us tonight. So that video and the sound from Peter Francis Stager is chilling. What are you learning about him and his motivation?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's just disgusting, Don. And there were so many blue lives matter flags out there at the same time. The sheer hypocrisy of this is just astounding.

And Peter Stager's place, you can hear in that video he clearly felt a lot of anger towards the people who work inside the Capitol in that building, as he call it. According to federal prosecutors, Stager was identified by two confidential informants, including one who told investigators that he admitted that he was in the video of that beating of the police officer.

And you heard in that bite that he thought lawmakers and that the police who work inside in that building were treasonous traitors, who need to be killed. And now he's claiming, according to one of those sources, that he didn't know that the person he was beating was a police officer.

Now, this is from the court documents. He thought the person he was striking was Antifa. Now, the court documents also note that the words Metropolitan Police were clearly visible on the officer's uniform. So, now Stager has been charged with civil disorder.

LEMON: Yes, I mean, these people like stub their toe and go, Antifa made me fall. I mean, it's always -- it's OK.

MARQUARDT: We heard that from lawmakers as well that that was Antifa.

LEMON: And there had been, that has been debunked. The authorities have said no evidence that that was Antifa in the crowd. It was all MAGA. So, next, let's talk about the man seen here with a confederate flag in the Capitol. His name is Kevin Seefried. I hope I'm pronouncing it right, Alex. He was among the first to breach the Capitol with his son Hunter. What's the latest on him?

MARQUARDT: Yes. This is one of the most notorious cases. And we think it's Seefried. But -- Kevin Seefried, who we saw there. He's been one of the biggest target for the FBI since January 6th. He was extremely visible and notorious because of that huge confederate flag that he was carrying through the halls of Congress. Both father and son, so his son's name is Hunter, they were taken into custody this morning in Delaware.

They told the FBI, they had come to D.C. to quote hear the president speak and then they followed someone with a bull horn, they said to the Capitol, and once they got there, Hunter Seefried punched through the glass of a window, according to hose court documents, they got into the building walked through the halls with that battle flag, which Kevin the father says he flies at his home back in Delaware. Now this father/son duo, they were identified after son Hunter bragged to a coworker about being in the Capitol with his father.


LEMON: OK. So, Alex, another suspect from Chicago, Kevin Lyons posted a map on Instagram of his route to D.C. and a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's name plate above her office door inside the Capitol with the post, whose house, our House. Wow. What did you dig up on him?

MARQUARDT: Yes. Not very subtle, not very discreet, and he was a very long way from home, Don. So, Kevin Lyons, he's been charged with two federal charges. The Feds found him thanks to his Instagram account that you just pointed out. He posted that map, saying that he was heading to D.C. to, as so many of these people said, stop the steal.

Initially he would not admit that he was part of the insurrection in the Capitol, but then the FBI showed him a picture that he had posted himself and then taken down, to which he responded, according to the court documents, wow, you're pretty good. That was only up for an hour.

Yes, the FBI is pretty good at that. He later emailed the FBI with links to videos that he had taken writing to -- I guess his point of contact at the FBI, hello, nice FBI lady, here are the links to the videos. And then signed off, let me know if you need anything else, Kevin Lyons.

So, Don, he seems to be more polite and helpful than the others but very much involved in this rioting, which of course, all jokes aside was a horrendous event, stain on this country and deadly. Don?

LEMON: Wow. OK. Thank you, Alex. Again, glad you're safe. We'll see you soon. Bye.

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

LEMON: A cybersecurity researcher who was monitoring stop the steal was shocked by what we all saw unfold at the Capitol and as he started trying to piece together the events of his Twitter feed, thousands of people began chiming in with more information. Well, John Scott Railton is a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab and he joins me right now. John, thank you. I really appreciate it. It's good to see you. Let's

talk about this. We have been talking about the arrests of Peter Francis Stager, the man who is seen in that video beating a Capitol police officer with an American flag. What role is online information gathering, information gathering saying playing in the apprehension of people like Stager?

JOHN SCOTT RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, THE CITIZEN LAB: Well, I think your reporter Alex kind of captured that mixture of absurdity and horror that is sort of you know, shot through the events of the 6th. But as Mr. Rogers says, look for the helpers, and you can find them online.

Thousands of people are also looking through that and trying to parse and understand what they are seeing. And there are different folks and groups of their trying to organize and direct some of their interest and turn in to surfacing clues and ultimately often private processes to really identify who those people are.

LEMON: I just want to know. Let me put up some video for you to listen to and then we'll talk about it. OK. So, here it is. Can we put it out?




LEMON: So, it's interesting they are singing that and there -- you know as you see them waving in people, right. You ca hear the crowds singing the national anthem as a line of people in helmets and what looks like tactical gear march up those Capitol steps. It's really chilling. What do you know about the people who showed up for this riot?

RAILTON: Well, I think what we're learning is there are lots of different kind of people. And you've got those folk who are posting it, who are Instagram-ing it. Whose particular ideological vision meant that they thought that you know, they were going to arrive in the center of the Capitol, and the kraken was going to happen. And so they weren't hiding themselves, but then there are the man who tried to move in silence and violence.

And I think we saw them moving up in the middle of the crowd, and those are people who I think we really have to urgently understand. In part because with a telegraph about the different groups in that crowd. In this case, we see people there who are wearing insignia oath keepers, which SPLC says, one of the largest anti-government extremist militias in United States.

And we also see lots of local militia groups. Like the Ohio state regular militia and other small groups. Anyone who is around in 1995 probably is hearing an echo right now.

LEMON: Wow. As more of these rioters are identified, you have a warning for people asking them not to broadcast on social media the names of anyone they suspect as having been involved, what's the danger there, John?

RAILTON: That's right. I think it's critically important that although people want to help, and they are definitely helping. People sometimes have the instinct to share things that they shouldn't, like naming people whose names are not confirmed in reputable media. That's a bad move, because in can cause harm that can't be taken back.

I think what we're seeing is efforts to kind of track these things maturing right now and moving towards processes that are a little more considered and a little bit more careful. Which I think is exactly the right way to go.


LEMON: John, there's also video showing rioters discussing the floor plan of the Capitol, I'm sure you've seen it before, we are going to play it. Showing just how determine they were, let's play some of it and then we'll talk.


UNKNOWN: There's also two doors in the other room, one in the rear and one to the right when you go in. So people should probably coordinate together, if we're going to take this building.


LEMON: Take this building? That's shocking.

RAILTON: Yes, I mean this weird cross between like a PTA voice and you know, like insurrection. What that comes from is a woman who's leaning in, using a megaphone and directing rioters.

One of the other things that she said as I've been in this building before, you need to break that window over there. Which I think gets us to a really interesting thing, right now we are identifying those people who are visible. You can see their faces. You had a sense of who they are.

I think there are a lot of nervous people right now who are linked to this and maybe are in D.C. and may be kind of hoping that people just focus on the folks who are on the ground there.

LEMON: Yes. John Scott Railton, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining, thanks.

RAILTON: I appreciate you, Don.

LEMON: Yes, thanks. There's no love lost. Republicans split on whether to convict Trump. I'm going to ask a Senator on the judiciary committee if she thinks that they have a chance. Plus, the racist message in the riot.


asked, was it something about the way these people looked that they are not people of color that caused law enforcement to think about them differently? I don't know.





LEMON: Tonight, a GOP source saying there is no love lost between Senate Republicans and President Trump, but there are a few indications of how many of them might vote to convict Trump, now that he has been impeached by the House for inciting the deadly Capitol riot.

And with Trump now facing a second impeachment trial in the Senate, his lawyers are expected to argue that his speech to supporters at the rally before the riot is protected by the First Amendment.

Joining me now is Senator Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. It is so good to see you again. Thank you for coming on.


LEMON: Thank you. Good to see you. So, uh, you -- you're going to need 17 Republicans to convict President Trump. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is indicating that he thinks that President Trump committed impeachable offenses. Will the GOP fall in line if the votes -- if he votes to convict?

HIRONO: I don't think they'll all fall in line. I don't think that Mitch McConnell is going to lift (ph) this caucus, and he has got a pretty divided caucus. You know, the thing is, Don, that thing impeachment trial, which is very different from the first impeachment trial, is this trial, we were all witnesses. We were there. We heard the president. We heard what he said. We saw what happened.

And so, yes, we need to decide whether the president in fact incited an insurrection on another branch of government. And I say that has what happened. That is impeachable.

The second part (INAUDIBLE) is to prevent the president from ever holding public office again.

LEMON: Yeah. And it's just stunning to me that yet your -- many of your colleagues -- some of your colleagues in the House and the Senate voted to try to have the election overturned.


LEMON: Are you worried about the impeachment trial taking away from president-elect Biden's priorities? He wants the focus to be on COVID and the economy. Can you do both?

HIRONO: Yes, we can. That's what happened in the first impeachment trial, which convenes in the afternoon, and we can get this done in the morning.

I think it's really important that President Biden's effort to help our country with additional check for individuals and a national vaccination program, those are really important initiatives that we need to pass.

And I expect that a democratically controlled Senate, we set the agenda that these matters will come to the floor for a vote.

LEMON: Senator Tom Cotton is already saying that he opposed impeachment because Trump will have already left office. Should that matter?

HIRONO: No, because there is nothing in the Constitution that says the president gets a free pass if he does something impeachable in the last few weeks or days of his term.

In addition, Tom is missing the second vote that we're going to take, which is to prevent the president from ever holding public office. I think that's important.

LEMON: Senator, thank you. And I'm just -- I'm jealous that you're in Honolulu and I'm here.


HIRONO: Everyone take care, stay safe, be kind. We will get through this together.

LEMON: I second that. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. See you soon.

HIRONA: Aloha.

LEMON: A riot filled confederate flags, nooses, Nazi symbols. Not everyone there carried those symbols, but what did they think when they saw all of that?

Cornel West -- Dr. Cornel West is going to weigh in after this.




LEMON: So, go with me here because I want you to imagine something just for a moment, OK? Imagine this. Imagine you are at the Capitol last week. You're a supporter of the president. You're not a white supremacist or anti-government or interested in being violent. You have been convinced and misled by the president's lies and the conspiracy-driven media who have repeated them. But you look around yourself and you see people who do fit into those racist white supremacist groups, OK? Do you stay? You have an opportunity to leave and not associate yourself with that. If you stayed, I just want to show you some photos of the people who you were with. We know them by now.

This is Kevin Seefried, leading the charge in the Capitol while carrying a confederate flag. Now, take a look at this. This is Robert Keith Packer. He is wearing a sweatshirt that says 'Camp Auschwitz' with the famous phrase, work brings freedom.


LEMON: And this -- this is gallows erected outside of the Capitol with a noose hanging from it. Now, if you were just there to support Trump, why would you stick around these people and these symbols of hate, okay?

So joining me now to discuss is Professor Cornel West. Professor, I'm trying to get people to understand this, me as well. You know, Chris and I have been talking about this. Thank you for joining us.

It is possible that many of people that were at the president's rally and the riot that followed were not Proud Boys or white supremacists or neo-Nazis. So we know all of those people who were there and they were front and center.

But if you are -- if you see people that are part of those groups and you choose to stay and watch as the Capitol is ransacked, what does that mean?

CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, the means that you've got to be able to negotiate and navigate the spiritual decay and moral decrepitude in your country.

We know that brother Trump himself is spiritually sick, he's morally decrepit. If I saw him, I'll say you need to try Jesus, brother, he specializes in transforming gangsters like you.

But it means than that you have to have your own integrity, you've got to have your own honesty, and you have to have some sense of your moral fortitude and spiritual integrity.

And I think the important thing to keep in mind, brother Don, is that even as we rightly thoroughly condemn and indict the spiritually decade and morally decrepit folk. We don't want to fall into self- righteousness. You see and know what I mean?

You and I come from a tradition of a grand people who produce these great freedom fighters, the (INAUDIBLE), and wounded healers in the face of white supremacy, hatred, terror and trauma. And the best of who we are is not to be preoccupied with evil. We should never be surprised at evil just like we're not paralyzed by despair.

But we don't want any self-righteousness because, as you know, there are self- righteous neo-fascist versions of greed and hatred and lies, but there could be neoliberal self-righteous versions of various kinds of greed, corporate greed or whatever, hatred and lies.

We've got to stay in contact with the humanity of folk, even when they're gangsters and thugs. That's what we talk about when we talk next week about Martin Luther King, Jr., John Coltrane, (INAUDIBLE), and Aretha Franklin.


WEST: From a tradition that has moral and spiritual standards in the midst of 400 years of hatred and terror and trauma. We can't lose that tradition even in this moment where it looks as if it wasn't for black people, we wouldn't have the anti-fascist vote Trump would still be in, right?

LEMON: Yeah.

WEST: Majority of white folks have voted for Trump. One out of three Latinos, one out of three Asians, one out of three Jewish voted for Trump. Twenty-eight percent of precious (INAUDIBLE) folk voted for Trump. What was it about this gangster that could appeal to so many of our fellow citizens?

There you got to talk about neoliberal policies in terms of being unable to deliver basic goods like Medicare and jobs with a living wage. People are deeply obsessed with the inability of the U.S. government, especially in its dominant neo-liberal form to deliver.

Once you have the legitimization crisis, brother, and the centrist order can hold, people look for other ways out. Some look for Obama in 2008, then they went with Trump. We are in a legitimization crisis. I'm glad to see brother Biden looking as if he's going to be more like FDR. He is like Clinton or Obama, because he's got to be bold, brother.


LEMON: Listen, you're teaching a class here --

WEST: We're going to have -- we're going to have Trumpism again.

LEMON: All right. You got to let me get in and ask some questions. So I'm glad --



LEMON: I know, I know, I know you're teaching a class here.

WEST: No, no, no.

LEMON: Let me ask you then. We have -- and I agree with you. You can't fall into self-righteousness, but you have to point out --

WEST: Yes.

LEMON: -- the truth to people.

WEST: There.

LEMON: Right? You've got to point out the truth to people. But do you reach out to people? Do you -- if you see one of those people or if you -- I don't know. If you ever have occasion, what do you do? How do you reach out to the other side? Is it your responsibility to try to win someone over who is -- has that mindset?

WEST: Well, it depends what the context is though, you know what I mean? The important thing is that we've got to be tied to the truth telling and witness bearing with a spirit of compassion and a spirit of embrace.

But embrace doesn't mean uncritical difference. It means I'm here to bear witness to something bigger than me, and I've got a fire connected to a struggle for justice. It's tied to the least of these.


WEST: It's tied to poor and working people, especially on chocolate sides of town, that all around the city, all around the country, all around the world, that's what I'm here to do, that's what I'm going to focus on.

If that includes embracing focal you disagree with, of course, you have to, but you don't lose your integrity when you do. That's the important thing.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. Doctor, will you come back and talk more, speak more truth to power?

WEST: I'll come back any time you like, brother.


LEMON: It's a pleasure.

WEST: Not just truth to power, truth to powerless, too. It's a spiritual and a moral challenge. The tradition that produced and I is a great moral spiritual achievement. That's Martin Luther King, brother. You don't get that by osmosis. You got to work hard at it. You got to work through your heart, mind and soul, and be situated to the best of your tradition, and then you can embrace all of the rich humanity, all of the disaster, and all of the wondrousness of who we are as a species, my brother.


LEMON: Thank you, professor. Be well.

WEST: You pray for me. Pray for me now.

LEMON: Oh, look, all the time. Don't you worry about that. Same here. I receive that, thank you.


LEMON: So, listen, one more person dying every six minutes from coronavirus in L.A. County. And across the country, nearly 40,000 people have died in just the last two weeks alone. The latest on the coronavirus crisis is next.




LEMON: So, tonight, president-elect Joe Biden proposing a nearly $2 trillion plan to pay for a massive nationwide vaccination program and to give direct economic relief to millions of Americans who are struggling because of the COVID pandemic.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know it's been nearly a year that's tested us beyond measure. For all of you who have lost someone, my heart goes out to you. I know that feeling, looking at an empty chair across the table.

All of you have fallen on hard times. I know you can never get back what you lost. But as your president, I know that every day matters and every person matters. So, come Wednesday, we begin a new chapter.


LEMON: So, Biden speaking as the COVID crisis rages out of control.

I want to bring in CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Doctor, good evening. Good to see you. I haven't seen you in a while. It has been just, you know, a week or so.

So, we're going to get the president-elect's plan, but let's look at where we are right now. The COVID deaths, they are rising sharply in recent months. We set another grim record just this week, nearly 4,500 deaths in one day. And the CDC says that we could see another 92,000 deaths in less than a month. Why is this still so out of control?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION PROGRAM AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Ah, because we've had two big spikes. We had a post-Thanksgiving spike and then we had a post-Christmas spike. And despite those grim numbers, I'll give you one ray of sunshine. Tonight, for the first time in months, we saw a drop in hospitalizations, a thousand fewer people hospitalized today compared to yesterday.

So, we won't start to see a drop in deaths until fewer people are in the hospital and fewer cases are happening. So, starting to see the cases tick down just a notch and literally for the first time in months, fewer people in the hospital today than yesterday, so let's see where that trend goes. That's -- that will give us a sense that we're getting close to the peak.

LEMON: So, doctor, tonight, president-elect Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic with a focus on testing and vaccine production and delivery. So, break it down for us. What's different than what we have right now and do you think it's going to work?

REINER: Oh, boy, what's not different? First of all, what we're seeing from the Biden administration is an acknowledgement that what we're doing right now really isn't working and a sense of urgency to get vaccines into arms.

So, the Biden administration is proposing 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. And that is really doable. The last couple of days, we have vaccinated. We have given people their first shots. About 950,000 people have gotten that in the last couple of days, each day.

So, I think we can easily achieve that. But we need to be more ambitious. We need to vaccinate probably two million people a day and we can do that, but we have to think different. We have to do -- we have to take vaccines out into the community.

Stacey Abrams said that she looked for voters where they are, not where she wanted them to be, and we need to do that with vaccines. We need to take vaccines to where people are. And we're going to start that in D.C. We are seeing that around the country, big events, events at churches, events at football stadiums, events at basketball arenas.

We need to go into the community and vaccinate large amounts of people very, very quickly. And I see that sense of urgency from the Biden administration.


LEMON: So, Biden promised to help elementary and middle schools open to in-person learning within the first three months of his administration, by helping schools stay clean and improve air circulation. We all want to see kids get back to school.


LEMON: Do you think this is the way to do it, doctor?

REINER: Ah, well, there are multiple components to doing this. First thing we need to do is we need to vaccinate all the teachers, because many of the teachers are in high risk groups. So we need to vaccinate all the teachers and protect the teachers. This will enable them to come to school.

Secondly, I think we need to start testing children with these cheap rapid antigen tests probably twice a week. Kids who are sick, stay home. That's how we start to open this up. But everyone agrees we need to get kids back in school. I think the first step is to vaccinate every teacher in the United States and then start testing all the kids like crazy.

LEMON: Dr. Reiner, thank you, sir. I'll see you soon.

REINER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.