Return to Transcripts main page
Don Lemon Tonight
Joe Biden Pays Tribute To COVID Victims; President Trump An Outcast In Biden's Inauguration; No Acknowledgment Of Joe Biden; Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) Is Interviewed About Joe Biden's Presidency For The Next Four Years; Steve Bannon Awaits To Be Pardoned. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 19, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): That's it for us tonight. "CNN TONIGHT" with the big star, D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What do they say, we're living in the part of history that people write about, and that's true. This one is --
CUOMO: People are going to remember this.
CUOMO: People are going to remember this. They are going to remember you, D. Lemon.
LEMON: Yes. And you. I mean, think about. I'm glad you said that. We -- how are you feeling? It's been -- we've aged 10 years.
CUOMO: Yes, not you.
LEMON: And the country.
CUOMO: But you do things so that you don't look as much as you've aged.
LEMON: Yes, like hair and makeup? And lighting? Yes, but think about it, for the last -- it's been a tough five years since that escalator ride. And you know, I don't -- it's been a lot tougher on Americans during the pandemic but I'm just putting things into perspective.
Ever since then our lives have been turned upside down. We've done longer extended hours, I've never worked so many hours just anchoring, I mean, I've work, I used to go out in the field and all those things but just anchoring shows. This was supposed to do one hour, and then I've been doing two hours, sometimes three or four. And working the weekends and you know, getting called the enemy of the people, and people yelling at us all kinds of things that we've had to deal with over the past five years.
So, I don't want to say right now that our long national nightmare is over because we have to see what happens in the coming days and coming weeks and months. But we shall see. It's definitely the ending of an era, I believe. But we have to see how it turns out.
CUOMO: Is it a beginning? Is it an end? I'm unsure, mostly because the people who banked on Trump didn't get anything out of it other than anger and fear.
LEMON: Not even in the wall, not even the signature promise.
CUOMO: So, their pain is still there.
CUOMO: Now people who have problems with ignorance and animus about others, I don't know what we can do about that. That's what your book is about.
CUOMO: But the people who have a hard life are going to have a hard life for some time to come. So, I don't think anything is over, especially not with what I've seen with Biden not even in office yet.
The tabloids from the fringe right already trying to demonize him with immigration. Hawley standing up today and stopping the quick appointment of a homeland security secretary in this kind of environment --
CUOMO: -- over nothing. The indications are bad and nobody stood up.
CUOMO: Not even McConnell and told Hawley to sit down --
LEMON: It's not over nothing, Chris, it's over political expedience. It's over selfishness. It's over power.
CUOMO: Nothing. Nothing of merit.
LEMON: Yes, nothing merit. So, you're absolutely right about that, but history will be the judge, we've said that. And you know when people get fed up, you know what they do? They rise up and they go to the polls and they vote people out, which is what they did with this administration.
The people had had enough, yes, 72, 73 million I know it gets rounded up 74 but it's not. Get, they voted for this president but 81 million voted against this president and for the incoming administration.
And I've got to tell you, what a mark difference. Yesterday on my show, listening to Obama's farewell final speech and then comparing that to Trump's today. It's like, and then, you know, watching Joe Biden today being a human being showing empathy, being emotional, talking about the 400,000 people who died, paying tribute to those people, honoring the people who have died and the people who have kept America on track for the last year.
But even the last four years, because in spite of -- I've always get in spite and despite get mix up -- but in spite of all of the craziness, all the lack of leadership, all of the lying, all the vitriol that came out of this White House and the people who support this president. America is still on track. And the people who have been running this country and keeping this country going are still here for this country.
Many of them did die during the pandemic, but enough are still around where they said I've had enough. And tomorrow I think this American carnage will be over. I can't say that.
CUOMO: I like the way you're thinking. An I like he way you --
LEMON: I'll see you at midnight, how about that, Chris? You're going to kick off our -- I mean, it started with us, and all the interviews. Remember, I think -- I think I'm pretty sure I was the first person that look him in the eye, and you remember that interview when I said, are you racist? He said, I'm the least racist person that you ever -- you're not saying that you're not racist, you're saying that you're the least one. And now look where we end with him with a racist insurrection on the capitol. It all comes full circle.
CUOMO: Well, I'm happy to be on tonight, I'm happy to be a part of history and --
LEMON: And then we'll be here tomorrow, doing our thing that people love to watch, I can't believe it. We keep --
CUOMO: Hopefully. Here is my hope.
CUOMO: And these men never ask for this.
LEMON: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: I hope you and I tomorrow from midnight to 5 in the morning Eastern have a very an eventful night.
LEMON: Amen. I'll see you later and guess what?
CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.
LEMON: I know it. I love you more. I'll see you soon.
CUOMO: All right.
LEMON: I'll see you at midnight, OK? CUOMO: Yes.
LEMON (on camera): So, this is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
It's been a long time coming, but I know the change is going to come. And you know it too, you know it tonight, you know it tonight 14 hours left in this Trump presidency. Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it. I could barely watch the television today.
It was so emotional, and I say not politically but because of all the lies and the disinformation and the racism. Good riddance. Ba-bye.
And we are still waiting on a rushed last-minute pardon by the way just as any reality TV star or whatever, he's got to tease it and you know, and whatever, I'm going to do it. Do it at the last minute just because, sometimes in spite or just to get you interested.
But it should -- it could come in the next couple of hours and we'll have it for you. After four long chaotic years, we have come to an end of one era and really the beginning of another. OK?
Two hours until inauguration day in America, the middle of the night with the dawn of a brand-new day. An inauguration day like none we have ever seen before, I can guarantee you that. The nation's capital is on lockdown right now as we look at these live pictures in Washington and the National Mall where inauguration crowd usually gather. It's deserted. It's beautiful but it is deserted.
In just a few hours Joe Biden will take the oath of office on the capitol steps and become the 46th President of the United States. Just days after a mob of rioters stormed those steps of the capitol itself incited by the current president.
I can hardly believe that I'm saying a current president incited a riot on the capitol. These are times that we are living in. And on a day we reached a horrible toll, more than 400,000 Americans dead from COVID, the president-elect and his vice president paying tribute tonight at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, 400 lights for 400,000 dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To heal, we must remember it's hard sometimes to remember. But that's how we heal, it's important to do that as a nation. That's why we're here today, between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights and the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all whom we lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And just hours before he becomes the president of the United States, Joe Biden paying a somber heartfelt tribute to everyday Americans who lost their lives, to the pandemic. Don't get me wrong, we cannot expect everything to change just like
that. Too much has -- too much has happened. We've seen too much. There is too much damage, too much work to be done for it all to change in just one day. But we can begin, right? Can we begin?
We have a president-elect who is all too familiar with personal pain. Stepping up to be the consoler in chief, because he has to in this moment. A president-elect who won a resounding victory only to have the current president try to steal it from him.
Joe Biden about to take the oath of office, witnessed by millions of Americans at home and three former presidents at the capitol. But not the current president. He's behind closed doors at the White House acknowledging the new administration without mentioning Joe Biden's name and bragging about his so-called accomplishments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now as I prepared to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning. There's never been anything like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): In a matter of hours, America turns the page on four years of the Trump presidency. That will be over, a presidency that started with these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here, and stops right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It certainly does, doesn't it? He was those prescient. Because it stops right here and right now, four years that started
with that speech about American carnage. Four years ending with true American carnage, a riot, a pandemic, carnage.
More than 400,000 Americans dead from coronavirus, and a president whose dereliction of duty let this all happen on his watch. No more denying the truth and lying to the people about a deadly pandemic, that will be over, even though the pandemic will not.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
TRUMP: This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you're the wrong person, you don't have a chance.
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Yes, yes exactly. This is a monster.
TRUMP: So, this rips you apart. WOODWARD: This is a scourge and --
TRUMP: It is the plague.
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Imagine the irony of all of this, like the Shakespearean play. Because even when he was infected, when he infected himself, he didn't take it seriously. He never took it seriously, that will be over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I said supposing you brought the light inside the body in which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that too? It sounds interesting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll get the right folks who could.
TRUMP: Right. And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): You know every time I play that soundbite so many times and usually I -- it makes me chuckle, and I have my producer trying to keep me from laughing in my ear because it's so stupid and ridiculous.
But I'm not laughing or chuckling now, because it's not funny. It wasn't funny then. It was just so dumb that you had to laugh. It was laughable. That a President of United States actually said injecting bleach inside, as he is talking to experts, that happened. We are going to look back on that one day and say, did not really happen? Did that really happen, damn. Boy, that was some crazy you know what because it was.
No more coddling and cozying up to the darkest elements of our society. Would happen in the face of true American carnage in Charlottesville, right? That will be over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same pictures as you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): That very fine people on both sides, that too. We're going to say, did that you know what say that? And we'll say, yes, he said that. Can you believe? Very fine people on both sides from the worst elements of our society. Nazis, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, racists, anti-Semites, Jews will not replace us? Those are very fine people, really? No more cultivating thuggish supporters instead of denouncing them, that will be over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You want to call them, what do you want to call them? Give me a name? Give me name?
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: White supremacist and --
TRUMP: Go ahead. Who would you like me to condemn?
BIDEN: White supremacist and Proud Boys.
TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Even till the very end, stand back and stand by. Thank God, I mean that. Thank you, God that that will be over. No more wondering which side of the American president, with side the American president is really on. Or why he would trust Vladimir Putin, an enemy, over his own government? That will be over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: My first question for you, sir, is, who do you believe? My second question is, would you now with the whole world watching, tell President Putin would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
TRUMP: My people came to me. Dan Coats came to me and some others and they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Can't say that there will be no more impeachments, right? Who knows what the future holds, whether the Republicans will want revenge? But tonight, goodbye. Goodbye to a president who has been impeached not once, but twice. Two impeachments, one term, zero popular vote victories, more impeachments than terms.
He's still in the middle of the impeachment process awaiting trial in the Senate, he will be tried for inciting a riot at the capitol and sending a deadly mob down the mall where they sought to lynch the vice president, attack the Speaker of the House and other members of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to walk down to the capitol.
(CROWD CHEERING) TRUMP: And we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we'll probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And then he told them, he loved them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We love you. You're very special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So that will not be over, his first impeachment happened because he tried to stop Joe Biden's candidacy by pressuring the president of Ukraine on the phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I had a very good call with the president of Ukraine, I assume that's what you're talking about. The call was perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Perfect, he knew that Joe Biden could beat him. He knew it. And he was right. Joe Biden did beat him, fairly, squarely. Not a rigged election, not stolen.
President Trump tried everything to stop him, and when he couldn't he applied every possible pressure to overturn election from the state, from the state house -- from the White House, excuse me, on the phone, he tried everything. That too will be over.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11, 000, 780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Can you imagine that? The boldness, how brazen, how entitled? I just need this, get it for me. You know how to do it. Nope, not going to happen, people didn't want to go to jail because they had to follow the law. Even though you thought you were above it, but you're not above the electoral process.
He needed a lot more than that in the end, and this is the end and it didn't work. Democracy held. It's an internal disgrace, an internal disgrace that the president's efforts got as far as it really did. He had so many enablers, and we're going to remember them in the days and the years ahead, we're going to remember. We will remember. But all of it, the racism, the thuggishness, the crudeness, the lying,
the constant and needless chaos, the love affairs with dictators, the incompetence in the face of crisis, the endless creation of more crisis, the attacks on democracy that brought America to the brink of disaster and brought death to the steps of the capitol itself.
And all of that will be over tomorrow. A new beginning that is the promise of America, and no matter what he did over these long, long four years or so, Donald Trump couldn't break that promise. America's promise will now be in the hands of Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States.
I know you've been down, a lot of us have. I know you're saying what is wrong with, why am I so depressed, we had a lot going, we had a lot going on, death, destruction, lies, threats. All of it, you had a reason, but now you've a reason to be hopeful.
So as Chris said, together let's get through this together. Let's bring our democracy back and keep performance.
Let's bring in now CNN Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thank you so much. I just want to give a self-correct here, 74.2 million people. I got my math a little bit wrong with Chris. So, when I make a mistake, I correct it, unlike the former administration, the one that's on the way out.
Good evening, Jeff, how are you?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, good evening.
LEMON: So, we are hours away from Joe Biden becoming the 46 President United States, and on the eve of his inauguration he honored the 400,000 Americans who died from COVID. It was an emotional moment. So talk me about what we're going to see tomorrow.
ZELENY: Don, it absolutely was, and you can still see the lights behind me here aligning the reflecting pool. Those will be on for a little bit longer tonight. And look, that was a poignant moment, but really something that is going to frame the presidency of Joe Biden. No question.
I mean, this is a -- you know, there's somewhat of an air of muted celebration, I would say, but also a sense of the challenges ahead. And he's going to get, you know, started with that right away. He's going to begin his day tomorrow morning in an interesting way.
He's going to go to mass which he often does at the cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle in downtown Washington. But he has invited to join him Speaker Nancy Pelosi, soon to be Senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
So interestingly, he wants to be seen with these four beginning that relationship and then of course giving his inaugural address. I'm told it's going to be about 20 minutes or so on the west front of the capitol, talking about unity, talking about the challenges going forward but also asking Americans once again to come together and framing this challenge. There are going to be living presidents there, President Bush, President Clinton, President Obama and not President Trump, of course.
And I'm told that President Trump is likely not even going to be mentioned in the speech, certainly not dwelled upon at all. It is a sense of turning the page, moving on, moving forward but he is of course facing so many challenges many of them will be surrounding him right there on the same west front steps of the capitol, exactly two weeks ago where that insurgency began. And he will have to work with these Republicans, get them to work with him for his agenda to go forward.
LEMON: Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
So, we're looking at these live pictures now. Can we put, Danny, I don't know if we have control there but that long shot of the mall looking -- look how beautiful? Look at how beautiful our country is, Washington, D.C., the seat of our democracy?
And can you imagine the horror that happened there two Wednesdays ago? Unbelievable. But look how beautiful it is. The promise of a new day in this country happening tomorrow, this American carnage will end.
A scramble in the Trump White House over pardons on the eve of Joe Biden's inauguration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Twelve years ago, I was waiting at the train station in Wilmington for a black man to pick me up on our way to Washington, where we were sworn in as president and vice president of the United States of America.
And here we are today, my family and I about to return to Washington to meet a black woman, a South Asian descent to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, we are now in the final of Donald Trump's presidency. He is spending his last night at the White House where there is a scramble to issue pardons. Tonight, the current president's final schedule released, saying the president and the first lady will depart the White House for Florida tomorrow morning at 8. He's ignoring the long-standing tradition choosing to skip Joe Biden's inauguration. So, let's bring in now CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins
and senior legal analyst Laura Coates. Laura is a former federal prosecutor.
Good evening to both of you.
Wow, this is the end of an era for us, we've been on the air all these long years reporting and going through all of this together, so good to see both of you.
Kaitlan, I'm going to start with you, the final night. He leaves tomorrow, and in his final hours you're reporting that there is a frantic scramble over pardons. What do you know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is notable that this is the way that Donald Trump is spending his last few hours in office. Before he's leaving in the morning, of course, as you noted, well ahead of schedule that a typical president would.
But my colleague Pam Brown and I are told that these final few hours are basically just the president going back and forth over pardons. Because that is what we still haven't gotten with. It was supposed to be a final act of the Trump presidency, something we thought we could have seen at the end of last week but here we are late into Tuesday night at 10.30 p.m. and still have not gotten these pardons yet from the White House.
And one big holdup, we should note, is Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist who we had been under the impression, the White House aides under the impression he was not going to be getting a pardon, he was not going to be on this list, Don. But we are told the president repeatedly brought it up today he wants to pardon Bannon.
Of course, there is some consternation over the role he played in that rally that happened before the riot on Capitol Hill. So, it remains to be seen if he's going to get one and that is what we are waiting to find out from the White House still.
LEMON: And, Kaitlan, you're reporting that President Trump again, it was talked out, right, pardoning himself and his kids, right, by Republican lawmakers?
COLLINS: Yes. Well, he was talked out of pardoning himself and kids and Republican lawmakers, those Republican lawmakers who were involved in that rally. The White House attorneys told the president that was a bad idea and he agreed after a very long meeting, we are told, --
COLLINS: -- at the White House on Saturday.
LEMON: I just want to make it very clear. So, Laura, we're expecting pardons at any moment now. But President Trump was warned pardoning his family and himself could make him legally vulnerable. I wonder why because I was told on this broadcast last night that he could actually do a pardon, not make it public, memorialize it, put in his pocket a safe place, a safe deposit box or a drawer and then pull it out as needed and the public would not know about it.
But go on. Would that make him either two things, vulnerable legally and could he actually do what I just said?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the idea of retaining it as a sort of assurance policy is an oddity here. Because of course remember, it could backfire, it actually invites prosecutors to try to challenge the notion that a president of the United States has absolute power over this very thing.
Remember just last week when we heard from President Trump, and he said to President-elect Joe Biden with respect to the 25th amendment, be careful what you wish for. Well, be careful what you wish for when it comes to a self- pardon, because then it challenges the prosecutors to decide whether they actually want to test that theory.
It would ultimately go to the Supreme Court where he has installed through his own appointment and nomination process, three self- professed originalists. Who would then go to the intent of the founding fathers, who frankly, I would find it very difficult to believe that they believed it was appropriate for a democratic system that would allow for essentially, a king to pardon himself or anything.
And so, you have all these complications, and not to mention it would invite the state prosecutors to say well look, if there is no ability to challenge him in the federal courts, well then why wouldn't we try in places like Georgia, why wouldn't we try in other places like New York state. And Republicans and Democrats would be in addition to actually challenge, the president saying, I've got absolute power and it's good to be the king.
LEMON: Thank you, Laura. Thank you, Kaitlan. I'll see you. I'll be watching you over the coming days with the reporting. We appreciate it.
The nation's capital preparing for President-elect Biden's inauguration in a time of unprecedented challenges to this country. These lights at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool honoring the more than 400,000 people have died in the coronavirus pandemic. The story challenges, straight ahead, next.
LEMON (on camera): So, Joe Biden is set to become the 46th President of the United States in a matter of hours beginning a new era in the country after really the four tumultuous years of the Trump presidency.
The new president taking office in the middle of a COVID-19 crisis that's claimed more than 400,000 American lives, and heightened security threats in Washington and across the country. So, joining me now is CNN senior commentator, John Kasich and former
Republican -- he's the former Republican governor of Ohio, and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Gentlemen, good evening. Here we go.
Good evening, Don.
LEMON: I keep saying the end of an era, right.
John, why are you laughing, John Kasich?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, Don, I was thinking about what I want to say tonight. And I wrote a couple of things down here. You know, for six or seven years I've been dealing with this. I stood on the stage with him and debated. And then when we got down to smaller numbers in a bigger debate, he quit. And then, you know, the time came for the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and I didn't go.
And I kept pointing out to my friends the things that I was concerned about, and then I'm looking at, I've made a couple of notes, North Korea, remember that? He's over there, call him his buddy. He withdrew from the Iran deal and now things could be potentially hopelessly lost, attacking our allies, you know, belittling them, demagoguery over immigrants, the rising debt, the name-calling, the polarization.
I mean, it's just like been so many things. And now it's done. It's over, as you said earlier tonight, it's finished. But it's going to be a patch of history that a lot of people are going to want to read, and I hope that we're able to move on, because I still have great concerns about what's around the corner. But violence is down. We are not seeing these violent protests or anything. Don, maybe, we could --
LEMON: Disinformation on the internet is down.
LEMON: You know, since the president has been off of social media. Go on.
KASICH: You know, and it's not like -- I'm trying to get my emotion. It's not joy. It's like wow, like a rollercoaster ride. You've got to go up and then you go crashing down. You don't know what you are going to see next and you really don't know what's around the bend. And it's really hurt our country.
I feel so sorry or badly in some ways for people that just can't seem to deal with this. And I don't mean the violent ones, the anarchists or the ones who crash into the capital. But people who are so bitterly disappointed that they thought they had hope in their life and this guy never offered them hope, they thought that he offered them hope but he really never did. He was a negative populist. Always blaming people's problems on
somebody else --
KASICH: -- instead of getting right down into the ditch with them and say yes, we're in here together and we're going to pull our way out, and we're going to do it together. And he just never did it and that's why I never supported him. And there is no I told you so. It's just kind of a bitter time, but yet also a bittersweet time.
LEMON: But here's the thing.
KASICH: That's the way to describe it.
LEMON: Yes. But also, I think it's a sigh of relief.
LEMON: And that the -- but a cautious sigh of relief. But the caution is really it's well, at least it's something that we probably have dealt with before and there's not mounting lies, mounting disinformation, mounting violence, mounting bigotry, racism, hatred, sexism, it's something politically that we may be familiar with.
Douglas, I don't know if you agree with that. But we saw a president, speaking of rounding the corner. We saw President-elect Biden today act as a consoler and chief. Something we haven't seen in four years, and I keep thinking that we are about to see a fundamentally decent man replaced a fundamentally indecent man. Is that how history will see it?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I hope so. And Joe Biden is a decent man. And today, just seeing the -- looking at the National Mall and trying to finally do a proper remembrance of all of the dead from COVID-19. It was a, Donald Trump was in denial of people dying by the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. I felt that very reassuring today.
On the other hand, there's Washington, D.C. all lit up looking so beautiful with the American flags in remembrance, and yet people are afraid to come to our nation's capital. But I'm hopeful. And you know, Joe Biden did a lot of brave things in 2020.
Don, I know your new book deal so much with civil rights and James Baldwin and the like. But I mean, Biden on July 4th urged Americans. He has famously said rip, we are going to rip the roots of systematic racism. And it was a important statement when Biden made it.
And I think tomorrow will be about unity, but I think Biden on week two and three is going to have to be a fighting, happy lawyer, because we're going to have to collectively take on the COVID crisis, the economy, climate change, and all of the deferred maintenance that we haven't done properly under the Trump administration.
LEMON: And you're right. I write all about that. Thank you for saying that, Douglas. By the way, I thank everyone, the book is number one on Amazon today. So, let's see. And it talks all about the issues that we are dealing with right now. So, I appreciate your thoughts last night. I appreciate you mentioning it today.
John, President Trump has raised the idea of starting a new political party in recent days. That's according to a senior Trump advisor. It is unclear how determined he is to do this. But what would that mean for the Republican Party? And what would that mean for this country? Because I think it would mean good news for Democrats. They would say bring it on because it splits Republicans. No?
KASICH: Well, I don't know that Trump would do that. I think with the party, Don, the party just can't be again, OK? It's OK to be against something but you have to have an alternative. You have to have a position on healthcare, you have to have a position on immigration, you have to have a position on running the government, you have to have a good position of what we are going to do in the gap between the rich and the poor and they just can't sit back and be against everything. In fact, there are some things that they ought to embrace. In terms of Joe Biden, look, --
LEMON: But John, you say -- you say all of that, John, but that's where the party is going. I mean, look at the Hawley's and the Cruz's and with 70 more -- 74.2 million people wanted.
LEMON: It seems to be going in that the exact opposition direction of what you are saying right now.
KASICH: Remember -- remember the Scorpions had a song called "The Winds of Change." They wrote it as the Berlin Wall was falling down. One of my favorite song of mine. OK? And Don, there is a thing called the winds of change. Now I don't know how they are going to blow. And it may be that the party will be damaged for a decade. I'm not sure of that.
Because there are also people out there who are beginning to say no, no, we can be better than this. We can do better than this. And my hope are in the younger Republicans. I don't mean young Republicans or they're included. But the younger people who understand the issues of immigration and the environment, and the need to deal with the police in the community.
LEMON: I got you.
KASICH: There are -- there are people there that can do that, and it's a matter of whether they can assert themselves, and if a party doesn't have ideas, it has no energy, and if it has no energy it doesn't cease to exist. LEMON: Yes.
KASICH: Hopefully with ideas they can have energy.
LEMON: I got to ask Douglas before we run out of time.
KASICH: We'll see.
LEMON: We're almost out.
LEMON: Douglas, so where do you see if you're looking. When this kind of unrest, I don't know if we had similar, but in the past how has America come out of it?
BRINKLEY: We are going to get through this. I always say, Don, that you know, our times are not uniquely perilous. It is true that this COVID-19 disaster the healthcare crisis is so large that we haven't been able to get our arms around it. But you've got to believe that better days are coming.
I think tomorrow Joe Biden will be talking about, you know, that the soul of the America theme Abraham Lincoln's inaugural. We've got to be hopeful in this country, and we have a new management in town with Joe Biden.
Since Governor Kasich quoted the Scorpions, I'll quote Bob Dylan in directed towards Donald Trump. It's all over now, baby blue, it's done for Donald Trump. He can go back to Mar-a-Lago and stew in his own hatred because he sow a lot of damage across the land for four years.
LEMON: The times are changing, how about that?
KASICH: Dylan will always be the Scorpions.
BRINKLEY: (Inaudible) writing books, don't try to sing.
LEMON: We need a little laugh.
BRINKLEY: The governor of Ohio --
LEMON: What did you say, Douglas?
BRINKLEY: Anyway, I was going to say the governor of Ohio should quote an American barred like Bob Dylan, not a European glam rock band like the Scorpions.
KASICH: You know, in a way the wall -- the way has fallen in America --
LEMON: I got to go. KASICH: -- they've all been set free. So come on guys, get with it.
LEMON: This has gone off the rails here. Hey, I appreciate both you. Thank you so much, thank you, guys.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
LEMON: A major power shift just hours away, Joe Biden about to enter the White House as Democrats appear to take control of the Senate. What it means for the future of this country, that's next.
LEMON (on camera): We are hours away from a major power shift in this country. Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President United States, and Democrats will take control of the United States Senate. Tonight, Biden is staying at the Blair House, right across the street from Trump at the White House but they won't see each other.
Trump never welcomed Biden. He didn't even mention Biden's name in his farewell video, and now Trump will become the 4th president in U.S. history to skip his successor's immigration. This hasn't happened since Andrew Johnson.
Joining me now is Democrat -- Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Good to see you. It's been a minute since the election and you told us how it was all going to play out and you are exactly right.
So good evening to you. Thank you for joining.
Just hours away from Biden taking the presidential oath of office and Democrats are gaining control of the Senate. Instead of loyalist and grifters in the White House, talk to me about this momentous change that we're going to see in Washington tomorrow.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, Don, I think the note of optimism that you struck at the beginning of the show tonight I think is the right approach because Joe Biden is going to be ready to govern, as soon as he takes the oath of office. And I think it's reflected in the cabinet choices. These are people of great experience and competence but also people that have been tested.
And they're all -- and they're going to be probably the most diverse cabinet in history, so they are going to be ready to govern on day one because we got to attack the virus. We have to do that with them. Remember that Congress have dealt with appropriation and you have to have an economic strategy in place as Joe Biden outlined in his American rescue plan which deals with both COVID and the jobs crisis.
I think today, with the cabinet, some of the cabinet hearing you heard support on the Republican side for Tony Blinken for the secretary of state. We had Janet Yellen the treasury secretary nominee, she did a really strong really good job and did a strong performance. So, I think on day one you're going to have a team that's ready to
govern, I couldn't have a person have better character than Joe Biden starting on day one.
LEMON: Senator Casey, President-elect Biden is inheriting multiple crises, a deadly pandemic killing thousands of Americans a day, an economic catastrophe, multiple threats of domestic terrorism. How is he going to navigate these challenges amid such deep division in this country?
CASEY: Well, Joe Biden has spent his whole time as a public official in the Senate and as vice president trying to bring people together and he'll work at that every day. Some days it won't work, and he's -- I don't think anyone should underestimate his toughness, his determination and his competitive spirit to succeed.
But he is not going to be in the mood for obstructive behavior by Republicans. But I think he'll reach out to them, and if they don't work with him on major issues, I think he's going to try to defeat them, just in terms of getting the votes he needs for his plan.
But I think a lot of Americans appreciate the fact that this American rescue plan is designed to tackle the tackle big crises right in front of us. And that's the jobs and economic crisis, and of course the virus. I think moving vaccines out faster, that alone will, I think inspire confidence.
LEMON: It's really been admirable and I think, Senator, a lesson in for each of us, for every single person who is watching, everyone, really in the country is how to ignore the noise and focus on what's important because there is so much chaos around this incoming president.
He's already facing resistance from people in the Congress and Senate. Like people like Senator Hawley, who says that he will object to a quick consideration of his nominee for DHS secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. Hawley won't even admit that Biden rightfully won the election. So, is this kind of behavior a sign of what's to come do you think?
CASEY: Sure. For some Republicans that will continue. Because so many of them including the who objected, Senator Hawley, and Senator Cruz their loyalty is to a man not to the Constitution. But the problem with that, Don, is even Republicans know that in order to move the country forward you have to be part of governing. You have to be part of the solution.
And the good news is that Joe Biden is not going to allow all of these slights and insults to slow him down. He is ready to govern. He's ready to put his experience to work for the American people. And at this time of crisis we could not be better suited, he could not be better suited to meet the demands of all the crises you just articulated.
LEMON: Senator Casey, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Be safe. Thanks so much.
CASEY: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: So, I want to get now to some breaking news. Our CNN's Kaitlan Collins is joining us now from Washington. Kaitlan, as we have been saying, we've been waiting on some information to come up about the pardons. I understand you have some information, some reporting especially as it concerns former advisor Steve Bannon. What do you know?
COLLINS: That's right, Don. We have not gotten the official list from the White House. Yet we are still waiting on that but my colleague Pam Brown and I can now report that the president has decided to pardon his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
This is a last-minute decision that President Trump has told people he has made only hours before he is scheduled to leave the White House for a final time. And it comes after basically an entire day of deliberating with President Trump over whether or not he was actually going to pursue this.
And we should note we have not gotten the official release from the White House yet. And officials have cautioned CNN that of course it is not final until the president has actually signed the paper work for Steve Bannon to get this pardon. But this is the decision that we are told the president has made. He is telling people that it's one of his final acts in office. He is going to pardon Steve Bannon.
Now, this is incredible just given how fractured their relationship had gone, the pitfalls of the relationship between President Trump and Steve Bannon. Where it had to where it is now. Because remember, Don, it was only in 2018 that the president basically excommunicated Steve Bannon, exiled him from his inner circle after Steve Bannon told that author Michael Wolf that he believed the behavior of Donald Trump, Jr. was treasonous.
He said that Ivanka Trump was dumb as a brick, I believe is the quote that he usually used. And after that it led the president to put out that massive statement saying that Bannon had lost his mind. Had no credit, or he should take no credit for his success.
But what helped get Steve Bannon back in the president's inner circle was that he was part of fanning these flames, these conspiracies about the election for the last several months. And he played a role in that January the 6th rally. He was telling people to come to Washington on a podcast that he hosts. And we were told by sources that the president and Bannon had communicated. And so now that appears to be what has brought us to where we are tonight.
LEMON: And Kaitlan --
COLLINS: One of the final acts that the president is expected to make.
LEMON: And that was the -- that was the concern around this, his possible connection to the January 26th riot on the capitol. But we have to explain -- January 6th -- excuse me. And we have to explain what happened with Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon is accused of defrauding people out -- hundreds of thousands of people out of millions of dollars because of the border wall.
LEMON: People had donated money to the border wall. And that's what he is accused of. They were saying that he used personal expenses. That he and other men took the money. They ultimately raised more than $25 million for a volunteer organization that 100 percent of the funds raised would be used in the execution of the mission and the purpose. But they said that that money was never used for that. That's the accusation. And that's the reason for the pardon.
COLLINS: Yes. And I've got to stress. The president has not sighed this paperwork yet. We have not gotten this list from the White House. We are expecting it still to be about 100 people on this list. But we are -- our sense is, you know, Steve Bannon is going to be one of the most notable figures here.
We've been trying to report out who could be on this list. We've been talking about others. The president is not expected to be on this list, or his children or those Republican lawmakers involved in that rally. But Steve Bannon is a figure that we are told he has told people he has decided he is going to pardon Steve Bannon.
And it's just remarkable because this is something that is kind of a surprise. Because our sense over the weekend was that the president had actually decided against pardoning Bannon. And that his chances of getting one were pretty slim.
And so this does show you the last minute nature of this. And what President Trump is doing in his final hours in office. You know, it's not these goodbye parties with staffers. He took a few pictures. He had some meetings. But we are told that a lot of the deliberations that he's been having today had to do with whether or not he is going to move forward in this pardon.
So, we are waiting for it to be official but this is what the president is telling people right now as of almost 11 p.m., Don.
LEMON: Kaitlan, I want you to stand by because I want to bring in Elie Honig who is a former prosecutor here. Elie, let's talk about the legal aspect of this. Here's the -- these are the charges.
New York prosecutors charge President Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon, three others with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of the fund-raising campaign reportedly aimed at supporting Trump's border wall.
The four men were indicted for allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to an online crowd funding campaign called We Build A Wall for personal expenses among other things. Twenty-five million dollars is what they alleged. And they used more than $1 million from the Build a Wall to secretly pay off one of the people, and cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon's personal expenses. And now we are hearing -- but as Kaitlan said, it's not signed yet. That it will probably end in a pardon.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Don, what a fitting end to this presidency to go out with one last blast of corruption and self- dealing and cronyism. Steve Bannon is just a straight-up crook. I mean, you just laid it out. Essentially what he did was rip off Trump supporters. They ran the scam called We Build the Wall. They collected donations. Steve Bannon just schemed the bunch of that money for himself, used it to fund his lavish lifestyle.
That's the person who, as Kaitlan says, could soon be pardoned. And I want to say this. If this pardon goes down, that's a prosecution being run by my former office, the Southern District of New York, that's a federal prosecutors office. But let me tell you, I could walk that file from the front door of the SDNY down the alley across the street to the Manhattan D.A.'s office which is a state prosecutor's office in about, I don't know 90 seconds if I was at a brisk pace.
So that's what needs to happen right now because this is a straight-up theft. It's a federal crime, it's also a state crime though and a presidential pardon cannot touch a state crime.
LEMON: All right. Elie and Kaitlan, I want you to stand by, we're going to continue on with more on our breaking news. Pardons coming out of the White House it's supposed to -- we should get the list shortly. We'll bring it to you live as we get it. We'll be back right after this break.
LEMON: So here is our breaking news right now at the top of the hour. President Trump saying he is decided to pardon Steve Bannon. We await the official announcement and the slew of additional pardons, that as we are now only one hour away from inauguration day in America, can you believe it?
Joe Biden soon to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and a groundbreaking moment. Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the first woman and first woman of color to hold the office of vice president.
Tonight, in Washington D.C., preparing to begin his presidency. Biden presiding over a ceremony, remembering the 400,000 Americans who have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saying, and I quote here, "to heal, we must remember."
Trump leaves office at high noon. He will not attend Biden's inauguration.
Let's get to the breaking news. CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us the very first at the top of this hour.