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Don Lemon Tonight

Donald Trump's Enemy's List Growing By The Day; Republicans Oppose Biden's COVID Relief Bill; Goya CEO Makes A Lie Sweeter For Trump Supporters; New York A.G. To Investigate Governor Cuomo; Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Soon To Be Given To Americans; Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield In Her First Interview After Being Confirmed. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 01, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): All right. You know, important topics, it's good to have it on ones, but you really don't make change unless you talk about things repeatedly. And we will do that on the minimum wage. We will do that on the economics that are affecting the biggest part of this country. It will be a rolling conversation.

But now, a very special moment, right? A friend is a gift all their own, right? Someone who commits in heart and mind. Well, my friend --


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Who are you talking about?

CUOMO: -- D. Lemon has a birthday today.

LEMON: Twenty-seven again.

And it has to be said, you are looking nifty at 60. I have to say. And I have a little gift for you, do you see us on the box?


CUOMO: And I want you to have it. Here, I'll hand it to you.

LEMON: OK. Shall I grab it?

CUOMO: Here is the box, did you get it?

LEMON: Thank you. Wow.

CUOMO: Yes. Now open it up, don't worry, it's not going to explode.

LEMON: Are you sure?


LEMON: Can I -- CUOMO: Then don't let me do it. I did not mess up your face. That's the cup cake.

LEMON: What is that?

CUOMO: That's cupcakes.

LEMON: I thought --

CUOMO: Cupcakes! My well-fed friend.

LEMON: It's the frosting. Hold on.

CUOMO: Yes. I did not mess up your face.

LEMON: Let me see.

CUOMO: It's the cup cake.

LEMON: All right. I get it. There we go. There you go.

CUOMO: So those are cupcakes.

LEMON: That's nice. Who did that? Did you make them? Were you up all night, were you slaving in the kitchen?

CUOMO: No. I'll tell you, my kid makes -- could make them, but you know, baking is not a strong suit in the house. But these are very good. I think they're magnolias.

LEMON: Those are good. That's Louisiana.

CUOMO: But they are very tasty, and so are you. I love you. You are sweet as sugar.

LEMON: Tasty.

CUOMO: You are good inside and out. You don't have to take everything to --


LEMON: So, wait, what is my -- am I the rainbow? What am I?

CUOMO: You are in many ways a rainbow. You like to shine across dark times and show people that better days can be ahead.


CUOMO: As long as you know well enough to look up and try to aspire and inspire. And you're a good man. You're living right. You do things for the right reasons, and you're not afraid of a fight. And I respect all of that, and I love you. And you are a gift in my life, and I hope to return the favor.

LEMON: Chris. CUOMO: Shut up.

LEMON: You know I'm going to be a smart ass now I'd say something real. I don't have anything to say except --


CUOMO: You don't have to. It's your birthday. Just accept the love.

LEMON: I do -- I accept the love.

CUOMO: Accept the friendship and accept the gift, and I would say and this is what else I'm going to get you, but I pay every time we go out.

LEMON: That's not true.

CUOMO: So it's just one long --


CUOMO: continuing generosity.

LEMON: Can I tell you that there's -- here's the weird thing in my life. Because I mean, I feel like I'm in a relationship with you. Right? And people say a sexless major. That's what this is.

CUOMO: That's redundant.

LEMON: That's what this is. Because we're friends and we fight like we're lovers. We're not. Chris is a heterosexual man. He has kids. So, but here's the thing. I sometimes, as you know, I'll be having an argument or conversation with you and I'll be like listen, Tim, I'm sorry, Chris, and I do the same thing with Tim.

CUOMO: It makes sense because he's always right.

LEMON: We were at dinner and I was like, so look, and Chris, I mean, I said, my God, I mean, Tim. He just laughs because he's used to it. I call him you and, you know, vice versa. It's so weird.

CUOMO: And I call Tim your nephew. Because he's young and he's gorgeous and he's smart and he's kind. And you guys are a great couple. But I want you to know that, brother.

LEMON: Thank you.

CUOMO: Friendship is a gift. You've given it to me, and you've got my heart, and you've got my loyalty.

LEMON: Thank you.

CUOMO: And I am in your life whenever you need me all the time because you deserve it.

LEMON: Well, you know, you are family. We have that conversation quite honestly transparently earlier today, but I'll tell you the best side of you besides you, I love you, is Cristina. She is a gift from heaven, and so you don't mess that up. Because without that, I'd have to question our friendship.

CUOMO: Well, that's why these cup cakes are all made of air and spirulina.


CUOMO: They are vegan, sugar free protein packed.

LEMON: I feel the text or the e-mail from the boss coming soon, like, get on with the news, guys.


LEMON: Hey, listen.

CUOMO: God forbid there's too much love and amity in the world.

LEMON: One thing, producers, it's warm in here. Please cool it down because Chris is, you know, he has embarrassed me and I'm turning rust. Too, I have some very exciting for our audience. Chris, you mentioned Louisiana. I've got the ambassador at the U.N. on who is -- we grew up in the same hometown. It's amazing. So, stay tuned for that interview.

And number three, I love you like a brother. You know that. And I meant every word I said earlier today and I mean every word I say now. So.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon. I celebrate you every day but today is special to your mother for bringing you into the world. Mama, you've done great.

LEMON: Same to you. Same to you.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON (on camera): All right. You take care. I love you more.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

So, let's talk about where we are right now. Right? What is urgent in this country. What is affecting the most people in this country? And that's we need relief from the coronavirus.


So, I want you to know in all of that, where the Republican Party stands right now. And they're standing firmly against President Biden's popular coronavirus relief package, and firmly behind the unpopular defeated twice impeached one-term former president.

That's where they stand. That's what they care about. While America is desperate for COVID relief. Watching and waiting as President Joe Biden turns up the heat on the Senate to seal the deal on his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, a bill that passed the House with not one single Republican vote. Not one. How did you justify that? How do you justify that to voters? While millions of people desperately need help.

Republicans are lining up against the bill. The vast majority of Americans support and demonstrating that they're still enthralled to a disgraced twice impeached, one-term president. It is purely cowardice. They're afraid that they're going to end up like the handful of Republicans who voted their conscience on impeachment and landed on his enemy's list for telling the truth in the face of his big lie.

But I have to be honest. I mean, maybe it's an enemy's list. Maybe it's an honor roll as in you can still have some honor.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Democrats don't have grand standers like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse.


LEMON (on camera): Mitt Romney who in the face of the big lie told the truth, the election was not stolen.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): How many Republicans will say that what the president is saying is simply wrong? And dangerous. That the continued attack on our election system and the calls that suggest that it's been fraudulent or stolen, that these things are not accurate, they're not true.


LEMON (on camera): Ben Sasse who says it's not all about you know who.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): I still believe as you used to, that politics isn't about the weird worship of one dude.


LEMON (on camera): It is an honor for Republicans like them to be on the former president's enemy's list. A list that goes on and on.


TRUMP: Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins.


LEMON (on camera): Richard Burr who voted to convict saying that the former president violated his oath of office. Bill Cassidy who warns his party if they can't quit Trump, they'll lose.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): If we idolize one person, we will lose. And that's kind of clear from the last election.


LEMON (on camera): Susan Collins who voted to convict over the former president's abuse of power and betrayal of his oath.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors. And for those reasons, I voted to convict Donald J. Trump.


LEMON (on camera): And the enemy's list goes on.


TRUMP: Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey.


TRUMP: And in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina. Adam Kinzinger.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): What was an honor was to be listed with such, you know, good members of Congress and other senators like Bill Cassidy and Murkowski and Liz Cheney and Jamie Beutler. These people that, you know, stood up and voted their conscience despite the tough political thing that they knew would come from it. And that's what leadership is about.

TRUMP: Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That's another beauty.


TRUMP: Fred Upton, Jamie Herrera Beutler.

REP. JAIME HERRERA BEUTLER (R-WA): My vote to impeach our sitting president is not fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side. I'm choosing truth. It's the only way to defeat fear.

TRUMP: Peter Meijer, John Katko, David Valadao, and of course, the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?


LEMON (on camera): God, so sweaty and look. So, Liz Cheney who said that there was never -- there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his oath of office and his oath to the Constitution, who, just last week said that the disgraced former president should butt out of the future of the Republican Party and the country.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I've been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which following -- the extent to which January 6th, I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party, or the country.



LEMON (on camera): Seventeen Republicans who stood up against the big lie who stood up for the truth, and ended up on the former president's enemy's list which, let's face it, it's actually an honor, but so many are still doing his bidding. Why, though after -- it's just mindboggling. They're still trying to rewrite history like I said it is cowardice. They're afraid of a former president who left the White House in disgrace. They're still in power. And he's not.

He lost the White House, lost the Senate, lost the House, lost the respect of the American people. He lost some multiple court cases all the way up to the Supreme Court where his conservative majority refused to do his bidding. He can't even tweet anymore.

Remember when we used to say they're afraid of the tweets? No, maybe that's just who they are. Why are they afraid of them, though? Why are they tying themselves into knots trying to rewrite history like Senator Ted Cancun Cruz, who wants you to believe that he didn't see that enemy's list speech at CPAC.


UNKNOWN: I want to ask you about the president's comments yesterday.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I didn't see it.


LEMON (on camera): Didn't see it. Remember all the people who didn't. I didn't see those tweets but now they're all concerned about the tweets of some of the nominees who are the current president, Joe Biden? But they -- he didn't see the speech. They didn't see the tweets.

What do you expect from someone like Ted Cruz who wanted you to believe that he only went to Cancun to be a good dad? Republican spending an awful lot of time rewriting history like Ron Johnson, trying to tell us that the rioters who stormed the capitol weren't Trump supporters even though we saw them with our own eyes live on the television. And the officers who were there in the middle of all that, the scrums, they know they were Trump supporters. They will tell you. Ask them. Go back and look at their testimony or their interviews. Like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, trying to rewrite the history

of COVID in her state, a state with one of the 10 worst mortality rates.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): South Dakota is the only state in America that never ordered a single business or church to close.


NOEM: We never instituted a shelter in place order. We never mandated that people wear masks.


NOEM: We never even defined what an essential business is.


LEMON (on camera): And she's proud of that? Because people in her state died. People who didn't have to. And she's bragging about it? What? How disgraceful is that? And they're cheering and applauding. Who is she? Who are you people?

COVID has killed more than a half million Americans. Half million Americans. That's a terrible truth. And that is the reality in all of this. And even as a third vaccine approved rolls off the line the CDC director warns in the strongest of terms yet this is no time to let our guard down.


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. Now is not the time to relax.


LEMON (on camera): So that is the truth. And you want some more? Here's the truth. OK? For all of you watching live or when this show repeats or when you see the clips on social media. Our election was not stolen. That's the truth. That's reality. Yet, way too many Republicans are trying to rewrite history, rewriting the history of the pandemic, rewriting the history of the attack on the capitol and buying into the big lie.

This is the party of Lincoln today. Right? Enthrall to a disgraced former president who isn't even in power anymore, while they are. What gives?

As we said, a third COVID vaccine is going to start getting into arms in a matter of hours as Americans are warned not let down our guard, but can President Biden get his COVID relief bill done with zero support from Republicans? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We reserved time in his schedule to ensure that he can be engaged, roll up his sleeves and be personally involved in making phone calls, having more Zoom meetings, potentially having people here to the Oval Office to get this across the finish line. And I expect him to be very involved personally.




LEMON (on camera): President Biden turning up the pressure on Senate Democrats to pass his massive COVID relief bill, but it's a balancing act. He can't afford to lose a single Democratic vote.

So let's discuss now with CNN Political Director, David Chalian is here, and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger. The A-team. Good evening to both of you. I'm so happy to have you guys on.


LEMON: Thank you.

BORGER: Happy birthday.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening. Happy birthday.

LEMON: I appreciate it. I appreciate it on the air and your personal notes and by the way, I'm not 60. Some of you just told me to correct Chris. I'm not 60. Not far off.

BORGER: We don't believe it anything.

LEMON: Not that there's anything wrong with that. But when I get there, I'll let you know.

David, let's start with you. Senate Democrats are pressing ahead with the COVID relief bill. They're likely going to need every single vote. No sign of Republican support. But the Republican Party isn't engaging and how to help Americans right now, with how to help Americans. It's what to do about Trump. That's what -- that's what they're engaging with.


CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, they're engaging. There's not a sign that any Republican wants to support. Remember, Republican senators have been at the White House, met with president Biden on this COVID relief package, actually a couple different times. And there is not a sign that anyone on the Republican side is coming on board. And what Democrats are doing, for instance, in the House right now, Don, the Democratic campaign committee launched YouTube adds against vulnerable Republican incumbents for their vote in the House last week, on Friday against the package, saying that Republicans are opposed to some very popular things like these stimulus checks, like money for vaccines.

So there are sort of the politics of not being on board with this that Republicans will have to contend with, but they're making the calculation that a wall of opposition for this huge spending program is the way to stay unified as a party right now, and they may have to experience some blowback with voters. We'll see.

LEMON: Yes, you're right. We'll see about that. Because listen, most Americans as you said, most Americans want this package. They need the help. And so, we'll see, David.

Gloria, this bill has a ton of public support. And Trump does not. And it seems -- it seems like only a few Republicans are clear headed enough to realize that they need to be presenting ideas to the American people and not to rehash, not a rehash of Trump's ugly politics. Look at the support. You see, look at the -- it's up there 68 percent support the Biden's relief bill.

BORGER: Right. Yes. It's very popular out there. And I talked to a senior advisor at the White House who said, predictably, that Republicans voted against this at their own risk. But what Republicans are looking at, Don, is what happened in 2010 when Democrats lost control of the House after they pushed through stimulus package with only three Republican votes. And it didn't help the Democrats in that midterm election.

So they are thinking, past is prologue, and they're looking at that and saying well, if we remain united, as David says, then we can tell the American public we weren't going to spend money unwisely, and if it doesn't all work out, we'll be on the right side of this and we're going to retake the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate. That's their plan and they're sticking to it. Who knows if it will work?

LEMON: Yes. But Gloria, I think it's different. I mean, then we weren't in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Right?

BORGER: Well, --

LEMON: Where people were losing their jobs and businesses and --

BORGER: No, but you -- right. But you did have a huge economic recession --

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: -- at that time when Obama took over. And so, you know, there was a sense of crisis. It's not the same kind of crisis. People, I think this is way worse. But it was a crisis.

LEMON: Right. Right. Right on.

David, Minority Leader McConnell saying that he and the Senate Republicans will support Senator Murkowski's reelection bid in 2022, even though Trump trashed her this weekend. She's on his enemy's list. What does that say about where McConnell is -- where he's feeling the pressure today?

CHALIAN: Yes. You said he's, that she was on Trump's enemy's list. Remember what he said about all 17. The 10 Republicans who voted to impeach. The seven Republicans who voted to convict him in the Senate trial was get rid of them all. And Mitch McConnell is saying squarely no. So once again, we're seeing a McConnell/Trump divide here. No, we're not getting rid of Lisa Murkowski. We're going to stand by her.

This is so critical, Don, to this whole notion of the Republican Party at war with itself right now. It's going to get resolved in these 2022 primary fights. If, indeed, Lisa Murkowski withstands the primary challenge or on House side Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney can withstand a primary challenge against a Trump-aligned Republican, then you are going to start to see other Republicans say, wait a second here, maybe Trump is not the path forward. That's where the Republican Party voters are going to actually have their say in this battle within the party.

LEMON: Yes. Gloria, I want to ask you about --


BORGER: And Don --

LEMON: Go on, Gloria. Sorry.


LEMON: There's a bit of a delay. Go on, finish your thought.

BORGER: No, no, I -- no, no, I was just going to say that, you know, either McConnell wins and all he cares about is control of the Senate or Trump wins, and all he cares about is getting rid of these people, and he cares about the fact that he can tell the American public he didn't lose, that he is still a winner and that he is still powerful enough to get rid of the people who dared cross him.


BORGER: So, you know, McConnell has a different goal here which is the Republican Party and trying to save it.

LEMON: Yes. Gloria, I want to ask you about the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York attorney general says that she can start an investigation of the allegations of sexual harassment by two women. This is looking very serious for the governor.


BORGER: Yes. well, it is, you know, it is very serious. These are serious charges. The attorney general is going to get a law firm to look into this, and she will oversee this, and this is precarious for any political official, including the governor of the state of New York. It's a difficult situation for him. He has apologized, but that wasn't accepted by one of the women. And I think look, these are serious, serious charges, and they deserve investigation.

LEMON: David, how does this affect, do we know at this point how this affect his career going forward?

CHALIAN: Well, we have started to see calls for his resignation from some Democrats. Tonight, we heard from Kathleen Rice, a congresswoman, a Democratic congresswoman in New York who called on Cuomo to resign.

And you know, I look at that as pretty significant, because 10 years ago when Andrew Cuomo was running for governor, he was the attorney general and Kathleen Rice was somebody that he kind of saw as a successor for him in the attorney general's office at the time she was running for that office as somebody that he wanted to be his successor.

So, this isn't somebody who doesn't have a relationship with Andrew Cuomo. And to me, that's a moment where if you're the governor, you realize the work is not done here yet to actually shore up the political damage that you've been taking on with these serious allegations. The well of support Andrew Cuomo has with his fellow Democrats in New York state seems to be more shallow than perhaps even he thought was true.

LEMON: Yes. And we'll continue to follow. Thank you both. I appreciate it so much.

So, days of propaganda, the big lie perpetrated at CPAC and why Goya CEO is peddling it again. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): CPAC giving Republicans a megaphone to perpetrate the -- perpetrate the big lie that former President Trump won the election. I want you to listen to these false claims from the CEO of Goya Foods.


ROBERT UNANUE, CEO, GOYA FOODS: My biggest honor today is going to be that I think we're going to be on the same stage as in my opinion, the real, the legitimate, and the still actual President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


UNANUE: Sorry Twitter. I've already been cancelled. You can't do it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON (on camera): So here with me now CNN political commentators Ana

Navarro and Scott Jennings.

Good evening. Hello to both of you.

Ana, you first. The Goya CEO is perpetrating this big lie election day was almost four months ago and Joe Biden has been president for more than six weeks. What's your reaction to him and all the others who are said what they had to say and did what they had to do at CPAC?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My reaction to the Goya Robert Unanue, and let's just remember. This is a dynastic company. It was started by his grandfather in the 1930s. Much like Donald Trump, Robert Unanue is a guy who won the birthing lottery. That's how he has his position.

The board of Goya, which includes a lot of his relatives, I assume, had told him no more talking about politics. He said he wasn't going to do it, and then we see him show up at CPAC to continue spreading the big lie. Why is it a problem for people like me?

Because, look, he's not there because of his pretty face or because of his brilliance or because of his elected office. He's there because he's the CEO of a very successful company that has been made successful by people like me buying his chocolate and his frijoles. And he has gone on to become the My Pillow guy of frijoles negros.

And it is incredibly offensive that after what we saw January 6th, this man would use that platform, given by people like me who have been buying his food to spread the big lie that caused injury and death on January 6th.

LEMON: Scott? You defended the Goya CEO last year when he praised the then president at the White House event -- at a White House event. But you say this time it's different. What's different now?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I did -- I did defend him last year. He went to an official event and just like a lot of other business people did. I thought the reaction to that at the time was partisan and ridiculous. You know, this time around he shows up at a political event. I can't tell if he's nuts of a sales genius.

I mean, the last time this happened there was a boycott except all the Trump people went out and bought, you know, cans of beans. I assume they are going to do the same thing now. So, I don't -- I don't know what the end game is for this guy. I mean, what he said is clearly false. I assume he's going to have to answer to his board of directors about whether they want to be embroiled in this controversy.

But just to be -- just to be straight, look, what he said is not true. I mean, Donald trump is not the president, did not win the election. And you know, he's going to have to live with the consequences of his speech which is free, but the consequences often aren't. So, I guess we'll see what happens in the days and weeks ahead.

LEMON: Scott, let me ask you, do -- do Republicans, the ones who are perpetrating this big lie, do they actually believe it or is it just a political tool to stay in the good graces of his twice impeached, one- term president?


JENNINGS: You know, I -- it's a great question. I think some people actually do believe it. Because, you know, just to be honest, they hear the media say one thing and so they reflexively believe something else. So, the media says Donald Trump lost, Joe Biden is the president and they want to run the opposite direction.

I think some people say it out loud. They mouth the words because they know Trump will like it. And I think for some people, I think it's almost becoming the lock her up of the current, you know, said -- you know, time period. There was the whole, you know, lock her up was a chant that was, you know, by Hillary Clinton in 2016 but it persisted for a very long time.

And I think it's almost become sort of like the rallying cry. I mean, it's ridiculous. Donald Trump did not win the election. He got a smaller percentage of the vote twice than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and you've got all these folks running around saying let's do it again. Let's try it for a third time. I mean, it's a crazy political strategy.

So, honestly, Don, I think -- I think different people have different motivations. None of it is good and it's all, frankly, corrosive to our party.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, sometimes I listen to conservative radio and I'll hear the callers call in. They are just completely delusional, believing -- I don't get it -- I don't really get it. Because no matter how many times someone presents them the facts, Ana, they still don't believe the facts. And I'm not sure how that is going to change.

NAVARRO: I'm not either. Look, when there is a cult to a personality, and that is what we saw at CPAC this weekend. We didn't see ideas. We didn't see policy debates. We didn't see principles. We saw a big, huge golden statue of Donald Trump and a bunch of people spreading and continuing to spread the big lie.

We saw cult-like behavior. And so, I don't know how that's going to change. But whether it changes or not, whether they believe it or not, the bottom line is Joe Biden is sitting at the Oval Office. Signing executive orders and passing and proposing legislation, making appointments, and building an administration.

And so, you can deny it all you want, but it is what it is. To quote Donald Trump, and look, you know, I want to tell you --


LEMON: I've got to run, Ana.

NAVARRO: Well, before you run, I got to say two things. Happy birthday, my dear, dear friend. Two years ago, we were celebrating your birthday at my rehearsal dinner for my wedding.

LEMON: My gosh. That's right.

NAVARRO: I got a little cup cake for you too. This one is not like the one Chris Cuomo brought you which I think is made out of kale or something. This is actually a red velvet cake. I couldn't find a -- I couldn't find a candle, so I have my Walter McDowell mucho, mucho amor candle which I'll blow out for you, and Don, the good news is, you're almost old enough to be eligible for the vaccine in some jurisdictions. Keep hope alive.

LEMON: Scott is like --

NAVARRO: I love you.

LEMON: Scott, thank you.


NAVARRO: Felix cumpleanoz.

LEMON: I love you so much. Thank you so much. Scott, you're always on with these segments and you don't know what to say. You have become famous for the --


LEMON: -- for Omarosa black history month segment and now you're going to be famous for this one as well.

JENNINGS: Yes. No, I mean, what else would I be doing at 10.30 night in Louisville, Kentucky?


NAVARRO: Poor Scott. The long-suffering white male.

JENNINGS: I mean, I would just be sitting here.

LEMON: Thank you both. Thank you. I appreciate it. All right.

JENNINGS: Thanks, Don. Happy birthday.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

A new third vaccine is being shipped out tonight and could be in arms tomorrow. Those details next.

Plus, my exclusive interview with the new U.N. ambassador. She is speaking out for the first time and she's doing it right here.



LEMON (on camera): Tonight, millions of doses of a third coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson are being shipped around the country. And I'm sure you want to know if that means you or your children or your parents can get shots soon and when we can start living more normally, whatever that will look like.

But the head of the CDC is warning Americans not to let their guard down. There's still a long way to go in getting the virus under control. Here is CNN's Erica Hill.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The first Johnson & Johnson vaccines could be in arms tomorrow.

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's very good news. Now we have three important tools in our armamentarium of capabilities against this various.

HILL: The advantages of this latest tool? Just one shot and no need for special freezers.


HILL: Three point nine million doses to start.

JEFF ZIENTS, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE: So that was the entire J&J inventory.

HILL: With promises of 20 million by the end of the month. The vast majority going to state and local health departments and pharmacies. About 4 percent marked for community health centers. J&J already testing a booster for variants and hoping to expand its trials to children and infants this summer.

PAUL STOFFELS, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, JOHNSON & JOHNSON: We are working with the NIH to accelerate that as soon as possible.

HILL: The U.S. now averaging 1.7 million shots a day. Ten percent of the adult population now fully vaccinated. Hospitalizations nationwide dropping below 50,000 for the first time since November.

CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We're vaccinating more and more people over the age of 60. Hospitalizations should continue to drop and mortality should continue to drop.

HILL: But we're not there yet. The seven-day averages for both new cases and daily reported deaths increasing.

WALENSKY: These data are evidence that our recent declines appear to be stalling. Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.

HILL: And yet, states continue to ease restrictions. FAUCI: It is really risky to say it's over, we're on the way out.

Let's pull back.


HILL: indoor performance venues can now open at 50 percent capacity in Massachusetts. South Carolina eliminating COVID restrictions on alcohol sales and large gatherings. Florida, bracing for spring break.

UNKNOWN: We're just asking for cooperation from our college students that do decide to come to Fort Lauderdale.

HILL: Experts urging just a bit more patience.

ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I'm very bullish on where we will be in May, June, July. But March, April look line tough months that we still have to get through and be very careful about.

Reporter: Erica Hill, CNN, New York.


LEMON (on camera): Thanks, Erica. Up next, the new U.N. ambassador speaking out exclusively right here, talking about confronting racism here and at home. And tension abroad.

And ahead, he is the youngest member of Congress, but his assent to the capitol was propelled by lies.



LEMON (on camera): Today the U.S. takes over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. That means the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield is in charge. The new ambassador is hoping to restore the United States standing as a top multilateral player on the world stage after four years of Trump's America first policies.

I haven't done many face-to-face interviews over the last year, but I was able to sit down socially distanced with Ambassador Thomas- Greenfield right before the show for her exclusive first interview.


LEMON: Congratulations, Ambassador. Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well thank you for inviting me. I'm so delighted to be here with you.

LEMON: Before we get to the history because pure a fellow Louisianan and you're a Louisiana native. What does this moment feel like for you right now? THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It's a little strange. I have to pinch myself to

think that I grew up in Baker, Louisiana, and now I'm in New York City. It's surreal.

LEMON: Yes. Well, let's tell people about your history because we grew up a few miles from each other in the Baton Rouge. Baker and Baton Rouge are right next to each other. Except you were busted two -- past two all-White High schools, right, on your way to school --


LEMON: -- and one of them is called Baker High School which is eventually where I went to high school some years later. Tell me about that experience.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, it was -- you know, we didn't really think about it. The buses picked us up in the morning. And we were busted to Zachary about 10 miles away. We passed Baker High School on main street, drove into Zachary, past Zachary High School. And then went to northwestern high school. And we loved that school. We had great teachers. We had great friendships. And I continue to be friends with my northwestern high school friends, the braves.

They were all texting me tonight to say congratulations. And they're excited that we're here together on this show. So, for me it was a good experience. It was not an experience that caused me any -- any pain.

LEMON: Any trauma.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Any trauma, no.

LEMON: I remember when I was in school at Baker High School, not during school times but on the weekends, the Klan would pass out literature. That wasn't so unusual. This was back in 80s, and I'm sure in the 70s the same thing. But when you were at LSU you were three when David Duke was organizing. Right? KKK, right?


LEMON: What was that experience like for you?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That was surreal as well. I went to LSU in 1970. I didn't realize when I made that decision what a huge decision that was to go just a little bit further down the road, skip Southern University where many of my friends went to school and to go to Louisiana State University. There were not a large number of blacks. We all knew each other. So that's how small we were on the campus with 22,000 people.

We lived together, because we weren't roomed with others of a different race. And we socialized together. And on Tuesdays we would go to the free speech alley to hear David Duke or to resist David Duke's very negative speeches, anti-black, anti-Jew, anti-anything that was not white. Yes, I think we should explain to people what free speech is about.

Because we keep talking about segregation about the KKK. I think if there was anything good that came out of LSU, it was that free speech alley. Which is basically where you went to right across from the --


LEMON: -- from the union where you could just go and basically say what you want.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Say what you wanted to say.

LEMON: And people would listen. And if they didn't like it, they would boo you. And if they loved it, they would cheer you. And you, whatever it was you have to suffer the consequences. That was a good thing coming out of that segregated or even polarized Southern University. Don't you think?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It really was a good thing. I'm happy you identify it as a good thing because at the time I only thought about David Duke. But there were other speeches that we ourselves gave --

LEMON: Right.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: -- that gave us the opportunity to express our views. So, it was a good thing.

LEMON: So, as you saw me, I was looking for my glasses. And I don't have them with me. So, I hope -- let me read this because after your swearing in last week you released a statement and it said in part and I quote here. "I feel my career represents the progress and promise of America."

You went from attending a segregated school to representing the U.S. on the world stage at the same time we're stilling with -- still dealing with systemic racism and white supremacy. How do you reconcile that?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You don't reconcile it. You try to understand it. You try to address it. And you try to help others understand it. But my feeling on racism is racism is the problem of the racist.


Sometimes we internalize their problem. And we shouldn't internalize their problem. We should own our own problem. We should own ourselves and who we are and stand up for what we stand for, and not own hatred and own racism and have it impact us. That's how I survived growing up in Baker, Louisiana, with the Klan burning crosses in our neighborhood on weekends, and Klan literature being put on our cars, and going to LSU, and having a professor use the n-word in class.

LEMON: Yes. Someone told me, a professor that I wouldn't make it in journalism.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You're such a failure. LEMON: And look at you. And yet here we are. Speaking of, you were

confirmed by the Senate, 78 to 20. But a lot of -- I have to be honest, a lot of the Biden nominees Deb Haaland, Neera Tanden, Vanita Gupta, facing some intense pushback from Republicans. Do you think that this issue is based on something else or is it on, do you think it's on the merits on qualifications?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Of course, it's not on the qualifications. It's not based on the merits. It's politics. And that's unfortunate. Because for someone like me, I spent my entire life practically, 35 years working in the diplomatic service, flying the American flag outside my office, a proud American working for the people overseas.

And to have my integrity questioned, my competence questioned, I think is unfair. And I think it's unfair for all of us. And I don't question the right of the Senate to consent to the president's nominations. But that consent does not in my view give them the right to be abusive and unfair with the nominees.

LEMON: You were talking about what a proud American you are. And I think sometimes people don't understand that we can criticize this country, especially as people of color, and we can seek and fight for a better way and still love the country. That's what loving the country is about.

I was having a conversation just before I came here to do the interview with you. But someone -- a police officer was involved in the capitol insurrection, saying the exact same thing.

So, I want to ask you about January 6th. The world watched in horror as this mob tried to destroy our democracy. The U.S. ambassador has to explain to the world what's happening here. How will you calm any concerns our allies might have about what they saw that day, ambassador?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: What they saw on that day was extraordinarily painful for all of us. But what they also saw on that day that made us extraordinarily proud is that our Senate continued to do its business.

So, after the riots ended the Senate came back to their chambers and completed their business. It shows that our democracy is resilient. It shows that our democracy is strong. It shows that we can have these kinds of events and be transparent about them, but also continue to thrive in a democracy that is functioning, not perfect, but functioning, and one that we can be proud of.

LEMON: I want to ask you about something that you talk about and that's dear to Louisianans. You talk about the gumbo diplomacy. And I want you to tell me about how this approach and tell me how do you think this approach is going to work with our adversaries like Iran, Russia, North Korea.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, it's about bringing a mixture of people together. It's about bringing differences into a room, into a pot, as we do with gumbo and blending them, and coming out with something that you appreciate and that you like. And I know it sounds a little trite to talk about gumbo diplomacy. But it really does work.

I spent years and many people will tell you that they have sat with me while I was making gumbo in the kitchen and I could have a conversation about human rights violations, attacks on LGBTQ, and corruption, and get people to talk to each other and talk to me about what is happening.

LEMON: Yes. So, let's hone in on some of these things. Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador says that Moscow is ready to work with you. But quote, it says, " it takes two to tango." They attacked our election. They did it multiple times. Can we really work with Russia in good faith?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: President Biden spoke to Putin and made clear our position, that we found what the Russians did unacceptable.


At the same time, we know that there are areas where we can and should work with the Russians.