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Don Lemon Tonight

Rep. Liz Cheney Not Mincing Words; Republican Party And Its Mini-Revolution; Sen. Mitch McConnell Focuses On Taking Down The Biden Administration; Brian Kilmeade Doesn't Agree With A Six-Grader's View Of Biden; January 6th Riot Affects Police Officers; CDC Warns People Should Not Be Complacent; Facebook Not Permanently Banning Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 05, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Time for the big show. "CNN TONIGHT" and the big star, D. Lemon.

Forty-one percent of people polled believe that --

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That they don't like your hair?

CUOMO: -- the Civil War happened for a reason other than slavery.


CUOMO: Forty-one percent.

LEMON: States' rights.

CUOMO: People believe what ended slavery was the Emancipation Proclamation not the 13th Amendment.


CUOMO: And in this cesspool of ignorance you hear lawmakers starting to say three fifth compromise, was a good thing --


CUOMO: -- helped end slavery.

LEMON: It's -- so, yes, I talk about that a lot.

CUOMO: Not enough.

LEMON: Obviously so. But that's the ignorance of people who don't know the history of the country. But quite frankly it's on us because we don't demand that our educators, that our teachers as young as elementary school, we don't demand that they teach the true history of this country. What they're teaching is a whitewashed history. What you have is a

bunch of -- what you have are a bunch of people who are sitting around mainly parents and I'm sure some educators who have this old school thinking about Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America.

That's not -- that's part of the history of this country, not necessarily the discovering part. But there's also another big part of the history about the contributions of enslaved people, the contributions of people who came over and were indentured servants, people who -- the Italians who came over, the Irish who came over, all of those things.

But mostly our history is taught to elevate some people and to diminish other people. And the diminished part is mostly -- are mostly people of color. Listen, people say you promote the book all the time because my book talks about everything that you're talking about.

CUOMO: Why wouldn't you promote the book?

LEMON: Because -- well, I don't know.

CUOMO: You should. You wrote the book, it's valuable.

LEMON: But you read it.


CUOMO: It's exactly the kind of conversation --

LEMON: This is exactly what I talk about the history of the country. Things that people don't know, like I wrote about the German Coast uprising in Louisiana. You never hear about that in the history books. You don't hear people get upset about the 1619 Project. There's nothing wrong with teaching the 1619 Project and then teaching what happened in 1776. They can coexist without one, and just one and just the other.

But we have to start from a place of truth. And I've been saying this since January 6. If you start from a place of truth you don't end up with an insurrection in the country that is built on a lie that people think the country was built in their image therefore it should reflect everything about them.

CUOMO: Maybe.

LEMON: And that the election should go the way that they want. That is where it starts. It should start with the truth --


CUOMO: There is a --

LEMON: -- the truth about the history.

CUOMO: Starting with the truth is always helpful as long as people want to hear it. That's my concern here. LEMON: Yes, but I don't want -- Chris, I get it. And I'm going to let

you go on. I didn't want to hear about calculus, I didn't want to hear about trigonometry, I didn't want to hear about geometry. I didn't want to hear about history class. But that's what school is about. Most kids wake up and they don't want to go to school in the morning.

CUOMO: I'm well aware.

LEMON: What does that -- what does that have to do with anything because you don't want to hear it?

CUOMO: Here's -- no, you're right.

LEMON: I'd rather be on the playground. I had to go to catechism like you. But apparently, I was better at catechism than you.

CUOMO: You're better at everything other than shutting up. Look, you're right, but here's my concern about this. It's not just ignorance. It's an arrogance that they are bringing up this three- fifth compromise stuff for a reason. And it's not because they don't know what the three-fifth compromise is and they don't remember article one section two and they don't understand what it was and they don't remember Dred Scott.

I don't think it's just ignorance. I think this is their way of countering that we are at a place in our cultural development right now where people want a reckoning on race, and this is their way -- this is my analysis -- of saying don't listen to them about how all Black people had it so back. The three-fifth compromise it wasn't even that bad.

Next, it's going to be you know how great 40 acres and a mule was? Yes, I know a lot of them didn't get it but that was a great deal.

LEMON: A lot of them didn't get it?

CUOMO: But I'm saying --

LEMON: I've never seen it.

CUOMO: -- there's got to be a reason.


CUOMO: And it's not just ignorance and it's not just racism. It's something pernicious and wicked that they're trying to do. Racism is you promoting something inferior about a group of people.


LEMON: So, is it white supremacy? What is it?

CUOMO: I don't know what their end game is. What do they want? What do they want white people to feel that they don't need to worry about anything else? Because the way to feed into white replacement theory.


LEMON: Yes. Because they don't want the country to change.

CUOMO: Like what is it?

LEMON: As long as the country -- as long as the history books read the way they read, as long as people think falsely what they think about our history then everything is OK. The main status quo.


CUOMO: And there is no systemic inequality, so there's nothing to be corrected.

LEMON: Well, there's nothing else, Chris. There's no -- that answers your question. You don't know what it is. It's white supremacy, that's what it is. That's the simple answer.

CUOMO: And it's the desire to avoid the reality of systemic inequality.

LEMON: Yes. Because you don't want to change.

CUOMO: I'm all about changing. That's why I got my haircut.


CUOMO: Everybody loves it.

LEMON: What's the -- what's the -- where did you get your haircut?

CUOMO: Everybody loves it.

LEMON: I just want to know so I don't go there again.

LEMON: You're not allowed there because you'll only have to pay if you go there. And you want everything for free when I'm around.

LEMON: Good-bye.

CUOMO: Listen, thank you for keeping the education coming.

LEMON: Forty acres and a mule.

CUOMO: Thank you -- you wait.

LEMON: Go on.

CUOMO: You wait. You mock it now and I guarantee you somehow, it's going to come up and be like we already did more for them than everybody else ever had done -- you'll see. You'll that's where this goes.

LEMON: I live it.

CUOMO: But I appreciate you expanding the dialogue and people should read your book.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: All right. Wow. You, too.

CUOMO: You banging on the haircut. You know, you're pushing it. I love you.

LEMON (on camera): This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And what we're seeing in our country right now is nothing less -- it's kind of what we've been talking about right now. Nothing less than a war on truth, a war over the truth. What is truth? You know, people now don't know what the truth is. They don't know what to believe because they've been lied to so many times.

Hear me out here. That is exactly what the big lie -- and that the big lie is about. It's that big and exactly that important, the governing minority in this country. You know what they're doing? They're peddling lies, lies their voters, their voters believe.

Now, do they believe it, do they want to believe it, but does it matter? Because if you want to believe something so much, doesn't it sort of, you know, someone -- it's easy to co-opt to if you really want to believe something, you just kind of fall for it, right? That's how people get duped all the time.

So, and it's also about purging anyone who refuses to buy into the lies, anyone who stands up for the truth. You might be looking at what's going on with Liz Cheney and here's what you're thinking. And I said this last night and I believe this. That I already know it's about the Republican Party. I know, Don. I know, I know.

I know a lot of you don't care about the former president, but I'm telling you -- mark my words -- like I said in 2015, 2016 that Trump had a chance and so many people were mad at me that he could win. Mark my words, you have to pay attention to this. This is so much bigger than what you think. This is not about politics. It's about what's happening to our democracy. It's about what's happening to the truth.

Because you can't have a functioning democracy -- you can't do it if you turn a blind eye to the attacks on our free and fair elections. Like the attacks -- remember the attacks on our institutions, the justice system, the attacks on journalism? Remember the attacks on the legislative branch, the judicial branch? Remember that?

So, if you have an attack on our elections, the big lie, the assault on voting rights all across this country -- if you turn a blind eye to that, what happens to democracy? What happens to democracy? And then what happens to America?

Like I said, it is a war over truth played out for the whole country to see as Republicans side with lies, and they throw of all people Liz Cheney, a conservatives conservative, throw her right under the bus to appease a disgraced twice impeached one-term insurrection inspiring former president who still holds the party in his iron grip.

Congresswoman Cheney writing this tonight. This is from the Washington Post and I quote here. She says, "we, Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles and steer away from the dangerous and anti-Democratic Trump cult of personality."

Well, today the White House weighed in on the battle for the GOP. The president saying this.




LEMON (on camera): But he had a lot more to say later about what he called a mini revolution in the GOP and why it matters not just to Republicans but to everybody else, too. This is my point. Watch this.



BIDEN: It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for, and they're in the midst of significant sort of mini revolution going on in the Republican Party.

I've been a Democrat for a long time. We've gone through periods we've had internal fights and disagreements. I don't ever remember any like this. And so, as one of you said, and I'm not embarrassed by identifying them.

As one of you said on national television last night, we badly need a Republican Party. We need a two-party system. It's not healthy to have a one-party system. And I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.


LEMON (on camera): Party that can't figure out who they are and what they stand for, a party that purges anyone who stands up for the truth. A party that pushes the big lie, the big election lie, that pushes false claims about cancel culture, conspiracy theories and bogus culture wars over Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head and red meat.

That's who they are, the party of lies over truth. And Facebook is right in that battle. They're right in that battle over the truth, too. They let the former president spread disinformation and lies for years and only banned him when his lies got too big to ignore, after we all saw with our own eyes what happened at that capitol on January 6th.

That should be a lesson to all of us when we're talking about who we allow the privilege of giving platforms to. Now Republicans are crying cancel culture. Facebook's oversight board dumping the whole thing in Mark Zuckerberg's lap saying that he's fought to figure out if the former president should be banned forever for his lies, demanding that they set a standard and apply that standard.

OK, that's pretty simple. But, honestly, think about it if you're Facebook and you believe in free speech and all of that. It's not that simple for them. Where the spread of disinformation is adding fuel to the fire of the battle over truth, it is spreading the big lie. And the Republican Party has no agenda except this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.


LEMON (on camera): His focus is stopping Joe Biden and only stopping Joe Biden. Only. Remember that? I'm going to make Obama a one-term president, same thing. His focus is 100 percent on obstruction, and it's not the first time we've heard this kind of thing from Mitch McConnell. Remember? He said the single most important thing that he wanted to achieve was making Barack Obama a one-term president. He failed dismally at that.

But he's doubling down on the same obstructionist party of no strategy again. That's how that -- that's how you got Obamacare, right? You should have a strategy and some sort of policy. The White House press secretary Jen Psaki firing back.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I guess the contrast for people to consider is 100 percent of our focus is on delivering relief to the American people, on getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work.


LEMON (on camera): And while McConnell says he is 100 percent focused on obstructing Joe Biden he and his party are slamming Biden for not being bipartisan enough. Think about that. So, we, my -- what I want to do, my number one priority is to stop Joe Biden, but Joe Biden is not being bipartisan enough. How does that make sense? The hypocrisy in that.

McConnell complained that Biden is not being bipartisan while flat out declaring that he's 100 percent focused on obstructing him. Interesting. The president insisting that he still thinks that he can work with McConnell.


BIDEN: Look, he said that last administration, Barack, he was going to stop everything and I was able to get a lot done with him.



LEMON (on camera): More divisive since then. Optimism is all well and good, but how do you work with a party that's 100 percent opposed to everything you do? And to add to that, how do you work with a party that doesn't believe in truth, doesn't believe in facts, tries to create its own reality? How do you do that? We'll see. Here's the Vice President Kamala Harris.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are sincere and serious about what the potential to actually get something done together. We believe it's possible, and we're not going to give up on that until it becomes evident that it's not possible.


LEMON (on camera): OK. Until it becomes evident. What would make that evident? When does it become evident it's not possible to work with a party that's sidelining anyone who tells the truth? Do you remember the former president tried that his first term? Didn't work then. It's more divisive now. Good luck with that, though.

Because that party is so dug in on being anti-Biden that over on the Fox propaganda network, OK, you've got to watch this. You've got to watch this. Brian Kilmeade can't even let a kid -- a sixth grader speak his piece about the current president.


BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS: What do you miss most about not being in school?

UNKNOWN: I miss most obviously seeing my friends and all the after- school activities that I've done. And I think that we're very, very close getting back to school. And I think that the way that our new president is handling things is a very good way, and we would not have gone to this if it were still the last president.

KILMEADE: Really? That's hard to believe because the last president was saying I want every kid back in school.


LEMON (on camera): Sixth grade, Brian. Sixth grader. This is happening as Liz Cheney warns tonight Trump's language, his repeated big lie that incited an insurrection at the capitol could provoke violence again.

Now, I want to read some of what she said and I quote here. "Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on January 6th. And as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested there is good reason to believe that Trump's language can provoke violence again." That's actually -- perhaps Liz Cheney should be speaking to the social media networks because that was really good. Roll that back, please. I just want to read Liz Cheney's words again. She says, I want -- she says -- "Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on January 6th.

And as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested there is good reason to believe that Trump's language can provoke violence again." Here -- this is the difference between someone like the former president having access to social media and other leaders around the world. America is a democracy.

America is a democracy. And we uphold Democratic values. And we are able to do things in this country that others may not be able to do. We have intelligence people that we abide by, all of that, free speech, of course, of course, of course.

But hate speech -- once someone has showed you -- if someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. If someone has done something once without any contrition or twice or three times or four times or many, many, many, many times like Donald Trump, has not made any restitution for it. You know like most people do something, they break the rules, right? They make restitution. You have to do something about it.

But when you don't, why do the same values apply to you, the same rules when you don't show any contrition or that you're going to change?


We know exactly what all of this is. This is a war on the truth. We know because we all saw exactly what happened on January 6th and we've heard about it from the brave officers who were beaten to within an inch of their lives, trying to save the seat of our democracy from bloodthirsty rioters.

Democracy hanging by a thread. There were officers out there fighting for their lives and for our democracy like Officer Michael Fanone, writing a letter today addressed to all elected members of United States government putting the trauma that he and his fellow officers suffered in rioting.

And I quote again. "In many ways, I still live my life as if it is January 7, 2021. I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them all together with their lack of acknowledgement. The indifference shown to my colleagues and I, is disgraceful."

He is right. I've gotten to know the man. He's a good man, someone who was carrying out his oath as a police officer, risking his life to protect and serve while rioters stormed the capitol. Lawmakers ran for their lives while Officer Fanone and other officers couldn't. We talked about that on the show. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: It's been very difficult seeing elected officials and other individuals kind of whitewash the events of that day or downplay what happened. You know, some of the terminology that was used like hugs and kisses and, you know, very fine people is like, very different from what I experienced and what my coworkers experienced on the 6th.

I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me to accomplish, you know, their goal. And I think that -- sorry, Don. Man, I didn't think I'd get this emotional. I mean, I experienced the most brutal, savage hand to hand combat of my entire life let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades. There was nothing that I had ever thought would be a part of my law enforcement career and nor was I prepared to experience.


LEMON (on camera): That is what you call a truth teller. We need more of that, a defend of our democracy. So, if you don't care about the GOP, if you don't care about the former president try to care about Officer Fanone and the colleagues who fought alongside him.

When the big lie came from them in the form of a bloodthirsty mob, they didn't cower, they didn't obfuscate, they didn't sweep it under the rug, they didn't make excuses, deny it was there, deny it happened, point fingers at others, blame antifa or Black Lives Matter. They fought to defend democracy and the peaceful transfer of power to a duly elected president.

Shame on anyone who won't do the same now. Will the Republicans choose truth or lies? Our democracy hangs in the balance. Liz Cheney writes, history is watching, our children are watching.



LEMON (on camera): Congresswoman Liz Cheney writing a scathing opinion piece in the Washington Post tonight as she's on the verge of being stripped of her leadership position among House Republican, saying the GOP is at a turning point over Trump's repeated lies about election fraud, which incited the deadly January insurrection at the capitol and warning Trump's language could provoke violence again.

Let's discuss with CNN's senior political correspondent, Abby Phillip, and former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman. So good to have both of you on. Thank you so much.

Abby, I'm going to start with you. Let's talk about Liz Cheney writing this -- writes about -- what's she's writing about the GOP, saying that the GOP is at a turning point and she's warning his language about the election could provoke violence again.

Fighting for democracy, she is, as the GOP is attempting to purge her for telling the truth. Put this into perspective about what we're witnessing here, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think it's easy to be cynical about a lot of things in Washington. And certainly a lot of people might disagree politically with Liz Cheney, but what we're seeing is a rare thing, which is a person really take -- taking the reality that her political career could be over by doing what she's doing and doing it anyway because she thinks that the issue is important enough.

That's an extraordinarily rare and I would say courageous thing to do. Liz Cheney knows that the clock is ticking on her leadership position. And even more so that potentially her entire political career could be on the line here. But the issue is obviously important enough that she's been willing to do that. She's been willing to be ostracized by her party, attacked by the former president.

And I think that she outlined very clearly what her fears are, which is that it could lead to another insurrection, and also more importantly, the fate of American democracy is how she put it. And those are pretty high stakes I would say.

LEMON: Representative Riggleman, you know, it's pretty extraordinary just watching this play out publicly and it's not just the battle over the direction of a political party. She's saying the GOP needs to decide if they're going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. And any sign -- I wonder is there any sign that that's happening?

FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): No. You know, as soon as that article came out, my phone blew up. And Don, the sewer of American politics goes to my phone. And as soon as I got that, people started sending me tweets and texts from other members who were using Liz to fund raise. They were fund-raising off of her op-ed, what she said about the president and what she said about the January 6th commission.


That's what it comes down to, Don, that I'm thinking at this point integrity and service right now in certain parts of the GOP (Inaudible)mutually exclusive. And this is what happened to me. I had officiated a same sex wedding about two years ago (Inaudible).

LEMON: We're having an issue with Representative -- we're having an issue with your audio. Representative, why don't we take a break, fix your audio, I'll come back on the other side and I'll continue my conversation with you and Abby. We'll be right back.


LEMON (on camera): Back now with Abby Phillip and former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman.

So, I think we worked it out. You were finishing your thought and you said -- did you say the Republican sore poured into your phone, or the political sore? RIGGLEMAN: Yes. Well, people started sending me text messages and

sending me all kinds of e-mails about the fund-raising that was actually happening off of Liz Cheney's op-ed. So right now, you have Republicans trying to raise money off of her and saying that she's an enemy to the movement.


Now I don't know what that movement is. Maybe that movement is still, you know, perpetuating the big lie. Right? Maybe that movement is still what I'm seeing as these false flag theories that are starting to pop up again.

So, what's happening right now is the lying, the fact that false flag theories, and you know, the lie about the election seem to be the things that are selling in the Republican Party. And when integrity and getting elected are mutually exclusive the party is going to have a tough time.

LEMON: Yes. Abby, you know, today seems like the first day that President Biden is really weighing in on what's happening with the GOP. He says that they're going through a mini revolution. What does this mean for him?

PHILLIP: Well, I do think it calls into question what kind of party he's trying to negotiate with over on Capitol Hill. I mean, you know, Joe Biden when he ran for president was very insensitive. He thought that there would be a, you know, epiphany happening in Washington if Trump lost. Well, Trump lost and there was no epiphany, in fact, quite the opposite.

Republicans are now even more lockstep behind him on an issue that is so -- so out there. The big lie is so, you know, outrageously false and yet the majority of the Republican Party is behind him. And I think Joe Biden is realizing that that means this is deeper than just people snapping their fingers and waking up from the dream.

I think he still believes that there is a path forward for bipartisanship, but you can see him coming to the recognition that this is going to be harder than he anticipated. The political forces that he's working against are not dealing with him on the issues. They're dealing with him on a question of allegiance to a personality, and that makes I think governing for any president very, very difficult.

LEMON: So, listen, you heard what Abby said, Representative, I mean, this purging of dissent, it's all about 2020, winning 2020. It is a pure power play but at what cost to our democracy?

RIGGLEMAN: Well, I mean, long-term I think it's an awful thing. You can't have a party that refuses to, you know, have policy conversations using facts. And when fantasy overwhelms facts, we have a real issue with the electorate.

And again, I believe this and I think it's something that's going to make people maybe a little sad, maybe a little afraid. But I think the GOP is going to do very well in 2022. I can just tell you anecdotally, now I own a small business here in Virginia and the people are coming in saying they're absolutely sure the election was stolen. It is everybody down here.

I mean, look at the Trump-Pence signs everybody has either completely whited out the Pence portion of the signs or they put expletives, like f-Pence and things like are all over this district, and this is in Virginia.

So, Don, I don't have the words left to tell people that this is aggressive I would say and as prevalent in the Republican Party it's ever been, this belief that the election was stolen, this belief that antifa was probably still there and probably organized this, and that belief Donald Trump is really the chosen one.

He's the one that's been chosen to take the flag of the American dream. He's blessed in messianic type of conspiracy theory or cult and he is the one who is blessed to take us into the future, and I hear that out of people's mouths. I'm not even being hyperbolic. I can't even be hyperbolic from what I hear from other people.

LEMON: Listen, I don't disagree with you. I think that you're right, 2022 the Republicans will do well. And that's why I start the show off every night saying I know you're tired of hearing about Trump, I know you're tired hearing about the Republican party, maybe you don't care about it, but this is important to everyone not just Republicans. So, mark my words, we'll see what happens. We got to pay attention. We'll see what happens in 2022 moving forward.

Thank you, both. I appreciate it.

The former president still banned from Facebook, but that ban might not last. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): Facebook's oversight board ruling that the company can keep the former guy suspended, but it may only be temporary. Facebook now has six months to decide whether that he should be permanently banned. The board saying Facebook was right to suspend him after the January 6th insurrection. But that suspension could be indefinite without any rule backing that up.

Joining me now Kara Swisher, New York Times opinion contributing writer and host of the podcast Sway. Kara, good to see you. Thanks for joining.


LEMON: OK. So last night you told me that you thought the oversight board might allow Trump back on. They didn't.

SWISHER: Yes. LEMON: But they also passed the buck back to Facebook.


LEMON: Is this their way of telling Mark Zuckerberg you did it, you fix it?

SWISHER: Yes, that's exactly right. I didn't think they could do -- they could do this, actually. I didn't -- it didn't occur to me that they could actually do this. They kind of --


LEMON: Send it back to the lower court, right, like the Supreme Court?

SWISHER: Yes. Exactly. Well, they're not the Supreme Court.


SWISHER: And they can't be appealed to in that way.


SWISHER: But I think it's interesting, because essentially what they said which I've been talking about a lot, that this is Facebook's responsibility. And until Congress acts or something else, we break up the power of these companies, the power does hand in the hand of Mark Zuckerberg where we like -- whether we like it or not. There's no good solution to that until we figure out these monopoly issues around social media or search or anything else.

And so essentially the board said, you screwed, Facebook, now fix it. That's what they say, essentially. And it's not our job to do it. It was a little snarky actually some of the response back to Facebook. So, we'll see what Facebook does now in response.

LEMON: Do you see this as a free speech issue or something else?

SWISHER: You know, I think you have to separate Donald Trump from this issue. There is a very important issue of what to do with world leaders, and this board did address that. When world leaders become divisive and dangerous, what do you do?


It asked Facebook to make a policy on that. What do you do when that happens? You don't have a policy. It's arbitrary or else it's ill enforced or it doesn't -- it sometimes enforced and other -- it's just random. And they can't have this much force and so many random rules going around.

And so, they said that it's very important to think about world leaders differently. But when they cross a line it is also different. And in the case of Donald Trump, if you just separate him out as I said last night, he's just sort of, a malevolent force on the social platforms who has broken every rule egregiously up to and including what he did on January 6th which was a clear violation.

And that's what the key is. He was a clear violator on numerous occasions and won quite dangerously. And so, and many people think dangerously before that but this was explicitly dangerous and provable. And so, I think that's where the problem is, is that they don't want to separate Donald Trump from a big issue that the social media platforms face. And you should do that. It's a totally separate issue, and that's what's important to think about.

LEMON: Well, one of the reasons I asked you that is because as you know Republicans are in attack mode -- in attack mode over this.

SWISHER: I saw it.

LEMON: Ted Cruz tweeting for every liberal celebrating Trump's social media ban the big tech oligarchs can muzzle the former president. What's to stop them from silencing you? Kevin McCarthy saying that if they can ban President Trump all conservative voices could be next.


LEMON: You've been pointing out the B.A.


LEMON: Also, what they don't say especially Ted Cruz being a lawyer is that Facebook is a private company, and it's not a right to be on Facebook. It's a privilege. But go on. Why are you saying it's B.C.?

SWISHER: Yes, someone said we have to appeal this to the Supreme Court. I was like are -- is that -- is that, you nuts? Are you like capitalism ignoramus? That's not the way it works. And so, what was interesting about the Cruz on, which was ridiculous, it could happen to you. Yes, it could happen to you if you promote sedition. That's right. You could get kicked off of Facebook. You can get kicked off for doing dangerous things and spewing hate speech.

Yes, you can. It can happen to you. So, stop doing that. You know, stop putting misinformation out. Yes, it could happen to you when you misbehave that way on these platforms. And it's beyond misbehaving. These are very clear bright lines that Donald Trump cross.

And so, they're using it as a way to like stir up the base. It's ridiculous to call it a first amendment issue. It is a Donald Trump behaving badly issue. We have to deal with it. And then the bigger issue is about what to do about world leaders who are problematic versus dangerous. And I think that's -- that's a worthy thing to talk about, that letting them say what they need to say it if it's not dangerous.

LEMON: Yes, it can happen -- I should say it should happen to you if you spread lies and misinformation.

SWISHER: Yes, it should.

LEMON: It should happen to you. SWISHER: That's right.

LEMON: Thank you, Kara. I appreciate it.

SWISHER: One hundred percent. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Good to see you. Thanks so much.

The CDC says the coronavirus variant first detected in India in February is now a variant of interest in the U.S. We're going to tell you what that means for you. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): Tonight, the CDC saying a COVID variant first detected in India is a variant of interest here as the U.S. works toward getting the coronavirus pandemic under control.

I want to bring in now Dr. Peter Hotez. Dr. Hotez is the co-director of the Texas Children's hospital Center for Vaccine Development. He's also a professor and dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Doctor, thank you.

This is some serious stuff. Because CNN has been doing extensive reporting on what's happening in India. Thanks for joining us.

The CDC director says that we are not out of the woods yet but we are close, maybe July. They've got one caveat, variants. And right now, they're pointing to that new variant coming out of India. Could it be resistant enough to be resistant to the vaccines that we have? What are your concerns?

PETER HOTEZ, INFECTIOUS EXPERT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Yes, it's possible that it is partially resistant although it's unlikely to be completely resistant. The one we worry about with resistance in terms vaccinations is the one from South Africa and Brazil. The B -- you know, there is a gazillion numbers, I know, B-1351 from Africa, P-1 from Brazil.

But right now, we've got data from Pfizer, the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine that it is still partially protective against those as well.

So, here's the way I look at it. Right now, we've already got a pretty terrible variant in the U.S. that's all over the country. That's the B-117 variant. We know it's more transmissible and we know it's handling a lot of young people in the hospital. The priority overwhelmingly is to vaccinate the country and snuff out that B-117 variant.

Later on, we are going to see more variants pop up. the good news is we think we can make boosters for those. If you got two doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, you can expect to get a third dose that will be tailored for that variant later in the year or early next year and that may be it because there's a lot of convergence around all the variants.

There's controversy in the scientific community whether we're going to need annual boosters. I think we may not need that. Others disagree. But the point is we're on a good trajectory right now for the U.S. But anticipate that we might need a booster for these variants later on and early next year.

LEMON: Dr. Hotez, I want to talk to you about your piece out in the Daily News today asking us to forget about herd immunity. Wasn't herd immunity is supposed to be the ultimate goal here, but you think it's being politicized?

HOTEZ: Well, it's being heavily politicized. I mean, we heard Rand Paul in the Senate give ridiculous numbers of when herd immunity occurs. I know they're throwing out numbers like 40 percent or 22 percent. And this has been used as an excuse not to practice social distancing, or to discredit masks.


So, I've stopped -- months ago I stopped using it. Well here's what I say. I say, as we get close to fully vaccinating the American people, as many adults and adolescents as possible, as we hit that 60, 70 percent bench mark, we are going to see a dramatic decline in the amount of virus transmission. And that has to be the focus.

And we have a lot of barriers against that, namely, and if you look now with the level of vaccination rates across the country. They're starting to see a very concerning blue-red state divide. So, among the top 10 states right now, new England states, California, New Mexico, blue or bluer states have the highest vaccination rates in the country by far, 50 to 60 percent, single dose. The bottom 10 states are all deep red states.

So, they're Wyoming, Idaho, southern states, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and so they're about 30 to 36 percent, so a big difference. And that gap is widening every day. So, we may be in a situation where in the coming weeks, we're going to dramatically slow transmission in those blue states but the transmission is going to continue in --

LEMON: Red states.

HOTEZ: -- those recalcitrant red states.

LEMON: Wow. Dr. Hotez, thank you. I appreciate it.

HOTEZ: Thank you so much.

LEMON: History is watching. Congresswoman Liz Cheney is sending that warning to her party as they battle against the truth. Stay with us.