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Don Lemon Tonight
McCarthy Siding With Republicans Downplaying The Capitol Riot; President Biden Pitches Jobs And Infrastructure Plan In Michigan; Auditors In Arizona Find Files They Claimed Were Deleted; New York A.G. Actively Investigating Trump Org. In A Criminal Capacity Along With Manhattan D.A.; GOP Set On Blocking Biden Agenda; D.A. Says Deputies Who Fatally Shot Andrew Brown Were Justified; New CDC Mask Guidelines Lead To Patchwork Rules Across U.S. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired May 18, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): There is a lot of news happening tonight on DON LEMON TONIGHT starting with our breaking news. The New York state Attorney General expanding its investigation of the Trump organization, saying it's actually investigating the company in a criminal capacity along with the Manhattan district attorney's office. It's also continuing its own ongoing civil investigation.
The House expected to vote tomorrow on the creation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly January 6th Capitol riot, but GOP leader Kevin McCarthy trying to derail the commission before it even gets off the ground, now saying that he's opposed to it, siding with Republicans who are trying to downplay the violence that day.
And it's important to point out that McCarthy initially blamed Trump for helping to incite the insurrection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): But then two weeks later, McCarthy completely changed his tune.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I don't believe he provoke, if you listened to what he said at the rally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And let's not forget that McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump and beg for his blessings. So now he's trying to whitewash the January 6 attack and hoping to block the investigation altogether.
And tonight, the number two Republican in the House, GOP WHIP Steve Scalise, urging members to vote it down.
Lots more in these developments just ahead. In the battle against COVID-19, the CDC saying 15 states reporting zero COVID deaths as 60 percent of American adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine. But why are mask mandates still confusing? And President Biden pitching his American jobs and infrastructure plan at a (inaudible) plant in Michigan, and taking a swipe at the previous administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They announced infrastructure week. And announced it, and announced it, and announced it every week for four years and didn't do a damn thing. Didn't get the job done. Folks, the rest of the world is moving fast. They're moving ahead. They're not waiting for the United States of America. Government, labor, industry working together, have to step up, and we have a playbook that will work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Let's bring in now the Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg. Secretary, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us. So, you met with Republicans to talk about the infrastructure package, but the GOP wants to stick to things like roads and bridges, and Mitch McConnell is saying no more than $800 billion. Are you remotely close to that kind of agreement?
PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORT SECRETARY: I think we had a good conversation that was productive. Obviously, we're starting from different places, but that's how a negotiation works. What I will say is that, you know, everyone in that room cares about infrastructure, cares about this country.
And what we need to do, as the president said, is make sure that America is competitive going forward. We can't be coasting off of infrastructure decisions and investments that were made 50 years ago, 100 years ago and expect to remain the leading economy in the world.
So there is a lot of motivation to get this done, there is a lot of impatience. You also saw that reflected and the president pointing out that, you know we've been here before in terms of big expectations about infrastructure. This time we really have to deliver. And I think everyone, no matter what part that you're from, or what part of the country they are from, you know, one thing I noticed is that everybody in Congress is from somewhere.
They're going home to constituents who are impatient for action, and I think that creates a lot of propulsions for these negotiations that are going on in the days and weeks ahead.
LEMON: So you're saying there is a chance? BUTTIGIEG: That's right. Yeah. I mean, look, we know that there is a
big difference in perspective, we get that. But again, that's how a negotiation works. You come in with different perspectives and see where we can go. That's part of the conversation we're having as an administration.
Also the conversation in the committees that the Republicans and Democrats are having with each other as part of regular order. And I think there is every reason to believe that we can get something done here, but we can't take forever to do it. Time is of the essence. We can't let infrastructure being a punchline again.
LEMON: OK. There has got to be some way to pay for it. The president wants to raise the corporate tax rate 25 to 28 percent, Republican say no, it's still fine. Assuming that's the case or just a ploy, a mere part. Are you prepared to move forward, because the truth is they didn't care about the blooming deficits from the Trump tax cut?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, one thing I can say about infrastructure investments is that they can pay for themselves. But let's be clear, the president has put forward a way to full fund this, proving mathematically really that we absolutely can afford to do this as a country. More than that, we can afford to do this while still having corporate rates be lower than they've been for most of your and my lifetime and while not increasing taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year.
So, we think the president's approach is the right one. But look, we're having conversations because we recognize that there are other ideas. The president wants to hear other ideas. And the only red line I've heard so far from him on pay-for is his commitment to making sure that we aren't raising taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year.
LEMON: I want to talk to you about some other news. I want to talk about the January 6 commission and the Republicans' full embrace of the big lie and the attempts to memory whole the events of that day. I know that the Biden administration choices to focus on policy, trust me, and I understand that. But are you, are Democrats doing enough to push back against this?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, the House has a job to do, and they're going to approach it in the way that they can arrive at. It doesn't change what happened that day, although I think it's important for us as a country to reckon with what happened that day. It also doesn't change the focus that we have right now, which is knowing that the best thing that we can do, that this administration can do to help bring the American people together is to deliver.
And that's why there is such a sense of urgency. There is a sense of urgency around on getting the rescue plan through and now looking ahead to the jobs plan. We have got to make sure that the American people can feel, regardless of how they voted, regardless of what their politics are, that life is getting better for them, because we are delivering better infrastructure whether it's roads and bridges or pipes and internet or whether it's making child care more affordable, and that's going to be out focus.
LEMON: I know that you said, in the beginning that Congress has a job to do that it's up to Congress. I guess that. But you know, politics. Should there be a full investigation on Capitol Hill into what happened? Come hell or high water, the future of our democracy could depend on it. People, we're living in a post-truth, post-fact society right now, and it's important for people to know the truth.
BUTTIGIEG: I think getting the facts is important, and dealing and wrestling with the implications of those facts is important. How it will be done, whether Congress is prepared to do it, will be up to Congress, but one way or the other, our country has to move forward in a way that recognizes that facts do, in fact, matter.
The truth does, in fact, matter. And people's lived experiences that are undeniable are at the heart of what we're trying to do at a policy level, definitely in my department and really across this administration.
LEMON: Listen. You've been, you know, in politics for a while, and I've been doing this for a long time, but I've never seen anything -- a divide like this. These people are the same people, secretary, that you need to negotiate with on these deals and they are totally out of touch with reality.
What happens if you negotiate with Republicans in good faith and you can't reach a deal? Will you do it without them, and how will you get Senator Manchin or others who are insisting on bipartisanship, how do you get them on board?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think that, rightly, there are a lot of members in our Party who expect us to do absolutely everything we can to get a good bipartisan deal. At the end of the day, the president has been clear, and this is the only other red line I've heard from him in this process, that doing nothing is not an option.
So, we need to make sure that we do everything we can to get there. Today's conversations were part of that, and a lot of what's going on, especially in these days, is part of that effort. And I can tell you it's a good faith effort. I can tell you that ideas are being exchanged. They may be different ideas but they're being put forward in good faith to see where the overlap is.
There really is a lot of meaningful overlap. There is also a lot of meaningful difference. And you know, I'm hopeful that this will get us to a bipartisan place. The bottom line is we have to do something, because you know, our competitors aren't waiting, China is not waiting and the law of physics aren't waiting, right.
I mean, right now, on the border of Arkansas in Tennessee, you got a bridge, i-40, that is out costing probably millions of dollars a day in economic impacts. That's just one bridge in one part of the country. You multiply that out with the infrastructure issues we have as a U.S., and we simply cannot allow this infrastructure week, months, seasons, whatever you want to call it, to also pass without action. [23:10:09]
LEMON: Yes. Sorry to interrupt. We have a delay here. But listen, I have noticed that the president is framing this increasingly as a national security issue focusing on China, for example. As you said, competitors, other countries can't wait. Is this the way to make the case to centrists and independents to think beyond roads and bridges?
BUTTIGIEG: I think so. Look, I mean, if we've been reminded of anything in the last few months, it's that our critical infrastructure takes a lot of different shapes and its vulnerabilities affect our way of life. Whether we're talking about the colonial pipeline and what a cyberattack on a private company did to the eastern seaboard, or whether we're talking about these storms in Texas and what the vulnerability of our electric grid showed and did for so many Texans.
Case after case where we have seen new kinds of threats, cyber, climate and global public health threats affecting our security and our way of life. I think its demonstrating why we need to think big. And by the way, in way this is actually traditional. For example, nothing is more traditional today than roads and bridges, right, the interstate highway system.
But part of why Eisenhower believe it was important to have an interstate highway system was he recognized that establishing would make America more secure, to the better connected country, there is a safer and more secure country. The same is true now of the internet, just as it was then in the interstate highway system.
LEMON: Secretary Buttigieg, thank you for your time.
BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me on.
LEMON (on camera): An update now on the sham audit of votes in Maricopa County Arizona, auditors hired by the state senate backtracking tonight from claims that a key database had been deleted from county election servers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN COTTON, FOUNDER OF CYFIR: All of this, however, maybe a loop point because subsequently I've been able to recover all of those deleted files that I had access to that data.
SEN. WARREN PETERSON (R-AZ): So, with that being said, do you still need to get that database from the county, or did that rebuilding or recovery that you did, does that have the information you currently need for that database?
COTTON: I have the information I need from the recovery efforts of the data.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): I'm so happy now to bring in this gentleman to talk about it, Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County recorder. Steven, thank you. Mr. Recorder, I guess people will call you that. I appreciate you joining us this evening. So let me get this straight.
OK, we'll do. So let me get this straight. The auditors running this sham recount who claim that files were deleted from Maricopa County service now say that they have miraculously recovered those files? But to be clear the files were never deleted. Is that right?
STEPHEN RICHER MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER: So Don, you brought me in on a good afternoon, because, yes, this did just happen where the very thing that they had accused us of on Wednesday night of last week and sent us into a tailspin trying to figure this all out, it turns out to be exactly what we said which was that we never deleted these files.
They were always there. You know, you heard what they said. That didn't amount to an apology, exactly, but at least they acknowledged that the files are there, that my employees, my team, me personally have not violated the law.
LEMON: Can you explain -- you know, I try to sit here every night, Stephen, and explain to people what the truth is, what reality is. And -- listen, it's been frustrating for quite some time. You're in that position now having to do something similar. What is this like for you and for the people who work with you?
RICHER: It's incredibly frustrating. We're trying so hard, but as you just said to the secretary, we're operating in a post-truth world in some capacities in which no matter how much data and information you provide, you can't convince them. And how are you supposed to argue with that if you can't use facts and logic?
For instance, something like these deleted files. I promise you there will be people e-mailing me months from now saying, what about those deleted files? Or Dominion. Dominion is a case closed. There is nothing to it, but I get an e-mail a day, at least, saying, are you on the take of Dominion? Has Dominion completely overtaken the elections?
LEMON: Listen. How do you argue with someone when you can't use facts and logic as -- you just said it? The former president has seized on the false claim. You called his comment unhinged. Why is the Party indulging the former president on this big lie? None of it makes sense. It's all a lie.
RICHER: Because it stinks. I've already lost a few people that I thought were friends. I've already gotten scores of angry e-mails who said you're a traitor. You know, these are my friends. The very people who are showing up even to this audit are you know, fundamentally good people but they have been led to believe otherwise and they're being led by a company that indulges in conspiracy theories with these cyber ninjas.
And I don't know if we will be friends again after that. And that's not something I relish so I can understand I guess why other Republicans make that decision. I did what ultimately, I thought was right. The entire Maricopa County governing body has done the same. We are united, we will come out, we will stand on this, and you know, whatever the consequences maybe, politically, we're going to go with it, because it's right.
LEMON: Stephen, I have friends that I've had since college in Louisiana, that some of whom I've had to let go because they -- I mean, they literally say crazy things that I cannot explain to them that what they're saying and what they are believing is nuts. So, I understand where you are coming from. It's sad, I'm going to miss them, but I don't have room for liars and conspiracy theorists believers in my life. When these auditors are looking for things like traces of bamboo on ballots, what is the craziest conspiracy theory you've heard? Is that it?
RICHER: No, the craziest conspiracy theory by far is that one of the board of supervisors who happens to own a very large chicken farm took ballots from the 2020 election, fed them to 165,000 chickens and then had them incinerated. Now, what actually happened is that this poor man had a serious fire at one of his barns and 165,000 chickens did die.
But the idea that they had ballots inside of them -- I mean, you know, and legitimate people indulge this. A prominent member of the state legislature indulged this in a conversation. And it is just, you know, what is going on here? That's facially laughable.
LEMON: Look, I don't -- who is the Republican Party right now? Like -- I mean --
RICHER: I don't know. I think we'll figure that out in 2022. But look, you know, that stuff like the bamboo and the chickens and the U.V. lights, you know, if you're going to do that, you know, OK, I disagree, but what really crosses the line for me is when you accuse the hard-working people who have gone through just heck and back over the last year running an election in the face of a pandemic, when you accuse my rank and file, when you accuse my I.T. Department of fraudulently, unlawfully deleting files? No. That goes too far.
LEMON: Stephen, you can say hell on this program. But listen --
RICHER: I wasn't sure. I was raised in Utah.
LEMON: I get it. I thought it was like that or you know, either the Midwest somewhere. To heck and back. So, listen, Maricopa County has twice audited the vote and it's upheld its integrity. What do you think should happen at this point, Stephen?
RICHER: I don't know. I'm scared and I don't know what good comes out of this audit at this point. I think given the nature of the principal auditor on this project, I think there is at least two-thirds of the state that wouldn't believe anything they say, and I think there is, you know, a third of the state that has reached its conclusions that, you know, whatever may come, basically. I don't see how we're changing that. That's a scary thought moving into 2022.
My only hope is that if enough Republicans and enough leaders come out and don't indulge this anymore, and don't you know, sort of dance around the issue, but say, I'm sorry, but what you've been told about Dominion, for instance, is factually inaccurate. And you know, I'm sorry for you and I'm sorry you've been put in that situation, but we need to move forward because that's inaccurate and you need to stop parroting that.
LEMON: Stephen Richer, there need to be more people like you speaking out. I thank you for coming on this program. You're welcome back anytime, whenever the hell you want, or the heck you want.
RICHER: Alright, Don. Hell back then. Thank you very much.
LEMON (on camera): Thank you. The assault on the voter across the country. A Party totally enthralled to a disgraced former president who lost the House, lost the Senate, and lost the White House. Can the GOP survive?
Plus, a D.A. says that deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. were justified. We're going to look at what the video shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County sheriff's office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Loyalty to only one man and a nationwide effort to restrict voting rights is today's GOP a danger to democracy. Let's discuss now with CNN economic commentator, Catherine Rampell and CNN political commentator, Scott Jennings. Good evening to both of you.
Alright, let's say, Catherine. So, Catherine, we are going to put this poll, it's a CBS poll that finds that almost half of the Republican voters believe the party should prioritize changing voting rules to win elections and don't forget the hundreds of restrictive voting bills in the works or already signed into law across this country by Republicans. Is the GOP now the anti-democracy Party?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (on camera): It certainly seems like about half of the party has given up on democracy, as that poll shows.
Given the choice between asking their party to develop more ideas and policies that appeal to a broader swath of voters or alternatively, trying to make it harder for opponents to vote, about half chose the latter, you know, which seems fundamentally at odds with the premise of democracy, that you earn the right to govern by appealing to a majority of the public. It does make you wonder, you know, what happened to the party of
ideas? There isn't even an attempt here anymore to try to stand for anything that will win over voters, it's really just about, you know, trying to make it harder for people who are unlikely to support you, people who are -- may be wearing a different jersey than you to cast their ballot.
LEMON: Scott, listen, I know that it's been a tough time for you as a Republican. Because frankly, I think the party -- members of the party had been doing things that go against what you think a traditional Republican should do. But, listen, I want to know what you think. Is the GOP doing anything now but attacking and restricting democracy?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Well, look, we can have a long argument about whether some of these laws that have been controversial actually restrict, you know, voter action. Because obviously it has been a big flashpoint. In fact, it's easier to vote in Georgia than it is in Delaware where the president is from. And so, we argue that out and people have differing opinions.
But I think Catherine's point about the core of the party's ideology, the core of the party's policy initiatives is actually a good one. You know, Republicans didn't write a platform at the convention last year, and we are having a hard time I think articulating a vision for you know, one of the 10 things that we stand for.
I do think Republicans in Congress so appear at least to try to be coalescing around some kind of opposition to the Biden agenda, although it's not fully coherent yet, but to me, the Midterms in the presidential elections are two different animals that you could probably win the midterms, at least in the House for the Republicans without a coherent vision, but winning the White House back in 2024 without a platform and trying to relitigate the 2020 election I think would be folly and would lead to another defeat.
LEMON: You just heard from Stephen Richer. He is a Republican standing on the side of truth. And I wonder why there aren't more Stephen Richers out there, especially considering what you said about, you know, Delaware and Georgia and whatever.
The point is it's not just because Delaware has you know, stricter voting laws than Georgia, it doesn't mean that the ones in Georgia haven't been restricted with drop boxes, with hours, with (inaudible), with giving people -- you know, not being allowing them to get water and all that and food inline.
And among other things. I'm trying to figure out why Republicans think that perhaps these laws -- one should be stricter than the other, and why aren't there more people standing up like Stephen Richer out there?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, my view is the states ought to be able to make their own laws. I don't think we should have federalization of elections and that is a core conservative principles.
Federalism in this case really does mean letting the states do what they want to do on their own election laws. So, they're all going to be different because of that. You know, my general view is, and I've heard a lot of Republicans say this, it ought to be easy to vote and hard to cheat. And so, that's a pretty good principle, and I think that's what a lot of Republicans want, and I think that should be the core of what you're trying to do with election laws.
I don't think it's a good idea to try to go in and overturn elections after they've been fairly conducted and counted, and I don't think it's a good idea to tell people something that's not true, which is if not but for this bamboo, you can still be the president which is sort of, you know --
RAMPELL: Or the chickens.
JENNINGS: Kind of a crazy thing to say. And so, I think this whole debate, Don, gets -- the issues get conflated. There are some things that are important to look at, and some things that are crazy and should not be put together.
LEMON: OK, but if you don't have some sort of national standard for what should be allowed, then you get the extremes. You'll get extremes from the state, Scott. I mean, look what's happening in Arizona now. I'm sorry. Go ahead, Catherine.
RAMPELL: Well, I was just going to say it seems like the only divide right now within the Republican Party on any real policy issue is about whether the party should be trying to overturn the will of the voters exposed or ex ante. There are people who are looking for the bamboo fibers and you know, filing these nutty lawsuits and doing other things that I think part of the party sees as relatively crass, like these people look nuts, right?
But then the rest of the party, even the ones that have been critical of the conspiracy theories, are generally getting behind these efforts to restrict access to the franchise, whether it's about -- like in Arizona, for example. I don't know about the guest you had on just now.
But the governor of Arizona backed this recent law to make it easier to purge people from the voting rolls. In Georgia, a number of the state officials who have been held up basically as heroes for democracy, you know, small "D" Democrats who were upper case "R" Republicans, people who are held up as heroes, still supported that bill in Georgia that will restrict access to the franchise and make it easier to overturn the results of elections.
So, the only divide is about whether you make it harder to -- for people who oppose you to cast their ballots in advance or afterward by throwing out their votes. It's just not a good place for a party to be in, especially if you care about the future of our republic, you care about so-called democratic backsliding.
LEMON: This is --
RAMPELL: These people are running into the arms of authoritarians openly.
LEMON: Look, I've got to run, but this is a concern. Scott, I understand when you talk about states' rights and all people -- I get what people talk about, but when you have seven in 10 Republicans who don't believe that Joe Biden won the election fairly and then you have two-thirds of Republicans saying it is important for Republicans to be loyal to Donald Trump when it's about -- there needs to be some sort of standard to bring people back into a truthful society rather than a post-truth society, and I think you need some guardrails, especially when people don't know what to believe right now. That's all I'm saying, Scott.
JENNINGS: Yeah. Look, those are two different issues. I will just say I think we're in a 20-year cycle of extreme partisans in both parties not finding presidents to be legitimate. You know, certainly Democrats didn't think Bush was, Republicans didn't think Obama was, Democrats didn't think Trump was --
LEMON: But not like this. Scott, there's nothing like this. Scott, there's nothing like this.
RAMPELL: There was no --
LEMON: There is nothing like this. There is no insurrection. Hang on, Catherine.
LEMON: Hang on. There is no insurrection. There was no -- this is not a both sides thing. There are politics all the time. There's politics all the time. You cannot compare what Democrats did with George Bush or with anybody else to what is happening now with Donald Trump.
The biggest attack on our democracy, on the Capitol by Americans is the founding of this country. You cannot compare that. You have a president -- you have people who are saying that the election was stolen when it was the most secure election in history.
Yeah, every election, you're going to have Democrats who don't like if there is a Republican president or Republicans who don't like if there is a Democratic president, but to compare what happened with former presidents to now, that's apples and oranges. It's not the same thing.
LEMON: It's an unfair comparison, Scott.
JENNINGS: If it's OK for me to finish now, I guess I will.
LEMON: Not if you're -- not if you're going to compare the two, no. Not if you're going to compare what's happening now with other things. That's a fake comparison.
JENNINGS: We are on the tail end of a 20-year ramp-up of this and it's gone far beyond any of the previous cycles. You have seen this sort of increase level by level and now it has gone to an extreme level that led to what happened on January the 6th. And the question is what level will it go to (INAUDIBLE)? And that is principally what I am --
LEMON: But you can't blame that on Democrats. That's not -- you can't blame them. That is all Republicans. This is all Republicans now.
JENNINGS: I'm not blaming January 6 on Democrats, but if you think Democrats thought George Bush was a legitimately elected president, go back and reread it --
RAMPELL: OK. Democrats -- Democrats -- Democrats were clearly very upset about the fact that George W. Bush was essentially --
RAMPELL: -- put in office because of a Supreme Court decision, but there was no attempted coup, you know, there was no attempted -- no attempt to, like, suddenly make it much harder for republican areas to cast ballots.
The election reforms that came up, that were about updating voting machines, you know, to make it easier to vote and, you know, you wouldn't have hanging chads and things like that, but it wasn't about purging the voter rolls.
So, it's a very different reaction to, again, a contested election, but one where everybody recognized that it was a legitimate election nonetheless.
LEMON: OK. I've got to run. Go ahead, Scott. Do you want to say something?
JENNINGS: Democrats did not recognize that it was a legitimate election. They still don't. Nancy Pelosi in 2017 --
LEMON: Oh my gosh. Scott --
JENNINGS: -- said we stole the election.
LEMON: All right. Scott, it's not -- it's not the same thing. Scott, you're not -- this is the reason why the Republican Party -- this is the reason why we are where we are, because you keep pointing fingers at the other side. This is not a democratic problem. This is not a problem for Democrats. You shouldn't compare it.
This is a Republican problem right now. This is who the Republican Party is. Own it. That's what it is. This has nothing to do with politics as usual, things that happened, hanging chads, nothing to do with the price of tea right now. This is a republican Trumpist problem. I got to go. We'll be right back.
LEMON (on camera): We have some big developments to discuss in the case of Andrew Brown, Jr., the North Carolina man shot to death last month by sheriff's deputies. The district attorney is saying Brown's death was justified.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW WOMBLE, PASQUOTANK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified, because Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Brown's family condemning the decision, calling it a slap in the face and demanding the release of all body camera video related to the incident. The three deputies who fired shots at Brown will be reinstated and retrained.
LEMON (on camera): Joining me now is Chance Lynch, a Brown family attorney. Thank you for joining us, sir. I appreciate it. Our time is a little short, but I wanted to get you on the record and get your response. There is a lot to talk about today. It was the first time that some of the footage has been shown publicly. I wanted to take a look and then we'll talk. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Stop! Stop! Stop! (Bleep).
UNKNOWN: Hey, hey.
UNKNOWN: (Bleep). Hey, hey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Listen, we watched someone die there. So it's tough to watch. Based on what you saw today, sir, today, what is your response to the D.A.'s conclusion?
CHANCE LYNCH, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Don, first, thanks for having me. This is an important issue. Let me say this. What we saw today was a miscarriage of justice. We saw an elected district attorney who took an oath to protect the citizens of Pasquotank County, to serve as the minister of justice, we saw him miscarried justice, and our legal team feels that he went in with the intent never to charge these officers and never hold them accountable. That's what we saw today.
LEMON: The family is demanding that all of the body cam footage be released. The sheriff wants it released, too. What's going on? Shouldn't this be about transparency?
LYNCH: Absolutely. That's what we've been seeing all along. We have been advocating for accountability, transparency. If there are so many discrepancies between what we're saying we saw and what the district attorney is saying he saw and what now the world has seen, then release all of the video. We're still demanding that. In fact, we filed a petition today asking for the unredacted version of all images and videos to be released immediately as well as the SBI report.
LEMON: The D.A. brought up a lot in this press conference today. He talked about Andrew Brown's past criminal history, even disparaging the legal team. What's the family's reaction to all of that?
LYNCH: You can imagine what this family is feeling. To have witnessed and to see their father ambushed by the police in an attempt to save his life and get away from them, and then to suffer and endure a public execution at the hands of those who took an oath to protect him, you can imagine the emotional distress that they're under and what they are experiencing. We're just trying to support them, to stand with them, and advocate for them the best that we can.
LEMON: Chance Lynch, thank you. We'll have you back. We appreciate --
LYNCH: Thanks, Don, for having me.
LEMON: Absolutely. Fifteen states reporting zero coronavirus deaths. What does this mean for you and how you go about your day? We're going to tell you. That's next.
LEMON: A little bit of good news. Fifteen states are reporting zero coronavirus deaths. The CDC is reporting the lowest daily case numbers since June of 2020, and about 60 percent of people 18 and older have at least one shot. But the CDC is changing tune on masks. Really, people -- a lot of people are confused. Politicians are pulling stunts.
So, let's talk with Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the CNN medical analyst. I like to call him our nightly house call because he always -- he always takes care of us here.
So, I want -- good evening, doctor, by the way. I want you to look at this. Just a few hours ago, a group of Republicans protested on the House floor, taking off their masks. Most of them haven't gotten vaccinated or at least won't tell CNN that they have been vaccinated or if they've been vaccinated. What message do stunts like these send, doctor?
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION PROGRAM AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: You know, I spend my days working with some of the most courageous people you've ever seen, people who have basically run into the epicenter of the pandemic for the last 15 years to try and save the lives of other people.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to work in an environment with so many cowards. Most of those people have been vaccinated. Most of those Republican legislators have been vaccinated. They were given tickets at the front of the line before almost any other American. They were vaccinated.
But they don't have the courage to tell their constituents that they've been vaccinated because they know it's unpopular. So what they're saying is that they would rather not convince somebody who may die of this virus to get vaccinated because it's politically unpopular. A bunch of cowards.
LEMON: Yeah. I think this answers the question. I just want to say we did reach out. Every House member, Democratic House member, 100 percent of Democrats said that they are vaccinated.
LEMON: Only 95 out of 211 Republicans will tell CNN if they've been vaccinated and it's for the reasons that you just said. Do you agree with that?
LEMON: So, President Biden touring a Ford facility today with his mask on. That's because Ford required masks at the plant, even though Michigan lifted their mask mandate for fully vaccinated people last week. It's now coming down to these private businesses to make their own rules, their own decisions about if they want people to wear masks. What should people be prepared for here?
REINER: I think people should be prepared that businesses are going to require people to wear masks, and I think eventually businesses are going to require employees to be vaccinated. I think the president got it right today. Michigan law allows businesses to mandate masks. Ford mandates masks. And the president wore one when inside the building. Outside, he took the mask off for photo opportunities and when he rode around in the truck.
REINER: And I would encourage people to do exactly what the president did today. If you go to a grocery store and they want you to wear a mask, put a mask on. Don't make a big deal out of it. It's nothing.
LEMON: Right. To Target or Costco or, you know, wherever. Ricky Schroeder might be going. Just do what the employee tells you. Just wear the mask.
All right, doctor, thank you very much. We will be right back.
REINER: My pleasure.
LEMON: Know your history. Today, the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, is signing a bill that immediately repeals the state song. For those who don't know, "Maryland my Maryland" shares a tune with the Christmas standard "O Christmas Tree."
But the song celebrates Maryland's confederate past and includes lyrics calling unionists a northern scum and President Abraham Lincoln a despot and a tyrant.
It's only been the official state song since 1939, but the Baltimore Literary Heritage Project says it was adapted from a poem written by a man named James Ryder Randall in the 1860s, and he was a confederate sympathizer. A spokesman says Governor Hogan never really liked the song. So now, it's a part of history.
Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.