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Don Lemon Tonight

Former President Obama Speaks About What He Would Have Done Differently On Policing As President; Key Senate Vote On January 6 Commission Bill; Interview With Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); Department Of Justice Has Charged At Least 400 People In Capitol Riot; Shooter Kills Eight People At San Jose Railyard; President Biden Gives U.S. Intel Community 90 Days To Report On COVID-19 Origins; A Texas Bill Targeting School Curriculum On Racism Is Sparking Outcry. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 23:00   ET




BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And who exactly is negotiating with the police officer's union to determine what the basic guidelines are in terms of how they or not held accountable.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): So that's the former president. I mean, listen, as they say hindsight is 2020, right? So, this is at the national level what they're proposing now, the George Floyd justice and policing act. Is it enough to make the changes needed and satisfy the issue that President Barack Obama was just talking about?

MAYOR RAS BARAKA, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Well, I think it's a start, Don. I think it is the beginning of moving that needle in that direction. President Obama was talking about how he could help create this moment that we're in right now. You know, push us to this place where we are, and I don't think he could have done that alone, he did what he could, especially in states where the Governors were different.

The Congress was different. There was a different atmosphere in the country at the time. And it took the movement of folks in the community to get us to this point. Now I don't think the president could have gotten us there, what he was supposed to do as the president. One of them was making sure we have consent decrees locally in cities to monitor police departments.

LEMON: Yes. Speaking of, and I talked to you about that this summer on my podcast, Silence is not an option, about Newark being under consent decree. To make changes in policing since the end of the Obama administration. What did that require? And tell us about, what work and what didn't, what do you think of that?

BARAKA: Well, the consent decree is necessary. I mean, what happened is the Department of Justice, the Obama administration, when I came into office, they had already begun an investigation and decided that no one needed to be on consent decree in the police department. And these are things that had been happening around the country and need to continue.

And so, we had to work with the Justice Department. The first thing that worked is we didn't push it away. We were not aggressive and saying we didn't want this consent. We embraced it and said let's work together and make this happen, we believed that we needed it.

And that was the first step. And we began to change policies and practices by bringing the community and changing use of force policy. Changing policies around stop and frisk, changing policies around de- escalation.

All of those things are important. So we have new policies, over a dozen new policies that created in concert with the community about police behavior, culture, how they should act, all those things are important. So that does work if you have a city, a mayor, a police department, that wants to work alongside of that and realize that they've been doing something wrong for a while and it's time to change direction.

LEMON: Listen, we saw just a few weeks ago the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. You know, stemming obviously from George Floyd's murder. This is the former president speaking out about the impact of George Floyd's murder. Watch this.


OBAMA: When George Floyd was murdered and we witnessed it, on phones and televisions and screens and images, you know, it was just the most vivid reminder that the criminal justice system in this country has never operated in a color blind fashion. And that the consequences for families and communities has been devastating.

And when I saw the mobilization primarily led by young people over the last year, it gave me hope. And what has given me even more hope is the way in which it wasn't a one-off but that hope has now been translated into action?


LEMON: Is that lasting? Is it going to be lasting, what happened, the events that took place over the last year? The protests, the unrest, the verdict and so on?

BARAKA: Well, that depends chiefly on us and the strength of our will and pushing, and making sure that this is not a moment but a series of things that happened. Because of what took place. All the organizing, all of the Black Lives Matter, growth during this time. And I believe Black Lives Matter didn't exist.

If that organizing and movement didn't take place. We're not at this place. There had been many times, black people have been killed by police on camera in very heinous ways and we didn't get to this moment. I think the movement caused this moment and it is up to us really to push it further, to keep it on the minds of the public that things are wrong and need to be changed.

And that begins with George Floyd and policing bill, but all kinds of local and state bills that are being pushed and Congress acting to do even more than George Floyd in policing bill.


LEMON: Mayor Ras Baraka, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. I appreciate you appearing tonight.

BARAKA: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Thank you.

The Senate taking up a key vote tomorrow on bill creating a commission to investigate the deadly January 6th Capitol attack. Joining me now the former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, now a CNN political commentator. Brendan Buck is with us as well former top aide to Paul Ryan and John Boehner.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you, thank you for joining. Let's see, Brendan, you, tomorrow, Senate Republicans will likely kill any help of this January 6 commission. It could be their first filibuster. If that happens, does it mean the Party is not willing to defend our democracy? What does it mean?

BRENDAN BUCK, FMR, CHIEF COMMUNICATION ADVISER TO FMR. SPEAKER PAUL RYAN (on camera): Well, first of all it means that the effort that's taking place to whitewash what happened has been remarkably successful. There is a poll out this week, Don that shows a majority of Republican voters believe that the riot on January 6 was led by left-wing agitators trying to make Donald Trump look bad.

You know, this is the reality that so many Republicans are living in right now. And so this actually -- you know, in a sad way it's an easy vote for Republicans to vote no, because the voters, they are hearing from back home. I think this all an effort to take on Donald Trump.

It's a Party that unfortunately has become held hostage by the base, but also just a strain of the base and anti-intellectualism and frankly anti-reality that doesn't allow us to basically look truth in the face. And so this is going to end up being an easy vote for them, because it's what Republican voters want them to do.

LEMON: But Brendan, don't they believe that because their leaders are not telling them the truth? Isn't that -- it's sort of this circular -- it's really a feedback loop, because they believe it because the president told them, right? And then because the people who are supposed to represent them in Washington and who are supposed to be their leaders are actually playing into it and not actually standing up. They don't have a backbone to tell them the truth. Isn't that what leaders are supposed to do?

BUCK: It takes me back to right after January 6th when Mitch McConnell went to the floor and very clearly through the blame at Donald Trump. He said very clearly. He is responsible for this. And after a number of days, he backed away from it. I think what he saw was his conference didn't want to hear that because voters back home didn't want to hear that.

And from his, point they are basically just ignoring it. You know, Republicans like any other politician they want to get reelected and basically all they care about right now are Republican voters and when Republican voter's primary the requisite for you to be a Republican is to support Donald Trump, it's an easy vote for you.

LEMON: Charlie, the mother of fallen Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick wrote a letter to lawmakers saying, in part, I suggest that all Congressman and Senators who are against this bill visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what they're hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward.

At least 15 Republican Senators have agreed to meet with Gladys Sicknick as well as Capitol police officer Harry Dunn, D.C. Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone as well. What does it say about the GOP that these heroes are essentially having to beg for an investigation?

FMR. REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-PA), CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Well, I think Mrs. Sicknick has made a very powerful presentation, and if I were the GOP in the Senate I would certainly adopt this commission.

For the simple reason that they are better off with a bipartisan independent commission, looking at the facts rather than with the Democrats will likely do is setup a select committee that will be very partisan and these issues will be aired in a way the GOP will not like and all likelihood the GOP will get -- will have people out front like they did in that hearing several days ago where they don't have their best foot forward.

People talking about of course, visiting the Capitol. So, I think the GOP right now is in a bit of a bind. And I agree with Brendan's political analysis of where we are. The only thing I would add is, while this may be an easy vote for many members who are in safer districts those in marginal seats know that voting against an independent commission like this, is perilous for them.

And the challenge right now for the Republican Party is that the leadership is much more beholden to those in these very safe seats rather than their majority makers. Those who are in those marginal seats where they cannot just simply pander to a base to get reelected.

LEMON: Charlie, Brendan, thank you both. I appreciate it. I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. Congressman, good to see you. Thanks for joining.

So, you lived this attack. This picture shows you confronting your colleagues, or comforting -- excuse me, your colleagues as you hid from rioters in the House gallery. You said that you thought that you have to fight your way out of the Capitol. What questions do you have about that really horrific day that can only really be answered by a January 6th commission?


REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Yes. Thanks for having me, Don. It was a horrific day. There's no doubt about that. There's no other way to paint this. This was not tourists, you know, any attempt to characterize this other than a violent insurrection to derail our democracy. It's not telling the truth. We have to make that clear over and over again, and not allow people to rewrite the history of that day.

But there is a lot of unanswered questions about why there wasn't security. Why the National Guard hadn't been deployed. Why intelligence assessments and information that was broadly available to the American public, the members of Congress, leading up to the 6 was not properly assessed and translated into security measures that day.

I mean, listen, my family had come in a couple of days earlier to be a part of my swearing in as I joined the 117th Congress. And my wife and I actually decided based on public reporting, based on what we had been seeing in social media, we decided that she and my kids would actually fly home early so they weren't around for the 6th.

So, we made that decision. We have information to do it. But, you know, the police, the National Guard and the other authorities did not make the same decision. So we need to know why. And this is not just an exercise and the integrity of history, but we have to figure out what went wrong and prevent it from ever happening again.

LEMON: Why are Republicans so afraid of that?

CROW: Well, because it's political for them. You know, you have people like Kevin McCarthy who you know, only wants, this is the only thing he wants is to be Speaker of the House. That's it. You know, I honestly believe he doesn't care about health care, infrastructure, combatting the rise of China. Any of those things. He just wants to be speaker.

And for him, he needs Donald Trump to accomplish that personal mission so anything that makes Donald Trump look bad, or that impugns his colleagues on the other side of the aisle for me, he doesn't want to deal with. It's as simple as that.

LEMON: Representative Crow, you heard the comments that I just read from a Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson. She says that Trump's steady drumbeat of the big lie could continue to inspire his supporters to take up arms. Are you concerned that the January 6th, that it may not be a one-off?

CROW: I am absolutely concerned about that. It's not a one-off, because you know, just over a month ago, we buried another Capitol police officer, right. This wasn't just January 6th. We had another attack on the Capitol since January 6th. We have a domestic terror movement in America, that has been enabled, that has been furthered, it has been legitimized by leaders at the highest levels of our country, starting with Donald Trump. That is the sad reality. And if we aren't honest about what it is we

are dealing with, if we aren't honest about the dangers of that movement, we will not address it in a way that we need to. And we will be at risk. So, this is not just an exercise in history, and making sure that the history books accurately reflect on January 6th. We have a current problem that we have to address, we have to be honest about that. We have to do what is necessary to keep ourselves safe.

LEMON: Since it looks like this bill doesn't really have a chance in the Senate tomorrow, Democrats will lightly set up a special committee to look into January 6. Do you think leader Pelosi should make this bipartisan? Maybe get Adam Kinzinger, or Liz Cheney involved?

CROW: Well, first of all, the Senate has to take a vote. I'm a firm believer that you are sent to Washington to take a vote. So I want to see where people stand, just like the impeachment trials. Just like all of the other tough votes. We need to see where people stand, and we will hold them accountable. And hopefully the voters will hold them accountable for it.

But I do think that there needs to be a commission of some sort. I haven't had a chance to talk with leadership and probably other folks, both Republican and Democrats. Who have supported this commission and let's not forget there were 35 Republicans that said that this is the right thing to do and we need to do it.

I think we need to work with them to the extent that we can and they're willing to forward a commission or a committee of some sort. Because there are answers that we have to get to. We can't just get to those through the (inaudible) investigation, (inaudible) investigations and things that are going on. We will get a lot of information that way. But Congress has a responsibility here, too.

LEMON: Always a pleasure Congressman Crow. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

CROW: Yes, thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, I want to dig deep into what we know about the Capitol insurrection. So joining me now is Jon Scott-Railton. He's a senior researcher at the University of Toronto. Focusing on technological threats against society. And since January 6 he has been one of the leading voices in using internet research to identify the people who stormed the Capitol. John, good to see you again. Thanks for joining.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, THE CITIZEN LAB (on camera): Don, Its' always a pleasure, Thanks for having me.

LEMON: So Republicans are trying to rewrite the history of January 6, claiming that people who stormed the Capitol were just like tourist. Never a threat, hugging and kissing officers, that it was left wing agitators who were actually did it. But there is body camera footage, there's all kinds of footage. Where the body camera footage from D.C. Metro police officer Michael Fanone and it shows the truth. Look at this.


UNKNOWN: I got one.


UNKNOWN: I got one.

UNKNOWN: I got a family.


LEMON: You have been studying all of the videos and the court filings, talk about how horrific January 6th was. What are you seeing in these filings and videos and reports?

SCOTT-RAILTON: Well, we are seeing in text what your viewers just saw in video, which is (inaudible), an appetite for violence. Translated across that event. There were hundreds of people their intent on doing serious bodily harm to the officers there, and to the members of Congress whom they were protecting.

You see officers getting crushed, people hurling abuse at those officers. What's remarkable to me is that anyone could hang the word tourism over that. Especially after seeing footage of the kind you just showed.

LEMON: And left wing activists and agitators?

SCOTT-RAILTON: I mean, I think that the real story here is that there is a desire to rewrite history. And unfortunately, unless we get serious public facing investigations, there may be some success at rewriting these history books. That our kids have access to. Right now, clearly the history has already been rewritten for many in the Republicans Party.

LEMON: You know, other Republicans are claiming just a few bad apples were responsible for this attack on our democracy on January 6. But over 400 people, more than 400 people have been charged, including a man named Peter Stagger, who beat an officer with a flagpole. Here's how he explained the violence.


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

UNKNOWN: Yes, sir.

UNKNOWN: Death is the only remedy for what is in that building.


LEMON: OK, again. So, there it is. With our own eyes and ears. But yet, you know, just a few bad apples hugging and kissing patriots. What else are you learning about these defendants? SCOTT-RAILTON: I think we're learning a lot of things about the

defendants. Right now, accounts keep going up. We're nearing 450. What's important to realize here is that you've got different sets of defendants.

You have some people who are just being charged because they were at the Capitol. But you have a lot more who were engaged in really serious violence and in some cases in serious conspiracy to try to commit that violence.

LEMON: And now they are trying to manipulate, as you see, when see their attorneys appear on television, trying to manipulate the legal system in their favor to make them out as victims. Either of somehow the presidents rhetoric, or a system that was stacked against them. The former president is denying any responsibility for inciting the people who stormed the Capitol. But what are the rioters saying?

SCOTT-RAILTON: Well, for a guy who absolutely love the glorification of himself by having his name everywhere, you think he would've been thrilled by the Capitol insurrection. Because his name was everywhere.

He was on flags, it was on the lips of the people who were there beating officers, chanting his name. But now, he washes his hands of it. Leaving a lot of these people's lawyers to sort of say well, they thought they were getting advice by Trump to do this.

And in fact, it's true. The last time somebody counted, which was like 250 arrests ago, over a dozen defendants had said they thought that Trump was basically guiding them and telling them what to do. So you have that component and this question about the incitement in his language. There is another issue to which is people close to Trump, including some insiders like Roger Stone, are really lurking at the margins of this, right.

We know that Roger Stone's bodyguard contingent went directly from stone to the Capitol, where they participated in the insurrection. I think there's a lot more that we don't know right now. And it's why a commission is so critically important. Those questions may be we won't get them answered. Otherwise.

LEMON: Yes. John Scott-Railton, always a pleasure. Always informative.

Thank you so much sir.

SCOTT-RAILTON: Don, the pleasure is mine.

LEMON: And the latest explosion of gun violence. A shooter killed eight people when he opened fire in a massacre or at the San Jose railyard today.


President Joe Biden lowering flags to half-staff for the fifth time in his presidency and demanding Congress take action. As California's Governor says this --


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Well, it begs the damn question, what the hell going on in the United States of America? What is wrong with us?



LEMON: Tonight, a public transit railyard in San Jose, California, is a massive crime scene. It is the site of the latest deadly mass shooting in America. At least eight people killed. Others wounded. Police say the gunman was an employee of the valley transportation authority's light rail facilities, and that he killed himself as deputies moved in.

I want to discuss now with CNN's senior law enforcement analysts, Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI. He's also the author of the threat, how the FBI protects America in the age of terror and Trump.

Andrew, good to see you. Good to have you on. We enjoy having you on as much as possible. You know, this is a really large crime scene and the suspect killed himself. Is there any pattern to mass shootings in this country?


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR (on camera): you know, Don, there is a couple of things that I think are common to many, many of these horrific incidents. I think one of them is, and this has been a finding by the FBI and their research that most mass shooters are approached the incident with some sort of underlying grievance.

They are angry about a work issue, or a relationship issue, maybe with a spouse maybe with a significant other. Or maybe even on an ideological issue. So there is that through line of grievance. There's also a commonality in many of these mass shooters around psychological behavioral issues.

You know, many of them were challenged by those sorts of things. But the one thing that is common in all of them is, their use of highly powerful, incredibly lethal, many times military style weapons.

So we have to ask ourselves at this moment like, which one of these commonalities can we address with policy and legislation? You're not going to legislate your way out of grievance. You're not going to legislate your way out of mental and psychological challenges. But we could, if we had the will to do so, address the availability of military style high powered weapons. But we just failed to do so time and time again.

LEMON: This is the 232nd mass shooting this year, Andrew. President Biden is releasing the statement demanding action on guns. He said he I have the solemn duty of yet again of ordering the flag to be lowered at half-staff, just weeks after doing so following the mass shootings at spas in and around Atlanta, and the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. At a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina. At a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Enough.

For law enforcement, from a law enforcement perspective, Andrew, what kind of action could we take that would stop this? That would have in the impact?

MCCABE: Yes. So, Don, look, I'm a gun owner. I carried a gun every single day for 22 years as a law enforcement officer. But even I, I am not an enemy of the second amendment. But I can tell you as many, many people similarly situated could, there's all kinds of things that we can do to make this country safer.

We could get rid of the gun show loophole. That's something easy we could do. We could erase any one of these pieces of legislation that is advocating for universal background checks. We could give the FBI the amount of time that it takes to effectively do these background checks.

As I'm sure you know, right now, you know, they have basically a very short window of time to conduct the investigation of behind an individual background check. And after three days, that purchase can go through. Whether or not the check has been done accurately and completely. So, there's all kinds of ways we could adjust the laws in this country to better protect our citizens from violence committed by people who have guns, but should not have access to them.

LEMON: This was California Governor Gavin Newsom earlier today.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): There is a sameness to this. And that numbness I think is something we are all feeling. But it begs the damn question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?


LEMON: What is wrong that keeps -- that this keeps happening here in a way that we don't see in any other countries?

MCCABE: It's compounding, Don. You know, all kinds of surveys, Pew research surveys, all kinds of surveys indicate that the overwhelming support in this country is for reasonable, rational gun control laws. But yet, we don't do it.

And you have to believe that is because a fair section of our political leadership are conservative, right wing side of the aisle, is beholden to the special interests, the gun producers, the NRA, who will not under any circumstance allow legislation like that to go forth.

So, all of us, remain hostage to these special interests. And if we don't do something about it, this is going to happen tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after. And we only have ourselves to blame.

LEMON: Andrew McCabe, thank you sir. I appreciate you joining us.

MCCABE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: President Joe Biden ramping up an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. Why that lab leak theory is getting more support. Next.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We've been saying that for a very long time that China needed to provide more access to the lab. Cooperate more fully with scientific investigators and we don't think that they have met that standard.




LEMON: The Senate unanimously passing a bill tonight requiring the director of the National Intelligence to declassify any Intel related to the origin of COVID-19. It comes on the same day President Biden orders U.S. intelligence agencies to step up their investigations into the origins of coronavirus.

And it is happening just a day after CNN reported the Biden team spiked the Trump administration investigation that was trying to tie COVID's origin to the Wuhan lab.

So joining me now to discuss is William Haseltine. William Haseltine is a former professor at the Harvard Medical School and the author of "Variants!" Professor, a pleasure. Thank you, sir.


LEMON: Why would the Biden administration wind down the investigation just to spin up a new one?


HASELTINE: There is a lot of noise about the potential origin of this virus. The single answer is we don't know. But I can give you a little bit of insight. This is the seventh, actually the eighth now, coronavirus that has entered the human population. Four have been around for at least 60 years.

And then just in the last few years, we had one that came in, SARS. We know it came in from a cave in south Asia, south China. There is another one, MERS. It came from a cave in Egypt but was found first in Saudi Arabia thousands of miles away. And it took about five years to find the origin of the SARS virus.

Rather than using intelligence services to find the origin of the virus, I think we had a -- got a lot of spelunkers who go into these caves. There are heck of a lot of bats. There are 1,400 different types of bats. Five hundred of them live in the Southeast Asian region. There are millions and millions of bats. And we know this is different from any other virus. And we just haven't found the origin yet.

LEMON: Spelunkers.

HASELTINE: Let me say one more thing. Just last week, a dog virus, coronavirus, infected and sickened children in Malaysia. So, this is continually happening. We've got to find the natural source for this. This is not a lab-made thing as far as I can tell. It's not related very closely, at least parts of it, to any virus we've ever seen before.

LEMON: Yeah. That's interesting. I never -- I never thought of the concept of spelunkers and certainly the idea --


LEMON: -- of coronavirus --

HASELTINE: That's how you find out where -- that's how you found out where SARS came from. I know some of the people who, Don, hazmat outfits because it's dangerous in those caves, filled with all sorts of viruses, and go in and look for the origins. That's what you got to do.

You don't have to have people in Washington looking at their computer screens to figure this out. You got to have scientists on the ground trying to find the virus -- the bats that have these viruses, and these viruses are all over the world, in all sorts of species, and that's how you find them.

LEMON: Look, you know, it's not just President Biden. A lot of people were dismissive of the lab leak theory after the World Health Organization investigated along with Chinese government, and told the world a lab leak was extremely unlikely. Was the world wrong to listen?

HASELTINE: No, I don't think so. I think it is still extremely unlikely. We don't know that didn't happen, but we certainly don't know it did happen. You know --

LEMON: Let me ask you -- let me ask you this before we move on. People are thinking that it did happen because of the workers who got sick, but we don't know specifically if the workers were sick with COVID, right?

HASELTINE: Exactly. I was about to tell you, I was in Wuhan in November of 2019. Wuhan, just before the outbreak, I got a terrible cold. I came home, I gave it to everybody in my family, and it was the worst cold we've had in 10 years!

LEMON: Hmm. HASELTINE: It wasn't COVID. Because you have a sick -- you have a really serious cold. You know, Wuhan is in the heart of the industrial part of China. It's polluted there. They've got a lot of colds. It's not a healthy city. There is a lot of stuff in the air in Wuhan. It is one of the most polluted places in the world.

LEMON (on camera): Then there is this misinformation that was coming out at lightning speed, much of it from the former president himself. Trump and his officials constantly saying the pandemic isn't a big deal, that it would go away soon, promoting these unproven treatments like, you remember, you know, the shorthand, hydroxychloroquine. And who can forget this? Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, you can reach -- you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you are going to test that, too. It sounds interesting.

And then I see the disinfectant knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because, you see, it gets on the lungs.


LEMON (on camera): I cannot --


LEMON: When I say I still cannot believe that happened, but it did. It doesn't help when you -- you know, you need credibility for things like an investigation into how this all started, does it?

HASELTINE: No, but you know, this is a really serious issue, because we do have to know the origin of the virus if we're going to prepare ourselves for future. But we have to do the research. And we have to get out there in the field.

And this kind of debate, it chips (ph) and almost completely judges the issue before we know the answer. If you listen closely to our health officials, they will tell you, we don't know the answer, and that is the actual answer. But the only way to understand what's coming at us, the point I made is these viruses, we know where a bunch of them came from.


HASELTINE: This is the -- right now, with the dog virus in Malaysia, the eighth time that these viruses have entered humans that we know about. We have to prepare ourselves. We have to do the research.

So, this kind of argument takes a spotlight off of the kinder really painstaking research we need to do and puts it into a political realm which is the last place you want science to be. You don't want science to be a political football. You want to look at the facts because it is the facts that will save us.

This has been a good week for COVID. It is low. Things are coming down in the U.S. A new drug, a new antibody was approved today for treatment. It is a good day in the United States. Not all over the world, but it is a good day in the United States, good week, in the United States for COVID.

Let us hope we can keep that good theme going and really find the origin and the -- use our best fact-based, not political-based lens to look at where this thing might have come from. Seven out of eight times it came from animals.

LEMON: Yeah.

HASELTINE: Is this going to be the exception?

LEMON: You get no argument from me on what you just said. Thank you, professor.

HASELTINE: You're welcome. Thanks a lot.

LEMON: Texas Republicans taking control of the classroom, trying to change history by not teaching kids about the realities of things like slavery and racism. More, next.




LEMON: An education bill making its way through the Texas State legislature could have a major impact on how students are taught about current events in relation to the history of slavery and racism. Supporters of the bill say the goal is to keep personal biases out of the classroom. But opponents say it is an attempt to whitewash history.

I want to bring in now Georgina Perez of the Texas State Board of Education. I'm so glad that you're here. So, let's learn a few things. Good evening to you.

The bill says that teachers may not teach that an individual, by virtue of its individual race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

What will that mean in Texas classrooms, the real world impact when it comes to these issues?

GEORGINA PEREZ, TEXAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: The real world impact of a bill like this is requiring teachers to teach the fine people on both sides' theory. So imagine teaching the fine people on both sides of the Indian Removal Act or the fine people on both sides of slavery and lynching and Jim Crow or the fine people on both sides of the massacre of 15 Mexican-American men and boys being shot to death in the middle of the night by Texas rangers. Where are the fine people on both sides?

LEMON: Hmm. The bill also teaches -- says the teachers may not be compelled to discuss current events. If they do, they need to strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.

How is a teacher supposed to discuss white supremacist marches in Charlottesville or El Paso -- the El Paso attack without giving deference to one perspective? Is that an attempt to, as you said, to both sides, even current events?

PEREZ: I don't believe that there are teachers that are going to try terribly difficult -- it is a difficult topic to approach. How do you -- how do you do that? One of the things that teachers are screaming about right now is what if I just don't do it? What's going to happen? Who enforces this and what are the consequences, because this is ridiculous?

The idea that you're going to introduce -- taught police and censorship and silencing of students and teachers into Texas classrooms, not only is that completely asinine, it is also unrealistic. We're not going to be censoring teachers and we're not going to be silencing students. It's ridiculous.

LEMON: I wonder, what is the other side? What is the other side on this? Is the other side that, yeah, there was some credence to, you know, the Indian removal or some credence to, you know, Jews will not replace us or -- I mean, that is what I don't understand, what the other perspective is. Can you help me?

PEREZ: No, I can't, because I don't have another perspective. It is wrong to enslave people. It is wrong to massacre individuals. It is wrong to lynch people. It is wrong. And there is absolutely difference. There is absolutely bias because I'm human.

LEMON (on camera): Hmm. The bill sponsor, state Representative Steve Toth, listen to what he said earlier this month.


STEVE TOTH, TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Do you want our Texas kids to be taught that the system of government in Texas and the United States is nothing but a cover-up for white supremacy?


LEMON (on camera): What do you say to that?

PEREZ: If you look at Texas history books right now, we have a book in 8th grade history, U.S. history that says Africans were immigrants, immigrant workers.


PEREZ: And Mexicans didn't exist until the Spaniards arrived and conquered south and Central America. So, if we're not already teaching white supremacy exists, then what is it?


LEMON: That is a very good question. And one we will continue to think about, although some of us don't really think about it that much and discuss.

Thank you, Georgina. I really appreciate you joining us.

PEREZ: Thank you.

LEMON: We will be right back.




LEMON (on camera): So, thank you for watching, everyone. Before we go, I want you to take a look at the new CNN film, "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street." It premieres Monday night, 9:00 p.m.


UNKNOWN: So many people have said there were no bodies there. But, you know, all the Black folk in the community, we believe they're there. Those stories were passed on to us.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Inch by inch, crews are digging into the history of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Tulsa's mayor, G.T. Bynum, initiated the investigation to try and find if there are any victims buried in mass graves.

UNKNOWN: There was a systematic coverup of the event. It should not have taken 99 years.

UNKNOWN: We have to pay attention. We have to pick up the time that has been left in our hands and figure out where the screams are coming from.