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Don Lemon Tonight
Eleven People Dead And 150 People Still Unaccounted For; Former A.G. Barr Calls Trump's Claim B.S.; Building Inspector Found Infrastructure Issues Days Before Collapse; Families Hopes For A Miracle; House To Vote On Select Committee; Former POTUS Had Shouting Match With General Milley. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 28, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): All right. Thank you for the opportunity tonight. It is now time for the big show "DON LEMON TONIGHT" and its star, D. Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you, sir. Man, down in Florida, boy, boy, boy. They're dealing with a mess, and it's hard not to think about them right now and all these new -- I saw the report about the pool and, you know, the maintenance under the pool and we're going to talk about it.
But it's a mess. It's a mess. It's a mess.
CUOMO: It is a mess, and the worst part is that there is this looming agony of the unknown. We're all holding up hope for miracles and they do happen. Looking for 150 million people introduces realities to these people, these families, the extended families and their raw --
LEMON: You mean 150 people.
CUOMO: One hundred at least.
LEMON: You said 150 million.
CUOMO: Yes. I'm sorry, no, 150 people at least. We'll see. We'll see what the number is. It would be great to have miracles. I know the people doing the search haven't given up hope, you know, but in circling back with some of them this weekend, we got to be careful, legal analysis is subjective to speculation.
Norm Eisen is a great legal mind and you need to know here is a potential avenue. It could go this way. It could go that way. This is what it is, you got to know that. That's legal analysis. Factual analysis of what happened to this building does not bode well for suggestion by speculation.
LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: And I think that's what I heard, I don't think. What I heard from these guys is it hurts. They don't want to hear 100 different architects and engineers tell them could have, should have, would have, this cracked, that cracked. The state needs to get with the feds, put together a team. Take the time, get the answers, put them out and have accountability that takes. These people deserve that.
CUOMO: And I don't this piecemeal stuff is helpful.
LEMON: But they are still -- they're still looking. They are still --
LEMON: Yes. And the thing --
CUOMO: Right now.
LEMON: Right now.
CUOMO: Right now, task force three is all over that. We have three different task forces on it. Florida is blessed to have as many task forces as it does the federal and the state training, they are the best search and rescue people we have.
LEMON: You know, you and I talk about this. We always talk about how tenuous life is. Do you remember, you know, when your dad died a few years ago and we talked, my sister died. I just before I came on the show, I got a -- I had a lot of folks at the house this weekend or whatever and I didn't see a text from my high school buddy I graduated college with. Our families are good friends. You know, his mom and my mom went to school together. Known each other forever.
His dad died. He found him this weekend. He said, you know, I just -- I saw the text and talked to him just before air and no day is promised. No time is promised. No moment is promised. So while we have each other here, we should love each other and spend as much time with each other and figure out what is important in life.
So, I want him to know, because I know he's watching, Arthur, your entire family if you're watching, my hearts are with you and the services are going to be this weekend. But my family will be here visiting me.
So -- and I'm going to hug them up and love them up as much as possible as much as I hugged you up this weekend and loved you this weekend. Thank you for showing up at the house and celebrating pride with me and my little family.
CUOMO: We have every reason to be proud --
CUOMO: -- for the diversity of who we are but also for how lucky I've been to have you in my life as my friend and you are going to celebrate your friend's father by loving your own family --
CUOMO: -- and that's what I'm sure he would want.
CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.
LEMON: I love you, too. And I'll get to the families now in Florida. Thank you, sir. I'll see you later.
This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
And we have another busy night, a big news on multiple huge stories. And as we have been talking about, this is our breaking news tonight. The country and the world watching the desperate search and rescue effort still going on at this very moment. More than 116 hours after that condo collapse in Surfside, Florida.
More than 400 rescuers assigned to this search. About 200 on the wreckage at any given time. A state fire marshal is warning that they're standing on a giant piece of metal with lightning and constant threat. OK? Families trying to hold out hope, really but it gets harder and harder at these days and every moment goes by and night after night after night after it goes by.
I, look, I can't even imagine. I had loss in my life but I can't imagine this, the agony and this kind of waiting. As they are hoping there, they are praying that they won't get the terrible news that every family is dreading.
So tonight, this is where the death toll is. It is rising to 11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: In total, the number of people accounted for now stands at 136 with 150 unaccounted for.
The number of confirmed deaths is 11. Tragically, 11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Listen, I don't know if you ever want to imagine that but if you will just put yourself in these folks' shoes by imagining what it is like, what it's like not knowing what happened to your mother to your grandmother not being able to tell your 6-year-old son what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PABLO RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER MISSING AFTER SURSIDE BUILDIN COLLAPSE: Very difficult not knowing and really the only hope I have is that they find them. We can have some kind of proper burial, some kind of closure and hope that they investigate this and the people responsible are held to be responsible. They're held to be accountable. So that this never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Amen. Imagine what it's like for a child afraid she's lost her mother or father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: It was a little girl, she's about 12 years old and she was sitting by herself and I know this little girl because I had met her and she had told me that either her mother or father was in that building and that either her mother or father lives in another building a couple streets down.
So, she had a mom here and dad there and one of them is gone now. And she was sitting there by herself with her cell phone reading prayers. All by herself. And that broke my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, amid the hope and grief, the question everyone is asking tonight is what caused this? What caused this? A structural engineer hired by the town of Surfside says that he's begun examining that building. That as a contractor servicing the pool at the condo 36 hours before the collapse, by the way, telling the Miami Herald that he saw standing water, cracks in the concrete in the pool, in the pool equipment room, I should say.
Much more on that in a moment. We have someone who can talk directly about that. But right now, there are more questions than answers. OK? How many other buildings were vulnerable? What will it take to protect unsuspecting residents from another collapse?
A lot more to come on all of this throughout the next two hours as I carry you through and then much more on CNN with our live coverage after that.
And then there is the Republican Party that we need to talk about that is going on right now. Still under the spell of a disgraced twice impeached one-term president. The big liar and his big lie. Nearly six months since Trump supporting rioters ran wild at the United States Capitol beating police and hunting lawmakers, more than five months since Joe Biden took the oath of office, the former guy still raging and obsessed with his own lies.
His party can't move on when its leader is still pushing his position. And now bombshells from three new books are revealing it just how deep his delusions go. He was obsessed with conspiracy theories and surrounded by aides who knew that he was delusional but were afraid to tell the truth.
So, some expert -- excerpts, I should say, of his book. It's called "Betrayal" of this book called "Betrayal." Published in the Atlantic. Jonathan Karl writes about what happened when then Attorney General Bill Barr admitted in an interview with the DOJ that he uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
The then president quote and I'm quoting here, "how the f could you do this to me? Why did you say it? Barr, because it's true." The president responding quote, "you must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.' Barr telling Karl, quote, "my attitude was it was put up or shut up time and there was evidence -- there was evidence of fraud I had no motive to suppress it. If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it but my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit."
Now as a former attorney general laundering his reputation here, yes, it's true, after all, this is a guy who told our very own Wolf Blitzer in September that they indicted someone in Texas for collecting 1,700 ballots and filling them out himself. Spoiler alert, that was not true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We indicted someone in Texas, 1,700 ballots collected he -- from people who could vote. He made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. OK? That kind of thing happens with mail-in ballots and everyone knows that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): OK. So again, spoiler alert, that was not true. That was actually a local case and the ADA who prosecuted it told the Washington Post that that's not what happened at all. The voter said those ballots were legit. So yes, this is reputation laundry but that doesn't mean that Bill Barr is not telling the truth now, does it? Both things can be true.
Then there is the cowardice of Mitch McConnell. You would think that he'd be embarrassed by this if he were capable of actually being embarrassed. And I quote here. "McConnell also believed that if he openly declared Biden the winner, that Trump would be engaged and likely act to sabotage the Republican Senate campaigns in Georgia."
"Look, we need the president in Georgia," McConnell told Barr, and so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now but you're in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You're really the only one who can do it."
So, he knew it was wrong. He let it go on while pushing Barr to take -- to take a stand when he himself was too chicken to do it.
And then there is Michael Wolff's new book and it's called "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency." He writes that Trump's senior advisors knew Mike Pence would never go along with Trump's unconstitutional scheme to overturn the results of the election.
And here is another quote. "The president's aides and family understood, too, that he was the only one along with Rudy Giuliani, or as it says along with Giuliani -- he doesn't say his whole name -- which only made the situation more alarming and any professional political spear to believe this. Hence, although they did not call it such and try to see it as more nuance derangement."
And then there is a new book, it's from Wall Street reporter -- to a Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender. And it says, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election." That's the name of the book. Where he describes a shouting match between chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley and then President Donald Trump who wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and used the military to stop social justice protests last summer.
Like I said, that's how deep his delusions go pushing the big lie again and again and again. And then there is a former President Barack Obama and he warns that it could happen again and it could even be worse the next time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In this election, what we saw was my successor, the former president violates that poor tenet that we can promote and then declare a winner, and fabricate and make up a whole bunch of hooey.
So that as bad as January 6th was, if we had to repeat in future elections in which, let's say, the Republican controlled Pennsylvania legislature decided we're not going to certify all those votes coming out of Philadelphia because we think that those urban votes are shady. Imagine what would have happened. We would have had a worse constitutional crisis than we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): That's actually the perfect word to describe it, hooey.
OK. So, listen, I want to turn to the breaking news now. I want to get right to that latest on the condo collapse. And Miami Herald is reporting on what a contractor says he saw in the pool equipment room a day and a half before that collapse.
So, joining me now is Miami Herald reporter Aaron Leibowitz. Aaron, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate it.
This is very important stuff that we're talking about because you spoke to a pool contractor who took those photos in the garage area just 36 hours before that building collapsed. Tell us what you are learning and what these photos show exactly.
AARON LEIBOWITZ, REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: Sure. Thank you so much for having me.
We spoke to a contractor who was working for a company that was bidding to renovate the Champlain Tower South pool as part of their 40-year recertification process and on Tuesday, two days before the collapse, he did a walk-through of the property. Initially walked through the lobby. Walked through the pool area. Didn't notice anything particularly alarming.
He was being escorted by a building employee who then walked him down stairs to the north part of the building in the garage below. And that's where he told us that he saw deep standing water in the parking garage, that he found odd and concerning.
He asked the employee what it was about at the time and the employee said it was probably a waterproofing issue that was going to be fixed. Then he was led over to the south side underneath -- underneath the pool area still in the garage to where the pool equipment room was and inside that room he saw major concrete spalling, exposed rebar in one of the beams there.
LEIBOWITZ: He found it alarming enough that he snapped photos and actually sent them to his boss at the time to say, you know, this project might actually cost a little more than we initially thought.
That particular area was actually not what collapsed, but what experts tell us is that the photos looked quite bad and could be indicative of significant issues in the rest of the building. And we know from a 2018 report that water proofing issues from the pool deck that were affecting the concrete in the garage were significant concerns at least three years ago.
LEMON: Yes, I think that they said that this person was told, Aaron, that the -- they had so much water that they had to pump it out so much that the change the water pumps every two years because it was so bad, the standing water?
LEIBOWITZ: That's right. The employee suggested that this was -- this was a significant problem that people knew about. There was another new report tonight from USA Today from -- where they received an e- mail from the president of the condo association from just this past April who suggested that these issues of -- in the parking garage had gotten significantly worse since 2018.
So, you know, all of these things, their concerning. We're speaking with experts who say that they are caused for concern. Obviously, we don't know and we're not going to know for quite some time exactly what caused this catastrophe but it's important to gather whatever facts we can at this point.
LEMON: Aaron Leibowitz from the Miami Herald, we appreciate you and your reporting. Thank you, sir.
LEIBOWITZ: Thank you.
LEMON: Hundreds of rescuers combing the wreckage of that collapsed condo while desperate families cling to hope. We're going to have an update from officials on the scene. Are other buildings in the area safe?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAVA: Right now, our top priority is search and rescue and find the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, rescue teams discovered another body today in the rubble of the collapse condo in Florida. There are now 11 people confirmed dead, 150 others remain unaccounted for. The search and rescue operation continuing at this hour.
I want to talk to Nelly Velasquez now, the commissioner of Surfside, Florida. Nelly, thank you, commissioner, thank you. I really appreciate you joining us. I know you had a long day and you've had a long, you know, weekend and since Thursday.
You just left a vigil, we're at the end of the day, of day five. The good news is not coming. What are you hearing from families and from the community?
NELLY VELASQUEZ, COMMISSIONER, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: We still have hope that we're going to find someone alive. That's the last thing we want to lose and, you know, the families are getting together in one of the hotels in town. We had several briefings with our county mayor, our fire department chief, the police chief and they've been getting information periodically.
LEMON: So, at some point the decision has to be made from rescue mission to a recovery mission. How and when does that happen?
VELASQUEZ: Well, that's something that the county mayor would have to make the call on that. We don't handle that part within our town. So that information I really wouldn't have.
LEMON: Listen, we know the rescue effort is slow, sadly, and they've got to be very careful because, you know, they say they're standing on this pile of rubble, metals especially when it's raining and lightening, right, they've got to be methodical about it.
But, you know, to anguishing families, it's just not fast enough. Tell us more about the support people are getting right now.
VELASQUEZ: I know that it's very -- it's a lot to take in when you're waiting and it does feel like it's eternal but I can assure everyone that there is a lot of rescue crew on that mountain and they're trying to get it out as fast as possible but they have to be careful as we don't want to cause any damage or anything to -- any of the family members.
So, in terms of the families, they've been, you know, patiently waiting for news and we're trying our hardest to get some positive things out there.
LEMON: Commissioner, I want to talk more about the building. Because we know that the condo owners were facing $50 million worth of repair, it is reported that and it was part of the county's four-year recertification process. The building is 40 years old. Does examination and recertification of buildings like this need to happen more often?
VELASQUEZ: Absolutely. I think they need to happen at least every 10 years. I think after seeing something like this we can't wait 40 years. So, at first the 40-year recertification and then it happens every 10 years. But as we can see, I mean, maybe things need to take place a lot earlier and definitely we need to add also a geotechnical testing to these -- to these inspections.
LEMON: Commissioner, look, if I live there and I think anyone who lives there, anywhere near that area would be concerned about their buildings, as well. How are you guys dealing with that? Because I know people are turning to you and others for questions and how are people feeling about their safety in their own buildings?
VELASQUEZ: Yes, I know. We have a lot of residents that are concerned. We've also addressed with the condo associations of the other two buildings that were developed by the same builder that did the Champlain South to see if they wanted to be evacuated and relocated to other locations while we looked at the building and made sure it's structurally sound.
The good thing is that there is only 14 families and they're at the moment in one of these buildings. Most of the apartments are like snow birds.
VELASQUEZ: So, we're waiting to see what these families want to do, whether they want to be evacuated or not. And in terms of the rest of the buildings in town, we definitely will be requiring a geotechnical inspection to make sure things like this never happen again.
LEMON: Commissioner Velasquez, thank you so much. Again, I know you -- it's been a long day, it's been a long, you know, couple of hours, couple days for you. We appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much. Best of luck to you.
VELASQUEZ: Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you. Ba-bye.
LEMON: One hundred fifty people still unaccounted for in Surfside, Florida including Judy Spiegel. Her daughter speaks out right here, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): Crews continuing search and rescue efforts tonight at the collapse site at Surfside, Florida. The families of the 150 people still unaccounted for are holding on to hope tonight.
I want to bring in now Rachel Spiegel. She's the daughter of 65-year- old Judy Spiegel who is still missing. Rachel, thank. I'm sorry. Thank you for joining us. And I'm sorry this is happening to you. Before I ask you anything else, what do you want to say?
RACHEL SPIEGEL, MOTHER MISSING IN SURFSIDE BUILDING COLLAPSE: I just want to say I love my mom and we're not giving up hope. We're there every day. We're working tirelessly to bring awareness about what is happening and about our mom and, you know, we're going to do everything we can to fight.
LEMON: Yes. What else? Because I always sit here in these situations, quite honestly, right, Rachel and ask people all these questions and I don't want to do TV talk with you. I want to know how you're doing and what you want people around the world to know about what the families are dealing with --
LEMON: -- or you're dealing with by your daughter who is so close to your mom. I mean, just go on. What do you want to say?
SPIEGEL: I mean, it just so hard like, you know, I mean, I got the call from my dad in the middle of the night on Thursday morning. We ran over and, you know, I think the team is working as hard as they can but I feel like there are so many odds against us.
I can't really understand why there hasn't been more discussion about the fires and I think personally for me, like I'm really hung up on that and nervous about it and that's a lot of my anxiety is that I have been there every day. So, like, I understand the extent of the smoke that was in the air.
And so yes, there could be pockets and yes, there could be people but we're approaching day six, you know, it's day five, almost day six but the amount of smoke that's in the air and I imagine the heat of the fire, like those are things that concern me and keep me up at night.
And, you know, I'm very worried. I'm very optimistic with the IDF team, the Israelis, I think the Mexicans, I think there are so many people that -- there are so many teams from other countries coming in and coming to help us, which is fantastic, but I'm concerned that it's been five, almost six days and we found 11 people and there are still 150 people missing.
LEMON: Why are you in your daughter's room?
SPIEGEL: I'm in the play room now. Both my daughters are sleeping. My husband is sleeping. I'm just trying to --
LEMON: You haven't slept.
SPIEGEL: -- be a little more remote so I don't wake everybody up. I've been missing a lot in my family's life the past few days because my efforts have been 100 percent dedicated to my mom.
LEMON: You haven't slept?
LEMON: Yes. Can I ask you about your mom? Did she ever talk about the building or ever -- did she ever have any concerns or anything about the building?
SPIEGEL: You know, I've asked my mom so many times to move a little closer to me to stay at my house more. She really, really liked it there and she really liked Surfside. She never voiced concerns to me about the building itself. I probably raised more concerns to her.
I mean, we spent the day there on Saturday and I was listening to, you know, the previous interviews, you know, through this call and this interview and I personally -- I noticed the water in the garage. Like, I saw it, but every time I asked my parents because I was with both my parents.
You have to understand my dad left to go to California on Monday morning. My parents were supposed to be away in New York this weekend. Like, I don't understand the timing of this and why my mom was there, like it's very confusing to me but going back, I even said on Saturday, I was like there are a lot of puddles in here. Like, did it rain? And I just don't know about it? And, you know, my mom is like it's just always like this, you know. Like it just rains in Florida and, you know, it's -- the driveway is a downward slope so she's like it's just like that. It just always like that.
And that was the answer. It really wasn't a topic of discussion. It wasn't debated. It just was that was how it was and it probably was like that for a long time and, you know, sometimes when you see things over and over, it's just the reality. You don't necessarily question it.
LEMON: You get used to it. Yes, you get used to it. You're like, that's just the way it is. You know, the driveway goes down, what have you.
LEMON: Your brothers were on with Wolf today, right?
SPIEGEL: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Yes. And so, this is an entire family effort. Do you think that you're getting -- is your family getting the information you need? SPIEGEL: I think information we need and information are different
things. I think -- I don't think that the team is withholding information. I think they are communicating everything they can.
As a family and as someone that's going through this and as someone that's missing their mom who is their best friend and everything in the world to not only me but my poor dad who tonight after the Wolf interview and we had a little dinner of whatever we could eat who is weeping in my arms and that's not my dad's personality.
Like, weeping. Information is an interesting thing. You know, we've talked about it. You know, we pray and hope that my mom is alive under the rubble but we know that the odds are against us. We know there is fires. We know that there is smoke. We know that there is rain. We know that there is time. There is thunder.
There is so many things that are against us and we're keeping up hope and we will keep up hope until we have an answer but the reality is that, if we need to consider that things are really bad, we want a body. We want -- we want confirmation.
I don't think that it's -- that the city or the team is withholding anything. I don't. I just think they don't have it. And, you know, but that's what we want as a family and as a -- in order to grieve, like, we want something confirmed.
LEMON: Before I end this interview, let me ask you this because we're always, you know, again, we always sort of talk and how is it going? What do you think? And you know, when someone, when people die or they're in need you say, if you need anything, just let me know. What can we do for you guys? Is there anything?
SPIEGEL: That's like been the topic of discussion that I've been having with my rabbi, you know. It's a really weird thing. This is not a typical -- this is not like when someone dies, you know. My mom is missing. You know, we are on pins and needles. We are working tirelessly. We're not really able to grieve because there is no confirmation. It very confusing on what to do.
We know that time is of the essence, you know, everybody can follow me on social media but, you know, we're going to create a fund, you know, my dad lost all his belongings, he has no clothes. He went on a business trip. He has literally a small carry-on suitcase. All of our family belongings, our heirlooms. Like, I really wanted to wear the dress my mom wore to my wedding at some point in my life. I can't do that.
I can't give things to my kids from my mom. So, we're going to create a fund. It should be live tomorrow, actually, and, you know, that's what we can do right now because we need to rebuild something but there will be a time where we'll be able to figure out more. We're just in this really weird waiting period.
LEMON: Well, we're going to say your name so that people know. Judy Spiegel, everyone is --
SPIEGEL: Thank you.
LEMON: -- wishing the best for you and Rachel.
LEMON: There she is. It's a beautiful picture -- your mom is a beautiful -- she's a beautiful lady --
SPIEGEL: Thank you.
LEMON: -- and we're certainly hoping for the best for you and if there is anything we can do, Rachel, just let us know. I don't know. I'm just the news guy but if there is anything that anybody out there can do, we'll certainly get it to you and you just let us know. OK? I'm so sorry.
SPIEGEL: Thank you.
LEMON: I'm so sorry. Thank you.
SPIEGEL: Me, too, thank you.
LEMON: Your entire family, OK.
Look, for ways you can help Surfside in this building collapse, the victims, go to cnn.com/impact, cnn.com/impact. And we'll be back.
LEMON (on camera): The House is set to vote as soon as Wednesday on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plan for a select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection. There will be 13 members, eight appointed by Pelosi, five by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger telling CNN this. He says, I'll say that I prefer this to be bipartisan. I prefer a January 6th commission. That said, you know my party blocked it.
So, joining me now is Matthew Dowd, he is the former chief strategist for President G.W. Bush.
Matthew, good to see you. You know, I got to be honest with you. I'm glad you're on.
MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Hard to conduct an interview after that last one, you know. It's just so -- it's just so sad.
DOWD: I'll hold your hand.
DOWD: I'll hold your hand. LEMON: I know. But let's go on and talk about this because this is
LEMON: It's what happened to the country, as well. Republicans can complain all they want but as Kinzinger points out, they rejected a bipartisan commission.
If Speaker Pelosi appointments a Republican, something she's considering someone like Kinzinger or Cheney, what kind of message would that send?
DOWD: Well, you know, it's interesting to me and as I was listening to that very powerful interview you just did, I was thinking about this symbolically. Obviously, the tragedy in Florida with the building falling down but we actually have the same situation on democracy here, right?
Because we haven't tended to the structures of it, because we haven't done what we need to do to build it up in all of the ways that we could have done and we had an incident, right, that happens on January 6th and like you would do in Florida when a tragedy happens, you want to investigate and make sure it doesn't happen again.
We're not even doing that related to our democracy in the U.S. Constitution and what happened on January 6th, or I should say the Republicans don't want that done. And so, it just compounds the tragedy, it actually makes it even worse because now we know there's been a warning signal.
Republicans, a few, a very few who don't represent Republicans anymore and that's what important I think to keep in mind is those people like Adam Kinzinger and others don't represent the Republican Party anymore and I think they know that, so we have a legacy party that has no interest in investigating why this structure of our democracy fell down in the midst of that tragedy.
LEMON: The former President Barack Obama also bringing up January 6th to push for voting rights and I want to talk about those comments again and then we'll talk about it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So that as bad as January 6th was, if we had a repeat in future elections in which, let's say, the Republican controlled Pennsylvania legislature decided we're not going to certify all those votes coming out of Philadelphia because we think that those urban votes are shady. Imagine what would have happened. We would have had a worse constitutional crisis than we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, Matthew, to his point, what happens next time if there aren't election officials willing to stand up for democracy? Look at these laws that are being passed around the country where they can select the legislators, can select whoever they want and decide the election.
DOWD: Well, Don, to me, of all of the things and there are so many bad parts of all these bills that are getting passed from election restrictions to impediments making it harder to vote all bad, but this to me is the worst part and this is the part we have to fight the most, which is basically election nullification.
So even if voters go to all the trouble and go to -- overcome impediments and go vote and do all this, that they are now setting up a situation that can just throw their votes. In many different ways they got to either go to a court to throw it out or state legislatures -- legislators as you said to throw it out.
That to me is the -- all bad, that's the worst part of this and that's the scariest part of this that we get in a situation they do this. They could do it in 2022 elections in the midst of it, because if they could definitely could do it in elector electoral college vote and presidential elections. And that to me is the part that we absolutely have to fix because once that happens, Don, we don't have a democracy anymore.
DOWD: We no longer have a democracy and that's why I've said this is the most perilous moment in our country's history since 1861. I believe that. I'm a Zen person and I'm not being dramatic. We're at that kind of point in our country's history.
LEMON: I don't disagree with you. As I said before, you know, break glass moment. Just real quickly, I just want to get to you, what do you think about -- I have a short time left. Sorry about that. This infrastructure talks. What do you think is going to happen? Where do you think we stand now?
DOWD: Well I think the president will get a bipartisan package. The only question is if he's able get the second package through. I think he'll get a bipartisan package.
My worry and I'll just connect this two and really quick, my worry is that, this gives people an out not to do what we really need done and I agree with the infrastructure part. I think it needs to be done but it's to me secondary to what we need to do to fix our democracy and protect voting rights and make sure that doesn't happen.
If by passing that gives people an escape valve not to do the voting rights, then I think the infrastructure thing was a mistake if that happens.
LEMON: Yes. Matthew Dowd, thank you very much, sir. I appreciate it.
DOWD: Thanks, Don. Take care.
LEMON: Thank you. You, as well. A joint chief screaming match. Take this. A top general reportedly blew up at former President Donald Trump in a fight full of obscenities. Why? We'll tell you next.
LEMON (on camera): So, take this. New reporting says that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, got into a screaming match with then-President Trump over the president's desire for a military campaign to quash last summer's racial justice protests.
Now here's what Axios did. They obtained an excerpt from a new book detailing the last months of the Trump administration by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender. Now the excerpts details the former president's efforts to invoke the Insurrection Act and put General Milley, quote, "in charge."
Now Bender reports that the situation escalated to a screaming match between the two that went down like this. "I said you're in f-ing charge, Trump shouted at Milley, and then Milley yelled back, that that's not the case. And the Trump responded by saying, you can't f0ing talk to me like that."
The former president denying to Axios that the exchange ever happened. Remember it was just last week when General Milley became a target of the GOP for rebuking the bad faith effort by Republicans to make critical race theory a wedge issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MILLEY, U.S. CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: On the issue of critical race theory, et cetera, I'll have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it's important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.
And the United States Military Academy is a university, and it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand white rage. And I'm white. And I want to understand it. So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): And now General Milley is getting attacked from the right, including by Tucker Carlson, who called him a pig. So much for respecting the military and the troops. Yes. Good going.
Next, we're on the scene in Surfside, Florida. At least 11 dead, more than 150 still unaccounted for. We've got the latest.