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Don Lemon Tonight

Pfizer Working on a Booster Shot; Republicans Working Nonstop to Restrict People of Color from Voting; Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) Was Interviewed Whether the Biden Administration is Doing Enough to Fight for Voting Rights; Red States Seeing COVID Cases Rise; White Teenager Killed by Police Officer; Sitcoms a Part of American Culture. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 08, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching and giving us the opportunity. It is now time for Don lemon tonight with the upgrade, Laura Coates.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Chris Cuomo, how are you doing tonight?

CUOMO: Better than I deserve. And you?

COATES: Well, I deserve to be -- I was going to take the opposite. I feel pretty good. But I'll take your high road, better than I deserve. That sounds much more comfortable. I appreciate that.


CUOMO: No, no, you deserve everything.

COATES: Well, I don't believe that.

CUOMO: You're not me. You deserve good things.

COATES: No, I don't believe that. But you know, we're all doing the west we can especially on a night like tonight.

CUOMO: What's leading the show for you? What's got you burning?

COATES: Voting rights. I mean, it should be burning everyone. I mean, the idea that we're in a democracy in 2021 and it's still up for debate, whether it should happen, whether it can be happen. I mean it's unbelievable to think that I'm still, and everyone is still talking about voting rights because they're still seeming to be on the chopping block. I don't understand why.

CUOMO: Sure, you do.

COATES: I know.

CUOMO: Because they want more of theirs and less of others to vote. This is about winning. And it doesn't matter if it winds up creating racial strife. It doesn't matter if it takes us back culturally, it's about winning.

COATES: I keep thinking about Sisyphus, you know that story where they roll up the boulder --


CUOMO: Sisyphus. Rolls it up, it comes right back down.

COATES: -- she has to roll, I would come back, back down. I mean, I keep putting that together with Dr. King and his mountaintop sermon about the idea of having seen it. Do you think he actually saw or can you imagine what he would think if he saw voting rights, one of the most Seminole civil rights legislation rolling back down the hill every single chance it got.

I mean, it's unbelievable. Because at some point, enough people have to push that boulder over the hill and keep it there. But you're right, it's about power. It's about the maintenance of power and I just think that it's time America really realized the dream of democracy which is supposed to be for and by the people.

CUOMO: Depressing moment. My writer, Susan, she is not depressing, she is great -- she sent me a quote from Dr. King from the '60s during the debate over the Civil Rights Act where he was speaking to exactly this point. That these white men are trying to keep their power by instead of reaching out and having a message that resonates with all, limiting the rights of some. And it was written like it could have been said today. It's just about keeping power. That's all it is.

COATES: It's one of those topics you don't want to be evergreen. I would love this discussion to be an American history class and we can move forward to where we're supposed to be. But we'll still talk about it. Great show tonight as always.

CUOMO: You're making history every time you're on, L. Coates. And I'm listening.

COATES: I appreciate you.

This is Don Lemon Tonight. And I'm Laura Coates in for Don Lemon.

Another night of major developments on multiple big stories. Questions tonight about how long immunity lasts from the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer saying it's working on a booster shot. A third dose that might be administered as soon as six months after the second. While the CDC and FDA say Americans don't need booster shots yet. We've got a lot more to come on that.

And meanwhile, as we're talking about with Chris, one of our most sacred rights as Americans is under increasing assault. The right to vote. The very heart of what makes democracy, democracy. Republican- led states across the country putting more and more restrictions on voting, especially voting by black and brown people. Many of whom vote for Democrats. The Supreme Court upholding Arizona's voting restrictions and

signaling that they would likely side with other states passing new restrictions in response to the big lie of voter fraud. While in Congress, the John Lewis Act is stalled after the Senate refused to even debate the For the People Act.

President Joe Biden holding a closed-door meeting in the Roosevelt room with civil rights groups. The White House saying they discussed the path forward to protect the right to vote.


SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR-COUNSEL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: This is the moment. There is no more time. We must have legislation. We must have the president use his voice, use his influence, use his power, and use what he clearly understands about this moment. And that was one of the encouraging things about this conversation was that the president understands us to be in a moment of peril in terms of our democracy.


COATES: Vice president Kamala Harris calling the assault on the vote the fight of our lifetime.



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So this is the fight -- this is the fight of our lifetime. This is the fight of our lifetime. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. We will always remember our history. We also understand their legacy and that we are a part of that.


COATES: The fight of our lifetime, my mother's, my grandmother's, my great grandmother's, my great-great grandmother's.

Joining me now to discuss the battle over rights is Congressman John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who sponsored the For the People Act. Congressman, thank you for being here on an important night. I appreciate it.


COATES: You know, as you know, civil rights leaders came out of this voting rights meeting at the White House and one leader warning our backs are against the wall and another saying that democracy is under attack and they're pleading with President Biden to do more. And I just wonder, is the administration doing enough to deal with this issue?

SARBANES: Well, you had a powerful group of civil rights leaders there in the White House today and with one collective voice, they were saying, the president has to lead, the Congress needs to act. We need to get these critical pieces of legislation over the finish line. That includes the For the People Act, the H.R. 1 S1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights.

So, I think the president came away from this meeting, I'm sure, understanding the critical role that he can play. And if you look back over history, Laura, if you look at when presidents have stepped into these moments, one calls to mind Lyndon Johnson's efforts around the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when presidents step up and lead in this space and make it clear to Congress that they have to act, we can get important things done. That's what we have to do in this moment.

COATES: I have that photo of LBJ and Dr. Martin Luther King together during that discussion on my office wall as a reminder of what we've been through. And you know, you introduced really the For the People Act, Congressman, and we saw Republicans block it in the Senate. But you told my colleague Ron Brownstein that you are still hoping to pass some version of the bill by August at that. Tell me how that's going to work.

SARBANES: Well, I think the way it's going to work is the way it's been working up till now. And if you look at the journey of this bill, this legislation, this effort, it's been one where the people keep showing up. The press, others, you know, the sort of inside the beltway conventional wisdom folks, they keep trying to write epithets and the American people keep showing up and saying, we're not finished with this effort yet. We want to see it get across the finish line and that's what keeps moving us from one milestone to the next.

And I think you hear that outcry across the country now. That's why I think ultimately the Senate will find a way to get this done. I know that's a difficult path and we have to look at changing some of the rules on the Senate side.

But the people will not be denied. They want to see these changes and it's important to observe that the For the People Act, for example, has broad majorities of support across the political spectrum, Democrats, Republicans, independents want to see these changes. There's nothing controversial in there. It's about fortifying our democracy. So, I think the people are the ones who are going to make the difference and lawmakers are listening to that.

COATES: And, you know, on that point, look at what's going on. I want you to see. Across the country in terms of what's happening across our nation. Seventeen states have now enacted nearly 30 laws since the 2020 election that restrict ballot access. Looking at this map, are you losing this battle? Is the nation losing the battle?

SARBANES: Well, there's certainly an effort at the state level, as you've just pointed out, to roll back voting rights. But we have all the tools we need in Washington, in Congress, to stop that stampede towards voter suppression and make sure that we're protecting people's access to the ballot box. We just have to act.

Congress has full authority under the Constitution's election laws, which allows us to regulate the time, place and manner of federal elections across the country, to set these uniform standards on how people can register and how they can vote.

We can lift up everybody in this country without authority. We just need to act. So, we have the ability to put out this fire that is raging in the House of democracy right now. But we've got to move on this, we've got to do it with all of the deliberate speed and we've got to do it frankly before Congress adjourns in August.

COATES: With all deliberate speed if not better. Thank you, Congressman, I appreciate it.

SARBANES: Thank you.


COATES: The Texas state legislature convening today for a special session where Republicans will try once again to pass a bill designed to restrict voting rights.

Let's discuss now with Gina Hinojosa, a Democratic member of the Texas statehouse. Representative Hinojosa, thank you for being a part of the show.

I'm eager to speak with you, particularly as all eyes are again on Texas. Because as you know, Republicans in Texas, they want to ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, they want to add new I.D. requirements to vote by mail, and they want to give new powers to partisan poll watchers. And I just wonder, is any of this really about election integrity, that the governor of Texas seems to say it is, but is it?

GINA HINOJOSA (D), MEMBER, TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: No. What this is about, we just saw on the map that you put up with the Congressman Sarbanes that there are states across this country that are enacting voter suppression laws. And in fact, Texas is one of eight states currently targeted by the Heritage Foundation because of our changing demographic and because of our large impact on federal elections to pass these voter suppression laws.

So, we know this is a national strategy and that's why it's so essential to have a federal solution and pass federal voting rights legislation to protect voters and to protect our democracy.

COATES: There has to be that compliment between the state and the federal legislators on this issue. But one thing about this bill as you know, it's evolved. I don't mean maybe for the better or worse, but it's evolved in a sense, it's eliminated some aspects of it. The bill drops the weekend early voting limits and language that would make it easier to overturn election results. Any idea why those changes were made? I thought one was just a typo?

HINOJOSA: Well, thanks to all the media attention we've received in Texas, Republicans disavowed their own bill. They couldn't publicly stand up in support of what they themselves have filed and, in fact, they're pointing the finger at each other and not taking ownership of how these provisions actually got into this bill.

So, yes, now we have a kinder, gentler voter suppression bill that is being advanced by the Republican majority in Texas but it is still terrible. It still has a provision in it. Understand we have an attorney general in Texas, an indicted attorney general who bragged that but for his effort to block Harris County where Houston is located from sending to eligible applicant's mail-in ballot applications, but for his effort, Trump would have lost Texas in 2020.

So, we know what this is about. Now this bill puts in it that that is a criminal activity for counties to send out applications to vote by mail, to eligible voters that when it's an unsolicited act by the county. So, this is definitely an effort to put the hand on the scale and for our Republican majority to maintain power at the expense of the will of the people.

COATES: Such projection. I mean, it's unbelievable. Thank you. I appreciate your time.

HINOJOSA: My pleasure. Thank you.

COATES: Voting rights. One of those two words and still so much fear and panic among some elected officials. Is it because in a government that's supposed to be of, for, and by the people, you might actually have to be accountable to, well, the people? And I mean all of them.

But you can't be a pastor preaching to his own choir. You have to serve the people of the United States, Republican and Democrat alike. Not just your base. You might actually have to promote the general welfare, not conspiracy theories. Believe it or not, some U.S. senators are still denying the climate crisis.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I don't know about you guys, but I think climate change is a (Inaudible) said --

UNKNOWN: A hoax.

JOHNSON: OK. And by the way, it is.


COATES: It's not. You might have to run on the platform of inclusion, not exclusion based on irrational fear. One side of the aisle showing that fear by parroting the racist replacement theory.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): For many Americans what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is what appears to them as we're replacing national born American, native born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.


COATES: You might have to inspire more than you incite. The congressman said this right before the attack on the capitol.


REP. MO BROOKS (R-LA): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!


COATES: But maybe the two words voting rights spark fear for a different reason. Since 1776, our Declaration of Independence has made perfectly clear that American democracy will be a system where our government derives its power from the consent of the governed.


Voting rights means that you are only as powerful as the people who elect you. Terrifying, I'm sure, for those elected officials who sought election, not because it was a calling of any kind. Because they relished the idea that their calls would always get answered.

And when you deprive the people of the opportunity to vote or even worse, try to deny the people's vote outright, even after it's even cast, you deprive them of their right to consent to being governed. And you retain it all for yourself.

State legislatures across the country showing their fear with hundreds of restrictive voting laws in the works. A whole lot of elected officials in Washington now on the record as being terrified of your vote. Almost 150 of them moved on January 6th to block millions of votes on the basis of lies. Those actions were based on the fear of losing power.

That's not Democratic. That's autocratic. Maybe you're OK with that. Because you're getting away with it. Or maybe you've become so emboldened by the neutering of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. First with the gutting of section two eight ago. And just seven days ago, the undermining of section two. Maybe you no longer think you have anything to fear. Well, if that's the case, it is every American who believes in democracy who now should be afraid.

News on COVID vaccines tonight. Pfizer says you might need a third shot. A booster shot of its vaccine while the CDC and FDA say Americans don't need booster shots yet. With all of this complicate efforts to get shots into the arms of more Americans.


UNKNOWN: Yes, our problem at the moment is not can Pfizer produce vaccine. We can produce vaccine. The problem is, will Americans take it?



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Major developments tonight in the COVID pandemic. Pfizer reporting it's seeing waning immunity from its vaccine and that's a big worry given the aggressive spread of the Delta variant. The drug maker saying it will seek authorization from the FDA for a third dose, a booster dose to be given six to 12 months after the second dose.

But in an unusual joint statement after Pfizer's announcement, the CDC and FDA pushing back saying Americans who are fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time. And that a rigorous process is already underway to determine if boosters might be necessary. That, as the Biden administration urges more Americans to get vaccinated.

New data showing 24 states with at least a 10 percent rise in new cases over the past seven days. And the Delta variant now accounting for more than 50 percent of all new infections in the U.S. New analysis identifying clusters of unvaccinated Americans.

The five biggest clusters spreading across parts of the southeast, Texas and Missouri, states already seeing an increase in cases, and ripe for the spread of the Delta variant.

And then there's this, a new study shows a partisan gap in vaccination rates between Republicans and Democrats, and the gap is growing. Biden voters getting vaccinated at a faster rate than Trump voters. And as I mentioned, Missouri is one state seeing a surge in new cases.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has that part of the story.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Louie Michael and Pattie Bunch held off getting vaccinated. Not anti-vaxxers, it just wasn't a priority. Then, they got sick.

How sick did you two get?

PATTIE BUNCH, RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: I remember I was working and then I just -- it felt like a bomb dropped on me. I just wasn't feeling good at all and I thought, no --

MARQUEZ: You're still recovering.

BUNCH: I'm still recovering.

MARQUEZ: This is not your normal voice.



BUNCH: This is a month later. It has totally devastated me.

MARQUEZ: So sick she thought she'd never see her daughter Ashley again.

BUNCH: I remember looking out the ambulance and I could see our daughter Ashley driving, you know, behind us. And I just thought I knew that once they took me there, I wouldn't see her. I wouldn't see my family. And you just have no control.

MARQUEZ: This is Louie and Pattie holding hands in the ICU. He thinks he picked up the virus in Las Vegas, then without knowing it, gave it to his wife of 30 years.

MICHAEL: When we got to that point where she needed to go first, I thought I was going to be tough and hold on and stay home and try to recuperate, but it wasn't the case. I immediately went downhill.

MARQUEZ: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, again, on the rise in Missouri. The state's health department estimates more than 70 percent of the virus circulating in the state is the more infectious, possibly more dangerous Delta variant.

MAYROL JUAREZ, VICE PRESIDENT, HOSPITAL PROVIDERS AT MERCY HOSPITAL: We're seeing more people, 30 years and older, getting sicker and requiring hospitalization. Also, we have seen that in this wave, people are getting sicker faster.

MARQUEZ: Springfield's Mercy Hospital is seeing hospitalizations rise so quickly they've brought ventilators in from other hospitals. At Springfield's Cox Health, 90 percent of coronavirus patients tested have the Delta variant.

HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, COX HEALTH: This is going to keep happening. It may peak here and it's going to spread to other places. If we don't get enough vaccinated, there's going to be another variant that's probably worse. It's just, that's the way, you know, that's the way viruses work.

MARQUEZ: In Greene County, population nearly 300,000, health officials sounding the alarm.

How concerned are you about the weeks and months ahead?

LISA MARSHALL, DIRECTOR, TANEY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Terribly concerned. I mean, yesterday we reported another 240 cases in one day. We're not a huge community. That's a really large number. And we haven't seen these numbers since we had a surge back in December and January.


MARQUEZ: In nearby Branson, a huge tourist draw, it is business as usual. Vaccinations here in Taney County even lower than the state. Just 25 percent of all residents here, vaccinated.

What is the biggest barrier you hear to people not getting vaccinated?

KATIE TOWNS, ACTING DIRECTOR, SPRINGFIELD GREENE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: It runs kind of the game that maybe they feel like they just want to wait and see. They're not quite ready yet. Maybe they're just not someone that vaccinates. We've also heard a little bit of concern over how quickly the vaccine was developed. MARQUEZ: Louie and Pattie think of it this way, the unknown

possibilities of getting the vaccine, far outweigh the known horrors of the virus.

BUNCH: The vaccine, I feel personally, this is nothing compared to taking your chances and getting --

MICHAEL: It's Russian roulette, really. You want to take your odds and see, you know, if you get it and how well you do with it. Unfortunately, you're not going to do as well as you think you are.


MARQUEZ: So just why we are seeing a big outbreak here in this part of Missouri is probably down to several different things. Since the vaccines came along, masking and social distancing for many people here has gone right out the window. Branson is right down the road from here. That brings people in from all over the country, and that Delta variant first identified here in Springfield and in Branson in May is now very widespread throughout this area and the concern now is that it will remain that way through the fall when there will be an even bigger outbreak. Laura?

COATES: Miguel Marquez, thank you.

A teenage boy fatally shot by police at a traffic shot. Ben Crump represented George Floyd's family and now he's speaking out for Hunter Brittain. That's next.



COATES: Civil rights activist drawing attention to fatal police shooting of a teen in Arkansas. Seventeen-year-old Hunter Brittain who is white was killed during a traffic stop on June 23rd.

Brittain's family says he was unarmed and holding a jug of antifreeze he intended to put behind his truck tire to stop it from rolling into the police car. That's when he was shot by a deputy. And that deputy who was also White Has been fired for violating policy by not turning on his body worn camera before the incident.

I want to bring in Jesse Brittain, hunter Brittain's uncle, and civil rights attorney, Ben Crump who represented -- who is representing Hunter Brittain's family. I'm happy to have you both here but not under these circumstances. But I do want this story to be shared.

Jesse, I'm so sorry this happened to your nephew. And you have been calling for justice, but the police haven't given out many details. What answers are you looking for still from these authorities?

JESSE BRITTAIN, HUNTER BRITTAIN'S UNCLE: We're looking for any answers. We don't -- they -- we have not -- they have not released one single thing to us. We're still completely in the dark. What we have is the testimony from the boys and this is murder from what the boys are telling us and we haven't got anything from them.

COATES: These are boys who were witnesses to what happened, you're saying?

BRITTAIN: Yes, ma'am.

COATES: Ben, I mean, police have now fired the officer involved and there's an ongoing investigation to talk about what happened, but where does this case stand right now?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Laura, it's so important that we make sure everybody knows the name of Hunter Brittain just like we said George Floyd's life mattered because he was killed unjustly by police in Minneapolis. And we say Breonna Taylor's life matter because she was killed unjustly by police in Kentucky.

We have to say this 17-year-old white boy who was unarmed and killed unjustly by police in Arkansas that his life mattered because we want all of our children, whether they're black, white, Latino, Asian to get home to us safely and not be killed unjustly by the people who are supposed to protect and serve them.

And so, Laura, when the witnesses tell us he was trying to work a big blue jug of antifreeze walking back to the truck to put it under the tire so it wouldn't roll back, why would the police shoot him? It's not a gun. It's a jug of antifreeze.

COATES: You know, and I see you nodding, Jesse, the idea that that could be confused somehow, if it all, for something threatening, I mean, and he's trying, according to what you're saying, trying to stop the car from harming the police officer's car. So being proactive about preventing something from happening.

Jesse, I want to play something that you said at your nephew's memorial. Listen to this.


BRITTAIN: These unjust killings happening in our country demand sacrifice from each of us. We'll have to stop all of this civil unrest, black and white, people dying at the hands of the police. Qualified immunity must end for law enforcement in this country.




COATES: Jesse, and I would reiterate that officer has been fired, but are you confident the officer who killed your nephew, Hunter, that he will be held accountable?

BRITTAIN: Yes, ma'am, I will not rest until he is held accountable. This is -- this can't go on like this. This qualified immunity, it must end for law enforcement. It just gives them the right to go out and do whatever they want and kill whoever they want with no --

COATES: With impunity.

BRITTAIN: -- this I can't -- yes, ma'am.

COATES: You know, Ben, I always say to you when we speak that you're the nicest of men, but nobody wants to meet you. Nobody wants to be the person to have to call you and talk about what has happened and I just want to ask you, how important is it that this fight for reform is extending across racial lines?

CRUMP: It's critical, Laura. I still pray every day that I can close the police brutality, the vision of my law firm, because that means I wouldn't meet Jesse who is brokenhearted, or Tamika Palmer who is Breonna's mother, or (Inaudible) because these are so unnecessary and preventable deaths if we had accountability, if we had the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed.

And I believe, Laura Coates, that Hunter Brittain is going to help in a profound way to finally get the United States Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We are coming together as a country, white, black, Asian, Latino, to all say, America, we are better than this.

COATES: Jesse, can you tell me one thing that you want people to know about Hunter. This was a human being, a person, someone's son, someone you loved. What do people know about him?

BRITTAIN: He was an awesome boy. He was full of love. He was out busting his butt this summer working, trying to (Inaudible), get him some money saved up. He was becoming a young man. He was going to graduate this next year. He wanted to be a NASCAR driver. And I was going to help him get there. But he was working. I was putting him through school and he was working hard to achieve his goals. And I really believe he would have been a NASCAR driver if this had not happened to him.

COATES: I'm sorry for your loss. Something tells me that he will drive us towards change, though. Thank you, both.

We'll be right back.

BRITTAIN: Yes, ma'am.

COATES: We'll be right back.

CRUMP: Thank you.



COATES: A new book claims that in 2018, then President Trump allegedly praised Hitler as doing a lot of good things in a conversation with his then-chief of staff general John Kelly. And now, GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to compare coronavirus precautions to Nazis. Does this language embolden hate and possibly violence as well?

Let's discuss with CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. Andrew, I'm glad you're here. But, wow, was weekly meeting like this, I got to ask you, between learning about Trump's previous comments and now a GOP congresswoman continuing to equate coronavirus measures with the Holocaust, I mean, there are some people who are hearing this and all of that with very open ears. Does that concern you?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure, it does, Laura. On many, many levels. I mean, the idea that we would have a former president of the United States and a sitting member of Congress consistently reaching towards the Nazis to provide examples, to kind of charge their rhetoric about whatever point it is they're trying to make is just -- it's so confounding, it's hard to even get your mind around that.

But it's beyond being ignorant and insensitive and offensive certainly to people who are relatives of, you know, folks who were victimized by the Nazis or Jewish people in this country and around the world. Beyond all that, it is dangerous. Because particularly in the case of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the sort of things that she's saying are not just inappropriate references to the Holocaust, but they're also, they're also validating and confirming these conspiratorial beliefs about these antigovernment beliefs about government overreach which is absurd, certainly in a context in which she's speaking.

And you have the president on one half -- on one hand talking about sending people out to educate folks about the value of a medically valid vaccine and she's, you know, spreading these rumors and conspiracy theories about, you know, government agents coming to your house and, you know, sticking needles in your arm.

It's absolutely ridiculous, but it's the kind of thing that could motivate true extremists to believe that they need to take matters into their own hands and resort to violence. We've seen that time and time again. And I'm afraid that that's maybe where this end.

COATES: Well that's a terrifying thought. I will note, of course, that former President Trump denies ever saying this. But to your larger point, not only can this affirm beliefs, but it could actually spur the conduct that we know is already on the rise, anti-Semitic behavior as you've already about as well.


And over the weekend, I mean, Andrew, we saw white supremacists who are openly marching in Philadelphia. Would the FBI be monitoring a gathering like that? And we all remembered what happened in Charlottesville. The clashes can turn deadly.

MCCABE: That's right. As you know, Laura, the FBI monitors individuals who they believe are planning or preparing for acts of violence. They don't investigate ideology or beliefs no matter how strange or bizarre or abhorrent these beliefs might be. But the FBI gets involve when they think people might be preparing for an act of violence. And I would except that the FBI had some concerns about this grouping of 200 or so white supremacists in Philadelphia. We, you know, as you said, we know what happens when large groups of these violent-prone extremists gather. We saw it happen in Charlottesville. Nobody wants that to happen again.

But to hear consistently from leaders, political leaders at the highest levels, the former president, people in Congress, validating these views, referring to these views, giving these folks kind of the implicit thumbs up is giving them the wind behind their sails that they need to go forward and be bolder and to try to take more aggressive moves to prove their point, which is really concerning, I think.

COATES: It is and, of course, we know there's anticipation perhaps of even more violence in August and we hope that does not happen or the confirmation of these conspiracies or horrific statements that are being made. Andrew McCabe, thank you so much.

MCCABE: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Now, I grew up with her as Tootie on Facts of Life. But there's a lot more to Kim Fields and she's here next.



COATES: The characters you can't stop laughing at is situations you can't get enough of. Since the beginning of television, sitcoms have kept generations of Americans smiling and help them navigate an ever- changing cultural landscape.

Now the new CNN original series The History of the Sitcom brings us a behind the scenes look at your favorite sitcoms from across the decades. Here's a preview.


UNKNOWN: Those were not real people. But they entertained and delighted us.

UNKNOWN: All right, kids, dinner is on, we're sitting down.

UNKNOWN: When you get to "Father Knows Best," it's very patriarchal, dealing with tiny little problems.

UNKNOWN: A quiet evening at home. I can use it.

UNKNOWN: And I played Bud. Bud usually had a problem with truth telling on some level.

UNKNOWN: What was all that racket upstairs?

UNKNOWN: I didn't hear anything.

UNKNOWN: "Father Knows Best" represented the good life, the American dream.

UNKNOWN: Yes, I'll read you one story then off to bed you go.


COATES: Joining us now is Kim Fields, actress and star of the hit sitcoms "The Upshaws," "Living Single," and "The Facts of Life." Kim, I'm so glad to talk to you, I feel like I know you from all the roles you've played. So, hello this evening.

KIM FIELDS, ACTRESS: Hello, nice to see you.

COATES: You know, this series look how sitcoms have really helped us to understand and navigate social issues throughout so many decades. And you yourself have acted in a number of sitcoms. So, I'm wondering, what role do you think that sitcoms actually play in American culture?

FIELDS: Well, I mean, the fact that we've been known to go to that place that is TV land, to escape, you know, especially when times are difficult, when times are very challenging. And so, the history of sitcoms in particular, let alone our industry as a whole, has always been the place to go to.

You know, when you needed to leave whatever you were dealing with for just a little while and laugh or go into fantasy or sci-fi or any other genres that our industry provides. But laughter, of course, they always say, is great medicine and good for the soul.

COATES: You said medicine is -- laughter is medicine, but also the great equalizer for so many people, right? We had this common thread of people sharing and enjoying it.


COATES: And you know, your Netflix hit "The Upshaws" has just been renewed for a second season, congratulations to you.

FIELDS: Thank you.

COATES: And it portrays a black working-class family in Indianapolis that's dealing with life's daily struggle. So, tell me a little about how "The Upshaws" reflect black family life today.

FIELDS: Well, you know, for as much as it reflects black family life and working class family, one of my favorite compliments, honestly, is how global it is, how people from around the world are enjoying "The Upshaws," because after a while, certain craft is colorless, it's just craft that we all are working through and navigating and trying to deal with it as best we can.

And so, you know, it's like, we may look different and some of the details may be a little bit different. But at the end of the day, we can all relate to what people are going through.

COATES: And you know, as you speak about it, I want to lead in and say, you're right. The idea that we're hearing about the situations and the facts of life, forgive the pun here, but you know we can't forget "The Facts of Life."


COATES: You starred as Tootie throughout the 1980s. And that show really did grapple with many difficult issues that young people were facing.


COATES: I remember watching it as a kid growing up as well. And I wonder do you feel the show has really stood the test of time? I mean, it truly in many ways is evergreen, because those messages, are they still relevant to you today as I think they are?


FIELDS: Well, I think regardless if they're relatable to me, I feel like the, you know, the culture overall, it has certainly proven that it's not only just kind of an iconic pop culture moment in television and content, but most certainly a show that generation after generation gets to enjoy.

And so, some of the things, because in a lot of ways we were ahead of our time, but certainly still dealing with the issues that are still relevant today.

COATES: The sitcoms made it safe for people to explore these topics, to have these conversations at home and beyond.

Kim Fields, thank you so much for being so much a part of my rearing, my growing up, and all the televisions were all rolled memories of things that are wonderful. So be sure to tune in, the all new CNN series The History of Sitcom premiers with back to back episodes Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.