Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden Calls Out Assault On Voting Rights: You Should Be Alarmed; Biden Delivers Urgent Warning On Growing Threats To Democracy; Vice President Harris Calls Texas Democrats Courageous; Interview State Rep. James Talarico (D-TX); New Books Show How Big The Threat To Democracy Was In The Final Days Of The Last Administration; Judge Orders Minneapolis To Hire More Police Officers; COVID Cases Surging In 45 States As Vaccinations Plummet. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 13, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): President Joe Biden calling out Republican attacks on voting rights in America, saying those rights are under assault, and that we are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the civil war as he slammed the big lie.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The big lie is just that, a big lie.



The 2020 election, it's not hyperbole. In America, if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the constitution. You try again. You don't call facts fake and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you are unhappy. That's not statesmanship.


That's not statesmanship. That's selfishness. That's not democracy.


LEMON: And Vice President Harris, while meeting with Democratic state lawmakers from Texas who fled the state in a move to stop a GOP bill aimed at restricting voting rights, saying they are showing courage and patriotism. I'm going to speak with one of the lawmakers in just a few moments.

And the U.S. heading in the wrong direction on COVID? The virus surging in 45 states as vaccinations plummet. Joining me now, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and CNN's political commentator Bakari Sellers. Gentlemen, good evening to both of you. David, let's begin with you. Let's talk about President Biden calling

this attack on voting rights the most significant test our democracy since the civil war. So, great speech. Now what?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (on camera): Well, I think now, what is a really important question because part of democracy is, you know, you got to have the 50 votes in the Senate to change the rules. They don't have 50 votes to change the filibuster. They don't have 60 votes to break the filibuster.

And so now what's a really good question, the question is whether pressure builds to the point where Senator Manchin might accept and Senator Sinema carve out for this specific purpose, for voting on voting related legislation. If they don't, you know, I think that all of this energy is going to have to be directed toward getting people out to the polls and overcoming all the barriers that have been set up because they are running out of room here.

And it's pretty clear that this Supreme Court is not going to give much support to any of these efforts, not even clear that the Supreme Court would accept what the Congress does because they have been so partial to state laws over, you know, over complaints about civil rights violations and other infringements. So, what next is the big question, Don and what's next may end up being storming to the polls in 2022.

LEMON: Yes. Wow. Bakari, don't think I didn't catch -- when you know, great speech, now what, because you know, you don't have much time right now for this rhetorical approach is what you say. You're calling for something more concrete. Tell me about that, and why today was so frustrating for you and for you believe many?

SELLERS: Well, first let me just say though, the oratory was brilliant. In fact, I think he harkened back to his former boss in the White House, the 44th president, Barack Obama. It was the tone. It was the tenor. It was the passion. It's soaked through the screen. I mean, you could feel that, but we are at a point now where we need more than speech. Where we need more than oratory.

And you know, I hear my good friend Axe saying that we just need to storm the polls, but for people like myself, the question is, we gave you the House, we gave you the Senate, we gave you the White House, and if you are not going to do anything, why does that matter? If you are not going to break the filibuster.


If you're not going to give us voting rights, if you're not going to give us police reform, if you are not going to even do something you can do with the stroke of a pen, which is reschedule marijuana, literally, why are you there? And so that's the question.

So today, the oratory was great. But I think we are at a point in time where we are beyond oratory. We've been debating, Don, voting rights since my father was literally a child. We are talking about generations of African Americans in this country specifically who have watched loved ones die, who had to protest, who had to storm the polls. And so for us to say and for Joe Biden who I support, who I love, who I adore, for us to say that we have to go out and vote some more, why don't we give you Jon Ossoff?


LEMON: Go ahead, David.

AXELROD: Right. You know, first of all, I love Bakari and he is a good friend of mine. Whenever he starts off by saying my good friend --



LEMON: Yes, I know --


AXELROD: I know that would follow isn't necessarily going to be all that receptive. But here is my question back to you, Bakari. And what? What are you suggesting? What do you think the president should do? Should they, you know, expel members? What exactly should they do?

SELLERS: No. I think the oratory is great. But what you have to use instead of the bully pulpit on the rest of us, instead of talking about Republicans and Donald Trump, the bully pulpit has to be focused on two people. It's on Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. You're right. The fact is we only have 48 votes. But you are the leader of the Party, you are the standard bearer.

And so you -- it's your responsibility not to go out and get 60, but it's your responsibility to go out and get two and make it 50 so that we actually have, if it's that consequential, that's my point. I mean, if you are going to go out here and give us a full speech that is that consequential, go out and get two votes.

AXELROD: Let me ask you. You are a great young political talent. You could be sitting in that chair one day. Tell me exactly what that means. What does that look like? How does he compel Joe Manchin, who has made very clear that he is never going to vote? He said again today, never against the -- how does he compel him to do that?

It seems to me that he is doing what he can do, which is to turn up the heat rhetorically and work behind the scenes to try and move Manchin and Sinema to a place where you know, where they are willing to consider this if they can. The fact is Joe Manchin isn't being hart politically in anyway by taking the posture that he has taken. So, I get frustrated with this notion that while just do something. You got to do something. Nobody knows who is saying you've got to do something. What exactly it is that he can do.

LEMON: Hold on. Let me just add to that. Let me just add to that, because even today, Joe Manchin is saying Bakari, to David's point. The only answer to -- what will you do to -- in order to get rid of the filibuster. What would convince you, and the word was simply nothing.

SELLERS: Well, I mean, listen. I mean, if it's this consequential, why are we then? Like, that's my point. OK. If it's this consequential where you go to Philadelphia and you gave this landmark speech and you bring and you harken all of the passion, it's the clarion call for freedom and democracy.

I mean, why don't you call them in your office? Why don't you give them this clarion call? I mean, we are not going to talk about excommunication because we are a (inaudible) party. We are not going to talk about limiting resources for reelections. That's makes absolutely no sense.

But what we are going to do is talk about in fashion some way in which we can carve out voting rights so that we can get this done. If it's not that important. If it is not that important, if you are just giving us words and so be it.

I guess, my question back to you, Axe, is because the closest I've gotten to the White House is the Christmas parties which I let me in the east wing. I don't even get in the west wing. I was in the East Wing. So, I mean like, what would you all do in this situation? Because this isn't something that lacks consequence. We are talking about voting rights and democracy. And you know you are not going to get 60 votes. So, what's next? What's the purpose of this?

AXELROD: Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something. You know, I lived through these frustrations when I was in the White House. You know, you were with us from the beginning. I lived through it when we tried -- when we are trying to pass the affordable care act. And y, we have Democrats who were resistant to some of the precepts that we were promoting, and ultimately, you know, we got what was a strong bill but not the bill we necessarily wanted.

That is the frustration of governing. I'm just telling you that it is not -- you know, maybe in the movies, OK. Maybe in the movies you call in, you know, Senators X, Y, Z, and you say and you give a west wing speech and they wipe tears away from their eyes and they step outside and they say, you know, I've seen the light.


But that's not the way the real world works. You know, Manchin has his own views on this. He also has his own constituency. And you know, I think he honestly believes this, that he doesn't want to erode the filibuster. I still have some faint hope that he and Sinema, because of the extreme nature of what the Republicans are doing in their recalcitrance that they may step forward.

Manchin has proposed a bill, so he obviously believes reforms are necessary. And maybe he will vote to ultimately at the end of the day he will come around, but it is not going to be because, you know, the president gave him a (inaudible). I guarantee you that him and Joe Biden have spent many, many hours talking about this and other issues. Because remember, he is trying to get these guys around his other packages here too that are also significant. So, you know, I just -- all I'm saying is, I'm telling you, having sat

there, the reality of governance, OK, and it's not -- and I say this with great respect, because I feel I share your sense of urgency about this and I feel particularly, I know your family history. I know how deeply you are invested in this, as you should be, as we all should be. But I'm just telling you the reality.

And the reality is, you just can't pound your fist on the desk and command people to do things. Harry Truman once said when Eisenhower became president that he (inaudible), He's going to pick up the phone and he's going to start ordering people around and they are not going to respond. This isn't the army. And so --

LEMON: That seemed to work for the last guy. But go on, Bakari. I'll give you the last word.

SELLERS: I don't disagree with you, because I know you've been there, and I know what you all went through the past, the Affordable Care Act. I know how difficult it was. I always think about -- when I think about the affordable Care Act, I always think (inaudible) who sacrifice his seat, right?

AXELROD: And others, yes.

SELLERS: With others, but he's one that jumps out to me. But my only point is that in just purely looking at today's speech, it has the urgency of his words, and it should have the passion thereof, then we have to do more than that. That we deserve more than that. And to ask a base, to ask the voters, who have come out many times before, just come out one more time, now that's a fight I will be with you on, but just no, we are making it that much more difficult. I mean --

LEMON: OK. That's got to be the last word, Bakari. I got to go. David, Bakari, I've got to run. I'm sorry.

SELLERS: We can do the whole show like this.

LEMON: We will take it on the road. Thank you very much. So, I need to bring in now Melanie Campbell who has been standing by patiently waiting. She's the president of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation. She can also add to this conversation. We are so happy that you're here, Melanie, thank you so much. You had an event after the president's speech with other influential black female leaders in civil rights -- and civil rights activists. What was everybody's reaction to Biden's message? Was it motivating? Do you think something is going to happen? Talk to me.

MELANIE CAMPBELL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACK CIVIC PARTICIPATION (on camera): Don, first of all, you know, I am a fan. I stay up every night watching you. Just know that.

LEMON: Thank you.

CAMPBELL: And I was listening to the conversation right before, and what Bakari talked about was we felt the same. Most of the women who are on the call said the same, it was a strong speech. But when we talk about action, what is the action? One of the things that I do know, and I was listening to the conversation is, sometimes we still have to find ways to make politicians do what they need to do because we elected them.

And so for us, one of the things I was in a meeting last week with my civil rights colleagues is that we get urged President Biden to get out here, get out there, use his bully pulpit, do all that he can, have the bathroom conversations (inaudible), but we are not just waiting on that. That's why we are any having a sum of activism and action.

We are going to be on Capitol Hill. We have to demand of our elected officials to do their jobs. That's why folks had to fly out of Texas. What is going on as African Americans in this country, we have always had to have federal intervention. And we are not going to sit there and say, we are going to let our voting rights be shelved because of one or two Democrats.

And so for us, this is the fight of our lives. And so, if we want this democracy to still be here, because if these state laws are passed like they are -- I am a daughter of the south, (inaudible) Florida. And I could tell you Florida is doing crazy things with our voting rights. We know Georgia, we know about Texas and it keeps going and going.


And so as the black woman in this country, who we delivered, and we could deliver and we delivered for the Democratic Party. We seek for the Democratic Party and really demand the Democratic Party deliver for us. Because history has shown us we are not going back to the forties and fifties, not without a fight.

And so we are going to be on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a day of action, for a day where we (inaudible) together over 40 organizations, many led by black and brown women and others to stand up and (inaudible) up. I'm going to say that we are going to continue to stay there. We are going to go to the district. We have to make those (inaudible).

LEMON: Melanie, let me jump in and ask you, I got one more question for you. Because you mentioned -- listen, black women have been the backbone of the Democratic Party and really helped with the election substantially. Will you keep showing up? Because you are saying, look, you kind of saying you're sick and tired, right. You want some action. Are you going to keep showing up, if nothing happens? If this doesn't go the way that you want it to go?

CAMPBELL: For (inaudible), is usually the great teacher. And sometimes you to go -- it is a long race. And so for voting rights, what do we do if we allow our voting rights to be suppressed like this? We can organize all day long in 2022. And like in Georgia, my sister Helen Butler who is leaders are still here, that you have in your program has been stripped of the ability to be in elections administrator in state of Georgia. So you have the ability for folks to be able to say we can turn out

and through all that hard work that we have historically done, and then have some people go in a back room and decide they don't like the results. So we have no choice but to fight.

And so we are ready for the fight. Dom, we are going to keep showing up. We are going to show up in those districts. We are going to keep pushing our president and vice president to do what they can do. And the American people have to speak up and know. A lot of folks I believe didn't know. I appreciate what you do on this show to let folks know the truth, not the lie, as President Biden said.

And I think that history has shown us we can win some battles, even when Reverend Bernice King was on tonight. And one of the things that she said, you know, darkest before the dawn, and that's the reality of where we are. And we are not giving up.

LEMON: well, I think listen. And the only way that you are going to do that is to have an informed electorate and to be armed with the truth. So, I appreciate you and I'm glad you recognized what I do here every night, regardless of who gets upset. And but -- you got to tell the truth. Thank you so much, Melanie Campbell. I appreciate you joining us. I hope you'll come back. Good luck.

CAMPBELL: I appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Vice President Harris meeting today with Texas Democrats who fled their state to block Republicans restrictive voting. They'll joining me now, one of those lawmakers, Texas state representative James Talarico. James thank you so much. Representative I should say. I want to talk about your meeting. Good evening to you by the way. I want to talk to you about your meeting with the vice president today. What did she have to say?

STATE REP. JAMES TALARICO (D-TX) (on camera): You know, we were thrilled to meet with Vice President Harris. We met with her just a few weeks ago when we came to D.C. in June. And just like in that meeting, she was enthusiastic about what we had done to stand up for democracy, stand up for voting rights in the state of Texas. And she urged us to continue meeting with Senators and Congress people on Capitol Hill to ensure that we can take bold and immediate action to save our democracy in Texas and across the country.

LEMON: So, you came to D.C. to get federal help, to stop the restrictive voting bill in your state. What do you want to see?

TALARICO: The reason we came here is because we need immediate action from our Congress. We bought 30 days for Congress to act, but we are living on borrowed time in Texas. Our Governor Greg Abbott will call us back special after special until we pass his voter suppression bill, because he will do anything to please Donald Trump and his big lie. And so the only hope we have in Texas is for our federal lawmakers to act with the same urgency with which we've acted.

Many of us have risked our day jobs, our political careers. Many have left behind children, sick loved ones, elderly parents to do this. We are risking everything to stand up for our Democratic system. And so it's up to our federal counterparts to do the exact same thing. The have to show some political courage, they have to show some backbone.

And I hope our presents as Texas Democrats can help them do that. And so we look forward to meeting with Senator Manchin tomorrow, along with other Congressional leaders, to ask them to please, pass the John Lewis voting rights act and pass the For the People Act.

LEMON: That was a very judicious and generous way of saying that you are leading by example. And I would say possibly shaming the Democrats in Washington who haven't really seen the urgency of what is happening. I mean, you are showing them of just how urgent you believe it is. People may criticize what you are doing, but it does take some backbone -- to put it nicely, to be able to do what you are doing.


And also I want to say, you also met with the majority leader Schumer today and he says everything is on the table but the bottom line is he doesn't have the votes to stop these voting restrictions. What did you say? What did he say to you about the filibuster? Anything?

TALARICO: So, first of all, thank you for your kind words. And Texans throughout history I think have always shown this country have to have a backbone. So, I think we are proud to live up to that legacy in any way we can. You know, this frustrates me to know and if I can be honest with you, Don, because in Texas, as Democrats, we are a minority of a minority. We haven't held statewide office since 1994. We don't hold a majority in any of the legislative chambers. We don't hold a governor's mansion, we don't hold any executive agencies. We are completely without power.

And yet, we have found a way to use every tool in the tool box to protect our democracy and stand up for our constituents and try to preserve the American way of life. And in Congress, our Democratic peers have majorities in the House, has a majority in the Senate, and has the White House and yet they can't seem to get their act together and pass this critical legislation that could save the American experiment.

And so, I'm a little frustrated, I'm a proud Democrat and I love my colleagues here in D.C. And I'm proud of President Biden, but they have got to act. Because we don't have time in Texas. We are out of time. And if they don't do something. My constituents will lose their sacred right to vote.

LEMON: James Talarico, I really enjoyed this conversation. I appreciate you appearing and I hope that you will come back. Good luck to you. Thank you.

TALARICO: Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very much. So, we are getting the inside story of the final days of the last administration in three new books. And they show the threat to democracy that may have been even worse than we knew. But if it happens again, will anything -- will anyone I should say take a stand?



LEMON: New insight tonight into the former president's final days in office following his election loss, and deep concern among top administration officials that he posed a danger to the country. CNN's Brian Todd has more now.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Chilling new accounts tonight of a president who, in his final days in office, caused concern among his top aides that he was unhinged, obsessive, and dangerous. Three new books paint a portrait of Donald Trump desperate to cling to the presidency. In his book out today titled Frankly, we did win this election, the inside story of how Trump lost, Wall Street Journal correspondent Michael Bender chronicles a sobering moment in the aftermath of Trump's defeat in last year's election.

Quote, the crazies have taken over, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned a colleague. He conveyed concern to others that Mr. Trump might be more willing to engage in an international conflict to strengthen his political argument for remaining in office.

UNKNOWN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo becomes very concerned about the national security of the country, the domestic unrest and what that could mean internationally. Privately, he sets up a call with -- daily call with the chief of staff, and Mark Milley, the nation's top general, in order to try to keep temperatures down. Publicly, what does he say? He says that there's going to be a smooth transition to a second Trump term.

TODD: CNN reached out to a representative of Pompeo's for a response. He did not comment for the record. Another new book, I alone can fix it, Donald J. Trump's catastrophic final year, by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker depicts Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on election night pushing Trump to forget that Fox News had called Arizona for Joe Biden.

Quote, just go declare victory right now, Giuliani told Trump. You've got to go declare victory now. Giuliani's interjection of his just say you won strategy infuriated Trump's campaign advisers.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know these two old guys pressed together, trying to determine what's really going on in the world, and they don't get it. They don't get what's unfolding around them.

TODD: Rudy Giuliani did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Another book by controversial journalist Michael Wolff portrays a president isolated right after the election. Quote, by the Friday after Election Day, there was not a single White House aide or Trump campaign official or Trump pollster who believe that the vote count could be reasonably or effectively challenge.

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: He is a man alone. His lawyers are saying we are not going to do this. We are not going to fight these cases.

TODD: And, Wolff writes that as the attack on the Capitol raised on January 6th, quote, the president seemed just not to be grasping the facts as they were coming through. These people were protesting the election. He was still repeating as late as 2:30. The protesters wanted Pence to do the right thing. These were good protesters, his protesters.


LEMON: Well, the former president has responded generally to all three of these new books releasing a statement saying of the authors, they write whatever they want to write anyway without sources, fact checking, or asking whether or not an event is true or false. Frankly so many stories are made up of pure fiction.

So now, I want to bring in CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley and CNN political commentator and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Good evening to both of you. We know about these books. We saw Brian Todd's story there. Doug, I'm going to start with you.


LEMON: January 6th lives as a reminder of how dangerous and chaotic the end of the Trump presidency was. But this book suggests that it could have been even worse. Is there anything that strikes you most?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: All three are excellent. You know, of course, the one of Rucker and Leonnig isn't out yet so you can read The Washington Post's excerpts.

What really jumps out of me is how delusional Donald Trump was, how much he truly thought that Joe Biden could never win, that, you know, an incumbent had not lost on for three decades and Trump was caught completely and utterly by surprise. And nobody was there to tell him otherwise.

And I think the Rudy Giuliani's story strikes me the most. Here is Giuliani telling the president, go on the airwaves and just say you won, shows me that Giuliani, who has been just disbarred from New York, should be disbarred from being considered a good American citizen, because that kind of behavior by Giuliani is just beyond the pale.

But also, Don, one other thing, the foreign policy aspect of this, the Pompeo story, the thought that Trump may have and many people in the Pentagon were worried he might do a wag the dog type thing, strike Iran or some country and then pull back and say, I can't leave, we are in the middle of this. So it is frightening literature, at times funny, but the three books together at the opening salvos (ph) of what I will call big lie studies, there is more to come. This was a moment when our democracy was in deep peril and was worse than even we thought, and that was pretty bad.

LEMON: And Charlie, let me just read to you what Doug just mentioned. It is from the Leonnig and Rucker book about the birth of the big lie on election night. And then I will get your response. Here it is.

He says, just say we won, Giuliani told them. Same thing in Pennsylvania. Just say we won Pennsylvania, Giuliani said. Giuliani's grand plan was to just say Trump won state after state, based on nothing. Stepien, Miller, and Meadows thought his argument was both incoherent and irresponsible. We can't do that, Meadows said, raising his voice. We can't.

So, they said that -- that was eight months ago, Charlie. And since then, everyone is now peddling it. Will anyone stand in the way next time?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: Don, I certainly hope so. What I think this all demonstrates is when lying becomes normalized, in this case, it started at the top with President Trump and there are plenty of people around him who enabled it or facilitated it, this takes on a life of its own, it becomes metastasized, and we are dealing with the consequences right now.

The consequences are, of course, that many of our fellow citizens cannot agree on basic facts and the truth is -- and the truth is a casualty of all of this. That is what we are dealing with in this country because of the lying. People believe. Many millions of people want to believe their president, even Donald Trump. They want to believe him. He continues to push these lies.

That story about Mike Pompeo is saying privately that, you know, we were worried about international -- some kind of interventions that could lead to war, that the president is behaving irrationally and those around him, but then publicly saying, you know, he is going to be inaugurated for a second term.

This is the problem. People don't -- serious leaders were not standing up for the Constitution. They were standing up and pushing this false narrative. That's the tragedy. Leaders must lead. They must speak truth and they must speak truth to power when it's difficult.

LEMON (on camera): You know, Dough, Michael Bender was on CNN earlier tonight talking about how the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and the attorney general, Bill Barr, didn't intend to line up in the famous bible photo op from last summer. Listen to this and then we will talk about it.


MICHAEL BENDER, AUTHOR: Milley and Attorney General Bill Barr ended up at the White House as kind of a lark. Milley was in his fatigues. He was going to visit with National Guard -- the National guardsmen stationed on the city that night. Barr knew they were going to push the perimeter out at some point that day. He wanted to see what the progress was. So they decided on, you know, kind of a, you know, (INAUDIBLE) go to the White House moment.

And what happens? They both end up in one of the most controversial political moments that people are going to be talking about, that historians will be talking about for years.


LEMON (on camera): Doug, you're a historian. Give me a quick response to this, if you will.

BRINKLEY: Yeah. It was -- what a bizarre scene that was when Trump did that, holding the bible and water cannoning American citizens. I think it comes across in the book what we felt at the time. That Trump was usurping his power, was acting with dictatorial and authoritarian bent.


BRINKLEY: He was willing to ruin the careers of Pentagon officials, career soldiers just to do his media stunt, the photo op stunt. It comes -- incidentally, for viewers, Bender is a Wall Street Journal writer, highly respected journalist. So when you read, you know, his book, you realize that everything he says, you can trust. It is really, really riveting reading.

LEMON: Yeah. Doug, Charlie, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

So, Democrats split on policing with crime up across the country after a summer of calls to defund the police. Now, some Democrats are saying we might actually need more police. That's next.




LEMON: The Minneapolis Police Department under orders by a judge to hire more officers. In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder last year and along with calls to defund the police, the Minneapolis City council cut the department's budget.

But a group of residents sued, hoping to force the city to meet the minimum number of police officers required by law. And guess what? They won.

Don Samuels is a former member of the Minneapolis City Council who was part of that lawsuit. He joins me now. I love your first name. It's really good.

(LAUGHTER) DON SAMUELS, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Yup. I told my wife, who was on before, that in her life, there is room for only Don.


SAMUELS: (INAUDIBLE) on you show and I was a little concerned.


LEMON: Thank you for joining us. Listen, you and your wife and your neighbor successfully sued the city to get them to hire more police officers. What were you concerned about, sir?

SAMUELS: Well, we are concerned about the crime that was boosted by the city council's commitment to defund the police. Crime went up to such a level that we had not experienced in 25 years, and at the second worst level of crime since -- in history.

And so we are in the epicenter of the low-income neighborhood and crime in our community is worse than anywhere else in the city. If you look at things like the ShotSpotter map, you can see this clustered around our homes and around our neighbours' homes and the homes of eight of us who filed the lawsuit.

LEMON: Yeah.

SAMUELS: Bullets coming through our houses, our cars, children being killed, our neighbours' children being killed. It's brutal. Sometimes, I write about it on Facebook and people are questioning whether or not it's really that bad. That's how bad it is.

LEMON: Well, let me just give some of the numbers. Forty-six homicides in Minneapolis this year compared to 35 during the same period last year. Violent crime in your city is at a five-year high. So, why do you think this is happening?

SAMUELS: Well, undoubtedly, there might be some COVID-related problems as young people didn't have much to do during the isolation at home, et cetera, and the economic conditions that also came along with that.

But the crime really spiked after the city council declared and, of course, George Floyd's murder is in there. When the city council declared the intent to demolish or abolish the police, then the criminal element got the message that we are now in sync with you. Your opinion of the police and our opinion of the police are one and the same, and we're on your side. That's what they heard.

And we live in this community for 25 years. We know how hard we have to work to tamp down violence here by working with each other, in constant communication with each other.

Whenever someone moves, we have a welcome wagon. Someone moves in, we welcome them with a list of our community standards and we talk to them about our standards here and what we don't put up with, and how we will protect them. And so we send the message to our new neighbors. So, we realize that if we don't do those things and when we don't do them, crime goes up --

LEMON: Yeah.

SAMUELS: -- because constantly, someone is going to rent their house out to a house of prostitution or a drug-dealing family, and you have to be quick responding to deal with the landlords, to deal with the city, to keep the crime down. So, we know that it just takes a little bit to take the lid off from that and everything explodes.

LEMON: Well, listen. Your story is one worth telling and after you filed the lawsuit, the city council also reverses its original decision to defund the police, approving $6.4 million in additional funding the department requested to hire, to train more police officers.

Don Samuels, thank you, sir. I appreciate you joining us and best of luck to you and your neighbors.

SAMUELS: Great to be here.

LEMON: Thank you.

SAMUELS: Go, Minneapolis.


LEMON: We'll be right back.




LEMON: So when it comes to COVID-19, the news is not good. New cases of the virus surging in 45 states as vaccination rates plummet. And medical experts warning more younger Americans are ending up in the hospital with COVID.

Here's CNN's Erica Hill.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite millions of shots in arms, the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction.

CHRIS PERNELL, FELLOW, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: This is primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and we need to be very clear about that message.


HILL (voice-over): Daily vaccination rates are down nearly 50 percent since last week. Average new cases jumping 97 percent and those are just the ones we know about.

VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Many people are thinking COVID is over, but I really need to get tested, and this is particularly happening in areas, unfortunately, where the vaccination rates are low, which is exactly where we want to be testing more.

HILL (voice-over): The data is clear. States that have fully vaccinated more than half their residents are reporting fewer cases. But even those bright spots are surrounded by a sea of red. At least 46 states are now seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.

UNKNOWN: We have a solution to this, for this, and the solution is vaccinations.

HILL (voice-over): As more states work to ban vaccine requirements or proof of vaccination, at least seven passing legislation aimed at public schools.

PERNELL: When states make that move, they get in the way of good and effective public health.

HILL (voice-over): In Tennessee, 14 to 17-year-olds don't need parental consent for medical care, including vaccines. The state medical director shared a memo laying out that policy and says it resulted in her being fired.

MICHELLE FISCUS, FIRED TENNESSEE TOP VACCINATION OFFICIAL: I've not done anything wrong except inform our physicians of where the guidelines were around vaccinating minors. The people of Tennessee have been sold out for politics.

HILL (voice-over): The Tennessee Department of Health told CNN it can't comment on personnel matters.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.


LEMON (on camera): All right. Erica, thank you so much. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Here's a programming note for you. CNN is hosting a town hall with President Joe Biden. That's next Wednesday, July 21st, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's right here on CNN. Of course, it will be live from Cincinnati, Ohio.

I'm going to be moderating and the president is expected to answer questions on a wide range of important issues facing our country, from the spike in new cases of COVID-19 to voting rights to the economy and much, much more.

So, don't miss the CNN's town hall with President Joe Biden live from Cincinnati next Wednesday, July 21st, 8:00 p.m. I will be moderating. But till then, I'll see you back here tomorrow.

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.