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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden Backtracks Comment About Facebook; U.S. Now Averaging 266 New COVID Deaths Every Single Day, Virtually Every One Of Them Unvaccinated People; Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY); More Athletes Testing Positive For COVID; Kevin McCarthy Picks GOP Members For The January 6 Committee; Right-Wing Media Promotes Vaccine Misinformation. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 19, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): All right. I appreciate you giving us the opportunity tonight. I'll be off the rest of the week. But right now, I give it to "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with its star, D. Lemon.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I know. I just saw you. Like, I'm not going to see you this week, I'll be off and then I walk into the office and scared me -- the wits out of me. I thought I was seeing a ghost.

CUOMO: First of all, I can't scare out of you what you don't have, and second, duty calls when the boss says would you?

LEMON: Are you saying I'm witless?



CUOMO: Are you saying I'm witless?

CUOMO: Yes, that's what I was saying, don. Very well done. Would you --


LEMON: Proving your point.

CUOMO: Would you go to space?

LEMON: I feel like I'm with it when I'm with you I'm in out of space all the time. Sure. Why wouldn't I go to space? Yes, I would go.

CUOMO: How many reasons you want not to go?

LEMON: No, I wouldn't want -- I don't think I would want to be the first. I'd let them, you know, work it first and then of course, I'd go. Sure. Why not?

CUOMO: What if it's really expensive?

LEMON: You didn't ask me if I have to pay for it. that's a whole different --

CUOMO: You know what, fair point. And given who I'm talking to --


LEMON: It's a whole different story.

CUOMO: -- you would assume it's free.

LEMON: Stop it. You know that's not true. Yes, I would go. I want to ask you about, also, what you had on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

CUOMO: I did.

LEMON: And then the radio guy. But what do you think --


CUOMO: Mike Broomhead.

LEMON: Yes. What do you think the chances are that we're actually going to get something out of this select committee, especially with the, you know, three of the people there having voted to overturn the election or about to?

CUOMO: Here is what I think. Here is what I think. One, I think it's very indicative how many conservatives want to stay away from it.


CUOMO: They don't want to opine. Now look, Arnold doesn't get into a lot of partisan key things very often. He kind of went at it with Trump a little bit, was not a pleasant experience for him. So, he didn't want to talk about it. Broomhead will talk about that stuff more, he's a real conservative on radio, you can look at him yourself. They don't want to talk about it. They want to stay away from it. The Democrats own this dereliction of duty. This was a mistake. You tried to make it a bipartisan committee.

LEMON: I thought -- sorry, I'm just getting my -- sorry, go on.

CUOMO: OK. You tried to make it a bipartisan committee. They didn't want to do it. They turned away everything that the Republicans said they wanted. You gave them. They still didn't want it because they wanted to investigate Black Lives Matter -- Matter and anfifa, as well as January 6, which is absurd, given the mandate of this.

But to give them these seats, now you're going to have these guys on there, Jim Jordan and the other ones, three out of the five denied, wanted to decertify the election. I mean, come on, man. It's going to -- it's going to ruin. LEMON: So, you said this is Democrats fault or the Republicans fault?

CUOMO: Democrats. Why are you giving them the seats?

LEMON: Well, because they're trying to -- aren't we supposed to be, the country is supposed to be about bipartisanship? Shouldn't -- because then they will completely say that it was a partisan undertaking.

CUOMO: They are going to say it anyway.

LEMON: Well, not with these guys on there, yes. But there might --


CUOMO: that was the first thing Jim Jordan said, this is about getting Trump.

LEMON: Yes. So, yes. So, my question is we're not going to get anything out of it. You answered my question. You don't think we're going to get --


CUOMO: Well first of all, I was never a big fan of a congressional investigation in the first place. Now the 9/11 commission really is the standard. That wasn't a congressional committee. They didn't do it that way. Look, we don't have the threshold of trust in Congress right now. We don't have the men and women who can transcend the politics in a way that would be useful here.


CUOMO: I think it was doomed from the start but now. Any vestigial, you know, any benefit that they were going to have here, at least of showing us how things broke down and where people should look, I think is lost.

LEMON: Well, OK. So, you answered my question but I don't think it's actually fair to put it on the Democrats because what would you have them do? There should be a committee to investigate what happened on January 6th and yes, they should try to get the other side. It's important to the country but you can't blame the Democrats for -- or the Republicans putting up that -- or the Republicans failing to do their job. How does that -- that doesn't make any sense.

CUOMO: Here is the sense. You're inviting me to your house. You want to have a nice party. As soon as I come in there, I'm punching everybody in the face. You invite me anyway. That's on you.

LEMON: Yes. But I'll invite a couple bouncers, too, that can check you.

CUOMO: You don't have that here.

LEMON: And that Democrats should do that, they should invite a couple bouncers that can check the other side.

CUOMO: No, they are going to have them there. Jordan is going to be attacking everything. By the way, he happens to be pretty good at it --

LEMON: So --

CUOMO: -- in terms of who he's trying to court.

LEMON: So then should Nancy Pelosi veto him? And the other three?

CUOMO: She can't now. She got beat at her own game again because now that McCarthy went public with the names right away, now if she vetoes them, which is within her power to do so --


CUOMO: -- it's going to look like politics and that she's silencing them.


LEMON: Now you're blaming her for politics. I don't get it. I don't understand why you're blaming the Democrats for doing the right thing, but you're not blaming --


CUOMO: They didn't do the right thing.

LEMON: Of course, they did.

CUOMO: No way.

LEMON: The right thing is just to do the committee without the Republicans. That was not the right thing.

CUOMO: Because they don't want to do the work of the committee and now, you're inviting them in to ruin the work. You tried to do it bipartisan. Now you're doing it through a select committee.

LEMON: So, you're telling me -- you're telling me that they can't win? I don't understand your logic because --


CUOMO: No. Look, I agree. You don't understand. But here is --

LEMON: -- because -- no, I don't understand your logic because it doesn't make sense. You're saying --

CUOMO: Of course, it makes sense.

LEMON: You're saying Republicans are not going to accomplish anything on the committee therefore it's the Democrat's fault. Nancy Pelosi can't veto someone who is going to be bad for the committee because then it's going to make her look bad? That doesn't make any sense. It sounds like you're pandering to the right --


CUOMO: It doesn't make sense to you because I don't think you're thinking it through. I'll say it again.


CUOMO: They tried to do a bipartisan committee.


CUOMO: It got submarined by the Republicans. the Democrats offered them everything they wanted except looking the mandate of looking at BLM and antifa which is absurd. OK. So, it's not going to be partisan. That conversation is over.

LEMON: So, they invited -- so the invited other -- so they're still trying to do the right thing, much like the president.

CUOMO: I don't see it as the right thing.


CUOMO: You don't invite people into a process that they want to destroy and expect to make progress. OK? Would you put somebody on the Bezos rocket who doesn't want to go into space and do anything he can to stop it?

LEMON: Like you?

CUOMO: Is that what you want?

LEMON: No, listen, that's not the same thing. So, you would have them just try to do it all Democrats --


CUOMO: Let the facts show.

LEMON: -- so that it can be --

CUOMO: Let the facts tell the story. Bring in the people.


CUOMO: Get the facts. And if you can do that, I don't love the vehicle of a congressional committee, but if they're going to do it, the best chance they had was to have it be Democrats and let the facts speak where it doesn't matter who is on the committee.


CUOMO: It's about the people that come before it. Now, it's going to be a circus and the Democrats didn't have to do it this way.

LEMON: I think --

CUOMO: The idea of saying Democrats had no choice.


CUOMO: Yes, they did.

LEMON: I don't think people -- that's not what people are saying.

CUOMO: that's what you're saying.

LEMON: I think that -- I think you should put the onus where it's on. And that's on Republicans. They should have put people on there who could look at it objectively and they didn't and I think that's where the blame should be. I understand what you're saying. Listen, I get what you're saying. I just don't agree with it. I think that the Democrats in this process --


CUOMO: You're missing the point of the utility of the exercise.

LEMON: No, no, no. I'm not missing the point. I'm just not agreeing with you. I understand what you're saying.

CUOMO: I know. But I'm saying --


LEMON: But I don't agree with that.

CUOMO: I know. But just because you don't agree doesn't mean you have a good point. What I'm saying is they don't want to find things out.


LEMON: Just because I don't agree doesn't mean that you have a good point.

CUOMO: I know. But if you listen, I'm telling you, watch these threads after this. They will be like he's right about this.

LEMON: I don't think so.

CUOMO: because if you want to find out what happened, don't invite people in who don't want to find out what happened.


CUOMO: Simple.

LEMON: Keep inviting them.

CUOMO: They can do that, now they're going to pay it.

LEMON: Keep inviting them and make them look bad just as if Democrats weren't doing the right thing, keep inviting them, if you want to do the bipartisanship thing. I think bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship as I've been saying on this show. I think it is empty.

I think in this particular thing, I think it's important for Republicans to participate because this is more about the health of our Democratic republic. It's not about -- this should not be about politics. And I think the more you bring that out and embarrass people, the more you show them up, the better because it shouldn't be about who is a Democrat and who is Republican. It should be about who is fighting to keep our Democratic republic in check to keep our democracy. That's what it should be about.

CUOMO: I agree.

LEMON: All right.

CUOMO: But when you come out of fantasy land and back here on earth, when you get off Bezos' rocket, that's not what's going to happen now. And you might have been able to learn something that now --


LEMON: Well, let's see.

CUOMO: -- you're not going to learn because of how this is going to be --

LEMON: Well, why don't we see what happens before we -- let's see what happens.

CUOMO: Because I don't have to be naive about it. We've only seen what happens in these situations and now you invited it to happen in a place where it didn't have to happen but let's not belabor the point. We'll all watch it in real-time.

LEMON: OK. They are dammed if they do, dammed if they don't.

CUOMO: No, they're not.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: They're not dammed if they do.

LEMON: I got to go.

CUOMO: They damned because of what they did.

LEMON: All right.

CUOMO: There is a difference.


CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: You, as well. I don't agree with you, you're wrong but I love you.

CUOMO: It's the first word.

LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT and we got close. We got so close. I mean, we got close to having a normal summer. We really did. Maybe a little bit of it. A summer free from worries about a deadly virus. A summer free from worries about whether we should still be wearing masks. A summer free from worries about who is vaccinated and who's not.

We got so close. And yet, so far, COVID cases are rising in every single state, every state. And this is becoming a story about two Americas, really about vaccinated America and unvaccinated America.

The surgeon general says 99.5, are you listening, America, 99.5 percent of deaths right now are happening among, you got it, unvaccinated people. We got so close. And now the misinformation is pulling us back down. It's literally killing us.


The lies, conspiracy theories, those on right who are putting owning the libs ahead of the lies with their own supporters. President Joe Biden keeping up the heat on Facebook over what's being called a disinformation dozen while clarifying what he said last week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Facebook isn't killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation and anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It's killing people. It's bad information.

My hope is that Facebook instead of taking it personally somehow, I'm saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. The outrageous misinformation about the vaccine, that's what I meant.


LEMON (on camera): And we are learning tonight that senior administration officials have been in touch with Facebook behind the scenes for days as tensions between the White House and Facebook have increased.

But the fact is, is that we're now averaging 266 new COVID deaths every single day, 266 every day. Virtually one of them, every one of them unvaccinated people. The Delta variant sending young people to hospitals, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says today that everybody over the age of two vaccinated or not should wear masks in school. That's how dangerous this is, Dr. Fauci with this stark warning today.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: For the unvaccinated, that means not only getting infected, that means some proportion of the people who are infected will get seriously ill requiring hospitalizations and, in some cases, unfortunately, death.


LEMON (on camera): So, this is not about Republicans and Democrats. A lot of this stuff shouldn't be about Republicans and Democrats, or left versus right. People like to make it that way, right, politicians, right wing media. This is not. It shouldn't be. Red states, blue states. This is about people's lives.

But here is the thing. At least 20 states, most of them run by Democrats have fully vaccinated more than 50 percent of their population. Those are the Democratic states, right? But there are red states across the south that haven't even vaccinated 40 percent. And that's where, that's how the Delta variant is taking hold. Those are the facts. That's the truth.

So, you would think that every single Republican would put lives ahead of politics, especially now. Yet the former president, former guy who takes credit for the vaccines that were developed on his watch is talking out of both sides of his mouth pushing anti-vax messaging. Asked if the White House would urge him to speak to his supporters and call for vaccinations, here is the press secretary Jen Psaki. This is what she said.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've seen almost every former president play a role in putting out a PSA, making sure people understood in the country that the vaccine is safe and effective. We don't believe that requires an embordered invitation to be a part of.


LEMON (on camera): The rise in COVID cases and fears about inflation spooking the market today, I'm sure you've seen it. The Dow sinking more than 700 points, biggest drop in a year. President Biden downplaying inflation fears and arguing his infrastructure proposals will drive prices down ahead of a key vote on the bipartisan deal on Wednesday.

In just a minute, though, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she's going to weigh in on that and the news tonight that Kevin McCarthy, as Chris and I have been talking about, has made his picks for the select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection.

Congressman Jim Jordan, you remember the former guy called him a bulldog wasting in time showing just how little he cares about the committee's mission to get the truth of what happened on January 6th.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Jordan, what do you hope to accomplish on the Republican side of this investigation? REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We know what this is about. This is about

going after president Trump. You know? I mean, the Democrats, they don't want to talk about anything else.


LEMON (on camera): Well, there you go. And that right there, that's why Kevin McCarthy chose him to defend the disgraced former president, still the undisputed leader of the Republican Party, to defend the big lie and the big liar, the big liar.

The White House with, you know, we all saw the whitewash -- I should -- excuse me -- I should say, that we all saw with our eyes on January 6th a Trump supporting mob trying to overturn our free and fair elections, that on the -- that on the very day that the first capitol rioter convicted of a felony was sentenced. His name is Paul Hodgkins pleading guilty last month to obstructing the counting of electoral votes. There he is. You see him inside the Senate chamber wearing a Trump shirt and carrying a Trump flag.

The judge today sentencing Hodgkins to eight months in prison, less than a year and a half that the DOJ wanted. District Judge Randolph Moss saying, and I quote here, "Hodgkins was staking a claim on the floor of the United States Senate, not with the American flag but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the entire nation.


When a mob is prepared to attack the capitol to prevent election -- elected officials from both parties from performing their constitutional and statutory duty, democracy is in trouble." His words. Democracy is in trouble.

That's how serious this is right now. The leader of the far-right Proud Boys pleading guilty today to burning the Black Lives Matter flag of a historic black church in D.C. in the middle of the violent pro-Trump protest in December. Protests many now see as a lead up to January 6th.

That as a capitol rioter who posted on social media that she was proud of what happened that day, pleads guilty today to a misdemeanor charge, proud, proud of an attack on the seat of our democracy.

Is this America? Is that what this country is supposed to stand for? It's not. Kevin McCarthy makes his picks for the January 6th committee. Three of the five voted to overturn the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Should Nancy Pelosi veto them?

You know who is a good person to ask that? There she is. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She's here after the break.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): So tonight, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy picking five Republicans that will investigate the deadly January 6th insurrection. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly reviewing his choices now. The committee's first hearing is set for next week.

And let's talk about this big development and other things other important topics with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. We're so happy to have you here. It's good to see you. Thanks for appearing.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Of course, thanks for having me.

LEMON: So, let's get to the breaking news that we talked about. The House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy selecting who he wants to be on this January 6th commission, Jim Jordan, Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong, and freshman Troy Nehls.

Three of these members voted to overturn election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Do these picks say anything to you about how seriously or not seriously the minority leader is taking this investigation, Representative?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I mean, absolutely. I think Kevin McCarthy has decided his role as the minority leader in the House of Representative is to essentially be chauffeur of the clown car and be believes that his job is to champion some of the most ludicrous irresponsible and dangerous members of his party instead of centering, you know, some of the more even keeled and responsible members of his party.

And that's what he's decided his leadership is and what it means to this country. I think it's shameful but it will not stop Democrats and it will not stop people who are actually interested in setting this country on the right track and trying to do their best to do so.

LEMON: Should the house speaker, should Nancy Pelosi veto any of these picks before officially -- before they officially join this committee?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I leave that decision to her but I think she's well within her right when the minority leader decides to nominate people who actively attempted to overturn the results of this election and who were frankly, not only active participants in the dangers and what we saw in the insurrection of January 6th but were some of the leaders and sum of them you know, drum majors of the insurrection.

I believe that she's while within her right to veto some of these picks. I think that they are frankly insulting and that Kevin McCarthy -- Kevin McCarthy's picks are insulting not just on a party basis but to this country.

LEMON: I don't disagree with you on that. So, I want to -- let's turn now into infrastructure. OK? The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer -- majority leader -- excuse me -- Chuck Schumer filing cloture tonight for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This means that the key test vote is going to be on Wednesday, but the Senate GOP leadership again threatening to block that vote unless negotiators strike a deal on it.

Separately, you threatened to tank the bipartisan infrastructure deal if the bigger $3.5 trillion spending proposal isn't passed at the same time. Why tank infrastructure if it's not included?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, one of the things that I was -- that I think is important is that last time we checked, the people of this country elected a Democratic majority House. They elected a Democratic Senate and they elected a Democratic presidency. And what that means with those votes is that they did not elect Republicans to define and limit the aspirations of this presidency and they did not elect Republicans to define our infrastructure package.

And so, if we're only going to send a bipartisan bill that Republicans have largely written, that ExxonMobil lobbyist have bragged about having influence in the contours over, an infrastructure bill that does not address the climate crisis, that does not put millions of people back to work, and does not expand health care in this country, then no, that should not be all that we pass.

We should pass an enormous reconciliation bill that puts millions of people to work in good union jobs and helps really, you know, get us back on track in terms of the climate crisis, in terms of physical infrastructure and health care. Now if we want to pass both of these, you know, both of these bills together, that is a conversation that we can have but we're not going to accept Republican dominance when the people of this country have elected Democratic majorities across the board.

LEMON: But the $3.5 trillion spending proposal from Democrats, I know that you would prefer a larger bill but you're calling it a progressive victory. Why is that?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think it absolutely is a progressive victory and the reason for that is because if you look at the top lines of this bill, the expansion of Medicare to include vision, health care and dental, when you include the civilian climate core, which is a major provision that I introduced along with Senator Markey two years ago as outlined in the Green New Deal.


When we talk about record infrastructure investment in building thousands of E.V. chargers and billions of dollars in rail infrastructure in this country, we would not have an infrastructure package of this scale without the progressive movement of everyday people across the United States and working people across the United States.

If people in this country do not mobilize and demanding not just any job but good union jobs, a $15 minimum wage, expanded health care, we would not have the contours including child care. Universal child care as outlined in this infrastructure bill to say that you don't just need a bridge but you need a babysitter to get to work, that infrastructure is not just physical infrastructure but it's the social infrastructure that you need in order to be able to have a job. All of that is due to the progressive victory. And that's why I think

it's a progressive, and enormous progressive victory. Not just the number which we wouldn't have gotten to 3.5 trillion without the leadership of people like Senator Bernie Sanders, or chairman Peter DeFazio, a co-founder of the progressive caucus in the House, but we would not have that money going to the things that actually impact people in their everyday lives without the progressive movement, as well.

And that's why I think it's, you know, very much progressive victory because without this movement we would be having a bunch of tax cuts and refunds and, you now, the kinds of investments that you may feel one, two, 10 years from now but don't actually directly impact your life in the way that these investments do.

LEMON: Have a lifelong impact on the structure of American society, as well and how we -- and especially how we all move to that society but especially women, right, when you look at child tax credits, when you look at day care and so on.

OK, so listen. You know, today, I'm sure you saw what happened with the stock market. They say it was because of COVID but there was lots of talk about inflation. So, I want to talk about the fears of inflation. President Biden pushed back assuring Americans that the price increases that they've seen hitting their wallets are temporary.

Now, last week you questioned the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, and expressed concern over prematurely raising rates and what that could mean for marginalized communities. What are your biggest concerns over inflation, Congresswoman?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, here is the deal with inflation, is that if we do not get the root cause of these price increases right, then policy decisions could be made that could really negatively impact your life, boost unemployment, and again, increase interest rates and we do not want that.

So, it's really important that we get the diagnosis right into what's going into these price increases. When you look at what actual prices are going up, it's in very specific sectors. If this was an overall inflationary issue, we would see prices going up in relatively equal amounts across the board no matter what the good is.

But we know it's getting expensive. Things like the cost of lumber, items like cars whether they are new or used and other sorts of items that rely on shipping and shipping containers coming in from overseas. These are very sector specific, which means that these are due to supply chain issues.

That means that we don't have enough ports. That can accommodate all of the backed-up ships that are trying to come in. It's because we don't have enough computer chips that are produced by just a handful of factories in the world that go into these vehicles which are then causing a rush on used vehicles, and it's because of all of the, you know, all of the rush on demand to build and to remodel homes during lockdown. And the reason it's important for us to understand that is because the

solution to that is guess what? Infrastructure.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: We need to put in more money and more funding so we expand ports, so that we can add resilience to our supply chain. That's what we can do if we get it right. We actually support these infrastructure investments and make sure that we protect not just the size but potentially make it bigger.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Now if we get it wrong, if we say this is inflation that this is an inflationary trend, et cetera, what is going to happen if we get it wrong? We put policy pressure and political pressure on the fed to increase interest rates, which will drive up the rate of unemployment, which is the exact opposite thing that you want to be doing in such a fragile state of our economic recovery post-COVID. So that's why it's so important we get this right and put the politics aside.

LEMON: I want to get a break in. I want to keep -- can I keep you over the break because I want to talk to you more. I've been wanting to talk to you about this for a long time.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, of course.

LEMON: I want to talk about critical race theory --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: -- with the congresswoman and how we should be teaching race in America's school right after this break. Don't go anywhere.



LEMON (on camera): And we're back now with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

So, Congresswoman, I want to ask you about this debate that we're seeing over critical race theory. Do you think Republican efforts to redefine it and use as a scare tactic, do you think it working?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I do think it's working because what we have seen is that the Republican base and the Republican Party has really pivoted to a strategy of using race and using just the changing demographics of this country and as we saw on January 6th, using a white supremacist core logic in order to re-animate a very core fear in this country of the other.


And so, what's really important is that we come together and have a very strong rebuttal to that core logic, not just in fact checking Republican claims but actually confronting the core logic and addressing the core fears that they're trying to really tap into when they try to use terms like critical race theory, as a proxy for just saying talking about race in schools in general.

LEMON: You know, in places like Texas and elsewhere, really, we're seeing bills banning teaching of critical race theory paired with laws making it harder for minorities to vote. Why do you think this is all being pushed at once? Do you think that first of all, maybe I think that this critical race theory is to win back some of the folks in the suburbs, educated white people and what the best way to do that is give them fears about their children?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, absolutely. I think that's certainly a strategy that they have and in order to do that, you know, especially at a school level and a school board level in some states and municipalities is how they can really try to work to re-animate that base.

And it's not an accident that they are using race as the core and that we're seeing this paired with a very strong push to essentially disenfranchise and limit the right to vote, as well as the Supreme Court continuing to gut the Voting Rights Act.

And when we say how we counter this, it's not just fact checking in some of those, you know, basic claims, which is still important to do. Critical race theory is not taught in elementary school, it is barely taught in law schools frankly in the level it should be taught.

But beyond that, because we know that Republicans have started to now use this -- these laws curtailing critical race, quote, unquote, "curriculum" that's not even being taught in the first place as a proxy to saying we can't teach anything about race in our schools beyond just some of the most minute minimal, minimal, minimal facts.

LEMON: well, some of the --


OCASIO-CORTEZ: And to that, I think --

LEMON: Go on. Finish your thought. Sorry.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I also say, and to that we should say why don't you want our schools to teach anti-racism? Why don't Republicans want their kids to know the tradition of anti-racism in the United States? Why are Republicans trying to ban books in this country? Why are Republicans trying to ban speech? Why are they trying to fire certain professors? Why are they attacking the core roots of history in this country that strays anything beyond what two already know?

In fact, you have folks like Kevin McCarthy making statements that sound like he's never even read Martin Luther King in his life trying to ban books that actually talk about the history of the civil rights movement and institutional racism of the United States. So why don't Republicans want us to learn how to not be racist? Why don't Republicans want kids to know how to not be racist? And I think that --


LEMON: Well, they're saying it's too young --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: -- is the question that eliminates this.

LEMON: They say it's too young and it makes -- it gives -- it makes white kids feel bad and it gives them guilt about being white at too young of an age and they should not have or be taught that guilt at all or anything that gives them that.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. Well, you know, I think here is the deal. Here is something that we know neuro cognitively. Babies when they are exposed to family members, neighborhoods, et cetera, of one race, their eye contact. We already know this from neuro scientists and neuro sociology, et cetera, sociologists, et cetera, that babies already start to gravitate towards members of their own race when they're disproportionately expose to just one race in their life.

It doesn't mean that babies are racist but what it means is that we already start to gravitate towards communities and people that we already know are -- and are already acclimated to. Children do not feel guilty about racism when they learn early on what racism is.

In fact, children learn to recognize it and can engage in corrective behavior early. Now what does feel guilty are the adults who allow racism to happen in their lives and when their children acknowledge it better than some of the adults in their lives do. And so, to that, I don't think that children feel guilty. I think there is a responsible way for us to talk about how to be peaceful and treat each other with respect.


And we use, and Republicans are using these words like critical race theory, which again is a law school curriculum that is not even taught in schools, and their argument is well, some teachers may be exposed to it. Wow, so your child's teacher is not -- is anti-racist and is actually fluent in how to dismantle racism in the dynamics of racism in a classroom.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: that is something that teachers should know how to do. And Republicans are trying to ban this, are trying to ban us from knowing our own history because if we don't know our own history, then it is easier for them to ban -- it is easier for them to curtail our rights to vote and to essentially take us backwards to the 1960s as they have been doing with many of these state laws.

LEMON: Congresswoman, thank you so much.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Multiple American Olympians testing positive for the coronavirus days

before the opening ceremony in Tokyo. Is this a sign of what's ahead? Dr. Sanjay Gupta live. There he is. Wow. All the way from Tokyo. Sanjay is next.


LEMON (on camera): At least two more members of the U.S. Olympic team will be sitting out the games after testing positive for COVID-19, American gymnast Kara Eaker and basketball player Katie Lou, Katie Samuelson both testing vaccinated even though they are fully vaccinated just days before the Olympics are set to begin.


So, joining me to discuss CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta who joins us now live from Tokyo.

Sanjay, I know it's been a really long day, or 24 hours or wherever because I've been watching you since this morning on CNN. So, thanks for joining us this morning here in the states.

Listen, Sanjay, we're already seeing more than 60 COVID cases tied to the Olympics and the games. The games haven't even started yet. With vaccinated and unvaccinated people gathering from hundreds of countries, don't you think this was bound to happen?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I do, Don. I mean, I think that this has been the sort of challenge all along. And you know, you talk to the conference organizers and they say we would expect positive cases. About half those cases by the way, Don, are from Japanese locals. About half from international athletes but as you point out, we haven't really even begun yet so those numbers are likely to go up.

One thing I want to point out, Don. I think this is really important. If you were to ask people what is the breakthrough infection rate in vaccinated people? What is it? We keep hearing it's rare. The fact is it's hard to know because in the United States - let me show you this graph - testing has come way down since the end of last year.

If you're vaccinated, you probably haven't gotten tested again, right, unless you have symptoms of some sort so I don't think we really know the breakthrough infection rate. I think this Olympics is probably going to teach us that, going to show us that because as you point out you got people coming from all over the world, they're not all vaccinated because some countries don't have enough vaccines yet, as you know. But I think we're going to get a better idea of just how common these breakthrough infections really are.

LEMON: So, then you think it's a good sign that they're catching these cases, meaning that they're, you know, discovering them. Does it show that these safety measures are working?

GUPTA: Yes. I think if you look at the two biggest things, the testing and the fact that they're really trying to cordoned off the Olympic village from the rest of Japan, I think those things will probably make the biggest difference. I think some of the other things like Plexiglass and things like that, they just don't work.

I mean, that was 2020 early pandemic sort of thinking. We now know this virus can act like an aerosol, act more like a puff of smoke than respiratory droplets. But I think all that testing probably does make a difference. The big question, you know, if people develop an infection but they're surprised. Or they had no symptoms. They had minimal symptoms, that kid of shows that the vaccine is working and that the protocols are doing their job.

But if you start to get a situation where there's lots of transmission or people start to get sick, then, you know, it's really going to raise the question should we have done this in the first place?

Japan has 12 percent vaccination rate. Eighty percent of the people here, Don, that have been polled said they would have preferred the Olympics not be here because the numbers are going up and they sense this could potentially be a problem. We'll see but, you know, these are exactly the concerns that people have laid out now for months.

LEMON: Well, you can't blame them for feeling like that. We're seeing stars like gymnast Simone Biles posting videos on social media showing just how excited they are touring the area, thousands of athletes are descending on this Olympic village.

What safety measures are they putting in place? I imagine that they have to be extremely stringent and quite frankly, I was surprised to see people out and about enjoying themselves, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Yes. I think that those are unusual sort of things. To really get out of the bubble if you will, out of the village or out of these hotels that we're in, which are all been approved by the IOC, you have to be quarantined for 14 days and then you can get out and about.

So, what is life like really inside the village for folks, I mean, it's pretty isolated, Don. It's very different than, you know, Olympics that people are used to seeing. People are generally by themselves. If someone is close contact, if someone who's tested positive, they're going to be in their own hotel room, they are going to have designated vehicles for them which is by themselves. They're going to eat by themselves. There's no spectators here.

So, it's a very different mood. I mean, it's, obviously, it's still the Olympics. There's this incredible competition that are about to happen. But what you see on the screen is what life is like mostly for a lot of these athletes.

LEMON: It feels like we're back in mid- 2020 again with all the stuff going on. Or early 2020, I should say. Sanjay, thank you.


LEMON: Be safe, my friend, and I'll see you soon. OK?

GUPTA: You got it. LEMON: Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it, Don. Thanks.

LEMON: From election lies to anti-vaccine rhetoric we're living in an age really where disinformation is putting us behind where we should be and it's putting democracy and people's lives at risk.



LEMON (on camera): OK, welcome back. Let's go straight to Matthew Dowd now, he's the former chief strategist for President George W. Bush. He is the author of the upcoming book "Revelations on the River" which is coming out on September 7th and can be preordered now on Amazon. Good luck with that. We'll talk more as it gets closer.

Good evening to you.

We have seen so much COVID misinformation from the right and their media allies. But I want you to listen from this tonight, this is from Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: Please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more deaths. Research like crazy, talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously.

You also have a right to medical privacy. Doctor/patient confidentiality is also important. And it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.



LEMON (on camera): OK. Anyways, I'm not sure what doctor/patient confidentiality -- you don't have to -- anyway. So, what do you think of Hannity saying tonight that, you know, those CNN's senior media report Oliver Darcy points out that Tucker Carlson continue with this anti anti-vaccine rhetoric? What do you think of that? So, there be more of that on right wing media?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It absolutely be more of it. And I don't know what the motivation is behind Sean Hannity fundamentally changing his course of action on this. I'm glad he did, and I'm glad he's telling the truth tonight. We'll see if he tells the truth tomorrow night. He's not consistent on telling people stuff that isn't true. But it's a little bit like the guy that's been selling gasoline in the

neighborhood and all of a sudden, the neighborhood is on fire and he watch and says use your (Inaudible) fire extinguisher. He's caused part of this fire of the problem if the unvaccinated people in America. He's done it for days and days and weeks and weeks.

It's good that he's finally turned the corner. I would bet there's some motivation behind doing it tonight that we -- I don't fully understand. I'm glad he's done it. But he's responsible for where we are today, one of the people responsible.

LEMON: Let's talk about the president walking back what he said about Facebook killing people. But he is calling on Facebook to be more aggressive in combating the vaccine lies. How much can he do or be blamed for folks not getting vaccinated when conversation on vaccines are really increasingly based on politics and not facts, a lot of that is happening in right wing media and also on social media.

DOWD: Well, I don't think you can blame the president. The president has done everything he possibly can to try to get people, encourage people to get vaccinated. And he obviously speeded up the process of distribution. He expanded the process of distribution. You can't blame him.

Who you can blame is the former president, President Trump. You can blame many of the people, the anchors on Fox News. You can blame Republicans in Congress who have tried to convince people, it's no big deal, don't worry about it. And you can blame the ecosystem on the Republican right that doesn't want to want to believe any science or facts.

But Don, to me, this is basically an example of the greater virus that I think exists in America, which is a virus of lies. And that to me is the most dangerous thing. Yes, it affects the pandemic. But it also affects every other issue. It affects climate change. It affects the facts on guns. It affects our democracy.

And it's fundamentally the ignorance that exists and lies that have been spread that are fundamentally destroying democracy in this moment. And that to me, as bad as the pandemic, the COVID pandemic was, the virus of untruth is a much worse virus that we're faced in this country today.

LEMON: Matthew Dodd, I owe you some extra time next time. Thank you so much for appearing. I appreciate it.

DOWD: My pleasure. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy picking five Republicans to join the select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Three of them voted to overturn election results in two states. And one is well-known for his antics and grandstanding at high-profile hearings.