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Don Lemon Tonight

Four Police Officers Testified Today On Capitol Hill; Interview With D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone; GOP Lawmakers Too Busy To Watch Today's Hearing; Rep. Liz Cheney Promises To Dig Deeper What Happened On January 6th; Police Officers Are the True Winners; CDC Director Announced That The Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Should Mask Up. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with the big star, D. Lemon right now. Tony Fauci said it on our air, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What did he say?

CUOMO: If you get vaccinated now, 100 million Americans are not vaccinated, if they are, the mask won't be around that long. The Delta variant won't win, the fall will be what we want to be. It's all on us and the time is now.

LEMON: And now you're talking about actually real freedom and real liberty because people don't have to walk around the masks on. We have the freedom of being with our loved ones, safely. We have young people who can be free because not all of them can be vaccinated. Free from COVID, free from getting ill.

So the message is right, I think from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Get the vaccine. Get the vaccine. Yes, as you said last night. You have the right to not get it. But is it the right thing? I think that's the perfect question.

CUOMO: And look, we are the land of the free. Why? Because we are the home of the brave.

LEMON: Because we're the home of the brave.

CUOMO: And I don't know that it's brave leadership to say to people you don't have to get this. I think it's safe, I'm probably not going to tell you that much that I got it.


CUOMO: But you know, you don't have to take it. I don't think that's brave leadership and I don't think that's what we need right now. And I think it also carried into where you were today, which is that January 6th commission.


CUOMO: The idea people are going to hear those officers, but McCarthy and McConnell don't deem it worth their time. Or people going to write it off as a Pelosi problem or partisan?


CUOMO: We're not where we need to be.

LEMON: Yes, I was trying to adjust the volume, your blurring in my ear. Listen, our time is -- our time isn't long because I'm going to show you why I'm sitting here and I want to get to him. Can we put him up right here?

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: There he is. I need to talk to this man.

CUOMO: You do. He did a great job today.


LEMON: He testified today. He did a great job.

CUOMO: I thought that he really conveyed a lot of passion and sense of purpose.

LEMON: Yes. That's Officer Michael Fanone, testify today. Chris, I'll see you. I love you. I'll talk to you later.

CUOMO: I love you.

LEMON: Thank, you sir.


So, a question, honestly, what does it really mean? Why does it mean to love this country? A lot of people talk about, it right? They just sort of performatively we talk about it. A lot fewer, a lot fewer really live that.

Nearly seven months after rioters swarmed the seat of our democracy hunting lawmakers, beating police officers who tried to stop them. Four hero officers told their stories in an emotional hearing that shook them and brought some of them and some of the members of Congress they saved brought them tears. Quite frankly, it brought me to tears, brought me to tears.

What you are about to see and what you are about to hear may be really difficult to watch. And frankly, if you don't find it disturbing, I will say is you should. We watched their testimony today to some of the body -- we matched, I should say, their testimony today to some of the body cam footage. There's Officer Daniel Hodges, you remember he was crushed in the doorway by rioters. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANIEL HODGES, POLICE OFFICER, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I remember foaming at the mouth, he also put his cell phone to his mouth so they had both hands free to assault me. Eventually, he succeeded in stripping away my gas mask in any rush of exposure to see us and spray hit me.

A mob of terrorists were coordinating their efforts now, shouting heave, hoe, as they synchronized pushing their way forward, crushing me further against the middle door frame. The man in front of me grabbed my baton that I still hold in my hands. In my current state I was not able to attend my weapon. They bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip, and adding additional injury to my skull.


LEMON (on camera): He testified about the people he called terrorists. Treating -- threatening -- threatening that he would die on his knees. Others carrying thin blue line flags while attacking the police that they claimed to support.


HODGES: A man attempted to rip the baton for my hands and we wrestled for control. I retain my weapon after I pushed him back, he yelled at me "you are on the wrong team." Cut off from our leadership which is at the front of our formation, we huddled up and assess the threats surrounding us.

One man tried and failed to build a rapport with me, shouting "are you my brother?" Another takes a different attack shouting "you will die on your knees." To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, a symbol of support for law enforcement more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continue to assault us.



LEMON (on camera): There is Officer Michael Fanone who I've gotten to know really well. Tonight, we are going to have a very deep conversation about what happened to him that day and what he wants to see happen in the future.

I want you to listen to Mike Fanone, what he says about what happened to him when the crowd, you know, the ones, the insurrection deniers love to call peaceful. Listen to what they did and see it for yourself.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: At some point during the fighting I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream, "I got one!" As I was swarm by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge. They grabbed and stripped me of my radio. They seized ammunition that was secured to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.

At one point, I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly lunged for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, "get his gun and kill him with his own gun."


LEMON (on camera): Kill him with his own gun. That's a truth that they try to hide when they tell you rioters were hugging and kissing police.


FANONE: What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend are downplaying or outright denying what happened. I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.


LEMON (on camera): It is disgraceful. It is disgraceful that the liars and deniers think that they can just ignore those officers who are still recovering from their injuries today while they keep spreading lies that can lead to something even worse the next time.

There was Sergeant Aquilino Gonell who said that the rioters actually told him it was nothing personal.


AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: The verbal assault and disrespect we endured from the rioters were bad enough. I was falsely accused of betraying my oath, of choosing my paycheck, of choosing my paycheck over my loyalty to the U.S. Constitution even as I defended the very democratic process that protected everyone in the hostile crowd.

While I was at low with terrorist at the capitol working with my fellow officers to prevent the breach and restore order, the rioters called me traitor, a disgrace and shouted that I -- I, an army veteran and a police officer should be executed. Some of the rioters had the audacity to tell me there was nothing personal.


LEMON (on camera): It was personal, all right. If you don't want to take it from me, I want you to listen to Officer Harry Dunn. And I'm going to warn you, tough to hear.


HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled "you hear that guys, this Nigger voted for Joe Biden." Then the crowd perhaps around 20 people joined in screaming, "boo, fucking Nigger." No one had ever, ever called me a Nigger while wearing the uniform of a capitol police officer.

In the days following the attempted insurrection other black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6th. One officer told me he had never in his entire 40 years of life been called a Nigger to his face and that streak ended on January 6th. Yet, another black officer later told me he'd been confronted by insurrectionists in the capitol who told him, put your gun down and we'll show you what kind of Nigger you really are.


LEMON (on camera): You don't like that language? Does that offend you? Does it make you uncomfortable? Good, because it should. I hope it does. I was just thinking of how Harry Dunn felt that day and still feels. Think about how the other black officers felt and still feel.


Think about how Black Americans feel hearing that and knowing what we know now. Think about all Americans, even white Americans. It's offensive. And what is that? What we know is racism isn't a side angle in this story. Racism is the story, and let me explain.

Because the big lie that lit the flame that exploded into an inferno at our nation's capitol that day, the big, bogus lie that the election was stolen, well, who do they think stole it? Think about all the evidence, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and so on.

Black people -- stop the steal, it's just another way of saying stop black people from voting. Who do they think was stealing? Big cities with sizable black populations. Now they're trying to change the rules with a legislative assault on the vote in those same plates.

This isn't that hard. It's quite simple. The evidence is there. This is not my opinion. The evidence is there. Race is what helped to propel Trump on the national stage. Remember? He wasn't born in this country. We need to take our country back, make America great again. It is what he exploits to stay relevant, and his Republicans, they're enablers and they're culpable. It's no accident that those Trump supporters were calling black officers n-words and then trying to recruit white ones.


HODGES: They didn't say anything especially xenophobic to me but to my black colleagues and anyone who's not white. And some of them would try to -- try to recruit me. One of them came up to me and said, are you my brother.


LEMON (on camera): So, the question is now what's next? Where does -- where does this go from here? Where do we go from here? The chairman Bennie Thompson who says that the committee will issue subpoenas soon without resorting to writing letters asking for voluntary information says that we cannot let the liars and cheaters win.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6TH ATTACK: We did not ask for this, for the House of Representatives did its job to give this country its first peaceful transfer of power. And we will do our job now to make sure the peaceful transfer of power remains a pillar of our democracy. We cannot allow ourselves to be undone by liars and cheaters.


LEMON (on camera): Liz Cheney one of two Republicans on the committee says that we need to know the truth about every meeting, every conversation, every phone call leading up to and during the attack.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We must know what happened here at the capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward.


LEMON (on camera): You will hear more from Liz Cheney a little bit later on in this show, as well as from other Republicans on the committee or the other Republican on the committee, and that's Adam Kinzinger. Getting choked up as he tells those officers, you won.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think it's important to tell you right now, though, you guys may, like, individually feel a little broken. You guys all talk about the effects you have to deal with. And, you know, you talk about the impact of that day. But you guys won. You guys held.


LEMON (on camera): And while the two Republicans on the committee were doing the job that the American people need them to do, working to find the truth, their Republican colleagues couldn't be bothered to even watch the hearing.

Mitch McConnell who made it his personal mission to kill the independent commission in the Senate was just too busy. Kevin McCarthy who pulled his picks off the committee, he was in meetings. This wasn't that important to him, so many meetings. Jim Jordan, well, he says he didn't watch that much.

Remember when they used to say that they didn't read the former guy's tweets? This is what it's like. They ignore it. If they want to deal with it, I didn't see it, I didn't hear it. Therefore, it doesn't exist. And then there's Elise Stefanik who tried to get some attention

earlier today by blaming Nancy Pelosi for the insurrection. So, what now? What will it take to get to the truth, the real truth of what happened on January 6th, to show respect for those officers for what they went through, what they deserve? What will it take? Officer Harry Dunn can tell you right now.



DUNN: I use an analogy to describe what I want is a hitman. If a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail but not only does the hitman go to jail but the person who hired them does. There was an attack carried out on January 6th, and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.


LEMON (on camera): We need to get to the bottom of all of this. We need to get to the truth. And sitting here with me tonight, Mike Fanone, a man I'm very proud to know. And he brought along some reaction to his testimony today that is, frankly, shocking. You're going to hear it. It's next.


LEMON (on camera): So, I want you to sit back and watch this because it's the first time I've actually had to have a conversation or had the opportunity to have a conversation with this man on the air in the same room. So, sit down and watch.


Four hero police officers who risked their lives defending the capitol on January 6th speaking the truth today, really. Their emotional and disturbing testimony before the select committee, detail -- detailing the truth of the horrors of insurrection.

I'm honored to be joined by one of them and that's Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone.

FANONE: What's up, buddy?

LEMON: Good to see you.

FANONE: Good to see you.

LEMON: How you doing?

FANONE: I'm good. I feel good after today.

LEMON: It was the first time you saw this.


LEMON: You didn't see your testimony?


LEMON: When I saw you -- when I saw you it was like emotional and raw and you hadn't seen it.


LEMON: What was your reaction when you saw it just now?

FANONE: I mean, I think I got my point across or at least I hope I did.

LEMON: What was -- what was the most important thing for you today?

FANONE: Well, first and foremost I wanted to, you know, through my testimony kind of tell the story of other officers experienced that day not just my own. You know, one of the reasons why or at least part of the reason why I wanted a commission or a committee to investigate the activities of January 6th was to illuminate all these stories of bravery, courage and selflessness from other officers and our leadership.

You know, we had Chief Robert Conte, now Commander Robert Glover and Commander Ramey Kyle who were there really facilitating this response and organizing these officers' efforts so that we could be successful that day. That story needs to be told, and it's an important one.

LEMON: Yes. Look, I think your entire testimony, everybody's testimony today I thought was really powerful. But one of the most -- something that stood out to me is what you said about people who had been trying to rewrite what happened, the history on January 6th. Listen to this.


FANONE: I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.


LEMON (on camera): It is disgraceful. Insult to injury. Many Republicans said including the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, hey, look, I didn't have time to watch it today. I was busy. How does that make you feel?

FANONE: Really, I have no emotional reaction to that. But I do feel it's very telling. I mean, I'm quite certain that Kevin McCarthy and other members of his party are uninterested in hearing about what happened that day simply because it's unpleasant and it doesn't benefit them politically. And then there's those of the party that may be culpable or have criminal exposure. And I'm sure they don't want to hear it either.

LEMON: Look, since the very beginning since we've been talking, you know, both of us especially you because you're like, this is not about political parties for me. This is not about Republican versus Democrat. This is about right versus wrong. And, but it seems there's just one side in this that doesn't want the truth to come out. Am I wrong?

FANONE: No, I mean, I'd say that you're correct. Again, like I -- I couldn't care less what the political affiliation of those responsible for January 6th are. But also, again, I find it very telling that seemingly it is Republicans or members of the Republican Party who are downplaying or outright denying the events of that day.

LEMON: Yes. Look, I want to get to something I think is just disgusting and I want the audience to hear this. But one more question before I get to it. A really disgusting voice mail today and not, probably thought the first terrible reaction you've heard or gotten I'm sure.


LEMON: But what was it like sitting there today, Mike, today? Did you -- was it emotional for you, were you -- was it surreal, were you nervous?

FANONE: I mean, I was not nervous. I've testified hundreds and hundreds of times in court. And I view that day as similar to as courtroom testimony. The format was slightly different, but I was there to give a fact-based account of things that I witnessed and experienced.


And if I did draw a conclusion as many officers who investigate crimes are called to do, I did my best to describe how I came to that conclusion based off of factual evidence, again, things that I saw, things that I experienced first-hand or accounts that were relayed to me by other police officers or law enforcement officers that were there that day.

LEMON: So, this is what I want to get to. You received a voicemail today. Mike received a voicemail today while he was testifying, and he shared that voicemail with us. And I have to warn everybody -- listen, think about what these officers went through. Think about what Officer Fanone went through. You had your injuries. You had a brain injury?

FANONE: Traumatic brain injury.

LEMON: Heart attack.

FANONE: Heart attack, concussion and also diagnosed with post- traumatic distress disorder.

LEMON: OK. It includes some incredibly offensive language, but we think people need to hear the kind of attacks that these officers are facing right now just for telling the truth about January 6th. Play it.


UNKNOWN: Yes, this is for Michael Fanone, metropolitan police officer. You're on trial right now lying. You want an Emmy, an Oscar? What are you trying to go for here? You're so full of shit, you little bag of fucker. You are a little pussy, man. I can slap you at the side of your head or back in and knock you out. You're a little faggot. You're a punk faggot, you're a lying fuck.

How about all that scummy black fucking scam for two years destroying our cities and burning them and stealing all the shit out of stores and everything. How about that? Assaulting the cops and killing people? How about that, you fucker? That was shit on the God damn pack if lies.

I would say I would kill all of you scumbags. Because you people are scum. They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag. And you're fucking too bad they didn't beat the shit out of you more. You're a piece of shit. You're a little fag, you fucking scumbag.


LEMON (on camera): It was important for you. You did not want us to sensor that. What do you say to that? What do you want people to know and that idiot?

FANONE: I mean, I remember my first reaction immediately after listening to that phone call, which I actually received while I was testifying in the hearing today. This is what happens to people that tell the truth in Trump's America.

LEMON: That simple.

FANONE: That simple.

LEMON: It doesn't bother you. It doesn't hurt you.

FANONE: I mean, unfortunately, I've come to expect this type of response. It's not the first time that people have expressed similar opinions to me. Unfortunately, you know, this is -- you know, there is an element in this country that believes that.

LEMON: Michael, I want you to standby, all right, because we have more to talk about. This is a really big day and we've got a lot more to discuss on this. So just more after the break. We'll be right back.



LEMON (on camera): I am back now with D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone who defended our capitol January 6th and testified about it before the select committee today.

Mike, you know, you were asked today about what you want the select committee to investigate and what you want from them, and this is part of your answer.


FANONE: In the academy, we learn about time, place, and circumstance in investigating potential crimes and those who may have committed them. And so, the time, the place and the circumstances of that rally, that rhetoric and those events to me leads in the direction of our president and other members not only of Congress and the Senate.

But that is what I am looking for is an investigation into those actions and activities which may have resulted in the events of January 6th.


LEMON (on camera): Time, place and circumstance you said when it comes to solving a crime. So how do you do that here? How do you do that with a select committee? This is not -- these aren't police officers that are investigating, but how do our lawmakers do that?

FANONE: I mean, I'm not -- I'm not exactly sure how they, you know, can go about conducting their investigation. But, I mean, you look at statements that were made by the individual participants in the rally. You look at, you know, the former president, the things that he said, his supporters that day said.

You look at the activities of the crowd, and then you look at what they did when they left that rally, where they went, were they directed by the former president? And then look at, you know, what the former president did in the aftermath of the events of that day, the statements that he's made not just on January 6th, 7th and 8th.


But look at the things that he continues to say to this day, describing it or mischaracterizing it as a love fest between law enforcement officers and insurrectionists. Look at what other members of his party who support the former president, some of whom have perpetrated the belief that the former president had the election stolen and that he is still the president.

Think about the things that they say, the way they mischaracterize the events of that day, you know, describing it as a tour, a normal tour at the capitol.

LEMON: What about this, what -- the new talking point, Mike, is that it was just a couple hundred people. And every time I hear that now because I've been hearing that recently, it's like what does it matter if it's 100, 200, 300, 1,000? The events still happen.

The thing still happened. The injuries happened. There's an officer who is dead. I mean, what does that -- what do you think when you hear them say, it's just a couple hundred people?

FANONE: First of all, there were thousands of people that went there. And it was because of the presence of those thousands of people who may very well have not broken any laws or who may not have become violent that afforded those hundreds of other individuals -- I believe we're up to 500 arrests. It afforded them the opportunity and ability to become violent and be so effective against the law enforcement officers that were there trying to defend the capitol.

And, you know, there's also this mischaracterization that these officers were present at the outset of this event. Most of the officers, my department was not present at the outset of this event not on capitol complex. We responded there after the police lines had already been breached.

LEMON: Do you -- do you want to see Trump subpoenaed and his allies?

FANONE: I mean, I want the investigation to be complete, and as part of that I do believe that the former president has some questions to answer.

LEMON: When I was listening today to Adam Kinzinger, he asked about weapons. And a lot of people left and went back to their, wherever they lived and so didn't have the opportunity. I don't think you got a chance to answer that question, if I recall correctly.

Can you say that they weren't carrying -- and I don't mean because I think flagpoles and, you know, everyone explained that there were things that they used as weapons that wasn't necessarily firearms. Do we know that for sure that there weren't firearms there?

FANONE: So, Congressman Raskin did actually ask a question about firearms. While I actually did not participate in the recovery of any firearms that day, I've spoken to numerous officers, law enforcement officers who did participate in the recovery of firearms not only on January 6th from individuals at the capitol complex but also in the recovery of firearms and arrests of individuals who were at that rally outside of the White House in the hours just prior to the attack on the capitol.

As well as arrests and seizures of weapons in the days immediately preceding the January 6th insurrection in Washington, D.C. from individuals believed to have been in Washington to attend the January 6th rally and then later insurrection.

So, yes, there were firearms recovered in conjunction with the January 6th insurrection. The reason why I believe there were not more firearms recovered is because we were busy fighting for our lives. It's the same reason why there weren't very many arrests made at the actual capitol complex on January 6th. The officers were outnumbered, and we were fighting for our lives. I didn't have time to search anybody while I was getting the shit kicked out of me on the west front of the capitol.

LEMON: Do you feel like you're getting support from the people who are supposed to support you, the Fraternal Order of Police? Look, there's this whole thing about, well, I just wonder if they're protecting and supporting the officers because there's this whole controversy about what happened with the woman who was shot there trying to break into the capitol. Talk to me about that situation. [22:40:05]

FANONE: So, the short answer to that at least with my case and with the case of officers who I've spoken with mostly police officers from my department is no. The Fraternal Order of Police with which I've been a member, dues paying member for my entire career as a police officer first with U.S. Capitol Police and now with the Metropolitan Police Department, never reached out to me in the days, weeks, months after January 6th.

I never heard from anyone at the national FOP. I finally picked up the phone and called the president of the national FOP, Patrick Yoes and described to him my displeasure in the fact that there was no outreach being done by the FOP not only to myself but also to other officers. And I asked him to do a few things to make up for that lack of support, and he was unwilling to do any of them.

I asked him to publicly denounce the 21 House Republicans that voted against the gold medal bill. I asked him to denounce any lawmakers who would mischaracterize or lie about the events of January 6th, specifically the former president's mischaracterization that it was a love fest between law enforcement and insurrectionists.

And I also asked him, which to be honest with you I thought would be a no-brainer -- I asked him to denounce Congressman Paul Gosar's characterization of the United States capitol police officer who was involved in the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt.

The Department of Justice had conducted and concluded their investigation into the shooting and deemed that that officer was justified. I found it interesting that, you know, while the Fraternal Order of Police regularly releases statements protecting and defending officers who have been involved in line of duty or shootings, that there was no statement denouncing a elected representative who described this officer as an executioner lying in wait. To me, that was insane.

And finally, I asked that the Fraternal Order of Police denounce any active duty or retired law enforcement officers who participated in the insurrection at the capitol on January 6th. I could not get a commitment from Patrick Yoes to do any of those things. What he offered me several hundred days after the insurrection was access to the Fraternal Order of Police's wellness program. I told him that if I had waited six months to get help for the psychological trauma that I experienced that day, I'd be dead.

LEMON: I'm so proud of you. I'm glad to know you. Anything -- anything you guys need.

FANONE: Thanks, buddy.

LEMON: You know I mean that. I love you, buddy.

FANONE: Likewise.

LEMON: I really do. Thank you so much. FANONE: I love you too, buddy.

LEMON: Thank you. Your family has been so great to me. Everybody's reached out from your sister, to your brother, to your mom. You're a good man. You come from a great family and I'm just really proud of what you're doing.

FANONE: Yes. I mean, you've been very good to us as well, man.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much.

FANONE: Thank you.

LEMON: This is an example of what policing should be like. And there's another officer here. He doesn't want us to say who he is. But, anyway, love you guys. Thank you very much.

FANONE: Thank you.

LEMON: So, we're going to talk about getting vaccinated. This is what it's come to now. Put on a mask. I've been wearing my mask now. Vaccinated or not. That's what the CDC said. Delta variant is spreading. We'll talk about that coming up.



LEMON (on camera): We're back now with our other big story. The CDC taking action to try to slow the Delta variant, really changing their guidance to now recommend that vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they are in areas with high or substantial COVID transmission, which according to the latest -- check this out. This map, this data is almost two-thirds of the country. Look at that.

Joining me now to discuss CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He is also the director of the Cardiac Catherization program at George Washington University Hospital.

Good to see you, sir. Thank you very much.

I want to play something for you, because Dr. Fauci was on with Chris earlier. And we're talking about the CDC saying that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, and now they're reversing that because they have new information about Delta. Here it is.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We were dealing with the Alpha virus back a few months ago, as I told you. It was a virus that if a person had a breakthrough infection, very, very unlikely that that person would transmit it. That's changed.

Now the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of an infected person with Delta is 1,000 times of what it was with the Alpha, which means it really has the capability and in fact in the real world is doing it -- it can transmit. So, nothing changed about the science. It was the virus that changed. We're dealing with fundamentally a different virus.



LEMON (on camera): So, talk to me about that. Nothing changed about the science. The virus has changed.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, if you listened to the presser today with Dr. Walensky you would think that the surge now is because vaccinated people are spreading the virus to unvaccinated people. Where in truth, that is a rare event.

Dr. Walensky said that's a rare event, but that was used as sort of the explanation of why the mask, why vaccinated people need to mask in case they, per chance, are infected and can infect the unvaccinated. But the truth of the matter is that the central problem in the United States right now, the irrefutable problem is that 80 million American adults have made the choice not to get vaccinated. And in order to get the -- and largely the same people don't mask.

So, the CDC is in a quandary now. How do you get the unvaccinated to mask? You can't just post signs in restaurants because we can't tell who is vaccinated and unvaccinated because this administration decided to not pursue vaccine passports. I think a crucial error.

So now, in order to get the unvaccinated to mask up, you have to tell the vaccinated to mask up. And I think the CDC used this as a convenient way to try and explain to the people who are very well protected, mind you, why they need to put a mask on.

LEMON: Not good messaging, you are saying?

REINER: Horrible messaging. They need to -- the need to be straight up with the American public. Tell them the way it is. And the way it is, is that the virus is surging in this country, because we have 80 million Americans unvaccinated.

LEMON: Hold that thought. More with Dr. Reiner right after this break.



LEMON (on camera): I'm back now with CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

OK. So, doctor, this is Dr. Fauci and the CDC said initially that vaccinated people could not spread the virus to unvaccinated people. It seemed that, didn't Dr. Fauci say that's changed now, vaccinated people can spread the virus?

REINER: The virus has mutated. So this variant is efficient at replicating itself. So, it's thought that the viral load, sort of, the amount of viral particles in someone might be a thousand fold higher than for the Alpha variant. So that means that an infected person, even someone who has been protected by the vaccine, the vaccine can potentially be sort of overrun by virus in the wrong situation and this virus produces a lot of itself and that then can be spread.

So, I think it's reasonable to expect that if somebody is actually sick with COVID in a breakthrough infection, yes, that they are absolutely possibly infectious.

LEMON: And can spread it to their kids or any unvaccinated person.


LEMON: Dr. Reiner, thank you.

REINER: My pleasure.

LEMON: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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