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Don Lemon Tonight
Officers Give Harrowing Testimony Detailing The Horrors Of Defending The Capitol On January 6; Rep. Cheney And Rep. Kinzinger Rip GOP Colleagues For Spin On Capitol Riot; New Science Leads To Another CDC Update On Masks, Even For The Vaccinated; Vaccine Hesitancy And Insurrection Denialism Show Dangerous Power Of Misinformation In The U.S.; Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Gymnastics Final. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired July 27, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Four hero police officers testifying for the first time about the horrors of January 6. They told the Select Committee how they risked their lives to protect lawmakers inside the Capitol, some who continue to downplay the insurrection and didn't even bother to watch today's hearing.
Plus, CNN is learning that the Biden administration will require vaccine or regular testing for all federal employees. It comes as the CDC tells Americans vaccinated or not to mask up again when indoors in high-risk areas.
I want to bring in now CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates and our counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. Good evening to both of you. Good to see you in person. Thank you so much for joining.
Let's start with what happened on Capitol Hill today, Laura. I want everyone to hear from Officer Harry Dunn. He talks about this pro- Trump mob calling him the N-word. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, you hear that guys, this nigger voted for Joe Biden, and 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 6. 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 6. Yet another Black officer later told me, he had been confronted by insurrectionists in the Capitol who told him, put your gun down and we will show you what kind of nigger you really are.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON (on camera): Hmm. It does get more explicit than that, and then he says that 20 people all chimed in. Laura, look, clear racial aspect to the insurrection and what is happening in the country, but clear racial aspect to those events.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, and I couldn't help when I heard that -- to go back to what the experience must have been like for Black military members coming back from World War II, in uniform, some even lynched for having the audacity to have them, as a reminder of how racism is just below the surface, if not on top of it, without the course of history in America.
And to contextualize this as well, Don, remember, the reason that they reacted that way, this kneejerk reaction to go to racism, was because he was responding to the big lie. Someone came in and said, no one voted for Joe Biden, we want to stop the steal, and he made a statement to address politics in that brief moment and said, I voted for Joe Biden, am I nobody? And the kneejerk reaction was to attack him in that way and to call him that word repeatedly.
And you know, this was an experience that he talked about today, not only being an officer under attack, but the dual experience of being a Black officer, and I couldn't think about this without contextualizing as well the reaction about the Black Lives Matter protests, the reaction to the killing of George Floyd and how the failure of this committee purportedly to address that was used as a pretextual reason for Republicans not to support a bipartisan endeavor.
COATES: And so you see it in terms of experience, you see it also in terms of the way that it is being used as a scapegoat to take away the responsibility of Republicans to address this.
LEMON (on camera): Phil, this is for you, because I want to get to Officer Daniel Hodges. He was asked why he characterized the attack as a white nationalist insurrection. He said that the rioters were overwhelming white males, and then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL HODGES, POLICE OFFICER, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: They didn't say anything, especially xenophobic to me, but to my Black colleagues and anyone who is not white. Some of them would try to recruit me. One of them came up to me and said, are you my brother?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): What does that say that these riders, these insurrectionists, overwhelmingly white males trying to recruit him for the insurrection before they almost crushed him to death?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: How much pain do you want? Let me tell you something as a white guy. This country went through in the 19th century telling my people, the Italians and Irish, they weren't welcome, because they're Catholics. They had laws against Chinese immigration 120 years ago. We interned Japanese people who were white during World War II. We told gay people they weren't allowed to get married. We told women they weren't allowed to vote.
If we think this doesn't represent America, I'm not saying America is not great, I'm saying we have to look in the mirror and say, unless we look higher, including looking to our political leadership to say take us higher, that is where we are going to be, because we've been there before.
This is not unique. From day, we've told people, if you are not like me, you are worse. That is where we will go if we don't go higher, Don.
LEMON: This is who we are. Everyone says this is not America. But this is America.
MUDD: We've been there forever. We've been there for -- as I said, Irish and Italians in the 19th century with the new immigrants, we say we're the melting pot and we're the (INAUDIBLE). They were told you're dirty. My people were told you're dirty.
So if we want to look in the mirror and they say, that somebody else, that somebody else who went to the Capitol, I am telling you, that is not correct. Unless we try harder, that is us, Don. That's us.
LEMON: Listen. I want to talk about Chairman Bennie Thompson saying that subpoenas are coming soon, Laura. This is right up your alley here. Liz Cheney said that they should arrive quickly. The Justice Department is saying that the former DOJ officials can testify. The department won't assert executive privilege.
So, which top officials are likely to be among the first call? Could it be the -- do you think the president should be called or will be called?
COATES: I think that --
LEMON: The former president.
COATES: -- he should be called. I think Jeffrey Rosen, I think others as well. Remember, the executive privilege in terms of what the DOJ members would have to assert or be able to no longer have to assert, is even worth the White House executive privilege might be.
And so the notion here and why this is such a significant thing is remember, you're saying, in order to have transparency, in order to have a full holistic investigation, I have to remove the hurdle of people saying, I don't care what you want to hear, I don't have to tell you anything.
Now, that does not bode well on the integrity of the department if there is no real basis for it. But also, it is a hurdle that now it is being overcome by the decision to say, you can speak freely about what it is you know about these events.
If you knew the who, what, when, where, why, the paper trail, if you were instructed to do something different than what you -- your oath of office should have been or otherwise, let us know. This is an eye towards a significant level of transparency and that is precisely what is needed here.
MUDD: I mean, give me a break. The Department of Justice has to tell you that you can go before the Congress and tell the truth about the most significant event we've had in the Congress in 200 years? If the department had said, you can't speak, Don, you can't speak because of executive privilege, if you're in the federal government, I spent 25 years there, I would've said, no.
What are they gonna do? Arrest you? You're gonna go testify before a committee and somebody is gonna come and say, sorry, that was executive privilege, you're going to jail? Speak whatever the Department of Justice says. Nobody is going to arrest you, Don.
LEMON: Yeah. A lot more to discuss and we will. Thank you both. I really appreciate it.
LEMON (on camera): The testimony at today's Select Committee hearing was gut-wrenching. Officers are detailing the brutal attack at the Capitol -- the brutal attacks at the Capitol. But it seems like a lot of Republicans really just don't care. They are still downplaying or downright denying the horrors of January 6.
But the two Republicans on the committee, well, they're calling out those members of their own party. Here's Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Every one of us here on the diocese voted for and would have preferred that these matters be investigated by an independent nonpartisan commission, composed of five prominent Americans selected by each party and modelled on the 9/11 commission.
Although such a commission was opposed by my own leadership in the House, it overwhelmingly passed with the support of 35 Republican members.
CHENEY: It was defeated by Republicans in the Senate, and that leaves us where we are today. We cannot leave the violence of January 6 and its causes un-investigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6.
We must know what happened here in 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. One Republican, for example, said -- quote -- "What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American."
Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No member of Congress should now attempt to defend the indefensible. Obstruct this investigation or whitewash what happened that day, we must act with honor and duty and in the interest of our nation.
America is great because we preserve our democratic institutions at all cost. Until January 6, we were proof positive for the world that a conceived in liberty could long endure. But now, January 6 threatens our most sacred legacy.
The question for every one of us who serves in Congress, for every elected official across this great nation, indeed for every American is this: Will we adhere to the rule of law? Will we respect the rulings of our courts? Will we preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or we will we be so blinded bipartisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?
I pray that that is not the case. I pray that we all remember our children are watching as we carry out this solemn and sacred duty entrusted to us. Our children will know who stood for truth, and they will inherit the nation we hand to then, our republic, if we can keep it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): And here is Congressman Adam Kinzinger.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I never expected today to be quite as emotional for me as it has been. I've talked to a number of you and gotten to know you. I think it is important to tell you right now though, you guys may like individually feel a little broken. You guys all talk about the effects that you have to deal with. You talk about the impact of that day.
But you guys won. You guys held. You know, democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days, how we take accountability for that. And for all the overheated rhetorics surrounding this committee, our mission is very simple, it's to find the truth and it's to ensure accountability.
Like most Americans, I am frustrated that six months after a deadly insurrection breached the United States Capitol for several hours on live television we still don't know exactly what happened. Why? It is because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight.
It's toxic and it is a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and the employees on the Capitol complex, to the American people who deserve the truth, and to those generations before us who went to war to defend self-governance, because self-governance is at stake. And it is why I agreed to serve on this committee. I want to know what happened that day. But more importantly, I want all Americans to be able to trust the work that this committee does and get the facts out there free of conspiracy. This cannot continue to be a partisan fight.
I'm a Republican, I'm a conservative, but in order to heal from the damage caused that they, we need to call out the facts. It's time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fueled the violence and division in this country. And most importantly, we need to reject those that promoted.
As a country, it's time to learn from our past mistakes, rebuild stronger so that this never happens again, and then we can move onward.
KINZINGER: In serving on this committee, I'm here to investigate January 6 not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it. Not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts and defend our democracy.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): Congressman Kinzinger going on to write this in The New York Times, an op-ed tonight, outlining the questions that he wants answered during the committee's investigation.
And I quote here. "How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?
So I want to bring in now former Defense Secretary William Cohen. Thank you, sir. It's an honor to have you here.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Don, thank you (ph).
LEMON: I really appreciate it. Let's just say this right off. It takes a lot of courage to do what Congressman Kinzinger and Congresswoman Cheney did today.
COHEN: It does. But as Officer Dunn said, why do we make saying the truth an act of courage? It should go with the office. You know, every member of Congress is, if I do (INAUDIBLE) trustee, then you're supposed to hold that trust in your hands and in your heart and pledge allegiance to the oath that you take.
So, I commend both Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. I served with her father.
COHEN: And the party was big enough for us to serve together and to go after another scandal, the Iran-Contra scandal, together to try to find the facts. That is missing today. That's not happening today.
LEMON: What do you think of what occurred today? Which stood out to you?
COHEN: Oh, I was on rollercoaster emotions. Number one, I felt pride in the men in blue who testified. I felt pride, I felt grateful, and I felt anger. I felt anger that we have come to this point in our lives, in this country's life. Before, you had to guess who were powerful in their statements.
But I go back to Sen. Moyniha. Years ago, he commented about the British burning the Capitol. He said, maybe they can burn the Capitol, but they can't burn the idea, they can't destroy the idea of democracy.
COHEN: What took place on January 6 was an attempt to destroy the idea of democracy. And we are that close to allowing it to be destroyed if we follow the path that said we now in the republican part of the cancel culture. We want to cancel what happened on January 6. We don't want to think about it, talk about it, be reminded of it or get out the truth.
LEMON: Were you listening to me? I was having a conversation with my colleague. It was actually with Chris on our podcast about Republicans cancelling people today, including Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And so cancel culture is not just something that's on the left. Actually, the right cancels people more than the left cancels people.
I'm glad you said that. I was very emotional today. I cried. But most of all, I was angry, secretary. I was angry.
COHEN: This is the most significant thing that has happened to this country since the Civil War, since the burning of the Capitol. And we came within minutes of having it destroyed. They had breach that, if they didn't hold the line.
I think holding the line -- Joshua Chamberlain, at Gettysburg, Little Round Top, hold the line was his command. General Mattis, hold the line in Iraq. They held the line. We owe them everything. And I commend all of those officers, Capitol Hill Metropolitan Police, and I want to know why the fraternity of blazed officers hasn't spoken up on their behalf.
COHEN: That to me was a question that was raised by Michael. That is one that needs to be answered.
LEMON: And he is very strong on that. He is holding their feet to the fire. In this situation, you should, someone should, and he is the one who can do it.
Remember the officials who resigned after January 6, okay. I'm gonna put them up on the screen so people can see. Betsy DeVos said that there was no mistaking the impact of Trump's rhetoric had on the situation.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, it was clear Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Mick Mulvaney said administration officials who were choosing to stay were worried about Trump putting someone worse in there. Trump's communications director told CNN at the time that Trump should seriously consider resigning.
Look, the GOP knew how bad this was and yet many are now whitewashing and downplaying it. It's a cover-up. It's propaganda. What are we witnessing here?
COHEN: We are witnessing what you just said, it's a cover-up. If you think about it -- just read Mitch McConnell speech, what he said on the floor of the Senate about who was responsible.
COHEN: Read the Republican leader's response on the floor of the House. They both said categorically the president of the United States, then president, was responsible for inciting this insurrection. He was the inciter and the insurrectionist-in-chief. There is no question in my mind, and I think the fact will establish that.
LEMON: Secretary, thank you. My regards to your lovely wife as well.
LEMON: Please tell her I said hello.
COHEN: I will. Thank you.
LEMON (on camera): Thank you very much.
Vaccinated people told to mask up indoors in areas with substantial or high -- and high COVID transmission. Everyone in and around schools told to wear masks. Making sense of the new guidance, that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The bottom line is the masks will help reduce spread further, but the vaccinations remain the bedrock of ending this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): A source telling CNN President Biden plans to announce this Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated or agree to undergo regular testing. That as the CDC is changing its mask guidance tonight, now recommending even vaccinated people mask up indoors and areas where COVID is spreading like wildfire.
Joining me now to discuss is Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. Doctor, thank you. I appreciate you joining us. Big night when it comes to two things that are happening in our country.
So, listen, doctor, Dr. Fauci is saying -- said to Chris earlier, when asked why people should get vaccinated, that they still need to be on guard against the variant and wear masks. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR, DIRECTOR OF THE U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you get vaccinated, you don't get vaccinated just because you don't want to wear a mask. You get vaccinated because you want to save your life. Your own health is the reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, I hear people now talking about a layered approach to fighting this pandemic. Is -- what is that? I mean, what does that mean? The vaccine saves your life. Masks will stop the spread.
WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Sure, we are doing any number of things that we can do to, first of all, protect ourselves and those around us, Don, and we do a number of different things.
Getting vaccinated provides the biggest barrier to having to become sick if you are infected with this virus and having to be hospitalized. It also reduces your risk of transmitting the infection to others.
If you wear the mask, that adds another literal layer of protection. It reduces further the chance that you could acquire or transmit this infection. And of course, if we do social distancing, good hand hygiene, watch ventilation and do all those other things, that adds even further.
So relying on vaccination alone, well, this delta variant is so transmissible that it's best to add on some things. You might call it the belt and suspender approach.
LEMON: Interesting. The CDC is also recommending today that all kids and teachers and staff in schools should be wearing masks regardless of their vaccination status. It's saying in and around schools. What about states like Iowa and Florida where governors are not honoring mask mandates?
SCHAFFNER: Well, I certainly hope that will change because the recommendation really is very clear. We are trying to make schools absolutely as low risk a place as possible. Every adult by now who is associated with a school. Whether you are a teacher, school bus driver, work in the cafeteria, custodian, coach, whatever you are, you should have been vaccinated by now. If not, shame on you.
And then, of course, we should be vaccinating all the children six months and older. Now, in addition to that, we have the youngsters who are younger than 12 years of age. They cannot be vaccinated yet. So, let's add another layer of protection. Have them wear masks and have everybody else do the same. We need to do everything we can to allow children to return to school and get all the benefits from socialization, education in schools.
LEMON: Listen. I want to talk a little more about -- there's new data cited by the CDC showing that vaccinated people might still carry the same viral load as the unvaccinated. What does it mean for the vaccinated parents and their unvaccinated kids under 12?
SCHAFFNER: Well, what it means is that we need to be careful wherever we are. We don't expect to wear masks in our own home, but when we are out among other children, particularly indoors, we are going to have to continue to be very careful.
This is a widely (ph) virus. We can't just do one thing and have it disappear. It's not going to be that way. We are learning more about it all the time. We need to all be flexible and adapt ourselves to new guidance as that guidance comes along. If we get rigid, the virus is going to win.
LEMON: Dr. Schaffner, thank you so much.
SCHAFFNER: Thank you.
LEMON (on camera): The delta variant spreading and so is anger, anger toward the people who just won't get vaccinated and are putting the country at risk. Plus, Simone Biles abruptly withdrawing from the gymnastics team finals today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALY RAISMAN, THREE-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I also just want to remind people that Simone Biles is human and every single athlete, not matter how successful they are, every single athlete has good days and bad days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: People who have been vaccinated are increasingly angry at those who aren't as the delta variant surges. And it is not the only crisis fueled by misinformation that is endangering Americans.
Joining me now to discuss is CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. Ana, good evening.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi.
LEMON: Let's boil this down, okay? It is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That is the truth. But now, the vaccinated are going to have to put the masks back on because people are not getting their shots. Listen, you are not one to mince words, as we know. You and I often go at it or, you know, I see you going at it with everyone. What do you think about this situation that we're in?
NAVARRO: I'm apoplectic about it. I'm particularly affected by it because I am one of the vaccinated people in Florida, in a state where our political leadership has chosen to make this into a political issue.
I'm enraged as should all of us be in ranged because we are being -- we, who have played by the rules, who have done our part to beat this pandemic, are being held hostage by people who are being influenced by peddlers of lies and outrage for the purpose of gaining political points and driving people to the polls.
Look, this is what pisses me off to no end, is that understand it didn't have to be this way. I say this every single time. It didn't have to be a politicized issue. This is the only country in the world where vaccination and COVID has become politicized. It is because of Republicans like the ones on Fox News and some of our elected officials who have chosen this as a wedge issue.
But there are Republicans like Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, or Asa Hutchinson, the governor of Arkansas, or Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia. These are no rhinos. These are lifelong conservatives who realized that the lives of their constituents were worth more than a fabricated full outrage to drive people to polls.
LEMON: Look, you know, COVID misinformation is deadly. Americans are at risk. But honestly, look, so is our democracy, when the former president, his supporters, spread lies about January 6 and the big lie. There is proof that vaccines work and the January 6 was a violent insurrection. How did we get so divided that we can't even believe the truth about topics that are literally life and death?
NAVARRO: And not only are they life and death. The receipts are there for all of us to look at. How can anybody look at the video that we saw in those hearings today and think that that was tourists, not terrorists? At first, I thought maybe they were mispronouncing the word terrorists.
How can anybody hear the testimony and see those four officers that were representing all the men and women of law enforcement who ran through danger and risk their lives -- and they were there protecting -- they weren't in Disneyland protecting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They were in the Congress. They were in the Capitol of the United States protecting the Congress people and senators as they did their jobs.
And so for some people, because of the complicity with Donald Trump, because of covering Donald Trump, because of not wanting to implicate Donald Trump, don't give these officers the respect of even appointing credible Republican appointees to this committee and then pretend that this is not going on, that they didn't have time to watch these proceedings.
And it is all about complicity. It's all about this cultish mentality where loyalty to Trump -- Trump's loyalty to country, loyalty to Constitution, loyalty to logic, endangers people's lives.
In the same way we are seeing lies and misinformation endanger people's lives when it comes to COVID, we saw how months of propagating and promoting and instigating the big lie lad to risking people's lives, including the congress people who now turned a deaf ear, those Republicans who turned a deaf ear and pretend that this isn't happening.
They are such pathetic hypocritical (INAUDIBLE) beat their chests about blue lives matter and about being all about law enforcement and pro-law enforcement. Give me a damn break. If you are not willing to give Officer Fanone or Officer Dunn or Officer Gonell the time of day and the respect they deserve, kindly spare me the sermons about how much you love law enforcement.
LEMON: Ana Navarro, thank you. Simone Biles drops out of the team gymnastics finals, citing her mental health. Five-time gold medalist Nadia Comaneci and two-time gold medalist Bart Conner, they're going to weigh in right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONE BILES, OLYMPIC GYMNAST: I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a backseat and work on my mindfulness.
BILES: I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job. I didn't want to risk the team a medal for kind of my screw-ups because they worked way too hard for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Team USA gymnastics superstar Simone Biles making a stunning decision to withdraw from the women's team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
LEMON (on camera): Biles is citing mental health concerns as a reason for taking herself out of the competition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILES: That 5-1/2-hour wait or something, I was just like shaking and could barely nap. I just never felt like this going into a competition before. Once I came out here, I was like, no, mental is not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON (on camera): Let's discuss now with Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner. Good to see both of you. Thank you so much for joining us again. We just saw you last week.
NADIA COMANECI, OLYMPIC GYMNASTICS GOLD MEDALIST: Right.
LEMON: Nadia, I'm going to start with you. Simone Biles is arguably the biggest star in the Olympics. The expectations of her are so high, plus unique pressures of being in Tokyo with no family or support system there, right, because of the COVID restrictions. What did you think when you heard this and can you relate at all?
COMANECI: Yeah, a little bit. First of all, I'd like to say congratulations actually to the team who won the silver and did not lose from the gold to silver.
BART CONNER, TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Yeah.
COMANECI: And the girls did amazing under the circumstances that we did not have on (INAUDIBLE) actually. Nobody has thought about what happened today in Tokyo. So, yeah, I kind of relate to that because I did compete in two Olympic Games. I was very young and the first one. It was easier actually in the first Olympics because I was young and I didn't doubt myself, I just went for it, and didn't have too many ifs.
Four years later, I went back as the Olympic champion. I think that the more medals you have when you go back, the heavier the backpack is. So, you kind of have to be prepared that you're going to be hit from all directions on everything you do. So, I did make major mistake in Moscow Olympics, my second Olympics. At the time, I did it in a preliminary and I had to carry the scores all the way through to the end.
COMANECI: Now, when you qualify, you start from zero, so you have a new life. So, yeah, that's a lot of pressure because you want to do your best. But I think it is important to remind yourself that you want to do the best that you can for yourself and not the best for everybody else who expects you to do something that it is more bit you can deliver. So, you have to be sure that you keep those pieces separate.
LEMON: Yeah. Bart, look, gymnastics is a dangerous sport. Initially, some people thought that Simone was being selfish to do this to the team.
LEMON: But, I mean, if her head was not in the right place and she knew that she would not perform at her best, did she do the right thing? Because to listen to her in that press conference, she said, I don't want to hurt the other girls. Look, I don't know. I'm not -- I'm not an Olympic athlete, but it seems like it was pretty big of her to say, I don't want to screw them up, let them do their thing, I'm going to retake myself out. CONNER: No, you're right, Don. I think she did exactly the right thing, and hats off to Jordan Chiles and Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum because they just stepped up under enormous pressure to win that silver medal. So that was amazing, and hats off to Simone for acknowledging that she was in trouble.
I know this is not an uncommon problem in gymnastics. We call it the "twisties" where you get disoriented in the air and it is terrifying when you do not know which way is up and which way is down. And we think about the complicated skills that Simone does, even her vault. She does three different type of vault and they're completely different in terms of their techniques.
And so if you get disoriented and all of a sudden you start doubting yourself, it is really scary. Now, she's launching herself (INAUDIBLE) feet in the air, flipping and twisting, and had no idea where she is. I had that experience. We call it the "twisties" and it happened to me even at the end of my career. And it is terrifying. I mean, my palms are sweaty. Just thinking about it now because it is scary when you are flying through the air and you have no idea where you are.
So, I feel for her. I think she did the right thing. It was probably the best thing for the U.S. team as well. Scary stuff.
LEMON: Nadia, in 2018, Simone revealed that she was among the hundreds of gymnasts who were abused by Dr. Larry Nassar. She said that she chose not to retire in part because she was the only identified survivor of Nassar's abuse still competing. Is there too much weight on her shoulders, do you think?
COMANECI: Yeah. She was the face of -- I mean, she is the face of the games. And it is really hard to be everywhere and to do everything because -- you know, I was thinking that, you know, gymnastics and everything she does is so unbelievably difficult.
COMANECI: And to be able to juggle five other things during the day, it is really complicated. That is a lot of pressure, as you said, on her shoulders, because, you know, she's like -- listen, I have to do complicated things. I really want to think about what I do in the gym because I'm not going to have to do jumping jacks, you know. She does really unbelievable difficult skills. You have to have your mind all the time there.
But, hey, she's there because she loves the sport, she wants to support the girls, and she wants to do the best she can. I think that she will just be continually a role model for all the generations that are thinking of doing gymnastics right now.
LEMON: Well, Nadia and Bart, it's always a pleasure to have you on. I hope to have you back to continue to talk about the Olympics and more. Thank you so much.
CONNER: Thank you so much, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. Eight people dead, three different shootings, and now a prison sentence. We have all the details on the Georgia spa shooting, next.
LEMON: The Georgia man accused of fatally shooting eight people at three Atlanta area spas in March was in court today. Robert Aaron Long pleaded guilty today to four of the killings and was sentenced to life in prison. Long still faces an additional 19 charges in nearby Fulton County. Six of the eight victims of the shooting spree were Asian women. We will keep you updated as that case moves forward.
Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.