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Don Lemon Tonight

Louisiana Back To Mask Mandate; Senator Lindsey Graham Tests Positive For COVID; Governor Ron DeSantis Doesn't Want To COVID- Related Mandates; Barack Obama Celebrating His 60th Birthday; Two D.C. Police Officers Died From Suicide; Police Departments Dealing With Mental Health Issues; January 5th Select Committee Must Investigate Deeper; Things That Led To Trump's Second Impeachment. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 02, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Thank you for watching. It's time for the big show "DON LEMON TONIGHT" and its star, D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Good to see you. Man, this variant more concerning for me and I think for everyone than last week. I don't -- I'm not sure things are going the right way except we do have more people getting vaccinated. That is some good news but man, man, man.

CUOMO: We're playing catch-up and I don't like the cases getting younger.


CUOMO: That's frightening. Because you don't have a lot people vaccinated and that seems to be the Achilles' heel here. If you're not vaccinated and you get this, it seems to be worse than what we've seen before. That's frightening.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I'm going to take you to my hometown, as you know, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and you spoke to the governor earlier.

CUOMO: Cases are up over 120 percent.

LEMON: Man, man, man. You should have heard the conversations in my house when my family visited back in July about what's going on there and then even know over the phone and via text. It's crazy.


CUOMO: Number one in vaccinations in the last week.


CUOMO: Number one.

LEMON: Yes, well, let's hope it stays that way. Let's hope it keeps going in that direction. Again, this is not political. This is about saving lives, keeping people healthy. I'm going to get to it. I'll see you later, my friend.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I love you. I'll see you later.

CUOMO: Make your witness.

LEMON: Thank you very much.


And look. Look, a lot of news about COVID. It is really unnerving. This is not hyperbole. I'm not trying to scare you. I'm just being real with you. A lot of you are worried about this Delta variant, as you should be, worried about having to wear masks again, worried that cases are on the rise. The average daily count up 44 percent since last week. That's a lot. It's now about 72,000 cases, that's a lot, higher than the peak last summer, everyone. And I hear you. I hear you.

But we've got good news today. Seventy percent of American adults have now gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, meeting the president's goal. Well, we met that goal about a month late, by the way. But the White House is mounting a full-court press trying to get the vaccination message out. Even with cases on the rise more than 99.99 percent, are you hearing me? More than 99.99 percent of people fully vaccinated against COVID have not been hospitalized or died from a breakthrough case.

There -- that's all you need to know right there. So, the vaccines are very good at preventing serious illness and death. And vaccinations are up, but here is the question, will that be enough to turn the tide?


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: While we desperately want to be done with this pandemic, COVID-19 is clearly not done with us and so, our battle must last a little longer.


LEMON (on camera): So, you want to watch, you want to stay tuned because in -- I have someone coming from my home state that you want to hear from. In my home state of Louisiana, they're expecting to hit an all-time record number of hospitalizations tomorrow. The Governor John Bel Edwards temporarily bringing back their statewide mask mandate for everyone vaccinated or unvaccinated. And he just spoke with Chris a little while ago and said the situation is urgent.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): The urgency is that we have the highest case growth rate in the country, and the second place state is quite a ways behind us. That's not a distinction that we're proud of. And the percent positivity is about 13 percent of all tests coming back positive and that seems to be increasing, which means we have not reached the peak and we don't know how much further this is going to go.


LEMON (on camera): And more specifically in my hometown, a place I grew up, Baton Rouge, the state's largest hospital has no more beds left. No beds. Can you imagine being sick enough to go to the hospital and being told there is just no room for you? And that's happening right in my hometown.

All of this is happening as Senator Lindsey Graham announcing today, he has tested positive for COVID despite being fully vaccinated, put up this full screen for you. The senator says he has mild symptoms but he is very glad that he was vaccinated because without the vaccine, he is sure that he would be much sicker. OK?

So, Graham was part of a small group of senators on. Joe Manchin's houseboat over the weekend. Senator Manchin who is also fully vaccinated says that he has tested negative. You hear that? He is happy. I'm talking about Lindsey Graham that he was vaccinated because otherwise it would have been a lot worse.


You got to wonder, though, whether maybe some unvaccinated Republicans will listen to Lindsey Graham. But a new Monmouth national poll out tonight showing 31 percent of Republicans say that they will likely never get the vaccine. So, it's no surprise a senior Biden administration official tells CNN that there are governors in this country who are putting politics ahead of public health. That official didn't name names.

But Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis would probably be at the head of that list. His state accounts for a stunning 20 percent of all new COVID cases in this country. Hospitalizations are breaking records. There were long lines today at a testing site in Hialeah. And Governor DeSantis, well he is representing the party of no.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think it's very important that we say unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures.


DESANTIS: No to restrictions, and no mandates.


LEMON (on camera): He should be saying no to the coronavirus, the Delta variant but you know. Last week Governor DeSantis signed an executive order to ensure there will be no mask mandates in schools, putting some warped idea of freedom ahead of the health and safety of kids too young to be vaccinated.

That as the former President Barack Obama is raising some eyebrows celebrating his 60th birthday this week with a party for hundreds of people, but we're told the party will be a COVID compliant event in Martha's Vineyard. A source says a party will be outside and will follow all CDC public health protocols, there will be testing for guests and a COVID safety coordinator on site. But is it the right thing to do right now with COVID surging?

That as the Senate is gearing up for the fight over the amendments to the trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we'll be here.

In the middle of all this with infrastructure on the line with COVID raging again in hot spots across the country, what does a top Republican in the House doing? Making what he apparently thinks is a funny, funny joke about hitting the speaker with a gavel.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I'll make this one promise here. When we win the majority, which I know we're going to, you're all invited.


MCCARTHY: If you come to the party of the (Inaudible) Party, I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It'll be hard not to hit her with it, but I will bang it down.



LEMON (on camera): Look, I know that he's joking, right, he's joking. If you want to call it that, first rule of comedy though is that it has to be funny considering the times that we're in as well, joking about hitting the speaker of the House with a gavel in the times that we're in. Less than six months after bloodthirsty rioters stormed the United States Capitol. They threatened to hang Mike Pence, they were there hunting for Nancy Pelosi.


UNKNOWN: Can I speak to Pelosi? Yes? We're coming bitch. Mike Pence, we're coming for you too, fucking traitor.


LEMON (on camera): Disturbing language? You bet it is. Why does Kevin McCarthy think he is, you know, it's OK for him to do that? We heard way too much violent talk from his boss the disgraced, twice impeached one-term former president, who let's not forget told those rioters, quote, "we love you, you're special." You know what? Why don't you try telling your funny, funny joke about hitting the speaker with a gavel, try telling it to those brave police officers who risked their lives to defend the speaker, the vice president and all those lawmakers on January 6th. See if they think it's funny.

Those officers, American heroes have lost another of their own. D.C. Police Officer Gunther Hashida who defended the capitol during the insurrection died by suicide last Thursday.

Look, we don't know why but his death is the third known suicide of an officer who responded to the capitol during the attack. Officer Michael Fanone, another of those American heroes, a man I've gotten to know well worked with Officer Hashida for a number of years and said that he was loved by everyone.

Mike also said and I quote here, "grappling with mental health issues should not be deemed a weakness. It's any, if anything, it is a strength." And he is right about that. And he's not the only one speaking out about mental health in the wake of what happened on January 6th. Listen to Officer Harry Dunn.



HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: I want to take this moment to speak to my fellow officers about the emotions they're continuing to experience from the events of January 6th. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling. What we went through that day was traumatic and if you're hurting, please take advantage of the counseling service that are available to us.


LEMON (on camera): Again, he is so right. All of this can be hard to talk about. But there is no shame in asking for help, for yourself or for someone you know who is struggling. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text the Crisis Text Line at the numbers up on your screen. Let's hold it there for a bit. Look at your screen at those numbers and that's how you can get in touch. If you're having issues or you know someone who is having issues. No shame. No shame. No stigma. Call those numbers or text them.

With COVID cases soaring in my home state of Louisiana, I'm going to talk to a doctor who is on the front lines and ask him just how bad things are tonight as the governor brings back that mask mandate.


EDWARDS: This is having an adverse impact on people's lives. Today, as we speak, and the least we can do is put a mask on.



LEMON (on camera): The Delta variant wreaking havoc among unvaccinated Americans. Louisiana seeing more new cases of the coronavirus today that at any other point -- than at any other point in the pandemic. Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards announcing that he is temporarily reinstating the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents as many state hospitals are getting overwhelmed.


EDWARDS: It has become an extremely clear that our current recommendations on their own are not strong enough to deal with Louisiana's fourth surge of COVID. In fact, nobody should be laboring under the misapprehension that this is just another surge. We've already had three of these. This is the worst one we've had thus far.


LEMON (on camera): I'm joined now by Dr. Mark Laperouse. He is the emergency room medical director at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, again, which is my hometown.

Doctor, thank you so much. This is important. I really appreciate you're joining us because you are on the front lines of this new wave of cases in Louisiana. How bad is it?

MARK LAPEROUSE, E.R. MEDICAL DIRECTOR, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, thanks for having me, Don. It's pretty bad. This is, as I've been telling people, this is the fourth round that we've been going through this. I mean, this is the worst round so far where the health care team is tiring out trying to battle this and it seems that all the things that we were experiencing back in March of 2020, April of 2020, we're not doing the same things current state. Mask wearing, social distancing, kind of respecting each other's personal space.

You know, then at that time we didn't have a vaccine but now we do and there is a lot of discussion about should I get a vaccine or should I not? And it's still a very personal decision for people, but this round is proving that it's a community decision whether you're going to get the vaccine or not.

When I hear people's hesitation, it's reasons that are selfish. It's for themselves. And I'm not saying you're selfish if you don't get the vaccine, I'm saying think differently. Think bigger. This is a community, a nationwide, a worldwide pandemic, and if you look up the world, the definition of pandemic, it's pretty scary and there is a way to fix this. The short term is mask up. The long term is vaccination.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, and doing research for this and also discovering this for the entire time that we've had -- we've been dealing with COVID-19, you know, even today I was reading and looking some of the research involved going online and people said, there were people they're saying it's not real and the hospitals aren't full. Hospitals aren't experiencing any difficulties. There aren't many patients going in. There is still that information out there. Doctor, what can you tell people about this, please?

LAPEROUSE: Well, as my mom told me a couple days ago, you look tired. I am tired. I'm tired because we have a team that's constantly on the front lines of this and we're working really hard and it doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

The hospital is full. The hospitals all around the state are full. You know, I'm reaching out to medical directors at some of our partnering hospitals and they have patients in the emergency department waiting for an admission for 37 hours.


LAPEROUSE: ICU holds another emergency department that we typically can bail out and bring to the, you know, to the mother ship of Our Lady of the Lake. We're not able to do that right now. Our departments and are hospitals are extremely stressed. We're short staffed. There is a national nursing shortage.

So, we're doing this with less team players, you know, think about that on a soccer field if you had three or four less team players than you're supposed to have. It's a hard game and we're playing it right now and we're not quitting but it's hard.

LEMON: Moments ago, the governor, Governor Edwards told Chris who is on Chris' show, he said there is a 13 percent test positivity rate. That's high. And he said 90 percent of hospitalizations are unvaccinated people but that means 10 percent of COVID hospitalizations are among the vaccinated. He thinks that co- morbidities are a factor here but that's got to worry you, no?

LAPEROUSE: Sure, absolutely. You know, the breakthrough rate for most vaccinations when you have the flu every year, it's not uncommon for people to come into the hospital after vaccinated, after they've been vaccinated. A lot of it has to do with age and comorbidities but that number of admissions, yes, 80 to 90 percent of unvaccinated patients that's really astounding.

There is not much in medicine that's 80 or 90 percent. That's telling us something. This fourth wave has told us what we need to know about the pandemic. The first couple of waves, maybe we could get away with not paying attention to this. This is a serious statistic. Anything above 80 percent is very telling.


LEMON: In laymen's terms, what has it told you what you need? You said it told us what we need to know about this pandemic. What is that?

LAPEROUSE: Well, previously, you could be young and healthy and I could understand when you are saying I don't want to get a vaccination because young and healthy people don't get sick, they don't get hospitalized. LEMON: Children, as well have said that before but not anymore. Yes.

LAPEROUSE: Exactly. But now we do have 50 percent of our patients that are admitted are under 50. You know? So that's just telling us this thing is evolving, it's changing. It's making it harder and nobody is really -- nobody is really safe from it but even if you could get through, what about the rest of our community?

What about the rest of our friends and families? Those that are scared. Those that have been vaccinated, those that are wearing masks. Those that do say six feet away from each other, what does it say what we don't do those things?

I think that's the most important message here is that, we need to be kind to each other. We need to be -- we need to have an element of humanism. Let respect everyone's decision to try and get through this thing. And if you're not going to get vaccinated, then stay home, stay six feet away from people. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. The vaccination is a very personal decision but again, it's now become a community decision if you decide not to get it.

LEMON: Yes. On the subject of children, nearly a dozen children are being treated for coronavirus at the hospital over the weekend, several of them in the ICU. Do we need to be worried more about that, about what Delta can do to kids, doctor?

LAPEROUSE: Yes, I mean, any illness can get someone sick. And COVID is definitely the same. Whether it's RSV, which is really running through all of our children's hospitals, or flu or COVID, children can get sick. They don't have all the mechanisms that we have as adults to fight things and they are very brittle.

The fact that we're having more hospitalizations is concerning. The number of -- the number of COVID infections in school aged children is rising. And you know, at least in Louisiana, we're starting school this week. So that is a concern. You know, what is -- what is the next couple weeks hold for us.

Back in March and April of last year, kids were out of school. We were all in lockdown so we didn't have that same thing to worry about but we're at a -- the positivity rate is on a very steep upward curve and now we're going back to schools. This is -- it's concerning for a lot of people.

LEMON: Doctor, I know you're tired and as your mom said, I don't think you look tired but she knows you better than I do. But keep up the good work and stay strong and stay safe. Thank you for what you're doing. I appreciate it.

LAPEROUSE: Very much appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you.


LEMON: Thank you. Breaking right now I want to tell you that we're hearing of a fourth officer who responded to the January 6th insurrection dying by suicide. We'll tell you about it more next.



LEMON (on camera): Ok. We're back with our breaking news. We said that there was a third officer earlier and now we're learning a fourth officer who responded to the insurrection has died by suicide. Metropolitan Police Officer Kyle Defretag was found deceased on July 10th. That's according to police. The cause of death suicide, the department said, that after we learned earlier today of the death of D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Gunther Hashida.

So, joining me now is a former Washington, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey, he's also the Philadelphia Police Commissioner and a CNN law enforcement analyst.

My goodness, Chief Ramsey. Let's say good evening to you but it's not a good evening. But thank you for joining.

We're learning about this force -- fourth officer who has died by suicide after responding to the insurrection. What goes through your mind when you hear this?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I want to offer my condolences to the families of these officers that are killing themselves, as well as the men and women of the department because this is tough whenever you lose an officer.

But clearly, there is a mental health issue here that we've got to address. It's not just the January 6th insurrection that the officers responded to, obviously that was a very traumatic incident. But it's just the day-to-day policing and the trauma that they're exposed to on a regular basis especially in those cities that have rates of gun violence and gun violence and so forth. This stuff adds up over time.

LEMON: Are you worried about this number? You said it adds up, are you worried about this number keeping up, rising?

RAMSEY: Well, yes, I am and I have been for a long time. I mean, there is a very high rate of suicide among police officers. And a lot of it is due to untreated trauma, psychological trauma that officers are exposed to on a regular basis. You know, in policing, it becomes almost routine to go to homicide scenes. Scenes where sexual assaults have taken place, or child abuse or what have you. That's not normal.

It is not normal to be exposed to this on an ongoing basis and we, in our profession we have to do a much better job of taking care of the mental health of our police officers. Do a good job if you get shot, stabbed, hit by a car or what have you, but it's the psychological wounds that we need to pay more attention to and have regular mental health checkups for these officers.

Understand and observe, I mean, recognize the early signs that a person is perhaps in mental distress. Don't wait until it's too late because then you wind up with the kind of outcome we're talking about tonight.


LEMON: Officer Michael Fanone who testified before the committee on January, the select committee last week he worked with Officer Hashida for years and he released a statement about him saying in part that he was loved by everyone. There is no one in the law enforcement profession loved by everyone, most are not loved by some.

He literally was that guy who everyone loved. So much more needs to be done to normalize the conversation about mental health not just in our profession. Grappling with mental health issue should not be deemed as a weakness, if anything, it's a strength.

Why is there such stigma about mental health in the police? And look, there is stigma around mental health in all --


LEMON: -- throughout society but why in policing considering the amount of stress and as you said, as you so eloquently laid out for us, what police officers face in situations they face every single day?

RAMSEY: Well, you know, it's part of the culture of policing. I've been around a long time. Back in my day when I was working the street as an officer, I mean, you know, if something happened, you know, suck it up and keep moving. It didn't matter what it was.

And so, you know, a lot of that is still present unfortunately, and then you have officers that are just afraid of losing their jobs. If they admit that they're having some psychological issues after all, you know, they carry a badge, a gun and so forth and they don't want to get caught up in whether or not they're going to be able to hit the street if they're going to be fit for duty.

So, I mean, there is a lot of things that have to be taken in consideration but the bottom line is if they need help, they should seek it. But I think the leadership police departments have to be more proactive in just forcing the issue. Not waiting for an individual to stand up and say hey, I got a problem.

Have regular mental health checkups for everyone and that includes the police chief because believe me, police chiefs are under an awful lot of stress as well, and it's just hard on everyone especially if it goes untreated.

LEMON: Look, this is probably the insult to injury category here. That's why I want to play this. This is Officer Fanone during his testimony about those trying to downplay what happened on January 6th. Here it is.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: 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. We have people saying that it was tourists, that these officers weren't brave. They should be able to handle this, that this was just a normal day at the capitol, that they were crisis actors. Really, just saying hey, what they went through just denying their reality.

What kind of an impact do lies like this about January 6th have on these officers who risk their lives that day?

RAMSEY: Well, it has a tremendous impact. I mean, it's totally irresponsible on the part of our elected leaders that take that position. They know full well that wasn't a normal day, it wasn't just d tourists going through the capitol that day. They know that and yet they lie and they try to spin the truth.

They act like it's a game and it's not a game. You've got lives at stake here. You got men and women that will tomorrow fight for those very same people that are saying those kinds of things and they know that they will be there to protect them no matter what.

And so, you know, for them to turn around and then pretend as if it didn't happen is just -- it is disrespectful and Fanone is absolutely right. I mean, it takes its toll. It really does. And I don't think people really realize just how difficult a position not only those officers are in but just think about policing in general.

It's been a rough couple years in terms of policing and the way police are viewed and understandably so in many instances, but everyone is being painted with that broad brush and now on top of that, you've got January 6th and all the rhetoric and things that are going on around that. It's just tough being a police officer right now.

LEMON: Chief Ramsey, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

LEMON: Here is breaking news, a fourth police officer responded to the capitol on January 6th has died of suicide. Metropolitan Police Officer Kyle Defretag was found deceased on July 10th. That's according to the MPD public information officer, Sean Hickman. The cause of death was suicide. The department says he had been with the department, Defretag had since November of 2016.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. All of this can be hard to talk about but there is no shame in asking for help for yourself or for someone you know who is struggling. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text, the Crisis Text Line at the numbers up on your screen. We'll leave them there as we go to break.



LEMON (on camera): OK. We're back now and as we have been reporting, we have some breaking news. Another police officer who defended the capitol on January 6th dying by suicide. We're learning that Metropolitan Police Officer Kyle Defretag died on July 10th. Earlier we learned that Gunther Hashida also died of suicide.

Joining me now to discuss is Democratic majority whip Congressman James Clyburn. Congressman, thank you for joining.

Sorry that I had to give this news to you or we have to talk about this news. But two more officers lost. Our hearts go out to their families. Terrible reminder of just how violent January 6th was. The emotion and the trauma still out there. Does it make the House committee on the insurrection even more urgent?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. Yes, it does. It really does. I think that people need to come to grips with the fact that something happened on January 6th that never happened in this country before.


Never have we seen this kind of violent insurrection brought on by fellow Americans and we all know what happened. We all know where it happened. We all know that something and somebody is behind all of this. And to see four lives lost that to me is just unacceptable.

And for my Republican colleagues to continue to obfuscate, continue to obstruct, refusing to take part in trying to get to the bottom of this is beyond me. I don't quite understand that. It makes me have a great appreciation of what Thomas Paine was writing about back when this country was trying to give birth to itself when he talked about summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.

People who will stand for the country so long as the weather is right. People who are patriotic in the sunshine but when the storms come, when the challenges come, they're nowhere to be found and that's what is happening to our Republican colleagues. They are sunshine soldiers and they are just absolutely a threat to the future of this great country.

LEMON: And speaking of people who are standing up for what they believe in, a number of our civil rights leaders are out there. Reverend Jesse Jackson is out there, as well arrested today protesting against the filibuster to protect voting rights. Black civil rights leaders are out there on the front line saying now is the time to get voting rights passed but the John Lewis Act languishing in the Senate. How is this going to get done?

CLYBURN: Well, it is really HR 1 that is sitting over in the Senate the For the People Act. The John Lewis Act has not been introduced in the House yet simply because the John Lewis Act is simply to try to correct what the Supreme Court said was wrong with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Now here is where the rough comes because in order to reauthorize the

John Lewis Act or H.R. 4 as we called it, you have to have a record developed for why you are targeting these specific states. Now, before it was only around six states. What we did the last time out was expand it to around nine to 11 states.

But you know, if you make the preclearance section of the John Lewis Act applied to all 50 states, there will be no need to have this record develop. And so, I have opinion asking the Congress, the Senate can just take S1. They have introduced it before, take S1 and put the preclearance in it applied to all 50 states and then take what is in HR 1 For the People Act and pass it.

That's all we want out of H.R. 4 is what we call preclearance and the Senate can do that if they apply it to all 50 states. They will not need the record that's being developed on the House side that we cannot get done before September.

LEMON: Well, let's hope that they're listening. I want to ask you now about a really -- this really contentious primary going on in Ohio for Marcia Fudge's House seat. You're supporting Shontel Brown. But progressives are backing Nina Turner. Millions of dollars are being spent. Lots of attack ads. Name calling. What do you think this outcome will mean for the direction of the party?

CLYBURN: Well, it all depends what the results will be. You know, I'm a great believer that we must do everything we can to elevate the political discourse in this country. We just had a president who lowered that discourse to a level unimaginable. We cannot have legislating by sound bites. And I'm a big believer that we should be working on trying to make headway for the American people.

But there seems to be people who are more interested in what the headline is. More interested in got you politics. And so, I've been supporting Shontel because asked me to support her. Shontel is the kind of person that I think will help elevate the political discourse in this country.


She is a big supporter of Joe Biden and I worked with her for about 10 years on Marcia Fudge's various events and I think she will make an outstanding Congress person. And I do believe that as my dad used to tell me all the time, the first line of a good education is good manners and I'm doing everything I possibly can to help people get elected to office who can bring that kind of attitude to the political discourse.

LEMON: You're right about that. My parents used to say that well. I forget about that saying. Or we could sure there a certain group in this country now could sure use some good manners.

CLYBURN: Absolutely.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Congressman Clyburn. I appreciate you joining. CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you. They attacked him as a traitor. His career was destroyed but key impeachment witness Alexander Vindman isn't done talking yet. You know what? He's here next.



LEMON (on camera): As the House select committee investigates the deadly pro-Trump riot at the capitol and the former president's role in it, we're getting a new look into what's led to his first impeachment, or what led to his first impeachment.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the star witness who testified to Congress about the critical phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president, is now telling the story on his own terms. The former National Security Council official's powerful testimony in 2019 detailing how the then-president pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and why he felt it was his duty to come forward.


ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN AFFAIRS FOR THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Dad, I'm sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected professionals, it's proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family.

Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. This is America. This is the country I've served and defended, that all my brothers have served and here, right matters.


LEMON (on camera): Well, those last words, "Here, Right Matters." That's the title of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's new book. And he joins me right now. Colonel Vindman, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us here on the program.

VINDMAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: You know, it's hard to believe, but that was nearly two years ago. And since then, the former president tried to overturn the election. There was an insurrection at the capitol by a pro-Trump mob, he was impeached for a second time. Could you or anyone have foreseen all of this chaos and tragedy that unfolded?

VINDMAN: Absolutely not. I think in my worst nightmares, I couldn't have foreseen the catastrophe that resulted in 600,000 Americans dead. We usually attribute that directly to President Trump, but it's more than President Trump. It's his enablers, it's the congressional leadership that failed to hold him accountable in that first impeachment that emboldened him going into a pandemic resulting in 600,000 dead. Imagine a world in which he was removed or even censured. And he was back on his heels. Would he have taken the pandemic more seriously? Would 600,000 people have died? And I think not.

LEMON: You know, his first impeachment hinged on what you heard during that infamous phone call. Take us back. What were you thinking -- what were you thinking when you heard Trump asking Ukraine's president to do us a favor?

VINDMAN: Well, to me, it was the culmination of an enterprise. In the proceeding months, I watched as this irregular channel unfolded, in where Giuliani was looking to do an investigation into President Biden, and it didn't come into fruition.

So, it was a nuisance until it was no longer a nuisance until Ambassador Yovanovitch was removed from offense. It was a nuisance until it was no longer a nuisance where Vice President Pence pulled the plug on his participation in the inauguration.

And then the president himself stepped in and demanded an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a White House visit and aid. So, it was a slow-moving train wreck I watched unfold culminating on July 25th.

LEMON: Yes. And you are, kind of at the beginning there was a little bit before that but, or some before that, but at the beginning of this strange behavior and interviews from Rudy Giuliani, and then after that it just got more bizarre, you know, even after the first impeachment.

Immediately after that call, colonel, you went to your twin brother who was a top ethics official at the National Security Council. You knew it was on you to say something. What did you tell him?

VINDMAN: Yes. So, I walk into his office like I do so many times on any given day. I'm usually behind my computer playing in a way, long days, but I would -- if I wasn't there, I would be in his office. And after that meeting I marched in his office, he knew that this was going to be a potentially difficult phone call.

And I closed the door, and about as solemn of a face as I could muster around my twin brother, I told him, if what I'm about to tell you ever becomes public, the president will be impeached. And it was clear as day to me.

LEMON: You know, you had a handful of people who stood up back then. Today, we see Representatives Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger standing up for truth in the face of the big lie. They are putting everything on the line for what is right. Do you have a message for them?


VINDMAN: I do. I think it's one of the key messages I try to communicate in the book. And that's you know what the right thing to do is. You've done it repeatedly; you've trained yourself how to do the right thing. All you need to do is trust in yourself and follow through.

And frankly, my book is what I would like to believe is a tool to help folks overcome some of those challenges, train themselves to be better, and maybe each one of us could be a little bit better about dealing with challenges.

LEMON: Well, listen, I wish you the best in life, and the best with your book. Colonel Alexander Vindman, the book is called "Here, Right Matters: An American Story." Again, and we're happy to have you. Thank you so much, Colonel Vindman.

VINDMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. COVID cases are up. But so are vaccinations. The U.S. hitting a milestone today. More after this.



LEMON (on camera): The pandemic of the unvaccinated is surging tonight.