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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden, Federal And State Officials Call On Governor Andrew Cuomo To Resign Over Harassment Allegations; The Fight For The Future Of The Democratic Party; President Biden On COVID: Help Or Get Out Of The Way; Interview With Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Simone Biles Rallies, Wins Bronze Medal. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Tonight, President Joe Biden joining a growing list of federal and state officials, calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. This follows the release of an investigative report by the New York attorney general saying the governor sexually harassed multiple women. The report is saying Cuomo's conduct violated multiple federal and state laws. The Democratic governor is denying the allegations.

Also tonight, President Joe Biden is calling on Republican governors in states where COVID cases are spiking to do more to help stop the spread or get out of the way of people trying to save lives.

And CNN is projecting two winners in two special congressional primaries tonight in Ohio.

I want to bring in now CNN's Paula Reid with the latest of the report, detailing a pattern of sexual harassment by Governor Andrew Cuomo.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo loses the support of his most powerful political ally, President Joe Biden.


REID (voice-over): This comes after the New York attorney general's office said earlier today that the governor sexually harassed multiple women and violated federal and state laws.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a sexually suggestive nature that created a hostile work environment for women.

REID (voice-over): Investigators concluded the governor sexually harassed 11 women, including a New York State trooper assigned to his protection.

ANNE CLARK, SDNY SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: In an elevator, while standing behind the trooper, he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, hey, you. Another time, she was standing holding the door open for the governor. As he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to the hip where she keeps her gun. She told us that she felt completely violated to have the governor touched her, as she put it, between her chest and her privates.

REID (voice-over): Another accuser described similar inappropriate touching.

CLARK: On November 16th, 2020, in the executive mansion, the governor hugged executive assistant number one and reached under her blouse to grab her breasts. There were also several occasions on which the governor grabbed her butt.

REID (voice-over): The report states, we also conclude that the executive chamber's culture, one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the governor's frequent flirtations and gender-based comments, contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist.

Cuomo is quick to respond, denying the allegations.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that is not who I have ever been.

REID (voice-over): The allegations against Cuomo ramped up earlier this year when Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, alleged that Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life during a June 2020 conversation in the state capital. She also hinted at a pattern of retaliation.

UNKNOWN: Do you believe that he was propositioning you?


UNKNOWN: For what?


REID (voice-over): Tonight, Bennett says Cuomo must resign.

BENNETT: He sexually harassed me. I am not confused. It is not confusing. I am living in reality and it's sad to see that he's not.

REID (voice-over): Cuomo addressed Bennett personally in his remarks today.

CUOMO: I did ask her questions I don't normally ask people. I did ask her how she was doing and how she was feeling. [23:05:00]

CUOMO: But I was wrong. I have heard Charlotte and her lawyer, and I understand what they are saying. But they read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant.

REID (voice-over): Paula Reid, CNN, New York.


LEMON (on camera): Paula Reid, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now is CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers. She is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. It is so good to have both of you on. Thank you so much. Good evening.

Jennifer, I'm going to start with you. Eleven women are now speaking out against Governor Andrew Cuomo and investigators say that they interviewed 179 people and reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence.

Cuomo is denying any wrongdoing, but this is an extremely thorough investigation. Am I wrong?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, you're not wrong, Don. That's really what puts the light to this notion that Charlotte Bennett or another woman just kind of misunderstood what he meant. You know, 11 women and the experts who were the investigators in this case and know the law better than everyone agree that it is clear-cut sexual harassment.

So, no, you're not wrong at all. This clearly was harassment. And today, those women, I hope, felt some vindication from these experts finding just exactly that.

LEMON: John, there were a lot of people waiting on this report saying, hey, let's wait and see what the report finds, and here it is. What the investigation uncovers, here it is.

He lost a lot of allies today. President Joe Biden says that he must resign, meaning Cuomo. Not only is this coming from the president and leader of the Democratic Party, but Biden is the governor's close personal friend. How significant are his comments?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's huge. I mean, look, this report is detailed, it is damning, and it cuts the legs out from any argument that this is a straight denial. It is too broad a pattern. Even if it covers a broad array of accusations, they all fall under the rubric of sexual harassment.

I think, you know, Democrats, you know, some had felt in the wake of Al Franken, for example, you don't want to rush to judgment. But this is not a rush to judgment anymore. This is detailed. And when you have the entire New York congressional delegation, all the regional governors, and the president of the United States, who is also a friend and former ally of Andrew Cuomo, all saying resign, the situation is just untenable.

LEMON: But I go on to add, you've got Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, Gillibrand, as you said the entire delegation, governors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island. I mean, the list just seems to go on here.

AVLON: Yeah.

LEMON: Do you think he can hold on politically, John?

AVLON: No. I think he is going to have to make a choice about whether he is willing to risk impeachment. And already, you know, CNN has been tallying (ph) the numbers. The vote counts are still coming in but it is not looking good for him, even though we have not had a governor impeached in New York since 1913.


AVLON: Or resign. Or possibly, you know, there are some scenarios where perhaps he promises not to run for reelection and has an orchestrated, you know, time out the door. But I don't think the patience in the political wings is going his way (ph). His own lieutenant governor, who would take over upon his resignation or impeachment, today denounced his behavior.

LEMON: John, you are making a very good point and I want to let you finish it, but it's not like what we see with the presidential impeachment. You don't stay in office, right, and then they decide. He has to temporarily step aside and then let, I think, the lieutenant governor --

AVLON: Correct.

LEMON: -- until they figure out what to do. And then, if they vote not to convict him, then he remains governor until the end of his term. But if they do, he's already gone.

AVLON: Yeah, exactly right. So this is not looking good or tenable for him. I must say, you know, for all his effectiveness in many respects as governor -- it's a challenging position -- he has not engender the kind of interpersonal loyalty that might normally insulated politician from this.

And that is why the accusations, whether you call it a tough environment, as he would describe it, or a toxic environment, there is not that interpersonal goodwill towards him, and that is proving to be, I think, the final straw when it comes to Andrew Cuomo and his gubernatorial.

LEMON: Jennifer, some of the quotes here, scared and uncomfortable, freaked out, deeply humiliated, completely violated -- this is how women describe the way Governor Cuomo made them feel. It is stunning. What does it say about the workplace culture in the governor's office that this -- that it went on like this?

RODGERS: Well, the report is very clear about that, too. I mean, they interviewed 179 people and it said that effectively, everyone who had knowledge about the environment in the executive chamber, with the exception of a few of his top aides, all said consistent things, which was it was a bad environment, it was a toxic environment, people were afraid, people were uncomfortable.

I mean, that's really stunning. So not just these women who were actually harassed, but the entire atmosphere of the executive chamber was this negative place to work, this negative environment.


RODGERS: So I really think it speaks to, you know, not just his actions with respect to these women who have accused him, but his ability as a leader to, you know, create an environment where people want to work. You just can't be an effective leader if people are saying that about the place that you run.

LEMON (on camera): Look, Norah O'Donnell today, John, of CBS News, the evening news, spoke to one of Cuomo's accusers about the governor's video response to the report. This is Charlotte Bennett.


BENNETT: His propaganda video was not only uncomfortable and inappropriate, but downright weird and unnecessary.

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR: Why do you call it a propaganda video?

BENNETT: Because it's not about anything other than protecting him and his office. It is not protecting New York. He is not speaking for New Yorkers. He is not trying to do anything other than maintain the power that he has currently.


LEMON (on camera): You know, so in that video, Cuomo showed multiple pictures of himself embracing people over the years to show that this is how he acts with everyone. I mean, it comes nowhere near answering the accusations of groping, intimidation, retaliation that is accused of. What did you think of his response in this video and then her response after seeing this video?

AVLON: I thought that the Cuomo video was designed to try to put one specific photograph that "The New York Times" put on its page in context. He is a touchy-feely politician. There are plenty examples of, you know, touching foreheads, grabbing faces, etc.

But that does not get to -- it does not address the heart of these accusations, particularly with regard to that young woman, Charlotte, who worked in his executive office where there is accusation of, you know, grabbing her butt and reaching into her breasts. It is the same moral universe.

So while he, you know, was trying to basically say, the old Bill Clinton argument, I want to go back and work for the American people, in this case the people of the state of New York, or trying to say, look, there is a generational cultural divide, I have not been sensitive enough to, it does not address the specifics of that particular complaint, and that was tone deaf, I thought.

LEMON: Yeah, and what the definition of (INAUDIBLE), right? Is that what we are dealing with now in this situation? Jennifer --


LEMON: Yeah, yeah, not even, exactly. So Jennifer, what is next based on what we are learning? Do you think that Cuomo could be in criminal jeopardy?

RODGERS: I don't think so, Don, because you have to obviously violate a criminal statute to be in criminal jeopardy. And the only one that seems to apply here in New York is something called forcible touching. That requires touching of sexual or intimate parts of the body, so genitals, breasts. There is one complaint by executive assistant one that alleges groping under the top.

But, you know, again, you're talking about a claim that has been credited by these investigators. It's a very different matter to prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that someone is guilty.

So, I expect -- and that's a misdemeanor, by the way, that offense -- so I expect that they will not bring charges here. There will be civil lawsuits. There will likely be impeachment but probably no criminal jeopardy.

LEMON: All right.

AVLON: Yeah.

LEMON: Jennifer, John, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

AVLON: Thanks, Don. Be well.

LEMON: Yeah, you as well.

I want to bring in now New York State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

YUH-LINE NIOU (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYWOMAN: Thank you so much for having me.

LEMON: So the New York State assembly, the speaker says that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the democratic majority. And I quote here -- "no longer remain in office." If the governor does not resign, should he be impeached?

NIOU: Absolutely. I have been calling for his impeachment for a while now. But, you know, I think that, you know, Governor Cuomo has previously called for the expulsion and prosecution of elected officials accused of much smaller offenses than he himself now stands accused of. And by his own -- quote/unquote -- "zero-tolerance rhetoric," you know, I believe that he should be gone immediately. But there are, as some of your previous interviewees have said, two sets of rules in Cuomo land, one set for him and one set for everybody else.

LEMON: If he is impeached, does that mean that the lieutenant governor essentially takes over all of the governor's responsibility, even if it's just temporary?

NIOU: Yes, for the rest of his term.

LEMON: Okay. Assemblywoman Niou, do you expect Governor Cuomo to fight an impeachment trial? It seems like that is, you know, in his nature to fight, because it doesn't seem like he is backing down.

NIOU: Yeah, I don't think that he is going to be resigning or not fighting. I think that he is definitely going to be fighting this. I think that the assembly today at home, we were discussing things, there was definitely a discussion of how he might do that, and I think that it's very, very much to his nature.

LEMON: This report describes a toxic culture in the governor's office. Do you think anyone else besides Governor Cuomo should be held accountable for this environment? I spoke with the attorney of two of the accusers, and she certainly believes so.


LEMON: What do you think?

NIOU: I think so. I think that it is a systemic thing, but I also think that he should be held accountable for his own actions and for creating that environment.

This is a culture of systemic abuse and systemic abuse that is very, very jarring. Reading this report, I am still digesting it because there is so much there. I mean, his own formal counsel, who was even mentioned in the investigation, is calling for his resignation. So, there is a lot there.

I mean, there are 179 witnesses and a statewide investigation by the attorney general to actually come to these conclusions. But I think that Governor Cuomo faces a very harsh reality.

LEMON: And finally, did you see his video response?

NIOU: I definitely saw his slideshow, which was very interesting. I feel - I don't even know what it would be like to be that staffer, to have had to collect all of these photos and then put them together like this.

LEMON: That's it.

NIOU: I know. It's a weird concept to think about. But let's be very clear about what that was. It was gaslighting, right? It was gaslighting New Yorkers the same way that he gaslighted the women that he abused and he harmed.

It was exactly what Charlotte Bennett had said. It was propaganda and it is a way to hurt and continue to hurt the people that he has already hurt. I think that we have to stop it, right? This is a powerful man who uses power to sexually harass, grope and intimidate women who work for him.

My heart goes out to all of the women who told their stories, and my heart also goes out to those who are still remaining silent, some of who I know. And I understand and I hope that the assembly can bring some closure and accountability for those women.

LEMON: Yuh-Line Niou, a member of the New York State Assembly, thank you so much. I really appreciate you appearing on the program. Be well.

NIOU: Thank you so much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you. The fight for the future of the Democratic Party is heating up tonight in Ohio. CNN projects moderate Shontel Brown has won over progressive candidate Nina Turner. Is it a sign of things to come?




LEMON (on camera): Breaking tonight, CNN projects Shontel Brown beats Nina Turner in Ohio's 11th congressional district special election to replace Marcia Fudge in the House. Turner is conceding in an emotional speech earlier tonight.


NINA TURNER, OHIO DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Tonight, my friends, we have looked across the promise land. But for this campaign, on this night, we will not cross the river. We did not lose this race. Evil money manipulated and maligned this election.


LEMON (on camera): So joining me now to discuss this is former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and Mark McKinnon, the former adviser to George W. Bush and executive producer of "The Circus." Good evening to both of you, gentlemen. Jealous of the hat. That's okay, Mark. We will talk about hat jealousy later. Jim, what's your reaction to how this race played out?

JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, on one side, you have the kind of national folks wanting to make this race between a liberal and a moderate. But both of these are progressive candidates. This was really about political positioning.

And the winner tonight, by the way, started out 35 points behind and was badly outspent, positioned herself as a supporter of Joe Biden, as someone who can work together to get things done. And (INAUDIBLE) that Mark and I really believe in, which is all politics is local. And she said, I will deliver for my district, I'm going to focus on getting things done, and I'm not going to be a lightning rod in this race.

And her opponent, who had way more money, ended up kind of blowing the lead because she nationalized the race and wanted it to be about a greater fight inside the Democratic Party. And voters just don't do that. Democratic voters did exactly what they did in 2020 primaries when they picked Joe Biden. They chose someone who could get along and get things done.

And she won a major comeback victory tonight, which I hope is a wake- up call to folks in D.C. that need to remember that we are doing historically big things and we got to work together and work with the president and get things done and not fight amongst ourselves.

LEMON (on camera): Mark McKinnon, progressive Senator Bernie Sanders was battling it out with the House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for their candidates in Cleveland. Listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): They are afraid of her. They are afraid of her because she's going to stand up and fight and take them on.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): My job as House Majority Whip is to count the votes. And I need somebody I can count on.


LEMON (on camera): I mean, don't mess with Jim Clyburn because you know what happened after Jim Clyburn said, I think y'all should vote for Joe Biden. Look who is president of the United States today.

I mean this will be seen as a victory for Congressman Clyburn and the establishment wing of the party. Is this a sign of where the party is going or where the party is and maybe we lost track of it or maybe the folks in Washington lost track of it? I don't know.

MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE CIRCUS": Well, listen, I hope it's a sign of where the party is and where it's going. I think this is just an example of why Joe Biden won the primary, because of where he stands politically. I think that's where most Democrats in the country are, lots of independents are as well.

I think there is this narrative that there is this huge -- the physics of the drift in the Republican Party can be so progressive that people are just leaving off (INAUDIBLE) and this is another example --


LEMON: You said the Republican Party. You meant the Democratic Party?

MCKINNON: The Democratic Party.

LEMON: Yeah.

MCKINNON: So colleagues like (INAUDIBLE), you know, reminding me all the time that the people who are really winning races in 2020 in those congressional races were really moderate mainstream Republicans.

By the way, given the outcome of the republican race, in which the Trump-endorsed candidate won, but the Trump-endorsed candidate is a coal (ph) lobbyist. So I think that if we look at what kind of Democrats are being elected and what kind of Republicans are being elected, it says a lot about where the parties are headed.

LEMON: Mm-hmm. I agree. Amen. I've been saying the same thing about the Democratic Party. I actually think that people pay too much attention to the right, the right characterization of the Republican Party which is, of course, in itself political, and also the folks on social media which is really progressive and really far-left and it's not where the Democratic Party really is. You look at the people who are actually winning races around the country.

Jim, you know, we've got results from another Ohio special election tonight. President Trump's pick, Mark just mentioned it, Mark Carey, winning the nomination. Mike Carey, excuse me. What does that say about Trump's influence in the party?

MESSINA: That this is Donald Trump's Republican Party. It's no longer the Republican Party that Mark kind of grew up in and was part of that Donald Trump now completely owns this party. You see this every week. There is a parade of planes flying to Mar-a-Lago to beg for his

endorsement. The Missouri U.S. Senate race is all about who can get Trump's endorsement.

And most of these candidates are winning these elections. It says to Republicans, don't be brave, don't go out there and cross him because you're gonna get whacked. You look at what he's trying to do to Liz Cheney as well in Wyoming right now. This is just a party that cannot grapple with its past. And until you grapple with that past, you won't walk into the future.

In 2022, these congressional races, if they are going to run these kinds of candidates in these swing seats, Republicans are going to get their butts kicked and they should. Instead they need to kind to do what the Democrats did tonight and find candidates who will go to the center and work with both parties to get things done. But so far, you're not seeing the Republicans kind of learned the lessons of Mark McKinnon.

LEMON: Well, Mark had a shaking up and down in agreement with what you're saying. Mark, yes? Jim may be correct. Ah, but Texas, because there was that same defeat for Trump's candidate in a Texas election. How do you square these two results?

MCKINNON: Well, the nature of the races were different, Don. I think when you have a situation like you did in Ohio, which is a big multicandidate deal (ph), I think there were 10 running, an endorsement from a former president is going to have an impact, and it did. I mean -- but it's a very stratified race with lots of people running.

The race in Texas was much different. We really had kind of two frontrunners. Trump endorsed one and former Mayor (INAUDIBLE) and Congressman Dan Crenshaw endorsed the other candidate. So, certainly people are going to say that Trump still has some juice because of today -- and he does, obviously.

But again, I just stress the fact that this was a multicandidate deal (ph). And I think that no question Trump will be a factor through 2022 and beyond. We see how much money he is raising for the Republican Party, but that, in my view, that's the problem with the Republican Party, is that they can't quit him. Until they quit him, it's not going to be a long range future for the Republican Party.

LEMON: Mark, Jim, thank you so much. Mark, I need a hat. Keep that in mind (ph).

MCKINNON: Thank you, Don.


LEMON: Thank you, sir. Mark, real quick, because I'm gonna be talking about COVID. Give me an update on your brother-in-law.

MCKINNON: My brother-in-law is out of the hospital, in home after three weeks. Hallelujah. Fortunately, it took that experience to make him and other members of the family realize that, you know, vaccinations work.

LEMON: Yeah. I know she's right there listening. Love to Annie.

MCKINNON: Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): Thank you very much. I'll see you both. Coronavirus cases on the rise all across the country, but one in three new cases are coming from Texas and Florida. And President Biden is calling out their Republican governors.


BIDEN: If you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.





LEMON: The CDC warning 90 percent of the country is now in counties with high or substantial spread of the coronavirus. But one in three cases are coming from two Republican-led states, whose governors are banding safety measures like mask mandates. President Joe Biden is ripping into them today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The worst of all, some states officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only banned mask mandates but also banned them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated. I say to these governors, please help.


BIDEN: If you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.


LEMON (on camera): Joining me now to discuss is CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He is the director of the Cardiac Catheterization Program at George Washington University Hospital. It is our nightly house call that we have with him previously, during when we were in quarantine and the height of the pandemic, and here we are doing it again. Doctor, good to see you, thanks for joining.


LEMON: Do you really think that these governors are going to listen to Joe Biden, President Biden? What is it going to take for them to take the safety of their citizens more seriously, is the question.

REINER: What is so sad about this, Don, is that it does not have to be this way. It does not violate the rules of physics for a Republican governor to do what is necessary to contain this pandemic.

Look, I live in a state, Maryland that has a Republican governor, Larry Hogan, who has done a terrific job during the pandemic. He prioritized masking early on, had mask mandates in the state for quite a while, and prioritized testing. You know, right now, Maryland is averaging eight new cases per 100,000 residents.

Florida, on the other hand, that has a Republican governor that has just prohibited mask mandates in the state, has prohibited vaccine passports, has prohibited any type of lockdown throughout the state, Florida has 82 cases per 100,000 residents every day. So, the difference is stark.

Look, hospitals in Florida are filling with patients but he has painted himself into a corner. It did not have to be this way. He needs to support mask mandates. He needs to support vaccine mandates. Florida mandates vaccines for polio and rubella and measles and mumps and hepatitis and chickenpox but yet he is prohibiting it, mandating it for COVID. It makes no sense to me.

LEMON: You know, on the other hand, you have New York City. The mayor is saying that he is going to require proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms, and indoor entertainment. Is that the key to getting more people to take the shot?

REINER: I think it is already happening. What I have heard today is that pharmacies throughout the city are filling now with people who are starting to get the message that their social lives will be significantly hampered if they do not have a valid vaccine card.

Look, when I go to a restaurant now, I look around to the other tables and I try to get a sense -- and it is impossible to know -- who in this place is vaccinated and who isn't. How nice will it be to dine in an establishment where you know that not just all the diners are vaccinated but all the servers and the cooks and the staffs at the front of the restaurant, everyone that you encounter is vaccinated? That's what you are going to have in New York.

In Florida, it is the Wild West. You do not know what you are getting. In fact -- look, what I say to all Americans is that with delta now, if you are unvaccinated, you should not go into a restaurant and you should not go into a bar. You are in great danger of getting sick.

LEMON: Thank you very much, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. I appreciate. Be well.

REINER: Have a good night, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. You as well. Democratic leaders from President Biden to Nancy Pelosi are calling on Governor Cuomo to resign. I'm going to ask a top senator if he agrees, next.

Plus, Simone Biles finally takes the competition to the competition floor and revealing a family tragedy.




LEMON: Tonight, President Biden is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after investigation by New York's attorney general concluded the governor sexually harassed multiple women.

Top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, are joining Biden in urging Cuomo to step down.

I want to bring in now Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat. Senator, thank so much for joining. I appreciate it. The head of your party, President Biden, calling on Governor Cuomo to resign today. Do you agree with that?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Yes, I do. Don, we now have an independent report from the attorney general of New York laid out these very serious facts, and I think the governor has disqualified himself.

LEMON: Yeah. It's that simple, right?

VAN HOLLEN: It's that simple, yes.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's talk about the coronavirus, obviously the story that we have been following now for two years almost. You are a Maryland senator. It is one of 20 states that hit that 70 percent goal of adults receiving at least one dose. But I want you to take a look at this. It's up on the screen now for our viewers.

These are current transmission rates in your state. Almost all of your counties are expecting -- experiencing I should say -- moderate to high levels of community transmission.


LEMON: "The Washington Post" reporting now that Maryland doctors are bracing for a COVID surge in the coming months. They are really concerned. What is your concern level?

VAN HOLLEN: Don, I'm concerned, too. The delta variant is on the rise. It's on the rise in Maryland and around the country, which is why I also agree with the statement that President Biden made today about how we have many of these governors, Republican governors, taking the reckless position of banning a mask mandate.

It's one thing not to impose one, as a governor. It's something else altogether to say to businesses or to local school districts or to local officials, you may not require masks indoors, as the CDC may recommend.

So I think we've got a long way to go. Clearly, to finally defeat this virus, the president is right to call on everybody to get vaccinated and get vaccinated yesterday. We got to beat this thing. We have more vaccine available in our country than anywhere else in the world.

And now we see many European countries having a larger share of their population vaccinated first because we have so many of these reckless statements side here in the United States.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, New York's mayor is mandating vaccines for some indoor activities. Do you think Maryland should follow suit with any of these kinds of restrictions?

VAN HOLLEN: I think that has to be left through the local officials. As I said, no governor should be prohibiting local officials, based on those local circumstances, from making recommendations. I do think that that should be left to local officials. I support President Biden's decision to require federal employees, going back to the workforce, to be vaccinated.

So, my view, Don, is you got to look at what's happening in any particular place, in any particular time.

LEMON: Senator, you know, if you watch this program, that we have been covering the January 6th insurrection since it began, almost every night on this program, because I don't believe it's over, I know it's not over for the officers who were involved, and we just learned that a fourth officer who responded to the Capitol on January 6th died by suicide.

Senator Schumer is saying that he is going to ask the Senate to award the congressional gold medal to officers who defended the Capitol and saves lives, a stark comparison to the members of Congress who are trying to whitewash what really happened on that day.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. And the good news, Don, is in all of the terrible news about another officer losing his life and our hearts go out to his family, we were able in the Senate today to get bipartisan support to award the congressional gold medal to both the Capitol police officers as well as to the D.C. Metropolitan police officers. We did that by unanimous vote in the United States Senate.

I am still disgusted by the fact that in the House of Representatives, you had a number of Republican members who really disgrace themselves by opposing the awarding of those congressional gold medals. We see the continuing toll of the trauma from that day.

The very least we can do is recognize the heroism of those officers. Beyond that and beyond the gold medals, as those four officers who testified in the House asked, we need to get to the bottom of everything that happened on January 6th and hold people accountable.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, we've covered a lot. I have one more thing I want to talk to you about. That is about the president's trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. Senator Schumer is hoping that the final vote will come this week. Do you see that happening, senator?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't know the exact timing. What I do know, Don, is that we are going to get it done. I am confident that we will have the votes to pass it.

And then right after we passed that important bipartisan infrastructure bill, we will in the Senate pass the budget resolution, to set up that process so that we can also enact the other part of President Biden's big "build back better" agenda, not just the American Jobs Plan, which is essential, but also the American Families Plan, which extends those child tax credits for years to come, it would not end this year, cut the cost of prescription drugs, to make sure Medicare can cover things like vision, hearing and dental and much more.

So, in the coming days, we are going to pass the one and then passed the resolution to set up the other effort as well.

LEMON: Senator Van Hollen, thank you so much.


LEMON: I appreciate your time.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Simone Biles with a balancing act today, taking home the bronze and speaking out about a family tragedy that happened just days ago. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Superstar U.S. gymnast Simone Biles back in competition today at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the balance beam final, afterward saying that she didn't really care about the outcome, that she wasn't even expecting to win a medal, but was just happy to do her routine.


LEMON: It is her second medal in Tokyo and her seventh Olympic medal overall. She had a tough time at these games withdrawing from the women's team gymnastics final and three individual finals due to ongoing mental health issues.

Biles is saying that she's very proud of herself today after all she has been -- really been through a lot but also revealing a family tragedy, her aunt died unexpectedly two days ago, saying people have no idea what athletes go through during the Olympics. Congratulations to her and we wish her well.

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Repulsive and unlawful behavior by the governor. John Berman here, in for Anderson.