Return to Transcripts main page
Don Lemon Tonight
Governor Cuomo to Fight Tooth and Nail Against Accusers; New Yorkers Wants Governor Cuomo to Resign; Texas GOP Pushing to Restrict Voting Rights; Trump Supporter Pleaded Guilty; Health Experts Raise Concern on Sturgis Event; Cuomo's Lawyers to Challenge D.A.'s Report; N.Y. Assembly Member Outrage of Cuomo's Failed Leadership; House Select Committee to Check on White House Log Calls. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 06, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Thank you so much for watching. Please join me tomorrow and every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Eastern for Smerconish right here on CNN. Don Lemon, Don Lemon Tonight starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, I'll be watching Smerconish tomorrow as I listen to him every day on SiriusXM --
SMERCONISH: I hope so.
LEMON: -- satellite radio as well.
SMERCONISH: I love that.
LEMON: You have yourself a good weekend. I'll see you soon.
SMERCONISH: You, too. Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. This is Don Lemon Tonight.
And it is another night of fast-moving developments on multiple big stories. We're going to catch up on everything that is happening. OK. Or catch you up on everything that is happening.
First up New York's governor making it clear that he is not going without a fight. Facing an impeachment investigations and multiple calls from top Democrats to resign. The legal team for Governor Andrew Cuomo attacking the state attorney general's bombshell report on sexual harassment allegations by 11 women just hours after one of them, a current staffer known at -- in the report as executive assistant number one filed a criminal complaint against him.
The attorney general's report included this selfie of her with the governor. Her image blurred to protect her identity. The governor's lawyers today calling the investigation unfair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RITA GLAVIN, GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO'S ATTORNEY: There has been no open-
minded fact finding in this case. The investigation was conducted to support a predetermined narrative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: His attorney claiming visitor logs from the governor's mansion and e-mails that day support his denial that he groped executive assistant number one in his home office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: She was at the mansion that day for several hours. She wasn't just working with the governor. She was working with other staffers, e-mails that she sent while she was at the mansion reflect that she was joking while she was there. She was eating snacks, and she even offered to stay longer at the mansion when her work was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The governor's attorneys didn't address allegations from a former member of his security detail identified in the A.G.'s report as trooper number one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: The governor will address that allegation himself, and so I will let him speak for himself when he does.
UNKNOWN: When will he do that?
GLAVIN: I can't give you a timeline, but I know he wants to do it soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the question is whether any of that will impress assembly members who would have to vote on whether to impeach the governor. His attorneys have until a week from today to submit any additional evidence.
The attorney general's office putting out a statement tonight saying, and I quote, "there are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate."
Whether or not the New York State assembly votes to impeach the governor is already paying a political price right now. The latest Quinnipiac poll finding that 70 percent of New York registered voters say that Governor Cuomo should resign.
And there is news tonight to tell you on the pandemic. Half of the total population of the United States now fully vaccinated and that is indeed good news. Here is the bad news, though. There are 90 million people who are eligible to get vaccinated and are not. Last night on this show, you heard from two of those people. Travis
and Kellie Campbell who both came down with COVID. Travis speaking from his hospital bed. He was struggling to breathe as he urged everybody to get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAVIS CAMPBELL, CONTRACTED COVID AFTER NOT GETTING VACCINATED: Please, please don't wait. Don't procrastinate. The Delta variant is stronger and faster, and it attacks those who are not vaccinated or have more medical conditions. A diabetic or person with health issues will be attacked 10 times faster and harder and it's not worth it. You got to put value on your life, and you got to determine if you're prepared not to take a vaccination that your eight friends will carry value for your life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And don't let anybody tell you, OK? Listen, don't let anybody tell you kids don't get sick with COVID. An 11-month-old girl in Texas who tested positive for COVID had to be airlifted more than 150 miles away when no pediatric hospital in Houston could take her. She's too young to be vaccinated. But the president had a message today for everybody else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please get vaccinated. We can get this done. We just have to stay the course. We just have to remember who we are. You've heard me say it before, we're the United States of America. There is not a single thing, nothing beyond our capacity. We do it together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, I wonder what they think of that at South Dakota Sturgis motorcycle rally this weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend despite fears of another super spreader event. Last year's rally was linked to more than 600 COVID cases. You think they'd learn, but nope.
Governor Kristi Noem tweeting there is a risk associated with everything that we don't -- that we do in life. But the fact is we can mitigate the risk. We know how to do it. And that is to get vaccinated.
But in an American that is averaging more than 98,000 new cases a day, the misinformation is killing us just as surely as the virus is killing us. Parents at a North Carolina school board meeting furious over a mask mandate for unvaccinated students and staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I am not leaving until you do a revote for the people, by the people and of the people. Now!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. These are children who aren't vaccinated, by the way, whose only protection is the mask. One state where too many people are not safe, that's Florida. With 134,506 cases over the past week, a record high for cases recorded over any seven-day period throughout the pandemic.
But Governor Ron DeSantis is locked in a battle with his own people as several Florida school districts are defying his ban on mask mandates, but the governor seems to care more about his feud with Joe Biden who yesterday said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: DeSantis who is using your words about don't be in the way, and he said, I am in the way to block too much interference from the federal government. Your response, Mr. President?
BIDEN: Governor who?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: DeSantis reacting today exactly the way you'd expect him to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I guess I'm not surprised that Biden doesn't remember me. I guess the question is what else has he forgotten?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying Florida's governor is putting his political fortunes ahead of public health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not only is Governor DeSantis not abiding by public health decisions, he's fundraising off of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And going on to insist there are no lockdowns coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PSAKI: We're not going to lockdown our economy or schools because our country is in a much stronger place than when we took office, thanks to the president's leadership and vaccinating the American people and getting economic relief to those who need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: I've said this before. Misinformation is killing us and killing our democracy. Exhibit a. A New Jersey gym owner and former MMA fighter pleading guilty today to assaulting a police officer at the capitol on January 6th. The first of the rioters to be convicted of violence against police defending the seat of our democracy that day.
Body cam footage obtained by CNN and other media outlet shows that Scott Fairlamb him following and taunting officers as they made their way through the mob, shoving one and punching him in the head. We have not bleeped the language, so you can see it and hear it as it really happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Are you an American? Act like (Inaudible). You guys got no idea what the fuck you're doing. Now don't forget (Inaudible).
UNKNOWN: Not one idea. Talk to us, bro.
UNKNOWN: Get the fuck out of here. Don't tell us --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: His family must be so proud. And with that guilty plea, he's also clearly proving the idea that this was about hugging and kissing and tourism that it is utterly absurd. But you've known that all along, haven't you? Because you believe the facts.
Former Congressman Denver Riggleman, a conservative Republican is joining the staff of the House select committee investigating what happened on January 6th. The committee is now considering whether to seek call logs from the Trump White House on the day of the riot.
That as we're learning even more tonight about the attempted coup that is still threatening American democracy and how a Trump loyalist and environmental lawyer tried to weaponized the DOJ to help the then president in his scheme to overturn the vote.
Sources tell CNN that Jeffrey Clark told senior DOJ officials in late December he knew sensitive information indicating Chinese intelligence used special kinds of thermometers to change results in machines tallying votes. Thermometers.
It is unhinged. And it would be laughable except this was an official in the Justice Department who became an assistant attorney general and who was given a high-level intelligence briefing which did nothing to convince him to drop his bogus claims of election fraud.
This is where we are right now. It was nothing less than an attempted coup. Efforts to weaponize the DOJ, the insurrection even the assault on the vote it's all part of the threat to our democracy. And the threat is still there. The voting rights is all about giving the GOP the power to overturn
the next election and it is happening right now. Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling for a special session of the state legislature in just a matter of hours to push voting restrictions that Democrats blocked by fleeing the state.
It all boils down to a continuing threat to our democracy. This was the week that we learned just how close we came to losing it. Now the question is will we heed the warning signs?
The governor of New York making it clear tonight that he is not going without a fight and his legal team attacks the state attorney general's bombshell report on sexual harassment allegations by 11 women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: The governor deserves to be treated fairly like anybody else in this country accused of something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fighting back against the attorney general's state report detailing sexual harassment against him. His attorney is focusing on discrediting his accusers today including one woman who claims the governor groped her and filed a criminal complaint with the Albany sheriff's office.
CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz joins me now. Shimon, good evening to you. Governor Cuomo attorney were slamming the findings in the attorney general's report today. What do they have to say?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. And Don, as you said, this all comes in the day that a significant development occurred. We learned that the executive assistant number one who perhaps has the most serious accusation against the governor accusing him of groping her and touching her breasts filed a criminal complaint with the sheriff's office.
And today, the lawyers representing the governor sort of, you know, pled their case publicly saying that she was wrong about some of the facts, kind of going after her in terms of what she recollected from the day, what she was doing that day. And here is how they describe some of what was going on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLAVIN: She was at the mansion that day for several hours. She wasn't just working with the governor. She was working with other staffers, e-mails that she sent while she was at the mansion reflect that she was joking while she was there. She was eating snacks. And she even offered to stay longer at the mansion when her work was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: And Don, they then also went after another one of the accusers Lindsey Boylan saying that she was doing all of this, this accusation. She was the first woman to come forward to come public accusing the governor of harassing her. They're saying she was doing this all for publicity because she was running for political office here in New York City.
LEMON: So. the governor's team, Shimon, also going after investigators claiming the report was one sided and done to support a premeditated narrative. Talk to me about that.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, so they basically have been going after the investigators, the two lawyers that were hired by the attorney general to act as independent investigators, they've always been going after specifically one Joon Kim who used to work for the U.S. attorney's office here in the Southern District of New York and work with Preet Bharara.
So, they kind of have been going after him and they basically said like look, this team came in with preconceived notions, they had a target and in essence, we're going to do whatever they had to do to get after that target. They said there was impartiality and they weren't fair. They also claim, well, you know, the attorney general's office they didn't give us an advanced copy of this report, they didn't tell us what was coming.
There was no reason for the attorney general to give them an advance copy of the report or to give them any information about what was going to be contained in the report. But the governor's lawyers are taking issues with all of that saying that they were not fair, that they didn't conduct this in any kind of fairway.
PROKUPECZ: Look, the bottom line now is there is a criminal sitting with the sheriff's office. The Albany's D.A.'s office now has to make a decision whether or not they have enough information, enough to charge the governor with the crime.
LEMON: It was interesting to watch all of this and done over Zoom considering the times that we're in on top of everything else.
Thank you, Shimon. I appreciate your reporting. I want to bring in now criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Jennifer Rodgers. They are both CNN legal analysts and very qualified legal minds. Very experienced legal minds.
Thank you very much for joining. Good evening.
Joey, I'm going to start with you. These are very serious, very serious allegations.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: True.
LEMON: You are the defense attorney. What do you think of the governor's defense today?
JACKSON: I think -- good evening to you, Don and Jennifer. I think they came out swinging and they need to. I mean, with respect to process and not getting information in advance, you should. The fact is that yes, there is a public relations narrative there. He's a governor. Yes, the whole trust of the people.
We have to know that our governor is not a criminal at all but if you are going to conduct an investigation, it ought to be fair. There ought to be people on that investigation team that don't have preconceived notions. here ought to be people on that team who perhaps have not had prior dealing which could call anything into question with respect to what you do.
You got to interview witnesses, it should be under oath, he should be taking casual notes. You should in fact allow those people to plead what they say and have transcripts available. And so, I do as the defense attorney, I'm a former prosecutor as well. I want the information.
I want everything. If we are going to have the airing of everything, give me everything. And so, don't just say it's a process and he doesn't deserve it, he does. I'm for this. I don't want the rich and powerful to be treated any better than anybody else but I don't want them to be treated any worse. If our system is going to work, it has to work for everybody. The disenfranchised and the person.
I know we like grabbing people and taking them and pulling them down, right, and giving them but he deserves his day and I know also that God forbid, right, you defend an issue involving in this me too time generation, who are you, how dare you? They challenge credibility, that's significant.
Do you have an ax to grind with respect to what you're telling investigators? Could we believe in what you say? Is there other information the report should have contained that I call into question the veracity or the motivation by which things were said.
And so, I could go on. But the bottom line is all I'm saying is this, I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. I know that 179 witnesses were interviewed. I know 74,000 pieces of information and text messages but if you're going to have a report, make sure you interview the appropriate people. Make sure the report is objective and make sure it's subjective to cross-examination.
And last point, Don, and exit this, you know, you can say anything in a lawsuit. You can say anything in a criminal until complaint. You can say anything in an indictment but guess what? When you get in front of a person in a courtroom, the defense attorney has questions. We call that cross-examination. And what you say has to pass muster with regard to that cross
examination. And I think and I'm looking for that forum where the governor's people like they did today have an opportunity to pick apart and to present their case if not in the court of law, certainly in the court of public opinion and I think the factual rendition that they laid out was pretty compelling to me.
LEMON: OK. That's all we have time for. Good night, everybody. Joey, are you going to let Jennifer Rodgers say -- I know that you're sorry that --
JACKSON: Sorry, Jen.
LEMON: I know that you're a former prosecutor, right? But you're the defense attorney in this scenario. So, Jennifer, you are the prosecutor in this scenario, and you are former prosecutor. Investigators say that they interviewed 179 people, reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence as Joey just said, but his attorneys are going after two of his 11 accusers on the substance. How did they do?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not well, Don. I actually disagree with Joey on this. I mean, first of all, the fact that they only went after two of these episodes out of 11 tells you something. It tells you that they have nothing to say about the other nine. And yes, they were not given an advanced copy of the report but the notion that Cuomo and his team didn't know what was coming, I mean, we all knew about these accusations, there were only two new ones. Everything else was known to the public, much less to him.
He was interviewed for 11 hours weeks ago. He has known what was coming in his report. So, the notion that they couldn't cobble together anything on the merits for those other nine tells me a lot. And even for those two it was very ticky-tacky. I mean, having to say that executive assistant one was eating snacks and therefore she couldn't have been groped. You know, we're getting a little -- a little silly now.
So, I do think that their defense on the merits was not good. I do though agree with Joey on one thing. And that's that as this moves forward towards impeachment, he is going to have more due process than he had in connection with this report. He is going to have to have the ability to challenge this evidence to bring forward his own evidence because if he doesn't and he is removed, then he is going to litigate.
We're going to have a long-protracted litigation on our hands whether his due process rights were violated. New Yorkers don't need that. So please, assembly, give him the process he needs and let's do this right.
LEMON: OK, Jennifer, another question --
JACKSON: OK. Sorry, Don.
LEMON: What did you say, Joey, quickly, please?
JACKSON: No, it's a brief point. Listen, I think that they went after the two because those were the two with respect to criminal allegations.
JACKSON: But look, it's TV time. We don't have time to go over 11 witnesses. I don't think the fact they didn't get to them doesn't mean they have defenses --
LEMON: Well, they had -- Joey, they're not -- hang on, Joey, Joey, they're not working with a rundown of guests and commercial breaks. They could have taken -- it was over Zoom. They could have taken -- they could have still been on the air and we could have been carrying it had they gone on.
JACKSON: I disagree with that. If you're hiring -- if you're getting prosecuted and you're hired to defend someone, the civil allegations, that's different. Go after me, take my money. But when we're talking about liberty and I'm hiring a defense attorney, address that. That's what people are concerned about.
Is our governor criminal or not? People are sued every day in our court system. I'm worried and concerned about the fact that, listen, if there are crimes to be had or done, then attack that and I don't think they were ticky-tacky at all.
JACKSON: The fact that you're running for Manhattan, you know, bar president matters. The fact that you stay there all day after it matters. The fact you said nothing to anyone matters. Those are factual things.
All I'm saying is this. I don't know what happened. I do know that as a defense attorney, I like a full airing of everything.
JACKSON: As a prosecutor that files criminal complaints, I did indictments, let the other people speak --
LEMON: Well, I am running out of time, Joey. Yes. Let the other people speak.
So, Jennifer, you want to respond to that, please?
RODGERS: Yes, I mean, I think we will learn more in the days ahead. Listen, one thing they didn't respond to it all were accusations by the state trooper and they wouldn't even deny it. I mean, his lawyer didn't even say this wasn't true and we'll tell you more later. She said, the governor wants to talk about that. I'm going to let him do so. There was a lot more they could have done today and they didn't. So,
we'll see what happens in impeachment proceedings and what comes out in the public eye but he's in trouble with this.
LEMON: Joey, you have a very vigorous defense for your client. We can see why you're a successful defense attorney. Thank you both. I appreciate it. It's a fascinating conversation. Obvious, we will be covering this a lot more. Thank you so much.
JACKSON: Thank you.
LEMON: So, we got a lot more on today's news. A New York assembly member who has called for Governor Cuomo's impeachment reacts to his lawyer's defense. That's next.
LEMON: Attorneys for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushing back on the damming sexual harassment report claiming he was ambushed. But calls for the impeachment is growing and one of his accusers has filed a criminal complaint.
So, joining me a member of the New York state assembly, Yuh-Line Niou. Thank you, assembly member for joining us again this evening. We really appreciate it.
What was your reaction to the governor's legal team today? Did they say anything that could change the minds of the assembly?
YUH-LINE NIOU, MEMBER, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: I don't think so. In fact, I think that what he said -- what they said was actually very triggering to a lot of survivors. Today the governor's lawyer tried to paint him as the victim. Their disgusting arguments included in the argument that the woman he groped didn't show up as a quote, unquote, "real victim because she was able to walk out, smile, joke with other staff, ate snacks, cheese and crackers in their specific, like, you know, specific claim."
And the claim that a survivor after being violated should act a particular way otherwise they shouldn't be believed is really disgusting and vile. And as you know, I, myself am a survivor of childhood sexual assault. I was 13 years old when I was sexual assaulted by my teacher and after my assault, I went to class and then I went to lunch.
Survivors all over the nation were really triggered by today's response and have been sharing what happened to them and what they did after. And it is incredibly heartbreaking but also, you know, I think it's really empowering to tell our stories, because this is how our brains work to help us survive, right? This is how we make it.
So, you know, I just -- I think that's really important to say, that like, if you're a survivor of sexual assault, it doesn't matter if you had to smile or laugh it off or go to a dance party or drink until you throw up and pass out or make a joke or have sex or forget or sleep or read a book or eat or even eat cheese and crackers, you're here. You survived. You're a hero.
LEMON: And with that said, and I appreciate your saying that, that said, you understand, though, that the governor has to -- it's his attorney's job to mount a vigorous defense for him, you understand that, right?
NIOU: I do. I just think that was a very stupid defense.
LEMON: OK. Thank you. The attorney representing Charlotte Bennett, one of the governor's accusers release a statement tonight that said in part, the governor has made clear that he will continue his fight to stay in power caring not at all about the people he has hurt and the consequences of his actions. It is time for the assembly to act. Further delay is an affront to the women who came forward to -- and to survivors everywhere.
Similar to what you were saying, your sentiments. Now she says that the assembly needs to act now. Will you?
NIOU: I think that, you know, I personally feel like the process has been interesting. There are a lot of experts that have said that we don't need this, you know, kind of process that the trial is where -- is in the Senate and we write the impeachment article, the trials in the Senate, et cetera.
But I think that right now what is happening is that there a judiciary committee that is doing an investigation to figure try to out what should go into the articles of impeachment. You know, we know that this is a process that might take, you know, maybe until the end of the month or, you know, what we said from or Chuck Lavine said in his statement and so, you know, I think it's really important that we move quickly.
I agree with what Charlotte Bennett said. I think that if we don't move quickly, you know, New Yorkers will suffer and Andrew Cuomo does not care about New Yorkers. He only cares about Andrew Cuomo. He never cared about New York. He always only cared about Andrew. This is why he withheld information from the legislature and lied about nursing home deaths, and uses his staff to write his book and then sexually harassed women.
It's always about Andrew and right now we are facing an eviction crisis, we are facing pandemic. We are facing, you know, huge amounts of need in New York right now as we are still facing the pandemic and our governor is focused on himself.
LEMON: Yes. Now, I just want to clarify, you said that you're a survivor of assault, right?
LEMON: OK. So, the governor is accused of harassment at this point, there is no assault allegation. But with that said, though, it leads into my next question, several members of the assembly say that they were particularly disturbed by the allegation involving the governor inappropriately touching the state trooper on his security detail.
Were you surprised that his attorneys left that alone today? A state trooper.
NIOU: I was very surprised because that was one of the things that was first off new information and also the most -- the most disturbing piece in some of the report that came out because, you know, we saw a lot of the, you know, a lot of the stories that came out. We saw nine of them come out in the press before the attorney general's report came out and I think the detail and the fact that this was a person who I mean, she was there to protect his life and he was there to ruin and threaten hers.
LEMON: I can see --
NIOU: I'm really scared.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I can see that this is personal for you. And it hits very close to home, and I really respect and admire you for coming and sharing your truth and for being on tonight. Thank you, assembly person Niou. Thank you so much.
NIOU: Thank you for having the discussion.
LEMON: Yes. Be well.
A Trump ally -- a Trump ally within the DOJ makes up all sorts of things, right, all to try to keep him in office. You've got to hear the claims that he is making. That's next.
LEMON: A big development on the length that the Trump -- that Trump and his allies went to in order to overturn the 2020 election and it's hitting a head spinning new low. Wait until you hear this.
Sources are telling CNN that a Trump ally and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark told top brass at the DOJ that he had information that China used special thermometers to change election results.
Yes. So, joining me is now is Matthew Dowd, a former chief strategist for President George W. Bush. He's the author of, I know, Matthew. He's the author of the book "Revelations on The River." Available for preorder now.
I mean, it just gets more absurd by the moment. Matthew, good evening to you.
MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Great to be here.
LEMON: The absurdities that were being -- that were being pushed by Trump loyalists and the DOJ, I mean, they're really frightening. It's another and just a growing list of efforts by the former president and his allies to undermine the election and no matter how you slice it, they were clearly plotting a coup.
DOWD: Yes, this wasn't a spontaneous sort of emotional response that where passions got too high and then it resulted in some crazy behavior. This was a concerted effort and I would say it's not only to undermine the election which would -- but it was to undermine our entire democracy and our constitutional form of government that has been established for 240 years.
So, these folks, you would say is bizarre and crazy if it wasn't so dangerous and detrimental and we're still suffering from it. I think the destructive -- the destructiveness to our system is we're still feeling and I think we're going to continue to feel for a long time.
So, I put him in the same category as somebody like Benedict Arnold, a traitor to the country and I'd put him in the same exact category of somebody like Benedict Arnold that tried to sort of defeat our system of government. He's the same one to me.
LEMON: Well, Matthew, the threat is still here from the assault on voting rights to GOP whitewashing of January 6th to the big lie. It really shows just how fragile our democracies. We talk about that all the time. And we're still at risk of losing it. Last night I said it's a fine democracy if you can keep it.
DOWD: Yes, you know, I always -- I always thought democracy is not a given, it's a gift. And democracy it takes work and takes respect of others, and it takes the idea that all men and women are created equal. All of these things established that weren't perfect when we started, and the leaders weren't perfect but there was always sort of step by step by step to get there.
I mean, today is the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which came 100 years after the amendments to give African Americans the right to vote and it took 100 years of pushing and shoving to get to where we were in the 1960s on the Voting Rights Act. So, we have to constantly push this but there is no guarantee that our democracy survives.
It is totally dependent on citizen action and citizen holding leaders accountable for their actions and when that stops, that's when democracies are in trouble.
LEMON: Well, how is the president doing, President Biden doing? He's calling out the threat on our democracy, but what do you think of his efforts to confront it? Is it enough?
DOWD: Well, I've said for a while and I think you and I had this conversation, I don't think it's enough. I mean, I think Joe -- the president, President Biden's heart is in the right place, and I think he's made moves but I often thing about LBJ, actually. And again, on the voting rights anniversary, Voting Rights Act anniversary.
LBJ wouldn't have done that unless he had been pushed and pushed and pushed by Martin Luther King and all the other civil rights leaders. Remember, it took to Selma to Montgomery march just months before signing of that act for it to even move it.
And so, I think Joe Biden, good person, but I think Joe Biden still believes in a system that no longer exists which is that you have an equal trustworthy party on the other side of the aisle that believes in the same principles as you. I don't think that exists anymore with the Republican Party.
And so I think that like the Texas legislatures who went up there like many other folks around the country, many people are pushing and they should keep pushing the president.
Because I think the president is inclined to do the right thing but sometimes as I said, good people have to be pushed to do the right thing because many times the right thing is hard.
LEMON: Yes. Sources are telling CNN that the House select committee looking into January 6th is weighing whether to pursue logs from the Trump White House on the day of the riot. Are you worried about what we'll learn if they get the records?
DOWD: Well, I'm a huge believer in transparency. I don't think our government through both Democrats and Republicans has been as transparent as it needs to be. I see no reason why logs shouldn't be done that day. Somebody comes in, somebody has a meeting it should be to be filed openly given to the press given to the general public. We should be much more transparent and much open in our governmental system especially in this day and age with technology.
I think what, if we actually access to them in the house select committee pursues this, I think we're going to find out what happened on January 6th and what happened after election day is much, much, much worse than we could possibly imagine. I think what we'll discover is the president, which would many of us believe was actively involved in trying to undermine our constitutional republic.
I think that's definitely if we get access, and we can get the information, which again should be transparent to the public, we will discover that the president was in a concerted effort to undermine our U.S. system of government.
LEMON: And Republicans are trying to undermine the right to vote. The access to the ballot box, Governor Greg Abbott doing everything that he can to try to get those laws enacted in Texas even though the Democrats fled the state, some of them. We'll see what happens.
We'll talk to you right after the break and we'll talk about that, Matthew Dowd.
DOWD: Thanks. LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: All right. Matthew Dowd is back with me. Matthew, Texas Governor Abbott calling for a new special session tomorrow to try to force a vote on restrictive voting bills. Democrats who fled the state last month to block it will now have to decide whether they're going to stay out of Texas.
Is this really the best way to fight this? I mean, we talked about it a little but is there any more that can be done there?
DOWD: Well, at this moment, procedurally, it's the only way to keep it from happening at this moment. I mean, ultimately, I think that Greg Abbott is going to face the wrath of the voters in 2022, and that's what ultimately be the decision in this lengthy period of time do it. But right now, the Texas Democrats have the only power they have is to keep a quorum from happening.
How long they can maintain is I think dicey. I think they're going to keep pushing it. I mean, Greg Abbott is in a race to be the worst possible governor in the country. And if the only one he has competition with right now is Governor DeSantis of Florida, I think.
It's not only voting rights decision and putting restricting up. It's preventing local jurisdictions in schools from requiring masks. It's all the things he did about access to guns, creating access to gun at a time when we have four -- we lose 4,000 people a year to gun violence.
I've lived in Texas for 35 years, I've raised four children here, I've buried two children in Texas. And it's a state I love. And I love the people. I cannot stand our leaders. And Greg Abbott is the Dr. Evil of Texas government. Everything he does is cruel and craven.
LEMON: Listen, you mentioned Ron DeSantis of Florida, today questioning Joe Biden's memory, after the president yesterday jokingly referred to DeSantis as governor who. I mean, this, it's only going to get worse this feud between them. But there's one side here that is putting lives at risk. Am I wrong about that?
DOWD: No, not at all. And just the awful thing is that Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott, the two of them are trying to blame immigrants. They're trying to blame immigrants for the spread of the coronavirus around the country.
And if you really looked at the data, more people have died and more people have been hospitalized because of the decisions of -- the decisions of Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott this crisis and pandemic than have come even close to dying because of some immigrants spreading coronavirus.
And so, it's awful, it's horrible but in the end, Don, we can do everything we can, we can speak truth which we should keep doing and keep having this conversation, but it's up to us and the rest of the voters to tell the politicians we are not going to stand for this anymore.
LEMON: Well, Matthew, I have to say that I left home, seriously, without my tan suit because I actually planned to wear it today. This is the closest I could find. The viewers have seen it before, I've worn it before, but it wasn't just in my office tonight.
I've got to ask you about President Biden's wardrobe today, sporting that tan suit, strikingly similar to someone else who wore a tan suit, don't you think? And then got you know what for it.
DOWD: Yes, it's funny. Because the original wearer of the tan suit in modern times is Ronald Regan.
LEMON: Ronald Reagan.
DOWD: And I don't remember conservatives or Republicans criticizing Ronald Reagan for his suit wear. You know, as we've all reflected back on, and I actually think, what started much of this awfulness, is the reaction to President Obama being in the White House. And why we're in the position now we are in with so many people being angry and so many people being divided in the midst of where we are. And so many people being upset about the diversity of America. Which most of us know is a plus and will make us a better country.
There is a segment in our society that the GOP stirs up that cannot stand that diversity America.
LEMON: Matthew, thank you. And listen, I heard what you said about your children, and I'm sorry. I didn't want to interrupt the flow of what we're doing, but we're really sorry. We're proud of you. I love having you on, you're a good man. Thank you. And please come back. OK?
DOWD: Thank you, Don, Great to be with you.
LEMON: I know you have a daughter who is going away to college going to be an empty nest.
DOWD: Yes. I am so proud of her. You cannot -- I can't contain myself how proud I am of her.
LEMON: As you should be. Thank you, proud dad. I'll see you soon.
DOWD: Thank you. Bye.
LEMON: Governor Cuomo's lawyers in attack mode, in defense of their client as his -- he faces a criminal complaint. Stay with us.
LEMON: Tonight, embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fighting back against allegations he sexually harassed multiple women. His lawyers attacking an investigation by the state attorney general as flawed and biased. Just one of Governor Cuomo's accusers files a criminal complaint against him.
Also, tonight, with the number of new COVID-19 cases surging to nearly 100,000 per day, hundreds of thousands of bikers gathering for the giant Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota which experts fear will be a super spreader event.