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Don Lemon Tonight
Some Americans are Ignoring Science About Wearing Masks and Debate Rages Over Mask Mandates in Schools as Kids Remain at Risk; U.S. is Averaging 122,000 Plus New Cases a Day With 75,000 Plus Hospitalized; FDA Authorizes Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Dose for Certain Immunocompromised People; U.S. Embassy Urges Americans to Leave Afghanistan "Immediately"; CA Man Allegedly Confesses to Killing His Children. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 12, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Let's talk about misinformation nation, shall we, and how it is driving us apart, misinformation on the effectiveness of wearing masks, especially for protecting schoolchildren from the spread of COVID-19, leading some Americans to act out in angry rages, threatening other parents.
In Tennessee, a concerned father spoke at a school board meeting in favor of masks for elementary school children in his district. As he left the meeting, he was verbally assaulted and had to be escorted to his car by police.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
CROWD: We will not comply. We will not comply! We will not comply!
UNKNOWN: No more masks! No more masks! No more masks!
UNKNOWN: Child abusers!
UNKNOWN: Child abusers! You are child abusers! There's a place for you, guys. There's a bad place in hell. Everybody is taking notes, buddy. We know who you are. We know who you are.
UNKNOWN: Keep it calm.
UNKNOWN: No more masks.
UNKNOWN: Keep it calm. Keep it calm.
UNKNOWN: No more masks.
UNKNOWN: We're on this guy's side. They're on his side.
UNKNOWN: No, no, they're not. You're not on our side.
UNKNOWN: Police are on our side. Police are on our side. Calm down.
UNKNOWN: Calm down.
UNKNOWN: We know who you are.
UNKNOWN: We know who you are.
UNKNOWN: You can leave freely, but we will find you, and we know who you are.
UNKNOWN: You will never be allowed in public again.
UNKNOWN: I know who you are.
UNKNOWN: We know who you are.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): Well, that man who was subjected to that abuse is Michael Miller, and I'm going to speak with him in just a few moments. But here is what he told my colleague, Victor Blackwell, this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MILLER, FATHER OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT STUDENTS: I had to get out of there. All I wanted to do is go to home to my family and my kids. I'm a parent. I'm not a doctor. I work as a data analyst in the health care profession. I'm just a parent who wanted to have his say why masks were important for children, all children, under the age of 12.
Board meetings are for parents and concerned community members to have peaceful discourse with one another. Board members should not be sitting on a board being threatened with their lives. Parents should feel threatened for their lives walking into a parking lot. That is not the America I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): But it is the America that we are becoming. Too many parents are ignoring the science about the importance of wearing masks. There was another meeting in another state, Indiana. A doctor there spoke with conviction about COVID and masks and vaccines. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about. The problem is, the things he said -- they weren't accurate. And the bigger problem is they have gone viral. More on that in a minute.
But I want to go back to that meeting in Tennessee. A pediatrician, who also spoke at the meeting in favor of masks for school children, was heckled when he told the truth. Last night, he told me about the spread of bad information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES KEFFER, PEDIATRICIAN AND PARENT WHO SPOKE OUT ABOUT WEARING MASKS IN SCHOOL: I'm not surprised at it because I have seen disinformation, you know, all the way about vaccines to, you know, wearing helmets to car seats. But I have not seen the amount of what seems to be willful, you know, disregard for people who really know just a whole lot.
KEFFER: During this last year, I have not seen children came with -- I have an infection because of a face mask. And, you know, the people who were there seemed to be indicating that the masks were dirty and they're going to make you sick. I can tell you, when the children wear mask regularly, we do not see you because you are sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): The fight against COVID isn't just against the virus. It's also the struggle between information and misinformation.
So joining me now is Michael Miller. He is the parent who we just saw being harassed after speaking in favor of masks at a school board meeting in Tennessee. Michael, I am so glad that you are here. Thank you so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
LEMON: Listen, I know that you are terrified by this episode because we reached out to you last night and I think it is fair to say that you are too shaken at the moment to want to speak out, and then you woke up this morning and this video had gone viral. Have you've been able to process this whole thing?
MILLER: Two days ago, I was just a normal, quiet guy with a quiet existence. I have come to terms with the fact that, for whatever reason, I was put into a position that was unfortunate, unnecessary, and dangerous, but I am also in a position that I thought I have to come forward today to both set the record straight and to use the position I've been put in for good.
LEMON: Yeah. You said so. But, look, there is a lot of anger in your community, clearly. Talk about what it was like when you left that meeting. You asked to be escorted.
MILLER: Yes, I asked to be escorted. I left the meeting at 8:45 and it's a set of double doors to exit to the side of the building there. I asked the officer before I went to the first set, I said I would like a police escort to my vehicle because I could hear the chanting. We heard it for hours from so many people unmasked out there, as you said.
He said there were officers waiting immediately outside the door, they will escort you. So, thank you, walked out, they took me down the ramp there and led me to my car. Unfortunately, the way with where the protesters were, they were packed right by that door. And I truthfully feared for my wife. People were running. Cops are trying to keep people back. The people running between the cars, heckling me, call me awful names like child abuser and I'm going to hell and things that you just will never ever say, should not ever say to somebody.
And then, of course, two or three guys decided that they should go after my window and, you know, threatened my very existence and my family. At that point, all I want to do is get out of there.
LEMON: You have to be concerned about your safety and your children safety, are you not?
MILLER: Absolutely. Terrified. Every time I see this video, I'm terrified.
LEMON: Where does all of this -- where is this rage come from?
MILLER: Where does it come from? It comes from a -- some people just can't be reasonable. Truly, I hate saying that. Some of it is grandstanding. Some of it is group mob mentality and you just get fired up. There were people -- you get 1,000 people all screaming the same thing, chanting for hours. They were getting worked up.
It was 90 to 95 degrees the other night when I walked out that meeting at 8:45. It was hot. People have been outside all day. I have no idea what was going through their minds. When I went to the meeting, the crowd was nowhere near that big. It was big. It was nowhere near that big. So, people clearly showed up during the meeting.
And then the crowd that left halfway through the meeting and the outburst that was shown earlier, that crowd remained and further impassioned those people. It was a general lack of respect. I don't know how to describe it.
LEMON: It's -- well, before I go to, talk to me about that. What do you mean a general lack of respect? It is also, you know, I had the pediatrician on last night who said -- he said it was a willful -- I think he said disregard, and I said after -- we didn't play it tonight, but last, I said, you can say willful ignorance because it's what it is.
Why aren't they listening to the science? Why are they -- it seems to me that they are the ones who are influencing their kids about these masks because if they told their kids that it was good, that it would help them, that they could have mass competitions, who has the cutest mask or the funniest or whatever, that they could actually help the kids and save some kids from possibly becoming infected, and getting us back to normal.
MILLER: I agree. There is -- the blame has to be put on the parents, 110 percent. They hide behind this label of liberty.
MILLER: Liberty does not give you the right to violate the safety of someone else, to harass somebody, to violently attack people, be it in a parking lot or people sitting on a school board.
It does not give you the right to infect other children in the school and not have any regard for anybody else in your community. That is a breakdown of the very fabric of our society. We have to look out for one another. We have to care for one another.
Wearing a mask, we care for one another. These are children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated. Personally, I am floored by any parent who said that they had a child without a mask. We are beyond the point of it being a matter of choice. There is a dire health issue in this community. We all want to keep our children in school as long as we can, and the only way that is going to happen is if they are masked.
Last year, the kids wore masks. There were other mitigation strategies in place. I believe our superintendent quoted a better than 90 percent rate of opening last year, which was stellar given the situation last year. It's commendable.
LEMON (on camera): Yeah. Well, listen. It is not just what you experienced outside of the meeting. This is what fellow parents were saying inside the meeting. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: I would never put them in a mask because their brain needs oxygen to grow, which the neurologists can confirm. Anyway, the real part of the clown show is that you all think that you actually have the authority to mandate this.
UNKNOWN: I swore an oath to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. You harm my children, you become a domestic enemy. We will come for you politically and financially. You've awaken the Eighth Army and we will come for you and the Holy Spirit is coming with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It's really -- listen, for us adults, you and I know better.
LEMON: The kids' brains need oxygen. You can --
MILLER: We trust our doctors to wear masks everyday around us.
LEMON: That's what I was just going to say. People wear masks every single day. And guess what, when I see those kids not wearing masks for Halloween, then I'll know they're serious about it. But every single one of those kids are going to walk around all day on Halloween and they're going to put on their masks and they're going to go to (INAUDIBLE) and they're going to gladly wear a mask all day.
LEMON: But now, this one day, it deprives them of oxygen.
LEMON: Do most people in your area feel that way or are they just -- or is it just the loudest voices? Are they grandstanding? Help me.
MILLER: Yeah, I'll help you, Don. So, I'll quote one statistic from the school board that was mentioned. All of the school board (INAUDIBLE), they received hundreds if not thousands of e-mails the last several weeks about this issue. Better than 70 percent of them were in favor of a mask mandate.
In the room the other night, the parents were screaming, take a vote, we will put it to a vote, we are the majority, we are the majority, and screaming. Yeah, they were the majority in that room because most of the parents are too scared or unable to go to a meeting like that where, quite frankly, probably was a super spreader event.
Hundreds of people in there are without masks on, screaming, who don't believe in science. Some of them, I'm sure, are likely infected. Just by statistics, here in Tennessee, no doubt, there would have to be a case.
So parents, if you are living in a home with immunocompromised individual or young children, you're not going to take the risk of going to that environment, especially knowing it was going to be tense.
That's not Williamson County. I'm going to say that right now. That is not. It's not a political issue. There are people on both sides of the political divide I've heard from today. This is not Republican or Democrat. This is, do you believe in the science or do you not?
MILLER: All of us love our children. There is no question. It is just a matter of what science do you want to believe. There's really only one truth in science. That's a beautiful thing about science.
LEMON: Michael, you be safe out there, you and your family. Thank you for appearing. We wish you the best of luck, and we wish you safety and good health. Thank you so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
LEMON (on camera): Also tonight in misinformation nation, Indiana's doctors convincing, sounding but false and misleading claims about COVID, well, they're going viral. The claims you are about to hear have been all over social media, even shared by sitting members of Congress like Jim Jordan. But they are riddled with problems and bad information.
Here is Dr. Dan Stock speaking before the Mount Vernon community school board. Pay close attention. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN STOCK, INDIANA DOCTOR: So things you should know about coronavirus and all other respiratory virus, they're spread by aerosol particles which were small enough to go through every mask. Knowing that half of the people who came down with symptomatic disease had no contact with an unvaccinated or unknown vaccine status individual, where did they get the disease? The answer was from the vaccinated individuals.
You can't prevent it with a vaccine because they don't do the very thing you want them to do. And you will be chasing this through the remainder of your rife until you recognize that the Center for Disease Control and the Indiana State Board of Health are giving you very bad scientific guidance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Okay. So joining me now is Arika Herron. She is an education reporter for the "Indianapolis Star." And Dr. Gabriel Bosslet is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Indiana University of Medicine. I'm so glad both of you are here as well. This is a very important topic.
Dr. Bosslet, the man is well spoken, he seems professional, but what he is saying is dangerous. He is claiming vaccines are causing people to get sick. It is absurd. Please give us the facts, sir.
GABRIEL BOSSLET, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL MEDICINE, INDIANA UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE: I mean, most of what he said was not factual. You're right, he sounded great and he had a really crisp shirt and some nice suspenders, and he looked like doctor. I mean, he is a doctor. And he used medical words and he really sounded official. But the fact was most of what he said was just patently false.
LEMON: You have refuted Stock's claims point by point on Facebook, but points out there are small nuggets of truth throughout his phony claims. So tell me about that and why it makes it more pervasive to you.
BOSSLET: Yeah. I mean, you know, he started the whole thing out by saying that, you know, the virus is so small that it will pass through any, you know, the fiber of a mask. That truth is viruses are tiny. They're very small. So if you're just going by the claim that the virus is tiny, that's a true statement.
The fact of the matter is the way that the virus has travelled, they are trapped by masks. I think you can argue at this point what masks are best, where they work best. I think there are reasonable arguments to be made about masks and how to use them. But whether or not they work isn't really in the realm of reasonability to argue.
LEMON: Arika, I want to bring you in because you have been reporting on Dr. Stock. What can you tell us about him and why so many people are amplifying him and what he says?
ARIKA HERRON, EDUCATION REPORTER FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR: Well, I think Dr. Stock is resonating with a lot of people because he is telling them what they want to hear. We have a lot of people who are tired of the mask mandates and just have a lot of COVID fatigue. They want their schools to reopen like normal. And he is telling them that that is possible and that we don't need these things. That's what they want to hear. He's a doctor, so they're going to take his opinion.
LEMON: Dr. Bosslet, another question. Stock has been going to other local school board meetings to speak out against COVID protocols. Do you believe people like him and the misinformation they're spreading are why we are seeing this surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, not just in your state but really across the country?
BOSSLET: I think it is a factor, for sure. I mean, this thing is so complex. We've had such a hard time figuring out what is going to happen next with this virus. But the fact is that people spreading misinformation and people who should know better, physicians, spreading misinformation certainly aren't helping.
The message that we need now is people need to be vaccinated. Any physician who isn't having sort of having that conversation with every patient they come in contact with, is holding up us getting through this.
LEMON: Arika, listen, I know that, again, you've been reporting on this, but we reached out to Stock for comment and left a message on his voicemail, but we did not hear back. How are health officials in Indiana pushing back on his video?
HERRON: Health officials are continuing to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. The state health department and a lot of the local county health departments are encouraging schools to follow the CDC guidelines when it comes to masking and social distancing and just continuing to push out the message that everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated.
There are no mandates in place here as far as schools go, masking, that sort of thing, but just a lot of encouragement for people to go ahead and get the shot.
LEMON: Well, Arika, great job reporting. I hope that you will continue. We will have you back as this progress. And thank you very much, Dr. Gabriel Bosslet. Thank you. I really appreciate both of you appearing on the program tonight. Keep up the fight and the good work. Thanks.
Joining me now is CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter. Hi, Amanda.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR AND SPEECHWRITER FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Hey, Don.
LEMON: What on earth is going on? I mean, Michael Miller, like so many people, totally fed with those who just won't listen to science, won't follow the rules, and are pushing us all back into this COVID mess. I thought, hey, we're almost there. We can go around certain places without masks. We can be outside and here we are.
LEMON: Why do we all need to sacrifice because of their willful ignorance?
CARPENTER: We don't have a choice right now, right?
CARPENTER: We've all been backed into this situation. We had the bit of freedom for a couple weeks in July. And now we're right back in it. It is just -- it is very hard because this is the nightmare scenario. For those of us who do politics for a living, you know, I think we're pretty good at compartmentalizing things, putting the politics here, coming back home. But now, for everyone, you can't escape it.
It is going into the schools. It was my biggest fear watching this shape up that our schools would become protest zones. And that's what's happening. It is very difficult. I just got to say there is light coming at the end of the tunnel. People going forward, they're going to encounter COVID. There is a choice, right? You can encounter COVID with the vaccine or without.
Very soon, I hope, if parents and families can hang on, the kids will be eligible for that vaccine, and you can choose to fight COVID with a vaccine. And we're going to get through this one way or another. I wish it were the easy way, right? We had the chance to do it the easy way. But now we are going to grit our teeth and do it the hard way.
So protect yourselves. Protect your family. Talk to the people who are reluctant, hesitant, whatever. And if they won't do it for themselves, just ask them, do you know a nurse? Do you know a doctor? Do you know a teacher? Do you know that you are putting them through this for another year? I have such compassion for the nurses who have been sacrificing for the last 18 months, the doctors who should never have to do this again.
And God bless you, Don, for going down there to that hospital and walking in that place. That's a scary thing. And thank you for talking to them because I feel like they've been left behind throughout all this.
LEMON: I'm glad you said that. Amanda, they were so grateful just to have someone there paying attention to them. And just more than that, just appreciating them and telling the story, because we don't get to see the inside of the hospitals and we don't usually get that close to the patients. Usually, it is through glass, right, or it is from -- for me, from a reporter on the show.
But just going and speaking to the people, the folks who were there working, some of them said they were there for nine days, Amanda. And I was standing around the nurses' station in the ICU. And they said that we've been here -- some of us have been here for nine hours. We go, we sleep in a hotel and we come back. And some of them can't be with their family because they are, you know, they come in contact with COVID patients every single day.
I mean, it is the people who are not getting vaccinated who are saying it is my freedom or I just don't want to do it or I want to wait, they are the ones who are taxing the system.
CARPENTER: Absolutely. And they're putting the doctors, the nurses, all the support staff through that, then also anyone else that might have an accident and might need to get into a hospital in a time of emergency. So it is extremely unfortunate.
The only thing right now we can do is be clear-eyed about what happened, why it happened, how to protect yourself going forward. Let's get through this and there will be a very clear contrast between the states, localities that did mask, that did vaccines and those who didn't. And it is a tragedy. It is really is a tragedy.
CARPENTER: I wish it didn't have to come to this. I wish we didn't have to think about political triage and thinking these terms. But at some point, the compassion runs out and you have to reserve it for the people who truly, truly deserve it.
LEMON: Well, Amanda, I can tell, I can sense your frustration. Last night was -- one of the moments that resonated on the show was when you were speaking to us as a parent. I can tell you're speaking as a parent tonight and not speaking as a political commentator, and I can sense your frustration. Be well, Amanda. Be safe, you and your kids and your entire family. Thank you. I'll see you soon.
LEMON (on camera): More than 75,000 people in the hospital fighting coronavirus here in the U.S. right. I had just been talking to Amanda about this. The very hospital I was born in is inundated with patients. The surge is so bad in Louisiana. I needed to go home to see it for myself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRISHA GUDRY, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, BATON ROUGE GENERAL HOSPITAL: It's not. It's very deadly and it's very contagious. Our numbers are continuing to rise. Again, we started off a few weeks ago with four COVID patients here with only one acute care unit open and a few ICU beds. Now, I have four units open that are 30 bed units and two ICUs open with 22 patients in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): More than 90 percent of counties in the U.S. are at substantial or high levels of community transmission. Louisiana, my home state, has the second highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita. We saw that first-hand today.
Joining me now is William Haseltine, the former professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of "My Lifelong Fight Against Disease and Variants."
Dr. Haseltine, thank you so much for joining. Most of the people I saw today, their hospitalizations could have been avoided. I want you to listen to some of those patients.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON: Why didn't you get vaccinated?
JIM BURGESS, BATON ROUGE GENERAL PATIENT: Just haven't had time. I just didn't do it.
LEMON: So you're not anti-vaccine.
BURGESS: No, sir. No, sir.
LEMON: Why didn't you get vaccinated?
UNKNOWN: Just apprehensive, you know?
UNKNOWN: The reason I didn't get vaccinated, my choice was I wanted to wait, let this first batch go through, you know. See how it worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So these particular people I spoke to, they weren't anti-vaccine. They were a little apprehensive. They were scared or they didn't feel the urgency for whatever reason. Some worried that the vaccine was rushed. I'm sure they are not alone and plenty of other people out there feel the same way. What do you say to those folks?
WILLIAM HASELTINE, AUTHOR, FORMER PROFESSOR AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Don, I watched your program and it was one of the most moving programs I've ever seen on this topic, of all the things we've seen. What you saw were just ordinary people suffering, understanding that they made a mistake and trying to communicate with you to do their best to help others.
I think we have to look at this as we're in this for the long term. I look at this virus every day as closely as I can. It seems to me that we may not be out of this in my lifetime. I think we will do much better than we are today. We have good vaccines. We'll get better vaccines. We have some drugs that work. We'll get better drugs that work. We need time. We need to support the people, our doctors. But we need something else that you touched on in this program, which was a culture of caring, caring for ourselves, caring for each other. And what you see with these people is they're calling out. Help yourself, help your family, and help others. We don't need to get so sick to do that. We should begin to change now.
I think your program, more than any politician or scientist or talking head, saying what you need to do, is the kind of thing that can help change this situation. Move us toward a culture of care.
LEMON: I am looking at my notes and the computer here because it is just coming in, Dr. Haseltine, it is breaking news. The FDA has approved a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna for some immunocompromised people. And is this our reporting, producers? Yes, okay. This is CNN's reporting. I wanted to make sure I didn't have to attribute it to anyone. So is this booster eventually going to expand to a broader population?
HASELTINE: It has to. You have to think of this like the flu. It comes back every year. This one is coming back every winter and now every summer for two in a row. So we're beginning to understand its pattern. So, yes, we are going to need boosters and we are going to need better vaccines, and we're going to have to keep our vaccines current with the kind of viruses out there.
This virus changes just like the flu. I think we know how to confront this because we do it with the flu. If you think of this as a more serious kind of flu that is going to require continual vigilance, you don't go once and get your flu shot. You go every year.
That is what we're going to have and we're going to have better drugs. We're going to get better vaccines even though these are great. We'll get better ones and we'll get better drugs. So if you're exposed, you can take a pill and not get sick. We will have those. It is going to take time. It is going to take a lot of hard work. In the meantime, we have to get better.
LEMON: Yeah. And we rejigger the flu vaccine every year for certain strains and certain variants. And so -- yeah, they updated. Thank you, Dr. Haseltine. I really appreciate it.
HASELTINE: And I appreciate your work.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, sir. I want to give our viewers the breaking news again. The FDA is authorizing COVID-19 vaccine dose, a third dose, a booster shot for the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine for certain immunocompromised people. We'll update you on that.
In the meantime, the Pentagon announcing 3,000 troops deploying to Afghanistan as the U.S. Embassy in Kabul draws down its staff. The country on the brink of collapse to the Taliban. More next.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The U.S. is sending 3,000 American troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate embassy staff in Kabul. It is in response to the Taliban's rapid gains across the country with the fear being that Kabul itself could soon fall. The worsening security situation coming weeks ahead of the end of the two decade military campaign led by the U.S.
I want to bring in now CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser. Susan, always a pleasure to see you, but this is tough stuff that we have to talk about. Good evening to you. So, Afghanistan's third largest city, Herat, fell to the Taliban today. More than a third of the country's provincial capitals have already fallen and Afghanistan's two -- second, I should say, largest city, Kandahar, is on the brink.
How did this situation in Afghanistan unravel so rapidly and so dramatically? What happened to the Afghan military?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Don, this was always the scenario, of course, that the U.S. Military was worried about. In fact, it is really one of the reasons in some ways that previous presidents were so reluctant to do this because this is a worst case possibility.
GLASSER: The Taliban, when they first came to power in the 1990s, it was a very similar, almost lightning sweep across the country, almost the cratering of it. I think part of it also was the narrative of inevitable victory for such a long time. There has been the expectation that once, and if the United States pulled out, that this would happen.
And I think that, you know, the fact that there was no one coming to the rescue anymore, you know, may have factored into it. But it is the speed with which it happened this week, I final myself feeling like, you know, there's nothing surprising about it but it is still like a gut punch to watch, this sort of grim inevitable march across the country.
LEMON: Amen. So here's the thing though. He has support. Sixty-two percent of Americans support the president's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops. That's according to a Quinnipiac poll in May. That has been the case for some time now. But it has left leaders with a bad choice. Stay seemingly indefinitely or leave and risk it falling apart. Am I right?
GLASSER: Well, I think the problem and where you hear the second- guessing right now among people who have focused on this in the national security world is like if it is framed as a choice between war and no war, right, the American people across the political spectrum, they've made that very clear. No war. They don't want to have any more endless entanglements. If you focus on a more limited counterterrorism mission, which is what leaders have said for some time was the goal as opposed to winning some massive conflict, there were about 3,500 troops on the ground when Biden made the decision to pull out and there are some people looking at this situation today saying, you know, for 3,500 troops, rather than have the Taliban now taking over the country, in this terrible irony, they're sending in about 3,000 troops, Don, today, to secure the evacuation of embassy officials that is made necessary by the previous decision to remove 3,000 troops.
It is just a painful moment, I think, of the U.S. It is a humbling moment, really.
LEMON: Well, Susan Glasser, again, it is always a pleasure and I always feel smarter after you have appeared on this program. Thank you very much. I'll see you soon.
GLASSER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: A 40-year-old California man allegedly confessing to murdering his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter, saying he was -- quote -- "enlightened by QAnon." Stay with us.
LEMON (on camera): This next story, a 2-year-old boy and 10-month-old girl brutally murdered. Their father is confessing to authorities that he killed them, allegedly telling police he had been enlightened by QAnon and illuminati conspiracy theories, and that he believed his children possessed serpent DNA.
CNN's Josh Campbell has more on this tragic story, and I want to warn you, the details are disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two small children stabbed in the heart with a spearfishing gun. Their own father allegedly leaving their bodies in a ditch in Mexico. Mexican authorities describing difficult details.
UNKNOWN (through translator): Under the bushes, they found the lifeless bodies of two children, one female and one male.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Authorities say 40-year-old surf instructor Matthew Taylor Coleman from Santa Barbara, California confessed to murdering his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter this week in Mexico, telling the FBI he was driven to the killings after being enlightened by QAnon and illuminati conspiracy theories.
Police and federal agents were called in after the children were reported missing by their mother. Authorities are tracking Coleman's cellphone to Mexico. Surveillance video images released by authorities show Coleman checking into a hotel with his children August 7th. Just before 3:00 a.m. on August 9th, he packs them up and leaves the hotel, returning hours later alone.
He was stopped by border officials while returning to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers finding what appeared to be blood on the vehicle's registration paperwork, but no children.
The FBI soon learned from Mexican authorities that the bodies of two children were found overnight, along with the murder weapon, bloody clothes, and a baby's blanket.
According to the criminal complaint, Coleman allegedly told authorities he was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to his children. Coleman also allegedly telling the FBI he was saving the world from monsters. He was arrested and charged with the foreign murder of U.S. nationals.
EVAN BUELL, NEIGHBOR OF MATTHEW TAYLOR COLEMAN: Just a horrific tragic loss.
CAMPBELL (voice-over): Coleman's neighbors back in Santa Barbara are stunned.
BUELL: Just shocked, frankly. Immensely tragic, and having known the two kids and the family, it is just awful.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): Josh, wow! What a tragic story. This isn't the first time we've seen a suspected QAnon follower go violent. What are authorities saying about the ongoing threat posed by the conspiracy theorists?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, Don, authorities and experts remain concerned about this movement. There's a lot we don't know about the specific suspect. We've reached out to his attorney for comment. We have not yet heard back.
CAMPBELL: Of course, there's a concern that maybe mental health may be at play here. But this case is illustrating what is concerning for law enforcement officials and that is you could have adherence to these fringe movements like QAnon that are predisposed to violence.
It is worth noting, Don, that the basis of this entire movement is this notion that somehow Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are preying on children, yet we see the hypocrisy here in this case where you have an alleged QAnon adherence, someone who said that he was enlightened by QAnon, standing charge for the murder of his own two children. Don?
LEMON: Just awful. Josh Campbell, thank you so much. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
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And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. With tomorrow shaping up to be a big day in the fight against COVID, especially the prospect of a decision on additional vaccine doses for those who might need them. We will be joined shortly by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
We begin though tonight with the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the consequences on the ground after President Biden's decision to end.