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Don Lemon Tonight
U.S. President Joe Biden Defends U.S. Withdrawal In Afghanistan; Ida Leaves More Than One Million Without Power Along Gulf Coast; Don Lemon Interviews U.S. Citizen Stuck In Afghanistan; Fate Of Roe v. Wade In The Balance; McCarthy Issues Warning Shot To Companies; GOP Lawmakers Fearmongering Over Afghan Refugees In U.S. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 31, 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: President Biden addressing the nation today, telling Americans the war in Afghanistan is now over and marking the end of America's longest war.
The president vigorously defending his decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops in the chaotic final days as the United States military airlifted more than 120,000 people out of Kabul's airport.
Tonight, more than one million people along the Gulf Coast, mostly in Louisiana, without power after Hurricane Ida's devastating blow. The widespread power outages could last for weeks amid excessive heat.
And a restrictive state abortion law could take effect tonight in Texas. If it's not blocked by the courts, it could effectively and Roe v. Wade.
I want to go to CNN's White House correspondent John Harwood now and also political commentator Charlie Dent. He is a former Republican congressman. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us this evening. I appreciate it.
John, President Biden is delivering a forceful defense of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan today, not giving an answer to his critics. What was a strategy here?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what you saw today was part strategy and part personal impulse. On the strategic level, he wanted to explain and defend the decision in broad strokes that led us here. That is that the work in Afghanistan, it was time to bring it to a close, that it long since achieved its principal objectives. He not only deeply believes that now, he has believed it for 10 years.
Obama and Trump both wanted to do the same thing but Biden did it. And because Biden did it, he has been for the last two weeks in a Category 5 political hurricane. The proximate cause of that was the collapse of the Afghan government and security forces.
But the images that that put on our TV screens of the Kabul airport led a chorus of critics, Republicans, the news media, some Democrats as well, to accuse him of being incompetent, unprepared, lacking empathy for Afghans.
He took that heat. They got control of the airport. They staged this evacuation that got all but about 100 of the 6,000 Americans in Afghanistan out. They got 120,000 people overall out, tens of thousands of Afghans.
It was marred, of course, by the horrendous suicide bomb attack last week that took the lives of 13 American service members. But overall, President Biden thinks both the decision was right and the execution of the withdrawal was strong in the end. They got control of it and they got people out.
I think the intensity of the criticism that he received really angered him, and that's where I go to the personal impulse part. It made him angry and he expressed that anger in his speech today. Now, some people would say it is passionate. Other people would say is too hot. I don't know whether that served him well or not in terms of how it will cross with the American public but he wasn't holding it back.
LEMON: Yeah. Charlie, the president called this evacuation mission extraordinary success. But you think President Biden should ask someone in his administration to resign over this withdrawal. Why is that?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: I think that there has to be some level of accountability. The evacuation clearly was successful. In many ways, it was extraordinary, what our people on the ground did. But the policy that led up to this evacuation was disastrous on strategic, military, diplomatic, and humanitarian level.
I think the president, you know, presented a false choice to the American people. That is either we end this forever war, everybody out, or a major troop surge. I don't think that was a choice at all. Yes, we could have maintained an easy equilibrium or a very fragile status quo better than the Taliban and so I -- but I do think there has to be some level of accountability.
Not right now. But over time, I think there should be someone who should probably step down over what happened because I don't think anybody can say this is -- this was -- this policy made a lot of sense. And I don't believe for a second that the American people wanted to surrender the whole country to the Taliban on the way out the door.
DENT: I hear all these polls saying everybody wants out, but to surrender to the Taliban and to extremists who may end up developing another base from which to conduct attacks.
LEMON: John, I see your expression. Do you want to response?
HARWOOD: Well, I -- Charlie clearly disagrees with the policy decision to get out, and a significant number of member of Congress do, a significant number of people who were involved in past administrations disagree with the decision.
But, Joe Biden was very clear on - when he ran for presidency, that that is what he wanted to do. And I don't think we should hold our breath waiting for him to seek resignations for any top defensive officials for a policy that he thinks was correct and that he thinks was implemented in an acceptable fashion.
One thing he addressed in the speech today was you have people say, well, you didn't foresee that the Afghan government security forces would collapse so quickly. That is true and he has acknowledged that. But he also explained in the speech that had he taken actions in response to the anticipated collapse of the government, he likely would have accelerated the collapse of the government, produce the same situation. That is what he believes.
Charlie may believe differently, but I don't think Biden is gonna fire people for doing what he wanted done, with the result that he is content with.
DENT: Look, there has to be some level of accountability. I don't know how anybody can really defend what has just occurred. It breaks my heart to see the sacrifice. I don't say it was in vain, but people sacrificed so much for this.
I mean how anybody can think turning over this country to the Taliban -- look, Trump and Biden fundamentally agreed on Afghan policy. Basically, Joe Biden implemented Donald Trump's what H.R. McMaster called the surrender agreement. I tend to agree --
LEMON: Charlie, before you go into that -- I promise I will let you finish. Hang on. I will let you finish. But as I said in the open to the show, it was the former administration that negotiated a deal with the Taliban, the one who secretary of state met with the Taliban. The leader of the Taliban was released because of the former -- the previous administration. So there's a lot of blame to go around here.
And who else was Joe Biden going to negotiate with after the former president negotiated with -- after the former administration had relinquished so much power and basically the country to the Taliban before the government and the military topple. Go on. I promise I will let you finish. Sorry for the interruption. Go on.
DENT: We withdrew our air support, our logistical support and intelligence support, and then we are shocked as the Afghan army collapsed.
DENT: I mean that's what happened. That was predictable. We can make a great argument about maybe we shouldn't train the Afghans the way we did. They're so dependent on us. But that's what we get.
So, at the end of the day, I think that we are going -- this is hurting America's standing in the world. And I don't blame Joe Biden entirely for what happened. Obviously, Donald Trump negotiated this deal, as you pointed out correctly. He negotiated this very bad deal.
Joe Biden was under no obligation to implement that horrible sham of policy as far as I'm concerned. It is easy to blame Trump. But fundamentally, Biden and Trump agreed on the policy which was just to get out and pretty much damn the consequences.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, gentlemen. I really appreciate the conversation. Thank you very much. I'll see you both soon.
President Biden making a case that leaving Afghanistan was the best option for the U.S.
Joining me now is a former Marine Corps Captain Elliot Ackerman. He is a former CIA case officer. We're so glad to have you back with us here on CNN. Thank you very much for doing this. You heard the president today. Do you agree that leaving Afghanistan the way we did was the only choice for the U.S.?
ELLIOT ACKERMAN, FORMER MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: No, I don't. I agree with your previous guests that there's a whole host of options, and the president, in many respects, has presented the American people with a false choice. That this was not a -- we either leave Afghanistan or see a massive escalation in fighting and recommitment of troops.
So he is the president of the United States. This is his policy. Like your previous guests, I believe it has been a disastrous one so far and there needs to be some accountability. I would hope to see the resignation of senior officials. It is just because if there aren't resignations over something like this, a debacle like this, then what would there be resignations for? To me, that would speak to a culture of unaccountability to the highest level. So, no, I don't agree with the president.
LEMON: Let us talk about the folks who are still there. The Biden administration is promising to evacuate the 100 or 200 Americans still in Afghanistan.
LEMON: Do you think that is realistic, because I know that you've been trying to help people get out of the country yourself, Elliot?
ACKERMAN: It's gonna be very -- it's gonna be very difficult. You know, we've heard a lot about how the administration has this leverage over the Taliban right now with regards to aid.
What I fear is that the Taliban also has a lot of leverage over the United States right now because we have more American citizens in the country today than were left behind in, for instance, Tehran in 1979. So I think, you know, if I were the president, I would be very concerned about the number of Americans we left behind, not only just on a humanitarian basis, but also just on the political basis as well.
LEMON: Elliot, the defense officials are telling CNN that U.S. Military negotiated a secret deal with the Taliban to help get Americans to safety before U.S. troops left. Why do you think the Pentagon seems so determined to show cooperation by the Taliban?
ACKERMAN: You know, it is really been sort of puzzling to watch at least what I perceive to be kind of almost apologist (ph) narrative coming out of the administration with regards to the Taliban. There has been very, it seems, earnest efforts to tell us that this is in some ways reformed Taliban.
I think the reason we're seeing that is because if there were an acknowledgment that the Taliban we're dealing with is the just the same old Taliban, it would make our cooperation with them all the more unseemly.
But I'm very skeptical. There's nothing I've seen, particularly amongst my contacts in Afghanistan, some of whom have family members who have been assassinated by the Taliban in recent weeks, that this is any type of new organization.
LEMON: Yeah. Elliott, we appreciate having you. Thank you so much. Please come back. Be safe.
ACKERMAN: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. I want to turn now to the latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. At least five people have died. More than a million are without power in the scorching heat.
CNN's Brian Todd for us live again this evening in New Orleans. Brian, thank you for your reporting. Thank you for appearing on the program this evening as well. I know it is hot. Most people in Louisiana still don't have power. Give us the low-down. What's going on in the ground?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Don, it is striking to us, to me and members of our team here, just how much people are still struggling a little more than 48 hours our after Hurricane Ida, how much people are struggling just to get some of the basics they need to survive.
And we're talking about just food and water. People are wondering where I'm gonna go for food and water, because I can tell you that my team and I have been roaming around the city all weekend and in the two days since Hurricane Ida, and there are very, very few grocery stores open. There are very few of any kind of stores open. Food and water are really starting to become an issue.
We did visit today a food and water distribution center in the neighborhood of Algiers in Southern New Orleans. This was set up by the local city councils, plus a couple of private groups. People are waiting for hours in line in their vehicles and on foot just to get one meal per person and a drink per person.
So as noble as the effort was to try to get people something, it just was limited. One of the people we talked to who was in line, Ronald Pegues, was a little frustrated with that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD PEGUES, RESIDENT OF ALGIERS SECTION OF NEW ORLEANS: Food issue, the water issue, I don't think that they have these things out quick enough. They don't really have -- I think they should have that medical shift here already for people who are in dire state of medical need because hospitals, a lot of those went down. So it's like I don't think that they -- they say that they are prepared but they are not giving a good effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (on camera): So you can sense the frustration on his part and a lot of other people. We also visited the neighborhood around that area. We saw some really bad damage. Trees slammed into houses, roofs collapsed, and again the oppressive heat, people are just trying to deal with that.
We visited a family where a mother was living with eight children plus her mother and some extended family. Her 10-year-old boy has a heart condition. She was trying to make her own arrangements for what to do when his medication runs out. She's got to do this all on her own.
So, again, just some of the struggles that people are dealing with no power in this area and the heat getting worse and worse. Another issue, Don, is gas. Twice, yesterday and today, we visited gas stations here where there were really, really long lines of people waiting to just get either a tank full of gas or fill up cans of gas.
TODD: People told us they're waiting for three or four hours. And gas stations were simply starting to run out. And it's just really, again, a real struggle because the refineries here and the production platforms here are still mostly offline. I mean, you've got oil production and natural gas production platforms -- Don, we read something today that said more than 90 percent of each of those production platforms are still offline. Refineries are still down.
TODD: Gasoline is going to become a huge issue here. It really already is. And as it extends three, four, five days after the hurricane, you wonder just when some of the stuff is going to get back online.
LEMON: Yeah. Brian Todd is bringing us the story, taking us inside of what's happening there down in Louisiana. It's sad. Brian, thank you for keeping us updated. We appreciate it. You be safe out there.
President Biden says that he is committed to helping Americans who still want to leave Afghanistan. Up next, we're going to talk with one of those Americans still stuck there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: FOr those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: President Biden saying the U.S. is committed to getting out any American citizen stuck in Afghanistan if they want to leave. Anywhere from 100 to 200 Americans who want to escape are still believed to be there.
LEMON: One of them is a former interpreter for high-level military officials, including General H.R. McMaster. Basir was living in California until he watched the Afghan government collapse earlier this month, and he knew that he needed to get his family out. Once he got to Afghanistan, he tried to get into the airport multiple times, he says, with his mother and niece, but each time, they were confronted with tear gas and closed gates.
Basir joins me now on the phone and we are only using his first name for his safety and that of his family. Basir, I'm so glad that you're with us this evening. Thank you for joining us.
You went to Afghanistan from the U.S. to rescue your family right after Kabul fell. You repeatedly went to the airport, you say, to try to get out, but no luck. Talk to me about trying to get through the gates. You said that you were hit by tear gas?
BASIR, AMERICAN CITIZEN STUCK IN AFGHANISTAN (via telephone): Yes. Hi, Don. How are you doing? So, yeah, I was in California when I heard that the government collapsed and people were able to get their family out of Afghanistan. So I decide and I left my wife and my 6-month-old son behind to go to Afghanistan to rescue my family because my family, they got warning from the Taliban and they got letters from the Taliban that your son and your brother who work with the U.S. Army was a traitor.
So, for that reason, I came to Afghanistan to rescue them and I went to the gate, the airport gate, but my way was blocked. They basically welcomed me with a lot of tear gas and smoke grenades. Even one of the soldiers told me, go away, otherwise, I'm going to shoot you on the head.
BASIR (via telephone): So, I showed him my passport. I told him I'm a U.S. citizen and I have the papers to get out of Afghanistan. He said, I don't care and your passport is worthless right here.
LEMON: Hmm. Let me ask you because people here -- they understand you have a family but I think people are wondering -- why did you go back? Could you have done something to help facilitate it while you were still here in the United States before it got to this?
BASIR (via telephone): Yeah. Well, I tried always and I tried to talk with a lot of lawyers and a lot of people to facilitate my family to the United States. But unfortunately, due to some problems, I was not able to bring them to the United States.
So when the government collapsed and I heard from friends and family that they were able to bring their entire family like some -- a person with a U.S. passport were able to bring 25 people with them and escort them to the airport. For that reason, I left United States and I came to Afghanistan to rescue my nine family members with me. But there was no luck for us.
LEMON: So, listen. You have been emailing, calling and texting the State Department and U.S. Embassy to help get you and your family out. Have they told you anything? What are they saying?
BASIR (via telephone): Good question. So I contacted U.S. Embassy and I contacted the State Department. I was in touch with (INAUDIBLE) 21. I contact them and I told them that I need to get out of Afghanistan with my family because my family is really in danger and I'm in danger so I need to get them out of there.
U.S. Embassy did not reply to me. The last e-mail I received from the State Department and U.S. Embassy was on the 26th (INAUDIBLE) 21. People were pushing me to go to the MOI gate, which was controlled by the Taliban.
There was no safety involved there because it's a long way and they were letting people individually. And there was a possibility for Taliban to pull every single American on the sight and just kill them right there. And because there was no guarantee, I refused to do that.
LEMON: Well, that was the reason for -- my first question was did you think that you could have better helped them had you stayed in the United States? And my other question is when you went to the gates, were you -- did you go with your entire family when you were trying to leave?
BASIR (via telephone): I did, yes.
LEMON: Do you think that if you had gone alone, if you were just going by yourself, do you think they would have let you back? Is it because you had so many people with you and they thought you were trying to get people out? Do you think if you were by yourself and you showed them a passport that they would have let you through?
BASIR (via telephone): No, that's not the case. Even if I showed them and said I'm by myself, they said, go away. There was an interpreter who was --
LEMON: Got it. BASIR (via telephone): -- giving me a lot of "F" word and "S" word. So it is not a case of my family. In general, they didn't let me to get in.
LEMON: The State Department told us that they cannot verify if anyone contacted the U.S. Embassy because it suspended all activity.
LEMON: CNN has been told that officials made 55,000 phone calls and sent 33,000 e-mails to try to contact Americans who wanted to leave. Were you ever contacted or your family?
BASIR (via telephone): I did not contacted by anybody. I even contact them and I give them my passport and my name, every detail. Basically, I sent up all the forms, all the service that they had available. I filled it out but they didn't contact me and they never ask me to meet them at a certain area or go to the airport so that we can evacuate you and your family.
LEMON: Hmm. Basir, are you hopeful the U.S. government will still be able to get you and your family out of there?
BASIR (via telephone): I don't know. Basically, I'm hopeless right now. I don't have any hope that the U.S. government will help me because I contact U.S. Department of the State and they hung up the phone on me.
BASIR (via telephone): So, I'm basically helpless right now and nobody will help me.
LEMON: Well, Basir, there are other folks who are in similar situations as you and we have been speaking to them. Again, the administration, the president promising they are going to try to get -- they are going to get all the Americans out, even after obviously after the deadline that is already passed.
So, we thank you for calling us. Best of luck and please keep us updated on your situation. Okay?
BASIR (via telephone): Welcome. Thank you, Don. Thank you for having me. You guys have a good night. Bye.
LEMON: There is a midnight deadline. The Supreme Court has to act now or a Texas court decision could effectively end Roe v. Wade. Stay with us.
LEMON: So this one is really important, so pay attention, everyone. The restrictive state abortion law is set to take effect tonight in Texas unless it is blocked by the court. If the law is not blocked, it could effectively end Roe v. Wade.
Let's discuss now with CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and senior legal analyst Laura Coates. Thank you both for joining. So, good evening to you.
Jeffrey, this Texas law is set to go into effect at midnight central time that bans abortions at six weeks and allows private citizens to bring civil suits against providers and anyone who helps a person seek an abortion. Explain how that would work.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it is very simple to explain how it will work. Abortion will be illegal in Texas, period. I mean, there is no abortion clinic. There is no abortion provider that will risk going forward, giving anyone the opportunity -- any woman the opportunity for an abortion in light of this law.
Six weeks is a time that most women, many women don't even know that they're pregnant. So, it's effectively a ban on all abortions. And this very strange provision of allowing private parties to sue is an attempt to insulate the state of Texas from being sued to stop it.
One reason why this is such a legally complicated situation is that there is no clear defendant in this case. And that's why the law was set up this way and that's why in about 88 minutes, unless the court acts, you know, for the first time since 1973, abortion will be illegal in the United States -- in a state in the United States.
LEMON: So I don't want to overstate because this is what I say when I introduced you. You just said that the Supreme Court -- unless we see -- we're waiting to see if they intervene. But if the law takes effect, if the Supreme Court does intervene, what does that mean for Roe v. Wade? I said it could effectively end Roe v. Wade. Was that an overstatement?
TOOBIN: I don't think so. I'd like to know what Laura thinks. I think, you know, the point of Roe v. Wade is that states cannot ban abortion.
LEMON: Mm-hmm. TOOBIN: If Texas bans abortion in 87 minutes, it means that Roe v. Wade is not good law anymore. And look, this is a model that Texas has set up that the other red states, if this works, will follow quickly.
LEMON: Okay. Laura, I want to hear what you have to say because it bars abortions for, as you heard Jeffrey say, for many women even like during the time that they don't even know that they're pregnant. It would effectively outlaw at least 85 percent of abortions in Texas, according to opponents of the law. So, talk to me about what you think and what are the options now for opponents if there are any.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Look, you can't overstate this enough. This would allow -- if the Supreme Court decides to allow this to go into effect at midnight central time, they could essentially overturn Roe v. Wade in a state without lifting a finger, without saying a word on a shadow docket, not even addressing it, hearing an oral argument on an issue that has stood the test of time for decades and decades.
We are talking about up ending the trimester framework not only of Roe v. Wade but subsequent decisions that talk about a woman's right to choose prior to the viability of a fetus, meaning it can actually exist and survive outside of a womb (INAUDIBLE) their own doctor.
What they are doing here is so sneaky. It really needs to be explained even more. What they are saying essentially, as Jeffrey talked about, is normally you can't sue a state. Necessarily, a state itself has sovereign immunity. You would normally sue somebody who could enforce a law.
COATES: What they have done in Texas essentially is said any person can sue anyone in a very vague term who aids and abets in abortion, meaning somebody who encourages, who drives you to, who performs, who speaks to you about it in some way, somebody who may have donated money to an abortion-related cause of some form or fashion, that person could then have to pay a penalty of about $10,000.
I mean, this is something that you could actually make somebody come to their knees in litigation right now. This is not how it's supposed to be. Not only is Roe v. Wade still valid law under the Supreme Court, but remember, the idea of a plaintiff who might have to have something that they cannot reverse in the form of having a risk of imminent harm by law, they can't now go to the courts to address their grievance. They have doctors who now can't perform what is legal under Roe v. Wade.
The only option now essentially is Supreme Court either say, look, the fifth district court of appeals has to say that the lower court actually gets to decide in this point in time whether the law is actually unconstitutional or the Supreme Court can do it themselves.
But the idea of under the cover of darkness without lifting a finger, without writing an opinion, without hearing oral arguments, without having it fully briefed and there is presently a case on the docket, they could essentially say, you know what, all the hard work is done.
And then imagine what would happen in other context here. What if another state adopts a law that said a private litigant can bring in action for a $10,000 bounty on somebody who owns a gun? Well, this is a way to go around and have an end run around things where the Constitution or the Supreme Court has effectively weighed in the issue.
This is something that cannot be overstated. It is shocking that we are finding ourselves minutes away and the Supreme Court has said absolutely nothing.
TOOBIN: You know it's painful sometimes to go through legal procedure. But the pre-procedure here really is something very important. I mean, everybody knows that the Supreme Court's year starts on the first Monday in October and all the big decisions come out usually about the end of June. And their arguments and their briefs filed and everybody gets to know what's before the Supreme Court.
Here it is. At the end of August, while the Supreme Court is not even in session, abortion is going to become legal. This major issue in American life, this hugely divisive issue politically, legally is about to change overnight without anything, without any sort of argument, without any sort of opinion. It's just going to sort of happen.
And again, if this -- if we don't hear from the Supreme Court in the next 83 minutes, it's just -- I mean, it just an outrageous way to run a legal system or political system to have a change. This momentous happens, as Laura said, you know, with no decision at all, just sort of happening.
LEMON: Jeffrey, you said abortion is about to become legal, you mean illegal?
TOOBIN: Illegal. I'm sorry.
LEMON: Wow! If the Supreme Court doesn't step in now when it does come back in October, is there -- can they overturn it? Can they change it?
TOOBIN: Well, that's a very interesting question. I mean, there is a case already before the Supreme Court in the traditional manner out of Mississippi, a very similar restrictive law where they are going to receive briefs and hear oral argument and decide the case in customary manner.
But the political environment and the real world situation will be very different because Mississippi's law currently has been stayed because it is in conflict with Roe v. Wade. But if Texas has already made abortion illegal, the Mississippi case will look very different.
LEMON: Mm-hmm. Laura, I'll give you the final word. You sit in this very seat. I have a short time left. I don't want to give you a short trip but I'll give you the final word here.
COATES: Real quick. All hope is not lost in the sense of this lobbying challenge. Even if the Supreme Court will allow this to go into effect, a litigant could bring a suit if they are, in fact, sued by somebody for that $10,000 fine and could argue that they don't have to pay the fine because it's unconstitutional.
But again, this is after the fact being reacted when Roe v. Wade already allowed for the proactive ability not to have laws like this even exists.
LEMON: Boy, oh boy. Interesting. Laura, thank you. Jeffrey, thank you. What a predicament. We'll be watching it. I appreciate both of you.
So he is telling companies not to work with January 6 investigators. What is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy so afraid of?
LEMON: So House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is issuing a warning shot to the telecommunication and social media companies asked by the House January 6th select committee to preserve the records of lawmakers and private citizens. He says if these companies comply with the democrat order to over -- to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States.
LEMON: Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under law. It is supposed to be democratic.
Anyway, it was only yesterday CNN broke the story that the January 6th select committee was looking to preserve the phone records of a list of lawmakers and members of the former president's family, President Trump's family, who could have been involved in the "stop the steal" rally right before the Capitol insurrection.
Joining me now are CNN political commentators Amanda carpenter and Scott Jennings. Good evening to both of you. Good to have you on. Okay, let's discuss. Let's see. Amanda?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR AND SPEECHWRITER FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Yeah, well, I think there is a tale here --
LEMON: Go on.
CARPENTER: -- Kevin McCarthy didn't point out --
LEMON: Scott, she jumped right in with no question. You need to learn form that. But go on.
CARPENTER: Sorry --
LEMON: Go on.
CARPENTER: (INAUDIBLE) a little bit.
LEMON: I want to hear what you have to say. Go on.
CARPENTER: Well, there is a tale here in Kevin McCarthy's statement/threat and that he can't point to an actual federal law that is being violated. And so this does seem quite clownish. But I am not telling anyone to dismiss it at all because it seems to be the message coming from a lot of Republicans.
Marjorie Taylor Greene was on another network saying if phone companies did this, they'd shut them down. Even Mitch McConnell earlier this year, unrelated to January 6th committee investigation stuff, he was openly threatening woke companies that there would be consequences if they oppose to mend voting rights.
And so this is a trend within the Republican Party that I am concerned about as a rule of law Republican who doesn't believe in retaliatory policies being enacted on political enemies.
LEMON (on camera): Scott, she mentioned Marjorie Taylor Greene doubling down on the threat to shut these companies down. Let's listen in and I'll get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down, and that's a promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So Scott, the select committee releasing a statement tonight saying that they won't be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th or obstruct our investigation. And between Greene and McCarthy, it seems like some (INAUDIBLE) too much going on.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I mean, my view is they're trying to virtue signal, you know, to the Republicans out there, try to throw some lines in the water to make the conservatives believe that they are going to fight this.
The reality is these things get fought all the time. But we do it in the courts. We don't do it retribution via legislation, particularly legislation that would interfere with the free market. There are probably legitimate questions about obtaining the communications of lawmakers, also obtaining communications within the executive branch. They're probably legitimate questions of executive privilege.
But there is a place where all this gets sorted out and it is not necessarily on the floor of Congress, but it's in the courts. And so I think if somebody, a company or individual thinks they've been wronged by this committee, they can take it to court and a judge can decide, and that process plays out rather routinely.
I'm a little dismayed that we would threaten future legislative action over this and it takes us down a frankly pretty bad path as a party since we've been protective of private companies in the past and their rights and privacy rights of private companies.
LEMON: Isn't this cancel culture, Scott? They're trying to cancel people for complying with court orders?
CARPENTER: Yes, these corporations are people.
JENNINGS: Yeah, the threat to cancel a company's existence, I guess, would technically be cancel culture, yes.
JENNINGS: That would be one way to look at it. This is not good legislative practice, particularly when you have a whole other branch of government that exists to sort these things out.
LEMON: Yeah. We're going to be talking about letting some of the refugees in the country. Is there a lot of hypocrisy going on over that? Stay with me. We'll be back in a moment.
LEMON: So back now with Amanda Carpenter and Scott Jennings. Amanda, the GOP also on the attack over the Afghanistan withdrawal with GOP lawmakers fearmongering over Afghan refugees coming to the United States. The Biden administration is vetting Afghans before they arrive in the U.S. and again once they land in the United States.
So, why these scare tactics about saying, you know, they're going to be Boston -- future Boston marathon bombers or rape young girls?
CARPENTER: Well, I think the end of this war was completely chaotic. I'm not excusing some of the comments that some of these congressmen have had who I truly believe are outliers in this situation.
I'd just say this isn't an ideal way to bring any new people into our country. I think some of the people coming here will become the best Americans.
Anyone that fought through a Taliban crowd to get themselves through an airport probably because they relied on their friends who they phoned and WhatsApp signalled and the rest and probably were already in lines for special immigrant visas, that's qualification enough for me.
And if they want to go vet these children standing in the airport, go ahead, because the tears streaming down their face and the little peace signs that they throw up for photos is enough for me.
LEMON: Hmm. Scott, listen, I think everyone wants a very strict vetting process here, but just respond.
JENNINGS: Yeah, look, I support the vetting. I think the vetting is going on. I agree with what you said. I think it will continue to go on. We have a long proud history of accepting refugees in this country and we have a long proud history of supporting people who've supported us.
I'm in Kentucky tonight. We have several hundred Afghan refugees. I think the first families are just now arriving in Kentucky. I'm proud they're coming here. I'm proud to live in a state where we are going to accept these folks, because I agree with Amanda, I think most of them are going to become the best Americans. They've already been working on our behalf.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to do the vetting process that I know is already under way. But to say that these people are going to show up and become numerous bombers and rapists and -- it's just -- it's wrong. The rhetoric is not right.
And I think if you wanted to talk to somebody about the people that we're bringing over, talk to some of our military leaders. Talk to some of our soldiers. Talk to some of our special forces guys who've relied on these folks --
LEMON: -- over the last 20 years. They'll tell you what kind of people they are. And I'm sure they'd be proud to have them in America. I know I'm proud to have them in Kentucky.
LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you both. I appreciate it. I will see you soon. Have a good night.
And thank you for watching, everyone. You have a good night. Our coverage continues.