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Don Lemon Tonight

Infrastructure Bill Facing A Challenge; Pfizer Approves Vaccine For Children; Mayor London Breed Defies Her Own Rules; Family Blamed Misinformation From Fox News; No Answer Yet To Gabby Petito's Death; FDA To Give Lower Dose Of Vaccine To Children; Beto O'Rourke Running For Governor; Migrants Flocked To The Southern Border; Water Is For All Races. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 20, 2021 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): DON LEMON TONIGHT starts I'm sure coverage of Gabby Petito.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, indeed.

CUOMO: And that investigation will be part of a show, and that is the latest piece, brother.

LEMON: Yes, you got the breaking news there. Things can always change, but you got it. That's it. This story, I mean, we talked about it a little bit today, Chris, and I taped our podcast today. We talked about it a little l bit today.

But, this, it is, for me, you're the attorney. It seems unusual that someone who was possibly the last person to see Gabby definitely before she disappeared and possibly or probably before she perished is somehow allowed to go scot-free, roam scot-free and get away with it. Not -- look, not a suspect, I get that.

But just not even talk to police through an attorney. Nobody watches to see his whereabouts and all of a sudden, he's gone and no one knows where he is. That just seems odd to me and it seems like, and this isn't -- look. It's not about race. But it's about something that people not of privilege, it doesn't seem like they have the opportunity to do that.

I mean, you know, I figured if most people would be hauled in and say you got to talk and you got to do whatever. You say it's about whoever has an attorney. If you have an attorney, fine. If you don't, then, you know --

CUOMO: Well, look, an attorney is an officer of the court and everybody hates attorneys until they need one. And the system and law makes it very clear, you can't be made to talk to the police and they may tell you that but that's what Miranda warnings are about, right, and that's under arrest. Look, here are the realities and some of them are frustrating. Right?

LEMON: Yes. But hold on. Before you go into that.


LEMON: But most people don't know that, Chris. You get hauled in and police come they think that you got to talk. You think that -- you think that you have to talk to the police. And so, it just seems -- I think for me it's a learning experience because I thought they would have said look, you got to come in here and sit down and talk with your attorney present and maybe then --


CUOMO: They would never say that.

LEMON: But not to even go in --

CUOMO: No police.

LEMON: Come on.

CUOMO: Look, the police -- the police are almost always the good guys, all right? And they are certainly in this situation. But look, here are the realities. OK? Is this unusual? Absolutely. I have never covered a case like it where somebody has a loved one, even if they are fighting, even if the, you know, the fiance, the engagement was off, whatever.

This is someone that matters to you and you have no part in looking for them. Never seen it before. I've seen people who are guilty take, you know, take a role in looking for someone who they knew exactly where they were but never this way.


CUOMO: The family was instructed by their attorney not to speak. Why? Because while that while seem suspicious, OK, the standard here is different. We're used to cancel culture where if something feels wrong, you can crowd source a consequence.

LEMON: No, but this is before that. This is not cancel culture. This is not --


CUOMO: No, no, I'm saying there is nothing cancel culture about it but I'm saying --


CUOMO: -- it sounds like there is something wrong. We don't like the family. No. They have a lawyer who has said to them, the police are trying to make a case. If they talk to you, they can use whatever you say against you --


CUOMO: -- and against Brian even if you didn't mean it that way. Don't do it.


CUOMO: Most defense attorneys would give that advice.

LEMON: Yes. I don't disagree with that. But to have -- to be able to have an attorney and do that and you ask any -- you ask any person of color, you ask a black man who -- if they have that sort of privilege -- ask a poor white person --


CUOMO: It's not a privilege.


CUOMO: It's a right.

LEMON: I know that.


LEMON: I know. But most people don't know that and they're not treated that way by law enforcement even if you think that you know, cops are the good guys, yes, many times they are but many times they aren't, especially when it comes of people of color and poor people in the society who don't have the means to be able to stand behind a lawyer and not -- and not go to speak.

Do you think like someone who -- you know, a Don Lemon, if I wasn't who I am, that they'd be like, they would be like, hey, get your butt in here. What do you know about the disappearance of such and such? Why won't you talk? Or do you need a lawyer because you're guilty? All of that would go down.

CUOMO: Yes, they do that to black people, white people.


CUOMO: They do that to a lot of people.

LEMON: That's what I said, this is about black people and poor people, meaning because all people are poor. They're all -- I mean not all people but there are people of all different ethnicities who are poor and they don't have the privilege of being able to afford an attorney who will tell them that they can't go in.

What did you say to me today? Using -- until you're arrested, that's when you are assigned an attorney for free.

CUOMO: If you want one.

LEMON: Otherwise before then you got to show out some dough --


CUOMO: You have to show some dough --

LEMON: -- for an attorney to be able to do that.

CUOMO: But it doesn't -- you don't need a lawyer. You just need to know your rights.


CUOMO: And obviously, you can't become be compelled, not to get too far away from the fact pattern here because the real problem here is that prosecutors are going to have to make a case. Now, what you said initially, Brian Laundrie taking off, that is going to be consciousness of guilt to police.



CUOMO: And it will be a huge portion of probable cause for them. You were the last person with her. You come back without her. You won't talk to us. And then you run. Because that's all they know and the family has told them no different because the family says they don't know where he is. If they find Brian Laundrie, that could well be enough to arrest him.

LEMON: If they find him alive --

CUOMO: Alive. You are not going to arrest a dead person.

LEMON: Yes. That's what I meant, if they find him alive.

CUOMO: But --

LEMON: Because we know the possibilities of it.


CUOMO: But he may have sealed the ability to arrest him by what he has done.

LEMON: Got it. OK. So, let me just say this, because, you know, we're back in the city. Things are starting to reopen. I go around with my mask and I'm sitting -- I took a picture tonight. I was sitting down at a table and we're going to talk about that London Breed or whatever.

I'm actually sitting down at a table. People came over to say hello to me and I took a picture with them. But here is the thing. So, I'm out and about in New York City finally after almost two years and people are talking to me. Right? And I'm hearing about, you know, I thank you and Chris. You got me through the pandemic, which I appreciate.

But people also talk to me about other news stories tonight and you know this, mostly white folks came up to me and said man, you guys sure are paying a lot of attention to this because if it was some other young lady, I don't think you would be paying this much attention to this -- to this and I just sit there and I just listen to them. I don't know the answer.

Look, I'm not saying I don't give them an answer because I want to hear what they have to say about it. And you've heard that, as well, haven't you?

CUOMO: I have. Not from so many white people but I have heard online mostly, I know you told me not to go there but I can't help it, my job is to --


LEMON: To what? Yes, online. I don't do that. I don't look at comments.

CUOMO: And they say you're only covering this because she's white --


LEMON: She's a cute white girl.

CUOMO: -- and attractive and what about all the minorities that go missing? Listen, to me it matters that Gabby Petito is missing. It matters to her family, it matters, first of all, just as a matter of law and it matters to anyone who is a parent or is that age, I mean, it just speaks to such a huge fear that we all have of vulnerability.


CUOMO: It should not be an or proposition. It should be an and proposition. You cover Gabby Petito and you should cover any other story that presents itself this way.

But remember, it's not just about her. It's about kids going out at that age and doing something that is so popular now and putting themselves on social media and trying to build a brand and being away from home and then it becomes mysterious.

LEMON: It's also a mysterious story that is intriguing and people want to hear about it and people are interested in it. I agree with you with all of that. And don't -- look, I know, you go on social media. I don't like to do it.

But Don Lemon is turning this into a race thing. No, I'm telling you that Chris and I talk about the real -- the real stuff that people do. People are talking to me about this as it relates to race. They've spoken to Chris about it. You see it online. Don't pretend I'm turning this into something that it's not.

This is what people are talking about and this is what Chris and I are talking about and that's why we get it straight and it's real here and you're going to hear the real deal from these two guys. That's why they call it the handoff because there is nothing better like it on television nor a podcast. OK? There you go. I love you. I'll see you later.

CUOMO: If you say so yourself. I love you, D. Lemon. (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I must say so. Love you more.

CUOMO: Make your witness.

LEMON: I am right now. We're going to talk about all of this and more including the breaking news that Chris just gave us.

This is Don Lemon Tonight.

President Joe Biden here in New York City ahead of his first speech at the U.N. General Assembly since taking office. The president who ran on bipartisanship his ability to get both sides to the table now faces what you'd have to call open warfare between members of his own party. And it threatens to derail his agenda.

So-called moderates and progressives battling over signature infrastructure, his signature infrastructure bill. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez saying tonight that she is a no on the bipartisan bill that already passed the Senate if the larger Democrat only bill hasn't passed by next week.

Joe Manchin today digging in heels calling on Democrats to slow their role on a bill that he thinks has too high a price tag.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: September 27th is coming up next week, is it possible that this bill could pass by then?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don't know about (Inaudible) the deadline. I said this before. I think you know what I feel on that. And the bottom line is, whatever you are going to do, get it right. And if there is not enough clarity, then you need to get clarity.

RAJU: But you want to delay to next year, right?

MANCHIN: No, you know what I said. I said let's wait and see whatever you need. We'll have a good idea.


LEMON (on camera): OK. Well, so an impasse. Open warfare, right? Ayanna Pressley was blunt last week when she told me who she thinks the real obstructionists are in all of this.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): When it comes to Manchin and Sinema, let the record reflect who the real obstructionists are. I think progressives are often maligned and vilified for, you know, sitting at the -- for our advancing, seeking to advance both progressive policies which are the people's policies, which are in fact the president's agenda.



LEMON (on camera): And then there is of course this battle against COVID. Pfizer announcing the news parents across the country have been waiting for, saying its vaccine is safe and generated what they're calling a robust antibody response in children ages 5 to 11.

The news couldn't come at a better time with kids back in school and the cases on the rise all across this country. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that there were nearly 226,000 new cases among kids over the past week, the second highest total during the pandemic.

A tent has gone up, look at this, outside of children's hospital of Pittsburgh where the number of children coming to the emergency department is being called historic.

Now parents are counting the days until their children can get vaccinated, maybe by Halloween but we're still seeing nearly 2,000 Americans dying unnecessarily every single day, the country passing a grim milestone today. More than 675,000 people have died of COVID in the U.S., more than the 1918 flu pandemic.

We have two weapons against this virus, vaccines and masks, vaccines and masks. So, it's no time for leaders who should know better who do know better to be all, you know, do as I say, not as I do.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed scolding what she calls the fun police, OK? That's after she was caught on camera dancing and singing along at a black cat nightclub, no mask and without a drink or food in sight.

The city's indoor mask mandate for all residents says that masks can be taken off, quote, "while active -- while actively eating or drinking." But the mayor is defending herself.


MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO: No, I'm not going to sip and put my mask on. Sip and put my mask on, sip and put my mask on, eat and put my mask on. While I'm eating and drinking, I'm going to keep my mask off.


LEMON (on camera): OK. Well, and as the pandemic of the unvaccinated rages, a grieving son and daughter lose their 45-year-old vaccine hesitant dad to COVID and they tell CNN they blame misinformation from Tucker Carlson.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Katie, you said from one media source in particular he was getting misinformation -- or he was getting information that led him to be hesitant on vaccines. Who? I mean, who was he listening to? KATIE LANE, LOST 45-YEAR-OLD FATHER TO COVID: He watched some Tucker

Carlson videos on YouTube and some of those videos involved some misinformation about vaccines and I believe that that played a role.


LEMON (on camera): There you go, misinformation that leads people to question the vaccine.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: In your medicine, then tell us the full truth but they won't. They have been telling us for six months that this vaccine is perfect but clearly, in some cases it doesn't always work.


LEMON (on camera): Misinformation that makes people think vaccination is an assault on their freedom instead of the lifesaving medical miracle it really is.


CARLSON: It makes you think once you think about it that maybe none of this is really about COVID. Maybe it's about social control.


LEMON (on camera): He should know better. He should know better. This is about public health, about saving the lives of millions of people. We have all the vaccine that we could ever need. People around the world would give anything to have the vaccines that far too many Americans are turning down in the name of an illusion of freedom, an illusion of freedom, an illusion pushed by people who should know better who actually do know better and most of them fully vaccinated, their companies where they work have vaccine mandates but they won't tell you that.

Remember what some Americans said about the seatbelt mandates back to the 1980s.


UNKNOWN: I'll have to detour the town to get to Kalamazoo because they passed the seatbelt law. It's right to use a seat belt.

UNKNOWN: I would wear my seatbelt, if I get caught, I get caught, I guess.

UNKNOWN: Florida highway patrol Lieutenant Chris Miller hears it all when it comes to seatbelts.

CHRIS MILLER, FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL LIEUTENANT: I hear it's uncomfortable. It wrinkles my clothes. It's not cool.

UNKNOWN: There is no freedom no more. You don't want to wear it, that's your choice.



LEMON (on camera): Sound familiar? OK. Listen, I know that we are -- Danny, really, I want you to play that. Now I want you guys -- play it again, please. But I want you guys when they're talking about that, I want you guys to say, think about vaccines and masks and they're like it's uncomfortable.

It shouldn't be a mandate, it's my freedom. Think about the vaccine. But just listen to it and then super impose, if you will, over that masks or vaccines what they're talking about. Let's play it all again.


UNKNOWN: I'll have to detour the town to get to Kalamazoo because they passed the seatbelt law. It's right to use a seat belt.

UNKNOWN: I would wear my seat belt, if I get caught, I get caught, I guess.

UNKNOWN: Florida highway patrol Lieutenant Chris Miller hears it all when it comes to seatbelts.

MILLER: I hear it's uncomfortable. It wrinkles my clothes. It's not cool.

UNKNOWN: There is no freedom no more. You don't want to wear it, that's your choice.


LEMON (on camera): Now people basically, when you get in a car especially in the front seat you almost have to put your seatbelt on. You almost have. Some cars go over you automatically. Others, no one talks about that anymore. People just, guess what? They wear their seatbelts.

It's the law. No freedom, no choice. They said it about seatbelts. Now they're saying it about vaccines and they're saying it about masks.

And we've major news to tell you about. Developments tonight in the case of Gabby Petito. OK? Chris gave you a little bit earlier about what the family is saying, the FBI search though is happening at the family home. It happened today of her fiance Brian Laundrie for hours, just one day after investigators across the country found what they believe to be her remains.

But there is still no sign of Laundrie who came back to Florida earlier this month and refused to talk to investigators and went missing last week. But I just want you to listen to this. This is a chilling 911 call, the caller reporting what he calls a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie. This happened on August 12.


UNKNOWN: We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl.

UNKNOWN: He was slapping her?

UNKNOWN: Yes, and then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off.


LEMON (on camera): Utah police described the couple as having an altercation.


UNKNOWN: We've been fighting this morning, some personal issues. You know what, the car (Inaudible).


LEMON (on camera): And there is also tonight, news tonight on an external hard drive found in Gabby Petito's van. Investigators say it may contain digital forensic data. We've got a lot more to come on all of this so make sure you stay tuned.

There are so many questions in this case. What was the FBI looking for at the Laundrie family's home and what might his parents have said about Brian and Gabby Petito. We're going to dig into everything we know right now.

Plus, Pfizer. Pfizer saying its vaccine is safe for kids from 5 to 11 and generates a, quote, "robust antibody response." So, what's next? How soon can we get shots in the arms of America's children?



LEMON (on camera): The news so many parents have been waiting for, Pfizer declaring a lower dose of its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. COVID cases among kids have been spiking at children's hospital in Pittsburgh had to put up a tent outside of its emergency room to care for more patients. Look at that.

They say the number of children coming to their emergency department is, quote, "historic." This is why approving a vaccine for kids is so important.

So, joining me now is Dr. James Hildreth who sits on the FDA advisory panel of vaccines.

We're so happy to have you because you can give us some information. Good evening.

Let me tell you why. When you look at these images of that tent though, being set up outside of children's hospital, it explains why many parents have been waiting for this vaccine for children so urgently. The reason that I'm so happy to have you here, one reason is that you're a part of the approval process, OK?


LEMON: So, explain what happens next, please, doctor?

HILDRETH: Thank you, Don. Happy to be with you.

So, what's going to happen now is Pfizer will put together their package of data related to the trial in children. That's going to be sent to the FDA. The FDA undergoes an internal process of review of those data and then they convene the advisory panel that I'm a part of to have an independent of the data and that panel will make recommendations to the commissioner as to whether or not the vaccine should be approved for children.

And that will take a matter of weeks. So, it is conceivable by Halloween, we could see shots going into arms, but it's going to take a number of weeks for that process to work its way through.

LEMON: OK. So, the trial used, as I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, a 10-microgram dose lower than the --

HILDRETH: That's correct.

LEMON: -- the 31 that is used for people 12 and older.


LEMON: Are you confident the smaller dose is enough protection?

HILDRETH: Well, the data certainly seems to suggest that. And we always want to use the lowest possible dose of anything in children because children are not small adults and we want to be really, really mindful of safety concerns. So, in the case of children, we always want to use the minimum dose that's necessary to induce a response.

And so, what we saw is that with 10 micrograms in this age group, the antibody response is equivalent to what you see in 16 to 25-year-olds. So, I think the 10-microgram dose were just fine.

LEMON: You said -- you said children aren't small adults. But I mean, look, I have a nephew, I mean, a great nephew that I love him. He's a big dude. I mean, he's, you know, just going into ninth grade. He's taller than me, he's playing varsity football. So, it's really not about the size of the individual, is that what you're saying?

HILDRETH: Well, it can be a matter of size of the individual but one thing I'd like to point out to people is that the systems in children, all of their systems are being developed and so if they get COVID-19 --


[22:25:08] LEMON: Got it --

HILDRETH: -- and more importantly, if they get long COVID, we do not know what effect that's going to have on them long term. So, it's really important that we keep them from getting COVID-19. But again, we also want to make sure we don't do harm by giving them a dose of a vaccine or drug that would do harm.

LEMON: That's too much.

HILDRETH: So it is possible that for your nephew who is larger than the average child might be, that he might require a larger dose than typical children of his age, but again, the whole point is to make sure we use the least amount of the vaccine necessary to enlist a response in these children.

LEMON: OK. Look. Just two quick things real quick. So, if you have like, a kid who is 11 about to turn 12, what do you do with that? Do you decide at that point, do they get the lower dose or what happens or the higher dose?

HILDRETH: I think if the child is about to turn 12, more than likely they are going to be given the dose for that age group.

LEMON: OK. And then what about under five? When can we look for that, five and under?

HILDRETH: So those -- the data that was released today for the five- year-olds to 11-year-olds was part of a larger study that includes children six months old --


HILDRETH: -- to 11 years old. So that other data set is going to be following shortly in just a matter of a few weeks.

LEMON: Thank you, doctor. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

HILDRETH: Thank you.


HILDRETH: Thank you.

LEMON: Evidence of, quote, more and more tension between Gabby Petito and her fiance, her mother reveals her last text message. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): Authorities still searching for answers in Gabby Petito's disappearance after human remains that officials believed to be her is were found in an undeveloped camping area in Wyoming. The FBI is searching the family home of her fiance Brian Laundrie and questioning his parents while he remains missing.

There's a lot to discuss now with former FBI special agent, Stuart Kaplan. He joins me now. Thank you, agent Kaplan. I appreciate you joining us this evening.

A lot of interest in this story in this case. The FBI searched the home or Brian's parents today. What sorts of items were they looking for and what kinds of questions do you think investigators are asking his parents?

STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, the big thing is I think through the disclosure of the affidavit, the search warrant affidavit that was signed back on September 15th, it kind of sheds a little light into we now know that for sure Brian Laundrie entered back into North Port, Florida on September 1st at precisely 10.26 a.m.

And so, from September 1st up through up until September 11th his whereabouts were unknown. I think there is a concern with respect to what vehicles he may have been utilizing with respect to his coming and goings from the family home.

I think as we saw the Mustang, the Ford Mustang that was being towed and searched, I think there is some concern and there may be some evidentiary value within that car, maybe the GPS. It may be articles of clothing, things like that.

Inside the house of course, we're looking for a potential DNA evidence, fiber evidence, and of course, maybe most importantly, any evidence with respect to something that would leave a digital footprint, hard drives, iPads, smartphones, things of that like.

LEMON: Look, you've covered these things. I shouldn't say you covered it, you heard in the report, you've investigated these things and you've been a part of it. What do you think happened here?

KAPLAN: I think you have two young people that obviously, it seems that maybe one or both of them had some issues and I think they were carefree. They took a long trip. When you look at just the accommodations --


LEMON: But I mean, what do you think happened here? People want to know what happened to her and why is he missing?

KAPLAN: I think obviously, the behavior that was displayed and witnessed with respect to him slapping her or showing some aggression, obviously, at some point that reoccurred and it may have escalated to where strangulation or, you know, some sort of blunt trauma and then a panic and then of course, now we have this young girl who was left to the elements and he took off and went home. And of course, it's just a matter of time to piece the pieces of the puzzle pack together.

LEMON: Yes, we don't know. Listen, he's missing, so not charged. We don't know. But you've covered these cases and you know, and you've been involved in these cases investigative so you know pretty much what happens or how this turns out.

Let me -- I just want to read something about the last communications that her mother received from Gabby's phone that was found in her hard drive and it was a text and it says can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voice mails and missed calls.

Now this text refers to Petito's grandfather as Stan. Her mom called this an odd text. What questions does this text or does it raise anything for you? And what other information might, you know, be on that hard drive?

KAPLAN: Yes, of course. I mean, from an investigator's prospective, I think we're pretty satisfied that this text message was sent from another person and not from Gabby Petito. Certainly, we all create or form habits, we all communicate in one sort of manner with particular people.


I think it's obviously odd to refer to your grandfather by his first name. And so, obviously that was a red flag. Perhaps not at the time, but now when you piece -- when you put the pieces of the puzzle back together, it obviously is indicative of that Gabby at that point may have been killed or something obviously happened. And if Brian Laundrie was in possession of her phone, he sent this text message to the mother.

And I think obviously common sense would dictate that it is possible now. And of course, we have the video that was just discovered contemporaneously or in proximity to where her body was found. It places the -- it places the van there on April 27th so I think, you know, when you add -- when you add it up, it seems more likely than not that he sent that text message.

LEMON: Well, here is the thing that about that, that I think people are missing. If indeed -- look, they're going to be able to figure out the time of death, right? When she died. And if those text messages were sent after the time of death, who else would know to call her grandfather, Stuart? You see what I'm saying? So, they're going to --


KAPLAN: No question about it. I mean, so --


LEMON: Then, Dan, excuse me. Dan. Who else, Stan --


LEMON: Who else is going to know that, to be able to call him by name or some of the details from those text messages, so, you know, that's where I'm going with this. That's what I want to know.

KAPLAN: No. I mean, you touched upon exactly what you need to know. Obviously, by tomorrow, hopefully with the autopsy we're going to get the cause of death. It's going to be ruled a homicide, and then of course, just as important, is hopefully to zero in on the time of death with respect to if in fact it is on or before August 27th, I think we have a pretty good case against Brian Laundrie.

LEMON: Thank you. The reason I said Stuart is because you're Stuart.


LEMON: Stuart Kaplan, thank you very much.

KAPLAN: Always a pleasure, Don.

LEMON: I appreciate you joining us. I'll see you next time. Thank you.

KAPLAN: My pleasure.

LEMON: Haitian migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border only to be chased and corralled by border agents. Look at that. More after this.



LEMON (on camera): So, President Biden is set to deliver a crucial speech to the United Nations in just hours while juggling a whole host of crisis including a surge of migrants at the southern border. All of that, you know, while his domestic agenda hangs by a thread.

So, let's get right to it now. Former chief strategist for President George W. Bush, Matthew Dowd is here. Matthew, thank you so much.

We have a lot to discuss. Let's get into it. There is new video it appears to show law enforcement officers on horseback using aggressive tactics when confronting migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the footage was horrible to watch. So, who takes the blame for what we're seeing here? What do you think of this?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, to me, we all take the blame for it because, and this has been 20, 25 years in the making, Don, because we have a completely broken immigration system. It's not efficient. It's not effective. It needs to be fixed.

I actually was with, you know, George W. Bush tried to do this when I worked for him and then the Republicans killed the fix on it. So, it fundamentally comes down to the inability of politicians and the GOP has been at the forefront of this of not allowing any fix to the immigration system.

It needs to be better. It needs to be better for efficiency, for security but it needs to be better actually for a more compassionate and secure immigration system. So, we need to fix it. It's a huge problem and it's not a problem from the Donald Trump, you know, view of this where it's like, let's keep immigrants out but it's a problem from we need a system where people know what to count on.

LEMON: According to the new book "Peril" by Bob Woodward and Bob Costa, a conservative lawyer working with then President Trump's legal team tried to convince Mike Pence that he could overturn the election by throwing out electors from seven states when the votes were certified on January 6th.

I mean, it shows just how close we came to really turning out this thing turning out entirely differently really in the wrong way here, Matthew.

DOWD: Well, Don, you know, as I read that and all of us, you know, we don't think we're going to be surprised but I'm continually surprised by all of this. This wasn't just some spontaneous thing of a few odd balls that did this, which led up to January 6th.

This was an actual internal attack on our constitutional system that we have here and our democracy and it was at the highest level. And as I've said, you and I have had this conversation. Until those higher levels of people are held accountable, we're going to be dealing with it because they think they got away with it.

And that includes the former president. That includes the former attorney general. That includes a whole -- that includes certain congressmen and certain senators in this but this was a concerted organized effort to undermine the Constitution of the United States of America and we need to hold those people that hold high positions of power accountable. We have to.

LEMON: Matthew, you know, Texas well because, you know, you're coming to us from Texas tonight, right? I have to ask you about the --


DOWD: And I've lived here almost four -- and I've lived her almost 40 years.

LEMON: Yes. I have to ask you about a New York Times report that a former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke is inching closer and closer to announcing a run for governor in your state. He narrowly lost to Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, dropped out of the 2020 presidential election before votes were even cast in the primaries. Is the third time a charm here?


DOWD: Well, you know, we're in a different -- we're in a different circumstance. Beto is a friend of mine. I've known Beto for quite a while. I knew Beto before he ran the first time for the United States Senate.

He is going to have to -- I mean, this is a state if he ends up announcing, which it looks like he will, that state is light red but I think because of the actions of the governor and the lieutenant governor and other elected officials, they're vulnerable. I think they're very vulnerable even in a red or slightly red state but he's going to have to run the right campaign with the right message and do it in a very disciplined, very disciplined way.

So, I think he's got a shot. He's very popular among the Democrats but he has work to do among the independents. But don't underestimate, I think, how vulnerable Dan Patrick is because not only COVID and not only his actions on the culture war but also the failure of the electric grid which they never fixed and put the burden of fixing it on rate payers.

So, he's vulnerable but Beto has got work, he's got to do it and I think he understands that by he has work to do to define himself and in line with, you know, Texas values, but the governor, their current GOP governor is very vulnerable.

LEMON: Well, there are whispers that a Matthew Dowd might run, too.

DOWD: Those whispers. You listen to those whispers? You listen --

LEMON: I'm just saying.

DOWD: You know, I -- I just -- I've come to the place where I will do anything to help our democracy. We're in a moment and especially in the aftermath of January 6th. I came to the conclusion like this system is beyond broken --


DOWD: -- and it needs to be fixed and I'm going to do whatever I can to do that and I -- my view is that until the Republicans who have participated in this and especially in Texas and all the things they've done, until they're beaten soundly, this is going to continue to go on.

So in whatever way, I'll just say this, in whatever way I can serve and that could be anything from registering voters in my county here to volunteering on whatever campaign, to possibly running, you know, time will tell but I'll do whatever I can to make sure that these Republicans are held accountable.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, Matthew Dowd. That was a whisper. Thank you, Matthew. I appreciate that.

DOWD: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll see you soon. I appreciate it.

DOWD: Take care.

LEMON: Thank you.

I got something close to my heart that I want to share next, OK, so check this out. That's me in the pool and when I tell you why, you're going to smile. This story is next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): I want you to check this out. Please check this out. We are spotlighting people who might not make the headlines but do smash barriers and lift humanity up.

It is a special series. It's called Champions for Change that we are doing all week long. I had a chance to hit the pool with coach Oliver Foote and the Harlem Honeys and Bears. And there's no doubt this will make you smile. Check them out, making waves for the young and old.


LEMON: You're going to help me teach them? Boy.


LEMON: Coach Foote inspires me to get back in touch with what I love, which is swimming and teaching people how to swim. Water is my happy place. If I didn't have it, I would probably not be very healthy mentally and emotionally.

Tell me about Harlem Honeys and Bears.

FOOTE: Harlem Honeys and Bears is a synchronized swim team.

LEMON: For seniors?

FOOTE: For seniors. In 1975, there were only women on the team. And they said they would call themselves Honeys. But then after a few years the men decided that they wanted to join the team and they decided they wanted to be the Bears. So now we got the Honey and Bears.

We do synchronize swimming and competitive swimming. Some are on walkers, some of them have canes. But what they enjoy most is once they get in the water, they feel free. I've been the coach since 1995. So, it's a little better than 25 years.


FOOTE: My oldest swimmer now is 99 years old.

LETTICE GRAHAM, SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER: Believe it or not, I've been swimming since age 64. Mr. Foote he's the best coach in the world. He has a lot of patience. Because anyone dealing with seniors that we think we know everything anyway.

FOOTE: You got to get out of the way. You're taking too long.

LEMON: Do you have a reputation?

FOOTE: Yes. I have a reputation of being too hard. But it's all in love.

Taking too long and it's too much conversation.

Some of my seniors sometimes they say, well, coach, you know we're 80 years old. I said you are as old as you feel because one of the words that I never want to hear on my team is I can't. One of the things that I like about the team is they motivate one another.

LEMON: Now and for the next generation, the Harlem Honeys and Bears teach children and teens water safety skills through their youth learn to swim program.

FOOTE: On three, one, two, three.

LEMON: Coach, it's important for all kids to learn how to swim. But why it's so important do you think for black kids to learn how to swim?

FOOTE: Black kids drown twice as much as any other ethnic group. They didn't have the opportunity.


LEMON: They got rid of the community pools because they didn't want the races mixing. They fill the pool either with concrete or with dirt where I grew up because they didn't want people mixing. And that's one reason why a lot of black kids didn't learn how to swim in the '50s and '60s.

FOOTE: Right. Because the only thing they were able to do was play in the fire hydrants, you know, and then sometimes they would sneak into the pools late at night. And that's how all kids started drowning.

LEMON: Whenever I hear that people can't swim, it makes me sad, and it also infuriates me because I know somewhere along the way that they didn't have someone like our Coach Foote who took them under their wing to teach them how to swim.

FOOTE: There you go. There you go.

LEMON: And I immediately want to get in the pool with them and teach them. Probably around 13 years old I became a life guard. I helped my sisters who were older than me to swim. I helped them become better swimmers. I taught my nieces to swim in the backyard pool, get in, and both of my great nephews.

FOOTE: One of the things that I do for my seniors and as well for the youth teams are things that were taught for me. And I enjoy giving back the things that I've learned.

LEMON: Can you imagine doing anything else?

FOOTE: I can't imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else than with my seniors. And I just love them. I just love them. Those are my people. Those are my peeps, as you may say. Yes.


LEMON: I didn't know I would get so emotional in that. Just -- water has been such a huge part of my life and has really kept me sane. So, if you ever -- if you pay attention to my social media, you'll see me out on the water, out on the boat. That's how I keep -- that's -- that's my happy place.

And becoming a life guard and learning how to swim when I was a kid really changed my life and broadened my horizon and perspective. And I have a very healthy respect for the water. I'm not afraid of water, but a very healthy respect. And I try to teach that to my nieces and my great nephews or any kid that I can get my hands to help them learn how to swim.

Because black kids die a lot, black people die a lot from drowning because they don't know how to swim. And we need to change that. So, I hope you enjoyed that and I hope you enjoy the special that's coming up. We've got a whole lot more inspirational stories coming up your way this week. And be sure to tune in on Sunday at 8 p.m. for one hour Champions for Change special that will lift you up. We'll be right back, everyone.