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Don Lemon Tonight

Senator Mitch McConnell Makes Complete 180; Conspiracies by Trump Campaign Backed By Staff; Mask Mandates Creates More Division; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Was Interviewed About The Status Of President Biden's Bill; Coroner Confirms Gabby Petito's Death. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 21, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): That's it for us tonight. I'm late getting to "DON LEMON TONIGHT." The big star D. Lemon with apologies.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes. And no problem. Those images are hard to watch. But isn't that -- isn't that the whole idea about anything that is systemic, that it's baked into the system? isn't that evidence that the system needs to be reformed so that people, the border agents aren't put in that position so that people coming into this country aren't put in that position, that there is a humane way to enter the country without people having to possibly come in to contact with people on horses and so on and so forth.

That is the -- that's the definition of systemic, whatever it is, systemic racism, systemic whatever. It's built into the system. The system is created or set up in a way that it isn't fair to anyone, really.

CUOMO: I agree. Now, look. We have this and that. This is you use any part of your horse or your tack the wrong way to abuse somebody. You're going to be held to account. They'll do that investigation.

But that is I'm telling you, Don, I believe that politicians on both sides do not want to fix this situation. It works too well for them broken. The right gets to demonize what I characterize as the brown menace. Look at these people, coming here to take your job and ruin your culture and dilute the whiteness and create all these voters for the left. It's too powerful for them. They don't want to fix it.

On the left, they've had opportunities to fix this. Obama talked so much during the election about fixing it. He had the numbers. But they wanted to do it big and comprehensive. They wanted the fight to be able to say look at the right. They don't want to do anything for the DREAMers. They don't want to do anything for anybody. You see how resistant they are to our collective humanity?


LEMON: I don't know if your assessment -- CUOMO: There is too much currency.

LEMON: I don't know if your assessment is --

CUOMO: There is too much currency.

LEMON: I don't know if your assessment is on that. Listen, politicians, yes, there is an issue with politicians. But I think the biggest roadblock has been from the right. I think what is wrong with having a big system -- how did you describe it? A big over whatever -- what's wrong with having that? What's wrong with --


CUOMO: No, nothing is wrong if you can get it done. But why not -- like here is an example of this. Just do the DREAMers.

LEMON: But you're saying Obama had the numbers.

CUOMO: Everybody agrees that the DREAMers to be here.

LEMON: But obviously Obama didn't have the numbers. He didn't have the --


CUOMO: Because it was too big. He did have the numbers, but it was too big.

LEMON: How is it big, though?

CUOMO: He wanted to do too much. There was too much that they wanted in it.

LEMON: How much is too much for a humane, for someone to be humane, how is that too much?

CUOMO: I don't think it is.


CUOMO: But I'm saying what was in the proposals that were put forward. You got to be small. You want to do the DREAMers, do the DREAMers. Do it. The right won't do it. Why? Because they want family reunification and all these other little things that they believe are cheats to the system. So, they won't just do the DREAMers. Trump said he would. The right thing came to him and said be quiet, and then he shut up about it.


CUOMO: He just talked about the wall.

LEMON: But I just -- I've got to ask you, why do you -- why is investing in it, if it's an overhaul, a complete overhaul investing in humanity, how is that ever too big? That's what I don't understand. CUOMO: I don't think it's too big.

LEMON: I don't see that as an argument to --


CUOMO: I'm happy for them to do it.


CUOMO: Look, here is what needs to change on the border. Anybody who is down there sees it this way, OK. Yes, you need your physical barriers, you need your cameras, you need your sensors, you need all the various technologies to deal with the border and the integrity of this thing. We were never a wall away. It was never a panacea.

But it is part of an equation of barriers and ways to detect who comes across. But it's not the big problem. The big problem are the rules. What is asylum? Where do you apply for asylum? How does that process work? Who processes those claims?


CUOMO: And where? How many people? They have a budget shortfall right now. They don't have the places to keep these people.

LEMON: But that's why they need -- that's why they need the money.

CUOMO: I know.

LEMON: That's why they need the big overhaul.

CUOMO: So why aren't getting it?

LEMON: I just, look, I, look, again, I'm not a political person.

CUOMO: Both sides have been in power.

LEMON: I don't believe in that both sides in this one. I don't like to both sides things. I think the obstructionists to what has been happening with immigration overall, the obstructionists have been Republicans. OK, so, you want too much. You want people to be able to come into the country in an orderly, humane way. How is that bad? That's not bad. We spend money on so many other things --



CUOMO: I agree.

LEMON: -- that are frivolous.

CUOMO: There are rules.

LEMON: What is -- CUOMO: The rules should be followed.

LEMON: What is wrong with that? If you're going fix it, why piecemeal it? Why say I'm going to take a little bit here and take a little bit and take a little bit and take a little bit.

CUOMO: Because you can't get it done.

LEMON: Fix it. You can't get it done because there is one side that's being an obstructionist. One side is obstructing. That's why you can't get it done. You can get it done if people would understand we need to fix our immigration system and we need to stop complaining about our immigration -- our broken immigration system.


CUOMO: But here's what I'm saying.

LEMON: Hang on, let me finish this thought.

CUOMO: All right. Go ahead. Go ahead.

LEMON: You need to stop complaining about our broken immigration system if you don't want to put the things in place that are going to stop the images, stop people from coming and living under overpasses, and stop talking about other migrants are coming, the caravan or whatever.

If you want to stop doing that, don't complain about it. Don't complain about it if you stop it. If you are an obstructionist and you don't want a complete overhaul of our immigration system, then when things go wrong, don't complain. Shut up.

CUOMO: I hear you. I don't disagree with that at all. I'm just saying that -- look, you just go back and look. The Obama administration, they wanted comprehensive reform. They wanted too many things in it. They couldn't get buy-in from the other side. I'm not saying what they wanted was right or wrong.


CUOMO: That's not what matters. I'm saying they couldn't get it done even though they had numbers.


CUOMO: Because they didn't want to be discreet because it didn't seem like a big enough win there would be too many things to complain about, even though they got something done. Incrementalism is an enemy of a home run business, which is what politics is right now. It's got to be really big, and I've got win and you've got to lose. And that's why nothing gets done on this issue.

The only thing I don't want to see is I don't want to see the CBP being demonized as a group.


CUOMO: They don't deserve that. I've been with them many times. They are better than most law enforcement.

LEMON: Look. They've got a tough job.


CUOMO: If some screw up, they should be punished.

LEMON: Yes. Look, they've got a tough job. No one is denying that. But you cannot look away from those images. You can't look at those images and go --


CUOMO: No way. It's horrible.

LEMON: -- that looks great. It's horrible. Yes.

CUOMO: And people want to say it's racist to say they harken to slavery. How do they not?


CUOMO: How do they not a vogue of that --


LEMON: Just look at the images.

CUOMO: -- of a century ago of inhumanity. That's why you don't want to -- you don't want it.

LEMON: Look, you know as the son of immigrants, that everybody wants to come into the country, right? That folks who come here voluntarily, they want to come in and they want to close the door behind them, right? They want to come in, and they don't want to let the other folks in. Is that fair?

CUOMO: No, it's not fair.

LEMON: Because once you get in --


CUOMO: It's also not fair about my family.

LEMON: Well, you know what I'm saying. I'm saying I'm just talking about --


CUOMO: I know. Look, that is the story of this country.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Everybody seems to not like how they're treated and then they treat the people next just like it.


CUOMO: That has been a problem here. But look, that's why it's an experiment. All I'm saying is no issue bothers me the way this one does.


CUOMO: In terms of where if you sit people in a room, they're going to agree on 80 percent of the issues that come up on it. You know, do you want a wall or no wall? I don't want a wall. Do you want the border protected the way we can protect it where it needs to be protected? Yes.


CUOMO: OK, good.


CUOMO: And it's going to take different things. OK, fine. Do you want more police down there so they don't have to patrol 30 miles --


CUOMO: -- by themselves. Yes.

LEMON: But that means you got to hire people. That means -- and if you put up a wall -- look, instead of putting up the wall, why don't you just hire more people. I'm just saying.

CUOMO: I'm telling you I've been down there.


CUOMO: They buy these kids diapers --

LEMON: Yes. I know.

CUOMO: -- out of their own pockets.

LEMON: But still.

CUOMO: They're like teachers.

LEMON: It's look, it's still. But as you said, the images are terrible. What they have to suffer through is terrible, and there is nuance in it, and we need to -- we need to figure it out. There's something they have to work on.


CUOMO: The only thing accept -- LEMON: I got to run.

CUOMO: I'll leave on this. I'm going. There is nuance, but there are many fixes that can be made.


CUOMO: And they shouldn't be hard. I'm done.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: You as well.


And so, this is kind of everything that we're talking about. In Washington, a political war is raging on two fronts, OK? Republicans against Democrats, always that Democrats against their own, as conservatives led by Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema try to stymie progressives.

You would think that Democrats don't actually want to get anything done. They sure don't operate the way the GOP does. Let's be honest. They don't do that. Conservative Democrats want a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Progressives took a back seat while it was negotiated. Now a vote is looming next week, and the Manchin's and the Sinema's of the world are still running the show while progressives say enough is enough.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema and others, I have a great deal of respect for them, they created this bipartisan bill. They negotiated it. They never consulted with us on it. We had really no say in that bill at all.

And so, I understand the feeling of feeling like there are some things that you don't agree with, and yet you vote for it because it's the president's agenda. It's the Democratic agenda.


LEMON (on camera): That is happening as Mitch McConnell is saying that Republicans won't vote to raise the debt ceiling. Shocking, but the hypocrisy and just tired. There is so much hypocrisy.


And honestly, mostly it's coming from one side, especially looking at the egregious behavior of the last administration, and all of the people who were apologists and stood by while this man and that administration ran roughshod over the institutions of this country.

The hypocrisy in all of this. By the Washington Post's count, Mitch McConnell voted to increase or suspend the debt ceiling 32 times, 32 times. Three of those times under, as I said, the previous president. So, listen to what he said. This is in 2019.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Raise the debt ceiling because America can't default. I mean, that would be a disaster.


LEMON (on camera): It would be a disaster. But now? And let's remember, the debt ceiling isn't about racking up new debt. It's not about running around like a drunken sailor, you know, with a black card. Right? Meaning like a black credit card, like, you know, Amex black card where you can spend a lot of money.

It's about paying the bills that we've already got. And speaking of hypocrisy, because it always seems there is more than enough to go around, we're learning tonight that officials working for the former president's reelection campaign, they knew that that wild conspiracy theories that they were saying that were being spouted by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, they knew that they were just as crazy as they sounded.

They knew it. That is according to court documents obtained by the New York Times revealing that campaign staff, the campaign staff put together a memo debunking the bogus claims of voter fraud.

And remember this clown show of conspiracy theories and lies presided over by none other than Rudy Giuliani, apparently mopping hair dye or bronze or something, I'm not sure off of his face. The campaign already knew his claims were utterly baseless.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: You couldn't possibly believe that the company counting our vote with control over our vote is owned by two Venezuelans who were allies of Chavez, or present allies of Maduro with a company whose chairman is a close associate and business partner of George Soros, the biggest donor to the Democratic Party, the biggest donor to antifa, and the bigger donor to Black Lives Matter.


LEMON (on camera): What was that? Did we ever figure out what that was? Can you believe that that actually happened? What is that? Honestly, that somebody would let -- if you cared one iota about Rudy Giuliani or about anyone you cared about or even liked, would you let them go on stage like that? Would you let them be in public, acting like that, with stuff dripping down his face? And saying all those outrageous things?

That's why people need real friends. They tell you the truth. But there is one thing that Rudy Giuliani is right about. You can't possibly believe it because none of it is true. None of it is true. Not the Venezuelans, not George Soros, and not antifa, not Black Lives Matter. Those are good buzz words, and it scares a lot of people, but none of it is true, I hate to tell you.

Like I said, the whole thing was a clown show complete with colors. It could be funny, except it was all in support of a big lie, the big lie that fueled January 6, one of the worst domestic terror attacks in our nation's history.

And if you think the threat is over, there is the FBI director, Christopher Wray, in today's Senate homeland security hearing warning the bureau's domestic terrorism caseload has, his word, domestic terrorism caseload has exploded.

In that same hearing, the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he was horrified by the brutal images that appear to show border agents, patrol agents on horseback aggressively chasing terrified migrants along the Rio Grande.

Images that make you think of how enslaved people were treated in this country. Now Mayorkas is saying that the individuals who are the subject of the investigation of that confrontation are on administrative duties and are not interacting with other migrants. And the secretary says that the camp will be cleared in nine or ten days.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): OK, you expect to be able to move all of those individuals out in the next how many days?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our goal is to do so within the next 10 days or nine days. We expect to see dramatic results in the next 48 to 96 hours, and we'll have a far better sense in the next few days.


I was horrified to see the images, and we look forward to learning the facts that are reduced from the investigation, and we will take actions that those facts compel. We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant, period.


LEMON (on camera): Well, Vice President Kamala Harris calling the treatment of those migrants horrible.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were is horrible.


LEMON (on camera): Well, that is happening as the mask wars across this country are spinning out of control as the pandemic of the unvaccinated spreads. People are losing it, and that's creating real danger for officials who are trying to protect Americans and our children, those officials being abused and threatened all because of masks.

A health department director in Kent County, Michigan says a woman tried to run him off the road twice at 70 miles an hour over his announcement that masks would be required for kids in preschool through sixth grade. That health officer, Dr. Adam London, telling the county, quote, "I need help," according to the local paper, The Michigan Advance.

Now these things got so bad, he says, that he had to attend a hearing virtually for his own safety, a hearing that denigrated into -- degenerated, I should say, excuse me, into chaos.


UNKNOWN: You take a doo-doo on the Constitution and use some sort of subjective science to go ahead and have your little debates and have your little for quorums of what you're going to do for us and how you're going to keep us safe.

UNKNOWN: We're under attack. Communism is here. Biden is showing it daily.

UNKNOWN: And I've got to come for everybody that comes at my kid with this stupid ridiculous mandate. And if you think you're going to force a vaccine on her, you better think twice.

UNKNOWN: Yes, exactly.

UNKNOWN: Adam London, I will come for you. I promise you. Put that on record.

UNKNOWN: You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You are allowing child abuse. You with your snotty little face, you're allowing it as well.


LEMON (on camera): Those are parents, the examples supposedly to their children, the people who their children are supposed to look up to. Lord.

So, let's move on. We've got new developments tonight in the case of Gabby Petito. The FBI says that autopsy results confirm the remains found Sunday are those of the 22-year-old who disappeared while on a trip exploring national parks with her fiance, Brian Laundrie.

Now the coroner ruled the manner of death a homicide, but the cause of death can't be confirmed until the final autopsy results. We are learning tonight that a man who saw the dispute between Petito and Laundrie in Utah last month said, quote, "they were talking aggressively at each other and something seemed off." The witness telling police that they seemed to be arguing over Petito's phone. The FBI asking for the public's help -- help finding Brian Laundrie

who had not -- who has not been seen in a week, a lot more to come on all of this evening. Big show, as they say, a lot of news.

New information tonight about the former president's attempt to stage a coup, and just how close he came. I'm going ask Congressman Adam Schiff about that. He's next.



LEMON (on camera): So, there is new evidence of the former president's efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. The New York Times is reporting the Trump campaign was aware of pro-Trump lawyers' conspiracy theories about voting machines, that they were baseless.

That's on top of reporting from a new book "Peril" that a conservative lawyer tried to convince then president -- Vice President pence to overturn the election.

Let's discuss all of this and more now with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the chair of the House intelligence committee and sits on the House select committee investigating January 6, the January 6 insurrection.

Good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining.

This is -- this is a critical moment, Congressman. If Democrats can't unite around this infrastructure and these budget bills, is the party at risk of losing out on Biden's entire domestic agenda until at least the 2022 midterms?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Look, we can't accept anything short of passing these vital bills for the country. And I think we will, because it's just that important. The country desperately needs this investment in physical infrastructure and human infrastructure, this long overdue investment in our people. And we'd be crazy not to get it done. And we'd be crazy in my view not to do it big.

This is an opportunity to bring about reforms of a magnitude not unlike the new deal. And you don't get those opportunities very often, maybe once in a generation. So, I think we're going to get it done because we simply must get it done, or be willing to say OK, we're going to turn over the keys. We don't want to drive anymore. And that's certainly not where I am.

LEMON: So, the answer is you get it done, you believe you are. But if you don't, you think that you turn the keys over at this point? You are turn -- you would be turning the keys over?

SCHIFF: I'm not willing to accept any outcome other than success here. And --


LEMON: But you have to be realistic, though.

SCHIFF: Look, I am being realistic. I think we will get this done. I don't know what the final number will be. But when you combine, I think what we will get done on both physical and human infrastructure, along with the rescue plan, it will be a major new investment in the American people, and one that we'll be very proud of.


So, I'm not admitting of any possibility other than getting this done.

LEMON: I've got get your -- I want to ask you about this new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. It's called "Peril." Their reporting says that lawyer John Eastman wrote a memo to try to influence Mike Pence to overturn the election by throwing out electors from seven states. What's your reaction to this memo, sir?

SCHIFF: Well, look, they all understood that they lost the election. And this memo, along with other work of the Trump campaign was designed to overturn the clear results of the election. They just didn't care. They don't care about our democracy anymore.

Apparently, all that matters is staying in power. So, they'll -- they'll pass voter suppression laws around the country. They'll strip independent election officials of their powers and give them to partisan boards to help them succeed where they failed to overturn the last election, and yes, they'll write memos saying hey, here is a way we can subvert the will of the voters if we can just get the vice president to ignore his constitutional duty.

And this indeed how democracies come to an end. Not necessarily by violent revolution. Sometimes it's by these quasi legal means of these efforts to subvert the plain letter of the law and coerce individuals, whether it's the vice president or the secretary of state from Georgia or elections officials or legislators in Michigan or Pennsylvania or Arizona. And we came so close to losing our democracy, and we're clearly not out of the woods.

LEMON: You were on the select committee investigating January 6. Do you want to hear from Eastman?

SCHIFF: Look, I don't want to identify specific witnesses yet, but we're going to look into every effort made to subvert the election and how it led us to that violent insurrection on the 6th. So, certainly, those that were involved in trying to get the vice president to ignore his constitutional duties are well within the scope of our investigation.

LEMON: Yes. More now reporting on the book, this Robert Costa and Bob Woodward. They're saying in their book that days before the insurrection, that Steve Bannon and Trump were discussing, quote, this is a quote, "killing the Biden presidency in the crib," end quote. And Costa described the mood in the White House the night before the attack. Here it is.


January 5th, the eve of the insurrection and the riot at the capitol, we have the scene of President Trump not only pressuring Vice President Pence in the Oval Office, but then opening the door to have the cold air come into the Oval Office, talking to his aides, saying can you hear my supporters outside? Talking to these people as he hears them out in the streets on a cold almost freezing night, hours before the rally that ultimately led to the riot.


LEMON (on camera): What does that reveal to you? You think about what the Trump administration wanted to have happen?

SCHIFF: Well, clearly, they wanted to pressure the vice president to ignore his constitutional duties and essentially decertify the election or turn away the legitimate electors from a particular state and throw us into a constitutional crisis.

And the president was using threatening means, whatever means he could. And the following day, we saw, really, the ultimate step meant to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power. That was a violent attack on the Congress, on the capitol. So the former president was willing to use any means, I think including the violence we saw January 6 to overcome the will of the people and stay in power.

LEMON: So, listen, you want -- you want this not to happen again. So today you introduced your new legislation called the Protecting Our Democracy Act. It proposes ways to prevent presidential power from being exploited. And when we saw how executive norms were abused under Trump, how far does this bill go in stopping that from happening again?

SCHIFF: Well, it's a bill very much like the sweeping post-Watergate reforms that were designed to address the abuses of the Nixon administration. Here we attack the politicization of the Justice Department, the way the former president used it as his private law firm and used it to go after his political enemies.

We protect whistleblowers. We protect inspector generals from being fired except for good cause. We make it clear that a president who commits crimes can be held accountable. We told the statute of limitations so they don't escape justice by staying in office.

We give enforcement mechanisms to the Hatch Act so that a president can't use the federal workforce as his campaign manpower. We also provide a way to enforce the emoluments clause so that the president can't enrich themselves by having gulf nations rent hotel rooms and not even occupy them as a way of currying favor, and about a dozen other reforms that were necessitated by what we saw in the last four years.


So, it's a sweeping package, one of the most sweeping I think reform packages in history but clearly necessary to protect our democracy going forward.

LEMON: Representative Schiff, thank you very much. You guys have your hands full in Washington. So, good luck.

SCHIFF: We do. Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

An official autopsy confirming remains found in Wyoming are those of Gabby Petito, and that's not all the autopsy is telling us. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): Tonight, a coroner in Wyoming confirming the remains found on Sunday in Grand Teton National Park are those of Gabby Petito. The FBI says her death is a homicide and that final autopsy results will determine the actual cause of death.

Meanwhile, police in Florida still searching for her fiance, Brian Laundrie.

I want to bring in now Candice DeLong, a former FBI profiler. Good to see you, Candice. You're the perfect person to talk about this story. Good evening to you.

How -- how are investigators able to determine that it was a homicide? And what more can we learn from the autopsy results?

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, the exact -- how to determine if someone is -- if it was a homicide, there is only four causes of death, suicide, homicide, accident, and natural causes. So, they obviously ruled out all of those other things.

There may have been, for example, evidence of, for example, a skull fracture or something that would tell them it was a homicide, but they haven't concluded as to exactly what the cause of the homicide was. Was it blunt force trauma, stabbing, shooting, something like that? But they'll know soon enough.

LEMON: Yes. So how -- how will this investigate and how might it change now that her death has been ruled a homicide?

DELONG: Well, of course this turns up the heat on the last person to see her alive. And I think we all know who that is. There is so much speculation that is now over with that it's been determined to be a homicide. He showed up after she went missing in her car without her on a trip they had been on, that with no explanation.

When he got home, he didn't call the police and say hey, this happened, that and that. So, it looks really, really bad for him.


DELONG: And now the fact -- factor in that he is missing, it's even worse.

LEMON: Yes, he is going to show up at home with her car and she is not there and not even report it to police. I mean, that's odd.

DELONG: Yes, very.

LEMON: Yes. Apparently, her family, I don't know if they asked what happened to Gabby, but it's really strange, Candice.

DELONG: It is. It is. And Gabby's father is certainly being confrontational with his parents on the internet on communications in interviews that he is giving. I presume they have talked, --


DELONG -- but -- and another thing, Don, that turns up the heat, the heat of suspicion on Brian is refusing to cooperate with the police.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Look, you and I have been around long enough to know that everything you see on social media obviously is not true. Everything is pretty. We've learned the couple's relationship not as pretty as it seemed in their social media posts.

I mean, this video that we have up right now that we're watching of their encounter with the police tells a very different story than all those Instagram and what have you posts.


LEMON: You say that most murders are not committed by a maniac who enjoys murdering. Can you elaborate on that?

DELONG: Well, the vast majority of murderers not, all right, let's take out gang murderers and drug-related homicides. Take those out of this equation, out of this discussion. The vast majority way more than the vast are normal people that for some reason or other decide homicide is the answer, killing the person they're angry with or jealous of is the answer to their problem.

And sometimes it's an accident and they cover it up, and sometimes it's premeditated. And the cases, however, that make headlines, the cases that I end up talking about on various shows usually those are sometimes, sometimes committed by a maniac, someone crazy, although not so much. The average person that kills someone is not insane, is not crazy, is not mentally ill.

LEMON: Candice, authorities just finished searching in Florida tonight. Today they returned to the sprawling nature reserve near his family's home, Brian Laundrie's home, Florida home focusing on specific area. Why is it so difficult to find him?

DELONG: Well, it's my understanding that preserve where his car was found is 24,000 acres, and it's a swampland and it's remote. Not a lot of people go there. It seems like an odd place to get lost if you wanted to get lost.


But I can understand why it has certainly not been easy to find him. They found his car.

LEMON: Yes. Candice DeLong, thank you. We'll continue to follow this story and we'll have you back as we get developments. We appreciate it.

DELONG: You're welcome.

LEMON: A six-point plan to overturn the election. It's all in black and white, written by the former president's lawyer. That's next.


LEMON (on camera): Damning new evidence on the lengths the former president went to in order to orchestrate a coup after his 2020 election defeat. The New York Times reporting his campaign was aware that bogus claims about voting machines by pro-Trump attorneys were baseless.

CNN obtaining the memo that shows conservative Trump lawyer John Eastman tried to convince Mike Pence to overturn the election results.


So, joining me now, Max Boot, the Washington Post columnist and the senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. And Steve Vladeck, CNN contributor and professor of law at the University of Texas.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thanks for joining.

Steve, you say that this memo from Eastman is horrifying. The plan was to have Pence throw out the results in seven states, declare Trump the winner, kick into the Republican controlled House and state legislatures to affirm Trump was reelected and let the other side take it up in court. Do people have any idea how close we actually came to a coup?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Don, I think hopefully now we're starting to. I mean, this was basically how-to coup in six easy steps. It's, you know, I think if we look up the definition of sophistry in the dictionary, it's going to have a new entry for this memo.

And, I mean, Don. it sounds like we were pretty close. I mean, if Mike Pence had to call Dan Quayle of all people, to get talked off this particular ledge, it's not because its legal arguments are any good. It's just because there was enough of a fig leaf on which Pence could at least try to rest the kinds of shenanigans that these men and others in the White House were pushing him to pursue.

LEMON: Max, I want to ask you, because it doesn't look like, I mean, this was no pie-in-the-sky plan. I don't believe it was a six-point plan that was a -- the six-point scheme to steal the election and the vice president was considering it. I mean, what if Pence had said OK, let's do this. Or for that matter, what is to stop someone from doing this in the future, Max?

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: That's a great -- those are both great questions, Don. We have no idea what the answer is. It would have been horrifying to find out what would have happened if Pence had actually gone ahead with this blueprint for this Trump coup.

And now that it's out there and now that we know this is what Trump was planning, now we know, you know, as if we didn't know already, that this was not just some aimless protest that got out of control. In fact, the events of January 6 were part of a Trump attempt to overthrow our government.

Now that we know all that, it is all the more sinister, Don, that the Republican Party continues to stand behind Donald Trump. They don't seem to be overly bothered by this. In fact, Republicans who were bothered by this who voted to impeach Donald Trump are either leaving Congress or facing primary challenges.

And so, what does that tell you about the Republican Party going forward? My concern is what it tells me is that instead of disavowing this attempt to overthrow our democracy, the lesson they're taking away from this is next time let's do it better.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I want to talk to you guys more. I'm going to hold you over more to talk about this obsession to overturn the election, and also them knowing that everything that they were saying, folks like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, that it was all bogus, even when they were saying it. We'll get to that right after the break.



LEMON (on camera): Back now with Max Boot and Steve Vladeck.

So, Steve, you first in this round. There is this new, New York Times reporting. Court documents showing that the Trump campaign knew that the bizarre conspiracies about voting machines being pushed by pro- Trump attorneys. They knew it was baseless, yet they let the whole lie fester and infect a good part of the country.

VLADECK: Yes, I mean, Don, I think it's just what Max is saying before the break, that, you know, the real sort of horrifying piece of all of this is not just The New York Times story about the Trump campaign knowing that the fraud claims were baseless.

It's not just about John Eastman writing a memo that has basically frivolous legal arguments to prop up a coup. It's that there are no consequences. And you know, I think there are two problems here.

One is reforms that are desperately needed to our voting system, to the Electoral Count Act, the statute that governors how Congress counts the votes, they just aren't getting through Congress because they're not a priority because of the filibuster in the Senate because of Manchin and Sinema. But two, Don, I mean, you know, Republicans opposed a January 6

commission at least in part because they said what else are we going to learn? What else is there to know? Well, here today we have two bomb shells, things we didn't know two days ago that, you know, frankly, ought to put this into even sharper light and cause for even more concern about what we're going to do going forward. What else is out there? I mean, what still don't we know about how close we came?

LEMON: Yes. The sad reality, too, Max is that most Republicans do not believe Biden legitimately won, which he did. Is there anything that can undo all those lies?

BOOT: That's a great question, Don. I don't know. They seem to be getting more and more entrenched in the Republican Party. I mean, after January 6, I had a brief moment of hope that perhaps the Republican Party would rethink the course that it had been on for the last four years, which was increasingly not just anti-science, not just anti-reason, but also anti-democracy.

And unfortunately, that rethinking is not happening. Instead, anybody who dares to question Trump and his big lies about the election or dares to suggest that Trump is a danger to American democracy is being chased out of the Republican Party.

I mean, I wish I had better news to report. But at the moment, I have to admit I am pretty depressed about the prospects for American democracy when one of our two major parties seem to have disregarded one of the basic foundational tenets of our democracy, which is that the losers are supposed to accept the outcome of elections.


The Republicans just refuse to accept the outcome of the 2020 election.

LEMON: Yes. Delusional. Thank you, both. I appreciate it.

From the U.N. --

VLADECK: Thanks.

LEMON: -- to his own party, President Biden facing clashes with allies abroad and at home, and now his entire agenda is on the line if he can't pull it all together. Stay with us.


LEMON (on camera): Breaking news tonight. The House passing a bill to prevent a government shutdown in just a few weeks while suspending the nation's debt ceiling, or debt limit, I should say. But the bill faces an uphill climb in the Senate.

President Joe Biden trying to rescue his domestic agenda as infighting among Democrats threatens to derail his infrastructure package and his multitrillion spending plan.


He is going the meet tomorrow with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and with caucus leaders as he tries to unite Democrats.