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Don Lemon Tonight

GOP Don't Agree On High Debt Ceiling; Former POTUS Still Promotes Big Lies; Progressives Not On The Same Boat With Biden's Agenda; President Biden Got His Booster Shot; Kyrie Irving Refuse To Share Details Of Vaccination; FDA Approved Vaccine For Children; Truth Coming Out From Trump Aides. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Thank you for watching. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with its big star, D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is the first time in gosh, months that I haven't see you. I didn't you the entire weekend, Chris Cuomo.

CUOMO: My loss.

LEMON: I know. You were like thank goodness I don't have to carry that one this weekend and pay for all the bills. How are you doing?

CUOMO: Peachy. I am kind of confused by, you know, these two stories, this manhunt stories. I don't know where this guy is. I was listening to all these experts say they don't think he could make it in the park that long. There's another person saying, you know, if you are going to commit suicide, people with suicide is not usually a destination activity unless you go and jump off something. And then --


LEMON: Maybe that's why they're asking for his DNA. But go on. Sorry.

CUOMO: Yes, I don't know why they're asking for it right now. That's curious. Hopefully, it's suggestive of some type advance. But I'm even more confused because that's just sad. You know, Gabby is gone and you know what you need to know there.

But with the Democrats, I get it. You know, I was just talking to Van. I don't think the American people see progressives and moderates or centrist. You know, you see the left and you see the right, and I don't know that it helps to assess this situation by saying well, you know, the progressives, they've got -- they've got good points here. These are very popular things. So, the centrists really should give.

I think people are watching and saying you guys are going to get something done for us or not? And they face an existential threat, Don. I have never seen politicians be open to what is passing state of play on the right now. I've never seen anything like it. LEMON: We have won, as I have said, and everything that you've said

is why I don't belong to a political party because listen, there are many good things about political parties and many not so good things about political parties but I don't believe in voting because someone is Republican or someone is Democrat. I vote on what they have done, what they will do and what their records are and what they stand for.

So, having said that, there is one political party in this country that is working of reality and that is the Democratic Party. But even in that, they're not governing very well at the moment. They're not performing the duty of being good politicians in the moment. They don't see the urgency of what's happening across the country with voting rights, what's happening, the urgency of what's happening with the big lie.

They are still operating on thinking that, everything is normal. You know, we've -- we've got to play politics as usual. It's not politics as usual. What is happening of the right is not politics as usual. And what's happening on the right is not right, it's wrong. And they should pay the consequences for what they're doing to our democracy, the damage they're doing to our democracy and the damage they're doing to this republic.

So, hopefully, I don't see it happening in the near future. I hope the Republican Party can come back to some sort of semblance of a party that cares about actual democracy in people but I don't see that happening soon.

CUOMO: Whom did you hear from the Republican Party say I'm glad that Arizona issue got cleared up --

LEMON: No one.

CUOMO: Not only did he win but he won by more votes and Trump lost votes.

LEMON: He got almost 199 more votes. But Joe Biden did than he did in the actual election.

CUOMO: Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Hawley, you know, any of the guys who were distinguish themselves, none. Who came out and said enough with this?

LEMON: Chris, they know. They know.

CUOMO: But that's --

LEMON: They know.

CUOMO: But that's the point. I mean --


LEMON: They know. They know they're lying, and they just want -- all they want to do is stay in power and they -- that's it. They want to keep their position. CUOMO: So, if you know that's what you're up against, my bother, what

kind of ball would you be playing on the other side. I'm not saying the Democrats shouldn't have figured it out. But I wouldn't be airing it out in public. I wouldn't let people see me divided.

LEMON: But Democrats have to stop acting like it's 1997 or 1992 or even -- look, let's go back to when Barack Obama was in office or even, you know, 2012. It's not that anymore. That's not what is happening in this country.

Republicans don't want to work with you Democrats. Republicans don't want to work with you Joe Biden. They don't want to do it. So, they have to figure out what they're going to do in order to keep this country on track.

It is now up to the Democrats and to the independents and to the Republicans who aren't the Trumpers who don't -- who won't, you know, apologize and be apologizing for everything that Donald Trump says or does or lies about. It is up to those people to save this country, and if they don't do it, then God help us.

CUOMO: We're going to see.


CUOMO: Look, Nancy Pelosi, I cannot criticize her feel for the game. You just can't. You know, she's had -- it's like Mitch McConnell. I'm not comparing them in terms of any kind of ideology but they know how to do what they did.



CUOMO: And she's not going to bring something to the floor if she doesn't have the votes. This, setting this 27th wound up not working for her --


CUOMO: -- or for the party because it is now evidenced them to the country at large at a time where the numbers are not good for Biden personally, they're not good in terms of job performance and they're not good in terms of right wave or wrong wave for the country.


CUOMO: Now on the last one, they're probably the Republicans a lot for that also. But they need to get something done and some is better than none. These are all popular items they're doing. Whatever they get done but what if they don't get anything done?

LEMON: Yes, that's the point. Let me tell you this, and this goes for us in the news media, as well. Now that, you know, COVID has -- we're out of quarantine so to speak, still safe, still wearing the mask and whatever, I had a chance to travel around the country. As you know I've gone to my home state and we'll traveling this weekend and I've been able to go and talk to people and see people in the airport, wherever it is out and about.

We listen to the fringes too much. The fringes have allowed us voices. The fringes all the way on the right have the loudest voices, the people who are not, you know, playing with reality, the Trumpers, not -- we listen to them too much.

CUOMO: Twitter.

LEMON: Twitter. We listen to Twitter too much and we listen to the far left, everything. We listen too much to them. It is the radical middle, the radical center that is actually -- should actually be in charge in this country but we give, I get -- you know, it plays well on television so I guess we play the sound bites. Right? We go to the rallies. We listen to all these things.

That's not how actual -- that's not how most of the country votes. That's not how most of the country feels. And, but somehow most of the country should get-together and let these people know that they're not helping most of the country whether you're a Democrat or Republican.

I'm telling you, if you're a Republican and you care what's happening in this country, you need to get on the Democrat side to get your own party in order. That's the only way that's going to fix.

CUOMO: First of all, you need more parties.


CUOMO: Second of all, you have to beware because passion can be --


LEMON: And get rid of them.

CUOMO: -- passion can be population.


CUOMO: And that's why they cater these cultural issues on the right because those people come out and vote on them. But I hear you, brother. You're right.

LEMON: Hey, virtual hug because I didn't get to see you.

CUOMO: Love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: No, I got to do you like this.

CUOMO: What is that? Is that like a fat joke?

LEMON: Yes, it is. I love you.

CUOMO: I love you.

LEMON: I'll see you later.

CUOMO: I'll see you.

LEMON: All right. We got to get to news.


And as we have been saying. It's all on the line this week. It really is. This is the agenda that Joe Biden ran on, the agenda that got him to the White House. And it is hanging in the balance tonight. OK?

The president says victory is what is at stake and the White House is working feverishly to win the victory negotiating the price tag for his spending bill. Tonight, Biden's former boss weighing in arguing that the wealthiest Americans can't afford to pick up the tab for the $3.5 trillion spending bill.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Most importantly, it's paid for by asking the wealthiest of Americans who have benefitted incredibly over the last several decades and even in the midst of a pandemic saw their wealth and assets rise enormously, asking them to pay a few percentage more in taxes in order to make sure that we have an economy that's fair for everybody.

I think that they can afford it. We can afford it. I put myself in this category now. And I think anybody who pretends that it's a hardship for billionaires to pay a little more in taxes so that a single mom gets child care support or so that we can make sure that our communities aren't inundated by wildfires and floods and that we're doing something about climate change for the next generation, that's an argument that is unsustainable.


LEMON (on camera): All this back and forth, all of this drama to placate members of the president's own party.


UNKNOWN: Do you think it possible that you could come to an agreement on reconciliation by Thursday?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): That's a heavy lift. You know, there's a lot to do and a lot to talk about but everybody has to keep trying to work in good faith the best you can.


LEMON (on camera): Well, it makes you have to wonder if Democrats on Capitol Hill get it. That as Senate Republicans tonight blocked a House passed bill to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a government shutdown. That, my friends, that is hypocrisy 101.

They would be willing to let the U.S. default on its debt, to let your own country default on its debt. That wasn't their position during the Trump administration when they voted to raise the debt limit three times. Hypocrisy. Is that what patriots do? Let the country you live in default on its debts?


They want Democrats to handle the debt alone even though, pay close attention, they know perfectly well that the debt is all about paying the bills that we've already got, about 97 percent of those bills were run up before Joe Biden took office. That is according to the Washington Post.

Now meanwhile, our democracy is literally at stake in the face of the big lie, alive and well all across the country. The former president straight up lying this weekend claiming that the Arizona fraud-it shows that he won. Chris and I just talked about it.

Listen, I want you to listen because what I'm saying is really, really important tonight. I keep -- I tell you that it's urgent every night that our democracy is on the line and because it is. And you have -- you must pay attention to this. OK?

This is the true part here. He did not win Arizona. He lost. He actually lost Arizona multiple times, even the audit by the so-called Cyber Ninjas found Joe Biden won Maricopa County. He got 99 more votes than the county reported in November and the former president, he got 261 fewer votes. But he says, I guess that's winning to him.

He lost Maricopa County. He lost Arizona. He lost the popular vote. He lost the Electoral College, yet he continues to push the big lie and the reason is both simple and terrifying for anybody who values our democracy. He does it because every time he raises questions, every time he sews the seeds of doubt, every time he pushes for another investigation in Arizona even though it makes him look like an idiot, a fool, a loser, not look like a loser, it makes him even more of a loser he gets less votes.

Every time he pushes for Arizona, Pennsylvania, even in Texas, a state that he won he may be losing the battle but he is winning the misinformation war, spreading the same big lie that exploded into deadly violence at the seed of our democracy. That is when blood thirsty Trump supporting rioters tried to stop the certification of the vote.

Now I want you to listen to Liz Cheney. Liz Cheney is one of only two republicans on the select committee investigating what happened on January 6th.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Those who think that by ignoring Trump he will go away have been proven wrong. When you look at the spread of these mistruths and spread of the disinformation, you know, silence enables it. Silence enables the liar. And silence helps it to spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON (on camera): So, the fact is that there was a time when the

leaders of Liz Cheney's party saw January 6th for what it was, what it is, a threat to our democracy itself. Lindsey Graham saw it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Trump and I, look, we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. My God, I hate it. From my point of view, he's been a consequential brother, but today, first thing you'll see. All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.


LEMON (on camera): Wow. OK. Mitch McConnell saw it. Kevin McCarthy saw it, pardon me. Kevin McCarthy.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.


LEMON (on camera): OK. And as I said, Mitch McConnell saw it.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth.


LEMON (on camera): So, they all saw it. They knew it. They saw the big lie in action. They saw the violence. They knew exactly who was responsible and they still do. They know. But they're apparently, they have apparently decided that their political survival is more important than the survival of our democracy, the misinformation war, the big lie. It's all about laying the groundwork for the next time.


And make no mistake, the threat is gathering again. If people who know the truth won't speak out, if they're silent in the face of all these lies, it could happen again. And as our democracy -- not it could happen again. It will happen again, if people are silent, if you don't pay attention.

And as our democracy is under threat right now, the pandemic of the unvaccinated is raging. Mitch McConnell announcing that he got his booster shot today.


MCCONNELL: I'm glad to share that a few minutes ago, I received a booster vaccination for COVID-19. It was an easy decision to receive a booster. I'm a survivor of childhood polio from before vaccines, before vaccines eradicated that disease here in our country and around the world now. So, I've been a lifelong champion of vaccinations.


LEMON (on camera): Joe Biden got his booster shot today on live TV. Now, imagine how different things would have been if his predecessor had done the same thing. Imagine if he had gotten the vaccine on live TV instead of in secret. We wouldn't have so many people refusing to get the vaccines that could save their lives.


UNKNOWN: You scrapped me of my president. I am not taking your medicine. Not from -- I'll take what they give him but I'm not taking yours.

UNKNOWN: He took the vaccine, though.


UNKNOWN: Well, he might of. I don't know that.

UNKNOWN: I think they gave him the Regeneron.

UNKNOWN: They did give him that but he did take the vaccine.

UNKNOWN: I'm not saying he didn't. I don't know that. But that's what pissed me off. I'm not taking it because I'm that bull headed.


LEMON (on camera): We wouldn't have so many people screaming and yelling about vaccines and masks.


UNKNOWN: Your children and your children's children will be subjugated and will be asked how many vaccines have you had? Have you been a good little Nazi? Hail Fauci! Hail Fauci! Hail Fauci!


LEMON (on camera): The lies, the misinformation killing us and our democracy. And with all the drama on Capitol Hill tonight, one progressive Democrat is calling out members of her open party. My colleague Manu Raju asked for her thoughts a short time ago about Senators Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): It is saddening to see them use Republican talking points. We obviously didn't envision having Republicans as part of our party and I hope that they will understand that Democrats need to be united behind the president's agenda and we need to have urgent conversations on how to get this agenda done.




LEMON (on camera): So, a glimmer of hope for two critical pieces of President Biden's domestic agenda. Progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal saying Democrats are getting really close on getting to a final deal on the broad economic spending bill.

The progressive wing of the party has been in a standoff with Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema over that bill, along with a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Now, many progressives saying that they want both to pass simultaneously while Manchin and Sinema have said that they don't support the $3.5 trillion price tag of the larger spending bill.

So, joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman and whip of the progressive caucus and that is Ilhan Omar. Good evening. Thank you for joining.

OMAR: Thank you so much for having me, Don.

LEMON: So, you were at tonight's Democratic caucus meeting and holding Speaker Pelosi's hand as you came out but the stakes here incredibly high. Biden's entire domestic agenda is on the line. Where do you stand after this meeting?

OMAR: Well, we are really optimistic about fighting for the Biden agenda to be accomplished in the House and in the Senate and for us to send these two bills in tandem to his desk. You know, there are so many people across the country who are looking for the Democrats to fulfill their promise.

This is a promise that the president made to them on the campaign trail. It is the promise that we, when we were campaigning made and this is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver on that.

Now we have about 12 members in the House, in the Senate, in the Democratic caucus who are, you know, an obstacle to getting this done. They would like to make the public believe that the progressive caucus is blocking these bills from passing. It's the opposite.

We know that if we don't pass these bills, the president's agenda will not pass so we are consistent in having the president's back and supporting the whole agenda. We are going to do everything that it takes to be able to get this done.

LEMON: So, let me ask you as I mentioned, the progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal now saying that she believes that lawmakers are getting close to a final deal on the larger spending deal. You told our Manu Raju that you need clarity on where Senators Manchin and Sinema stand and that you didn't envision having Republicans in your party. But do you know where negotiations are right now?

OMAR: Yes, we are really getting close. The Senate majority leader continues to have a conversation with the few senators that are holding up progress, our chairwoman, Pramila Jayapal had a phone call and a conversation with Sinema.


And we continue to be closely monitoring the work that the speaker, the majority leader and White House is doing in bringing progress and bringing progress on these bills.

What we are waiting for is what is it that they are interested in seeing changed so that we can move this legislation forward?

LEMON: Yes. So, what are you willing to compromise on and I'm going to -- you know, how much lower than $3.5 trillion and so on? But what are you willing to compromise on?

OMAR: Well, what we are looking to do is to deliver on behalf of our constituents in regards to climate change, to deliver on drug pricing, to deliver on child care and to deliver on fair taxation. How far they are willing to go on that is something that we are willing to have a conversation on.

It's been talked about quite a lot in our caucus and with the senators just how much of a significant progress and investment we want to make in these areas. And we continue to wait to hear what kind of significant changes and investments they're willing to make in their constituent's lives because we're ready to do everything that it takes so that the people can feel the changes in their lives.

LEMON: You've written with a couple colleagues on along with Congresswoman Jayapal and Katie Porter for -- an op-ed for And you said you write that you'll put your votes on the line and only vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill only after the Build Back Better Act is passed.

But if an agreement is close and you get assurances from Manchin and Sinema, does that change anything for you?

OMAR: So, a framework and policies need to be agreed within that framework in order for there to be any progress made in the House. What we are looking for is that our, you know, now that our bill is done in the House, it's written, we want to be able to produce a manager's amendment for any changes they want to make and we want to have those conversations with them.

How much are they willing to invest in regards to lowering cost for American families? Whether they are willing to reduce child care costs burdens for so many Americans and whether they believe that we should be investing in community and trade school. These are still questions that haven't been answered by these senators

and some of our House colleagues. The majority of our caucus stands united to deliver the agenda of the president. And, know, Don, if you remember it's been months that this deal has been agreed upon as Senator Bernie Sanders has said over and over again the infrastructure bipartisan legislation would not have passed with his support and the support of so many other Democrats in the Senate if an agreement wasn't reached that we will be able to pass these two bills together in order to fulfill the president's agenda.

Now that they are getting on that promise and that deal, we have to hold the line and we have to hold them accountable for breaking the deal that they made with us.

LEMON: Well, Congresswoman, we know that it's a very busy time and quite a tense time because, you know, this is the president's agenda on the line and the things that you -- that he promised you on the campaign trail now on the line. We appreciate you joining us. We hope you'll come back and we hope that you get a deal done. Thank you so much.

OMAR: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you.

Vaccines for kids under 12 coming soon. OK. Well, Pfizer says they could be going to the FD in just days. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): President Biden getting his booster shot in full view of the American people today unlike the former guy.

I want to bring in now, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner and author of "Uncontrolled Spread; Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic."

Dr. Gottlieb, thank you very much. Listen, I appreciate you joining us.

I think it's important for our leaders to show people that they are comfortable getting the vaccine and the booster as well. So, listen, President Biden getting his third dose in public today. How important is it to show people that the booster is safe and it's effective? Because there's been a lot of confusion about the booster rollout. Should everyone eligible be seeking out a booster?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Yes. Look, I think it was very important for the president to do this in public and he made a statement about the population that's eligible to receive the booster. I certainly think anyone over the age of 65 and those who live in long term care facilities should seek out a booster shot. That's the age group that the CDC and FDA agreed upon and should be going to get boosters right now. [22:34:54]

For those under the age of 65 the authorization allows for people who have medical conditions have put them at heightened risk of COVID to receive booster shots, as well as those with excessive occupation exposure that could put them at risk of severe COVID and that could include healthcare workers, grocery store workers, all the kinds of first responders that might be in contact with a lot of people who could have the infection.

So, I think that group should go out and seek boosters right now given the risk of the disease and the fact that we're in -- was still in throws of a pandemic where you are seeing surge in Delta infection all across the country.

LEMON: So, Pfizer is expected to ask the FDA to authorize their COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 11 within days. Now with potential shots in arms by Halloween, that's what they're hoping. So, talk to me about the effect that this is going to l have on the pandemic, doctor.

GOTTLIEB: Right. And I serve on the board of Pfizer as you know. The company has said that they are going to file as you said within days. FDA has said that the review is going to be weeks, not months. I interpret that to being probably a four to six-week review. And if the FDA ultimately determines that the package supports authorization you could have an authorization as early as Halloween if it slips a little bit maybe by November.

I think a lot of the residual anxiety that Americans feel about COVID even those who have been vaccinated is the risk that they are going to develop a mild or asymptomatic infection and potentially bring the virus back into their homes and put at risk either children or older individuals that they might be caring for.

So, I think the ability to vaccinate young kids ages 5 to 11 is going to relief a lot of the anxiety that parents feel right now about going back to work going out and risking getting injected. Because most of us who have been vaccinated understand that we're not at risk of serious severe disease or hospitalization.

The vaccines have been very effective at reducing hospitalizations and preventing severe disease, but we're still at risk of an asymptomatic and mild infection that could leave us contagious and bringing an infection back to our homes.

LEMON: I found it interesting that you said, doctor, that this may be the last major wave of the infection and perhaps by Thanksgiving we may transition into a more endemic phase of the virus. Are you confident a new variant won't emerge?

GOTTLIEB: No, no new variants are emerging. And there's actually 12 different -- 20 different variants of the Delta strain, of the Delta lineage. You know, it is doing to be the case that you're going to get variants that emerge that partially escape the immunity offered by vaccines or offered by prior infection. Whether or not you are going to get a dramatic shift in this virus

where all of a sudden, we find a variant that completely evades the immunity that we've acquired either through vaccination or through infection, I think that's less likely. But you don't know what you don't know. It could happen.

But it's more likely that this virus is going to slowly drift over time and you'll get some new variant within that Delta linage that will partially escape immunity. And that's why the vaccines could become something that we have to do on an annualize basis at least for a period of time.

You know, the transition from the pandemic phase of this virus at least here in the United States to the endemic phase isn't going to be a sort of bright line demarcating those two states. It's going to be a gradual transition. I think on the back end of this Delta wave of infection sweeping across the country, prevalence will decline.

This may be the last major surge of infection and then we're going to have to deal with this as a more persistent menace and learn how to reduce our risk of respiratory pathogens more generally particularly in the winter time because this will eventually become a more seasonable pathogen.

LEMON: Listen, I hope that you're right about that because we want to get back to normal. Listen, this whole thing has been so politicized. I want to ask you about this Pew research that's come out now. It found that 86 percent of Democrats had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine with Republicans only at 60 percent. If this rate stays the same, do red states continue to be more vulnerable between lower vaccination rates and resistance to rules like masking?

GOTTLIEB: Well, look, people around the country right now have a choice about how they're going to acquire immunity to the coronavirus but the reality is that this Delta variant is so contagious, eventually it's going to end up infecting most of the people who remain unvaccinated.

It's unfortunate that in a lot of red states you are seeing higher infection rates but on the back end of the surge, most of the -- most Americans are going to have acquired immunity to this virus either through natural infection or through vaccination.

Now, we know that the immunity acquired through infection is protective. We don't know how durable it is. So, I do suspect that those who are banking on the immunity offered by infection to protect them are going to eventually need to get vaccinated to sustain that immunity. But it's unfortunate that you're seeing sharp divergence in vaccination rates across the country. Some of it is cultural, some of it is political.

So, there are states that are going to be more heavily affected. You frankly see the same thing with childhood immunizations. Here in Connecticut where I live, the MMR vaccine, measles, mumps, rubella, about 98 percent of kids get vaccinated with that. But overall, the average across the country is about 90 to 94 percent from year to year. So, there are a lot of states that are below 94 percent. So, you see variance in the uptick of vaccines and it often varies across -- across states.

LEMON: Yes. When you say the durability, meaning how long having the infection is going to last.

GOTTLIEB: Exactly.

LEMON: It's going to protect you against getting COVID, but some people have gotten second infections. So, we don't know how durable it is, correct?


GOTTLIEB: Right. Well, we don't know how durable the vaccines are and obviously, people are getting boosters because the vaccines that the immunity hasn't been that durable, particularly in older people vaccinated long interval go. We're seeing rising breakthrough infections.

We don't know how durable the immunity acquired through natural infection is. But it's probably going to be the case that while there is a period of immunity offered by natural infection, it's not going to be in perpetuity.


GOTTLIEB: It's not going to be forever, and eventually that cohort is going to have to get vaccinated to sustain their protection against this virus.

LEMON: Yes. Very important. That's why I ask you, again, I wanted you to reiterate that. Doctor, thank you so much. And again, the doctor's book is "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic." There it is up on your screen. It's good reading. Our thanks to Dr. Gottlieb.

So, he says that they're not vaccinated. They should be taken off the team. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is over the vaccine deniers and conspiracy theorists. He's here to explain, next.



LEMON (on camera): Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving refusing to detail his vaccination status today.


KYRIE IRVING, BASKETBALL PLAYER, BROOKLYN NETS: I'm a human being first and obviously, living in this public sphere there is a lot of questions about what's going on in the world of Kyrie and I think I just would love to just keep that private and, you know, handle it the right way with my team and go forward together with the plan.


LEMON (on camera): So, Irving making that statement remotely separated from his teammates and because of local restrictions, he won't be able to play in home games unless vaccinated.

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is calling out vaccine deniers. he is writing about it in a Substack and he quested in this article in Rolling Stone. And we are going to talk about it right now.

So, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you so much. Thank you for being here tonight and for doing what you do. Can I just get your reaction to Kyrie Irving's statement?

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA HALL OF FAMER: I can't accept Kyrie Irving statement. He's hiding behind procedure here. Either you understand what's going on and you got to do the right thing or you don't understand what's going on and you're going to continue to create all this confusion with your stance.

So, you know, we got to get that cleared up exactly where he stands and what that means to those around him.

LEMON: Sources telling CNN that approximately 90 percent of NBA players are vaccinated against COVID-19. You think that the 10 percent should be let go?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think they should be disciplined. I don't think that they are behaving like good teammates or good citizens. This is a war that we're involved in and masks and vaccines, they are the weapons that we use to fight this war. And when you're not going to be corporative with that, you are working against the effort to make everybody safe and, you know, we can't have that. That doesn't work for everybody.

LEMON: What about the folks who say hey, listen, it's my right, it's my freedom, it's my body. I can do what I want. I shouldn't be told what to do.

ABDUL-JABBAR: That's fine, but they don't have to do that within the framework of the NBA and put other people at risk. That's what we're talking about here. Putting other people at risk, not about whether somebody feels macho enough that they are going to go against the COVID virus and not have any vaccine, the vaccination protection and, you know, I guess maybe it makes them feel brave or, you know, able to do something that others can't do.

That's not what we should be doing here. We should be trying to limit this virus with all the tools that we have at our disposal.

LEMON: I want to play this and see if you remember this. This is from LeBron James. Watch this.


LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Everything I'm doing before predicated to my family, you know, for the majority for 99.9 percent of that. So, we know it's about the health and safety of my family and that's what it came down to. Me being available to my teammates on the floor is me taking care of my body.

UNKNOWN: Do you mind me asking if you're confirming that you did get the vaccine?

JAMES: It's not -- it's not a big deal.


LEMON (on camera): So, listen, we haven't heard from LeBron about that since, but the Lakers general manager did say that all players on the roster will be fully vaccinated for the new season. What would it mean if LeBron were to be more transparent about the vaccine or encourage others to actually get it?

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think it would be helpful if he encouraged others to get it but he has a right not to do that. You know, you can't force everyone to do what you think is correct. You know, so people do have the right not to participate in using the vaccine but if they're going to do that, they should not put other people at risk because they might become contaminated.


ABDUL-JABBAR: Their children might end up at risk. That's not fair.

LEMON: I want to -- listen, I might go a little bit long because I want to ask you one more question and I think it's important. You've written about this, quote, "the dark reality is that those who promote hesitancy and more research have blood on their hands. Worse, the kind of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience pundits spread is the kind of selective science that white people use to justify enslaving black people."

Elaborate on that, please, sir.


ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, the more ignorance that is spread around the easier it is to confuse people about what's happening. So, people who dislike black Americans at one point, refuse to give them treatment. In this instance, we have people that are trying to confuse the issue and have people not use the available treatment because of who knows what reason.

But we can't let that be something that pulls us back. We have to educate ourselves so that we understand what is being offered. These vaccines are safe and they are effective, and we have to fight this virus as a group.


ABDUL-JABBAR: We can't have certain people feeling that, well, I don't have to do that. That's insanity. LEMON: I think it's important that you point out that they confuse

the issue, especially when it comes to the Tuskegee experiment. It's not like that they weren't injecting African-Americans with something that was for them they weren't treating people. And the people they did inject with things like penicillin got better. Black folks didn't because they didn't inject them.

Thank you, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I appreciate you joining us.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Great talking to you.

LEMON: You as well.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Hope our message gets across here and, you know, be heard because without people like you being willing to point the facts out, we're going to have more problems.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate you as well and your voice.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, everyone. We'll be right back.



LEMON (on camera): Take this. A Department of Homeland Security whistleblower says that Trump appointees covered up intel about Russian interference and white supremacy because those topics made the then president look bad.

Brian Murphy, the acting undersecretary for intelligence at the DHS during the Trump administration speaking for the first time on CNN's New Day.


BRIAN MURPHY, FORMER DHS WHISTLEBLOWER: We completed the Homeland assessment in March of 2020, and it doesn't go out for months. And the reason for that is Ken Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf and others consistently wanted the several areas changed. One was on the white supremacy part and the other was on the Russian disinformation.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR Did they explain why they thought that made President Trump look bad?

MURPHY: So Cuccinelli told me that, you know, because of what the president's statement in Charlottesville, and then more as the spring in summer of 2020 went along as it related to the murder of George Floyd and other things, you know, in that time era that it would make the president look bad. I mean, those were his exact words.


LEMON (on camera): So there you have it. A homeland security official says that he was asked by political appointees to modify a report meant to help keep the country safe all for the former president's ego.

Up next, the week from hell. That's what one Democratic lawmaker is calling it. The clock is ticking on Biden's agenda and looming government shutdown. Stay with us.