Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

School Board Member Calling Out Violence; Former President Keep Pushing Election Lie; January 6th Committee Not Mincing Words; Jon Gruden Deserve What He Got; House Speaker Pelosi Frustrated By Infighting; Gabby Petito Died Of Strangulation Throttling; Senator Ted Cruz Pointing Fingers To President Biden. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): How do you want to be remembered? Where did you make a stand? What were you about? What were you not about? What did you live in defiance of? What did you embrace?

Thank you for watching. DON LEMON TONIGHT with its big star, D. Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I think you're right on that. If you're on the right side of history, which many on the anti-vaccine and anti-mask and many on the conservative in the Republican Party, not on the right side of history right now. I say that flat out.

I heard your conversation in relation to Kyrie Irving. I heard your conversation in relation to January 6th. Kind of all falls into the same thing. A lot of it misinformation and disinformation.

CUOMO: Informationally challenged.

LEMON: Yes. Look, and I don't want to -- look. I respect Kyrie Irving, what he does or what have you.


LEMON: I respect what he does meaning --

CUOMO: You mean he's a basketball player.

LEMON: -- as a basketball player.

CUOMO: One of the best point guards in history.

LEMON: Exactly. And everyone has -- everyone has a choice. If he doesn't want to do it, fine. Then he doesn't want to -- then he doesn't have to do it, but one then must suffer the consequences of not doing it, and I think in the largest scope of all of this, it is all about, right America. Right? Humanity. We're all on team humanity.

When we're supposed to be looking out for each other as a team and as a team you don't just look out what -- look out for what is just good for you. You have to look at what's good for the whole, which is a team, which is America, which is humanity, which is, right, Kyrie Irving's team. The most brilliant thing.

You know, Myron Rolle. Myron Rolle is now a doctor. And he was a football player, actually the first story done on CNN I did with Myron Rolle. Great family he comes from. And he said, and he was talking about Kyrie Irving. I thought it was brilliant.

He said I firmly believe that athletes like him who are intelligent enough to make good decisions on a day to day basis to be given the information, the experts clearly at his level he has to make a decision for himself and his team, he says.

This is -- then he goes on to say as part of that team, they want to fashion themselves to be a championship organization being vaccinated and making sure that everyone, everyone in the organization is vaccinated and he should follow suit.

The best thing he said is, I think the word here is team. He is part of the team. We are all part of teams. You submit yourself to the rules, the regulations, the policies of the collective goal and mission of that team. If you step outside of that, right, and they have the freedom to do so or he has the freedom to do so but you are also saying that you are different from the team and you are separate and apart from that team. Do you understand what I'm saying?

CUOMO: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, he can't say like, well, this is my personal thing and still be part of the team because that's not what's good for the collective goal of the team.

CUOMO: Yes. His coach --


LEMON: Maybe it was good for Kyrie Irving.

CUOMO: -- his coach said the same thing. Coach Steve Nash said look, you know, we have championship aspirations, everybody has got to pull in the same direction. He didn't. I'll tell you what I don't like. This little side bar story that's coming out that, it's not that he's anti-vaccine, it's that he is not taking it in protest for all the workers who lost their jobs because they wouldn't compile with mandates.

Now here is my question. If he's speaking out on their behalf by not taking the vaccine, why isn't he speaking out?

LEMON: Why isn't he speaking out? And why isn't he giving them if he has the information and he's not anti-vax, why isn't he telling them that it is OK --


LEMON: -- and what the science shows about the vaccine instead of reinforcing and doubling and tripling down on misinformation.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, look, I had this conservative Mark Davis on tonight. Smart guy. A lot of pull in Texas on the radio, and we were talking about, you know, he says it's the root of conservatism, it's liberty and, you know, you have freedom.

You and I talk about this all the time. You have the right to do something, doesn't mean it's right the way you're doing it.


CUOMO: And that has just been lost in this perverse sense of prerogative that hey, I have the freedom -- you have the freedom to walk into traffic. You know, we don't suggest you do it.

LEMON: Yes, that's true.

CUOMO: And whatever happened to character counts?


CUOMO: And a conservative standing for values and ethics --


CUOMO: -- and doing what's right. Remember how they attacked Clinton? Do you remember how Mike Pence --


CUOMO: -- as a member of Congress wrote a letter saying judge him as a neighbor? We need to have the moral rectitude in our leaders that we demand of ourselves as Christians in our communities. So, you're not going to do something that science tells you to do to keep yourself and others safe in your community --


CUOMO: -- out of some perverse sense of freedom just because you don't have to?

LEMON: Well, Chris, here is the whole point. You do have the freedom not to -- so then don't do it. But then you cannot expect to do what everyone else does. You have the freedom. And that's what they're telling him. You got the freedom. We're not going to cancel you we're not going to or fire you but you're going to be benched. I think that --


CUOMO: Well, here's going to lose a lot money.

LEMON: OK, fine. But that's what, those are the consequences --

CUOMO: No, I don't have any problem with the consequences.

LEMON: No, I'm just -- yes.

CUOMO: Their problem with the thinking.


CUOMO: See, because the thinking is how you get to January 6th. The thinking --

LEMON: Amen.

CUOMO: -- is how you get people who are real Republicans like five minutes ago.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: You know, real ideas that need to be used as balancing mechanisms in our political dialogue now being quiet with the idea that yes, that election wasn't real and the next one may not be either.

LEMON: You can -- and you cannot be hypocritical about freedoms and liberty when quite honestly and this the whole -- this hypocrisy drives me crazy. The whole idea about Colin Kaepernick, right? He can't do that. I thought he -- I thought he had his freedom and his liberty.

So, Colin Kaepernick has suffered the consequences of what he chose to stand up for. You can agree with it or disagree with it. I'm not making a judgment on that. But you cannot be hypocritical and say, well he shouldn't be able to do it and nobody do it, don't disrespect and don't do that or whatever.

Then don't disrespect my right or the other team member's right to live and not get sick from COVID. Do you understand what I'm saying?

CUOMO: Absolutely.


CUOMO: Look, I mean, the answer that I got tonight which I thought was really interesting, is, why are we, the other question, what are we the only developed democracy having this vaccine struggle? And the answer was --


LEMON: You know why -- let me -- my answer is --

CUOMO: -- We're special. I mean, that's like saying why do we have more guns than anybody, yes, it is like saying that.


CUOMO: Why do we have so much more of a mentality towards violence?

LEMON: Because we have the violence -- (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And violence towards each other and violence towards community.


LEMON: We have the freedom to be ignorant. We have the freedom to be ignorant. We have the freedom to be violent. We have the freedom to act an ass. We have the freedom to do that and it comes back to that question, just because you have the freedom and you can, should -- is it the right thing and should you?

We should know better. We should be looking out for the greater good and for our fellow man beyond just ourselves and we don't do that because we think that freedom means selfishness. And it doesn't mean that. That's it.

CUOMO: Negative freedom. You don't have the ability to tell me not --


LEMON: You don't have the ability.

CUOMO: -- to do but we don't think about the positive aspects --


CUOMO: -- of freedom, which is a responsibility to others and what license it gives you to do for them which by the way it happens to be the basis of the majority faith in this country, Christianity.


CUOMO: Yet that seems to be lost into politics.

LEMON: I was thinking that. I don't want to go there because people get mad when I go there. They say my gosh. I mean, and if you -- I mean, if you really want to go there, right, people are like you socialist or whatever. The biggest socialist --


CUOMO: Here it comes. Are you going to drop a J.C.

LEMON: -- I ever heard was Jesus Christ, He wanted to take care of everybody and he did not like money.

CUOMO: Although he did say --

LEMON: I'm just saying.

CUOMO: -- render on to Cesar what is Cesar's when they asked him about taxes.

LEMON: Do unto others as you would do -- whatever rich man can get to heaven -- it easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven. I know it. Come on, Chris. I went to Catholic school.

CUOMO: Of course, you did.

LEMON: Whatever. And so did you.

CUOMO: I did?

LEMON: Yes. Catechism. And I am not even Catholic and I know that's bad English. Bad grammar. Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: That's the least of our problems. I love you, D. Lemon.


LEMON: Hey, we got -- the Handoff was great today. Wait until you guys hear this, this week's episode.

CUOMO: Did a lot of listening on this episode.

LEMON: You did? Yes, we talked about --

CUOMO: Whatever you wanted.

LEMON: -- Dave Chappelle and we talked about trans and that whole discussion. You want to tune into the Handoff.

CUOMO: Cultural tumult.

LEMON: Cultural tumult. Tumult. Thank you, sir. See you.

CUOMO: Make your witness.

LEMON: Love you.

CUOMO: Love you.


And so, we got a whole lot to talk about tonight. And I'm going to start with something that just happened, it just happened and it happened again. And it just sort of, really encapsulates what we have been talking about and the frustration of many, many Americans, rational thinking, compassionate empathetic people.

I'm talking about school board meetings turning into battlefields over issues such as mask mandates or vaccines or how to teach race in our schools. And I'm not going to highlight the people who turn up at those meetings and they yell and they scream. Instead, I want you to hear what it's like on the other side.

A board member in Brevard County, Florida is telling her colleagues tonight that she doesn't have a problem with people expressing their opinions about school board policies but it's the personal threats that she finds intolerable. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER JENKINS, BOARD MEMBER, DISTRICT 3 BREVARD PUBLIC SCHOLS: I reject them following me around in a car, following my car around. I reject them saying that they're coming for me, that I need to beg for mercy. I reject that when they are using their first amendment rights on public property, they're also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors, that they are making false DCF claims against me to my daughter, that I have to take a DCF investigator to her play date to go underneath her clothing and check for burn marks. That's what I'm against. Which is a credible threat. And calculated.



LEMON (on camera): That's the environment we're living in right now. That's -- that sums up the entire environment that we're living in now and that we've been living in for the past five or six years. That kind of thinking.

Come on, people. The threats to school board members need -- it needs to stop. We need to have civilized conversations with each other. We can agree to disagree, of course. Look, Chris and I do it all the time. We don't just do it here on television. We do it over at the dinner table. We do it hanging out with each other. We do it over the phone. We do it every time.

We disagree with each other all the time. But letting anger rule the day and threatening someone and their family and then making false claims about it and feeling like that you are entitled, that that is in fact reality. It's not. That is not what this country is all about. At least what it shouldn't be but that's where we are now.

Now, let's talk about what's happening or isn't with the Democrats in Washington when it comes to passing two of the biggest pieces of President Biden's domestic legislative agenda. His trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and his social safety net package.

Democrats are stubbornly divided into two camps and those camps are still far apart. Ticktock. Clock is ticking. Midterm elections now a little more than a year away and if the Democrats fail to pass meaningful jobs and economic legislation, the consequences could not be dire for anyone running in 2022 or 2024. It will be dire. Mark my words. Maybe too far.

I don't know, I think they still might have some time to pull it back but the window is quickly closing. That's how big the stakes are right now. Moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, they are the lynchpins to getting the social safety net legislation passed. Fighting back against House progressives who want to spend at least $3.5 trillion.

Manchin and Sinema demanding the bill be paired back to around $1.5. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm very disappointed that we are not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative. Well, let me just say that $3.5 trillion, we were doing everything well. So not a question of now we're doing it well because it's less money but the fact is that if there are fewer dollars to spend, there are choices to be made.


LEMON (on camera): Yes, $3 trillion over 10 years, right? Over 10 years. Not like just this year or next year or whatever. It's 10 years. Did you hear that message, though? Do less but get something done.

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisting progress is being made in the negotiations but also acknowledging the key roles being played by Manchin and Sinema.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's views that are continuing to make progress were having important discussions about what a package that is smaller than $3.5 trillion would look like. Those conversations have to happen with a range of members.


LEMON (on camera): There is no doubt, no doubt that the Biden White House is aware of the president's poll numbers are dropping with each passing week, that the legislation is stalled. To the average American, looks like there is too much infighting among Democrats, that they don't know how to govern effectively. Jen Psaki trying to put a smiley face on the whole situation.


PSAKI: We don't get too glamour around here. Even if things look challenging, our view and his views that he was elected to continue to press forward and address the challenges the American people are facing.


LEMON (on camera): And guess what? The news is worse for Republicans. You know why? Because they are abandoning all their long-held principles and selling their souls to the former guy's big lie.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The single biggest issue, the issue that gets the most, the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of 2020 presidential election. The Justice Department was scared or impotent they didn't want to do anything about it.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case by Texas and almost 20 other states. It's been going on for years but never like this --


LEMON (on camera): Can we stop it. Stop it. Stop it. I'm sorry for running that. I didn't -- I try not to run that. I tried -- here is what I try to do. I'm just going to be completely transparent with you.


I don't want to run those rallies on the show. That one got past me. I'm sorry. I'd rather just summarize what he says. We know -- if he actually says something that was true and that made sense in running the sound bite makes sense. So, again, but what he does there and that's the frustration from most people. Do you play the propaganda? Do you cover it? After all, he's the former president and there is a threat to our democracy. I get it.

But do you have to elevate his lies? Constant struggle. For a legitimate news organization. So, spouting off one lie after another, putting our democracy at risk, that's what he's doing. It is sad that so many Republicans in America believe the lies of a twice-impeached sore loser.

But it's even worse. These are the sound bites that we should be running. It's even worse when sitting members of Congress, people who are in power now like respected GOP Senator Chuck Grassley, Congressman Steve Scalise, the number two House Republican that they go along with these lies. And him. His non-sense.

Of him encouraging hundreds of his supporters to attend a rally in Michigan state capital today calling for an Arizona type audit or fraud it of the 2020 Michigan results.

Biden beat Trump by more than 150,000 votes. And then remember the fraud it Biden actually got more votes from the people who are actually on Trump side saying that there was election fraud and not finding any and then ending up giving Biden more votes in the win.

But then there is a sore loser calling the results a scam. This is also a very important week for the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, which Republicans from Trump on down are downplaying.

Look there. At least five people died in that horrific violence. Five people. Trump telling four of his former aides who received the first round of subpoenas to just ignore them. Steve Bannon already telling the committee to take a hike. He and Kash Patel are scheduled to give depositions on Thursday. Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino on Friday. Committee member Adam Schiff warning of consequences if they do not cooperate.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not messing around if people don't show up, if people don't provide the documents they're compelled to, we intend to take up criminal contempt and refer to the Justice Department and we expect that it will be prosecuted. That unlike the last administration, no one is above the law and so we intend to move quickly.


LEMON (on camera): The select committee members saying today that they are unified in stating that criminal contempt should be the next step for anyone who defies their subpoena and that action should be taken very quickly.

Americans need to know just how close we came to losing our democracy on January 6th. And Americans also need to pay attention to that.

But there is still lingering question, are we paying close enough attention right to the warning signs that are out there in front of us? About the next one, are we?

This is our lead story last night, and it's big news tonight, as well. Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden referred to an NFL player as a queer and called the head of the NFL a faggot and called the new president a nervous, clueless p, grab him by the p. You know what I'm talking about.

Now the right is saying that he is been cancelled. A lot to discuss with, there he is, Stephen A. Smith, ESPN. He's next.



LEMON (on camera): The fallout continuing tonight following the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Resigning last night after years of e-mails laced with racist misogynistic and homophobic comments came to light. The e-mails sent while he was working as a football analyst on ESPN.

So that network telling CNN, and I quote here, "the comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance." But is this just a sign of deeper problem or deeper problems in the NFL?

Joining me now Stephen A. Smith, star of ESPN's First Take and Stephen A's world on ESPN plus and newest member of NBA countdown. Listen, the resume is long and well deserved. The accomplishments.


LEMON: Stephen A., thanks for joining us.

Let's get into this. Flood gates opened after this Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 e-mail where Gruden said that, you know, this about NFL Players' Association executive DeMaurice Smith. I'm going to quote here. He goes, "dumboriss -- dumboriss Smith has lips like Michelin tires."

And the Times report that he called the commissioner Roger Goodell a faggot and a clueless anti-football pussy, that was in 2012, and he called the then V.P. now president a nervous clueless pussy. He also -- and also criticized President Barack Obama. He also shared sexist memes about female referees, denounced the Rams recruiting, a gay player in 2014. I mean, he's offended just about everybody.

SMITH: Everybody. Give him credit for this. He didn't miss. I can tell you that. He offended everybody. And that -- and obviously, as a tongue and cheek because he doesn't deserve credit for any of this. He deserves to be shamed and that's exactly what has happened to him.

My initial response when the first e-mail came out, I was a bit hesitant to call for his firing and this dismissal or even the suspension, Don, because I was of the mind set it's one e-mail that happened in 2010 about DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association.


And I thought the shame in having to apologize and look black players and black colleagues in the face knowing what you said and how you described DeMaurice Smith was enough. But then as of last night according to the New York Times, we heard all of these reports and you didn't want a woman to be an official, Michael Sam who is gay, you didn't feel that Roger Goodell should be encouraging Jeff Fisher then the coach of the Rams to be drafting a queer.

And then obviously, he felt that Eric Reid, the guy who was a former teammate of Colin Kaepernick who kneeled with Colin Kaepernick, he felt he should have been fired. So, you offended black people. You offended the gay community. You offended women. You offended the commissioner who you didn't have the greatest relationship with to begin with. You offended the vice president of the United States. You offended the former president of the United States.

I mean, the list just goes on and on. He didn't miss anybody. And that is why he had to go but clearly, it was shocking considering the fact that he worked at ESPN. I can tell you I never saw that kind of language of any indication of that behavior from him at all. It was very shocking. But once the news came out, he absolutely had to go and I can assure you if he was still working for ESPN he would have been gone in a nanosecond.

LEMON: Well, this was what --


SMITH: Trust me on that.

LEMON: Look, this is, I mean, he wasn't even part of the investigation. This is an investigation into the Washington football team and they uncovered that, you know, about the Washington football team's workplace environment. Is this the tip of the iceberg?

SMITH: Absolutely.

LEMON: From the NFL I mean? SMITH: Yes. And what I mean by that, Don, is this, there is only one,

really two minority owners in the National Football League. There is Sha Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars who is from Pakistan, if I remember correctly, and there is Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills. She is the only female.

That is it. There are -- there is no black representation. There is no other minority representation of any kind on an ownership level and don't even get me started with the executive level. Don, take this into consideration, Don.

Jon Gruden won the Super Bowl in 2002. He remained in Tampa for the next six years. He made the playoffs twice. That's it. After that, comes to Monday night football completely removed from coaching for over a decade and then signs on to take over the Raiders at the price of $100 million.

LEMON: One hundred million.

SMITH: Over 10 years with bonuses that would take his salary up to 118, $120 million. Now I only bring that up to say this, is that happening for a black person? There is no way in hell that is happening for a black person.

LEMON: Seventy percent of the rosters in NFL players black, by the way.


LEMON: So, Steve, let me ask you. I want to get to -- I'm going to take producers a little time here, so just bear with me.

SMITH: Sure.

LEMON: So, I want to ask you two things. The first thing is the conservatives are saying this is cancel culture because he was -- he worked for ESPN and you go back through your e-mails or what have you but he was -- he is a team leader, not just a player. He's doing the hiring and setting the rules and the example. No? I don't know. What do you think?

SMITH: Listen, I don't buy into all of that. I know plenty of conservatives. I'm a registered independent. I happen to know a lot of conservatives and a lot of Democrats. I don't get caught up. I'm a fair-minded individual. I'm about right and wrong. And if they say something that's right, I'm going to give them credit for it. And if they say something wrong, I'm going to disagree albeit respectively as much as I possibly can.

But there's this concerted effort to politicize things that don't need to be politicized. We're talking about a core decency. That's what we're talking about here. A core decency issue. As a human being living in the United States of America, yes, the country is changing and what have you and people are coming out and they are being more open about where they feel, where they stand, what their sexual orientation is, how they want to live their lives, et cetera, et cetera.

LEMON: Society is changing.

SMITH: And society is changing. And as long as you're not any breaking laws, do you understand, and inconvenience to other people, it's not -- it's our business. Too many people don't adopt that mentality and that's part of where the problem lies and that's what we talk about when we talk -- people use the word progressive. I use the word tolerance, understanding.

Listen, everybody's life is not yours and your life doesn't belong to everybody else. As long as you aren't bargaining anybody else and you're not breaking any laws, chill out.


SMITH: Live and let live. A lot of people don't feel that way and that's where the problem lies.

LEMON: I want to ask you, though, just real quick. The Kyrie Irving situation, what do you think? He's benched.

SMITH: Well-deserved. The mandate is in New York. It's in L.A. now. It's in San Francisco. If this man does not get vaccinated, he would be violating the mandate and as a result, he would miss 41 home games for the Brooklyn Mets, plus a couple of games at Madison Square Garden against New York Knicks, plus the game in L.A., plus the game in San Francisco.


That's amounts to about 44 to 45 games. I'm sorry, if you can't take a vaccine that almost 6.2 billion people in the world have already taken trying to claim that you think there is some of conspiracy going on and you want to be that defiant and leave the rest of your team hanging, the Kevin Durant, the James Harden of the world where you are clearly the favorite to win the title.

As far as I'm concerned, to hell with you. Sit him down. Let him stay home. Don't pay him a dime and let him live his life. If that's what he wants to do, yes, he has the freedom and the right to do what he wants to do. They also have the right to tell him, see you, it was nice knowing you. You don't need to be part of the NBA anymore. I have no problem with that position.

LEMON: Steven A. Smith, thank you, sir. See you next time.

SMITH: My man. No problem.

LEMON: Be safe. Be safe. Thank you very much.

A lot of promises made. A lot of promises kept. Who is getting the blame for Biden's stall -- not kept, I should say, who is getting the blame for Biden's stalled agenda? We're going to look into that. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): President Biden's domestic agenda is hanging by a thread tonight. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warning her caucus the time is now to make tough choices about the president's social spending bill but no one seems ready to make a deal.

So, joining me now, Brian Fallon, the press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and Sarah Longwell, she is a Republican strategist and executive director of Defending Democracy Together.

Good to see both of you. Good evening. Thanks for joining.

Brian, Democrats are struggling to come together on the president's domestic agenda and this comes as Americans are facing high gas prices, concerns over inflation. Are President Biden and Democrats in trouble if people don't start seeing deliverables at least some soon?

BRIAN FALLON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEMAND JUSTICE: Yes, I think there is reasonable concerns about that and they're well placed. We're going through a summer period and now the first month or so of fall where President Biden after coming in and having a very competent team come in and administer the rollout of the vaccine extremely well in the office and getting a number of cases down on COVID, now people I think feel like things are in sort of ecstatic mode or even somewhat backsliding on COVID.

The domestic agenda as you mentioned subject to a lot of infighting on Capitol Hill within his own party. Afghanistan happened. The president's decision was right. Obviously, the withdrawal probably could have been handled better.

And so, I think that there is a sense of the macro forces that are sort of shaping the public's opinion of the state of things could be better but I think that the president has time to turn it around if he -- plenty of time, actually, if he put as focus on not just campaigning and messaging on popular issues per se but delivering on the issues.


FALLON: David Dayen at the American Prospect has a great piece about how Democrats should be focused on a strategy he calls deliverism. Which is don't just go around talking about how you want to lower prescription drug prices, actually twist arms --


LEMON: Lower than that.

FALLON: -- to get this passed.


FALLON: The decisiveness and looking like a strong leader will probably help him in the polls.

LEMON: Sarah, listen, I found this, you know, extremely interesting and I want to hear about it because you led this focus group of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania and you say they don't feel like their lives are improving and hat promises are being kept. Talk to me about what you're hearing.

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, you know, I did two focus groups. One of Democrats in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin and they were incredibly frustrated. I mean, Biden was getting a lot of seize from this group and a lot of it is COVID as the other guest was talking about.

People just feel like we should be further along by now and there is so, you know, there's kind of this malaise. They feel like they're dealing with supply chain issues. They're seeing inflation. People talk about they can't go buy a car. The cost of water is going up. And so, you know, these real-life concerns.

And then I'll tell you the other thing is. Biden really does have a messaging problem. You know, they spend $2 trillion almost on this COVID relief bill and none of these voters can tell you, you know, something that improved their lives about it. They don't know what it's in it.

And you know, there's a new poll recently showing that 10 percent of Democrats don't know what's in the infrastructure bill. And so, there is just -- you know, and people talked about this in the focus group. They say where is Biden? Where is Kamala Harris? We want to hear from them. You know, we feel like there's a lot of crisis and we want to see leadership, and so people are sort of asking to be guided through this and to hear more in this moment.

LEMON: Very, very good points. People often ask me why don't I hear from the president. They're glad that he's not out on Twitter every day or on social media creating chaos but they would like to hear more from the president and the vice president of the United States.

You know, Brian, I spoke last night with W. Mondale Robinson, he is the founder of the Black Male Voters Project. He is out there talking to voters all the time. This is what he's saying about Democrats. Watch this.


W. MONDALE ROBINSON, FOUNDER, BLACK MALE VOTERS PROJECT: They absolutely have enough power because they control the Senate, they control the House. And they are in the White House. So, they absolutely can do exactly what they promised. They just -- they don't have the nerve and the backbone to do it.


When we see Republicans are in power not even controlling all three Houses. Mitch McConnell stopped an entire Democratic nominee for the Supreme Court being nominated for an entire year because he wanted to. The Democrats showing black people they don't want to show up for us and it's dangerous.


LEMON (on camera): And he is saying he's losing support especially among black men. The Democrats count on black voters. What can they do to course correct here? And you said you believe there's plenty of time. I don't know if Terry McAuliffe feels that. I don't know if people in the midterms feel that there's plenty of time. But do you think there is time to course correct?

FALLON: Well, I think that, you know, there's a lot of rationals and explanations that makes sense within the beltway for why progress has been slow and coming on things like the infrastructure package or the voting rights bill that the clip you just mentioned invoked.

But none of them make sense in the public. None of them make sense to the voters that turned out in a massive wave election in 2020 that elect Joe Biden and elect the Democratic Senate. So, all these arguments about I have 58 senators supporting and I just have two holdouts or it's the filibuster that's holding us back.

They make sense on one level in the beltway but in the public, you have three way Democratic control and if Democrats don't deliver on the agenda that they campaigned on, there is going to be a backlash I feel and some of the erosion and support that you're seeing is from Democratic voters that are wondering why they don't have this infrastructure package passed yet. Why don't -- why aren't they willing to do what it takes to get the Voting Rights Act passed.

So, I do think that I say that there is time because I do think that some of these events are within Joe Biden's control. Certain things like COVID are a little bit outside his control. There are certain steps he can take. I think from instance that rolling out the vaccine for school aged kids will be viewed as a big milestone in the minds of the public.

They could put him back on offense in confronting with the COVID challenge, but certainly within his own party on Capitol Hill, wrangling the votes to get the Voting Rights Act through, filibuster be dammed and getting the infrastructure passed does real points on the board.

LEMON: But Brian --

FALLON: (Inaudible) delivering, I think he can change things if he passes those bills.

LEMON: Look, I'm up against the break. Sarah, we're going to have you back. Because I want to talk more about the focus groups and what you're hearing out there. But I will say this, Democrats, this isn't the 1990s. It's not even the mid-2000s for President Obama. It's not even 2020. Read the room. Thank you both.

Autopsy results are in. A coroner revealing what caused Gabby Petito's death. We'll have that for you next.



LEMON (on camera): So, we have some information tonight on the Gabby Petito case. Cause of death was ruled a strangulation. Strangulation. The Wyoming coroner says that it was manual strangulation throttling. Meaning it was done by another person. The time of Petito's death is estimated to be about three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19th in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

So, joining me now criminologist Casey Jordan. Casey, good evening. Yes. Yes. It's tough. I'm glad you could join us.


LEMON: What do these autopsy results tell you?

JORDAN: I would have given you 90 percent odds, Don, that it was going to be strangulation because it's just highly consistent with the controlling behavior that we've seen from Brian Laundrie. And we know he's not charged, we know he's a person of interest but obviously, it just fits with the puzzle that we've been trying to solve for the past month.

LEMON: Yes. What does it say to you about the person that killed Gabby? I mean, this was a crime of passion.


LEMON: Impulse?

JORDAN: Well, I'm going to argue that it's not nearly as impulsive as you might think. Again, impulse is going to be picking up any kind of weapon of opportunity, a rock, a knife from the kitchen, if you normally pack a gun to impulsively pull it out and shoot it because somebody is raging you. That would be impulsive.

But the strangulation is a very intimate. It's a close. It's a one on one and throttling quite specifically is two hands around a neck usually thumbs pushed against the wind pipe breaking the hyoid bone.

This is important because it can take easily five minutes to actually press the life out of someone and in that process, not to be morbid but the killer is looking in Gabby's face and seeing her eyes and seeing her trying to speak and hopefully conveying, give me mercy but the killer still presses down minute after minute.

So, the level of control and composure that it would take to do that is personal, it's intimate and it's very intentional.

LEMON: The coroner's report also says that Gabby's body was outside in the wilderness for three to four weeks before being found. I mean, the week before Laundrie return to Florida. Does not having an exact date of death cause a problem for investigator any -- investigators any issues? JORDAN: No. Because frankly, the August 28th is the date that almost

everybody who is trying to piece together the timeline considers to be the most likely date of her death. On the 27th they were seen together with a huge fight in a restaurant that tumbled onto the street and they got kicked out and Brian went back in and yelled at the hostess. People witnessed it. They reported it. The manager remembers it. Then on the 28th --

LEMON: I think we lost Casey. There we go. Casey is back. Casey? You there?

JORDAN: Sorry.


JORDAN: Yes, I'm sorry. I'm just telling you on the 28th, we didn't have any sight of them but on the 29th, this is the day that Brian Laundrie was picked up by hitchhikers. We know that he was alone. He said he was camping alone. He said his girlfriend was off doing her video stuff.


And then the next day is the day that Gabby's parents started receiving odd texts that they were convinced were not from her. So, not having the exact date of death doesn't really matter.

Because three to four weeks takes it right back to August 28, which is pretty much what we are sure is the date that she demised.

LEMON: Yes. Casey, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

JORDAN: Always great to be here.

LEMON: Absolutely.

It's all Biden's fault. That's what Ted Cruz is claiming about Southwest Airlines employee shortage. But take this, he made it up.



LEMON (on camera): So, take this. White House press secretary Jen Psaki mocking Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz after he falsely claim that Southwest Airlines was facing a shortage of employees because of vaccine mandate and President Biden. Here is Psaki.


PSAKI: I know world renowned business travel and health expert Senator Ted Cruz has made that point. But I wouldn't say that that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders who have implemented these mandates.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON (on camera): So, facts first here. Southwest Airlines says that the cancellations over the weekend were not due to employee concerns about vaccine mandates. It was weather -- like weather, and other external constraints that led to the cancellations.

The author of the article Cruz linked to in his attack on Biden even asked him where he heard about a shortage because of vaccine mandates. The desperation to slam-dunk on the president for making moves to keep people healthy and safe from COVID. So obvious.

It's also like, the health and safety of his constituents comes in second place to his political ambitions. Just look at his track record. It was only February when Cruz hurriedly returned to Texas after being spotted flying to Cancun as a winter disaster in his home state left millions of Texans without power and water.

After his excursion, the senator said it was obviously a mistake, and that in hindsight, he wouldn't have done it. But he wants to slam dunk on the president. Ted Cruz. Ted.

Next, 2020 seemed bad but it seems like it was just a warmup for the former guy.