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Don Lemon Tonight
Jeffrey Clark Used DOJ To Help Donald Trump; Americans Express What's Their Priority; Democrats' Infighting Continue; Steve Bannon Wants To Make A Bargain; Joe Rogan Skeptical Of Getting The Vaccine; Captain Kirk Goes To Space For Real. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 13, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Now to a galaxy far, far away, the mind of Don Lemon. DON LEMON TONIGHT.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That's the twilight zone.
CUOMO: It was nice to see somebody --
CUOMO: -- be completely authentic and human --
CUOMO: -- in a public settling like the way Shatner was. I'm glad it meant so much to him especially tat stage.
LEMON: And think about it. I mean, for those of us who grew up even, you know, if it was on in reruns watching "Star Trek." I mean, it was a real, real treat. I would love to see Nyota Uhura and Sulu And Dr. Spock and all those guys, that would have been great. Some of them are not with us anymore. But it was great and completely authentic. And he, you know, he was so grateful to Jeff Bezos for giving him the opportunity. He said I don't know really what to say.
And to see someone like William Shatner, a very seasoned actor, a very -- a pro when it comes to public speaking just like blah, blah, blah I don't know what to say. It was great, don't you think?
CUOMO: Yes. I just -- I thought that it was so real. You know, what I liked about it actually I had nothing to do with --
LEMON: I wish he had said though, when it was going up, I wish I would hear him say, warp speed ahead!
CUOMO: He was doing with 2,000 miles an hour. I think that for me, it was that that's the closest reaction I've ever seen to what I think it would be like for the rest of us.
CUOMO: You know what I mean? Like when these astronauts and stuff and these big shots go up there, it's like, you know, that's not what it would be like for me or you. But Shatner, it's like I could see myself feeling the way he did.
LEMON: Did you play "Star Trek" when you were a kid? Did you have the -- I had the thing?
CUOMO: No interest.
LEMON: You didn't, you didn't like it.
CUOMO: But I know it Mr. Spock not Dr. Spock.
LEMON: What did I say? I thought it was Dr. Spock. OK. Whatever. Why are you always talking --
CUOMO: Facts matter.
LEMON: Crap. Facts do matter. Did you -- now here is where everyone is going to get mad at me. So, I watched "Star Trek." I loved "Lost in Space." And that was my number one. "Star Trek" number two. I'm not a fan of "Star Wars." I never got into it. Interesting.
CUOMO: I like "Star Wars," my kids hate it.
LEMON: Yes. Not interesting.
CUOMO: I like all of those kinds of war of the worlds -- I didn't like that movie but "War of the Worlds" type series. "The Hobbit, "Fellowship of the Ring," "Star Wars," all that stuff. I'm into it.
LEMON: Not my thing. Not so much. I'd rather watch --
CUOMO: You're more of a squid game guy.
LEMON: No, no, no. I'd rather watch an old movie on TCM. I'm just an old man. You know, "All About Eve." "Citizen Kane."
CUOMO: It was pretty big, though. But I'll tell you what, I had -- I really believe --
LEMON: "Twilight Zone."
CUOMO: All right. I get it. I really believe that this supply chain -- I know it's not sexy and I know it confusing.
LEMON: No, but it's important.
CUOMO: But I'm telling you, come the holidays, have you tried to buy any gifts yet?
LEMON: Yes, that's not a problem for me. K. Look, I think, here's the thing that I think about that.
CUOMO: It's a problem.
LEMON: It is. It's awful. But maybe in some way this will teach us what's important about Christmas --
CUOMO: I would love that.
LEMON: -- and it's not necessarily gifts.
CUOMO: I don't like Christmas. I'm on record of saying that.
CUOMO: I'm not a scrooge. I'm very generous to a fault but it's all about the gifts.
LEMON: This is --
CUOMO: The gummy little kids. Do you know how many packages I found when we moved that were never opened?
CUOMO: Unwrapped --
CUOMO: -- but unopened gifts from Christmas?
LEMON: Yes. Well, OK. Mrs. Matilda Cuomo, he did not mean he didn't like Christmas. He is just saying that.
CUOMO: I don't like it.
LEMON: Your mom is watching.
CUOMO: It's all about the gift. You don't know the reason for the season.
LEMON: OK, I agree with you. I'm not a big presents person so that doesn't bother me. But here is what I have to say about that. And I like to -- usually you are a glass half full person so I'm going to help you be a glass half full person.
So, I talked to (Inaudible) last night who explained to me about the supply chain. Yes, it is terrible. People want to their things. But it's also an indicator that the economy is doing well. People want to buy things and that it's backed up. So, let's look at the part that hey, the economy is great. People can buy things again. They're out and about they want to buy gas. It's, you know, OK. Fine.
CUOMO: I know, I think that's a little spin.
LEMON: Well, it is a-- it is a spin. I'm just trying to make people feel good. Look, if you can't -- trust me, I understand all of it. But I'm saying sometimes you have to look at the bright side because it's getting better, people are out there traveling, gas prices are going up. You can't get the gas because there is so much demand. I understand it.
But that's not a -- look, let's just say there were people who was overflowing with gas and nobody was going anywhere and you couldn't travel and you couldn't afford -- OK. Fine. But it's actually the exact opposite. The demand is so high for people who are wanting to do good things and buy and be part of the economy that we can barely keep up.
Let's just, you know, get the right attitude about it. Your things will come. Things will come. Right? Gifts will come. Furniture will come. Toys will come. Eventually. But that person who you sit across at the dinner table from may not be there always. Right?
You haven't been able to see them for the past two years. How about you think about that and get into that instead of thinking about what you don't have?
CUOMO: I will and we have very big -- this is a big --
CUOMO: -- this is a big Thanksgiving. Twenty-year wedding anniversary.
LEMON: Wow. Yes. Sorry, Christina.
CUOMO: Did you get the invite?
LEMON: No, I don't need an invite.
CUOMO: That's right. That's right. That's right. You didn't. That's right you didn't. It has nothing to do with the supply chain.
LEMON: I got to run. Thank you very much.
CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon.
LEMON: Beat me up, Scotty. I'll see you later. You as well.
This is Don Lemon Tonight.
We got a lot to talk about and it's breaking news. January 6th committee not playing. OK. So, our breaking news tonight a new subpoena for a Trump era DOJ official tonight, the latest Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department official who pushed the big lie helped the then president try to overturn our free and fair election.
Subpoena letters saying and I quote here, "The select committee's investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power."
And we are learning the former acting attorney general Jeff Rosen met with the committee for eight hours today. There is a lot that he could tell them in eight hours. Remember, this is the acting A.G. who refused to sign the letter Clark wrote pushing the bogus claim of voting irregularities in Georgia.
Now that is happening as the White House tonight is rejecting the latest request from the former president to assert executive privilege and keep the committee from seeing some documents that it requested, trying to assert executive privilege even though he is no longer the executive. He still is in his mind but he's not.
A big couple of days ahead for that committee. Kash Patel, Steve Bannon scheduled for depositions tomorrow. Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino scheduled Friday. Patel and Meadows are reportedly engaging with the committee but they only recently served Scavino and Bannon has so far not been cooperating.
His layers saying that he won't be providing testimony. He won't be providing documents until the committee reaches an agreement with the former president over executive privilege or a court weighs in.
Bannon was not a government official. The former guy is not the executive anymore. Drag it on through the courts. But the latest threat of criminal contempt hangs over anyone who defies the committee subpoena and let's not forget what this is all about. These are members of the president's, the former president's inner circle.
They can shed light on what happened on January 6th in the days before the violent bloodthirsty Trump supporters tried to stop the certification of the election. Trump supporters, not antifa, not actors, not any of that. Trump supporters. The fact is we had a president who tried to stage a coup right under our noses and there is no clear evidence that the world has changed.
Just in the years since -- I want you to hear me especially Democrats, OK? Because I've been saying this. I know you get mad don't beat up on Democrats. This is the honest truth. Democrats.
Just in the year since Joe Biden was elected and yes, despite the lies some people are still telling, Joe Biden is a duly elected President of the United States. Right? It's just the past year that we have had this tectonic shift in the past year since 2020.
The rules have completely changed but the Democrats don't seem to be able to read the room. OK? So, let's -- Democrats. Take 2020, put it aside. We're not there anymore. Warp speed ahead. Read the room. The president's agenda, the promises he ran on, the promises that got him elected are all hanging in the balance now.
This is serious. It is a crisis now for this White House. We have seen our fellow Americans attack the seat of our democracy, the United States Capitol trying to overturn our free and fair election. Since 2020 election. Read the room.
But just nine months later, too many Democrats are fighting each other instead of, I don't know, maybe getting something done. While the GOP is all about scorched earth and strong arming and could very well hand them the controls of Congress next year, it all comes down to this.
Democrats have to prove that they can get something done and they have to do it before the midterms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We need to think big and bold. That's why I'm pushing for once in a generation investment in our infrastructure and our people with my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better Act.
The bottom line we've seen the cost of inaction and the pandemic and the delays and congestion that affect every American. But it fully within our capacity to act to make sure it never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): OK. Yes. The one thing I think that -- big and bold but a backbone. Big and bold but urgency. Big and bold, read the room. This isn't 2020. He said it within our capacity. It is. But Democrats have to get real and figure out what their bottom line is. They need to get out of their own way. They need to push the president's agenda across the finish line without getting so bogged down in the details in winning small little battles.
When the democracy is at stake. When people went to the polls in 2020 democracy, OK, maybe it was at stake. Right? OK, you thought it was at stake and fine, all right. Democracy is at stake but now we have someone else in the White House and woof, that's solved.
Then the big lie, then January 6th. Democracy in greater danger. We're trying to save our democracy and they are operating under old rules in a world that is radically different from the way it was even in 2020.
The reality is they're not all going to get everything that they want. Progressives, you're not going to get everything that you want. But if you allow this moment to pass and not get anything accomplished, then you're gone. Then Joe Biden is gone. Then Democrats are gone and then you won't have a chance.
Same thing for conservative Democrats and the moderates, no one gets everything that they want. And they cannot let Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, two members of the president's own party torpedo his agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We're waiting for the two of them to agree with each other and then to submit a counter proposal and I'm not sure why it's taking so long but obviously, this is a moment where we're all in agreement. So, if somebody else has a different proposal they should put it on the table but it doesn't make sense for us to continue to negotiate against ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): OK. So, listen. Let's show the numbers, right? CNN poll finds 75 percent of Democrats prefer a bill that goes farther to expand the social safety net and combat climate change over one that costs less and acts fewer of those policies. I'll say that again.
A new CNN poll, please put it up for me, Danny, finds 75 percent, that is a big majority. Seventy-five percent of Democrats prefer a bill that goes farther to expand the social safety net and combat climate change over one that costs less and enacts fewer of those policies.
And the Biden administration has to get real and figure out what their bottom line is. Like I said, everything has changed. This is not 2020. Remember when we thought that we'd be declaring freedom from the virus on July 4th? Yes, well, we know how that worked. How that worked out, right?
A new analysis finds that there were over 90,000 preventable deaths among unvaccinated adults just over the past three months. Preventable deaths. If only people had gotten vaccinated. Who would have thought that so many Americans would turn down lifesaving vaccines? Americans like one of the highest paid podcast hosts Joe Rogan. He spoke with Dr. Sanjay Gupta why he didn't get vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you have gotten it --
JOE ROGAN, PODCAST HOST: I almost got it.
ROGAN: So, let me tell you what happened.
ROGAN: I was supposed to get it. The UFC had allocated a bunch of doses for all of their employees and I came down on Friday and I said hey, can I get vaccinated?
And they said yes, let's set it up. I said I have a previous obligation. I said but I'll be back in two weeks. Let's do it in two weeks and I'll come a day early.
ROGAN: And they said great. In the meantime, Johnson & Johnson got pulled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Yes. My producers have informed me that I said Joe Biden. Perhaps Joe Biden should go on Joe Rogan. It was Joe Rogan. So, it was true that where was a brief pause in the use of the J&J vaccine over a small number of cases of the rare type of blood clot but that pause was lifted after 10 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGAN: I got nervous about it and I also got nervous that some of these things are being under reported because when I talked to some of these people, I was like was it submitted to the various (Ph) report? No, they weren't submitted to the various report. So, I'm like, how many people have had adverse reactions that were submitted versus not submitted?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): We have got much more to come on this. But just think about what it was like a year ago, right? Just think about a year ago. How desperate we were for those vaccines. For the vaccines that we have now. Now we've got Republican governors pandering to anti-vaxxers. Democrats. That's why -- and people are listening to them. The governors and the anti-vaxxers.
We have parents screaming and yelling about masks that protect their own kids from being infected. People are listening to them. Democrats. So, like I said, the rules have changed. The world has changed drastically in one year but just look at what we can get done if we really try. OK?
This is what happens when we really try to get things done. We succeed. Sure, it's easier for one of the richest people in the world to get big things done and even go to space. But you just can't deny that it is an amazing sight here, William Shatner, Captain Kirk to you and to me actually flying into space and coming back to earth 10 minutes and 17 seconds later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: William, you had one of the most, perhaps one of the most interesting lives of any human could possibly have. Where does this stack up on your list of life experiences?
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: I think this is enormous. I'm overwhelmed and it takes more than a little thing to overwhelm me. I am overwhelmed by this experience and in fact, I can't -- you know, use these words to process it. I really, I've got to sort of find the words to -- and I'm finding them gradually as this tsunami of experience is reseeding.
I'm able now to pick up the points and I will at some time later distill what I've seen. But what I've seen is not just -- it's so nonsensical life changing. What it is profound and then you have to analyze what is profound and I'll get there sooner or later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): You will hear a lot from William Shatner later in the show. That is my William Shatner.
But think about all of this, right? We can go all the way to space. We can go to space. We can create amazing vaccines. Vaccines that save lives. Now we've got to save our democracy in a world that has changed completely from just a year ago. Democrats once again, read the room. Get some fire under your you know what and save the democracy. Stop messing around.
So, our breaking news we told you about the clock ticking on subpoena deadlines just hours away, will those former aides tell what they know about what happened in the days before January 6th or will they risk criminal charges?
LEMON (on camera): So, we have breaking news now that we want to talk about. Steve Bannon's lawyer telling the January 6th select committee that he won't provide testimony or documents until the former president -- president's claim of executive privilege is resolved. How is a committee going to respond to this?
Let's discuss now with former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, he is now a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and the author of the book "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."
Andrew, thank you. Good evening. Let's get into this.
So, with Steve Bannon planning to defy his subpoena deadline tomorrow, what's your reaction? Is he in any position to be demanding terms and how fast do you think that this criminal contempt charge could be coming his way?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, he's -- yes, Don, he's not really in any kind of a strong position to demand or to try to hide behind the executive privilege but that's not going to stop him from asserting it. So, on the House side what they will do is first vote to hold him in contempt, that should be pretty quick, pretty easy to do and then from there, they have a couple of options.
They could refer that contempt citation to the Department of Justice and ask the department to prosecute him criminally for contempt. They could decide to pursue it in civil court, federal court and in the same way that they went after Trump and other Trump associates during the prior administration to try to enforce subpoenas or they could send the sergeant in arms out to grab Mr. Bannon and hold him in jail on the Hill which is highly unlikely to happen.
MCCABE; So, all of those things take a lot of time. That's what Mr. Bannon is gambling for right now. He knows he's not going to win legally but he is gambling that he can probably out last them.
LEMON: The select committee announcing that they subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who is instrumental in Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Andrew. How significant is this?
MCCABE: Hugely significant, Don. We know that Jeff Clark was at the center of one of the conspiracies to try to overturn, illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election. He was a key player in Trump's efforts to throw out the results of the election.
So, I think it's great that the committee is going after him. I'm sure many people in the country are asking themselves tonight like who is Jeff Clark and that is the question that Mr. Clark should be asking himself. Who are you, Jeff Clark? Are you an attorney? Are you a former Justice Department official? Are you somebody who is going to abide by the rule of law and follow the directives of the subpoena or are you a Trump loyalist and you are going to get in line behind Steve Bannon and others and try to fight it and gamble for time? So, it will be interesting to see how he answers that question.
LEMON: We're also learning tonight that the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen met with the select committee for eight hours today, and we know from a Senate judiciary board that on January 3rd, Trump tried to pressure Rosen to overturn the election for hours. What role will he play in this investigation? I'm talking about Rosen.
MCCABE: Key witness. That is the role that he will play. Listen, I can tell you, Don, I have been there many times. I've sat in the chair that he sat in today for eight, ten, 12 hours at a stretch. It is a long and hard day. But Mr. Rosen is making himself available. The administration has not blocked his appearance with any claims of executive privilege and all indications are he is providing a lot of detailed information to the committee.
That is going to be key in not just expanding their understanding of what happened but also driving future subpoena requests. This is going to enable them to target other significant witnesses and people who they want to call in front of the committee.
LEMON: Andrew McCabe, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.
MCCABE: Thanks, Don. LEMON: Is our democracy heading towards extinction? I'm going to
speak with the guy who literally wrote the book on how democracies die. Next.
LEMON (on camera): Is the end of our democracy in sight as Republicans once again line up behind the former president and the big lie?
Joining me now is Daniel Ziblatt, he is the co-author of "How Democracies Die." Everyone should read that. Daniel, I'm so grateful that you're here. So, thank you so much. Good evening to you.
And let's try to educate the folks who are watching. I just talked about it at the top of the show. How precarious is the situation now? Should we be on red alert over the state of our democracy?
DANIEL ZIBLATT, CO-AUTHOR, HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE: I think so. Our democracy is in a much more vulnerable position than it's been at any point since at least the 19th century. We really became a full democracy, we should note, after the 1960s with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. But right now, we're in a very, very dangerous moment.
LEMON: You know, the president put out a statement today saying that Republicans won't -- the former president put out a statement today saying that the Republicans won't vote in the midterms and the next presidential election unless what he calls the presidential election fraud of 2020 is solved.
Look, we know there is no fraud. This was the most secure election in our nation's history but he wants the party's fealty in selling the big lie or else and most likely it will -- you know, it will probably work. I have to be honest.
ZIBLATT: Yes, so when we wrote our book "How Democracies Die," we were really worried about Donald Trump. What we don't count on four years later now is the degree to which the Republican Party has rallied fully round this myth of the big lie.
And you know, one of the things that one learns looking at history around the world is that if you have one of the two major political parties not accepting the results of election, which is what we saw on January 6th and between November and January, democracy has a real tough time surviving.
Losing elections is at the heart of democracy. When you lose, you go home, you figure out how to win, you come back and fight another day. If you have a political party that's not willing to do that, not willing to admit that 70 percent of Republicans see they don't think Joe Biden in opinion polls, they say this that Joe Biden is not the duly elected president, it's hard to imagine the democracy surviving under these kinds of conditions. LEMON: So, big lie believers aren't just running for national office.
There are candidates at the state and local levels buying into it, too. I spoke with an election official last night in Texas. You talked about, you know, in Hood County what was happening to her. Does that make the move towards authoritarianism all the more potent do you think?
ZIBLATT: Well, there is a real battle taking place at the level of U.S. states. You know, there's changes, all of this changes since January at a bunch of states to change the way that votes are counted to change who can vote and how you vote, who certifies elections, all these details of elections that most people have not spent a lot of time thinking about in their daily lives, these details are critical.
Because, you know, what could imagine what will happen in 2022 and 2024, in particular is that a majority of people vote for one party and that party doesn't actually win given all of this kind of maneuvering in the rules.
And so, you know, one of the things that I think really that Republicans as well as Democrats need to understand is that when people play recklessly with our democracy, you know, it's playing with fire and when the house burns down, everybody goes down with it.
You know, one side doesn't emerge as victorious. And so, Republicans need to realize that if they play this dangerous game, the whole -- the whole democracy is going to come burning down and nobody is going to will survive. So, I think it's really critical to understand that you just simply can't play recklessly with our democracy.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I think, obviously, the former guy is to blame for, you know, trying to have a coup after the last election to pull off a coup. But as you said, the folks in his own party are going with it. GOP establishment are throwing in with the former president. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): If I didn't accept the endorsement of a person that's got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, it is a Faustian bargain but Grassley is not alone. Has the whole GOP turned anti-Democratic and what does that do to the foundation of our Democratic system? You answered part of that in your last answer but I just -- you know, if this continues, is there -- can we ever go back?
ZIBLATT: Well, I think we can. I mean, you know, this is why I'm appears on your show at this hour in the evening because we need to talk about this. People need to educate themselves. There is incredible organizations out there the Brennan Center for Justice that protect democracy. You can so and check out these web sites which lay out the threats that we are facing.
And citizens need to mobilize. Citizens need to educate themselves and there needs to be pressure put on our Congress and the Senate to pass bills that protect voting rights. I mean, there is two big bills sitting in front of the Senate right now, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and another bill to prevent gerrymandering.
So, stuff can be done but we don't have a lot of time. And so, it's really critical again that people understand that we can take action to reinforce the basic guardrails of our democracy. And if we don't, again, everybody is at stake.
You know, Charles Grassley may think that this is in a short term interest to accept the endorsement of Donald Trump but, you know, five years from now that endorsement is not going to do very well if our entire political system doesn't function in the way that we're relying upon.
And so, you know, it's really absolutely critical that everybody, Republicans and Democrats understand, you know, enough is enough. Enough with the games. Democracy is at risk and we need to understand that democracy is about losing elections. If you lose and everybody knows when you lose, you go home and you buy another day. And if we don't do that, we'll all going to suffer the consequences.
LEMON: We will have you back, sir. I appreciate you coming on. Thank you, Daniel. Be well.
ZIBLATT: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. More than 90,000 people died who didn't have to in the last three months. That's according to a new study that's just out today. I'm going to ask the U.S. surgeon general about that and a whole lot more. That's next.
Plus, Captain Kirk in space for real.
LEMON (on camera): Good and bad news tonight in the battle against the coronavirus. The good, cases in the U.S. are down for the third week after deadly, the deadly surge had been spiking. Now the CDC is predicting deaths and hospitalizations will continue to drop over the next month. The bad news, political battles over COVID measures are threatening to derail the recovery.
So, joining me now to discuss all of this is the surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Surgeon General, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.
VIVEK MURTHY, U.S SURGEON GENERAL: Of course, happy to be with you, Don.
LEMON: We're looking at some really encouraging numbers going forward but I have to ask you about this analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The analysis shows vaccines could have prevented about 90,000 deaths in the last three months out of 104,000 people who died of COVID. More than 23 percent of eligible Americans still aren't vaccinated. What is the plan to stop these preventable deaths?
MURTHY: Well, Don, you're right that there is good and bad news that we have to take in today. Let's start with the good news, though. We do, you know, have seen really over the last several days, now several weeks the cases, hospitalizations are on the decline and deaths will soon start to decline, as well.
What we're also seeing, Don, is continued progress on the vaccination front. At this point, we have nearly 190 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated. That number by the way was at two million in January and what we continue to see is that the vaccines are remarkably good at keeping people out of the hospital and preventing them from dying.
But here is the troubling news. We know that there are over 65 million Americans who are still unvaccinated and we've got to get them vaccinated because we're dealing with the most transmissible version of COVID-19 to date. And the tragedy of this is, Don, that so many of the people who are hospitalized and who have passed away in recent months, these are deaths that could have been prevented had people been vaccinated.
So, we cannot give up. We're continuing our efforts to expand access to vaccines to get accurate scientific information to trusted messengers to people. And I just want everyone out there who has been vaccinated to remember that you have a role to play here, too. Talk to your family, talk to your friends. Remind them of the importance of getting vaccinated. It's not too late.
LEMON: So, to stay on vaccines for a moment. The NIH says that mixing and matching vaccines is safe and it creates a strong immune response. What do you think of the people who get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine getting a booster of Pfizer or Moderna shots?
MURTHY: That's a really good question, Don. And the booster discussion is an important one, because as well as a vaccine have been working, we want to continue and extend that protection which is where the boosters have come in.
Now as you know, the FDA and the CDC have supported the use of boosters for people who receive the Pfizer vaccine and who fit into high risk groups and they are going to in the next few days be evaluating Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients for boosters as well.
Now, about the question you ask regarding mix and match specifically can people who got Johnson & Johnson potentially get a different kind of booster vaccine like Moderna or Pfizer. That is among the questions that the -- that the CDC and FDA will be considering in the weeks ahead. But specifically, this week, they will be looking at that data from mix and match studies.
So, we'll see what they say. We'll look at the safety and efficacy of the studies. Once they weigh in, we'll have a clear sense of what J&J recipients can do.
LEMON: So, there is no guidance on that now, so you're just waiting to hear from them. So, Surgeon General, let's turn --
LEMON: Yes. Let's turn to the less encouraging news here. Your response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott trying to ban vaccine mandates and other health measures when we're still not over the finish line yet is encouraging news but still, we're not done with this yet. Are you worried that politics could trip up trends that we're seeing now?
MURTHY: Well, Don, one of the great tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to the tremendous loss of life has been that unfortunately, this has been a polarized experience for much of our country and that polarization has made it harder to respond to the vaccine.
In order to deal with pandemics at this, Don, we have to be united, we have to let science guide us and we have to recognize that we are better off when we are sticking together and supporting one another. This is one of the circumstances, Don, where our decisions really do affect other people.
You know, we are a country that's based on the notions of freedom and independence and fairness but we've also recognized throughout our history that there are times when decisions we make in our life whether it's about how fast we go on the freeway or whether it's about whether or not we get vaccinated.
These decisions actually do have an impact on other people and in those cases, we've made decisions to take common rules and put them in place for the common good. Vaccine requirements fall into that category as well. They're not new. We've been doing them since the beginning of our country. They work. They're incredibly effective in increasing vaccinations rates.
In fact, recent report show that 20 percent bump in vaccination rates among organizations have put vaccine requirements in place. Most of all, they are an important public health tool that reflects that reality that the decisions we make affect other people. That's really what should guide us.
I worry when I see politics, polarization, misinformation and disinformation take us away from sound public health guidance. We can't afford to let that happen because lives are at stake.
LEMON: Yes. Lives are at stake and these states we're talking about Texas, they are trying to get rid of mask and vaccine mandates, which is, you know, which is extremely troubling. There is also Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan tweeting, quote, "Ohio should ban all vaccine mandates." I mean, how dangerous is this? Vaccines for diseases like polio and the measles have all been mandated for decades now. What would happen if those mandates were all of a sudden eliminated, Surgeon General?
MURTHY: Well that would be catastrophic because we know that for decades that vaccine requirements for measles, mumps, rubella, for hepatitis B and other illnesses including polio and these have kept millions and millions of people healthy and it saved millions of lives. They are part of the public health infrastructure of this country.
We should be learning from those lessons and applying them to COVID not seeking to take down requirements that have saved lives and made people's lives better so we've got to keep that in mind. I know this is a difficult time and the response has felt polarized but the pandemic has gone on for a long time, it's been more than 18 months. And that is stressed and strained us. So many of us.
But we can't allow the virus to get the better of us to force us to look the other way and not follow sound public health guidance. So, what we got to do is learn from the past. The past tells us that science needs to guide our planning, the vaccine requirements work and that if we stick together and get people vaccinated that is our surest path out of this pandemic.
LEMON: Surgeon General Murthy, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us.
MURTHY: Of course. Good to be with you, Don. Take care.
LEMON: William Shatner the -- the Captain Kirk makes history in space today. Rocket man next.
LEMON (on camera): The one and only William Shatner better known to millions of fans the world over generation of fans and fact as Captain Kirk. I love that. Captain Kirk of the "Star Trek" enterprise soaring into the skies, way above the earth for a few minutes today aboard a spacecraft launched by Blue Origin.
At 90 -- can you believe William Shatner is 90 years old? At 90 years old Shatner is now the oldest person ever to travel to the edge of space. Here is what the blastoff looked like. That rocket straight out of Austin powers. Don't you think? I mean, it's like Austin powers come true. Amazing.
Shatner, by the way and three -- his three crew mates leaving the Texas scrub land behind as the 60-foot tall rocket blasted their capsule into speed of more than 2,000 miles per hour reaching a height of nearly 350,000 feet. The flight lasted a little more than ten minutes from start to finish and the crew experienced weightlessness for about three minutes of their journey.
I'm trying to look at the video and also tell you the story at the same time. This is amazing. So, Shatner was emotional after he returned to Earth and was greeted by Jeff Bezos, the owner of Blue Origin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHATNER: You know, it's like a beat, and a beat, and suddenly you're through the blue and --
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON: And it's black.
SHATNER: -- you're into black and you're into, you know, it's mysterious and galaxies and things but what you see is black. And what you see down there is light. And that's the difference. And not to have this? You have done something.
I mean, whatever those other guys are doing, what isn't -- they don't -- I don't know about that. What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. It's -- I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just -- it's extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): How amazing is that? I mean, just getting emotional. By the way, when I'm looking down, I'm looking at the monitor. People think I'm looking at my phone. The monitor is below the camera, just so you know. But that's amazing. His reaction was just fantastic. I hope I never get over this.
William Shatner truly reaching the end of space the final frontier. Congratulations to him and to everyone involved in that. That was fantastic.
So next, the head of the committee investigating the insurrection wants to know what was the former president's role? Stay with us.