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Don Lemon Tonight

Capitol Police Charge For Conniving With Rioters; School Administrator Wants To Teach About Opposition On Holocaust; President Biden Wants Trump Allies To Be Prosecuted; Education Now Painted With Politics. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 22:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for joining us.

It is a busy Friday news night. Major developments on multiple big stories. The first one that President Joe Biden weighing in the January 6th investigation, saying anybody who refuses a subpoena should be prosecuted by the Justice Department.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable.

UNKNOWN: Should they be prosecuted?

BIDEN: I do. Yes.


LEMON (on camera): Well that strong stuff from the president after the White House had tried to distance itself from the criminal contempt referral against Steve Bannon. And the DOJ is responding tonight, and I quote, "the Department of Justice will make its own independent decision in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law period. Full stop."

Now that is happening as Democrats on the committee are speaking out tonight holding Bannon and the purveyors of the big lie accountable.


REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): We're not bluffing. I mean, we are going to hold people accountable and we expect people being subpoenaed to appear before this committee as is everyone's duty before Congress and we will take the next step, which is criminal referral.

REP. PETER AGUILAR (D-CA): We want Mr. Bannon's cooperation. He's clearly hiding behind this privilege that he doesn't hold and that's fine. If he continues to stone wall, we will continue to use every means necessary which includes that Tuesday meeting we plan to proceed with criminal contempt.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): And then we've got those like Steve Bannon who are taking their lead from Donald Trump and think that they're just above the law and they're the only citizens in the United States who don't have to respond to a subpoena from a court or from the U.S. Congress. We're going to try to charge these people with criminal contempt.


LEMON (on camera): So, the question is now what? What happens next? Will holding Bannon in criminal contempt for ignoring their subpoena send a message to the members of the former president's inner circle? I don't know. It's a sign that maybe, just maybe the law still matters in this country. Hopefully it does.

That as we are learning tonight a U.S. Capitol police officer, this is a big one, a U.S. Capitol police officer has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly attempting to help a rioter cover their tracks. This is according to an indictment.

Michael A. Riley communicated on Facebook with a person who posted selfies and videos during the insurrection saying and I quote, "I'm a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building. They are currently investigating and everyone who is in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out."

So, let's remember exactly what happened on January 6th. Let's remember how bad, how brutal the attack on the United States Capitol was. As a matter of fact, we have video tonight, video the Justice Department says captures one of the first successful breaches of the capitol on that day.

It shows a proud boy Dominic Pezzola accused in one of the major conspiracy cases using a stolen capitol police riot shield to smash through a window on the west side of the capitol building as the mob streams inside.

And there is new video what happened when they got inside. Facing off with capitol police officer Eugene Goodman and demanding to know where lawmakers were counting the votes. Yes, so much for a peaceful protest and, you know, a tourist, tourism.

So, let's remember what happened to my friend Michael Fanone, officer Michael Fanone. We have video of that brutal assault. It was shot from a different angle, the angle above the mob. And showing off Mr. Fanone. You see him at the top of your screen there being pulled from inside the capitol building out into that mob.

Michael Fanone suffered a heart attack and a concussion during the insurrection and he's now dealing with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. That's the reality of what happened on January 6th and we got more to come on all of this. Stay tuned in a moment.


There is also the latest on the former President Bill Clinton hospitalized in California for a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream. A Clinton spokesman saying tonight, quote, "all health indicators are trending in the right direction including his white blood count which has decreased significantly."

His doctors say the former president is in good spirits, talking to family and staff and has been up and walking. And today, he got a call from the current president, Joe Biden.


BIDEN: I wanted to see how he's doing, and because I've been trying to get ahold of him. He's doing fine, he really is and he's going to be released from the hospital and we talked about, which we were going to do before, getting together.

I haven't seen him in a while. And told him to come over and have lunch and talk. He was very encouraging about why he thought the policies I was pursuing made sense but we didn't get into much detail except that was mainly just to see how he's doing.


LEMON (on camera): That as tonight, the fringes of both parties are clearly running the show. Democrats are at the mercy of two senators, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema who are holding up the president's agenda with an end of a month deadline proposing looming to pass two big bills.


UNKNOWN: Do you have a message for Senator Sinema and Manchin right now?

BIDEN: There's so much to deliver it.


LEMON (on camera): Well, the White House is signaling that they're ready to see movement on the bill and they're ready to see movement soon but aides are keeping mum about the president's private conversations with Manchin and Sinema while the president himself is tamping down expectations today.


BIDEN: To be honest with you we'll probably not going to get 3.5 trillion this year. We're going to get something less than that but I'm going to negotiate and I'm going to get it done with the grace of God and goodwill of neighbors and the quick (Inaudible) as my grandpa would say.


LEMON (on camera): Sources are talking to CNN and they are telling us that the clean electricity performance program, that is the cornerstone climate policy in Democrats social safety net package, that it will likely be dropped after push back from Manchin.

One Democratic aide is even saying that they're trying to find ways to restructure the program to fit Manchin's concerns while still reducing greenhouse gas emissions but they're doubtful that they can get Manchin's support.

And while the members of the president's own party are holding his agenda hostage, the Republican Party is at the mercy of anti-vaxxers. Big lie proponents. People who are turning America's schools into battle grounds. Exhibit a, Texas. That's where both sides are apparently reigning supreme.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott signing a law aimed at restricting discussions of race and history in schools, a law that is creating chaos in the classroom. CNN has obtained audio of a Texas administrator telling teachers that if they have books about the Holocaust in their classroom libraries that they should also include that have so-called opposing views of the Holocaust.

Now I want you to think about that? Opposing views of the Holocaust. What would that be? Like the Nazi defense of the Holocaust is basically what it would be, right? Include opposing views of the Holocaust.


UNKNOWN: As she tells race just try to remember the concepts of 3979 and make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing --


UNKNOWN: How do you oppose the Holocaust?



LEMON (on camera): Yes, that was a good question. How would you oppose the Holocaust? So, either, look, either someone needs to read -- or I don't know. I don't know. This is the reality. These are the facts. Six million Jews -- Jewish people were slaughtered in the Holocaust, men, women, children, the victims of horrific genocide. There is no other perspective here. Never will be.

A school district superintendent apologizing, right, quote, for saying this. "During the conversations during last week's meeting the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust." Duh. What is -- a lot more to come on this tonight. We'll continue to

follow. But I want to get right now to the latest news that we have and that is President Biden saying tonight that anybody who refuses a subpoena from the January 6th committee should be prosecuted by the DOJ.

Our chief White House correspondent is here with us this evening. Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, a new tactic from him. What say you, what is everyone saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly the most candid we've seen President Biden be when we have talked about what should happen to those who are defying the subpoenas.


Because we've asked the same question to the president's top aides. They hedged a lot more. And they said it's up to the Justice Department to make a decision on that. But the president has made pretty clear that he has an unvarnished view of the January 6th investigation, Don.

We already knew that because of course he had already said he was not going to assert executive privilege over those documents that his predecessor wanted him to do, that the committee is trying to get their hands on. That's unusual in and on itself because typically, you have presidents who do assert that privilege when it comes to that because it's a precedent for other presidents that come after them.

And so tonight, we wanted to see what the president's thoughts on this were and he said he thinks that the committee should hold him to full account if there are people like Steve Bannon who are defying their subpoenas, but also the question of what happens if once next week we do see those criminal contempt charges against Steve Bannon once the select committee returns here to Washington.

The president said he does think the Justice Department should prosecute people who defy those subpoenas. And we should note that the Justice Department is pushing back pretty quickly on this saying that they are going to make their decisions independently based on the facts and the law as they see them.

Because this is a president who came to the White House saying that they would make decisions independent of the White House and of the West Wing. Of course, something that was a big talk, big cause of concern with the last president.

And so, it is notable, though, that the president is going out there saying yes, this is what he thinks that they should be prosecuted if they defy the subpoenas of the 1-6 committee.

LEMON: And Kaitlan, let's talk about the president's domestic agenda. When it comes to that, he says -- he says that he's about to deliver a message to Senators Sinema and Manchin. Do we know what that message is? COLLINS: No, and he didn't tell us. And another question that I'd

asked him when he came back here to the White House was, whether or not he ever thought Senator Manchin and Senator Bernie Sanders could reconcile their differences when it comes over how to put his priorities into law.

Because that really is at the heart of all this. This disagreement we're seeing play out tonight with Senator Joe Manchin putting out a statement pushing back and being incredibly critical of Senator Sanders who of course was in turn also critical of Senator Manchin. And it could make a really key difference over what the outcome of this package is going to look like.

And we've seen a lot of progressives have frustrations with Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema but you're also seeing it from more moderate members of their own party saying they want to know a clear line of where it is they stand so the talks and the progress can actually happen because it doesn't seem to be really changing from what their positions were just a few weeks ago.

LEMON: The clock is clearly running out, right? And there appears to be a greater sense of urgency from the White House tonight. Am I reading that correctly, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: I think so. Because I think that they're realizing that they're saying progress is happening behind the scenes but the public stances are largely similar and they are saying, you know, we do actually have to make the choices here. There does have to be some kind of movement.

And remember, right now there is still an end of October deadline that has been set by the Democratic leaders to get both of these bills passed. And the White House is hoping to have that bigger package, the one that also deals with climate change at least have the framework of it by the time the president goes to a major climate summit at the end of the month. And right now, that seems incredibly unlikely.

So, whether or not it changes the tactics here at the White House, that remains to be seen but it was notable I think that the president said tonight he was going to deliver a message to Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema so we'll stay tuned to see if the president actually discloses what that message is.

LEMON: All eyes on Washington. Kaitlan at the White House. We're going to go to the capitol a little bit later on in the broadcast.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that, Kaitlan. Have a good evening.

COLLINS: You, too.

LEMON: President Biden says anybody who refuses a subpoena from the January 6th committee should be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Is that going to complicate things for the DOJ and the committee?



LEMON (on camera): So here is more on the breaking news. President Joe Biden saying the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the January 6th select committee.

I want to bring in now CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams. Elliot, good evening to you. Good to see you on this Friday evening.

The Department of Justice is responding to the president's comments saying, tonight saying that it will make its own decision on any prosecutions. Obviously, this is coming as the January 6th committee is moving ahead with holding Steve Bannon in criminal contempt and a decision to prosecute will likely fall with the Attorney General Merrick Garland. What do you think about the president's comments?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, he's right. He's not making a controversial statement. He's saying that people who break the law should be prosecuted. Don, I don't like it. He stepped up to the line. And look, you and I sat here for the greater part of four years talking about a president who sort meddled in the affairs of the Justice Department and when the president starts weighing in you start tiptoeing up to that line.

Now look, this, I don't want to equate this to the conduct that we saw over the past four years which is it's just not the same. But the president stays up. And I can tell you from time when I was there, you know, look, if you're in a joint meeting with the White House and the Justice Department and you need to talk about the case, you send the White House folks out. That's how it works. There is just a level of separation between the two and this got close to it.

LEMON: Yes. And --


WILLIAMS: That's why -- that's why they're pushing back.

LEMON: A comment, an actual lesson, I get your point. Comment and actual behavior, two different things so considering especially the --


WILLIAMS: Yes. No, no, no, no, no.

LEMON: -- the last administration.

WILLIAMS: I'm with you. I'm with you.

LEMON: The last administration, yes. So, Steve Bannon is the poster child for this. How important is it that he is held accountable, do you think?

WILLIAMS: It is important that he's held accountable just because, number one, it's interesting. He's got the worst case of everyone here. He's not -- again, he wasn't a lawyer. He's not -- he doesn't have executive privilege. Didn't work in the White House at the time. He's just a guy who is claiming that because he talked to Donald Trump one day that somehow, he's immunized or, you know, insulated from ever having to testify and that's just nonsense.

It's clear that the committee very quickly, very early on is taking a stand and making a statement that if you defy subpoenas that and violate Congress you go to jail and that's what the president was saying or trying to get at and it's true.


LEMON: Yes, let's talk about Bennie Thompson.


LEMON: He is the chairman. He is warning that no one, no one he says is off limits when it comes to who could be subpoenas including the former guy. Is this all a race against time --


LEMON: -- given the stone -- the level of stonewalling that they're getting?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Yes, look, if they're going to subpoena the president, they'd probably be wise to do it very soon just because it's going to end up in the courts. Don, two things can be true at the same time. Number one, the president does have a history of running the clock out on things and sort of frivolous litigation but also as a former president of the United States is going to have privilege claims that are going to end up in court.

This will be litigated for a long time and if they want to have a prayer of getting the president -- the former president's testimony, they better get in court soon. But yes, it's -- and the other thing, Don, is that the moment they attempt to, this whole thing becomes a side show because you brought Donald Trump into it and we've been there before. You know how that goes. Yes.

LEMON: Yes, and then he gets to create some sort of whatever narrative about it that he wants. Right?


LEMON: Usually the opposite of what it actually is and then he goes out and he sells it and the people buy it, they gobble it up like Thanksgiving dinner. And then there you go.

So, CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson writes this about the showdown with Bannon, OK? And I quote, "Bannon never hid his desire to tear down the rules set by Washington's establishment, so he may relish the challenge and the chance to launch a political cause celebre. If so, he will prove again that once- powerful figures who resolve -- who resolve to defy normal guardrails of political behavior -- and in Trump's case, the rule of law itself -- often find that they can operate with a degree of impunity."

That is frightening if that --


LEMON: -- is indeed what is happening now or that is allowed to happen. What does that say about the future of our democracy?

WILLIAMS: Look, I mean, it could be a cause celebre but you can still go to jail if you break the law. And I just wouldn't -- I would caution against sort of fearing the future of democracy because a bunch of knuckle heads continue to defy subpoenas.

There is a mechanism for holding them accountable, right? Congress can do it and Congress can also sue and the Justice Department has the ability to lock them up --


LEMON: But can't Congress do it? I mean, they're trying.

WILLIAMS: Well, not to get too far in the weeds here, Don, but they have to meet formally --

LEMON: Right.

WILLIAMS: -- and they have to send it to the full house. That's the rules. Now if you want it to happen quicker, get a better Congress to get more efficient and tougher rules --

LEMON: There you go.

WILLIAMS: -- they should have done this years ago and give their own rules some teeth but they just don't have it and that's what we got.

LEMON: The Justice Department released this video of the first protesters that breached the capitol shot from the point of view of one of the insurrectionists. I hope you've seen this. It's like the first guys to go in. And there they are. They are, you know --


LEMON: -- using I think a stolen police shield. And it comes as a capitol police officer, Elliott, has been indicted on obstruction charges tied to that insurrection. Is this an easy case for prosecutors?

WILLIAMS: You know, Don, I want to just take a minute on behalf of all prosecutors worldwide to honor the stupidity of this defendant. When you look at literally, he says in an e-mail take down the part about the building. They are currently investigating everyone. Just looking out.

Look, I mean, give me a financial record or something to look at but this is just the clearest evidence that any prosecutor could have of an act of obstruction of justice and then he goes and deletes all these Facebook messages, which in prosecutor terms is the equivalent of like my eight-year-old breaking a window and then putting a blanket over it just to think we won't see the broken glass on the ground.


WILLIAMS: It just obvious, it's stupid, it's shameful, it's insulting to our system of laws and here we are.


WILLIAMS: I don't know.

LEMON: Who ate the Cheetos? Not me but you have orange all over your face.

WILLIAMS: Well, you have orange all over your face. No, you have orange all over use face you're holding a bag of Cheetos and you have Cheetos in your mouth and you're saying man, these Cheetos are so good. Like that's the evidence that's here in this case, Don.

LEMON: Yes. And I use Cheetos for obvious reasons. So, whatever you think it was, that's why I use Cheetos.


LEMON: Yes. Touche. There you go.

So, Elliot, we saw here -- I'm not going to lie. We saw the heroism and the bravery of so many officers including Michael Fanone who got brutally assaulted that day, still recovering from that. Right? The traumatic brain injury, heart attack, all of that, PTSD.

And we see that newly released video but there is also still concern that some other officers may be sympathetic to the insurrectionists or didn't see them as a threat. That is pretty problematic.

WILLIAMS: Yes. And you know, that's evident in this most recent indictment, too. There is a number of statements that he makes throughout it saying look, I'm on your side, I'm politically with you, and so on.

Look, Don, you know, my very first trial as a prosecutor was with the capitol police. They see all kinds of things from acts of terrorism literally to a guy with a bag of weed in union station. It's a very sort of large police source.


The overwhelming majority of them are great public servants who are here to protect Washington, D.C. and the capitol building. Now, that doesn't change that there are people, there could be people who are sympathetic within the police force and we need to do better as a nation at vetting and screening officers before they're placed in these positions.

But you know, I don't doubt for a moment and this indictment right here makes it clear that it's there and a cancer that needs to be cut out of law enforcement everywhere. LEMON: Elliott Williams, thank you, sir.

WILLIAMS: Don Lemon.


LEMON: Have a good --

WILLIAMS: Happy Friday.

LEMON: Happy Friday. It's no tie Friday by the way.


WILLIAMS: Should I pop it off?

LEMON: You did not -- yes, didn't get the memo. Sorry.

WILLIAMS: I did not get the memo.

LEMON: Thank you, sir, I'll see you soon.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

LEMON: President Biden warning today nothing in our democracy is assured, freedom isn't guaranteed. What's behind the warning? Next.



LEMON (on camera): President Biden says the U.S. is leading by example in defending democracy, that while the former president uses the big lie to tighten his grip on the GOP.

Let's discuss now. Stuart Stevens is here. Former chief strategist for the Romney presidential campaign

Stuart, good evening to you. Thanks for joining once again. I told you we'd have you back and here you are.

So, I want you to listen to this. This is from the president's speech on human rights today. Here it is.


BIDEN: Leading by example means taking action at home. To renew and defend our own democracy, to advance equity and promote justice, to defend the sacred right to vote in free, fair and secure elections.


LEMON (on camera): So, he is talking the talk but are the president and this party are they doing enough to keep democracy safe?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I would say they're doing everything they can but it's probably not enough. I mean, we have to just come to a realization that this is not a normal moment and respond to it accordingly. We have to take this threat seriously.

So, you know, the problem with being president is you got to do a lot of things at the same time at once. So, I mean, I think their focus right now is trying to get this big bill through. But it's something we ought to talk about a lot and I think that it is a successful strategy for the Democrats to nationalize this race around the threat to democracy. And appeal to people's basic patriotism.


STEVENS: I think it's the way to go. You know, what kills me about these Republicans is that a legacy to the greatest generation, right? People like my dad who is like hundreds of thousands of others, you know, three years in the South Pacific, 28 hours in landing. He comes back just goes about his life. That's the legacy they inherited.

And what was asked of these Republicans was not a lot. I mean, most recently all they had to do is have their comms staff put out two Senate statements saying that congratulating Joe Biden for winning the presidential election and they couldn't even rise to that level to defend the country and accept it?

I mean, not being asked to get out of a boat when the guy in front of them just got shot? It's really just -- it's shameful and when you look at democracies that fade, this is how it happens.

LEMON: Yes. Well, that was the, you know, and is always the best question you can ask. And I know you had more to say about it because, I mean, it is interesting to watch as, you know, the colloquially old school Republicans, right, like yourself and others just sit back in our -- in awe and I don't mean that in a good way of what is happening like my goodness, what has happened to the party that I knew?

When you have all these people who are now in office really just making excuses for the former president and they don't -- do they have any idea of how they will be viewed in history? Do they care about their legacies at all? Stewart? I mean --

STEVENS: Yes. You know, this is something I thought about a lot. Because you know, say what you will. Most politicians have pretty big egos which is fine. I mean, sort of actors, musicians, writers. We don't have (Inaudible) for that.

I don't understand why they don't realize how they're going to look and for what? I mean, what's the worst at stake here that you lose a primary? You know, most people we know in the Senate, it's not that great of a job. Congress is even worse. And they would be fine financially.

So, it's just a fundamental test that for the most part, the Republican Party has failed. I -- parties in our system should be a circuit breaker function and the Republican Party never failed -- never pulled the circuit breaker on Trump and once you don't do that, it only gets worse.

LEMON: A reality TV show star and a pretty bad businessman from New York, that's how history -- that's who they stood by and made excuses for. What do you make of what's happening with the Democrats and the January 6th commission? Because they're going to have to get this done before the midterms or else Congress could change, --


LEMON: -- Senate will change and then bye-bye investigation.

STEVENS: Yes, look, I'm with Liz Cheney on this. I think this is one of the most important investigations in committees in the history of the country. We've got to get to the bottom of this. What people kind of have trouble understanding is that there are individuals in the Republican Party at all levels that were involved in this.


This wasn't a rogue action. There were White House staffers involved. There were senators and congressmen and their staffers involved. There were Republican fundraisers involved, the Republican attorney general's association had involvement in this and you've got to just get at that.

You know, none of these senators out there like Hawley or Cruz, they didn't go out there without their staff's help. They knew what they were doing. And it's really essential that the whole ugly story get told and as many people held accountable as possible.

LEMON: Hey, Stewart, one more for you and I hate to give a short trip but I think it's important. There is this new poll out from the Virginia governor's race. McAuliffe, 51 percent, Youngkin, 46 percent. Biden has said that the election could be a bellwether for what's to happen in the midterms. What are you looking for here? What should we know?

STEVENS: Look, I think this is -- this is the simplest race in history. Of November 3rd, 2020 Virginians rejected Donald Trump by 10 points. So, on November 2nd, 2021 why would they vote for Donald Trump? And (Inaudible) is Donald Trump's candidate. It's straight up that choice. And I hope McAuliffe throw out this message. It's really, the people after this election if Youngkin wins, who are going to be the most happy are Donald Trump, Seb Gorka (Ph), that whole crowd. And Steve Bannon.


STEVENS: So, do what you did on November 3rd, 2020 and reject all of this.

LEMON: Thank you, Stewart. I'll see you soon. Have a great weekend.

STEVENS: OK, buddy.

LEMON: Thank you. A school administrator instructing teachers to teach opposing views of

the Holocaust. The leaked video after this.



LEMON (on camera): OK. So, you've got to hear this. We've got audio of a Texas school administrator telling teachers in a training session that they need to balance any books on the Holocaust with, quote, "opposing views." Now I want you to listen to the school administrator. Her name is Gina Petty.


UNKNOWN: As you through, just try to remember the concepts of 3979, and make sure that if -- if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has opposing -- that has other perspective.


UNKNOWN: How do you oppose the Holocaust? What?


LEMON (on camera): That's a good question. What exactly are opposing views for the Holocaust? Denial? Something even worse? I don't know. It's a good question.

So, CNN reached out to Petty but we haven't got a response. The superintendent of the district apologizing to the community in a statement, saying and a quote here.

"During the conversations with teachers during last week's meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a horrible event in history. Additionally, we recognized there are not two sides of the Holocaust."

So, joining me now to discuss CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Good evening.

Listen, I don't know, to both of you. S.E., I don't know if she was making an offhand comment if she was -- I don't know. But her comments stem from confusion over this new Texas law designed to restrict how race and history are taught in schools.


LEMON: So, is this where we are right now trying to both sides the Holocaust?

CUPP: Right, I mean, the ones who are really in the tight spot are the teachers and they're are really furious about this because their hands are tied. They don't know how to teach history that happened when they have to both sides issues that have only one side.

And there are two reasons why this is happening right now. One is 2022 and the other is 2024. Republicans in Texas are trying to get voters there outraged about something and in this case, it's critical race theory and teaching racism in schools and culture wars and that issue, you know, to the hilt.

What's interesting is that Republicans sort of shot themselves in the foot with that really barbaric abortion law in Texas. Because abortion has reliably been a very motivating, energizing issue for voters in Texas for Republicans and they essentially took it off the table by passing that law. So, they're stuck having to do stuff like this, which is not only desperate and, you know, ill-advised. It's really putting our teachers in a tough spot.

LEMON: Huh. That is a very astute assessment. I never -- I never thought about that that they're having -- that's -- I never even thought about it that way, S.E.

Ron, let me bring you in. Because President Biden gave a sweeping speech on human rights today. I just want to play. There's one part where he spoke about the lessons learned from prosecuting Nazi crimes after --


LEMON: -- World War II. Listen to this.


BIDEN: It's all about building a case fact by fact. Using the Nazis all meticulous records of crimes and shocking human evidence to pin down Nazi leaders who try to deny their complicity and fame ignorance. And even more important, to deny the entire German policy, the ability to fame ignorance, to deal with a past you must face the truth.


LEMON (on camera): Ignorance is a weapon of oppression. Is the truth at stake here?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, look, I mean, I don't think history is going to have any trouble understanding why the Trump movement crested when at the moment it did or why we are seeing these laws proliferate and other administrative actions proliferate in red states trying to restrict how schools talk about racial equity and historical racism.


Don, the school year that just began last month is projected to be the first one ever in American history when a majority of our high school graduates will be kids of color. A majority of all K to 12 students in the country are now kids of color. It's been that way since 2014. It's up to 54 percent.

The census reported a majority of everyone under 18 is now a person of color and in Texas, 73 percent of the public school students are kids of color. And you have a Republican coalition, particularly in the sun belt states that is even with some minority support among Hispanics overwhelmingly centered on white voters who are the most uneasy the way the country is changing demographically and culturally.

And they constantly and on the lookout for issues the signal that they share that concern and they will present themselves in effect as Donald Trump is, as a human wall against all of these changes. And, you know, critical race theory and these limits on teaching are just like the latest in a long string -- it's not even lasting.

Look's what's happening right now in Texas on banning transgender athletes from school sports. It's an endless kind of treadmill of finding ways to tell the voters, mostly white who are most uneasy about the way the country is changing that you will fight that on their behalf.

LEMON: Well, S.C., weigh in. Because it's similar to what you just said in your first answer about, you know, why they have resorted to this kind of, you know, tactic. This Texas bill is like one of several like it introduced this year. There's a lot of misdirection, you know, about not making kids feel guilty about the past but our history is very complicated and learning it will make anyone uncomfortable at some point. You know, it wasn't comfortable for me quite honestly to learn about slavery, right?

CUPP: Sure.

LEMON: So how do you expect kids to be taught if they can't learn the truth?

CUPP: Well, I mean, it's really backwards as our most censorship projects especially ones that stem from this kind of, you know, outrage culture and position of politics, right. This isn't really about education and teaching our kids what actually happened.

This is political. And most censorship projects end up ending in this kind of confusing chaotic and sort of, you know, indirect consequences which is now you have teachers wondering how to teach both sides of something awful like the Holocaust or slavery.

And it's not that all controversial, Don. I mean, I don't know how you grew up. I grew up learning that slavery happened and it was awful. It was a scourge. This is not news. And we should be teaching that history and the history, you know, everywhere it was as fact, not opinion and certainly, not as something that is seen through a political lens --


LEMON: Hey, S.E., can I ask you something? So, you know, we talked about there is no opposing side, no opposing view, right, for the Holocaust. So, S.E., how would -- what would be the opposing view for slavery? That it was -- is it the happy slave thing? I don't know.

CUPP: Well, you know there have always been efforts to sort of tell the confederate story as if the confederacy was heroic and that it wasn't actually about slavery. It was about property or whatever it was but I think it's really --


CUPP: It's really doing a disservice to not tell the history, which is that the confederacy lost, the confederacy wanted to break apart the union --


CUPP: -- over the issue of slavery and they lost.


CUPP: They're losers and you know, praising them has nothing to do with kind of, you know, crapping on the south. There is great southern culture. I lived in the south for some time. So, did -- so did you, I know.

And so, we can embrace the south and the stories of the south without trying to rewrite an awful chapter, maybe the darkest chapter in our nation's history as anything other than that.

LEMON: I need to get Ron in. Ron, I'll give you the last word here.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick, I think the pronoun is really revealing because for the people who are pushing this -- these efforts, it's not our kids. It's somebody else's kids. And you're talking about a Texas Republican Party that is overwhelmingly centered in the non-urban, the rural predominantly white Christian parts of the state that are setting rules for a public school system that I said that is now three quarters kids of color. And they are basically trying to control what those kids are taught about racial equity and the histories of racial injustice in the country.


LEMON: Is this minority rule?

BROWNSTEIN: It goes to the heart of the confrontation that we are seeing all across the sunbelt on COVID, on many other issues in which you have this rural-based Republican coalition that is now in control trying to constrain the emergence of a diverse young generation that has the potential to change the political balance of power in states like Georgia, Texas, and Arizona.


And this is just one component of a much larger struggle. It's the same you see on voting rights laws --

CUPP: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: -- making it harder to vote amounts to stacking sandbags against a rising tide of demographic change and this is just another element in that.


CUPP: Less democracy, les education, less speech, less voting. I mean, it's just -- when these are your ideas, you're out of them clearly.

LEMON: Yes. To be continued, as you know. This conversation is not going anywhere. The story is not going anywhere. Thank you both. I appreciate it. Have a great weekend. Thank you.

CUP: Thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

LEMON: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg adopting children and taking parental leave. Only for -- take this, Tucker Carlson and you know, his homophobic crack about Pete Buttigieg. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): So, take this. Tucker Carlson of the Fox propaganda network taking a cheap, homophobic shot at the transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg for going on paternity leave.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. Nowhere to (Inaudible) that one.

But now he's back in office as the transportation secretary, and he's deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can't get into this country.


LEMON (on camera): I wonder if the straight heterosexual men who took paternity leave at Tucker's network got the same sort of thing that they try to figure out how to breastfeed. You know paternity leave is not a thing, and it's not just for gay men like heterosexual men take paternity leave.

Even at that network. Right. Anchors like Jesse Walters (Ph) gushed about his leave experience for the birth of his third child.


JESSE WATTERS, HOST, FOX NEWS: My father -- my father said just today, Jesse, you better get back on The Five pretty soon. Your replacement has been really good. Thanks, dad. But now I am -- I'm pro-paternity. I used to mock people for taking paternity. I used to think it was a big ruse. But now, you know, I wish I could take six weeks.


LEMON (on camera): So, Carlson's remarks are just a slap in the face to workers all across this country. Many don't get the privilege that Fox employees do, being paid to take extended time off to take care of children.

And then of course there's the homophobia, saying that a gay man is trying to learn to breast-feed. Like why was that necessary? Is that protest too much? I don't know what's going on here. So, it is so obvious and it is so insecure. Tonight, the secretary, Buttigieg is responding.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Because he just doesn't understand the concept of bottle-feeding, let alone the concept of paternity leave. But what's really strange is that, you know, this is from the side of the aisle that used to claim the mantle of being pro-family. What we have right now is an administration that's actually pro-family. And I'm blessed to be able to experience that, you know, as an employee.


LEMON (on camera): Family values, right? I don't know. There you go. I think we know where to find them, it's up on the screen, right there. That's family values.

Next, breaking tonight, President Biden says the Justice Department should prosecute anyone who defies subpoenas from the committee investigating the insurrection.