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Don Lemon Tonight

January 6 Committee Finds Trump Ally Steve Bannon In Criminal Contempt; Biden Makes Major Concessions On Economic Agenda; Manchin Blocks Climate Legislation As His Home State Is Hit Hard By Climate Crisis; Black State Trooper Faces Termination After Accusing Colleagues Of Murder; Doctor Falsely Says COVID Vaccine Kills More People Than The Virus. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So here is our breaking news tonight. The House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection voting to recommend holding Trump loyalist Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying the committee's subpoena. The committee chair saying Bannon's defiance is unacceptable and that no one is above the law. The full House will vote Thursday on the contempt recommendation.

Also tonight, it looks like President Biden is now discussing a price tag for his social safety net plan of $1.75 to $1.9 trillion, down sharply from $3.5 trillion. Democrats in Congress, progressives on one side, moderates on the other, may finally be coming together to agree on a framework to get the bill passed.

We are going to talk with the chair of the progressive caucus in just a few minutes.

In the meantime, let's bring in now CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles and CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig. So, let's get to the man out in field covering all of this, and that is Ryan. Good evening to both of you. But Ryan, you first. The January 6th Select Committee formally voting tonight to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt. The question is, so now, what? What is next?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Don, honestly, the House Select Committee is moving pretty quickly to get this process moving. It was just last week where Steve Bannon refused to come in for that deposition, which essentially started the clock for them to make this criminal contempt referral. Here it is now only Tuesday and it is officially been voted out of the House Select Committee.

The next step will be a vote of the full House on Thursday, and then once it passes the full House, which it is expected to do so relatively easily, it will be in the hands of Merrick Garland, the attorney general, and the Department of Justice to begin the prosecution phase of all of this. So, you know, there are been a lot of people I know on Twitter that have been complaining that they feel that the Select Committee has not been swift enough in their adjudication of Bannon and his defiance, but in terms of Congress, which moves extraordinarily slow, they are actually moving very quick.

This is going to be a lengthy legal process that the committee is going to have to contend with. There's no doubt that it is going to end up in a courtroom somewhere, and that's what Bannon is hoping for. He has basically said that in his communications to the Select Committee on a number of different levels.

But it is not just about Bannon. I do think that's important. We heard many of the committee members say today that they want to send a message not just to Bannon but to all of these other individuals that they're trying to get information from. Not just the ones they've issued subpoenas to but even people they've reached out to on a volunteer basis to try and get them to come in and talk to them or submit documents.

They're in search of as much information as possible and what they're demonstrating by this action against Steve Bannon this week is that they will use whatever tool they have available do them to get that information.

LEMON: Elie, listen, that is really the thrust of my question to you because it is announcement coming in prime time. It is a very strong message to Steve Bannon and anyone else who is thinking of defying the committee. What is at stake for him and others?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, so, Don, I think what is really at stake here, narrow view, of course, will Steve Bannon go to prison or will a threat of a prison sentence compel him to testify? But bigger picture, I think what we're seeing here is a lot of our institutions being pushed to their limits and having those limits tested.

Congress, does Congress have any really meaningful way to enforce its will to exercise its oversight power? The Justice Department, Merrick Garland is looking at a very important, very difficult decision, will he bring charges? On one hand, it hasn't been done in 38 years. On the other hand, how can he not?

Steve Bannon is sort of the extreme example of defying a subpoena with no excuse. If Merrick Garland doesn't prosecute this, he is just completely kneecapping the committee and our balance of powers itself. Our balance of powers is strong but it is delicate.

And if Congress shows that they are just ineffectual to get information about such a key event as January 6th, then where does that really leave Congress with respect to the executive branch and a former president?

LEMON (on camera): Listen, Elie, Bannon tried to claim, you know, executive privilege even though he hasn't worked in the White House since 2017. This is -- I want you to listen to what Congresswoman Liz Cheney has to say about that.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing.


CHENEY: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th and this committee will get to the bottom of that.


LEMON (on camera): They've got to prove that. How do they do it?

HONIG: Yeah, it is a good and logical point by Representative Cheney here. I mean, we know Steve Bannon the day before -- we heard the clip earlier in your show, Don -- was essentially predicting and he ended up being spot on what would happen the next day. He was saying it is way worse than anything that's going to happen. Now, we know there were communications between Trump and Bannon that they are arguing to keep secret.

And really, their argument is so bogus that using my sort of former prosecutor's lens here, it draws attention. Why, out of the thousands and thousands of documents that the committee has requested, why is Trump and Bannon, why are they fighting so hard to keep this handful away from the committee? That would really pique my interest, and I think Representative Cheney is on to something there.

LEMON: I got to ask you since you are up on the Hill about Biden's agenda, Ryan. Major developments tonight on the agenda. It seems like Democrats are finally closing in on a deal for the social spending package. What do you know about the negotiations?

NOBLES: Yeah, well, I won't believe there's a deal until I see the president actually sign one into law, Don.

LEMON: Right, right, right.

NOBLES: There have been always so many starts and stops. But it does seem like there's been some sort of a breakthrough here. They are talking about a timeline of a framework of an agreement maybe by the end of the week.

And the big thing today is that there appears to be a number of cuts that both sides have at least been open to pulling off the table, things like free community college, which had been a huge priority of the Biden White House. It seems as though the president has said he's willing to give on that.

Also, you know, a price tag that we're talking somewhere in the range of $1.5 trillion to $1.9 trillion, which is significantly less than the $3.5 trillion figure we were talking about. Still there are going to be a lot of push and pull here, Don, but they are at the very least talking, which makes you think that there's a chance a deal could be somewhere in the near future.

LEMON: All right. Ryan, Elie, thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.

NOBLES: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to bring in now Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington. She is the chair of the progressive caucus. Representative, thank you. There's a lot going on, so we're doubly thankful that you're here.

So, you met with President Joe Biden for two hours today and we are told that he is making some major concessions to pass this bill. Sources say that means eliminating tuition-free community college, reducing homecare for the elderly and disabled, and extending the child tax credit for only one year, much shorter than what you wanted, including means testing. Will progressives get on board with this?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Don, it is great to be with you as always. And I spent actually an hour and a half with the president yesterday, two hours with him today, and I think the thing I feel the best about is the progressive caucus had five priorities that we laid out five months ago, and all of those five priorities are in this bill.

Now, you know, the other piece that I feel good about is we had said a couple of weeks ago when it was clear we had to bring the price tag down, unfortunately, not what we wanted, but in order to get these two remaining senators on board, we had to bring the price tag down, we need it clear that what we wanted to do was make sure that all of our priorities stayed in, but that we went for a shorter period of time on some of them if we needed to. That's exactly where the president is as well.

So, I feel like on two major things, we are there. Now, there are some things that are less than we wanted. You know, paid leave, we are still working to try and figure that piece out. The child tax credit, we're very supportive of. It was not actually one of our top five priorities, but we believe very much in it. We would like to see it extended for as long as possible. We are still working on that piece.

But child care, universal child care, universal pre-K, those are both in here. Home and community-based care, that is also in here. We are trying to get the number up a little bit, but those are three major priorities. Paid leave is also in here. Again, not as generous as we would like, but hopefully we can get something really transformative on paid leave.

Medicare expansion, still on the table. And then, of course, climate change. This is a tricky one because we got to find something that Joe Manchin will also agree to that will bring down carbon emissions significantly to meet the president's goals.

And then housing, Don. This is a really important one for equity, you know, for Black and brown folks across the country, investing in housing, super, super important. That is also in here. And then immigration. So, we are feeling good that all of our priorities are in here and --

LEMON: Okay.

JAYAPAL: -- but nothing is done until it is done.

LEMON: You got the laundry list in, great. Okay. So, let's talk about something that I think was a big priority for the president, which is community college. A big priority. What did he say about that in the Oval Office today, and did he say that it won't make it to the final cut?


JAYAPAL: Well, I think it is going to be really tough. This is something that even though it wasn't one of our top five, we pushed very hard for it. We also believe that this is important. You know, I've got the bill, the free college bill, which is both four-year and two-year, and the president said today that he supports that and he wants to try and get that done.

But in this bill, because of all the limitations on costs, that is, you know, something that is probably going to be very difficult to get across the finish line. We haven't completely given up, but I think that's a tough one.

LEMON: I had all of these questions written down but you answered them in your first answer about what was a priority and what did you want and timing and all of that. But let me ask you this. Even with the, you know, the reduced cost, right, you are not getting as much money as you wanted, how do you still plan on funding all of this, because we know Senator Sinema is against raising corporate taxes, so how do you get it paid for?

JAYAPAL: Yeah, we didn't spend quite as much time with the president on that, but in my conversations, it is clear that this will be completely paid for and it will be paid for with a combination of tax increases on the wealthiest corporations and individuals. As the president says, this is a zero-dollar bill because it is all paid for.

And, by the way, a significant portion of this is going to result in essentially tax cuts for working families and poor people because we're providing these important benefits that people won't have to pay for anymore, you know, in terms of child care and pre-K and all of those.

So, we don't have the details on exactly how it is going to be paid for, but I think the president feels very comfortable that he will get Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin seems fine with those revenue raisers, if you will, tax fairness provisions. But the president seems comfortable that he is going to get people on board to pay for this whole thing.

LEMON: Okay. Let's talk about the framework agreement because Leader Schumer is saying that he hopes to get that framework agreement by the end of the week. Do you need to see -- what do you need to see in an agreement to move forward with voting on the infrastructure bill?

JAYAPAL: Well, what I said to the president today and yesterday is, you know, we really need -- I mean, as you know, we were calling for a vote in the Senate -- we really need an iron-clad commitment, and we're trying to figure out exactly what that means. I think, you know, we trust the president, if the president is going to put himself on the line, but we really need a lot more detail around exactly what that looks like.

That is one of the things I am concerned about, but I have made it clear that we -- you know, we need to see -- we need to feel really comfortable that this is the deal, that nobody is going to change it, nobody is going to back off of it, and that it is going to get done quickly and, you know, not with changes or amendments in the Senate.

So, we'll have to see. We're still working on that piece, Don. It is a concern to me because I just want to make sure that whatever we agree to, there's no misunderstandings and no delays and no changes.

LEMON: Congresswoman Jayapal, appreciate it. I'll see you back here soon hopefully the next time there's a deal reached. Thank you.

JAYAPAL: Sounds great, Don. Thank you so much.

LEMON: A CNN exclusive, President Joe Biden takes questions from the American people. Anderson Cooper is going to moderate a CNN presidential town hall with Joe Biden. It begins Thursday night at 8:00.

So, it looks like Joe Manchin is intent on ripping the heart out of President Joe Biden's climate change agenda, but people back in his home state of West Virginia may be paying the price.




LEMON (on camera): President Biden making major concessions on his social spending bill, including eliminating free community college and only extending the child tax credit for a year.

But it is unclear what Democrats are going to do about plans to fight climate change because Senator Joe Manchin is still standing in the way even though his home state of West Virginia is getting hit hard by the climate crisis.

CNN's Rene Marsh has the story now.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Our house is about ready to fall and there's a set of babies here and one, two, three, four, five adults.

We're in a car.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Where are you?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The car is flooding full of water.

RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Floodwaters submerged people, cars and homes in what was dubbed the thousand-year flood. The town of Clendenin in West Virginia almost wiped off the map in 2016. And this past summer, parts of the state saw more flooding. From raging deadly floods to widespread drought, West Virginians over the past few years have faced weather whiplash and scientists predict it will get worse.

JIMMY RADER, ELK VIEW RESIDENT: It was rising about a foot an hour.

MARSH (voice-over): Jimmy Rader, a retired Iraq war veteran, survived the deadly 2016 west Virginia flooding, but his home did not. Five years later, he is still rebuilding. In the meantime, he, his wife and three dogs call this camper home.

RADER: It is really tough with my PTSD being in such tight quarters.

MARSH (voice-over): Look around the small West Virginia town of Clendenin and it is still without a grocery store, bank and elementary school, yet Senator Joe Manchin is blocking the most aggressive climate change legislation in U.S. history.

This neighborhood lost safe access to their homes after the 2016 flood weakened the foundation of this bridge and rusted it out.

(On camera): If someone dialed 911, could not come across this bridge.

UNKNOWN: Yeah, they would be afraid that they wouldn't make it, that the bridge might collapse.

MARSH (voice-over): This bridge is Connie Richard's (ph) lifeline to everyday life, including medical care.


UNKNOWN: You just keep moving along and pray you get to the other side.

MARSH (voice-over): But even in the face of severe weather and its costly destruction, neither Rader nor Richard blame climate change.

RADER: I'm not buying into the whole climate change thing.

MARSH (on camera): So, if somebody said in order to make sure a flood like this never hit your community again, we need to get rid of coal, what would you say?

UNKNOWN: Let it flood again.

MARSH (voice-over): In the second largest coal-producing state in the nation, climate change is a complicated issue. Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key lawmakers blocking the most aggressive parts of climate legislation that would drastically curb Green House emissions linked to climate change, is currently ranked the top congressional recipient of campaign donations from the coal mining and fossil fuel industry.

Manchin's personal investment in Enersystem, a coal brokerage company he founded and later put in a blind trust, is valued between $1 million and $5 million.

(On camera): Will you be okay knowing that West Virginia could continue to get hit by severe flooding because we as a country failed to curb Green House gases?

CHRIS HAMILTON, PRESIDENT, WEST VIRGINIA COAL ASSOCIATION: I think the premise is filled with malarkey. I really do. Now, again, you know, we are sensitive to the fact that if we're contributing towards climate change, but you can't blame every undesirable weather event on West Virginia coal. We don't have serious droughts here. We don't have serious fires here.

MARSH (voice-over): You do.

HAMILTON: We have a little bit of flooding.

MARSH (voice-over): The governor ordered a state of emergency because there were multiple counties going through droughts, and almost every county in West Virginia has seen massive flooding.

HAMILTON: None. But it is very, very difficult to blame that on coal because, again, we have cleaned up every airborne constituent.

MARSH (voice-over): Senator Manchin echoed this Monday.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We want to make sure we have reliable power. We have basically cleaned up the environment more than any other time in the history of this world.

MARSH (voice-over): West Virginia University professor, Nicolas Zegre, has studied the state and climate change for 11 years. He says breaking through the complexity of the issue feels impossible.

NICOLAR ZEGRE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: Climate change is so complicated here in West Virginia because West Virginians perceive it as a direct attack on their livelihoods. But it is also interesting, too, that inaction of our business leaders and inaction of our decisionmakers is also a direct attack on livelihoods.


LEMON (on camera): Joining me now is CNN's Rene Marsh. Rene, good evening to you. Why is there such commitment to coal in West Virginia in the face of all of the destruction and loss of life in the state from severe weather? What is going on?

MARSH: Yeah, well, Don, you know, there are several layers at play and West Virginia for one has an undiversified economy. So, coal is really what the state has built itself on for decades. So, there's this struggle to hold on to what was because of this feeling that there aren't any viable alternatives with the same sort of $61,000 a year salary. But the reality is this is a dying industry and the data tells us that. Don?

LEMON: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you very much. I appreciate that and your reporting.

MARSH: Sure.

LEMON: He alleged a coverup and accused his colleagues of murder. And now, a Louisiana state trooper could be out of a job. He is speaking out to CNN next.




LEMON: So, we have a bit of news, breaking news that is just in. It involves a former president. The former president's legal team has asked the federal court in D.C. for a preliminary injunction and a hearing within 21 days as part of his lawsuit over documents from his presidency.

His legal team writes, and I quote, "If the court does not intervene, the archivist could give the committee confidential, privileged information," end quote, asking for a court order to stop the archives from giving White House records to the House. We are going to keep an eye on this story for you. It is developing just in to CNN.

A Black state trooper in Louisiana may lose his job after speaking out about the death of a Black driver who was pulled over by state police in 2019. The incident caught on police body cam video. Trooper Carl Cavalier accusing his colleagues of murder in the case of Ronald Greene and claiming that the coverup came from the department. Here is -- his superiors say that he violated department policy by speaking publicly.

I want to warn you, the video you are about to see is graphic. CNN's Nick Valencia has more now.



CARL CAVALIER, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER: I think it was 10 times worse than I anticipated it being. It just gave me a horrible feeling in my stomach just to know that it could have been me, could have been my family member, my friends, your family, anyone. It could have been anyone.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Louisiana State Trooper Carl Cavalier says what we're watching is a murder caught on tape at the hands of police. The 11-year police veteran alleges his colleagues, seen here in the May 2019 beating and arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene, are part of an internal coverup to Greene's death that goes all the way to the top of the agency.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) you understand that?


VALENCIA (voice-over): The disturbing body cam video shows Greene being repeatedly tased and beaten by state police. In it, you can hear Greene screaming in agony and trying to reason with the officers.

GREENE: Sir, I'm your brother, I'm scared.

VALENCIA (voice-over): The 2019 state police report says officers attempted to pull Greene over for an unspecified traffic violation. Initially, the Greene family says police claimed Greene died from injuries sustained during a car crash.

Trooper Cavalier says the state police have been lying about what happened to Greene, so he is speaking out. It took two years for the video to surface, only being made public after first being leaked to the "Associated Press."

CAVALIER: As late as last year and earlier this year, still trying and attempting to place blame on a crash in the death of Ronald Greene. There were things being put out to the family and to other entities that I knew to be untrue by the department. So, it just motivated me to want to speak out and get this thing out in the media because, of course, I couldn't speak to my chain of command. I couldn't speak to the guys who were in the department because in my eyes and on paper, it seems that they were part of the coverup.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Cavalier claims he has documented proof that excessive force on Black motorists goes far beyond the troopers involved in Greene's death. He also alleges Black troopers in the state police are disciplined more severely compared to their white colleagues.

We took these claims to the Louisiana State Police who said it wouldn't comment about ongoing litigation. Since coming forward, Cavalier has received notice he is being fired from his job.

CAVALIER: The culture of the state police is systematically racist. It is just a part of the culture. It is a part of the culture. You have to be there to understand it and explain it. I'm doing my best to expose the entire picture of everything.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Cavalier declined to provide internal documents to CNN, which he says prove his claims, but he did tell us he has been interviewed by a U.S. attorney as well as the FBI. The Department of Justice declined to comment on this case.

But in a statement to CNN, the state police said Trooper Cavalier was terminated for a violation of department policies, including seeking publicity and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Based on an administrative investigation that revealed he violated several department policies, adding, it should be noted that our disciplinary administrative process is not finalized and Cavalier remains an employee at this time. Cavalier is due a fair and impartial process, and as such, the department cannot provide comment on pending litigation.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Ron Haley is the attorney for Ronald Greene's family and is also one of Cavalier's co-counsels.

HALEY: He is doing this because he feels like this is the right thing, that he feels that the oath that he's sworn when he became a Louisiana State trooper, that he is still up holding that oath by putting the public before himself, by putting the public even before his department in the name of making that department better.

VALENCIA (on camera): The troopers involved in Ronald Greene's arrest have been disciplined. But so far, none of them have been charged. Trooper Cavalier says he hopes his coming forward leads to a federal consent decree on the Louisiana State police.

To Ronald Greene's mother, he says on behalf of the state police, he's extremely sorry for what happened to her son and hopes that his comments lead to the long-awaited justice, he says, that the family deserves. Don?


LEMON (on camera): All right. Nick, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

I want to bring in now Captain Ron Johnson, formerly with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Captain Johnson, good evening. Thank you for appearing. It is a fascinating story that Nick brought us there. What is your reaction to hearing that reporting? I mean, Greene's death, the initial report saying that it was from a car crash, and now Trooper Cavalier feeling the need to come forward with these claims.

RON JOHNSON, FORMER INCIDENT COMMANDER IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI: First, I applaud Trooper Cavalier for coming forward. I think it is what our

nation is saying, we want officers to step forward when they see something is wrong. I think it is what the community wants. I think leaders of agencies are asking their officers to do that. Apparently, it didn't happen here, but there are some leaders now that are saying we've taken a step back with what is going on with Trooper Cavalier.

LEMON: It is interesting, though, because he felt that he could not go to higher ups in the department because they were part of the problem, and he claims that the culture at state police there, that it is racist. Do you think he had any other choice but going public?

JOHNSON: Well, when I look at this investigation, it took 474 days for this investigation to get started. So, it seems like there were no other recourses but for him to come forward the way that he did. You know, someone would say, well, he could have done something different, but I don't think there was any right way when you are coming forward with something that you see as a wrong.

LEMON: You know, Ronald Greene is another incident where the body cam footage finally leaked out to the public and it tells a very different story than the original story, right, and what is in the original report.


LEMON: Do cases like this erode the trust between law enforcement and the communities they're supposed to serve?

JOHNSON: It truly does, and like I said earlier, it takes us a step back. When we start talking about police reform, this is exactly what America is talking about, that they want police reform in matters such as this.

LEMON: Captain Johnson, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): A doctor who has a medical license and a million followers says that the pandemic was planned to depopulate the planet and the conspiracies only get worse from there. CNN investigates next.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I just want to be straight with you. I think you're crazy.




LEMON (on camera): Tonight, 57% of Americans eligible to get the COVID vaccine are fully vaccinated and the daily pace of vaccinations is over 250,000. Meantime, a source is saying the government will likely recommend Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for people as young as 40.

Also tonight, a CNN exclusive. Physicians who knowingly spread dangerous disinformation about COVID-19 and the life-saving vaccines. You're about to hear from one doctor who makes outrageous statements that are flat-out wrong. But we think it is important for the public to hear those statements and compare them to the truth.

Here is CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Buttar at one time had more than a million followers and is considered one of the top spreaders of disinformation about COVID-19.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): That is not true, neither is his tweet that the Red Cross won't accept blood from people who had the COVID-19 vaccine. He posted, most who took COVID vaccines will be dead by 2025. But his biggest whopper is the overarching conspiracy theory that COVID was a planned operation which was politically motivated as part of a secret global plot to depopulate the earth.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You believe the pandemic was planned?


GRIFFIN (on camera): Okay. But you don't know by whom?

BUTTAR: I have no idea.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And you don't know why?

BUTTAR: I suspect that there's research that's coming now that would indicate that it is probably something to reduce the population or minimize reproduction rates.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous. Buttar compares COVID and the vaccine to World War II and Dr. Anthony Fauci to Adolf Hitler.

BUTTAR: Fauci is a criminal. You talk about Hitler, okay, well.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Whoever Dr. Fauci is in your mind, he is a government bureaucrat and you are comparing him to Hitler --

BUTTAR: Well, I mean --

GRIFFIN (on camera): -- to Nazis --


GRIFFIN: -- who killed six million Jews.

BUTTAR: I think this number is going to be higher.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You think Dr. Fauci is involved in some kind of plot to kill millions of people. I just want to make sure I understand this.

BUTTAR: You are a reasonable person. You're asking me what I think and I said it could be this. But I can tell you, Dr. Fauci is not an innocent bystander. He is very well aware of what he is doing and the extent of it, his involvement, I don't know. I'm not (INAUDIBLE) to that information.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): As atrocious as the Dr. Buttar's fake conclusions and conspiracy theories are, he is just one of the doctors spreading dangerous COVID disinformation to millions of people across social media, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

UNKNOWN: Let's be absolutely clear, lies cost lives in a pandemic. If you are encouraging people not to vaccinate, you will cause people to lose their lives.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Buttar is encouraging people to distrust life- saving vaccines. And like other disinformers, he is using false, twisted information and unproven conspiracies to do it.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Do you think the COVID vaccine works?

BUTTAR: I think that the COVID vaccine is very effective at what it was designed for perhaps, but it is not preventing death. Certainly not.

GRIFFIN (on camera): It is not preventing death?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Even faced with indisputable facts, Buttar doubles down on his belief that life-saving saving vaccines are more dangerous than the virus itself.

BUTTAR: People don't die from COVID. You have seen the data. Why are we getting a vaccine that causes more deaths than the problem itself?

GRIFFIN (on camera): 6.34 billion doses of this vaccine have been given. If you are right, people would be dropping dead all around us.

BUTTAR: It is not orchestrated to do that.

GRIFFIN (on camera): It is not orchestrated to do that?

BUTTAR: Each vaccine has been geared up. You can look at the ingredients of the vaccines themselves, it is all been published.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Complete the sentence. Each vaccine has been geared up for what?

BUTTAR: Each vaccine is designed -- appears to be different. I don't know the details because I'm not a vaccine developer.

Scientific corruption.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Because of his disinformation, Buttar has been removed from Facebook and Instagram, but he is still going strong on Twitter, Telegram and his own website, all filled with falsehoods.

GRIFFIN (on camera): On September 5th, you retweeted a photo of AstraZeneca packaging that seems to indicate the vaccine was made in 2018. That picture that you retweeted was a doctored photo. It was fake.

BUTTAR: Perhaps it was fake.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Why would you do that? [23:45:00]

BUTTAR: Drew, let me ask you something. Are you saying it is not reasonable to question the same agencies that have resulted in numerous deaths --

GRIFFIN (on camera): It is reasonable to ask questions. What I don't understand is how you get from your asking questions to your belief. You had 1.2 million followers at one point.


GRIFFIN (on camera): They got false information from you, not correct or challenging medical information. They got a doctored photo.

BUTTAR: If I sent a tweet out of a picture that was doctored and I didn't know about it, I'm not perfect, maybe I did make that mistake. But I cannot make mistakes on the numbers.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The very latest vaccine studies show they remain 90% effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Buttar tells his followers it is the vaccine that is the danger.

BUTTAR: We already see thousands of people dying. This delta variant is all vaccine injury. I mean, the CDC's own data is showing that now.

GRIFFIN (on camera): That's just not true.

BUTTAR: I don't want to be part of this mass genocide that I see happening, and I think that what is going on right now will be remembered as the worst time in history compared to what World War II happened.

GRIFFIN (on camera): I just want to be straight with you. I think you are crazy.

(Voice-over): Before COVID, North Carolina's Board of Medicine reprimanded Buttar twice for the way he was treating autism and cancer patients. The board accused him of charging exorbitant fees for his ineffectual therapies, which he denied, including injecting a patient with hydrogen peroxide.

The FDA also sent him a warning letter over products he made and sold that promised to do everything from treating chronic pain to improving sex drive.

BUTTAR: And yet I have an unrestricted license to practice for 30 years.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And that is the problem. Dr. Rashid Buttar repeatedly lies and disinforms on matters of medical health, yet that doesn't have an impact on his medical license in North Carolina. Across the country, COVID-19 has created a subculture of disinformation among medical outcasts. State medical boards don't know what to do. HUMAYUN CHAUDHRY, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF STATE MEDICAL BOARDS:

Those kinds of comments are very troubling to doctors on the front lines and managing COVID. They're particularly frustrating. In fact, some of my colleagues are livid.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): CNN contacted medical boards in all 50 states. Half of them responded. Only two, Rhode Island and Oregon, said they had actually disciplined doctors for coronavirus misinformation or related violations. That is despite hundreds of complaints.

The Federation of State Medical Boards issued a warning to physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation that they are risking disciplinary action, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.

CHAUDHRY: Especially in a pandemic, your actions could lead to the deaths of thousands of individuals because people trust what doctors say.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Buttar doesn't seem to care.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You had an outsized influence over just somebody who is living just down the street in terms of people getting medical advice. You have to admit that.

BUTTAR: Absolutely. Absolutely, I did.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And you are raising doubts about a vaccine.

BUTTAR: I hope I am because I hope more people take heed of the warning that is necessary.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And if you are wrong and they die because of that?

BUTTAR: I am confident, more than confident in my ability to have looked at the data and observed what is going on, and that if I'm wrong, so be it because I have to look at myself in the mirror every night when I go to bed and every morning when I get up. I don't lose any sleep, Drew.


LEMON (on camera): Drew Griffin joins me right now. Drew, incredible and unrestricted medical license. I have got to know why he still has one. Drew is going to answer all of that right after this.




LEMON: Tonight, CNN investigates Dr. Rashid Buttar, who spreads dangerous disinformation about COVID-19 and the life-saving vaccine. Our senior investigative correspondent is Drew Griffin, and he joins me now.

Drew, hello to you. So, this -- Dr. Buttar, he has been kicked off of YouTube, kicked off Facebook, Instagram. That's all good. Why is he still out there on Twitter and able to use that platform to tell all of his followers where they can find the rest of this nonsense?

GRIFFIN: We asked Twitter directly that question. Apparently, he has had some of his posts removed, if he wanted to stay on Twitter, which he did. But he remains there, Don, 88,000 followers. Twitter just tells us in general that they are trying to improve their COVID-19 misinformation enforcement and that they removed some prominent disinformers, but not this guy.

LEMON: Drew, are you telling me that there is nothing a medical board can do to take away his license or put some sort of warning on his credentials?

GRIFFIN: I'm telling you, there is nothing that the North Carolina Medical Board is doing. And the problem is these medical boards, Don, they are really, really dealing with the past. They are from the 20th century, maybe even 19th century, built upon the premise that a patient who is harm comes to the medical board with a complaint against the doctor who saw them.


GRIFFIN: They are not geared up for these social media doctors who are giving advice to patients they never see, they don't even know over the internet or through Facebook, and are perhaps giving them such bad information that they're making life-changing for the worse decisions without ever communicating with them. The medical boards don't know and aren't set up to deal with that. They're trying to do that now but very slow process.

LEMON: Fascinating report. Drew, keep us updated if you get more information. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Members of the House Select Committee on January 6th have just decided to recommend that the full House find former Trump associate Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena to appear.

I want to start off for now with CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol with the very latest. Walk us through what happened at this vote.