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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden Answers Questions at a CNN Town Hall; Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Was Interviewed About President Biden's Views; President Biden Remains Optimistic; GOP Voted No to Holding Bannon in Contempt. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Big night for the president. Chance on a big platform to look at the American people and hear their questions and give them confidence that he can get it done at a time that confidence in him is flagging. Did he get it done?

Our first take on the big show, DON LEMON TONIGHT and its big star D. Lemon who was ranting and raving about how weak they are. How was he tonight, Don Lemon?


CUOMO: Did he meet your muster?

LEMON: OK. So, here's -- not that he meets my muster, but he should do more of this. I have always said on the record in this exchange and on the program, this is -- these are good venues for him because he is a human being. He can explain things. Sometime he gets, you know, a little too in the weeds, right? Very big on details tonight. And he usually does that, right?

But I think he should -- I think he should continue to do these because that's what the American people want. They want to know what he's doing, what's in -- whatever bill, whatever legislation he's trying to get through, whatever his administration is trying to accomplish, the American people want to know.

And I don't think anyone can convey that and get -- after all he was elected President of the United States the highest office of the land. No one can do that better than him. So I think he should continue to do these town halls, to continue to do press conferences. To continue to go out, I think he should go out and meet the media and talk to the media and hold press conferences and go to the briefing room because people want to know.

When I'm out and about and I'm discussing things what people say I don't know what are the Democrats doing, what's the administration doing? They don't know. So, inform the American people about what you're doing. They're either going to like it or not. But for the most part I think they're going to like it because Joe Biden, quite honestly, is a very likable person. If you listen to him tonight, and you know, even the haters have to

admit Joe Biden is a nice guy. They may not like what he's doing, they may not like his ideology, they may not like some, whatever, but you cannot deny he is a nice, genuine, earnest, honest man. That's who he is. And in large part, that's why the American people overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden.

So, I think quite honestly all I have to say I think he did a great job, I really do. I think he did a great job. And I was -- after the criticism last night of the administration and the Democrats I had a keen ear to what the president was saying, I watched every single second of it. Listen to some of it on Sirius and I thought he did a great job of explaining.

Now, he did make some news -- would he -- on the filibuster, which he went further than he did in the town hall with me and that he is ever gone. And we are going to talk about that. But also, I'm not sure what he said about -- if he said about -- what he said voting rights, which is your big issue. I'm not sure it's going to hold weight and if it's going to satisfy those who want to get some -- to get voting rights, right --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- passed and if it's going to satisfy people of color.

CUOMO: One is what is exciting to the media and not necessarily what's exciting to the masses.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: He didn't say anything about the filibuster. He said he's open to it, walking about on the stage like he was thinking about it in real-time. It's about Joe Manchin and whether or not they can get the leverage to get him to change the filibuster.

LEMON: Hey, why you're doing this is I just want to put this up, you can continue to talk. This the president now leaving -- is he back at the White House, producers? He's leaving. Yes.


LEMON: OK, he's leaving. There you go. So, he is leaving the town hall --


CUOMO: Fascinating.

LEMON: -- and headed back to the White House. There is --

CUOMO: So, wow, so that's the President of the United States leaving the town hall to go back to the White House?

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Wow. The other thing is you said he doesn't have to make my

mark, and then you gave the exact explanation of why he made your mark. Just so you're aware that --


LEMON: I thought --

CUOMO: -- that's exactly what you just did.

LEMON: I thought today he was right on when he was at the memorial --


CUOMO: I get it.

LEMON: -- at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. I thought he was right on and very forceful selling it --

CUOMO: I get it.

LEMON: And today, I thought it was too. Yes.

CUOMO: I get it. I'm just saying don't say well, it's not for me. He doesn't have to make my grade.


LEMON: He doesn't have to.

CUOMO: And they grade him, but that is exactly what you --


LEMON: But that's what I do. That's my job.

CUOMO: I know. Just so don't pretend that's not what you do. That's exactly what you do. Now the other thing is this that actually matters.

LEMON: You didn't think the filibuster is a big deal?

CUOMO: No, I don't think he really said anything. I think it's the kind of incrementalism that the media --


LEMON: I think it's what he didn't say.

CUOMO: Excuse me?

LEMON: Because I think it's what he didn't say. And I wish we had the video of his expression as he was answering that. It took him a while to get to it. I think Anderson had to do a little bit -- little pulling it out of him. But I think if you look at the expression on his face and his body language, it was very tough. I thought he looked pained. My colleagues didn't think he looked pained, maybe he was just serious.

But after -- look, that he carried that expression even into the next question I think still contemplating what he had just said about the filibuster. And so I think it's what he said that I'm going to lose these votes, but what he's not saying is I need to get this done and then I'm going to visit this and I am open to change. Well, you know, which is kind of --



CUOMO: Well, he doesn't have any choice. If he wants to get the voting rights fixed --


LEMON: He's got to get it done.

CUOMO: The only way to do it is with the filibuster. And I maintain I think the big kick in the pants is going to be that the Republicans if they win in the midterms will get rid of the filibuster. And people will say, no. Because they didn't do it under Trump. They didn't have to. They were still on opposition mode. Even under Trump they were opposing the Democrats even though they had their own numbers.

Now, tonight there was a very distinct task for the president. He had to give the American people on this big stage confidence that he knows what he's talking about and that he has the passion to get this done. Did he convey it?

LEMON: Yes, I think he did. Simple answer, I think he conveyed it. And listen, we can go back and forth and critique and do whatever and Monday morning quarterback, but the overall answer to your question is, yes, I think he did.

CUOMO: Even though he said that Sinema will not raise taxes on the wealthy or corporations, and then said but we can still pay for it. How? How do you not give us the how?

LEMON: Well, then that -- that's to be determined. We have to ask him more questions. We didn't find that out tonight and so we will ask him more. But overall, what you said do I think he conveyed it? Yes. We can get as I said more into the weeds and we will. I have a whole two hours ahead that I have to get to, and I'm going to do it. I want to talk about and talk about and talk about -- I thought he went further on the filibuster and that is my big news.

Thank you, sir. I'll see you later. Love you.


CUOMO: I love you, D. Lemon. Make your witness.

LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. We're going to get to it. We've got breaking news on a big night. OK?

President Joe Biden speaking directly to the American people at our town hall, a CNN town hall in Baltimore. Anderson, great job of moderating that. And making news. Because this is what -- he -- the president went beyond anything that he has said before about the filibuster. Watch this and watch his body language.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Are you saying once you get this current agenda passed on spending and social programs that you would be open to fundamentally altering the filibuster or doing away with it --



COOPER: -- or doing away with it?

BIDEN: Well, that remains to be seen, exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up. There are certain things that are just sacred rights. One is a sacred obligation that we never going to -- we're never going to renege on a debt. We're the only nation in the world that we have never ever reneged on a single debt.

COOPER: But when it comes to voting rights you --


BIDEN: Voting rights is particularly consequential.

COOPER: When it comes to voting rights just so I'm clear, though, you would entertain the notion of doing away with the filibuster on that one issue? Is that correct?

BIDEN: And maybe more.

COOPER: And maybe other issues.



LEMON (on camera): You see that? And maybe more. And maybe more. Making the point of what I was trying to make to Chris there. Another big moment, though, the president admitting that it wasn't appropriate for him to say anybody who refuses a subpoena from the January 6th committee should be prosecuted by the Justice Department. And listen to his answer to a voter who asked why he doesn't do what Republicans do and just push his agenda through?


JOHN MECHE, DOCTORAL CANDIDATE, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: President Biden, I had so much faith in your election win, but based on history the bipartisan efforts of the Democratic Party are held hostage by rogue moderates and Republicans. Why not do like the Republicans and usher through the Democratic agenda?


BIDEN: Well, three reasons. If you notice the Republicans haven't passed a single solitary thing, zero. So, usher through their agenda, their agenda right now is just stop Biden, otherwise we shouldn't make it so personal, stop my administration. That's what the agenda is.

As much as it is to stop something than to start something then we're down to four or five issues which I'm not going to negotiate on national television as you might guess.


COOPER: We'll be interested in hearing them if you want.

BIDEN: No, no, no. No, I know. But all kidding aside but I think we can get there.


LEMON (on camera): So interesting. Can you imagine? We haven't had that in a while, a president actually admitting I shouldn't have said something, I was wrong to say that. That's big. And then saying you know what? Their agenda is to stop me or my administration, I shouldn't make this personal. That's where we are right now.

President Biden promising to make government work for the American people. But nine months since he took the oath of office, can he get his party to get out of its own way and make it happen? That is the question. A lot to talk about.

Now CNN's Kaitlan Collins is here, as well as David Chalian and Nia- Malika Henderson.

Good to see all three of you. Thank you so much.

Kaitlan, I'm going to start with you traveling with the president. The president huge news tonight I think on the filibuster talking about the need to fundamentally, possibly fundamentally altering it in some way. What do you gather from that, what are you hearing from folks at the White House?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, I agree with you that I actually think that was one of the news worthiest answers that the president gave during this town hall. And I think the reason it's important is it's obvious the president doesn't have a vote when it comes to the filibuster. He is the president and it's not actually up to him.

But it is symbolic in the sense that this is someone who spent three decades in the Senate. He is a Senate institutionalist. And so, for the president to come out tonight and say that they think that there could be a point where they have to fundamentally alter the filibuster or potentially get rid of it is incredibly significant.

And I think you are seeing the president use that language, of course, in light of the fact that Republicans have block a voting rights bill three times in this Congress. And that is something that seems to be weighing on the president as he was talking about that tonight. Though, when Anderson did follow up, he said there could be other reasons to get rid of the filibuster or to potentially change it when he was speaking about that. And so, I think that's --


LEMON: Hey, Kaitlan did he say other reason?

COLLINS: -- (Inaudible) given that this is something that the president --


LEMON: I was just saying, are there other reasons or there may be more beyond the filibuster or more things beyond the, you know, that he's willing to fundamentally change or more issues, other issues rather than just voting rights because it wasn't quite clear of what he meant by and more.


COLLINS: Exactly. I think Anderson's -- I think Anderson's follow was is this something about just for voting rights and the president said, quote, "maybe more." Of course, hinting that there could be more to come on that, which is incredibly significant.

Of course, he did talk about the realities of what's happening right now when it comes to the filibuster. Because he says if he got into a debate about the filibuster at this time, he would lose at least three votes he believes on this big economic package that of course the Democrats are still negotiating over, and he needs the support of every single Senate Democrat.

But he was talking about the power that Senate Democrats have over his agenda, of course, we'll get into that, I know in the details that he reveals here tonight, but saying that about the filibuster is symbolic. And of course, we've heard from Senator Joe Manchin and others who say they are opposed to changing the filibuster, even having a carve out when it comes to something as what we were recently discussing, raising the nation's borrowing limit.

But I do think it's significant for the president to say there could be a day when they do decide to fundamentally alter it, and of course it does really make you think about the trajectory once they get, if they get this economic package passed, how he then focuses on that.

LEMON: Yes, it was interesting. To your point, he said when you have a slim majority like that, and when it's 50, you have, 50 little presidents or 50 presidents more than just him.

David, as he was talking about the filibuster, you know, I was thinking, well, it's what he's not saying. Right? He explained what he had to get done first, what he thought his first priority was, right, and that's his economic agenda, and then he would worry about voting rights. And I'm going to talk to Nia about, second, if that's the right thing. But isn't what he did not say there that or maybe he could not say there?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I'm -- I'm with you. I don't know that I understand fully Chris' read on this. I thought it was very significant and not just iterative. I think the president put himself in a different position on this long running debate about the filibuster which is preventing some major agenda items whether voting rights, police reform, what have you?

There's a whole block. By the way, when he said maybe more, I mean, he indicated one of the other things beyond voting rights that he wants to get rid of the filibuster on potentially which is dealing with the debt ceiling because we just went through a whole process where Republicans were filibustering, threatening to filibuster, the whole notion of raising the nation's debt limits so that America does not go into its first default ever in its history and send the economy into a total tailspin, potentially.

So, he clearly is giving this some thought, and I thought tonight just emerged in a totally different place. To Kaitlan's other point, and I think this is so interesting. We rarely get -- rarely get really candid outload thoughts about the politics of a moment.

LEMON: yes.

CHALIAN: That's not what we usually get from a politician.

LEMON: Did he say something like that's a fact jack or something you can laugh or whatever but that's the truth --


CHALIAN: He's just saying like I don't want to trip up my economic agenda --


CHALIAN: -- by injecting an effort right now to get rid of the filibuster. That is going to be the next project. I need all those senators right now. He just put it out plainly to people in his base I think most importantly to hear why he hasn't made getting rid of the filibuster on voting rights a higher priority. It's because he needs those votes on this economic package.

LEMON: OK. So, you know, usually people say how does it play in Peoria. The question is, Nia, how does this play in Philadelphia, how does it play in Atlanta, how does it play in Chicago, how does it play in Baltimore? How does it play in cities where large groups of African-Americans showed up and made him the president of the United States?


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, listen, those folks want to hear more. Progressives want to hear more from him on the filibuster. I think they will be pleased what they heard from him tonight going a little bit further saying that he might be willing for a carve out for voting rights and other issues.

You know, probably the bigger question, though, is how does it play in West Virginia? And how does it play in Arizona with --


LEMON: Smart lady you are.

HENDERSON: -- with Sinema and Manchin. They seem wedded to the filibuster not willing to think about any sort of carveouts for any of these issues. Joe Manchin's bill was sort of the skinny voting rights bill that was put on the floor of the Senate, and it got no Republican votes.

So, I think if you're a Democrat and you're hoping that perhaps the Republican obstinance on voting rights will move Joe Manchin, will move Senator Sinema, we'll see if that happens. And then you add that up with what Biden said today, maybe you get somewhere.

But so far, even given what Biden said tonight, I think if you're a progressive you're still looking at a president Sinema and president Manchin on this issue because they hold the keys to the kingdom when it comes to this very critical issue of democracy and voting rights, something that or forefathers fought and marched for and died for that is very much under assault under this -- in this country --


LEMON: But Nia --

HENDERSON: -- and being rolled back in several states.

LEMON: But don't you think he was very -- he was very candid about his negotiations with him -- where he stands with them and with his agenda and what he's trying to do? And without -- I think without going too far because I'm not sure. I wish you could see afterwards I was struck by him holding his head down thinking about what he had just said and what he was prepared to do. And I think he was probably thinking did I answer that correctly because, yes, African-Americans overwhelmingly supported me. And that's it. This was after his answer, you know?

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, I mean, he is hearing from constituents all across the country, African-Americans, progressives about this issue. And they are unnerved by where this is right now, which is nowhere. Three times now this has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate. They are asking themselves what the hell is the presidency for, right, if you are not going to do something on this fundamental issue, overwhelming support from African-Americans.

And we know that these voting laws in these states across the country are going to disproportionately affect African-American voters. That is what they are designed to do. And here you have a president who so far hasn't gone far enough in terms of pushing folks in his party to change this filibuster, which of course we know also has roots in sort of a racial hierarchy and sort of maintaining a status quo --

LEMON: And David --

HENDERSON: -- that most black folks are.

LEMON: David, I see you want to get in quickly, please.

CHALIAN: I just want to say to Nia's point I think what Joe Biden did tonight was put Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema saying --

LEMON: On notice.

CHALIAN: -- I know I've just tried to twist your arms for three months on this economic package. Just so you know I'm not done trying to woo you on other things when we get past this.

LEMON: Yes. Kaitlan, you've got a lot more there. I want to hear from you about what the feel is in the room, how the administration might feel about the president's performance tonight.

But stick around because we got a lot to get to. We have a whole -- couple of hours here. So, we're going to talk about that. But up next, we've been talking about progressives, right? There's Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She's going to react to tonight's town hall. I'm interested in what she has to say.


COOPER: Bottom line, do you think you will get a deal?

BIDEN: I do think I'll get a deal.




LEMON (on camera): We're back now. President Biden tonight making the case to pass his agenda first before getting to voting rights and possibly getting rid of the filibuster.

Let's discuss now with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Congresswoman, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining. What did you think of tonight?

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Well, it's great to be with you, Don. I thought it was very informative. I think the American people got the opportunity to hear what's actually being negotiated directly from the president. People got to ask questions. And a lot of us actually learned some details on how the negotiations are going.

LEMON: Yes. So, what did you think, and I've talked about all this stuff, but, you know, every night we cover it here on the show. The president will not commit to getting rid of the filibuster right now but suggested that it could go -- it could be altered and maybe more. What did you think?

OMAR: I thought it was promising. I think for a long time a lot of us have asked the administration to come out and, you know, push the Democratic senators to take this stance. We know that there is just a lot on the line. Democracy is on the line, and it's going to be really important for there to be, you know, some really stronger stances taken by the Democratic majority in the Senate in order for our democracy to survive.

LEMON: He said that he's got to get spending and infrastructure bills passed first. The Republicans killed Senator Manchin's voting rights compromise yesterday. What happens -- now what?

OMAR: We have to continue to push, you know, for a while we've heard from some Democratic senators saying it might take a couple of failed attempts to get this done before they can get some of the Democrats who are against filibuster reform to come onboard.

And so, I'm hoping that they are finally realizing the Republicans on the Senate side don't really care about our democracy. They are willing to do anything to make sure people don't actually have equal access to the voting booth.


And it is going to be up to Democrats to come together to save this democracy and make sure it is available for a future generation.

LEMON: I want to talk about the president's agenda now because Biden is saying that there will be a deal, and it's, you know, not the most difficult deal he has ever worked on. So, what are Democrats waiting for on this spending package? What is the hold-up?

OMAR: Well, we always say it's not done until everyone agrees on a deal. I think what the hold-up right now is for a long time we didn't really know what Senator Sinema actually wanted. We didn't have a clear understanding as well of what Senator Manchin wanted. I think we're getting closer to getting that. And we're continuing to have these conversations.

It is actually really good to see the White House and the president be this involved in the negotiations. It looks like they're trying really hard to salvage this agenda. We have been committed and been partners in fighting for the implementation of the full Build Back Better agenda. And, you know, I think for the next couple of days maybe weeks we might be able to finalize a deal that we can all support both on the House side and in the Senate.

LEMON: Let's look at, congresswoman, there are a lot of programs that progressives have pushed for. They look like they will -- they will make it into the package, some won't. But, you know, the ones that will make it there's going to be less time like paid family leave. The president called it consequential. Do voters understand that?

OMAR: I think so. I'm, you know, clearly hearing from my constituents I think many of us in the House and in the Senate are hearing from our constituents the progressives have been very clear about what our goals are for the Build Back Better agenda. We're proud of the goals that we have set and the process that we've engaged in.

You know, we're fighting to strengthen the care economy and make sure that there is child care and there is in-home and community-based care. We want investment in affordable housing. We want real investment to be made in addressing the climate crisis. And we want a movement on immigration as well.

And it's been really pleasant so far to see all of the priorities that the progressive caucus has laid out remain as part of the negotiations. And, you know, every single day when I am in direct conversations with families in my community, they're talking to me about the cost of child care.

You know, I helped care for my grandfather, so I know the burden a lot of families feel when they have, you know, a senior that they have to care for or a family member that is ill. I have children and I talk to so many parents with kids who have had to make the decision about whether they're going to go into work, possibly lose their job or care for their child that is sick that day or even them themselves being sick and having to force themselves and possibly infect others.

So, the agenda that we are fighting for clearly will have an impact on people's lives. They understand that. They're communicating with us. They're telling us to keep fighting. You know, I have a town hall Saturday on this. And I'm sure so many people are going to show up to hear where things are at and how we can continue to fight for this agenda.

LEMON: Well, we will continue to follow it, and we appreciate you appearing. Thank you, Congresswoman. I appreciate it.

OMAR: Thank you.

LEMON: So Kaitlan Collins, David Chalian, Nia-Malika Henderson, all standing by here. I'm going to ask them what they think right after this.



LEMON (on camera): So, the president tonight, President Biden expressing confidence that Democrats are coming together to pass his two big pieces of legislation, infrastructure and the social safety net. But acknowledging in CNN's town hall that there are still a lot of work to be done especially in negotiations with moderate Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Back again Kaitlan Collins, David Chalian, Nia-Malika Henderson. OK,

Kaitlan, back over to you now because President Biden got a lot more specific about his economic agenda. What's in it? What's out? What did we hear?

COLLINS: Yes, Don, our team has done great reporting on what's been happening behind closed doors in those negotiations but the president basically came out tonight and revealed a lot more specifics than what we had heard from Democrats, form the White House, from the president himself until tonight.

And a lot of things that he confirmed is one, what he'd been reported on which is that his provision that he really wanted in this bill, which is two or three years of free community college is out. Those corporate tax rate that they wanted to increase that's likely not going to make it either.


Talking about the difficulty of getting Senator Sinema on board. He said that she has told him, period, she is opposed to doing that. He also talked about paid leave which they had initially wanted it to be at 12 weeks, he did concede tonight, it is likely going to be closer to four weeks.

And one part that he made a lot of news on was that Medicare expansion, the expansion of those benefits, which has been something that the budget chairman Senator Bernie Sanders has been pushing incredibly hard for.

The president said tonight it's going to be a reach to get it as far as they wanted to do. So, he said they're talking through this idea of having an $800 voucher for dental. He said he's still negotiating the vision part of that. But a lot of news on the specifics of what we could end up seeing in the final framework of this bill.

And so, that was incredibly significant not only talking about what's going to be in it, the size and the scope but also talking about the difficulty of coming up a way to maintain what they've said so much which is that this is going to be a bill that's fully paid for. Since it seems to say that corporate tax rate increase is not going to be included in the final framework.

LEMON: I think it was a funny exchange there when Anderson said why four weeks, and he said we couldn't get 12 weeks, we couldn't get 12 weeks. What's your --


LEMON: -- what's your take --


COLLINS: Very honest about what these negotiations look like.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. David, what's your take away? CHALIAN: Yes. Well, Kaitlan's last point there about how to pay for

it. I mean, the president couldn't be clearer that Kyrsten Sinema is a roadblock to how they envision paying for this. I mean, you, Don, how many times did you listen not just Joe Biden, at every Democrat running for president last cycle. The president and vice president basically every day of their administration this year talking about rolling back those Trump tax cuts and getting corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share.

And Kyrsten Sinema says on tax rates for both of those corporations and wealthy Americans, it's a no-go. So now they're finding -- trying to find other ways. The president promises this will not add a penny to the debt --


LEMON: David, let me play it for you --


LEMON: -- and then you'll help explain it. Here it is.


BIDEN: First of all, she's smart as a devil, number one. Number two, she's very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation. Very supportive. She supports almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from family care to all those issues. Where she's not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period. And so that's where it sort of, breaks down. And there's a few other issues it breaks down on.


LEMON (on camera): Didn't she vote against the tax cuts for the rich under Trump, right? Anyway, go ahead, David.

CHALIAN: Correct. Yes. No. So that is a clear roadblock that the president couldn't have been more clear on. And I actually think we got insight because Kyrsten Sinema, even here colleagues in the Senate, Don, has been a bit of a puzzle.

Joe Manchin a little more clearer, talks a lot more about what is of interest to him, his concerns about creating an entitlement state, what's not of interest to him. Sinema just really keeps her cards close and yet we know she's been talking so much with the White House.

So, to hear the president reveal sort of this blockade was quite interesting. And I just would say the president obviously sounded in a hopeful tone. He's optimistic that this is going to get done.

But remember, we were thinking according to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and others that there was going to be some kind of framework announced perhaps by the end of this week to get this going so that the president had something to tout when he got on the plane Air Force One to head to Europe and to that climate summit.

Well, it sounds to me tonight even though he's hopeful, there's still ways to go here to actually get a deal.

LEMON: Nia, I see you shaking your head. Tonight my take away is what David said, there's a long way to go or a way to go. But also, this was just -- I felt like I was in therapy about how to manage Sinema and Manchin.

HENDERSON: No, it was -- it was that way exactly. Listen, a lot of Americans might not necessarily be familiar with Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema in the way that we have all become familiar with those folks, but tonight they certainly got a crash course in what those folks want. And to David's point it is much more clear.

Listen, I thought that Representative Omar interview was telling. She said maybe days or weeks in terms of getting a deal. She herself seemed pretty optimistic and remember it was progressives who had really been shouting about this and saying that they wanted, you know, a much more massive bill.

So, they are in sort of a different place now with a more right sized bill. But, listen, this is still a massive amount of money we're talking about for this sort of human infrastructure bill. And in so many ways, I mean if they end up passing something that's nearly $2 trillion, this is a real win for progressives and their idea about the ways in which a government should play a role in people's lives.


Joe Biden said that the point of this is to really change the dynamic for middle class and working-class families. And that will be the real test come November. He's obviously doing kind of a selling job tonight and will continue to do that with those senators and then over in the house as well.

But the real, I think, test will be in November. Do people feel this bill in their everyday lives? You heard so much anxiety from people who were asking questions there. Anxiety about child care, anxiety about elder care, anxiety about small businesses, anxiety about the price of gas. So, I think that will be the real test.

Is -- are people less anxious? And this is something that Joe Biden talked about himself, right, that there is a sense, that a lot of people are down. There's a lot of anxiety in this country. So, if this bill addresses that anxiety, this sort of economic anxiety, the feeling that people can't quite get ahead, then that will be I think our real test and a way for Democrats to have something to argue to Americans going into the mid-terms come November.

LEMON: Does this legislation affect their lives in a positive way? Do they feel that it is actually helping them?

OK, all of you stick around. Please stick with me. We've got a lot more to talk about. But next, nine Republicans voting to hold Steven Bannon in criminal contempt, OK? More than 200 voting no. More than 200 putting party, power and the former president ahead of American democracy. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): Nine Republicans voting with Democrats to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt, 202 Republicans said no, voted no. And it's no surprise since, for a lot of them opposing the vote is something that's way more than just Steve Bannon, OK?

So, let's break it all down with Stuart Stevens down. He's a former chief strategist for Romney, Romney presidential campaign, and senior adviser to the Lincoln Project.

Good to see you, Stuart. Thank you so much for joining us this evening.


LEMON: So, this committee is supposed to be all about investigating an attack on congress, and most of the people voting today were there for it. Five people died that day, the seat of our democracy assaulted. But for Republican leadership what's this about to them?

STEVENS: Look, I think you said it right. We have to quit being surprised by this.


STEVENS: This is sort of like asking Tony Soprano's gang to investigate Tony. This isn't going to happen. You know, we say that there's really two parties in America now, one that's pro-democracy and that's the Democratic Party, and one that's autocratic. And the Republicans keep proving this every day in different ways, and we just kind of have to accept this and look at it for what it is. And it's not going to change. The only thing you can do is go out and try to beat these people.

LEMON: It has to be frustrating. I know it's frustrating for folks like me who have to -- you know, it is our job to speak the truth every night. And by saying what you just said about those, you know, one party that's operating in reality and we're having democracy and there's autocratic party, that people read that as partisan. And it's not partisan. It's not partisan to say that.

It's a fact, it's the truth. It's got to be frustrating for you especially as a Republican -- I don't know if you're still Republican. But that has to be frustrating for you.

STEVENS: No. Yes, I mean, look, if you look at how democracies die today, most of them die at a ballot box and in a courtroom. Not like what tanks circling and radio stations like Chile (Ph) on an end day. And part of the reasons that democracies die is because the autocrats always deny what they're doing and there is a reluctance for the pro- democracy forces to accept what is happening. And that is the greatest danger here, I think. It looks like a normal

time in many ways. We have a normal president. It sounds alarmist to go out and say this stuff, but, look, I mean, Don, it's like a pandemic. What you say at the beginning may sound alarmist but at the end it's going to prove way inadequate.

LEMON: Stuart, pair what happened today with yesterday's vote and the Senate Republicans filibustering to prevent passing a voting rights bill so they're trying to block an investigation into an insurrection, a riot against the 2020 election. And they're blocking legislation that would make it easier for Americans to vote and harder to steal elections going forward. I mean, what does that say to you about the Republican Party of today?

STEVENS: It's a pattern. This was not a close election. Biden got over 300 electoral votes, I think 8, 9 million. And Republicans after the election wouldn't even congratulate the president of the United States. And then they went out -- senators went out and try to deny mostly African-Americans from voting, that's what -- trying to disqualify their votes. And then there was an attack on the capitol.

And then these state legislatures have gone out and passed all these laws that give the legislatures more power and potentially the ability to overturn elections. This is -- this is a pattern. It's not something that is casual. It's thought out, it's methodical.

There's people behind this who are very serious who realize that if you are a white grievance party, which is what the Republican party has become, and you're in a country that is becoming increasingly non- white, that this is your last best hope to change the rules of the game. If you can't change how the country is changing but you can change how people vote in this country, and you can try to hold onto power.

LEMON: Thank you, Stuart. I'll see you soon. Always a pleasure of hoping you.


LEMON: I appreciate it.

We've got a lot more with my dream team tonight, Kaitlan Collins, David Chalian and Nia-Malika Henderson. I should just say Kaitlan, David, and Nia after this.


LEMON (on camera): President Biden making a lot of news tonight in CNN's town hall. One final thought from each of you. Kaitlan, Nia, David. Kaitlan, you first.

COLLINS: I'll go first which was the president saying that comment that he should have chosen his words more wisely when it came to said about, yes, he does believe the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy those January 6th congressional subpoenas. The president tonight saying tonight that he did not choose his words

wisely and said that he would not and has not called the attorney general and told him who to prosecute, who not to prosecute. Certainly not when it comes to January 6th.


Though, he did say at one point, Don, that he did believe he answered that question honestly.

LEMON: Honestly, yes.

COLLINS: But he pointed back to his campaign promise not to politicize the Justice Department.

LEMON: But that was your question, right, Kaitlan? Wasn't that your question to him?



COLLINS: Yes, and we asked it pretty clearly. We asked what he thought would happen to those who don't -- who do defy them and whether or not the Justice Department should prosecute them. And at that time, he did say yes.

LEMON: OK. I got -- quickly, please. Nia, you next.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think voting, you know, President Biden elected with a multiracial coalition. He clearly doesn't want to be the president who also is on the job during this massive roll back of voting rights.

You know, to your point, he clearly looked pained about this reality. The question is what is he going to do it -- do about it and what can be done about it and what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema might have to do about it going forward.

LEMON: Mr. Chalian, you get the last one.

CHALIAN: I thought you saw the president who is trying to bring the plane in for a landing on his major domestic agenda item. I think he's trying to get some sense of urgency because if the Democratic Party fails to get this done, it could pretty seriously derail the Biden presidency. And I think you saw somebody who was trying to get more specific, more active, more involved to try and bring this to a conclusion.

LEMON: Thank you, dream team. I appreciate it. You guys have a great evening. I will see you soon.


HENDERSON: You too, Don. LEMON: So, there is a lot going on today. The president taking his vision to the voters as Congress flexes their muscle, voting to hold Steven Bannon in criminal contempt. Stay with us.