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Don Lemon Tonight

Biden Expected To Meet With House Democrats Before Heading; Dems Expected To Scrap Paid Leave; Baldwin Movie Investigation; Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 22:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is Don Lemon. Tonight, we have got breaking news on the chaos in Washington right now. Democrats are battling their own in a desperate attempt to push President Joe Biden's agenda across that finish line. Our source is telling CNN that the president is expected to attend a House Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill bright and early tomorrow morning 9:00 a.m. delaying his departure for Europe by a few hours in an effort to convince progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill tomorrow.

That is a whole lot of Democrats are furious tonight. That paid family and medical leave is now likely to end up on the scrap heap out, along with free tuition for community college, marginal tax rate increases and the Clean Energy Program.

Joe Manchin says he doesn't think that the paid leave policy should be in the bill at all. One Democratic senator telling CNN quote, people are pissed. He wants to take out paid family leave.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): The problem was not with the President. The problem is with members here who although they are very few in number, they are a significant minority thinks that they have a right to determine what the rest of the Congress should be doing. The minority should not be dictating to the majority.


LEMON: The President's initial 12-week family leave proposal was scaled back to four weeks in an effort to get Manchin support. That didn't work. Neither apparently has an effort by -- an effort by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to find a compromise with Manchin who says tonight quote, I just can't do it.

So the question is, can Democrats get out of their own way and make a deal with just hours to go until the President's trip?

And we have some breaking news tonight on the investigation of the shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's movie "Rust" that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, the district attorney saying this just tonight.


MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There are safety procedures and protocols that are supposed to be followed by everyone in the industry. And it sounds like, seems like that that did not happen in this case on multiple levels.


LEMON: There is a new search warrant affidavit with a shocking revelation. The assistant director David Halls, failed to fully check the gun that fired the fatal shot before he handed it to Alec Baldwin, and again, that's according to the affidavit. The Affidavit also revealing 24 year old Hannah Reed Gutierrez working on only her second movie as an armor, told investigators no live ammo is ever kept on the set. That's not what the sheriff says. In a press conference today, he said the gun discharged by Alec Baldwin fired is suspected live round.


SHERIFF ADAN MENDOZA, SANTA FE COUNTY: I think the facts are clear a weapon was handed to Mr. Baldwin. The weapon is functional and fired a live round, killing Ms. Hutchins and injuring Mr. Souza.


LEMON: He also said investigators have recovered what they believe to be additional live rounds on the set.


MENDOZA: The actual lead projectile that was fired has been recovered from the shoulder of Mr. Souza. We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin. We have recovered what we believe to be possible additional live rounds on set.


LEMON: So many questions raised during that press conference. And in this case, I don't know, it may turn on the answers, we will see what happens. Why were there so many -- why was there so much ammunition, live ammunition on a movie set? How many live rounds were there? And was there a lack of seriousness about safety on this particular set? There's a lot to be answered.

As I said, there's lots of breaking news. And I want to get to the news that's happening in Washington DC first on Capitol Hill. I want to bring in senior congressional correspondent Jessica Dean, and White House correspondent Arlette Saenz. Good evening to both of you. Thank you so much for joining.

So here we go. It's getting down to the wire. It's been, Jessica, there's been so much movement on this spending bill tonight. It seems like negotiations are changing by the minute. Where do things stand right now?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they truly aren't, Don. It was a whirlwind of activity up here today. And it will be tomorrow as well, just to give you kind of the headlines here. They're still searching for a top line number, how much this will ultimately cost them and also exactly how they're going to pay for all that. So the revenue, how are they going to create the money to pay for this?

And then there's the issues, the separate provisions that would be going into this bill. So we'll just start with expanding Medicare. You saw Senator Bernie Sanders, you had that clip right at the beginning of your show, I had just asked him he'd been to the White House. I'd asked him what assurances he got from President box.


You've heard him say it's not the president. That's the problem on this. It's people in the minority in the Senate. So they are continuing to push for that to expand to dental, vision and hearing, also a Medicaid expansion to the 12 states that so far have not done that. I talked to Senator Tammy Baldwin today, she told us a little bit about a compromise that would allow them to instead of starting a whole new federal Medicaid program for that expansion, instead, subsidize essentially plans through Obamacare. So they're working on that, again, trying to make sure that Senator Manchin will get on board with that as they seek to expand Medicaid and fully insure as many people as possible.

And then you've got prescription drug, negotiating costs for that. We know that Kyrsten Sinema and others who have pharmaceutical companies and their home states or districts have really pushed back and had resistance to that that continues to be played out. Paid leave, as you mentioned, at the very beginning of your show, that appears to be dropping off.

Although I will tell you once that news broke late this evening, when we were here, they were going through their final vote series. And there were some very upset Democratic senators, and also on the House side as well at the idea that this could get dropped from the package. So Senator Gillibrand and Patty Murray saying they're continuing to push Manchin on this, as well.

And then climate probably is the one done that right now has a lot of optimism from people. We got a letter from House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, we saw that she sent it to House Democrats earlier today. She was very optimistic about their climate proposals. We're hearing that it could be upwards of $500 billion. That's going to be the biggest chunk of money in this package likely.

LEMON: Arlette, I'm going to bring you in because, look, it's a big deal. This is a big trip for the President. And you know that this is a big deal since we're here. We're hearing that he's delaying his foreign trip to meet with White House, excuse me, to meet with House Democrats tomorrow morning. Is he going to be twisting some arms? Does he expect to close a deal before he goes? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, White House had long been entertaining the possibility of having President Biden go in person to make this appeal to House Democrats. Ultimately, they wanted to make sure that it would be beneficial to the process. So tomorrow, the President will be heading up to Capitol Hill in the morning to meet with those House Democrats.

A source I just spoke with said he'd be speaking to them in person, specifically update them on the progress when it comes to that bipartisan infrastructure proposal and also the larger economic package.

But the President certainly was hoping to head into this foreign trip with some type of agreement on his top legislative priorities. One big question of going forward, we've heard that House Democratic leaders would like to schedule a vote on that bipartisan infrastructure proposal. But progressives are still insisting that they want to see some actual legislative texts that could be voted on and not just a framework. They want to actually see the tangibles of what this plan is going to look like.

Congresswoman Jayapal, the head of the Progressive Caucus had said that simply having the president come and ask for them to vote for the bill wasn't necessarily going to get her numbers on board. So we will see tomorrow what kind of heavy lifts the President might have ahead for him as he is meeting with those House Democrats. He could be postponed that meeting supposed to be around 9:00 am. We don't have a time yet for when he will be leaving for Rome.

But the White House has said he can only delay his trip by just a little bit based on all of the timing as he has that very important meeting with the Pope starting on Friday.

So, the White House is certainly acting with a real sense of urgency talking to those two key holdout senators Manchin and Sinema, but also trying to take in those concerns of Senator Bernie Sanders. That's why you saw Senator Sanders here at the White House, a meeting with the president for a little over an hour today. So the President is really trying to take a handle on all sides within his Democratic Party as he is hoping that they can come together and push his economic agenda across the finish line.

LEMON: Arlette, let me ask you about something that Jessica mentioned earlier. And that is a paid family leave, that is the cornerstone of the President's agenda. How big of a blow is it at this is out of this plan?

SAENZ: I mean, it's pretty big. This was a central component of what the President had been proposing. You'll remember that they originally touted there would be 12 weeks of paid family leave that was later whittled down to just four weeks, and it was an arms townhall last week with Anderson Cooper, where the President was touting this and talking about how the American people are really would they support this type of measure, and that they want to see this type of assistance. Now we are learning that is likely scrapped completely from the plan. That is a concession to Senator Joe Manchin, who had expressed reservations about including that in this proposal, and there are other elements of the President's plan that just aren't making the cut anymore when it comes to free community college and raising the corporate tax rate.

It was just a few hours ago actually, the White House was even touting that paid family leave is one of the historic investments in this plan. Of course, there are other things that this White House will be touting if this deal comes together. There's such as free preschool and other incentives like the one year extension of the child tax credit, but that paid family leave, having that out of this plan is a very significant blow to the White House.


LEMON: Yes, that is a cornerstone. Jessica, listen, give me the latest on the Democrats plan to actually pay for this bill, taxing billionaires and so on, because we've been hearing about a lot of pay fors, right.

DEAN: Yes. Right.

LEMON: So what's the plan here?

DEAN: It's like -- it's a new tax plan, and kind of as the hours go by, but there's a couple of zero in on, number one, the corporate minimum tax which seems to have a lot of support galvanizing around it, both here on the Hill, and also from the White House. So what that would do would place a 15 percent tax on roughly about 200 companies that make a billion dollars in profits a year. So that seems to be kind of moving ahead right now as we speak.

The billionaire tax that you just mentioned is a bit more precarious at this point. There's been a lot of pushback. We saw a Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Elizabeth Warren today walking down the corridor. And I spoke to Elizabeth Warren as she was getting on an elevator and I asked her, you know, how are these conversations going? We get Senator Manchin pushing back, and she just kept saying, we have to keep talking, we have to keep talking. And Don, that's what we've been hearing a lot of today around the billionaires tax. We need more details, we need to keep talking. So they're still trying to sort that out.

And as Arlette just mentioned, Democrats had originally wanted and planned for raising individual income tax and also the corporate tax rate kind of reversing a lot of the Trump tax cuts. That's what came out of the House. And the House, the chairman of the committee that put all that together continues to stand by that that's the best way to do this.

The problem is, Senator Sinema has said she is a no go on both of those things. So they are stuck, trying to figure out what those exact pay fors are. And the billionaire taxes the one we're going to have to continue to see kind of how that shaped over the next 24 or 48 hours or so.

LEMON: Yes, and the President hopes of the next eight hours or so.

DEAN: Right. Right.

LEMON: Thank you, Jessica. Thank you, Arlette. I appreciate it.

SAENZ: Thank you.

LEMON: So will Democrats draw a line in the sand over family leave now that it's all but scrapped from the social safety net bill. I'm going to talk with progressive caucus member Congressman Jamaal Bowman, next.



LEMON: So here's the breaking news, a source telling CNN that President Biden will attend the House Democratic Caucus meeting tomorrow morning. He's trying to convince progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill before he leaves on his crucial foreign trip, delaying his departure to Europe to try to get some concrete results.

But in a big development tonight, it looks like paid family and medical leave maybe out on the social spending bill because Senator Joe Manchin opposes it. I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York. He is a member of the Progressive Caucus. Good evening, sir. So what do you think that's out? Are you in?

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): You know, that remains to be determined. We're the only developed country in the world that does not have paid family leave. We were supposed to be at 12 weeks, it went down to four weeks. And now it's out. Even though the majority of the country supports paid family leave. It's archaic. It's inhumane to ask a mom or new parents to leave their child and childcare while they have to go back to work to try to earn a living and keep a roof over their heads.

So, it remains to be determined where I am. Now that I'm hearing that dad is out. Again, it's unfortunate that we have a minority senator, one person who opposes this where the majority of the country supports it. So for me, it's unacceptable.

LEMON: Did he -- have you heard from him? Did you -- did he say why he didn't support it?

BOWMAN: No, I personally have not heard from him. The CPC has not heard from him. And I don't quite understand why he doesn't support it. He seems to be in the -- has portrayed himself to be someone who is pro-family. And if you're pro family, you're pro-children. If you're pro-children, we should have paid family leave as a developed nation, as the wealthiest nation on Earth.

Listen, we have an economy that rewards millionaires and billionaires and we put them on track to be trillionaires. But we can't provide paid family leave is completely unacceptable. And the only sort of rationale that I've heard from Manchin is this quote unquote, entitlement mentality.

You know, he seems to be regurgitating talking points from the 1980s when we are existing within a 21st century, multiracial democracy does going through a climate crisis and trying to recover from COVID. Building Back Better is building back better for all people, including poor people, people of color, and those who are trying to start families.

LEMON: So will you vote for this spending bill if that's not in it?

BOWMAN: Again, it remains to be seen, right? This negotiation has been changing seemingly minute by minute throughout the day, and I'm sure it will change a few more times into the evening. And I'm looking forward to hearing what the President has to say tomorrow in at our caucus meeting.

But, you know, we continue to hear progressives need to compromise, progressives need to acquiesce. Progressives are trying to push President Biden's agenda across the finish line. That's what we've been doing throughout this negotiating process. But just a few of our colleagues in the Senate are the one stopping that from happening.

We are in alignment with the American people with President Biden, with Speaker Pelosi, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and it's our job to deliver for the American people. The president cannot go overseas on this climate trip for example, with only the bipartisan infrastructure framework in hand, that is a regressive bill when it comes to climate 500 billion investing in climate.


500 billion investing in climate as part of the Build Back Better Act is a good thing. But where's that 500 billion going to put us -- to help us reach our 2035 and 2040 goals? So it's still a lot to work out. We need to see bill text before we decide what we're going to do in terms of a vote.

LEMON: You said the bill is regressive. He can't just go with the infrastructure part of it. If he appeals to you tomorrow, can you reach an agreement on the infrastructure part before he leaves?

BOWMAN: Well, I would love to see bill text and I would love the opportunity to go through the bill text line by line. You know, I'm new here. I've only been here 10 months. But I can tell you that there have been times where we have received bill text 30 minutes before voting on a bill. That's completely unacceptable, especially for something like this where we are making the biggest social investment since the New Deal.

So I want to see bill text same way Joe Manchin gets the opportunity to go through it line by line. My office and we on the House side needs to go through it line by line as well. And continue these negotiations. We are finally on the precipice of investing in public housing, for example, in a way where we haven't done in decades investing in extending the child tax credit, investing in universal pre K, investing in universal childcare, almost universal childcare, taking care of our seniors, valance reduction. We have to get this right. And unfortunately, the deadlines have sped up the consciousness of the country wanting us to do it a bit quicker. But we have to do it right. That's the biggest hit right now.

LEMON: Just real quick, if you can give me a quick answer on this, because you said, you know, you talked about the mentality and we're living in a 21st century world. Do you think that some of the folks and, you know, I guess, specifically Joe Manchin or whomever, that they have this sort of idea of a maybe a House phone mentality when we're living in a cell phone era? Or do you understand what I'm saying, because he's talking about coal, and look, everyone would love everyone in coal country to have a job. But that's not where the world is anymore?

BOWMAN: Well, when we talk about a Green New Deal, we're talking about a just transition for those who work in the fossil fuel industry to ensure that they not only maintain a job, but they maintain insurance, they maintain the same pay. And we come together to make sure we deal with the issue of climate change.

Hurricane Ida destroyed New York and New Jersey killing 50 people just a couple of weeks ago, that's going to happen more frequently. So we have to get to a place of clean renewable energy, you have to end dependence on fossil fuel.

LEMON: Are you concerned that it looks like your party is blowing it and that Democrats can't govern? And you know, that has huge ramifications, it has a ripple effect and look at what's happening in Virginia and other places where the elections are coming up, I wouldn't be sitting here covering elections next week, and then for 2022, and then for 2024, if you guys can't come to an agreement on this?

BOWMAN: Well, governing is about negotiation, right and negotiating.

LEMON: I understand that. That's true.

BOWMAN: And negotiating takes time.

LEMON: No, no, no, I get that, I get that.

BOWMAN: It takes time.

LEMON: That's not what I'm saying. I'm not talking about negotiating. But governing is also gaining control of the narrative, being able to indicate to voters, and to convince them to come aboard. Tell them what you're doing. And also to negotiate and to agree all of those things. But --

BOWMAN: Well in my district, Don, if I may interject briefly. In my district, people are excited that someone is finally fighting for them.

LEMON: But your district is not the country. BOWMAN: That's true.

LEMON: Your district is not the country. I understand that. You have to look up your district.

BOWMAN: But here's what I'm saying.

LEMON: Hold on, hold on, hold on.

BOWMAN: When you look at polling across the country, when you look polling --

LEMON: Across the country --

BOWMAN: -- the American people are aligned with the Build Back Better Act.

LEMON: OK. But when you look at polling across the country, the American people don't know what Democrats are doing. They see that there's infighting among Democrats, the President's poll numbers are sinking. And so, it's not just about what's happening in your individual districts, which I understand that you guys have to, you know, you're looking after your constituents. But there's also a broader picture happening. That's also a broader picture happening with a democracy under threat in this country.

BOWMAN: So -- yes.

LEMON: And it doesn't look like you guys understand the urgency in a moment that you're in right now.

BOWMAN: So I can agree that we need to do a better job of communicating, of engaging with the districts that will benefit the most from the Build Back Better Act. I agree with that. And that's what I tried to do on a daily basis, and many of my colleagues tried to do the same thing. I think the President's poll numbers are falling not because of the infighting, but because of the engagement of variety of other things.


If we or when we pass the Build Back Better Act, along with the bipartisan infrastructure framework, those numbers will go back up. And when we do well and deliver on voting rights reform, those numbers will go back up as well. And when people feel the impact in their pockets and in their lives, those numbers will go back up and will maintain the majority in the House in 2022.

LEMON: I enjoy --

BOWMAN: It's time for us to deliver.

LEMON: I enjoyed this conversation. I hope that you will come back and we'll continue to have these discussions. Thank you. I really appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much.

BOWMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Major developments in the investigation of the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's movie, The Santa Fe County Sheriff's saying the actor fired a suspected live around.



LEMON: So there are big developments tonight in the fatal shooting on Alec Baldwin's movie set that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's saying the gun used by Baldwin during the incident discharged a live round. Discharge to a live round.

Meanwhile, the district attorney saying the question of how live rounds got loaded into the gun will be a factor in determining possible criminal charges.

And the assistant director who handed Baldwin the weapon, admitting he didn't fully check it. So it's bringing out Dutch Merrick. He's the armor on euphoria, very popular show. Thanks for joining us. Jeffrey Harris is here as well, an attorney who has represented victims of film and television set injuries, happy to have you as well. So good evening to both.

Jeff, I'm going to start with you. The D.A. says how live rounds gotten to the gun will be a key factor in bringing charges here. Do you think that we could see criminal charges in this case?

JEFFREY HARRIS, ATTORNEY WHO HAS REPRESENTED VICTIMS OF FILM AND TELEVISION SET INJURIES: I really do. I mean, if you look at what happened on this set, you have a situation where live ballistic rounds were allowed to migrate onto a movie set. And it's always highly likely on a movie set that someone's going to be -- if you're using firearms to shoot scenes, that someone's going to be pointing a firearm at another person. And if you add those two things together the high probability that a gun is going to be pointed at someone, and the fact that live ballistic rounds are allowed on set. That's the kind of conduct that rises to the level of gross negligence, which is what you need in order to have a criminal charge. And I really do think someone's ultimately going to get indicted in this case.

LEMON: So who in the line of people who were there gross negligence, by whom?

HARRIS: Well, I mean that, you know, they're going to have to piece it together. Obviously, the armorer has responsibility for making sure that that gun doesn't make it to the actor's hand. That's the primary responsibility, the armorer. And the first assistant director is the person on a set who's primarily charged with safety. And if the first assistant director isn't doing his job, those are both deviations from, you know, what a normal person would do. And it rises to the level of recklessness, because that deviation is likely to result in injury. So those two people I think are definitely going to be a focus of the investigation. But then ultimately, the D.A. is going to have to figure out how that round got into that gun. I mean, it's clear that the armorer and the first A.D. didn't inspect the gun and find out that the round was in there, but somebody put it in there. Somebody ultimately put that round in that weapon. And that person also, I mean, I'm presuming that the D.A. is going to do their job, and they're going to figure out who that is. But I think that person is also likely to be indicted --


HARRIS: -- some form of criminal.

LEMON: Dutch, let's bring you in. This is what you do, in this conversation that we've just had, what do you want to add to it?

DUTHC MERRICK, PROP MASTER: Well, it's obviously it's unconscionable that a live round would make it onto a movie set at all, much less into a hero prop gun. The chain of events that would have had to occur, it's hard to fathom. We have so many safety checks on the way to the set. And there's what we call a chain of custody, that the guns stay in the possession of the armorer, all the way from the locking safe in the Prop truck or the Gold Room, and they walk it out to the set, they're always under their care.

They're the only ones that handle the gun and they get it right to the actor. The first A.D can oversee that and they can take a look at the ammo and the gun and we can show it to the actor, but it's a relationship between the armorer and the actor.

It's obviously it was a bit of chaos that day. The crew, some of the crew had walked off and their replacement crew so that means people were sitting idle. They had gone three weeks without a paycheck. And we know that they had been working really long days, 14 plus hours.

So -- And then we find out unbelievably that someone went off and shot actual live rounds out of a prop gun near the set. So is it a leftover from the shooting, the recreational shooting during the break or a deliberate round in the gun. It's hard to imagine but the safety steps are in place. The armorer would have checked it before it went off the cart and the first A.D. would have verified it and they would have handed to the actor, that did not happen.

LEMON: As you are sitting here talking about this and all of these, you know, new revelations come out. What are you thinking about, you know, this is highly unusual, right, for someone to be possible target practice, as we have heard? And then the armorer, excuse me, the A.D. saying well, I didn't really -- I don't think I checked it fully. This is extremely unusual.


MERRICK: It's very unusual.

HARRIS: Yes. MERRICK: And you know what, I'm sorry, we shoot millions, literally millions of rounds, blank rounds in Hollywood. And we've been doing it for over 100 years. And it's a very safe process. We're used to it. We block it out very carefully. We know when that everyone knows when that gun has a blank and it because we call it out, hot gun, as your heard cold gun which implies it was empty. So we'll call out a hot gun on command, it'd be the last thing that happens before the camera rolls. We'll get the scene and then the armorer is the first one into clear the gun immediately when they call cut. And then everything is safe as possible. So something like this, it was a major breakdown because there's so many safety checks along the way. It's really hard to fathom how this was allowed to happen.

LEMON: Hey quickly, just to show our viewers what you're talking about. I want to show because you have some examples here of a safety and then we'll get back to Jeffrey here because I want to talk about the legal angle here. But between the studio safety blank and a dummy round, show us what you got.

MERRICK: So a studio safety blank might look something like this. And you can see there's a crimped end on the end of it. And it looks almost like the end of a hot dog where it's pinched off or a sausage. Now that's an unfired blank safety blank round. And I'm going to show you next, a fired safety blank round. You can see that there sort of it's open, it's been punched, open, and it's very obvious and it's about half of the weight because there's no powder. Then I'll show you what a dummy round looks like. A dummy, this is the Hollywood magic, it looks like a real bullet. It has the lead in front, it has the brass casing, but there's no gunpowder in it, and there's no primer.

Now to add to the safety, we also add a little BB inside, you'll never hear that. You never seen it on camera, but in any crew member can put it to their ear, and I'll put it to my microphone, you can almost hear a little rattle.

LEMON: We hear it.

MERRICK: That's how we know. We can pick it up and rattle it. I also read in one of the reports that the A.D. noticed the rounds that had holes in them. So in my experience, it's not very common on set to have dummy rounds and have a hole but what they can do is they can drill a hole right through the side of it. And it lets people know that it's a dummy round.


MERRICK: So that would be dressed into the cylinder the revolver.

LEMON: Hey, listen, Jeffrey, I have to go where do -- what happens next now?

HARRIS: Well, there's going to be three investigations. You got the OSHA people looking to see whether safety regulations were followed. You've got the criminal investigation, and then presumably if the family decides to do so there'll be a civil investigation to determine whether someone was civilly negligent. And all of those things kind of work on parallel tracks.

LEMON: You guys have been great. Jeffrey, we'll have you back. We'll continue to talk about it, Dutch you as well. I really appreciate you guys joining us. Let's hope that this never happens again. And they put even more safety precautions in place. But listen, there were a lot. It looks like they just weren't followed here. Thank you so much.

HARRIS: Right.

LEMON: Thank you guys.

MERRICK: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: So I have something really important to tell you about. OK. And you want to mark your calendars you want to tune in. Because on tomorrow's show, we're going to air my exclusive interview with the jurors. Many of the jurors from the Derek Chauvin murder trial, OK. Now I asked him about hearing that gut wrenching testimony in the courtroom, how they came to their decision, and what it was like having to repeatedly watch the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck. That is tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m., DON LEMON TONIGHT. You don't want to miss it. The Derek Chauvin jurors will join us here on this program.

The FDA is expected to soon weigh in on whether to authorize the Pfizer COVID vaccine for young children after it got the green light from advisors, a lot of questions from parents about what this means for their kids. And we've got Dr. Anthony Fauci here to answer them. He's next.



LEMON: After long way parents could start vaccinating younger children as soon as next week. FDA advisers voting in favor of smaller Pfizer doses for kids ages five to 11. It could be a key step and slowing down the pandemic as winter gets closer. But with 28 million kids soon to be eligible, the question really is how many parents will get on board with this? Let's discuss now Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Doctor, thank you very much. I really appreciate you joining us this evening.

Vaccinations for children five to 11 years old, could be approved in just a matter of days. Parents have a lot of questions about that. Here's a big one, the dosage. OK. These five to 11-year olds will get a smaller dose than kids who are 12 and older, even though they are close in age and could have, you know, much bigger body sizes. What do you say to parents because, you know, they're concerned about this?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No, actually I don't, Don, because you're going to have to make a cut off some point and the empiric cut off was made at that age from five to 11. As you know, from 12 and older, the dose was the standard dose. They cut the dose down now to about a third of what it is, it was 30 micrograms, it's now 10 micrograms. So I think that's a reasonable thing to do. If you're going to have to start measuring it like by body weight and things like that, it would really become too confusing. I don't really have any concern, as a physician and as an immunologist, knowing the kinds of things when you stimulate the immune system. I think would be OK. I think that was a prudent choice.

LEMON: Yes, that was my next question. What about body mass or size or height and all of that and you don't find that necessary?

FAUCI: No, I don't think so, Don. I really don't. I think it would become too confusing if that were the case. I think this is a good way to have that cut off.

LEMON: OK, so listen, the recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows us that only around a third of parents five to 11 to five to 11-year olds will vaccinate their children as soon as it becomes available. With COVID trending down right now and cases often less severe in children, and lots of parents are asking if their kids really need it. What do you say to them?


FAUCI: You know, I think the answer to that, as I feel fairly certain the answer to that is, it would be a good idea to vaccinate the children. You know, when you ask people about what their likelihood of having vaccinations, be them for themselves, when they're adults or for their children, you know, we start off at around 35, 37 percent. And then when people start seeing that the vaccinations are being distributed, and they're being administered, and things are going well, people gain more confidence. So, I think that number of the people that would be willing, if not enthusiastic about getting their children vaccinated, is going to increase.

You know, Don, I do feel it's important to vaccinate children, no doubt, from a statistical standpoint, when children get infected is very much more likely that they would not have a severe outcome compared to an elderly person, like myself, or someone who has an underlying condition. But that doesn't mean that the kids are exempt from some serious illness because all you need to do is go to the pediatric hospitals around the country. And you see, particularly with the Delta variant, which has a much greater chance of transmitting that more kids are getting infected. And as more kids get infected, some of them maybe a small proportion are going to have a serious outcome.

Also, you want to make sure that we don't have a situation where the children inadvertently and innocently when they get infected, many of them without any symptoms, are spreading it within the family unit, which is something that recent studies indicate that that might be the case.

So there's a really good reason to have the children vaccinated. And that's the reason why we hope that we'll be able to answer the reasonable questions that parents would have, no doubt about that. They have good questions. And hopefully, in the outreach, we'll be able to adequately answer the questions of the parents.

LEMON: One of those reasonable questions might be, you know, my kid already had COVID, they still need to get the vaccine. I mean, I know you recommend it for adults, is that the same as adults? If the kids have had it, do they need to get the vaccine?

FAUCI: You know, I think that would be the case, Don, for the following reason. One of the things that's so clear that if you are infected, and you recover, and then you get vaccinated, the level of your immunity against reinfection is really profound it goes way, way up, making you really very, very well protected against a return infection, even with a different variant. Because we know when you have a high level of these neutralizing antibodies, it spills over and covers essentially many of the variants that we know what's circulating. Right now Delta is obviously the critical one, it occupies about 99 percent of the isolettes in this country.

LEMON: So other questions, the parents are worried about MIS-C and long COVID in children, how much should we still have to learn more than a year and a half into this, doctor?

FAUCI: Well, we know that it occurs, and it's serious. You know, there have been something like 5,000 kids that we now have document that have gotten the C, it can be a serious disease, several children have died from that. Long COVID is an interesting thing, Don. And the reason is that one of the things that we learn about in real time as the months go by and maybe even the years go by is that we don't know the full impact of what happens following infection, we're learning a lot about that. We know that kids can get long COVID.

And for the audience not knowing what that is, it's a persistence of symptomatology, sometimes not really readily explained by any pathophysiological process. But we've seen it to be very debilitating certainly in adults. Fortunately, children statistically have a less of a chance of long COVID. I think of the adults, it's anywhere from 10 to 35 percent or more. With children, it's somewhere between four and 6 percent.

But there still is the risk. And you don't want to take the chance of a child having some long term consequences of being feeling washed out inability to concentrate on the things that are associated with long COVID. A lot of reasons, Don, to get the children vaccinated.

LEMON: You know, did a story last night -- I report a story last night about a high school that is, you know, testing whether some of the kids can -- the kids and the staff who are vaccinated that they can go maskless. So many parents want to know if their kids will be able to go maskless once they are vaccinated.

FAUCI: You know, the answer is not right now. And when you say maskless, I think Don we have to qualify what you mean. If you're talking about in an indoor space, in which you're not sure everyone is vaccinated or what their status is. The CDC recommendations still says that in the school setting and in indoor congregate places to wear a mask even when you're vaccinated.


And the reason is Don, that the dynamics of infection right now, we still are averaging about 70,000 infections a day. That's a viral dynamic that's too high to say, OK, we're good to go. We don't need to do any more mitigation. There absolutely will be a time and I hope that soon when we could put the masks behind us, but I don't believe now, particularly when you're in an indoor setting, that we're ready for that right now.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about, I'm sure you know that your colleague, Dr. Deborah Birx, gave a damning appraisal of the Trump administration's response, and House testimony saying that 130,000 lives could have been saved by just implementing measures like masks and increased testing, reducing outdoor dining and family gatherings and so on. She also says that the 2020 election distracted them from the virus response. You were there. Do you agree with her characterization?

FAUCI: Well, I think we could have done much better. And I made no secret about that. I mean, that got me into some trouble with the Trump people when I was being open and honest about the fact that I felt that many of the things that were said about, don't worry this is going to go away or not paying as much attention to it.

I don't think you could put a number on how many lives would have been saved if you did it differently. It's much easier the other way to say if you did this different thing, if you vaccinated people, you would, in fact save a lot of lives. But, you know, Dr. Birx tried her best when she was there. I was with her. But a lot of times, some of the things that we recommended were just not put into place. So she does have a point in what she said.

LEMON: Dr. Fauci, thank you.

FAUCI: Good to be with you, Don. Thank you for having me.

LEMON: So two months ago, he didn't think Herschel Walker was such a viable candidate. But take this, after Donald Trump endorsed him, Mitch McConnell's singing a different tune.



LEMON: So take this everyone, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell failing, excuse me, well, falling in line with the former, there was a little slip there, falling in line with the former president and endorsing football star Herschel Walker's Georgia Senate run. McConnell putting out a statement saying and I quote, I am happy to endorse Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Herschel is the only one who can unite the party defeat Senator Warnock and help us take back the Senate.

So I want you to rewind now to July when CNN reported that McConnell suggested allies to allies at former Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, take another look at running again. Walker faces allegations that he threatened his ex-wife and other women with violence over the span of a decade. Now Walker's campaign has said this, all right, that he has received help since his allegedly violent incidents in the early 2000s. So they said he's received help since the incidents. All right.

So McConnell downplay the allegation saying and I quote, there are some things written that indicate he's had some challenges in his life. On the other hand, the good news is he's made several impressive performances on national television. Ah, he's good on TV.

Walker's claim with no evidence that there was serious election fraud in Georgia, no evidence, but he claims so. He tweeted on January 6 that Trump needed to get to the bottom of who stole the election.

Listen, there is no doubt that Minority Leader McConnell wants to be the Majority Leader McConnell again. So if his endorsement means that that will happen. You know, he means that.

Negotiations looking fraud over President Biden's agenda as he gets ready to go overseas. Will Democrats be able to get a deal before he leaves?