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Don Lemon Tonight
Judge Denies Donald Trump's Appeal; Donald Trump Will Find Ways To Slow Investigation; Aaron Rodgers And Team Slapped With Fines; GOP Congressman Trying To Promote Violence; Republican Party Now Radicalized. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 09, 2021 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): Thank you for watching. I'm late getting to the big show, DON LEMON TONIGHT with its big star, D. Lemon. But I couldn't give short shrift to the black eagle.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, I spoke to him today. And I was concerned about him. He said he is doing OK. I didn't get to hear all of your interview because I was dealing with the breaking news. So, we wish him well. We're going to talk to the Black Eagle on the show shortly because this is going to go on for a while. I mean, he's -- because you know he stays the course.
But no sooner as I heard the breaking news coming out of your mouth, then I said he is going to appeal. But apparently that appeal doesn't stop the archives from beginning their handover.
CUOMO: Nope. Because what he did was --
CUOMO: -- he asked for a preliminary injunction, OK. And you have to show that if this goes forward, you're going to suffer irreparable harm.
CUOMO: And in the balance of equities of interest, that you're worried about what matters more.
CUOMO: That doesn't exist here.
CUOMO: He doesn't have executive privilege as a former president.
CUOMO: And the legislative purpose in stopping another insurrection of the United States Capitol is a huge interest. So, he can appeal, but they're going to give the documents.
LEMON: They're going to give the documents. And I know people feel -- and we spoke about this a little but today as we were doing our podcast, that, well, you know why you're doing the investigation? It's already baked in. It's because people need to know what happened.
And the former president needs to come out and really be forthcoming about what happened, what he was doing, what those around him were doing. They need to be candid about it. And so, we can get to the bottom of it, at least if it doesn't change much as far as public perception, but people need to know for the record books and for the history books.
I'm going to get to the breaking news.
CUOMO: Please do.
LEMON: I'll talk to you soon.
CUOMO: I love you, dude.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. Ok.
So, this is DON LEMON TONIGHT, and this is our breaking news. And it's big.
The former president losing his fight to keep records from his presidency under wraps. The federal judge, Tanya Chutkan has ruled in a 39-page opinion that the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the capitol should, should have access to records from his presidency related to the attack.
Now the judge deciding that a former president's wishes couldn't overcome the decision of the current president regarding protecting privileged information of the executive branch. The former president has already notified the court that he is appealing Chutkan's ruling, that coming moments after the breaking news on this ruling.
So, we're going to get to a couple of folks here. I want to get to CNN's Ryan Nobles, also CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney who knows all about this. But Ryan has been going through this document from the judge, and he has some information for us.
So good evening, gentlemen. Good evening to you, Ryan, first. A former president losing this executive privilege claim. Talk to me about what you've been reading, what you know.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I don't think there is any doubt, Don, that this is a significant victory for the January 6 select committee. They have interest in hundreds of documents from the Trump administration that occurred in and around the January 6 attack.
That includes call logs, visitor logs, and includes some of the documents that were -- that were created during the Trump administration's time in office, and also even hand-written notes that the president himself had authored during that time frame.
And in her ruling, the judge made it very clear that when weighing this kind of balance between executive privilege and the public interest, that the public interest was much more important. She wrote, quote, "the court holds that the public interest lies in permitting, not enjoining, the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6 and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again."
And that's basically, you know, what she is basing this opinion on. And Don, this is important because these documents could be in the hands of the January 6 select committee as soon as this Friday. They've been waiting for, you know, quite a few weeks to get that information from the national archives.
Now as you've already mentioned, the Trump administration -- I should say the former president has said that he is going to attempt to appeal this. You know, at this point, the court has turned back any attempts for any stays on this, allowing the matter to go forward.
So we'll have to see whether or not they put a stay in place to prevent the release of this information by Friday.
LEMON: Yes, because as far as the archives, they are preparing to turn the records over. And that process has already begun. So, I am wondering, though, Ryan, what is this going to mean? What does this mean now for this January 6 committee investigating?
NOBLES: Well, I think from their -- the perspective of the committee itself, it is a key tool in their investigatory process. You know, they have theories as to what went wrong on that day. They have dots that they are attempting to connect. They can only connect those dots so much without the information that they would have at their disposal.
They certainly have attempted to do that through the subpoenas that they've issued, attempting to get witness testimony, attempting to get documents from people that were close to the former president during that period of time.
These documents they believe are a key to that process of connecting those dots, attempting to try and determine just what role the fueling of the big lie around the January -- the November election results played in bringing people to Washington on that day and whether or not there was some sort of coordinated effort to get them to attempt to interrupt the process of certifying the election. That's part of what they're trying to figure out. And they're hoping that these documents shed some light on all of that.
And the other thing I think, Don, that is very important is what this says in general about how the courts feel about executive privilege. It's not just these documents that are important to the executive committee -- the select committee, I should say. They also want to talk to people.
Mark Meadows said he can't talk to the committee because of executive privilege. Of course, Steve Bannon is in a big standoff right now with the committee over that exact reason. The committee make -- or the judge making it clear here that when it comes to documents, she is siding with the current White House and the select committee that the public interest is much more important.
We'll have to see if that extends to bringing some of these people in front of the committee as well, Don.
LEMON: And also, that the current president gets to decide what can be released or not and who has executive privilege. It doesn't -- the former president doesn't override that.
Ryan, I want you to stand by because I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney. Preet, you can answer I'm sure some of the questions that I asked to Ryan, what this means. But first of all, good evening to you again.
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
LEMON: Give me your reaction to this breaking news about Trump losing executive privilege in this case.
BHARARA: Yes. I mean, the two of you had it exactly right. On every point that was in contention with respect to the release of these documents from the National Archives, the judge ruled in favor of the one-six panel.
You know, we, I think we have talked about previously that at a hearing, the judge seemed very convinced that the bulk of the documents should be released because of legislative purpose, because executive privilege was waived by the sitting president of the United States, and that sitting president is the person who is most fit to make a determination about this and because of the public interests.
But she had expressed some concern about some documents that she said were being sought in an overly broad manner, including documents going back to the early summer of 2020 which she suggested in the hearing were kind of attenuated and far away from the immediate inquiry of January 6.
And so, I had concluded that maybe she would narrow the document request somewhat. She didn't do that. Even with respect to the documents that she said were very, very broadly sought, those documents get turned over as well. So down the line, victory, and an important victory for the committee.
LEMON: Let's go through some of this, Preet. Because I want to read from Judge Tanya Chutkan's ruling here.
She says, presidents are not kings and the plaintiff is not president. He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent president is not constitutionally obliged to honor that assertion. Presidents are not kings. That is a line first written by a different
judge in a case over Don McGahn.
LEMON: Right? So, Judge Tanya Chutkan her point is important. Trump is no longer president. His wishes can't overrule the current president.
BHARARA: Nor a king. Nor a king as she says. Right?
BHARARA: He is neither/nor. And look, I think look, it's an important principle. It's interesting when judges use language like hat. You know, a lot of opinions, I've read a million opinions in my day, and many of them are technocratic and arcane and are not readily understandable sometimes to the lay public and they turn on twists and turns of statutory interpretation.
When a judge speaks like that and uses language that is sort of ringing about the nature of American democracy and that presidents are not kings, she is speaking not just to the parties in the case, she is speaking to the public and she is speaking to history. And that shows you how strongly she felt about this matter.
LEMON: The judge also said again, I'm going to quote her, "from privilege exists for the benefit of the republic, as you are just pointing out here, and it's not tied to any one individual." The judge is knocking down any attempts of Trump to protect himself out of secrecy.
BHARARA: Look, it is not crazy, just to clarify some things. What the court found was that it agreed with the arguments of the committee that the best person in the best position to make a determination about the propriety of releasing information that is arguably covered by some kind of executive privilege is the sitting president, because that privilege belongs to the institution of the presidency, not to any particular person, Barack Obama or George Bush or Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
It happens to be true that in making the determination, the sitting president can take into account the claims and arguments of a prior president. That's just, you know, prudential. But then the sitting president is the one who basically decides.
And it's not to say that there is not some decent claim that could be made in some future time by a former president. Maybe, you know, President Biden, if he is a former president will make some claim of privilege going forward and a future president will take account of that. That didn't happen here, and that's what decides the matter for the purposes of the -- this case.
LEMON: Yes, it's perfect. It belongs to the office and not the individual. Again, she says privilege exists for the benefit of the republic, and it is not tied to any one individual.
The president is now just an individual. He is not the former president. He is not the president of the United States.
LEMON: So here is my question. Because he is appealing this, the former president, what are the chances that he, I think what Ryan said is gets an injunction of some type to stop the release of these documents?
BHARARA: Yes. I think it's low. You never know. So, you know, it's, we're Tuesday night now. The default position, the machinery is in place for the National Archives to release at least that first group of documents on Friday, unless there is some intervention by a court.
This court has said it's not going to intervene. The appeal could be taken up quickly by a panel within the D.C. circuit. And I suppose it's possible, it's plausible that they'd make some decision and they reverse the decision in the sense that they think there is a reasonable basis for the former president to succeed in the claim for a permanent injunction.
You never know what kind of panel gets put together and how these things are assigned. I think it's very, very unlikely. I think in part because you had a very careful analysis by the district court judge. There was a full hearing. There was a 39-page opinion that's based on precedent that's based on common sense and that's based on common principles, some of which you've quoted from today.
So, between now and Friday, I think there is very little hope. You never know, but there is very little hope for the former president stopping at least the first group of documents from being released.
LEMON: Listen, the timing to have the committee chair on, Bennie Thompson of the January 6 committee was impeccable. It happened as Chris was interviewing him. I want to play part of what he said and get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: We have a lot of information we requested. We're now based on a judge, judge's decision that Donald Trump brought the lawsuit. We fought him in court. We have the law on our side, and you know, we are a nation of laws. So, if you take your issue to court and lose, then you need to man up and deal with it and not be a spoiled brat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, listen, I think you answered this in your last, but to clarify here, to be clear, the bottom line is the January 6 committee will probably ultimately get these documents.
BHARARA: Yes, and I think they're going to get the first round of them by Friday. Now remember, they're being produced on a rolling basis. So, there are future groups of documents. You know, more in the future that are going to be produced on varying dates.
So even if the court of appeals doesn't act between now and Friday, it could act later. But I think it's the case that everyone understands how important this is. In fact, the district court judge in this case after having the hearing last week said that she would rule expeditiously, because the world is watching.
And that is a big fight between a former president and a current president, even though you have the current legislative branch and the executive branch united, as she pointed out in her opinion.
I think that if there is going to be any action, it will happen soon. But again, I don't think there is going to be action and the first set of documents should be in the hands of Bennie Thompson and his colleagues on Friday.
LEMON: Preet, let's turn to this latest list of subpoenas, to people like Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Miller. I mean, these were people in close proximity to the former president. What could we learn from these eyewitnesses and potential players in Trump's coup attempt?
BHARARA: So, you mentioned some of the people whose names are well- known. There are other folks on that list who are also in close proximity as you said to the former president, including personal assistants.
And so, the theme of this -- it's not the only theme, but the theme of this list of people who have been subpoenaed by the committee is folks who are in direct communication with the former president of the United States or overheard or in a position to learn and know of direct communications to and from the former president of the United States to understand.
I mean, there is lots of things these people can testify about, but to go to the thrust of it, I think is to try to figure out what was in Donald Trump's mind. What was his intent on January 6 and before? What did he want to have happen? How was he directing people? Was he taking instruction on trying to quell the insurrection as he was being advised to do and refused to do for a number of hours?
All of that, that the testimony of these people if they end up getting it is going to paint, I think, a very, very concrete picture of the mind of Donald Trump on January 6 in the days leading up to it.
LEMON: Preet, the Justice Department still hasn't made a decision on whether prosecutors are going to pursue their criminal contempt charges against Steve Bannon. Why is this taking so long? What is taking Merrick Garland so long? Could he be doing more right now? Or should he be?
BHARARA: So, you know, I don't -- I don't know. You know, I have said it's not a very difficult analysis. It's not a complicated financial transaction case. You don't need a thousand e-mails to subpoena from Google, but, you know, I trust and respect the current attorney general. It hasn't been that many days.
I know there was a case from the early 80s when it took nine days from the time the referral was made until an indictment was brought against an individual who defied a subpoena. It hasn't been that long. I suspect it will be a decision fairly soon. I think you need to take care. And if there are wrinkles or other legal hurdles, they want to make sure that they have every t crossed and I dotted. I don't think it will be long before we know, but I understand people's impatience.
LEMON: All right. Preet, Preet, thank you so much for helping us out with the breaking news. I really appreciate it.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you.
BHARARA: Absolutely. Sure, Don.
LEMON: We've got more to come on our breaking news. A federal judge denying the former president's attempt to withhold records from the January 6 committee.
LEMON (on camera): So here is our breaking news tonight. A major legal victory for the January 6 committee and a big loss for the former president. A federal judge ruling tonight the committee can have access to Trump administration records relating to the insurrection. Records he has been fighting to block by claiming executive privilege.
I want to bring in now CNN political commentators, with an s, Scott Jennings and Charlie Dent.
Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us here on the breaking news.
I'm interested to hear what you have to say. Charlie, I'm going start with you. Because it's a huge -- this is a huge judgment against the former president. What do you think it means for getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Don, the court made clear that a current president can assert privilege, not a former president. And the current president chose not to assert privilege. So that means now that these documents will have to be released from the National Archives to the select committee investigating January 6.
So, it seems to me unless president -- former President Trump is able to get an appeals court to reverse this judge's ruling, it seems that the committee is going to be able to move forward with all the investigations, the phone records and all the other documents they need to get to the bottom of what the president knew and what he did on that day, who he contacted. So I think this is a very big win for the people of this country who
want to get to the bottom of events of January 6. So, this is a good day.
LEMON: Scott, I want to get your take on this, because as Charlie mentioned, it looks like all of these documents requested by the committee have been approved, and this could have implications for people besides Trump, and it includes White House visitor and call logs that are available that -- or that are unavailable I should say elsewhere.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's potentially a big deal. As Charlie said, I assume Trump is going to appeal, and we'll see if appeals court will step in here. I assume this is all going to be decided by the Supreme Court --
LEMON: He already said he is going to appeal, Scott.
JENNINGS: Yes, so we'll see how quickly that moves. And Republicans I think who support the president's position on this are hoping that this drags out long enough for Republicans to win the House, disband the committee and quash this entire matter.
I'm sympathetic to the congressional subpoenas here, because after all, the matter at hand was an attack on the Congress itself. So, it's obviously in the public interest, at least as it relates to the Congress to get to the bottom of it.
I'm also sympathetic to Trump's use of the courts to try to assert his privilege. But as a conservative I have traditionally adhered to the unitary executive theory where all the power of the executive branch is vested in the sitting president of the United States, which Donald Trump is not.
And so, in this particular case, Joe Biden as the sitting executive has that power. He obviously decided to waive privilege. Now that's his right to do that, and he may ultimately prevail here, siding with the Democrats in Congress.
The political price to be paid would be in a few years, if there is a Republican president and a Republican Congress and they want the get into some of Joe Biden's decisions, you could see reciprocal action here.
So, he may have weakened executive privilege in the short-term, which could come back to bite him later, but they may decide it's worth the risk to do that now to get to the bottom of January 6.
LEMON: I mean, if Joe Biden was accused of taking part of inciting an insurrection, wouldn't you want the president who was in office if he happened not to be in office anymore to decide who --
JENNINGS: Well, where this --
LEMON: -- whether records get to go out?
JENNINGS: Well, where this would most likely manifest itself? Well, where this should most likely manifest itself today would be if Republicans say, wanted to investigate internal investigations regarding his decisions on Afghanistan. And the Republic -- typically national security is very privileged stuff. And a Republican president said fine, we'll waive it. We'll let you look at the records on Afghanistan.
So that's an example of how this could be used against Biden in the future. But in the short-run, you know, it's really his power. The power sits in my opinion with the sitting executive, which Biden is. So, he exercised the power that's available to him.
LEMON: What do you -- Charlie, I know you want to get in?
DENT: Don, the only thing I would really want to add here, I think Scott is correct being concerned about precedent being set. But what we're investigating here is a crime. It was a massive crime committed that day. The capitol was breached. People entered in a nonauthorized way.
So, you know, the national security argument I understand, but we're not talking about -- we're talking about whether Donald Trump was a criminal act, multiple criminal acts by his supporters. And of course, an attack on article 2, the presidency on article I, the Congress.
So, I think that's what distinguishes this from what might be a future assertion of privilege by a future president against a former president.
JENNINGS: One thing to add to that, Don, I think Charlie makes an interesting point. And I would just add one other layer, which is it is clear to me that you could make a credible argument that in and around January the 6th, Donald Trump violated his oath of office, his constitutional oath of office.
And therefore, a judge, judges, an appeals court, any set of judges could clearly say it's serious enough when a president may have violated their oath of office for us to waive, you know, these executive privilege issues which by the way are largely undefined any way. You know, just a few court rulings on it out there over the years.
So, you know, whether Donald Trump committed crimes, I don't know. I do know he has took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and you can make a strong argument he failed that test on January the 6th, which puts him I think in a precarious spot arguing about this in front of a court.
LEMON: Charlie, bottom line. I'll give you the last word. DENT: Yes, bottom line is major crimes were committed on that day.
Part of the reason why we're having an investigation do begin with to see if the president of the United States, the former president in any way did anything to help facilitate those criminal acts.
That's what they are trying to find out. This is an extraordinary, unique situation. I think the court was right to rule against Donald Trump on his assertion of privilege.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.
DENT: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: So more breaking news, right on the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The league fining both him and the team for not following COVID protocols.
LEMON (on camera): Breaking news tonight. The NFL fining the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers after a review of their handling of COVID protocols. A league spokesperson confirming that the Packers have been fined $300,000, and Aaron Rodgers hit with a fine of close to $15,000 for attending a Halloween party while unvaccinated.
Earlier today, Rodgers weighing in for the first time since he blamed a, quote, "woke mob and cancel culture" for the backlash that he is facing, now striking a less combative tone in another appearance on the Pat McAfee show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK: I made some comments that people may have felt were misleading. To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments.
Hate is not going bring us out of this pandemic. It's going to be connecting and love. I'm not going to hate on anybody that has said things about me. I'm an athlete. I'm not an activist. So, I'm going to get back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): OK. Let's discuss this now with Denise White. She is the CEO of EAG Sports Management. Denise, thank you. I mean, hate and for those who felt that they were misled, he misled people. He misled people. He lied.
DENISE WHITE, CEO, EAG SPORTS MANAGEMENT: Yes, he did. I don't know if I would call it misled. He lied to people.
LEMON: He lied.
WHITE: And there is a difference, right? Yes.
WHITE: There is a big difference. And when you're a public figure like Aaron, it's time to -- I was hopeful when he came on again today and he would just -- you know, I always tell clients die on the sword. Just go out and say look, I'm so sorry.
As a man, I'm going take responsibility for my actions. And because I lied, I want you to all to know I'm incredibly apologetic for it. All I can do is do better next time and prove to you that I'm not the person that lied to all of you.
And there is a way to go about it where people will begin to forgive you. But because he's perpetrating and continuing it and not accepting full responsibility for it, he's got very incredible chosen words with misled and I apologize for misleading you. But it's really, I apologize for lying to you. It's what he should think.
LEMON: He said if you felt. He just said if you felt.
LEMON: He's not even saying he misled people. He thinks that people felt that he misled. No, he lied.
LEMON: They asked if he is vaccinated. And he didn't say I'm not vaccinated but I am, what he say, immunized. He didn't. When he answered that question and he lied.
So, listen, Rodgers and then another Green Bay player, they're going to be fined about $15,000. Almost $15,000 for going to a party while unvaccinated. But I mean, is that even a slap on the wrist for someone --
WHITE: It's not --
LEMON: -- who is such a big star?
WHITE: It's not comparably to the salary. In the NFL, there is this thing called conduct detrimental, and we had an athlete years ago that got in trouble for mouthing off to a general manager of a team. And he was suspended for games.
And in my eyes, this is absolute conduct detrimental. When you put your teammates in jeopardy, you put workers at the facility in jeopardy, other people in jeopardy, and really at this point, it's this what they have done to him is absolutely give him a slap on the wrist. I'm not sure what Aaron makes per game. But if he lost a game because
of conduct detrimental would be much bigger of a fine than this $15,000 for going into a Halloween party. So, I think the NFL absolutely has some thinking to do when it comes to giving the teams the protocols for COVID and making sure that some players are not getting leniency versus others. Because that's absolutely what's happening.
LEMON: Just real quick, do you think that -- so you think that more is coming, like more consequences are coming?
WHITE: I don't know if more consequences are coming, but I think the NFL is quick to change. And when they see something that doesn't necessarily pan out or make sense, they're quick to change it and make it better. I do see that.
So, I think that there will be more change within the NFL, placing different type of restrictions with the teams in place. The only problem with that, though, is they have to go through the players association, and the players association has to agree to those stipulations or those consequences.
So, you've got, you know, one hand washing the other, and then you've got a service the owners and the NFL players association has to be happy. And ultimately the players have to be happy. So, there are some hoops that are going to have to be jumped through. But I do think that change is coming down the line because of this.
LEMON: Well, it's also too -- I mean, we're not talking about the people who, you know, they are trying to save Aaron Rodgers every weekend on the field, right, to get him from being hurt.
WHITE: Of course.
LEMON: And he potentially hurt them. I don't really know how you recover from that. And also, he is a liar. And you know, --
LEMON: -- that chips away at credibility. Kyrie Irving isn't in the NFL, but his vaccine status in the NBA has been heavily covered. He is not playing right now because he is not vaccinated, while Rodgers could be back this Sunday. Different leagues, but it sure feels like a double standard to me, Denise.
WHITE: It's a double standard. Let me tell you, the quarterback is always the leader of the team. When you have a big offensive line that protects the quarterback, if I'm that quarterback and I blatantly lied to the people that protect me every Sunday, I'm going to be concerned and I'm going to be incredibly apologetic to those people, because now you've put them in jeopardy as well. But there is a double standard here. And I'm not too sure how we get over that double standard because it's incredibly obvious.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. I appreciate it, Denise. Good to see you.
WHITE: Good to see you too, Don.
LEMON: Yes. Be well.
WHITE: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: This is why that whole narrative about woke, right, and cancel culture, it undermines people. Yes, this is woke and cancel culture coming -- because then you have people like Aaron Rodgers who use it when it doesn't even apply to them, when they flat-out did something wrong and should be saying I'm sorry for misleading people, instead blaming other people. It's just ridiculous.
OK. So Republican Paul Gosar posting an anime video showing him attacking President Biden, appearing to kill Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Stay with us.
LEMON (on camera): Take this. What is happening in this country when a sitting United States congressman tweets a moronic anime video, I said moronic, showing him flying around like some kind of superhero, appearing to kill a colleague and attacking the president of the United States.
Well, that is exactly what Paul Gosar did. And I don't want to give this any extra oxygen, so I will describe it, only describe it. Gosar as a cartoon hero attacking a giant with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's face with a sword. Gosar flying through the air, swinging two swords at a character with President Biden's face.
And tonight, the want-to-be anime hero congressman says the video was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone portrayed in the anime. The video is truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy. Right.
Imagine what would happen if you did something like that to a colleague. You'd lose your job, but not Congressman Gosar. What do you expect from someone who defended the bloodthirsty Trump supporting rioters at the capitol?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters. As a result, the DOJ is harassing, harassing peaceful patriots across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting, and I quote, "a creepy member I work with shared a fantasy video of him killing me. And going to say, "he'll face no consequences from Kevin McCarthy," who no surprise hasn't returned calls from CNN.
What has happened to this country? And the leaders, especially in one party, and that's the Republican Party?
The current president of the United States, a duly elected one Joe Biden in a grassroots town hall tonight with Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I'm hoping Jaime, that we can get back to a place where there is more civility in politics. I really mean it. And I've never seen it this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It's not just political opponents threatening each other. It's not just politicians punishing their own party for voting their conscience. It seems like it's everywhere in American life. People are erupting in violence on planes. They're yelling about masks in school.
How do we get over this fever of division and anger and lies? How do we get back to the center where the majority of the country is right now? Majority of Americans are not on the extremes.
So, remember when the supposedly the gold standard of Republicans when Ronald Reagan talked about America as a shining city on the hill? That shining city doesn't exist for today's Republican Party, still in the grip of a disgraced twice impeached one-term former insurrection- inciting president.
Republican leadership keeping mum on Paul Gosar, but his siblings, they sure aren't. The congressman's brother joins me next.
LEMON (on camera): Republican Congressman Paul Gosar facing blowback after posting a disturbing anime video on social media that appears to depict him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.
Gosar saying in a statement tonight, "I do not espouse violence or harm toward any member of Congress or Mr. Biden. The video depicts the fight taking place next -- next week on the House floor and symbolizes the battle for the soul of America."
OK. But he doesn't actually apologize for the post. So, what has happened? I won't even say civility. It's just beyond that. What is happening to America and our lawmakers? Especially within the last five years or so.
Joining me now to discuss, David Gosar, the brother of Congressman Paul Gosar. David, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. DAVID GOSAR, CONGRESSMAN PAUL GOSAR'S BROTHER: Thank you, Don, for
having me on tonight.
LEMON: Yes. Just initially right off, what do you think of this?
GOSAR: Well, to answer your question, I think it's fairly obvious what's happened to this country. That's 30 years of relentless propaganda from Fox News and right-wing radio. You know, adding on now Facebook. And you know, the more outrageous you get the more eyeballs you capture, the more ads you sell. That's what's going on right now.
LEMON: Yes. You -- Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is responding to the post calling your brother, and I quote here, "creepy." It would be childish if it wasn't so threatening. Why do you think your brother is doing this? Why did he do this?
GOSAR: Once again, it's no mystery. You know, the Republican Party has become this enormous troll farm. And you know, at the top you have Trumpy troll and he occupies most of the bandwidth. So if you're going to get any attention and you want to raise funds you've got to do outrageous things. And you know, they try different outrageous things and eventually one grabs.
And I can tell you, I mean, I don't know this for certain but I would bet you they're more than happy over in his camp tonight seeing how much play time this has got because it's appealing to this alt right base of his. And in fact, this whole anime attack of the titan thing is an alt right meme, if you didn't know that. It in their mind exhibits anti-Semitic messages which they approve of and also fascist ideology.
So, you know, it's a double message. He's trying to raise funds but he's also trying to, you know, appeal to his base and keep his white supremacy, alt right brand going.
LEMON: I want to thank you again because you just solidified -- I questioned whether or not to actually play the anime tonight, and I decided that it was something that the viewers did not need to see. An explanation was better. Because I would be doing the bidding of your brother and others if I actually put the animation on air. People who want to see it, they're adults, they can go see it. Do you disagree with that?
GOSAR: No, don. But you know, what's alarming, even more so than the violent imagery and, you know, the stress it causes people, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who's been victimized in the past and she's been open about it, very traumatic for her, and revictimized on January 6th, which Paul was one of the key instigators of. You know, in addition to that, you know -- you know, he's -- you know, replaying this message once again, you know, it furthers his purpose.
LEMON: Yes. Amen. So, you and some of your siblings have called for your brother's removal from Congress earlier this year for his defense of the capitol, right -- did you want to say something?
GOSAR: No, no. LEMON: OK. So, he's called them peaceful patriots. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. GOSAR: The truth is being censored and covered up. As a result, the DOJ is harassing -- harassing peaceful patriots across the country.
These are not unruly or dangerous violent criminals. These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Why is there deafening silence from -- you kind of answered this in one of your answers earlier. You said the GOP has become a troll farm. But the GOP -- there's silence from leadership at this outrageous behavior.
GOSAR: Well, again, to reiterate that, you know, this radicalized base. I've heard someone call them -- I really love this term. The MAGA hadin (Ph). And that's who they are. And you know, out here in Wyoming, you know, it's pretty -- it's a pretty red state and so I'm exposed to them all the time.
And you know, the messages they're getting almost exclusively come from Fox News and right-wing radio. And so, this is all these people believe in. You know, so if you're -- if you're, you know, wanting to stand up to them and do the right thing, well, you're going to lose your seat. And apparently, these people holding their position of power is more important than doing what's good for the country or --
LEMON: Let me --
GOSAR: -- you know, weighing some catastrophe in this country.
LEMON: I'm right at the end of there -- because I've got to get to the top of the next hour. Listen, if my sibling did this, and I don't want to insinuate anything, but I would call and say are you OK? Do you ever reach out and try, you guys?
GOSAR: It wouldn't do any good, Don. I mean, the people in Washington are not exposed to these people all the time. I've got to tell you, you cannot reason with them. There's no reasoning. Facts don't matter. Nothing matters to them. They want to believe something, that's the reality.
LEMON: There's no reasoning with your brother?
GOSAR: Not at all. Or any of these people.
LEMON: Yes. GOSAR: Any of the people that vote for these people. There's no reaching them. They're in a cult. Flat out.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Thank you, David. I really appreciate you coming on. And you be well. And your family as well.
GOSAR: All right, thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. So breaking tonight, a judge says the former president can't, cannot exact -- exert executive privilege over documents the January 6th committee wants to see. More on that. Stay with us.