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Don Lemon Tonight

Kyle Rittenhouse Acquitted In All Five Counts; President Biden's Agenda Made It Through The House; GOP Wants To Control Wisconsin Elections; Radio Host On Hunger Strike; China Questioned Over Athletes' Disappearance; Patience Under Pressure. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired November 19, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man. The jury acquitting him on all charges after he fatally shot two protesters and wounded another more than a year ago.

Plus, Republicans in Wisconsin are pushing to take full control of the state's elections. Is there anything that can be done to stop this assault on voting rights?

And a tennis star in China vanished after accusing a top communist party official of sexual assault. Now Chinese star state media releasing what it claims are new images of Peng Shuai, but is it really proof that she is OK? We're going to dig into all of this.

Now, to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. The jury deliberated for more than 25 hours over four days. Here's more of that moment earlier today when the verdict was finally read.


UNKNOWN: As to the first count of the information, Joseph Rosenbaum, we, the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.

As to the second count of the information, Richard McGinnis, we, the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.

As to the third count of the information unknown male, we, the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.

As to the fourth count of the information, Anthony Huber, we, the jury find the defendant Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.

As to the fifth count of the information, Gaige Grosskreutz, we, the jury find the defendant Kyle H. -- Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty.

BRUCE SCHROEDER, JUDGE, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT: Members of the jury, these are your unanimous verdicts. Is there anyone who does not agree with the verdicts as read?


LEMON (on camera): So, joining me now CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman, Jr.

It's so good to see both of you, gentlemen. Thank you so much so much.

So, Elie, let's start with you. Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man. We heard from his defense attorney Mark Richards tonight. Watch this.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Does he think he did anything wrong?


CUOMO: Morally?

RICHARDS: He wishes he didn't have to do it.


LEMON (on camera): You've been saying the prosecution had a very high bar. Why'd they fall short?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Such an interesting answer that we heard right there. He said he hesitated, the lawyer, and he said legally, no. And I think the lesson is there is our jury system does not measure right and wrong. It measures legal or illegal. It measures law and facts.

And the law is really such an important factor here, Don. It is really difficult to convict anyone. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We all know that. That's by design.

Self-defense makes it even harder for prosecutors, and Wisconsin law is particularly favorable to self-defense. Because as you discussed with Chris earlier, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was not legitimate self-defense. So, if the jurors are back there going this is a tough call, this is close call, that's reasonable doubt, that's not guilty.

LEMON: Reasonable doubt -- just before we move on because you reminded me -- do you think that -- do you expect civil charges? Because civil charges is preponderance of the evidence.


LEMON: It's not beyond a reasonable doubt.

HONIG: I do think we'll see civil lawsuits here, which is money damages. And yes, all someone who is suing for money has have to prove by 50.1 percent, that's much lower.

LEMON: Got it. Got it. Charles, so the jury deliberated for more than 25 hours. Are you surprised of an acquittal on everything, on all of it? CHARLES COLEMAN, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I'm not. I think at the

end of the day, Don, this boil down to a tail of competing narratives. Ultimately, this was a question for the jury of did you buy the story of Kyle Rittenhouse as a vigilante, as someone who went to Kenosha wanting to start trouble, as someone who provoked these altercations and then ultimately fired his weapon?

Or did you buy the narrative that the defense was selling was, that he went there to try to help people, to try to put out fires and be this fake EMT, and ultimately, he only did that because he was in defense of his life and he felt that threatened?


And I think ultimately that's really the two narratives that were competing against each other. And the jury at the end of the day made the decision that they just did not buy the provocation.

So, when you saw the video, when you saw the request that the jury made asking for more and more footage or to see the footage over and over again, I think they were really looking at trying to decide was this about provocation or did he really reasonably believe his life was in danger?

LEMON: I haven't heard one person especially analysts say that this is a surprise to them. I've heard just, you know, citizens who watched, people who watched say I just can't believe they didn't -- but you guys have been saying you thought it was going to be what it is.

HONIG: We've been talking about this. I'm not surprised.


HONIG: But I don't think -- I don't think Charles is either from talking with them. And Charles hits on such an important point here, which is provocation.


HONIG: Provocation was a key part of the prosecution's argument. Because if they could prove that Kyle Rittenhouse provoked this attack then he can't argue self-defense. But the thing is being out of place is not provocation. Being an idiot is not provocation. Even looking for trouble generally is not provocation.

The law says you have to pick out a person, say I want to get that person to attack me so that I can kill or maim that person. And things like being out after curfew and coming maybe from another -- well, he's lived in another state. He was there in Kenosha because he knew family and friends. And driving without a license and not being a full EMT, that is not legal provocation.

COLEMAN: You know, Don, and Elie can verify this. When you are doing a trial, at the beginning of the trial you never know how things are going to unfold. You have your facts. You have your witnesses. You expect them to go on the stand and say certain things, but at the end of the day you don't know how judges are going to rule on evidence. You don't know how things are going to play out with respect to the jury.

And so, at the end of the day it can be somewhat of a crapshoot. I think that as this case went on with respect to how the judge was ruling, with respect to how their witnesses were in some cases helping them but, in many cases, hurting them. With respect to Kyle Rittenhouse taking the stand and actually doing a fairly good job as a witness in his own self-defense, the prosecution's case began to slip away from them gradually over and over again. And that's how we ended up with the verdict that we have.

LEMON: Well, you heard his attorney say earlier in the press conference right after the verdict he said, look, we did mock trials. And we put him -- one with him on and one with him not on, and I mean it was vastly different. And they said they had no other choice but to have him testify.

He's appearing on a promotional trailer for a Tucker Carlson program. Take a look.


KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: The jury reached the correct verdict. Self-defense is not illegal. And I believe they came to the correct verdict, and I'm glad that everything went well, and it's been a rough journey but we made it through it.


LEMON (on camera): Why on earth would he do that?

COLEMAN: Don, I think it's important we understand something. From the moment that Kyle Rittenhouse pulled that trigger we were going to be in a very difficult space as a country, and I'm not even talking about legally. If he was convicted, he was going to become a symbol to the right, a martyr, a symbol for gun enthusiasts. He was going to become that martyr and that fighting person for them.

If he's acquitted, now he becomes a hero. He's now been basically stamped at this hero for the right, and this is just the beginning. We're going to see more of this.

LEMON: His attorney said that he did not approve that. That's what he told Chris.


CUOMO: Word that you guys had a film crew embedded with you from Fox News from Tucker Carlson.

RICHARDS: I didn't --


CUOMO: I want to know why -- why that decision was made.

RICHARDS: I did not approve of that. I threw them out of the room several times. They were -- and I'm not suggesting that Fox or some other network. I don't think a film crew is appropriate for something like this. But the people who were raising the money to pay for the experts and to pay for the attorneys were trying to raise money, and that was part of it.


HONIG (on camera): So, Don, he's right strategically. It is lunacy from a strategic point of view to have a film crew following around your client. But I have to note the hypocrisy here because that defense lawyer is the same one who stood up in closing arguments and pointed at the prosecutors and said this is a political case, this is a political prosecution. That's a completely inappropriate argument. I can't believe he wasn't reprimanded.


LEMON: He said it was --

HONIG: He said that to the jury in closing.

LEMON: But the judge said -- didn't the judge reprimand the prosecution for saying that -- he said this was not about politics?

HONIG: Earlier on. Right.

LEMON: Early. OK.

HONIG: Yes. And for him to stand up in front of the jury and make an inappropriate argument that this is political, and at the same time to be, you know, rightly castigating Tucker Carlson for what he's doing is hard to square.

LEMON: Charles?

COLEMAN: You know, I think when I look at this case and how it played out, quite frankly, one of the most disappointing things of this is that, from now on the legacy of Jacob Blake will always be overshadowed by Kyle Rittenhouse in this case.


This case happened because an innocent black man got into an altercation with police and was shot. And that story, the closure that that family will never receive will forever be linked to this case and this acquittal. And I think that of anything that has not been discussed and not been explored that perhaps is the biggest tragedy that we're looking at.

That's not to discount the live that were lost and the person who was injured. But it is to say that there's an important larger conversation that's not being had around how we even got here. And it's a shame that I think that going forward a lot of people are going to miss that point.

LEMON: Charles, thank you. Elie, thank you. I appreciate it.

I want to turn now to Alvin Owens, he is a community activist in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mr. Owens, good to see you. Thank you for joining us this evening.


LEMON: I appreciate it. So you are a community activist and a business owner. You helped to organize protests in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting. What was your reaction today's verdict and then what are you hearing from others in Kenosha tonight?

OWENS: Well, first, I'm active in my community. I don't know if I carry the full title of activist but I'm very active in my community, Don. What I make of it? I really didn't. It was par for the course with this verdict. Many -- well, within my direct community, the African-American community of Kenosha, many of us were at a funeral of one of our very own, Maurkice Wallace, Jr., (Ph) who was gunned down last week due to gun violence.

So, we were there today when the verdict happened was during the service of the funeral. So, we literally were just -- we're still mourning from that. And so, when we got the news, it was, OK, this is -- this is America. Reference to Childish Gambino, but many of our leading activists (Inaudible) and Johnson here with me, Kyle Johnson, I'm sorry -- who's over black and leaders of Kenosha.

Black is -- black leaders organizing for communities, they are the ones who have been really, just making sure that the community comes together. There's different ways to protest. And what they've been doing is having community conversations and poetry and song and dance for healing -- all focus on healing Kenosha.

They've been outside of my shop for a week. And so, they've been doing nonviolent protesting in that way. I think people -- I don't know why the media or social media was expecting this big, you know, to-do --


LEMON: I feel you. Let me ask you a couple of things here.

OWENS: Sure.

LEMON: Because you've said the fact that there was a trial here but not a trial in the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Now, listen, you said that is unfair. I think it's important to point out that police and the evidence does show that there was a weapon, right? And that police say they shot him because he was going for a weapon. But you say that's evidence -- not that part, but evidence of what happened in the trial of an unjust, unfair system. Talk to me about that.

OWENS: Explain that again, Don. You're saying --

LEMON: You said that the fact that there was a trial here but not a trial in the police shooting of Jacob Blake, that it was evidence of an unjust, unfair system.

OWENS: Yes. I -- well, my quote was in some of the articles was that I don't have faith in the systems. It isn't just with that system. It's with a few systems here. And so, you know, I just have to retreat back to what the sense and feeling is of what our city is going through. Everybody is talking but all of us in Kenosha on different sides of the aisle kind of not surprised that this verdict came out to what it came out to be.

LEMON: Alvin, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us.


LEMON: Be well. I see your Christmas tree back there in the background as well reminding us.


OWENS: We are --

LEMON: OK, thank you. I appreciate you joining us.

So, applause breaks out on the House floor today as Nancy Pelosi brings down the gavel to pass President Biden's ambitious spending bill, better known as the Build Back Better Act. The bill is now on its way to the Senate where it faces a new set of obstacles.

So, joining me now CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. There's the applause, John. You hear them. Good evening to you.


One point nine trillion spending bill finally passing the House. It's been a huge effort for Democrats. This bill includes everything from universal pre-K to paid family leave to climate change measures. A long road ahead, but how is the White House feeling tonight, you think?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're feeling great tonight, Don, and for good reason. They're doing very large things in the pair of bills that have moved. The infrastructure bill, which has already become law, $1.2 trillion of investment, broadband, roads, bridges.

And now the Build Back Better plan, which includes substantial investments to combat climate change, efforts to subsidize health insurance for people, child care, expand universal pre-K. There's money for housing in this bill. There's an extension of child tax credits.

There's a whole lot of spending in this bill going to make a significant difference in people's lives. And these things are not easy to do. That's why they don't get done very often. And so, the Biden team has got a very good reason to feel good. Not to mention the fact that completely unrelated, crude oil prices fell to a six-week low today. So, you had a combination of things. The Biden White House has been battered by high gas prices. So, I

think they're feeling like a little bit of tide turning in their direction right now.

LEMON: This goes to the Senate next where it could hit all kinds of roadblocks. Senator Joe Manchin, you know, signaling that he's not onboard with how it is now. What is President Biden doing to ensure the bill gets through in a way that everybody is satisfied here? Because he's got to deal with the progressives in his party, and he's got to deal with Joe Manchin as well.

HARWOOD: Don, he's done a lot already, intensive diplomacy with both Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. And I think the obstacles to enactment of this bill are not as great as they're sometimes described. Most of this bill has been agreed to already.

There are going to be changes in the Senate. It is likely that Manchin will insist on, for example, the paid leave provisions coming out of this bill. But in a very substantial form resembling what passed the House today, I think it's highly likely that passes the Senate.

Both Democratic leaders in the Senate and White House officials are confident that they've got those 50 votes prepared to go. That doesn't mean there won't be some skirmishing at the end and some back and forth. Anytime you've got zero margin for error, they need all 50 senators plus Vice President Harris' vote to pass this thing.

Any single person can hold it up. But I think the expectation is that Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, the two most obvious hold outs are not going to hold it up for all that much, and this is likely to pass either before Christmas or soon after that.

LEMON: All right, we shall see. John Harwood, thank you sir. I appreciate you joining us.

HARWOOD: You bet.

LEMON: So, the latest front in the battle for voting rights. Wisconsin, where the GOP is pushing to take over the state's elections, is there anything anyone can do to stop it?

Plus, the man on a hunger strike for voting rights, Joe Madison, joins me.


JOE MADISON, HOST, SIRUS XM: I hope that each senator will reflect on how much we have to lose if our voting rights aren't protected.




LEMON (on camera): So, the Wisconsin GOP is waging an all-out attack on the state's bipartisan election commission. Senator Ron Johnson is publicly urging Republicans who control the state legislature to take over the running of federal elections in the state.

The Republican sheriff is even calling for five members of the state's six-member election commission to be charged with felonies because they waived a requirement to send poll workers into nursing homes during the pandemic.

Joining me now one of the Democrats on Wisconsin's bipartisan election commission, Mark Thompsen.

Mark, this is fascinating and I've been wanting to have you on to talk about this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for doing it. Republicans in your state want to dismantle the bipartisan election commission and -- commission and put you and your colleagues in jail over trying to help the elderly vote in 2020 during a pandemic. What is going on here?

MARK THOMPSEN, MEMBER, WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION: Well, thank you very much for focusing on what is happening in this battleground state. This is absolutely surprising and remarkably out of the blue.

In March of 2020 our commission, three Democrats, three Republicans, were faced with holding an election in the middle of a pandemic. CMS locked down all the nursing homes. We had tens of thousands of older folks that were going to be disenfranchised unless we came up with a creative way to administer the law fairly and accurately.

There was a provision for certain nursing homes that special voting deputies are supposed to go two times, and if they can't make it to the voter, then the clerks, local clerks could send absentee ballots. Well, these folks couldn't get there. It was impossible per the rules. There was no way that anybody could make anybody go into the nursing homes. It would have spread the disease. We all knew that nursing home folks were at highest risk of dying and getting ill.

In a six-zero vote we decided that the best thing to do was to issue guidance to allow all the local clerks 1,850 municipal clerks, 72 county clerks to get absentee ballots out to elderly folks so they could vote.


No one said anything in 2020. President Trump didn't challenge it. We were sued many, many times. And now recently after calls for commissioners to resign there's an accusation that somehow, we broke the law.


THOMPSEN: It is a very, very serious attempt to grab hold of the infrastructure of elections in the state of Wisconsin.

LEMON: Is there anything -- is there anything the governor or anyone else can do if the state legislature claims authority over Wisconsin's election system, Mark? THOMPSEN: The -- I don't think -- yes, there is a consensus amongst

the Republicans to adapt Senator Johnson's assertion. That is a bold, broad, broad attack on state law. No law in the state allows elections to be held that way. Right now elections are held -- run by municipalities, the election commission. We oversee it. All the municipal clerks count the ballots.

In 2016, President Trump won the election by the same rules. Twenty- twenty, President Biden won the election by the same rules. And to adopt Senator Johnson's attack would be a complete unlawful act, unheard of. It really is astounding. It's astounding.

LEMON: You know, Wisconsin is a key swing state. Are you worried about the integrity of elections in Wisconsin, in your state going forward?

THOMPSEN: You know, the -- what we learned, you know, in 2016 I was the chair of the commission, and we declared to the world, you know, there was a recount. We declared to the world that the recount would show that President Trump won. It was fair. It was accurate. And we did.

Twenty-twenty the recounts in a couple of areas, challenges all through the courts. Every court, Wisconsin Supreme Court, federal courts said that the election was fair. And President Biden won this one. The clerks have run fair, honest elections. We spent tons of federal money. We disperse it around the state to make it secure.

I mean, you remember in 2016 we were worried about Russian hackers. I mean, so we boosted up the facility. We have dedicated municipal clerks, Republicans, independents, Democrats -- dedicated to elections. And it is that institution that is under attack.

I've got great confidence that the people that run the elections are honest, hardworking, dedicated to democracy. But we have never faced this kind of attack on the integrity of our day to day voting structure.


THOMPSEN: Never before. And so much pressure put on people that volunteer.

LEMON: Well, we appreciate you coming on and bringing light to this. And we'll continue to cover these stories. It's really -- it's just unbelievable that these things are happening. Unfathomable, but here we are. Thank you, Mark Thompsen, you be well. I appreciate it. Keep up the fight.

THOMPSEN: Keep us in your prayers.

LEMON: Thank you very much. And we will.

Republicans' intent on undermining voting rights all across this country. Pressure mounting on Democrats to do something about it. My next guest radio host Joe Madison is on a hunger strike until Congress takes action.



LEMON (on camera): A key part of President Biden's economic agenda moving forward today. But when it comes to preserving voting rights Democrats and the Biden administration have failed to act. Now my next guest is on a hunger strike, refusing to eat until Congress passes a voting rights bill.

So, joining me now Sirius XM radio host, Joe Madison. Joe, hello. How you holding up?


LEMON: It's day 12, by the way.

MADISON: It's been -- you know, it's had its challenges, but after that last interview you just did, I'm more convinced as I imagine those of us who have been involved in demonstrations and pickets and arrests are now -- we're emboldened to get the United States Senate when they get back from their Thanksgiving recess to put this on the front burner.

I was just amazed what was going on in Wisconsin. You know, if this were -- if this were the '18 -- the late 1800s we'd call it Jim Crow. But it's the 21st century. It's James Crow esquire. I mean, it's unimaginable how you would keep older people, probably the most loyal voters in our democracy from voting, and the two bills that the Senate is considering would prevent that from happening.

Johnson -- Senator Johnson would be checked. And that's why, you know, I'm doing what I'm doing, and I can -- so my spirits are high. There's some physical challenges, but there's been so many people that have said what can I do.

And that's what I'm hoping that the senators upon their Thanksgiving recess while they're reflecting on the abundance of this country, that they'll reflect on what will happen if our voting rights aren't protected. And I hope that they can get this done as Senator Schumer --


LEMON: Are you --

MADISON: -- stated in a letter that he would do.


LEMON: Are you going to, you know, -- Democrats feeling hopeful. You said you're hopeful. So, we'll see what happens, but I mean, this is -- this is day 12. We have to get through the Thanksgiving holidays next week. Are you -- what are you going to do? Everyone is going to be around you eating. Everyone is -- family is going to be together. You going to stick to this?

MADISON: Don -- yes, I'm definitely going to stick to it. There's no question about that. I mean, look, I've said it and I'll say it again. Just as food is essential for the existence of life, voting is essential for the existence of democracy. I don't need Thanksgiving to remind me that food is always around me.

Look, we have to -- we have to sacrifice. If that's what it's going to take to get the Senate's attention and get the 50 votes at least from the Democrats, then that's what we'll have to do. You know, I should remind people I think when Ronald Reagan was president the Voting Rights Act was up for extension, and 98 senators out of 100 voted to protect our voting rights.

Now, I don't know what has happened to the Republican Party between now and then, but you would think that they would understand that you're not just protecting the rights of Democratic voters. You're protecting the rights of all voters. I mean, in that nursing home that you talked about that was mentioned, you don't know whether they're Republicans or Democrats.


MADISON: So, all these two bills that are up for consideration do is that they -- they prevent states from imposing voter suppression laws.

LEMON: Ok. Listen, I understand. Do you think --

MADISON: That's what they do.

LEMON: Do you think these lawmakers understand -- because you said it's not just Republicans or Democrats. It's not just Democrats who are protecting the voting rights. Republicans, independents, libertarians, everybody. Do you think that these lawmakers understand now just how much there is to lose if voting rights aren't protected?

MADISON: Let me tell you something. If they don't understand, let me tell them to reflect on this. And that is you could lose our democracy. Let me explain to them that as it was explained to me by retired General Clapper.

Our adversaries, primarily China and the Russians, are hoping that these -- that these two bills don't pass. They would love to see the collapse of our votes not being protected. That's what separates us from them. Now, if I can understand it. I would imagine that there should be 100 senators that understand that.

LEMON: Well, Joe, it has been -- as I said it's day 12. Joe Madison is on a hunger strike until they -- until they pass voting rights. I'm worried about you. You know I check in on you from time to time. And it seems like it's going to be a while before this happens. And you're going to go at least another week because they are going to be on the Thanksgiving vacation. You take care of yourself, Joe.

MADISON: If I have to go another month or two months -- and I appreciate your concern. And remember, everybody can do something, and I think this is the time for the senators to reflect on how significant it is to get one of these two bills passed.

LEMON: Keep me updated. Take care of yourself. I don't really know what else to say. You're very brave, very strong guy for doing this. Joe Madison. Joe, as much as possible have a happy Thanksgiving. OK?

MADISON: And the same to you and your family.

LEMON: Thank you. Missing for more than two weeks. Now China is facing all kinds of international pressure to cough up proof of a tennis star's whereabouts.



LEMON (on camera): China facing increasing pressure as the international community demands proof of the whereabouts of the missing tennis star Peng Shuai. She hasn't been seen publicly in more than two weeks after she accused the former vice premiere of coercing her into sex at his home.

Now her claim raises from Chinese social media within 30 minutes. Now Chinese state media today releasing what it says are new pictures of Peng, but CNN has no way of knowing whether she posted these or when they were taken.

The Women's Tennis organization is threatening to pull out of China entirely unless it's given assurances that Peng is OK.

So, joining me now CNN correspondent Will Ripley who is live out of Taipei. Will, this is, I mean, very bizarre story. The W -- hello to you. The WTA is coming out strong making bold statement that we normally haven't seen from companies and organizations that do business in China. What are they saying?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're saying something, Don, that the NBA didn't say, that the IOC is not saying just weeks ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Despite the fact that Peng Shuai is a three-time Olympian. They're standing up for one of their stars, Peng Shuai is a Grand Slam doubles champion. And they don't believe that after posting that detailed allegation of essentially being sexually assaulted by a powerful, influential former party leader, that she would then retract all the allegations and send this e-mail to the WTA and say everything is fine, I'm good, I'm resting at home.

They don't believe that these pictures with the caption happy weekend, you know, ignoring the huge controversy and fire storm. They don't believe that she's willingly sitting silently right now. And so, Steve Simon told Erin Burnett that if they don't get an explanation and an investigation, they'll put out of China, which could cost them a billion dollars. Listen to this.


STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: There's too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this that we let business, politics, money dictate what's right and what's wrong.



RIPLEY (on camera): Not many companies would walk away, Don, from a lucrative 10-year deal to stand up for a star tennis player who accused someone in the country where she lives, a powerful official of sexual assault. So, they're getting a lot of praise around the world, but there's certainly a huge financial risk here as well.

LEMON: Yes, this isn't the first time that we have seen China shutdown prominent voices. We saw this recently with billionaire Jack Ma. But why does -- why does this keep happening? Does China feel like that they won't have any real repercussions?

RIPLEY: You have a bunch of powerful men running that country, emboldened to use their immense power to censor, to silence, and they have, you know, deliberately at times taken some of the most prominent figures in Chinese society and erased them, canceled them, erased them from the internet, pulled their programs from streaming services for various reasons. Reasons that are still nebulous to this day.

I think we have a full screen with a few examples. You mentioned Jack Ma, China's billionaire, most well-known, most prominent entrepreneur who sources say basically got a little too public. He criticized Chinese regulators publicly in October and was gone from public view for three months. He didn't even appear on the last episodes at the finale of his own reality show. His fortune has been slashed because regulators have gone after his company. They had to pay huge fines.

Fan Bingbing, another example, most famous actress in China. Imagine the most famous actress in Hollywood right now, that's Fan Bingbing. She was deleted from the internet. She disappeared for, what was it, it was months and months, three months as well, and then she ended up getting $130 million fine for taxes and penalties.

There's billionaires that have taken from hotels in Hong Kong. That was the other example on the screen there, Don, and still haven't reappeared in years. And this is the kind of thing that can happen. The question is, will Peng Shuai's case be different? Wil it be different because of the fact that there is now like we haven't seen before real global pressure.

LEMON: Will Ripley, we'll be following it. Will, thank you. Again, a fascinating story going on, and Will Ripley reporting there. Thanks.

We'll be right back, everyone.



LEMON (on camera): It was 2018, barely two years into the Trump presidency and she hit a wall. Kirsten Powers is here. She is the author of "Saving Grace: Speak Your Truth, Stay Centered, and Learn to Co-exist With People Who Drive You Nuts."

Easy for you to say, Kirsten. Hey, so, what happened? Tell us about this wall you hit and why you -- and what made you write this book.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. I really a couple of years after the 2016 election, I just found myself at a place where I felt angry. Anger is not even a right word. Rage filled, filled with contempt. Hatred at times. I was physically not feeling well. I had chronic fatigue. I was anxious a lot of the time.

And I also realized that a lot of the way I was thinking about a lot of other people, the way I was sometimes behaving, especially on social media wasn't really aligned with my values or who I wanted to be. And I have this sort of intuition at the time that what was missing from our culture was grace and certainly what was missing from me was grace. And I started to really delve into the topic and discovered that there was so much more there than I ever could have imagined.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, and it's -- and you can understand why -- you can -- I can understand your frustration, right, and why you may not have in that moment been giving people the grace that you think or that they deserve, because people were pushing the big lie.


LEMON: Or you know, they were saying the capitol insurrection was just a tourist visit, or they would say that COVID was a hoax. That's not an easy thing to deal with.

POWERS: No. And the thing is, one of the first things that I realized is that there is a real misunderstanding about what grace is. So, people think it means just letting people get away with things.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: But there is a reason I put speak your truth in the title, because, you know, I don't believe that grace means not holding people accountable. I do believe there are consequences for our actions. And I think that you still need to name problems.

There just is a difference between when I'm looking at it through a lens of grace, which is I use the definition of unmerited favor, which is the Christian definition, but this book is really for everybody. It's not a Christian book. But I like that paradigm because it is basically saying no matter what you believe or say or do, you have this basic inherent dignity that I see in you.

If you are a believer maybe you would say that I see God in you. If you are not a believer you might just say I see the humanity in you, and I see that you are more than this and that there is potential for more here. So, I'm not going to demonize you or hold you in contempt.

And what I discovered was the person who really benefitted from that was me. Because when you -- you know, there is a reason MLK said hate is too great a burden to bear. It's because it's a burden that we bear. Right? It's the same thing with contempt. It's the same thing with judging somebody. You can put any word in there basically, any of those words in there. It's the same.

I, you know, could leave the site and be holding somebody in contempt and being very upset or see something on TV and be feeling that or read something and be feeling that. That person is off sleeping like a baby, and I'm at home lying in bed filled with rage, right? So, who's really getting hurt here? And, so, I realize that I needed to make some changes.


LEMON: Yes. It's -- it's better to, I find, leave it on the air, which I have been telling people since I have been in this business. If you have a conversation with someone, a discussion and it becomes heated, leave that on the air, don't take it off the air and, you know, just treat people, as you said, with grace and dignity.

POWERS: I think, Don, honestly, you are a very good model. I mean, there's -- I was watching you earlier talking about the trial, the Rittenhouse trial. And I think that I would say exactly the way you handled it would be how you handled it with grace. You speak truth. You say how it is. You're not demonizing anybody. You are not being over the top. You are giving a context to it. To me, I was like, that's really the model right there.

LEMON: Yes. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Listen, during the pandemic and during George Floyd, whatever, the summer of turmoil, I wrote a book, too. I felt like I had to get it out. You did, too. And I commend you for it. And I appreciate you joining us.

I wrote a blurb for the book, just so you know.


LEMON: So, thanks again, Kirsten Powers.

POWERS: Thank you.


LEMON: The book is called "Saving Grace." "Saving Grace."

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.