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Don Lemon Tonight

Trump Loses Appeals Court Fight To Keep Jan. 6 Documents Secret; Unemployment Claims Hit A 52-Year Low; Daunte Wright's Girlfriend Testifies At Ex-Officer Kim Potter's Manslaughter Trial; Ex-NFL Player Glenn Foster, Jr. Dies In Police Custody; CDC Greenlights Pfizer Vaccine Boosters For 16 And 17-Year-Olds; Signing Off At MSNBC. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Tonight, a major setback for the former president and his move to block the January 6th Committee from getting his White House records. A federal appeals court ruling that Trump has -- quote -- "no legal reason to withhold the documents by claiming executive privilege."

Millions of jobs available in America as unemployment claims hit a 52- year low along with the infrastructure bill, the child tax credit, and COVID relief. Are Democrats convincing Americans of these big economic accomplishments? Senator Elizabeth Warren is with me in just moments.

And searching for answers in Alabama after former NFL player Glenn Foster, Jr., only 31 years old, dies in police custody.

Joining me now, CNN's legal analyst Elie Honig and CNN -- and Kim Wehle, excuse me. She is a former federal prosecutor and the author of "How to Read the Constitution and Why." Good evening.

Elie, I'm going to start with you. The appeals court again echoing this argument that Trump cannot claim executive privilege. That President Biden, the man holding the office, has waived. It is a slap at Trump's fundamental argument. The same one, by the way, that he's always trying to use.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Don. Some legal cases are close calls, could go either way, the law could be interpreted either way. This was not that. This is a complete and total dismantling of Donald Trump's executive privilege argument.

This court of appeals essentially said, the former president claims that as a former president, he can invoke executive privilege, but he never offers us even the beginning of any reason why that is the case. So, this is a complete rejection of the executive privilege argument.

And I should note also, the court goes out of its way to stress the importance of the committee's ongoing investigation of January 6th. They say this isn't just important, but they say essentially it is hard to think of anything more important that Congress could do than investigate January 6th.

LEMON: And Kim, you know, the court also saying that Trump and his legal team failed to back up their argument. And I quote here. This is what they wrote: "Nor has he made even a preliminary showing that the content of any particular document lacks relevance to the committee's investigation. He offers instead only a grab-bag of objections."

That seems emphatic. I mean, this is a legal smackdown. Was there even a real basis for this challenge?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No. I actually picked up on that exact language when I read it, too, the grab-bag argument. Essentially, the judge even suggests that Donald Trump is sort of complaining about witch hunt-type motives. And the court said, listen, you don't have any rationale or justification for what you are being protected against. How would this harm you? Number one.

Number two, the court says -- as Elie suggests, we have two branches of government, the Congress and the presidency, the Article Two president that is Joe Biden, who want this to go to the United States Congress -- and the court is saying it is not our role to upend all of this. And this is at the core of what functioning of the Congress is in something as important as the January 6th insurrection.

So, it is a disaster for the president, but should it be. And really, the question is whether this is going to -- the former president, whether this is going to kick the ball far enough down the field that will get to the midterms without a resolution.

LEMON: Let's talk about the Supreme Court. By the way, a spokeswoman for Trump saying tonight that his suit was always destined for the Supreme Court. Do you think they're going to take it up? Could they expedite it? And another question, if they do, how do you think -- do you think they'll take it up? And if they rule on it, how will they rule and can they expedite it? Three questions. I know it is a lot.

WEHLE: Well, they can actually expedite it. I think because it involves dueling presidents, a former president and the sitting president, and it is critical to the separation of powers and other issues. Executive privilege does not have a lot of law around it. I think they will take it. It would be unlikely that they wouldn't.

But I am not so sure that the court is going to rule in favor of Donald Trump. And I say this because, remember, when Donald Trump tried to float the executive privilege flag to stop his accounting firm, to stop his banks from producing his personal records, not relating to the presidency, even Justice Kavanaugh, the newest justice, conservative justice on the court at that point, said no, executive privilege doesn't go that far.

Honestly, Don, if the court were to waiver or even be split on this issue if they did take it, that is yet one more nail in the coffin of the legitimacy of this U.S. Supreme Court because this should be a slam dunk.

LEMON: Yeah. Elie, court is calling the insurrection a singular event in the nation's history and that Trump's advisers played a key role.


Are the judges saying there may be evidence of the former president's involvement in the insurrection? How did you read that?

HONIG: Yeah, the opinion, Don, goes beyond what it has to say about what the committee is doing here. They could have just said, look, the committee has a legitimate legislative purpose, that's good enough for us. But they spent pages and very strong language saying that January 6th was an attack on our democracy, things we all know. But they go out of their way. They say, this is the most important work that Congress could possibly do.

And I think that language is going to be relevant as we see other legal disputes, whether it is the bogus lawsuit filed by Mark Meadows, other challenges to subpoenas. I think when you see the House, the committee responding to those, they're going to quote from this opinion and say, look how important it is., the D.C. circuit agrees with us that it is imperative that we get to the bottom of this.

LEMON: What effect, Elie, does this ruling have on the claims from Meadows and other Trump allies that they can't testify because of executive privilege?

HONIG: Yeah, it really is, you know, a nail in the coffin, I think, of the Meadows arguments. Meadows already was fighting a very uphill battle when he claims that he is covered by executive privilege. But now, this all but answers the question.

Of course, as Kim was talking about, the big question now is, will the Supreme Court take this case? Donald Trump has this thing he loves to say: I'm taking it to the Supreme Court. He said it with his election challenges. You don't get to take things to the Supreme Court. It is up to the Supreme Court whether they hear it.

I actually think there is a good chance the Supreme Court does not take this. I think -- look, the reasons the Supreme Court takes cases is if there is a circuit split, if different circuits around the country are deciding the issue differently or if it is a close question of law. I don't think this is.

If the Supreme Court says, no, we're out, then this ruling that we got today is final, executive privilege is rejected, and those documents go over to the committee.

LEMON: Even something at this level -- I mean, judges don't usually like to overrule or overturn, right? Am I correct with that? Either one. Who wants to answer? Go ahead, Elie.

WEHLE: Well, appellate judges --

LEMON: Go ahead, Elie.

WEHLE: What I was going to add to Elie's point about the --


WEHLE: Sorry. We're talking over each other.

LEMON: Okay. I'm going to try this again. Elie?

HONIG: Yeah. So, the Supreme Court likes to stay out of messy political dispute. This certainly is that.

LEMON: Right.

HONIG: If the Supreme Court looked at this and said, they got it wrong, they'd be more likely to step in.

LEMON: Yeah.

HONIG: I don't think the Supreme Court is going to look at this and say that.


WEHLE: My response to that, I would have agreed with you prior to the Dobbs case on abortion which -- and the Texas case, settled law for 50 years. No question they didn't need to step in. Also, some of the questions that came up during the voting era. They didn't have to take.

So, I agree with Elie completely that this should not be a case that they would take. I just don't have the confidence in the sort of legitimacy and neutrality and measured approach to politically-charged issues that, in my many years of studying the Supreme Court, I got used to. I just don't think that is our court anymore.

LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Don. Thanks, Kim.

WEHLE: Thank you.

LEMON: I want to bring in now Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. Good evening, senator. Thank you so much for joining.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Thank you for having me. It is good to be with you.

LEMON: Absolutely. Let's talk about this because there is a flurry of developments on the January 6th investigation this week. More interviews, more Trump allies stonewalling, more problems for Trump. How important to our democracy is it to get to the truth of that day?

WARREN: Look, this is an attack on our American democracy that happened on January 6th. And the whole notion that somehow the Republicans think they can stonewall and keep us from going forward and exactly nailing down who did what is just fundamentally wrong. If we don't have real accountability, then these guys know that they can do whatever they want to do, and that means we got to put a stop to it. So, I support what the House is doing, and I to this day look at the folks in the Senate, the Republicans who voted against having any bicameral investigation of this. That was just wrong.

LEMON: Yeah. The next thing I'm going to ask you about -- I know that you're passionate about it. If you watch the show, you know that I am, too. The Senate passing this fast-track plan that would let Democrats raise the debt ceiling. Fourteen Republicans crossed the aisle to allow this to happen. You say this is essentially an exception to the filibuster.


LEMON: So, my question is, why can't Democrats get on board with more filibuster exceptions like for voting rights?

WARREN: Well, that is what I think today sets the precedent for. Look at what happened. The Republicans don't want to be tagged with causing the United States government to default on its debts because that would be catastrophic. But at the same time, for political reasons, they don't want to be tagged with the people who raise the debt ceiling.


So, they pushed this off on the Democrats. We said, wait a minute, this has always been bipartisan. They said no, no, we can't do that. So, the Democrats say, yeah, all right, we'll be the grownups in the room, we'll go ahead and raise the debt ceiling.

But the filibuster, it will take 60 votes to do that. So, the Republicans, Mitch McConnell says -- he has a great idea -- how about a one-time exception to the filibuster? And that is what passed today. So, we're going to be able to do something that ordinarily the filibuster would mean you have to have 60 votes, now only takes 50.

My view is, we do that to raise the debt ceiling, let's do it a second time and get voting rights passed.

LEMON: I think there are few things -- there are few things that are as important as voting rights, senator. So, bills pushing -- let us dig in on this. Bills pushing voter suppression are passing across the country. 'Big lie' supporters are taking state and local election posts. Are Democrats taking the threat against our democracy seriously enough at this moment?

WARREN: Well, let me put it this way. We are taking it seriously enough that we have put together a really strong bill in the United States Senate. It now has the support of every single Democrat. It would protect the right to vote, it would protect the right to get that vote counted, it would end gerrymandering, including gerrymandering that's already been passed in the states, and it would help beat back the influence of dark money. That's the good news.

The problem we've got is the filibuster. So, we've got almost everybody -- LEMON: Filibuster again.

WARREN: That's right. Well, you know me. I'd have gotten rid of the filibuster overall years ago. But right now, it's what's holding us up on the voting rights bill, and we've got almost everybody on board to be able to either change the filibuster overall or create an exception.

But look, this is the most important thing we've got to do. We have got to get voting rights passed through. We are now dealing with a major political party that has decided that the only way they can win is by changing the laws to keep an extremist minority in power regardless of what voters want. And so, we've just got to pass this voting rights bill. We're all working on it.

LEMON: Let's talk about the economy, okay? There is more positive news today. Jobless claims now at the lowest in 52 years. That after some relief at the gas pump. Think about this. This is coming out of, you know, COVID. We still -- and out of quarantine, right, where the country was shut down. But inflation still is high, senator.

What are Democrats doing to get this under control because a lot of Americans are worried about inflation?

WARREN: Well, I understand that. And look, there are a lot of different factors at play here right now. We came out of COVID, the economy came out of COVID faster than anyone had anticipated. Consumers changed some of their buying habits and travel habits and that changed the demand side. We've had kinks in the supply chain.

Another part that nobody is talking about much, and that is how decades of concentration in industry after industry, growing monopoly power has put many, many companies in the position of being able to just price gouge, to use the fact that everybody is talking about inflation, as a chance to drive prices up even more.

So, you talk about price at the pump and obviously we're all concerned about price at the pump, but do keep in mind here that this is a time now when gasoline suppliers have not just kept their profit margins the same and are passing along costs. Instead, they've used it as a chance to expand their profit margins. In other words, price gouging. It is happening in the poultry industry. It is happening online.

That is part of a long-term problem of giant corporations calling the shots, of not enforcing monopoly laws, and of undermining competition in our economy. So, short term, we've got work to do on getting prices straightened back out and the signs are heading in the right direction. But long term, we need an economy that is more competitive. And part of that means enforcing the antitrust laws.

LEMON: Okay. I want to talk more about that, but I only have so much time with you and I have a lot of ground to cover. There's been a lot of accomplishments for the Biden administration: The infrastructure bill, COVID relief which expanded the child tax credit, the Build Back Better Act could pass the Senate by Christmas.



LEMON: But a lot of Americans are fed up with the infighting, as you know. Do Democrats have an issue with magnifying their problems and diminishing their victories?

WARREN: Look, right now, Democrats are spending a lot of time trying to get this huge bill together. At least that is what it is like over on the Senate side. We get this thing done, then we can focus on talking about its impact with the American people. And better than talking about it, we can actually make it have an impact on the American people.

Right now, we're working on this child care bill, for example, to figure out how to get the thing turn on as quickly as possible, so that parents who are struggling to find child care, parents who are struggling to pay for child care, can get relief right away. That's the kind of thing we're trying to do. We're trying to get it worked out so we can actually deliver. When we deliver, then we can get out and talk about it.

LEMON: Okay. This one I know is also dear to your heart, too, or something that is important to you. I should put it that way. I got to ask you about Starbucks's workers at Buffalo --


LEMON (on camera): --- store voting to unionize. It is the first time it has happened within the company. Listen to the reaction from the workers and then we'll talk.



LEMON: So, what does this moment mean for workers across the country who are demanding better pay and working conditions, senator?

WARREN: Oh, this is the moment.


WARREN: This is when workers finally have a little bit of leverage and they've realized they got to take advantage of this moment. Reach out, brothers and sisters, and say, we're going to have a voice in workplace. Because we are not just here for a short period when there is a real crunch to find workers, we are here to have worker power over the long haul, and that means a union.

On the Senate side, it also means we need to be working harder to pass the PRO Act so that workers really have an opportunity to unionize. Yay for the Starbucks' workers that got this done in Buffalo, but a lot more workers are still struggling with employers who keep crushing their opportunity to engage in collective bargaining.

LEMON: One more. You're calling on Biden to extend -- I should say President Biden -- to extend the pause on student loan repayments, which is set to expire about, I think, in a month and a half from now. It could impact millions of people. What will happen if there is no extension?

WARREN: Well, a lot of people are really going to get squeezed. You know, we've seen some of the polling data on it and the overwhelming majority of people who have student loan debt say they are not ready to go back to making student loan payments.

We also should be thinking about what the impact is going to be on our economy overall. Those student loan payments start again, that is going to take about $85 billion out of our economy. And always keep in mind, that is money that is getting spent in local stores, that is money that moves through this economy, and has been a part of the recovery as we've tried to come out of COVID.

So, for me, we need these things to go together: Pause student loan repayments and get student loan debt canceled. The president could cancel $50,000 of student loan debt. He could do it tonight. President Biden, all you got to do, pull out a piece of paper and a pen and get it done.

LEMON: You know, the interesting part -- you know, I talked to you about infighting with Democrats, but, you know, as you were sitting here talking, I realized that when I have someone on and talking about Republicans, I am usually talking about something wacky that a Boebert did or a Gaetz or whatever. And whenever I have a Democrat on, we are actually talking policy.

WARREN: Policy.

LEMON: Yeah.

WARREN: You know, what we're talking about, we're talking about how to make people's lives better.

LEMON: Yeah.

WARREN: I hope it is not just wonky policy. It really is about --

LEMON: It's important.

WARREN: -- mamas who need child care. It is about fighting back against the climate crisis. It is about lowering the price of prescription drugs. These are the things that we're working hard on.

LEMON: And people can have their differences on that, whether they agree with it or how it should be done or not, but that is really where the conversation should be. And I thank you for appearing. Thank you, senator.

WARREN: Thank you.

LEMON: She was in the car when Daunte Wright was shot. And now, she is taking the stand. Daunte Wright's girlfriend testifying in the trial against the officer who fatally shot him.


ALAYNA ALBRECHT-PAYTON, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S GIRLFRIEND: To see what happened. I know I was delirious, but I was just screaming. They just shot him. They just shot him.




LEMON: Daunte Wright's girlfriend, who was sitting next to him in the car when he was shot and killed by ex-Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, on the witness stand today giving emotional testimony about what happened during the deadly encounter.

Potter is charged with manslaughter, but claims she accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her taser as she approached Wright during a traffic stop.

More tonight from CNN's Josh Campbell.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emotional testimony Thursday from Daunte Wright's girlfriend in the manslaughter trial of former police officer Kim Potter. Potter says she mistook her gun for her taser when she shot and killed Wright during a routine traffic stop. Wright's girlfriend was in the car at the time.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: He was really scared. I've never seen him like that before. I just remember like hearing like the bang of the gun and then I remember just looking up.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): Wright's girlfriend telling the court what happened after the shooting.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I grabbed whatever was in the car. I don't remember if it was a sweater, a towel or blanket or something. I didn't know what to do, so I just put my hands over his chest and just tried to hold it and tried to scream his name. I replay it in my head daily.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): After Wright was shot, he sped away from the scene, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. Moments later, police dash cam video shows Wright's car striking another in a violent crash. His girlfriend called out to police on the scene.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): The driver is not breathing.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: Trying to push on his chest and called his name. He wasn't answering me. He was just gasping, like just taking breaths of air.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): She tells the prosecutor about a FaceTime call with Wright's mother while she was still in the car.

UNKNOWN: You said you pointed the camera at him.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: Yes. No mom should have to see their son dead on the ground.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The officer who witnessed the crash testifying that he didn't know Wright had been shot, and ordered him to exit the vehicle.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Put your hands up! Get out of the car! Yes, you.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The police getting Wright's girlfriend out of the car, then cuffing her and leading her away.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): You are not under arrest. Put your hands behind your back.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): After securing the scene, officers say they began rendering medical aid to Wright. An officer testifying police tried to revive him.

ALAN DOUGLAS-SALVOSA, OFFICER, BROOKLYN CENTER POLICE DEPARTMENT: Assessing his injuries, trying to figure out how best to treat his injuries and save his life, sir.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): New police body camera footage introduced Thursday shows numerous other officers soon arriving to a scene of utter confusion.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Shot is fired.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Gunshots fired?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): He said we had guns fire.

UNKNOWN: There were shots fired down there?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I don't know. I didn't hear that. It was a traffic stop. They had one with a warrant. As they're -- as I'm pulling up this way, the car takes off, hits this Subaru and crashes here. He's got a gunshot wound. I didn't fire. So, I have no idea about that. But obviously, he got shot somewhere between there and here.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): While on the stand, Wright's girlfriend detailed her injuries resulting from the crash.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: My jaw, my blood was just spilling from my mouth.

CAMPBELL (on camera): And Don, former police officer Kimberly Potter has pleaded not guilty to charges of first and second-degree manslaughter. Late today in court, her attorneys asked the judge for a mistrial, taking issue with some of the evidence introduced by the prosecution. The judge denying the request. This trial will continue. Another compelling day of testimony.

One thing is clear. By calling to the stand Daunte Wright's girlfriend as well as another motorist who was in a vehicle that was struck by Daunte Wright as he was driving away suffering from that gunshot wound, prosecutors are trying to show the jury that there were multiple people who were impacted by the former officer's fateful decision to pull her service weapon rather than a taser. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

So, we don't know how he died, but we do know a former New Orleans Saints, Glenn Foster, Jr., died in custody. His parents are demanding to know what happened. They join me next.



LEMON: Alabama State authorities are investigating the death of former New Orleans Saints player, Glenn Foster, Jr., two days after he was taken into police custody.

The 31-year-old died Monday at a medical facility, according to a statement from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. He was arrested on Saturday after officers said they spotted him driving up to 90 miles per hour in a 45-mile per hour zone.

Now, after being booked in jail, authorities told Fosters family that he had been involved in an altercation with another inmate. Arrangements were made for Foster to be taken to a different facility, and the sheriff's office, which was in charge of transporting Foster, told his family that he got into the cruiser without incident. But when he arrived at the medical facility, Foster was unresponsive and could not be revived.

So, joining me now, Glenn's parents, Glenn Foster, Sr. and Sabrina Foster, and their attorney, Benjamin Crump. Thank you all for joining. Mr. and Mrs. Foster, we are so sorry for your loss. Mrs. Foster, tell me about Glenn.

SABRINA FOSTER, MOTHER OF GLENN FOSTER, JR.: Well, Glenn was a loving person. He was a loving husband, father, son, brother. He was very active in the community. He was a very successful businessman. He was an intelligent guy who had ambition. And he lived a very happy, happy life. We raised a beautiful son. He was well-educated. He had good entrepreneurship.

He was just someone that -- he was like the life of every party. So, Glenn was a loving person. Everyone loved Glenn. When he stepped into a party, they knew that Glenn was going to be just the life of the party in a good way.


LEMON: Mr. Foster, tell us about the days leading up to his arrest. Do you believe your son may have been suffering from a mental health episode? Please, talk to me about that.

GLENN FOSTER, SR., FATHER OF GLENN FOSTER, JR.: Well, I can say, Don, that Glenn's behavior was a little different than what we usually had with him. And we were concerned. And we -- believe it or not, when he was caught by the police, I thought to myself, in my mind that he is in one place now, we can arrange to get him some help. And we were having a positive experience with Chief Black. Then, the wheels came off when the sheriff got involved.

LEMON: Mrs. Foster, the police say that they -- hold on, one second, let me go back here. What do you mean the wheels came off?

FOSTER, SR.: Well, on -- I received an email Saturday morning from Chief Black stating that my son was arrested, call me right away, which I did. We told Chief Black -- and Chief Black, through his observation of my son, discovered that something wasn't right. He said there was no sign of any drugs, there was no sign of any alcohol. But, does your son have any type of mental crisis?

We told him that, you know, when he was in his 20s, I think, 20 years old, that he did have an episode in college. He received a treatment and he was weaned off of his medication. He has led a productive life.

LEMON: Yeah.

FOSTER, SR.: Going forward, we arranged to meet with Chief Black, pay my son's bail on the following Sunday, and then we had plans and already reached out to University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical to actually have my son transported, by Chief Black, to UAB Birmingham to receive treatment. However, when we got there, the chief came, back out from the jail, and said, we can't release your son because now, he is under custody of the sheriff.

LEMON: What do you think happened, Mrs. Foster?

FOSTER: It is -- I don't know. I don't trust the story. They told us what had happened, and it is just so unbelievable because we were just so ready to move forward. I believed that Glenn probably was grievously injured and they just didn't want us to know that something was wrong.

LEMON: Ben, what questions do you have for officials tonight?

BEN CRUMP, ATTTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GLENN FOSTER, JR.: What happened to Glenn Foster from the time that he got into that vehicle until the time he got to the hospital, we intend, Don, to have an independent autopsy to give his family and the public the answers they need to know about why is that when a Black person is having a mental health crisis, in law enforcement custody, it leads oftentimes to a death sentence?

LEMON: Authorities say, Ben, no cause of death has been determined. When do you think that that will be disclosed?

CRUMP: You know, that is why the family is going to have an independent autopsy, Don, because those state-issued autopsies can linger. In Alabama, we don't know how long it will take. But we are concerned with Dr. Michael (INAUDIBLE) and some pathologists to do independent autopsies, so Mrs. Sabrina and Mr. Glenn will get the answers, and his wife and four young daughters will have answers as to what happened to their father, Glenn Foster, Jr.

LEMON: I know that you say, Mr. and Mrs. Foster, you said you want justice. You want attention brought to this case. What is your final word?


FOSTER: Well, we want justice and accountability. We want justice and accountability.

FOSTER, SR.: Absolutely. Glenn can't speak for himself any longer. We have to speak for him. We want to make it loud and clear that, you know, my son's life was precious to not only us but to the community, to his wife, friends, family. I got four granddaughters. We all had Thanksgiving dinner together as a family. But we won't have all of Christmas because my son is gone now.

LEMON: Yeah.

FOSTER, SR.: We believe it was avoidable, what happened.

LEMON: I'm so sorry that this happened and please continue to update us. You guys take care of yourself. Ben, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Foster. Thank you, Mrs. Foster. Appreciate it.

FOSTER: Thank you for having us.

FOSTER, SR.: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. We will be right back.



LEMON: The CDC announcing 16 and 17-year-olds are now eligible to receive a Pfizer booster as COVID cases in the U.S. are on the rise. President Joe Biden meeting with his COVID Response Team, saying he is encouraged by the effectiveness of a third shot and urging Americans to get their booster. But Pfizer executives saying that the Omicron variant could increase the likelihood of needing a fourth shot.

I want to bring in now Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of public health at Brown University. Doctor, thank you. Good to see you. How important are those boosters for 16 and 17-year-olds because winter is coming and the number of cases, deaths, hospitalizations all rising?

MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE AT BROWN UNIVERSITY: You know, I think that this booster has been approved for 16 and 17-year-olds out of an abundance of caution. Remember, the FDA and CDC had declined to approve it for this age group earlier when we thought we were just fighting Delta.

But there is new data coming around Omicron suggesting that a third dose is necessary potentially to fully fight off this Omicron variant. And now is the time to get boosted before it starts spreading full pledged on the shores of the United States. I think that was a big part of the reason for the booster being approved for these younger age groups at this time.

LEMON: The CEO of Pfizer said that in light of concerns about Omicron variant, a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine may eventually be needed. Only about 27 percent of adults have gotten the third shot, the booster. When and why would a fourth dose be necessary? I can hear people saying, oh, my gosh, another one?

RANNEY: You know, I think that is a totally natural reaction. I want to see some independent, scientific data before we start talking about more doses. It has taken us a while, as you see, to even get this third dose in even the most vulnerable folks. There is data showing that many nursing home residents still have not gotten their third dose booster. That is the group for whom boosters are most needed.

As always, I try to emphasize doing the thing with the biggest public health impact. It is getting the first and second dose of vaccine, the primary series, and now the booster for those vulnerable folks. It is far too early to talk about a fourth dose at this point. I think it is just speculation on Pfizer's part.

LEMON: According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, most parents are still worried about the safety of COVID vaccines for kids and about three in 10 parents say that they will definitely not vaccinate their children. What do you say to those reluctant parents?

RANNEY: My first thing is -- I've gotten both of my own kids vaccinated. Both my 10-year-old and my almost 13-year-old are now fully vaccinated, did great. And you know why I got their shot? It is because COVID is one of the top 10 causes of death for kids in the United States. The shots have caused zero deaths of kids in the United States. As a parent, my job is to protect my kid from common causes of illness, injury, and death. These shots are one of the best ways to do that.

LEMON: You know, families were hit hard by this pandemic. In the same Kaiser poll, about 73 percent of parents say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their children's education. Will this have lasting effects, you think?

RANNEY: Data from other countries where schooling has been delayed or stopped for periods of time shows that missing school has long-term negative effects on children, both their educational progress and their mental health. I do worry deeply about kids across the United States, especially, Don, kids in communities where school continues to be canceled because of spread of COVID, lack of vaccination, or because of lack of teachers. Unfortunately, it is largely Black, brown, and some of our lower-income neighborhoods that are being most affected by these school closures.

The surgeon general released a report this week around kids' mental health. It is time for us to double down on supporting the younger generation as we start to hopefully come out of this pandemic in 2022.

LEMON: Well, as you said, hopefully come out of this pandemic in 2022.


I hope your words ring true. Thank you very much, Dr. Ranney. I appreciate it.

RANNEY: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.


LEMON: In a final note tonight, I want to send good luck and best wishes to my former NBC News colleague, Mr. Brian Williams. He is signing off tonight on his MSNBC show "THE 11TH HOUR" for the last time.


Brian announcing last month he is leaving MSNBC and its parent company, NBC News, where he has worked for nearly 30 years. He says he is going to pursue new opportunities. He has been a tough competitor in this 11:00 time slot, and all of us here at DON LEMON TONIGHT wish him the very best going forward. Good luck, Brian.

And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We begin with breaking news in multiple fronts. There is a verdict in the trial of actor Jussie Smollett accused of staging a hate crime against himself. The jury in that case has spoken, and we'll bring you details on that.

But first, there is breaking news out of Washington. A major loss in court for the president. A federal appeals court says he cannot keep his White House records secret.