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Don Lemon Tonight

Omicron Freezes Life For Many Americans; House Committee Saw A Dereliction Of Duty From Former POTUS; Republican Party Now Like A Cult; Former D.C. Officer Fought For His Life; There Is No Going Back. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 22:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thanks for joining us. Happy New Year to you.

First off, look at this map. This map is a sea of red and it's from coast to coast. It's all over. Look at that, COVID cases surging in virtually every single state in the union. We're averaging more than 400,000 new cases daily. Hospitals are packed with COVID patients, more than 100,000 tonight.

This is the first time that it's happened in nearly four months. Child hospitalizations are the highest that they have ever been with more than 500 kids admitted each day over the week ending December 31st.

So far cases are less severe. But the Omicron wave is hitting so hard states and cities are struggling to keep schools, businesses and workplaces open as daily life is disrupted. Flights cancelled, long lines for testing, Americans desperate to get back to something even approaching normal. They want to know, when will all of this end?

That is the FDA today is authorizing Pfizer booster shots for 12 to 15-year-olds. But even now after everything that we have been through the past two years, only about 62 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. And that's because of vocal minorities denying reality.

We see it with millions of Americans who believe COVID misinformation and conspiracy theories putting their health and the health of their loved ones at risk by refusing the vaccines that are nothing less than a medical miracle.

We see it with millions of Americans who believe the big lie behind the attack on the capitol on January 6th. We see it with one in three Americans who even as we're on the verge of the first anniversary of that brutal attack, one we saw with our very own eyes, police beaten to with an inch of their lives by bloodthirsty Trump supporting rioters.

Even after all this, 34 percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified. And in a separate poll, 62 percent Americans predict future violence saying that they expect the losing side in future presidential elections to react violently.

While the January 6th committee is signaling its breaking down the former president's wall of obstruction learning what we -- what he was doing, I should say, while his supporters were running riot at the street of our democracy.

A source telling CNN the committee has information from multiple sources and that information is extremely damming. Firsthand testimony from members of the then president's inner circle about what was happening behind closed doors at the White House on one of the darkest days in our nation's history.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We know as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television to tell people to stop. We know leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know members of his family. We know his daughter we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.


LEMON (on camera): Well, tonight I'm going to talk to one of the brave police officers who risked his life to defend the United States Capitol, a man I've gotten to know well and that's Michael Fanone. But I want you to listen to what the January 6th committee chairman Bennie Thompson says about what they have learned.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White House had been told to do something. We want to verify all of it so that when we produce our report and when we have the hearings, the public will have an opportunity to see for themselves.


LEMON (on camera): But here is the thing, even an absolute bombshell from the committee won't change the minds of people who bought into the big lie. Nothing will change the minds of people who look at the bloodshed and destruction at the United States Capitol and see or claim that they see a tourist visit or Black Lives Matter of antifa. Even though the president of the United States could have stopped it, he had a duty to stop it and didn't.


CHENEY: The president could have at any moment walked those very few steps into the briefing room, gone on live television and told his supporters who were assaulting the capitol to stop. He could have told them to stand down. He could have told them to go home. And he failed to do so.


It's hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty than that. I think that there is absolutely no question that it was a dereliction of duty and I think one of the things the committee needs to look at as we're looking at a legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty.


LEMON (on camera): Dereliction of duty. She said it a number of times. A few times for the people in the back. Think of how much damaged of the disgraced, twice impeached, one-term former president has done to our office, to the office, to our democracy itself.

How can you have a functioning two party system of government when one party is still in the grip of the big lie and the big liar. Like I said, a vocal minority denying reality. Denying the reality of the attack on the capitol and denying the reality of the pandemic that is sweeping the country.

Let's get right to the COVID crisis now. Joining me now Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the CDC. Doctor, good evening. Thank you so much. And happy New Year to you.

Today was supposed to be the first day back to work and school after the holiday and for many people, it is but we're in the middle of the biggest surge of COVID cases yet. There is tremendous disruption as a result. Give us your outlook on where this pandemic is heading. If you told me, you know, last January that we would still be here, I mean, I would say you're, no way, you're lying.

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Yes. You know, I think, Don, one of the things that's clear to me is that it's extremely difficult to predict where this is going. But I do see some things right now that give me a glimmer of hope, concern but a glimmer of hope.

And the glimmer of hope is that as Omicron goes through and it's going through at an enormously high and fast rate, it will leave behind hopefully people who have some protection against whatever variant comes next.

If that's truly the case in the next six weeks, two months, we could be starting to see the end game for this pandemic but in the meantime, right now, as people are going back to school as people are going back to work it's going to be a very rough, rough winter.

LEMON: Yes. Look, I'm sure you don't want to make any predictions because we said a year ago January when you and I were talking it, if you or I had said, hey, we are going to be in the same place next year, I don't you would have predicted that, doctor.

BESSER: No. You know, I figured we had -- we had three vaccines that were on the horizon that were rolling out. I figured by the fall when kids were going back to school this last fall, there would be some semblance of normality --

LEMON: Right.

BESSER: -- and that wasn't the case. I mean, even back to last June where the numbers were dropping incredibly. I was thinking this is great.


BESSER: This is the -- this is how it's going to go. You know, we may see seasonality to this. But you know, what this says to me is that until this is under control everywhere around the globe, we're going to see new variants emerge and those new variants can totally up end the controls that we have in place.

LEMON: You mentioned kids going back to school.


LEMON: Sorry. You mentioned kids going back to school. I mean, doctors are reporting staggering numbers. That's a quote. "Staggering numbers" of pediatric hospitalizations. So, if this virus is being described as less serious for adults, why are so may, why are we seeing so many children be hospitalized, doctor?

BESSER: Well, I mean, some of that we need to dive into. I know that those cases are children who have come in for other conditions and are tested and found to be positive for COVID. But the other aspect of it is that even for an illness that is relatively mild and this Omicron strain, thankfully, appears to be relatively mild, if you're seeing millions of people who get it, even a small percentage of those people having a bad outcome, having conditions that lead to more serious illness, will put a strain on our health care system. And we're seeing it with children. We're seeing it with adults.

And so, everything we do to reduce the spread of this, to reduce the rate of these high cases will take some pressure off the health care system and not just make room for taking care of people with COVID, but ensure that if you're somebody having a heart attack or you need cancer treatment or diabetes or kidney disease that there will be room there to take care of you. And right now, that is in jeopardy in many places around the country.

LEMON: Yes, because there is a spike in hospitalizations in New York and the governor says that the state is not in a good place and expects the rise in cases following the holiday. So, I'm sure that's happening all over.

But New York is nearly 72 percent fully vaccinated, doctor. What's going to happen when Omicron takes off in less vaccinated areas like my home state of Louisiana where only, you know, 49, 50 percent of people are fully vaccinated and cases have already surged higher than last summer's Delta wave?

BESSER: Yes, I mean, we will have to see. If you look at this situation that took place in South Africa, where the percentage of people vaccinated was fairly low, the percentage of people who had had COVID was fairly high.


They saw a dramatic rapid peak and then a decline and thankfully they did not see the same kind of peak in terms of severe illness and death. So, we'll have to see how that plays out but I would encourage anyone who is eligible for a booster to go ahead and get that.

That will reduce the chances you're going to have severe illness, and if you're one of those people who hasn't decided to get vaccinated at all, talk to your doctor. Get your questions answered. It's the best thing you can do to protect your health, your family's health, your community's health. I urge you to get your questions answered because it's so important.

LEMON: I want to follow up on something that you mentioned earlier. You talked about getting this virus under control around the world and that means getting vaccinated as it continues to spread around the world. What does that mean? Is that, you know, when we get these new variants? Could a new variant be more severe than Omicron and put us back in pandemic mode?

BESSER: Definitely. You know, as new variants arise, you could have a variant for which our current vaccines are not very effective. Thankfully, our current vaccines while they're not preventing mild infections, they're very good at preventing serious illness and death but you could see a variant emerge where that wasn't the case and that would set us way back on this.

So, it is in our vested interest as well as in our interest as citizens of the world to do more to ensure that people in every country have access to vaccines.

LEMON: Get vaccinated. Get boosted and wear your masks, socially distance, follow the guidelines. Thank you very much, doctor. I appreciate it.

BESSER: My pleasure, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: As Omicron batters this country, our democracy is still under siege nearly a year after the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. So why are so many Republicans still enthralled to the former president who refused to do anything to stop the riot. I'm going to talk about that with none other than John Kasich. There he is, next.



LEMON (on camera): With just days to go before the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the capitol, a source saying that the January 6th committee has firsthand information from multiple sources on what the former president was doing as the attack unfolded.

A lot to discuss with CNN's senior commentator, John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio. John, good to see you. Happy New Year to you.


LEMON: Thanks for joining.

KASICH: Same to you.

LEMON: So, we're starting to learn what was going on inside the White House on January 6th. Trump was watching the attack on television and resisting calls, even from his own family to do anything to try to stop it, to stop what was going on.

Meanwhile, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is blaming security lapses at the capitol. Why is most of the GOP absolving Trump of this?

KASICH: You know, Don, there is a lot of people in the GOP who I think are having a break with reality. In other words, no matter what the facts are, they just want to disassociate themselves from any of the facts. And when politics becomes a thirst for power, Don, for anybody, or all these people, thirst for power, I hate to say this I've thought about whether I should say it but that's what unravels the country.

You know, when people support violence, when they won't accept the result of an election. And we saw Al Gore accept the result of an election. We saw Richard Nixon who was in a controversial decision to accept the results of a decision because that was part of the American fabric.

So, when I look at this, the inability for people to see what the facts are, people who see this and say there was no violence, when I see Republican leaders looking the other way or trying to make excuses, it's a thirst for power on their behalf and for the public, they're just living in, I mean, it's almost cult-like for some of the people out there in the public.

I heard some of the interviews earlier today, people saying well Trump would never do this. There was no violence. I mean, that is just being disengaged from reality and no matter what we tell them, they're just not going to accept it because, you know, if you're in a cult and you start to distinguish yourself or disagree with what's in the cult, they try to -- they try to excommunicate you. I'm not saying this is a cult but it is cult-likish within some members of the -- who are members of the Republican Party. It's so serious.

LEMON: Do you think it's -- you said a thirst for power. Is it even more sinister than that? Or I don't know if sinister is the right word or insidious. Because there is a Sinicism that goes along with it that people just kind of thumb their nose at, you know, at democracy and reality and facts and, you know, to create their own. Do you understand what I'm saying?

KASICH: Well, listen, Don, it's, you know, it's people who get themselves in groups and whatever the facts are, it could be daylight and you say the sun has come up and they say no, it hasn't. LEMON: Yes. But if they notice it hasn't and screw you --


KASICH: It's almost like a tranche --

LEMON: -- for thinking the other way. That's what I meant by there's a Sinicism that goes along with it. But go on, yes.

KASICH: Well, look, you know, also the hatred, you know, we can't disagree with anybody today in the country. Now it's about hatred. And when we study history, Don, when we study history of what's happened to other great powers and we've seen them melt to the ground, America has got so much going for it. Right?

We're powerful economically. We're powerful militarily but our soul and our spirit right now, do we -- Don, do you think that today in America we share sort of the same values we used to when you were a young man and I was a young man?

I think those have been frayed and when you don't have a common purpose and common values, it's not good. It needs to be renewed because people are like on both sides fighting and arguing. You got to stop it, folks, because this country just is not great because all of a sudden it was great and will always be great. We have to protect it. That's what the founders told us, protect the country.


LEMON: Well, that was one of my wishes for the New Year, is that we had some sort of shared reality and that we would, you know, try to give each other at least a break or I don't know, to try to figure out how we can come to some sort of shared reality or at least shared facts because if we don't have that, then we don't really have anything.

What -- John, what's even more disturbing. Let me put up this for you to prove the point, to show what we're talking about. Thirty-four percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified according to the Washington Post, a Washington Post poll.

Just for context, the Post said this was in the 90s, as many as 90 percent said violence is never justified. Are you worried what that means a year out from January 6th?

KASICH: Yes. You know, you and I have done a lot of shows and we've talked a lot about the fact that when people won't accept the results of an election, what does that mean? And now it's like OK, well, violence -- violence is OK.

I mean, there are some people. Think about this, Don, who see violence that happened on January the 6th and they look at the video and go it never happened and other people who say, you know, you got that poll, 30 percent, 30 plus percent saying violence may be justified on what basis? LEMON: Right.

KASICH: What's the principle? What is it you're fighting for? Is it just for what you want, for your power, for what's in it for you? And nobody else matters. Don, this is -- this is a serious drift.

LEMON: It is.

KASICH: I hate to --


LEMON: You're right. It is.

KASICH: I don't -- I don't like to sound alarms. You never hear me say radical things or anything. But I'm telling you that I am worried about our country.

LEMON: Well, I think more people need to speak up like you. And I think it's radical what you're saying. I think that what you're saying is reality and people don't want to hear it. I'm sure you're going to get criticized for it but, you know, that comes with the territory now.

KASICH: That's life.

LEMON: This is from ABC News. It's another poll. Seventy-one percent of Republicans don't believe that Biden was a legitimately elected president. They -- they're not in line with the overall population where 65 percent do believe Biden's victory was legitimate.

What does that mean when one of the two parties, right, these are two major parties in this country, is this out of step, this delusional, really?

KASICH: Well, you know, I saw a poll the other day that indicated there were big chunk of Democrats that thought that, you know, Trump was not legitimately elected but this is reached a fevered pitch. This is way up there.

And again, Don, you know, the thing that's so hard about it is, you and I can't lose our temper. We got to be kind to these people who we disagree with because we don't want to drive them away. They've got to have a reality check and to say that -- look, you had Republican leaders, when the leaders early on didn't accept the results of this election, when your leadership fails, you know, then things begin to fall apart.

And the leaders, a number of the leaders in the Republican party didn't admit Joe Biden was elected. How about the debate in Minnesota the other day where five candidates for governor up here --


LEMON: Yes, I saw that.

KASICH: -- and none would say that Biden was legitimately elected. Shame on them. That's a thirst for power, Don.


KASICH: And when you have a thirst for power and power as an end to itself, --


KASICH: -- it's terrible.

LEMON: Well, you mentioned -- listen, the case for 2016 for election fraud is a much better case, not that they're -- you know, not saying either one, Trump was not legitimately elected but there was a much better case in 2016 than there was for 2020.

So, I want to put it a different way. Look, no one seized the capitol, right, from on the Democratic side. Let's put it at different way. A majority of Republicans essentially still believe what the insurrectionists believed or believe. The big lie that the election was stolen. It certainly sounds like no matter what this committee, this January 6th committee uncovers.

KASICH: Doesn't matter.

LEMON: We're going to be in the same place that we are now forever.

KASICH: Don, there -- well, I'm not sure it will be forever, but again, I've got to just say that this represents a break from reality. And when you get into that and when it's cult-like and you say look, I'm in my group, I believe the election was not legitimate and I've got, you know, 50 other friends and I'm on social media in my own little cave there.

And if I begin to say well, you know, maybe it was a good election, they throw me out. And so, your strength, your purpose, your being comes from being part of that group and now all of a sudden, you're being ostracized. People don't want to do that. But, you know, I've got to believe the truth will prevail.

We just got to stay on this, Don, and we got to have these warning signs and these kinds of conversations I hope with you and me because people watch us and they like us when we talk. I hope it's going to get through. I hope people will see it and they will think twice about their behavior because their behavior determines the strength and future of our country.


LEMON: Do you ever listen to conservative radio? As I went home to Louisiana and as flipping through -- because or even the propaganda that is on the Fox propaganda network? Because it is disconnected from reality. And I find myself -- I don't watch Fox anymore. I used to watch. And I don't watch anymore. I can't. It's ridiculous.

But as I was listening, I found myself fact checking the people only the radio saying well, that's not true. This isn't true. That's not true. How do you get through to Americans that only listen in the silos, that only listen to the Fox propaganda?

KASICH: You know, that old book I wrote the 10 most important things in terms of how you live, I talk about these silos and people need to break out of them and when they broke out of them, it's hard for them but then they're so happy that they were able to be more objective, they were able to hear other things.

But again, they're comfortable being in the silo and that's danger. That's danger on all sides, not just danger on the right, it's danger across the board because we're fighting and we're hating one another. And Don, that's not the America that we knew years ago. And when I see happening now it's just stunning to me.

LEMON: Yes, and the facts don't matter. What matters is just --


KASICH: No, they don't. They don't.

LEMON: They don't, they don't now.

KASICH: And think for one second about these elections.


KASICH: You know, how about Al Gore? He could have -- he could have driven this thing into the ground. He was a bigger man. Richard Nixon. You know, there was a question about that election. He said I'm going to put the country first. Our leaders are not putting the country first. Not all of them but too many of them.


KASICH: Too many of them are not putting the country first because they want to be in charge and they want to have the power and for what? I really don't know.

LEMON: John Kasich, that's a good question. I don't either. Thank you, John. I appreciate it.

KASICH: Don Lemon, thank you.

LEMON: All right. Happy New Year to you and your family.

KASICH: All right.

LEMON: Thanks.

New video released on the insurrection almost a year after it happened. We're going to look at that video next and talk to the officers shown in it being attacked.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): Wow, I can't believe it. This week will mark the

one-year anniversary of a violent insurrection that sought to overturn our election. More than 700 rioters have been charged in the last 12 months and we're still getting new video from inside the battle for the capitol that day.

Over the holidays, the Department of Justice releasing three full hours of new security footage, one of the most complete pictures yet of what unfolded as rioters attacked the lower west terrace of capitol, take a look at your screen.

Law enforcement faced with rioters swinging fists, poles and all kinds of improvised weapons and angry brawls breaking out as rioters climb over each other to attack police. Officers gaining and losing ground in the tunnel amid the onslaught. Many of them not aware the capitol had already been breached.

And we're getting a new angle tonight of when D.C. Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone was dragged out of the tunnel by rioters. And you can see on your screen right now as he pulled further out of the -- he was pulled further out of the arch and towards the crowd.

Soon he's separated from other officers on the steps of the capitol and pulled off his feet by the crowd, and his body camera captures the next terrifying moment as rioters beat and tased him. Fanone left pleading for his life.


UNKNOWN: Don't hurt him. Don't hurt him.

UNKNOWN: Hold him. Hold him. I got you. I got you. I got you.



LEMON (on camera): Wow. Well, Michael Fanone suffered a heart attack and fell unconscious from the assault. But tonight, he joins me as CNN's newest law enforcement analyst. We're going to discuss what you just saw and much more right after this break.



LEMON (on camera): So back with me now, CNN law enforcement analyst and former D.C. Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone. Hey, welcome to the family, Mike, how are you?


LEMON: Yes, it's good to see you. Hey, listen, I want to put this up. Put this up on our screen again. On the left side is the new silent video showing when you're first pulled, being pulled away and next to it in this, you know, next to it is the scene of the once dragged down -- once you were dragged down the steps further into the crowd.

It's terrifying to see just how long that you were fighting and they pulled you away from the other officers. Talk to me about that. What was going through your mind? I mean, did it seem like that long? Did it seem like forever you that were fighting out there?

FANONE: Yes, I mean, it seemed like a hell of a whole lot longer than it actually was. And again, it was -- it was terrifying. Watching it is a lot easier than living it, though. I haven't watched any video from the tunnel in quite some time. It's -- it's difficult to see.

LEMON: Is that on purpose that you don't watch it, you don't look at it?

FANONE: Yes, I just think I've just had enough.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, can I -- I want to talk to you about something. Because I was reading this. I said -- what did I read? Let me look at my script here. It said law enforcement faced with rioters swinging fists, poles and all kinds of improvised weapons.


There were -- we never talk about guns. And that is -- were there guns recovered? Because the whole thing, they weren't armed, they weren't armed. But I mean, being, you know, flag poles and improvised device -- devices, that's armed. Just not armed with guns. But what about guns that day?

FANONE: There were guns recovered on the grounds of the capitol and also on the grounds of the rally that was held, I believe, it was on the ellipse by the White House from individuals that were both participating in the insurrection at the capitol and at the political rally at the White House beforehand.

There are also firearms that were recovered in the days just before the stop the steal rally from individuals who were in Washington, D.C. to attend the stop the steal rally.

LEMON: So then why then this rhetoric and this B.S. from people saying well, there were no guns. They weren't -- they weren't -- they weren't armed. It wasn't like they were, you know, going to shoot people.

FANONE: I mean, those individuals are either ill-informed or they're lying.

LEMON: Why isn't that -- why is that not reported?

FANONE: I mean, number one, I don't think that -- you know, law enforcement typically doesn't take a posture that, you know, they're out to prove there were, you know, there were crimes committed. I don't know if those questions have been asked of the Metropolitan Police Department or not but they're a matter of public record. I mean, you can see arrest reports or at least the public reports from

those arrests that are available. It's not difficult to find but, yes.

LEMON: Yes. Mike, I want to put this up again, this is for our viewers again. Sorry to put you through this, you said you don't want to watch it. But you're going to be watching a lot of it the next couple days, you really are because this is the anniversary.

I mean, it's just -- this is just the kind of violence that you and others were facing, rioters beating officers with poles. They were throwing heavy objects, even fireworks and just flat-out brawling. You've called it a living hell. What do you say to any lawmaker anyone trying to claim that this was peaceful or anything other than a violent attack on our democracy?

FANONE: I mean, initially, when I began talking about the events of January 6th, I really did believe that individuals were just, you know, weren't exposed to the realities of that day, maybe been downplaying them for political reasons but when faced with, you know, video evidence or firsthand testimonial evidence about what happened that they might change their tune.

I mean, at this point a year out, if you're still lying about the events of that day, it's because you want to. It's because of political motivations, you know, but it's just not reality.

LEMON: Look, I want to ask you a lot here. I also want to ask you if you would do it all over again and what it's like being a former police officer instead of a police officer. We'll talk about that right after the break. Don't go anywhere, more with Michael Fanone.



LEMON (on camera): Back now with Michael Fanone, CNN's newest law enforcement analyst. Mike, you know, more than 700 people have been charged in connection with the riot but there is still been no accountability for the people who told these rioters to come, rile them up with lies about a stolen election. What do you hope to see come out of this January 6th committee, commission?

FANONE: I mean, my reasons for participating with the commission was in the hopes that it would convince, you know, the 40 percent of America that doesn't believe that January 6th happened or that, you know, Donald Trump and his supporters were involved in inciting the events that day.

To be honest with you, I expect the report to come out. It's probably going to state a lot of things that, you know, many of us already know because we watched what happened that day and we believed our eyes and our ears. You know, I expect that they'll back up some of that -- some of those facts with supporting evidence, but to be honest with you, I expect the DOJ to be investigating this.

LEMON: Yes. FANONE: I mean, that -- hearing recently that there was no, I don't

know, like no investigation in progress or no hint of an investigation in progress, which, I think we would know by now was terrifying.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. And then you have people like the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy briefly mentioning the insurrection letter to Republicans this week calling the actions that day lawless and wrong but then making no mention of Donald Trump, the man who summoned the mob.

Liz Cheney, you know, that's how she puts it. So, he wants to focus on security failures that day. Is this just a deflection? He's saying listen, this is security failures and never really said that it was, you know, didn't really talked about Donald Trump.


FANONE: Yes. It's obvious that there were security failures. I think that the U.S. Capitol police has quite a few things to address. One of them being a crisis of leadership. But they also have to address the security posture. The training, the equipment that's provided to their officers. And also, the physical security of the capitol complex.

I mean, I realize in a post 9/11 era, you know, we are look at a different type of threat. But it is a extreme failure of law enforcement leaders not to imagine any type of threat. That's their job.

LEMON: Speaking of that, of threats, earlier in the show I brought up this polling that shows an alarming percentage, Mike, around a third, one-third of Americans believe that violence against the government can be justified. Do you worry the forces that cause the insurrection are still alive and well right now?

FANONE: They are. They absolutely are. And anybody that doesn't believe that is lying to themselves. And not only that, I think that, you know, January 6 was practice. It was a failed coup. It's practice. You know, these entities that were involved I think they have -- they learned lessons from that day. And you know, if there's not real accountability, not just for the individuals that came to the capitol, the 700 arrests that you mentioned earlier.

I mean those are just individuals who are manipulated by this political rhetoric. They can find 700 more people to manipulate and send the next time around.

LEMON: What do you think about the sentences because many of the rioters have already been sentenced. The longest being, I think more than five years for a man who assaulted police. But that is rare.

And then this is another poll. This is from the Washington Post. It shows 51 percent of people believe the sentences have not been harsh enough. Nineteen percent say too harsh. Twenty-eight percent says -- 28 percent say that they had been fair. What do you think?

FANONE: You have to count me in as part of the 51 percent. I mean, first and foremost I think that I understand that some of the charges that have been talked about are old. And haven't been used in quite some time. But then again, you know, we haven't had a situation or scenario like January 6 in quite some time. So maybe it's time for DOJ to dust off some of the codes and put them to good use.

It's very difficult to digest somebody who participated in an insurrection being charged with trespassing. I get the fact that trespassing was the overt act. But let's think about what it was committed during an insurrection. In furtherance of an insurrection.

LEMON: You -- look, you love being a police officer. Is it been -- is it difficult to say Michael Fanone, former -- people -- some, you know. Former police officer now you're a CNN law enforcement analyst. Is that difficult for you not being a police officer?

FANONE: Not anymore. No. I mean, this is -- I don't want people to they this that decision was purely based off of the events surrounding January 6 or what I experienced after January 6th. I mean, that was a significant part of the decision. But it really began back in 2015 with the demonization of law enforcement and front-line police officers.

LEMON: Talk to me about that.

FANONE: I mean, I think that there was a lot of scrutiny placed on policing and police officers starting around 2014, 2015. And rightfully so, there were some actions committed by police that were egregious. And you know, I do believe that there are aspects of the criminal justice system that are systemically racist. That doesn't mean that individual police officers are racist.


And I think in one thing that I firmly believe is that uniformed police officers are the backbone of the public safety infrastructure in this country. They have been for a long time. They are today. And they will be probably for the rest of my lifetime. If not further. Until we can convince an element of society to stop committing violent crimes.

LEMON: Would you do it all over again? January 6. Would you go back into that capitol? Would you do it?

FANONE: That's a complicated question. I think -- I would do it my motivation would be dramatically different. I would do it for and really solely for the other officers that needed help.

LEMON: Thank you, Mike.

FANONE: Thank you.

LEMON: Welcome to the family. Good luck. You'll be talking about a lot of stuff here. Glad to have you.

FANONE: Thank you, buddy.

LEMON: Thank you.

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