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Don Lemon Tonight
January 6 Committee Seeks Cooperation From Fox News Host Sean Hannity And Wants To Speak Directly With Mike Pence; Schumer Pushes Forward With Filibuster Vote To Get Voting Rights Passed; Breaking Down The Most Enduring Lies About January 6; Omicron Fuels Surge Of Cases And Hospitalizations Across U.S. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 04, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight on the investigation into the January 6th attack on the Capitol. House Select Committee sending a letter to Fox host Sean Hannity, requesting his voluntary cooperation, saying it has dozens of text messages with the Trump White House indicating that he had -- quote -- "advanced knowledge regarding Trump and his legal teams' planning for January 6th."
And more breaking news, the committee saying it also wants to hear directly but voluntarily from former president -- Vice President Mike Pence on what he witnessed during the insurrection.
Also tonight, Senator Joe Manchin signaling he might be open to some changes in the filibuster. Will there be possible movement on voting rights legislation?
We will talk about all of that this evening. I want to get straight, though, to CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and also Laura Coates. Laura is the author of the new book, "Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness." Good evening to both of you.
Elie, I'm going to start with you. This text from Hannity on January 5th says it all, right here. I am very worried about the next 48 hours. What do you think Hannity knows?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Don, what's clear from these texts is Sean Hannity was right in the mix here. He was serving as an adviser, as an interested party, as a cheerleader really for the president and his administration. And I think it makes perfect sense that the committee wants to ask Sean Hannity just that question. What did you mean by these texts? What was it based on? Who did you speak to before this text? What did you do after? And then the others.
One interesting thing that the committee does in its letter to Sean Hannity is they show him we have the receipts. We have dozens of texts that you're in, they say, and they quote them to Sean Hannity. So, they make very clear why they are and should be very interested in talking to him. LEMON: Laura, Hannity texted this to Mark Meadows on December 31st and I quote. "We can't lose the entire White House counsels office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th, he should announce we will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Florida and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks, people will listen."
I mean, this seems to suggest that January 6th wasn't unexpected after all. But I want to unpack this text with you because he is acting, it seems, as an adviser here, right? Is the committee correct that Hannity is indeed a fact witness who they need to, you know, to hear from?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely! Let's unpack it a little bit, Don. First of all, he is essentially saying that in advance of the actual January 6th occurrence, he has some information about how the president was briefed on how it might go. The idea of laying out some sort of strategy or thinking about how this might actually come to fruition. That's advanced notice, number one.
Number two, we touched on about how he essentially considered that President Trump lost to the incoming president, Joe Biden, now the current president of the United States. And so, he is saying, listen, the jig is up essentially, go to Florida because you have an influence there, talk about voting reform, talking about a concession at that point in time.
But also, you have the very real statement about the notion of, listen, if Sean Hannity had advanced notice, he had his communication with Mark Meadows or anybody else who he's actually talking to, anybody else at this point in time, it shows you that there was some basis for them to know that maybe everything was going to happen, but that January 6th was a planned event, not something that had sort of a spontaneous notion to it.
That's very important for this, to what we talk about here, his being preface and the narrative is that, oh, people just showed on the lawn! It happened to happen!
And finally, the point about the White House counsel, remember there was a plan in place, a now infamous memo outlining how you could essentially rely on one person, the Justice Department, to try to overturn the election, to try to give advice and counsel of how to do it.
He himself did not see that as a viable, let alone an immoral or ethical plan, but a viable plan of action. All this is corroborative of what we've already learned from this committee.
LEMON: Elie, the committee hasn't subpoenaed Hannity. They just asked for him to talk voluntarily. Do you think there's any chance that he's going to cooperate with this, at least voluntarily?
HONIG: No, I don't, Don. I thought it was really interesting in your prior segment with Representative Jamie Raskin. You asked him, what will you do? What will the committee do if Sean Hannity does not comply? And Representative Raskin said, well, we have panoply of options. I know he can't commit at this point.
But he doesn't really have a panoply of options. He has two options. One, if Hannity defies this request, is let him go. That's it. And two, is subpoena him. There's really no complexity about it.
So, the committee is going to have to decide. Are they going to serve this informal request and then follow him up with subpoenas, or are they going to serve this informal request and then if people say, no, thanks, you say, okay, go on your way now? That's an important decision the committee is going to have to grapple with.
LEMON: Ah, Elie, Hannity's attorney, Jay Sekulow, telling CNN that they are reviewing the letter and will respond as appropriate. Do you expect Hannity is going to try to use the First Amendment as a defense?
Even though Hannity himself said that he is not a journalist, you heard Jamie Raskin saying, we are not concerned about -- you know, we are not asking for notes or who his sources are, we are asking as if -- you saw the analogy, he said, you know, if you witnessed a car crash, right, that's what he wants to know. You are still a witness?
HONIG: Yeah, I think Sean Hannity and his attorney will certainly hide behind the First Amendment, but there's a distinction there, and I think Representative Raskin made the perfect example, Don. If you witnessed a crime on your way to work, you are a witness, right? No one is going to ask you about your sources or reporting or your personal opinion.
And the committee goes out of its way in its letter. They are cognizant of that and they say, Mr. Hannity, we are not going to ask you about your reporting methodology, about your sources, about your personal beliefs. You are just a witness. You saw this. You are like somebody who witnessed a robbery or a car crash. We need to speak with you.
But they will try to cloak themselves in the First Amendment, but I really think it's misdirection.
LEMON: The committee wants to speak with the former vice president, Mike Pence. We know the top aides on Pence's team are already cooperating. How should the committee approach this, Elie?
HONIG: Well, you know, you want to get your base of information from the advisers, from the people who are around Mike Pence. Look, if I'm on the committee and I can get Mike Pence to talk, you bet I want that opportunity. And again, yes, he was the vice president of the United States, but in this case, he also is a fact witness.
I don't know that he is entitled to any greater treatment. I do think it is unlikely Mike Pence voluntarily speaks to the committee, although I can see a middle path here where they work out some specific topics that Mike Pence might be willing to talk about. I think it is unlikely they go so far as to subpoena him now.
LEMON: I want you to weigh in on this, Laura, because Pence is such a key figure in all this. Trump and his allies were trying to get him to overturn the election results. If you were, you know, the committee, what would you ask him?
COATES: I'd be champing at the bit to ask him. One reason, of course, is because I'm wondering if his defiance that he held on to the day they were supposed to certify the election will actually carry through here.
Remember, one of the things that is so unexpected and so shocking is just how fragile our democracy was, that it came down to one person, vice president's decision, to essentially hold the democratic line.
While members of the police force and the Capitol police were holding the physical line outside, many were shocked to find that he was the only person who refused to defy or refused to go along with the actual campaign, that big lie campaign, of the former president, Donald Trump.
And so, I would want to know if he was at a complete departure from that essential party line there. I would also look at him and ask the question about, who did he call? Did he try to reach out to the president of the United States, the person to whom he is second in command? When he reached out, was he rebuffed? Was there an actual conversation?
Now, of course, discussion between himself and Trump will more likely be privileged than anything else, but remember here, if he tried to reach out to other people who are not the president, if he was thwarted in some way, was he denied? How did he learn about this? What were his concerns? Were other people trying to contact him in lieu of the president being unable to reach him?
All of that (INAUDIBLE) for trying to understand what other members of Congress were looking to, but people who were not having direct contact (ph) with the president of the United States we're actually talking about, all of this actually helps.
You know, on the idea of the subpoenas, you know, we've already seen that people among his own team have been more likely to be compliant, because there has been this great divide, as you've seen from Trump and beyond. But I'm most interested in the person for whom gallows were constructed. What is his actual take? Not the political diatribe or the talking points or talking about, we will never see eye to eye.
When you attempted to speak mouth to ear that day, what did you learn? That is fact-based and we need to know about it because remember, if he had been attacked in some way, if they had, God forbid, actually found the vice president of the United States or the speaker of the House, you're talking about the presidential succession line. That is very important to our democracy to know just how fragile it was. That's why I ultimately think the Supreme Court should yield the conclusion of -- in this cost-benefit analysis of whether to be transparent and (INAUDIBLE) forthcoming or to honor a prior president's claim of privilege, which is not existent, they have to lend themselves towards transparency, and Vice President Pence's testimony could be the very conduit they need.
LEMON: That's what you think. You know what I think, Laura? I think you are the only other person that I've heard than myself -- some other people -- who use the term "champing at the bit" correctly. That is my pet peeve. When people say chomping at the bit, I'm like it is not chomping, it's champing!
LEMON: Thank you for getting it right.
COATES: And I don't even ride horses. Thank you so much. You're welcome.
COATES: You know what? A little Google goes a long way. There is a thing that we call the lexicon of the English language. Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you, Miss Laura Coates. Thank you, Mr. Elie Honig, I appreciate it.
HONIG: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: So, joining me now, CNN senior political analysts Ron Brownstein and Kirsten Powers, and former chief strategist to the Romney presidential campaign Stuart Stevens. They always have perfect grammars, so I'm not even, you know, they do everything correctly.
LEMON: Good evening to all of you. Stuart, let's start with you. Let's start with the Hannity text and the committee wanting more information from him. So, this is what he was saying behind the scenes, not to his audience, that whole time. What do you think of this?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think the problem we have is that we fall back on thinking about this under the way that our sort of political societal structure existed before, which isn't the right one.
Hannity is not a journalist. Fox is not a news outlet. Fox is propagandist. I mean, the history of how this works is pretty clear. You can look at Germany, you can look at Hungary, you can look at Venezuela. It is a pattern here and we have to just accept that the Republican Party is an authoritarian force. It has financiers and it has propagandists. The propagandists are formed by Fox. It is that simple. So, let us don't confuse it. He's not a Ron Brownstein here.
LEMON: So, Fox is an arm of the Republican Party. It is basically -- they use Fox -- the Republican Party uses Fox News to push out their propaganda.
STEVENS: He is not a White House staffer, but he is more important than 99 percent of the White House staffers.
LEMON: Yeah. Ron, what do you want to say?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree. I mean, I think that it is not exactly an arm of the Republican Party in the sense that it has independent agency itself, but it is kind of a force in the conservative movement that isolates its viewers in kind of, you know, an artificial world.
And the success, the overwhelming numbers of Republicans who believe despite no evidence that Biden was elected only because of (INAUDIBLE) three quarters in polling a year later after every court in the country laughed out the supposed evidence, I mean, it is testimony to how powerful this is and it really does create kind of a nation within a nation and an enormous pressure on Republican elected officials to avoid cooperating with the Democratic president on pretty much anything.
So, you know, it's not only a subservient kind of, you know, arm of the party. It drives kind of a conservative movement agenda to some extent on the party. But either way, it is just an enormous force for polarization of American society.
LEMON: Kirsten Powers is sitting here and going, look, guys, I know. You guys have -- I've seen you guys explaining everything. I'm joking, but you are. I'm sure you're sitting here going, look, I used to work there, I know Fox News, I'm the only one sitting here on this panel who knows. I mean, you worked there. I mean, oftentimes with Sean Hannity. You are on his show.
What is your read on him having such a close relationship with the White House, with the administration, to be saying things like this? I mean, pretty much behind Trump's back, saying one thing on text messages behind Trump's back and another thing on television. Are you even at all surprised by this? Talk to us.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, at this point, I am not surprised. I mean, it is obviously a very different place than when I left there, I think, five years ago. So, I don't think that these kinds of things would have been so accepted. I don't even think anybody over there seems to even care about this.
The language that he was using even in these text messages, the we, right, like they're all part of the same thing, there isn't even -- they are not even pretending that there is any kind of distance between them.
Now, Hannity has said before he doesn't consider himself a journalist. He is a talk show host. So, I don't know how he is now playing a journalist invoking the First Amendment even though they're not -- they are not going after sources and methods here. That is not really what is going on. This is not in any way -- doesn't really have anything to do with him being a journalist or a talk show host, frankly. It has to do with what did you know leading up to January 6th. It looks like you knew a lot.
And that, you know, even if he was a journalist, that wouldn't protect him in this situation because it is not -- again, it is trying to reveal sources and methods or anything like that. It is just trying to understand what did you know about what the president was expecting to happen, wanting to happen, and what he was thinking about it.
LEMON: So, you don't think this would have happened pre-Trump over at the Fox propaganda network?
POWERS: I have vague memories of people getting in trouble. I think (INAUDIBLE) Hannity of going like to a campaign rally or something.
LEMON: He was on stage at a campaign rally. Called him up and Sean Hannity went up on stage. I think --
POWERS: No, I mean, this is pre-Trump.
LEMON: Pre-Trump, oh, yeah. And also, the judge -- what is her name?
POWERS: He got in trouble for it. So, I don't think -- I do think there is a difference. I will say also, the arm of the Republican Party, I actually think it works in the other direction. I think they have much more power over the Republican Party than the Republican Party has over them.
So, they drive everything that's happening, even if we look at what's happening in terms of voter fraud, how supposedly Democrats stole the election. Well, that has been a story that Fox News has been pushing for as long as I can remember.
So, all of these seeds are planted and pushed out through Fox News through their -- what they call their entertainment hosts. That would be Hannity. He would be an example of that. Fox & Friends, they consider that an entertainment show. So, that is how they kind of play the game. But it has gone to a completely different level, I think, in its current iteration.
LEMON: One more question. Do you think that -- remember, the text messages came out before -- I think it was Laura -- what is her name? Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. There was a whole thing about text messages before. And then this. Have they been exposed as actors?
Because they get pearl clutching about what happens on the so-called liberal media, which is everything -- they consider liberal media, everybody other than them. And then you have them actually trying to influence what happens at the White House. There are receipts of it. And then now they want to be -- you know, they want them to come and talk about an investigation. Have they been exposed as the actors and frauds that they are?
POWERS: I mean, I guess there are people out there who believe that they are sort of on the up and up. That is really hard for me to believe. But I guess for those people who were believing that they were on the up and up, they've been exposed, though those people will probably never hear about it. That's the thing. They live in an alternate universe where all they know is what Sean Hannity tells them and what Laura Ingraham tells them.
So, yeah, I think that they have shown their willingness to do one thing behind the scenes and then turn around and go on TV and say something completely opposite of that if it is going to keep them in good stead with their viewers and if it is going to please, you know who, Donald Trump.
LEMON: Okay. Hold your thoughts. We have another. I'm going to keep you guys over the break and we'll talk about -- because they will also want to talk to -- the committee wants to talk to the former vice president, Mike Pence, as well. So, we'll hear from Ron, from Kirsten, and Stuart right after this break. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Back with me now, Ron Brownstein, Kirsten Powers, and Stuart Stevens. Stuart, before we get to the vice president, do you actually think this is good for Sean Hannity?
STEVENS: It's great for Sean Hannity. I mean, his speaking fees will go up. He wants to be a martyr and he wants to be a leader of an authoritarian movement. And what better proof than here is someone who is so close to the president of the United States. He is helping direct events on 1-6. He has an inside channel. I mean, look, this is a dream come true for Sean Hannity, which doesn't mean they shouldn't subpoena him. Of course, they should.
LEMON: Not good for democracy, though. Ron, what do you want to say?
BROWNSTEIN: Can I just add one point about that? I mean, I think this really shows what Democrats are up against in this momentous choice they face in the next few weeks on whether to roll back the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.
You know, the last time the Senate reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, Republicans were in control of the Senate and it passed 98 to nothing. But you see in a Fox world how difficult it is to get Republicans to kind of cross the line that Fox is laying out there, as we were talking about, that there is this systemic fraud rotting American elections for years.
I mean, when they brought up the Voting Rights Act, forget the broader democratic election bill. When they brought up just the Voting Rights Act a few weeks ago, only one Republican even voted to -- Lisa Murkowski, to open the debate as compared to '06 when every Republican voted for the reauthorization.
And I think what this says to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema is that what they are asking for is completely unrealistic in this world. The idea that a large number of Republicans are willing to kind of step across this very deep channel that Fox and all the other conservative media has created to support any effort to shore up voting rights is just unrealistic.
So, the choice they're going to face in a couple of weeks on Martin Luther King Day or around then is do they act alone or do they not act? Because I think what we are seeing is why it is so hard to get any meaningful number of Republicans to resist what Trump and Fox and others are doing.
LEMON: I think we know the answer to them, and that will probably be to not act. Stuart, let's go now to the vice president. The committee, the chair of the committee also saying that he wants to hear directly from the former vice president, Mike Pence. Pence has been slowly distancing himself from the big lie. We don't have to play the soundbite. We know. So, what do you think? Has he distanced himself enough to cooperate with this committee?
STEVENSS: I doubt he will. Look, I resist this idea that we're going to praise Vice President Pence because he actually didn't go along with overthrowing the government of the United States and ending peaceful transition of power. That is a pretty low bar.
I mean, Pence saw all of this. If you go back and you read all these books about what happened post-election, I mean, Pence was calling up Dan Quayle saying, isn't there a way I can do this? Pence is no hero here.
I mean, he is someone who stood for his entire life for this whole idea of morality, someone who went on radio stations and ran it against adultery, then he teamed up with Donald Trump. I can't think of a more perfect phony in American politics than Mike Pence.
LEMON: Nobody has said that. I've been waiting for someone to say that now for five years. This guy ran on. He was such the perfect oh, adultery and family and anti-gay and all of this, and then he ran with the guy who, you know, had affair with a porn star and what have you. I've got to run but I'm going to give Kirsten the last thought here. Go ahead, Kirsten.
POWERS: On what?
LEMON: On whatever you would like to say.
LEMON: That is dangerous, I know.
POWERS: Yeah. I know. Yeah.
LEMON: Do you think Pence -- Pence is not going to cooperate, though, right?
POWERS: I don't think so. I mean, the truth is, he doesn't really have much to lose. He doesn't have a bright future basically because of him not going in a thousand percent with the whole plan. So, this would be a good opportunity for him to do the right thing, but I don't think that we should expect that to happen. And I agree we shouldn't be lowering the bar for people that if they just do the minimally decent thing that we somehow treat them as heroes.
LEMON: We're so happy that you're here at CNN, Kirsten Powers.
POWERS: I am.
LEMON: Instead of that other place. You probably are much happier for it as well.
POWERS: Yes. Very happy here.
LEMON: Okay, good. I was waiting for the yes.
LEMON: Thank you all. Have a good evening. I appreciate it.
STEVENS: Thank you.
LEMON: I'll see you soon. Take care. Happy new year to you.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants his party to change the rules to get voting rights passed, but not everybody in his party is on board with that. We'll talk to Congressman James Clyburn. We will ask him what he thinks after this.
LEMON: Tonight, Senator Joe Manchin hinting he might be open to some changes in the filibuster, but how that might ultimately impact the passage of voting rights legislation is really unclear at the moment.
The Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin, saying today that Democrats are turning up their focus on voting rights now that the Build Back Better plan is on the backburner for the moment.
Lots to discuss with Representative James Clyburn, the Democrat of South Carolina who is the House majority whip. Good to see you. Happy new year. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Same to you. Thanks for having me.
LEMON (on camera): Let's talk about Senator Manchin saying that he doesn't want to make any changes that would divide the country further. This is what he said this morning. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think these are things that Republicans and Democrats both could and should agree on. So, we want to talk to everyone. I want to engage everybody. I'm just not doing it from one side. I think that for us to go it alone, no matter what side does, it ends up coming back at you pretty hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, he says his absolute preference is not to change the rules unless there's republican buy-in. Isn't that completely out of touch with where the Senate GOP actually is? They have been repeatedly blocking Democrats' attempts to pass voting bill.
CLYBURN: That's quite true. The fact of the matter is that's my preference as well. And that was our preference years ago, when we got 100 percent Republicans voting in favor of the authorized Voting Rights Act.
Now, we have no Republicans in favor of reauthorizing. So, if they can make a shift in that position, maybe it is time for us to make a shift in ours. Now, I don't understand why Senator Manchin feels that we're going to have to hold on to the position when they have changed their position.
We are all together and we were doing those irrespective of party and talking about voting as being an American issue. To maintain this democracy, then we are all together. That is my preference. It should be. And yes, I agree, that is what should be. But that is not what is. So, we have to go in ourselves accordingly.
LEMON: This is -- he is also proposing rather than requiring 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, he's hoping to require -- making it three- fifths of those present, meaning if there are absences, the threshold will be reduced. Would that be an acceptable compromise?
CLYBURN: I don't think so. I think that we ought to just decide that voting and other constitutional issues are not be subjected to a filibuster. That's just the way it ought to be. We do it for the budget. We do this reconciliation process so that no one person can filibuster (INAUDIBLE) credit of the United States of America. And the same should apply when it comes to constitutional issues.
CLYBURN: So, I think they're going a little bit around the edges. That's not the thing to do. If the Republicans are not going to be supportive of everybody (INAUDIBLE) an unfettered vote, then let's move on without them.
LEMON: What about -- you know, a lot of people have been talking about this. The so-called talking filibuster. Would someone propose -- the president, you know, mentioned it in an interview with me a couple times. If Senator Machin would support that, would that be substantive in terms of voting on voting rights?
CLYBURN: Well, you know, it all depends on how you write the rules. If you say that one person has to keep the floor, that's one thing. If you say that one person can hand the floor to another person and they keep doing that and get up to 50 some odd people, that's another thing. So, if you're going to modify the filibuster, go back to what it used to be, that would not be anything new.
When Strom Thurmond broke the record back in 1957, it was a talking filibuster. And so, if you go back to the talking filibuster, that's one thing. But how are the rules be written so as to make voting (INAUDIBLE)?
LEMON: Do you think that there is -- speaking of -- do you think that there is value in the filibuster to preserve the rights of the minority or do you believe, when the tables are turned, the Republicans are in power, that they will just get rid of -- get rid of it anyway, and so Democrats should act now specifically for voting rights?
CLYBURN: I think both those things are true. There is value in the filibuster. But it should be limited. It should not be unlimited. What we got now is a person sitting downtown somewhere in a spa making a phone call and the filibuster (INAUDIBLE) think about it.
Now, if we are talking about giving time for a person to muster support for his or her position, to explain to people why he or she feels the way he or she feels, that's one thing. But if it's just unlimited and you can hold it up forever, which is what the case is now, that to me, I am not in favor of.
LEMON: Yeah. Congressman Clyburn, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And again, happy new year to you.
CLYBURN: Same to you. Thank you so much for having me.
LEMON: So, facts first. The attack on the Capitol was just that, an attack. But despite the evidence of pictures and videos, the lies just keep on spreading. Our very own Daniel Dale is here to tell us the truth and he is next.
LEMON: Nearly one year since the January 6th attack and some Americans are still pushing lies about the deadly insurrection, we're going to knock them down tonight.
As we like to say facts first here, I want to bring in now Daniel Dale. He is CNN's fact checker in chief. Daniel, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining.
Let's get right to it. One of the biggest false claims from Trump and others is that all the rioters at the Capitol that day were unarmed. Give us the facts.
DANIEL DALE, CNN FACT-CHECKER: That is not even close to true, Don. We heard it again from former President Trump in December. Dozens of rioters at the Capitol that day were armed. In fact, so far, according to the Department of Justice last week, more than 75 people who illegally entered Capitol grounds have been charged to date with entering with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
That includes at least four people accused of bringing guns on Capitol grounds and that includes things like knives, like batons, like tasers, baseball bats, axes, the list goes on and on.
So, whether are using arms to refer specifically to guns or more broadly talking about weapons, the claim is just completely and utterly inaccurate.
LEMON: Another lie that some supporters of the former president including some in the right-wing media love to spread is that the insurrection was a false flag. Can you tell us about that?
DALE: Yeah. This claim is so completely nonsense. It is almost an insult to Americans' intelligence. We know for a fact that this insurrection was orchestrated and perpetrated by supporters of former President Trump. Not only did we see them and hear them that day. The fact that they support Trump has been exhaustively confirmed in their own social media posts, their own comments to media outlets, and in their own admissions in court.
This was not some attack secretly orchestrated by say left-wing Antifa to make President Trump look bad. So, Trump keeps saying, well, maybe it was Antifa. Antifa was agitating. We have more than 700 people charged to date. Of those more than 700 people, not a single one has been shown to be a member of left-wing Antifa.
In contrast, hundreds and hundreds have been proven to be trump supporters. And a number of them have been confirmed to be affiliated with right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. So, no this is not a false flag. Yes, as we all knew from the start, this was in fact perpetrated by supporters of Trump.
LEMON: Facts first. Daniel Dale, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
DALE: Thank you.
LEMON: One in five hospitals reporting their ICU beds are nearly all full. Doctors and nurses sounding the alarm again. Stay with us.
LEMON: The Omicron variant spreading so fast. The CDC estimating it now accounts for 95 percent of all new COVID infections, up from just eight percent a month ago. And with the spike in COVID cases, at least 113,000 Americans are now hospitalized with the virus and hospitals are overwhelmed.
I want to bring in now Dr. Robert Wachter. He is the chair of UCSF Department of Medicine, where researchers identified the first Omicron case in the U.S. I'm so happy to have you here. Good evening to you.
Dr. Wachter, let's start with the new guidance from the CDC, shortening the isolation period for someone with a positive test but no symptoms to five days. But there's no required test at the end of those five days to end the quarantine. Is this the best message knowing how contagious Omicron is?
ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIR, UCSF DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE: Yeah, I don't think they got this one right, Don. I think there is an imperative to try to shorten the length of time that people are in isolation, particularly for hospitals and clinics and airplanes and all sorts of reasons. But most people will not be infectious at five days, but some people still will.
So, I think the better message would have been five days and then a rapid test or better yet two days in a row to have negative rapid test before you come out of isolation.
They also need to strengthen the message about wearing a mask. The idea is you come out of isolation, but you should still wear a very good mask and I would say an N95 for another five days just to be absolutely sure you're not infectious.
LEMON: Let's talk more about that because we've heard everything from -- you now, N95s are the best and recommended, to cloth masks, are still okay. What is your choice for the best given the spread that we are seeing right now? Is it N95?
WACHTER: Yeah. I mean, I don't think there is any question the N95 is a better mask or the KN95 or any variations of that theme. It filters out far more virus than the cloth masks. The cloth mask does very, very little.
And so, for much of the pandemic, I was wearing a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top, which isn't bad, and gets you maybe 70 percent of the way there. But since Omicron became the thing, I figure the virus has upped its game in terms of its ability to infect me. I need to up my game in terms of my ability to keep it at bay. And so, I'm now wearing -- when I'm wearing a mask, which is pretty much every time I'm indoors unless I'm in my bubble, I'm wearing an N95 or the equivalent.
LEMON: I want you to look at this public plea from ER doctors and nurses in Massachusetts asking people not to come in with mild COVID symptoms or for routine testing. Here it is. It says, our emergency departments are at a critical capacity and things will get worse. Waiting rooms are overflowing and hospital admission beds are limited throughout Massachusetts.
In the coming days and weeks, we will see more nurses, doctors, and support staff become infected and stay home to isolate and get well. This situation will challenge our emergency departments and hospitals even more.
The people and facilities are at a breaking point now.
WACHTER: That they are. And this is now two years into it. The thrill is very much gone. I think we also know that a fair number of people that are coming in very sick have made some bad choices. They need the care. They deserve the care. But still, it didn't have to happen. Much of that was preventable.
And we're facing a different kind of crisis than we faced a year or two ago. We never really had the challenge where we had a lot of nurses and docs and other health care workers who were out sick as well.
So, not -- and it's also happening at the peak of winter when hospitals are already full. We tend to run very full over the winter because of flu and other kinds of seasonal illnesses. So, you're talking about very full hospitals with a lot of COVID patients on top of it.
Even though some COVID patients are coming in for other things and they have -- quote -- "incidental COVID," you still have to isolate them. It still takes a lot of extra time. And then on top of that, a lot of health care workers out sick.
So, we've got to -- it really is at the breaking point in many cities. Where I am in San Francisco, it's not quite that bad, but we're planning for it to get that bad. It could get that way everywhere.
LEMON: Doctor, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
WACHTER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. A lot of breaking news to cover this evening.