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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden Standing Against Republicans; Dr. Anthony Fauci Fights Back; Too Late For Voting Rights; Sen. Rand Paul Raise Funds Out Of Dr. Fauci's Safety; Divisions Don't Move A Needle During Pandemic. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST (on camera): Hey, everyone. Thanks for watching. I'll be back tomorrow. DON LEMON TONIGHT with the great Don Lemon right now.


COATES: Hey, Don Lemon.

LEMON: I heard you were talking football.

COATES: I was. Why do you sound surprised that I was talking football? What do you mean?

LEMON: I heard you were talking football. I mean, I didn't really get to talk football with people, especially not Anderson. I love Anderson, but I talk football and he's like, yes, you know where they throw the thing, doesn't know much about football.

COATES: Interesting, you know, you know where they throw the thing? You know what, you got the most unbelievable and wonderful shade because it's like the kind of shade that --


LEMON: No, I tell them to --

COATES: -- if I was next to you in high school I would have been suspended.

LEMON: No, no, no.

COATES: A lot.

LEMON: We talk about it openly on the air openly.

COATES: I know.

LEMON: That he knows nothing about sports. But listen, I was -- I was actually watching the game kind of out of one eye in the commercial breaks last night. But anybody who beats Alabama, I love it because I'm an LSU tiger, so I was rooting for Georgia having lived in Georgia. But did you see Stetson Bennett's interview this morning, the man, the quarterback? He was so hung over.

COATES: You know, maybe he was tired. Don't call that young man out. Maybe he was just very tired and he had that stupor of having won something.


COATES: His mom might be watching! What are you doing?

LEMON: Well, he deserves -- he deserves to be hung over after that. That was an amazing game. And then the pick six, I'm sure you watched every second of it.

COATES: Well, I got to tell you, I love the come-from-behind victory, but I also love, you know, I had to tell you, I always vote for the underdog.

LEMON: Do you?

COATES: I always love it.

LEMON: The same.

COATES: Because, you know, especially when you -- when you are like me and married to a man who is a fan of the Yankees, you get tired of them winning. You also get tired of any other team that consistently wins, even in a different sport. So, I see you, Alabama. I know you have a long history of the roll tide, but it's good to see somebody else win for a second.

LEMON: This is my final thing I will say to you as an LSU Tiger that we say. Around the bowl and down the hole, roll, Tiger, roll. Because we hate --

COATES: I see.


COATES: Well, you know what, you are an LSU Tiger, I'm a Princeton Tiger. There you go, we're still tigers.

LEMON: We're Tigers.

COATES: I love it.

LEMON: Tigers all the way. Go Tigers.


COATES: I love. But we weren't -- we weren't going to be champions in football.

LEMON: Not at all. But you are brainy. Thank you. See you, Laura. Nice show. See you tomorrow.

COATES: Bye, Don Lemon.

LEMON: Good night.

COATES: Bye. See you. Bye.

LEMON: So, we are going to talk about Georgia a lot tonight. We're going to talk about Georgia's big victory. Congratulations to the dogs. My colleague Kaitlan Collins is not in a happy place today as Alabama -- roll, Crimson Tide. Sorry, Kaitlan. Not really though.

So, we're going to talk about Georgia and we're going to talk about voting rights that the president being there.

This is Don Lemon Tonight. And look, it is the most precious right we have in our democracy, let's be honest, a right that countless Americans have fought and died for, the right to vote. I have been talking to you about this for the last year or so now, maybe almost two years.

President Joe Biden says that he is tired of being quiet about it. Finally saying that. The president pushing voting rights as his answer to the attack on the capitol on January 6th and explicitly taking on his predecessor whose big lie of bogus voter fraud is metastasizing into assaults on voting rights all across this country.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Remember what the defeated former president said to the highest-ranking election official, a Republican in this state? He said, quote, "I just want to find 11,780 votes." Pray God, he didn't say that part. He didn't say, count the votes. He said, find votes --


BIDEN: -- that he needed to win. He failed because of the courageous officials, Democrats, Republicans, who did their duty and upheld the law. But with this new law in Georgia, his loyal -- his loyalists will be placed in charge of state elections.


LEMON (on camera): Voting rights are under assault. Let me say it again. Voting rights are under assault. Our democracy is in peril. Those are both true. But the truth is as well that Senate Republicans are refusing even to debate it, refusing even to talk about it.

And the president who served in the Senate for 36 years now finally admitting that the only way forward may be to get rid of the filibuster for voting rights.


This is a big deal. This is -- all day I have been saying this is the big story of the day, that someone who loves the Senate and who has such reverence for the Senate and the work that people do there, changing his stance on the filibuster. It is a really big deal. That is the story.

President Biden clearly saying that he supports getting rid of filibuster to protect voting rights.


BIDEN: I believe that the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bill. Debate them! Vote! Let the majority prevail! If that bear minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of the filibuster for this!



LEMON (on camera): So, it did take him some time to get to that point, right, to finally get to this point, decades even. And I will explain. Remember when -- do you remember when President Biden told me this? This was at our town hall just last summer.


LEMON: This is important for people who look like me. My grandmother would sit around when I was a kid, fifth grade, --


LEMON: -- had a fifth-grade education. I learned that she couldn't read when I was doing my homework and she would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jelly beans in the jar.


LEMON: Or the soap. So why is protecting the filibuster, is that more important than protecting voting rights?


LEMON: Especially for people who fought and died for that?


BIDEN: No. It's not. I want to see the United States Congress, the United States Senate passed S1 and S4, the John Lewis Act, get it on my desk so I can sign it.


LEMON: I pressed him on that. I had to because of the history of this country, because of where I came from, because of what my ancestors dealt with, because of the stories that my grandmother would tell me around the kitchen table. As I would -- as I told the president then, my grandmother had a

fifth-grade education. I realized she had a fifth-grade education when she would try to help me with my homework, I realized she couldn't read, and then she would tell me stories about voting rights in this country.

So, I pressed him on the filibuster, whether he thinks preserving a Senate rule is more important than protecting voting rights. He said it is not. So here we are months later. The president of the United States making a last-ditch attempt to get one of the biggest campaign promises across the finish line, even though there is virtually sadly no chance that it will work.

A coalition of voting rights groups boycotted the speech, calling for concrete action instead of what they called a photo-op. Now, Chuck Schumer is vowing the Senate will hold votes on the bills and filibuster changes on or before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That is next Monday.

While Mitch McConnell is threatening that if Democrats weaken the filibuster that he's going to personally guarantee that the Senate will grind to a halt.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: What would a post-nuclear Senate look like? I assure you, it would not be more efficient or more productive. I personally guarantee it.


LEMON (on camera): So, in the face of all of this, even in all of that obstructionism, right, it is worth noting that there are some Republicans who aren't totally in the death grip of the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term insurrection-inspiring former president.

There is Senate -- Senator, excuse me, Mike rounds. Mike Rounds suffered the wrath of the former president for selling the truth, saying that the 2020 election was fair and Republicans just plain lost. He tells CNN that his party needs to be seen as responsible and honest.


SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): Nobody is out looking for confrontations. We are looking for is to be able to provide good information in a timely fashion. But to be seen as being responsible and being honest, and I think that's what the American people deserve and I think that's what many of us want to do, is we're not looking to fight. What we're looking is to say, here are the facts, and they're not going to change.


LEMON (on camera): Get this. Mitch McConnell agrees with him. Mitch McConnell telling CNN exclusively, and I quote here, "I think Senator Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election, and I agree with him."

And then there's also -- there's also Lisa Murkowski, condemning the January 6th attack on the capitol in a way that too many members of her party seem afraid to do, even though they were there as rioters stormed that building.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R-AK): When you have rioters storming through the capitol, desecrating the property, chanting hang Mike Pence, when you have -- when you have the violence that we saw, I mean you can't undo that.


You can't erase it. You can't say that didn't happen, or if it did happen it wasn't -- it wasn't really intended and so, therefore, it wasn't that bad.


LEMON (on camera): I hope the people in the back are listening. Well, not really the back. I hope the majority of Republicans are listening, because they're not saying it nor are they voting in a way or proposing any sort of legislation that reflects what Lisa Murkowski just said.

So that happened as Republicans with omicron spreading across the country are doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on their attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sounds like he has just about had enough.

I want you to listen to what happened today when he went after Rand Paul who seemingly never tries -- excuse me, never tires of trying to smear the nation's top infection disease expert.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The last time we had a committee or the time before, he was accusing me of being responsible for the death of five -- four to five million people, which is really irresponsible.

I say, why is he doing that? There are two reasons why that's really bad. The first is it distracts from what we're all trying to do here today, is get our arms around the epidemic and the pandemic that we're dealing with, not something imaginary.

Number two, what happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there and I have life -- the threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.


LEMON (on camera): That is -- I shouldn't say it's not even a dirty little secret. That's what -- I don't think people talk about that enough with public officials, about those threats and harassment and it happens a lot more than you realize. It never happened before Trumpism. Trumpism. Trumpism.

And Republicans just don't care. They'll point to one or two instances where they try to equate something to a Democrat when it's not -- when it's not even relatable, when it's apples and oranges or when Democrats condemn it and Republicans don't.

Dr. Fauci going on to point out something that I bet you never would have guessed, right, and this is what it is all about. It's all a grift. This is all a grift, everything. Trump is a grift from the beginning. He is a grifter before he was a politician, total grifter.

And then the Republican Party just hopped on board and became the party of grifters. Senator Paul is using his attacks on Anthony Fauci to fund raise. I know, right? Shocker. There's also this open mic moment when Senator Roger Marshall tried to claim that Dr. Fauci had not disclosed financial information. Listen to this.


FAUCI: My financial disclosures are public knowledge and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information.


SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): So, I cannot find -- our office cannot find them. Where would they be if they're public knowledge? Where?

UNKNOWN: Senator --

FAUCI: It is totally accessible to you if you want it.


MARSHALL: For the public, is it accessible to the public?

FAUCI: To the public. To the public.

MARSHALL Great, we look forward to reviewing it.

FAUCI: You are totally incorrect.

MARSHALL: We look forward to reviewing it.

UNKNOWN: Senator Marshall, Dr. Fauci has answered you. It is public information and he is happy to give it to you if you would to ask. Senator Moran.

FAUCI: What a moron.


LEMON (on camera): Where is the lie? Rand Paul and folks like Senator Marshall continue just to beclown themselves. It's public information. Rand Paul, raising money.

The Department of Health and Human Services getting in on the fight with this statement. OK. They say, quote, "when it comes to misinformation, Republicans on the committee clearly weren't trying to stop the spread," end quote.

So, let's get to the big news of the day here. I want to turn now to the president's big speech on voting rights and Senator Jeff Merkley was with him and he joins me now live.


Senator, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining. This is important to our country, but especially important to people who fought for the right to vote. Good evening. Welcome to the program.

President Biden turned up the heat big time on the Senate today. Your colleagues have been pretty clear where they stand, so why would this pressure campaign work? Why would it work this time?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): It is so important, Don, for the president to go down to Georgia because Georgia is a place where we have already seen great discrimination. For example, in the last election the precincts that were 80 percent Black Americans had wait lines on average 10 times as long as the precincts that were 80 percent white.

And it's just an example of what can happen when you have election regulators who want to make it difficult to vote on Election Day and want to target those restrictions to Black Americans, Native Americans, young Americans, college students, the main groups that are targeted.

It's like we're back before 1965 when we finally picked a point in this nation where we said, no, we all stand together behind the right of every citizen to vote. And so, for the president to go there and to make the case in such a powerful way at such an important location, like Ebenezer Church where Martin Luther King taught and Morehouse College which has played such a role in developing leaders in our country was -- was a message to the nation that our democracy is on a precipice.

LEMON: But the --


MERKLEY: And for that precipice we may not recover.

LEMON: The big question, though, you are talking about 1965, 55, 56 years ago. Why are we still here? Why are we -- why are we still fighting for, you know, voting rights legislation? That-- that, again, it's in the name, rights. It should be a right for everyone. It should be as easy for everyone to vote as possible.

The incidents of voter fraud don't live up to what Republicans are saying and don't live up to the laws that they're trying to change around this country. Why are we standing for that as a country? MERKLEY: Well, three things have happened. The first is that the laws

that protected against new efforts to obstruct people from voting were -- was gutted. The Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court. They said it is no longer relevant. I don't think they imagined that this could happen, but they gutted the protection. They tore down the protection against this type of effort.

And the second thing is that President Trump decided to be an authoritarian individual who denied the outcome of the election and perpetrated the big lie. And the third is that his magnetic attraction to the Republican base was so powerful that Republican senators lined up like, you know, lemurs and just marched with him thoughtlessly about their responsibility to protect this country.

And we -- the Senate should have already acted. The president called out the Senate today and he said in a very, very powerful way, where are you going to be? Are you going to be with Dr. King or George Wallace? Are you going to be with John Lewis or Bull Connor? Are you going to be with Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? The Senate will be making that decision in just a couple of days, and we better be with King, and Lewis and Lincoln.

LEMON: My question is basically do you think it ' going to work? I mean I think it is kind of the first question I had. Because let's just say that Democrats are successful in getting a carve out for voting rights. This is what Mitch McConnell is saying. Watch this.


MCCONNELL: If my colleague tries to break the Senate to silence those millions of Americans, we will wake their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory.


LEMON (on camera): He is promising to go scorched earth. So, what do you say to that?

MERKLEY: Well, his strategy has already been, delay and obstruct. He says that obstruction has a good name when it means that Democrats can't get things done. It strengthens his case for Republicans to take power. And this type of threat should inspire us to act to restore the functionality to the Senate, and if there's further obstruction to knock that obstruction down as well.

We should not be cowed or intimidated by this thug who has been attacking the very foundation of our democracy, supporting these efforts around the country to keep people from voting, to gerrymander the House of Representatives beyond recognition, destroying the concept of equal representation, and supporting billionaires buying elections.


And so, all three of those things are in this bill. And, plus, prevention of future acts attacking democracy through the John Lewis Act.

LEMON: Senator.

MERKLEY: And so, we have to get both done.

LEMON: Senator, before I let you go, I have to, because I've got a packed show here, but I have to ask you, why -- why are Democrats just getting around to this? People who have been asking for it, and many of the people who helped to propel this president into office have been saying, you got to do voting rights. It was a promise. It was one of the main reasons we went to the polls to vote for you. Not just Joe Biden but also for other Democrats.

Why are Democrats being so timid about this? Why are they just getting around to this, to the fundamental right, probably the number one fundamental right that we have in this country? What is going on?

MERKLEY: We have been working continuously on it --


LEMON: What are you afraid of?

MERKLEY: We've been working continuously on it since last January. As you know I'm the lead of the For the People Act. I had 49 sponsors but I didn't have 50. Joe Manchin insisted we rewrite the bill. We worked with him all summer to rewrite the bill. Amy has done, Amy Klobuchar has done a fabulous job with the rules committee to be part of that group of nine senators that lead the rules committee, and we have a new bill, Freedom to Vote.

But the short story is we had to keep working to have 50 votes, and not just 50 votes on the bill for 50 votes for overcoming the 60-vote barricade Mitch McConnell has put in place.


MERKLEY: And so, I don't -- we don't -- we didn't have it earlier in the year. We may not have it in the next two days, and it will be a colossal failure if we don't. Hopefully all of the conversations we've been holding for month after month after month, our colleagues, all 50 of them, my colleagues including my colleagues from Arizona and West Virginia will be on the side of King and Lewis and Lincoln when we take these votes.

LEMON: Well, listen, just reading the tea leaves you guys better get out and start registering people to vote because it's going to be an issue in 2022 and 2024. Best of luck. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Listen, on the subject of what the senator just said, 50 Republicans, 50 are opposed to the voting rights bill mired in the Senate. What are they so afraid of and is there anything the president can do now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: I will not yield! I will not flinch! I will defend the right to vote. Our democracy against all enemies, foreign and, yes, domestic.




LEMON (on camera): So, the president making a major speech on protecting voting rights, but the hurdles to passing legislation in the Senate are enormous. While Democrats support the bill, a few are against changing the filibuster rules to make that happen.

On top of that, Republicans are united in their opposition to voting rights legislation and they're threatening retaliation if the filibuster is changed.

So, let's discuss now with CNN's senior political analysts Nia-Malika Henderson is here and also Ron Brownstein are here, I should say, both of them.

It's never easy, guys. It's never easy. You would think that they would want as many people to vote as easily as possible, but, no.

Good evening.

Ron, Democrats may be in a bind here because Senators Manchin and Sinema don't want to change the filibuster, but it is only an issue for them because there are 50 Republicans who are against voting rights.


LEMON: Not one Republican is on board, not even one. Why are they so against voting rights now?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, the last time the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized it passed the Senate unanimously and virtually without opposition in the House and was signed into law by a Republican president, but the Republican Party has moved I think deeper into a position of opposition to broad access to voting. I think largely as a result of demographic change.

It was happening even before Trump. There were a lot of restrictive laws that were passed after 2010. The Republican majority in 2013 in the Shelby County decision on the Supreme Court banged the gong that began all of this by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act.

And I think in many ways what you see is a party that is stacking sandbags against a rising tide of demographic change in states like Florida and Georgia and Texas and Arizona.

LEMON: Listen, Biden asked House senators, want to be remembered on the side of Dr. King, and you heard the senator on before, segregationist George Wallace, on the side of Abraham Lincoln or a confederate president, Jefferson Davis. What did you think of that message that the president is sending, and also Democratic senators are sending?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, if you're asking me --


LEMON: That's for Nia. Nia-Malika Henderson.


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes. Listen, I think it's a stark message. I think it is a clear message. I think it's a message that points to the racist past of the filibuster, the way it has been used historically to block the advancement of civil rights. So, he is pointing to that.

Barack Obama called it a relic of Jim Crow. Biden agreed with that. I don't think this will work in terms of pulling Republicans to the side of Democrats because of all of the things that Ron Brownstein just laid out. They have for decades now really tried to make it more difficult for people to vote across this country and Democrats have been on the other side of that.

They are playing catch-up now, right. Biden at this point goes down to Georgia, the cradle of civil rights, to make this big speech, but it's probably too late if you think about what's already happened in states across the country to make it much more difficult to vote. And also, to make the counting of votes a much more partisan, Republican- controlled effort in some of these states as well.

LEMON: Yes. You know, the people who have been asking the president this, people have been asking the president to do this since day one and, you know, even today people were like, hey, man, what took you so long? Like, we've been telling you this. We've been telling you it is not going to work. We've been telling you about the filibuster but you were not listening.

I mean, this is not the Senate when you were in the Senate, it's not even the Senate when you were in the vice presidency. And then talking about -- he even talk to me about the talking filibuster, but is it a fix, Ron Brownstein?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, I think the president has been second guessing himself on the decision to defer focusing on voting rights until after he thought he could pass his economic plan by Thanksgiving and he didn't want to complicate or roil the waters with Joe Manchin by pressing him on the filibuster as well.


It's not clear that it would have made any difference. And Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have centered their political identity on being Democrats who say no to other Democrats, that it is not clear anything Biden could have said or done could have changed their position. But, Don, this is a hinge point in the history of the country, I

think. Because if you look at that Republican Supreme Court majority it's pretty clear they are not going to impose any meaningful restrictions on how far the states can go in making it tougher to vote. And if you look at the recent history of the last 50 years, it's been really hard for either party to stay in unified control for more than two years at a time.

So, if Democrats don't act this week, there is probably nothing in the way of the red states going further over the decade of the 2020s, even as the country is growing more diverse and the electorate is growing more diverse, in making it tougher to vote, especially for minority populations. And that is exactly what Sinema and Manchin, with eyes wide open, are signing up for.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll continue this conversation.

President Biden says that the change says -- change the Senate rules. And while lots of people have lots of opinions, the fact is the Senate rules have changed many times. Stay with us.



LEMON (on camera): The president calling on the Senate to change the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation, but Senator Joe Manchin still resisting any changes and repeatedly claiming the filibuster has been a part of the Senate since it began 232 years ago.


UNKNOWN: Will you insist on keeping the 60-vote threshold on anything, Senator? Is that important?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, that's -- that's, you know, that is what we have. That's what we've always had for 232 years. That's what basically makes us a little bit different than any place else in the world.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And a nuclear option is off the table for you?

MANCHIN: Well, it's just -- I don't see any other way around it.


LEMON (on camera): So here are the facts. This is the thing. He's flat-out wrong. So, joining me now to discuss, Adam Jentleson, he is the former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid, he is also the author of "Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate."

Good evening, Adam. Thank you so much, sir.

Let's get to this quick because I want to get (Inaudible). Experts are pointing out today that the Senate has not in fact operated this way through most of the history. So, give us the facts. Did the framers really intend to have the filibuster that Manchin is defending?

ADAM JENTLESON, AUTHOR, KILL SWITCH: No, absolutely not, and they were very clear about this. You know, so when the Senate was created the framers created it as a majority-rule institution, and they were very clear about this. They wanted debate to be extensive. They wanted the minority, you know, the numerical minority in any given debate to have their say, but they also wanted, you know, when that debate became obstructionist, they wanted the majority to be able to move the issue to a vote and hold a vote on a majority basis.

So, there was no filibuster in the Senate. The Senate operated entirely on a majority rule basis all through the 18th century, through the 19th century and into the 20th century. And even through most of the 20th century the Senate remained a majority rule basis except civil rights bills which the only bills to have to consistently face a super majority threshold.

LEMON: Shocking. So, another argument for Manchin is that the filibuster forces bipartisan negotiation, but in your book, you argue it makes polarization worse. Why is that?

JENTLESON: That's right. Because, you know, when the minority -- you know, whoever is out of power in the Senate has a chance to block the majority in our polarized environment, the incentive is always for them to block the majority, to make them look bad, to make them look like there's gridlock in Washington and the majority in power can't get anything done.

That makes it easier nor the minority to run for reelection and say, hey, elect us, kick those guys out of power, we'll get stuff done. If you take that option away, then the majority can do, you know, what it promised to do, what it came to office to do and the minority either has to choose to be a loyal opposition and participate in good faith or stand on the sidelines, but it takes away that option for them to create gridlock.

Right now, the filibuster and the need to clear a super majority in the Senate creates that option. It allows the minority to create gridlock exclusively for the purpose of making the majority look bad and that's what you're seeing going on in the Senate right now.

LEMON: So then what are Manchin and Sinema not getting?

JENTLESON: You know, I wish I had the answer to that. I think that they are in sort of indebted and invested in these myths of the Senate. I mean, I write about this in the book. The Senate is an institution that is shrouded and values its own myth making and traditions in a way that is self-defeating.

I think that, you know, this idea that the filibuster promotes compromise is a recent invention. They are deeply invested in that recent myth. What they need is to hear more facts, more persuasion from President Biden. I was extremely happy to see him join the fight today, but, you know,

they are -- they're indented to an old version of the Senate old myths and those myths need to be rebutted by powerful voices like President Biden, like civil rights leaders. I think you saw that process start today.

LEMON: All right. Adam, thank you so much. We'll have you back. Fascinating conversation. It's a great book.

JENTLESON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

Life threatening attacks, political gain, dangerous conspiracies. It's --take this. Dr. Fauci versus Rand Paul, again.



LEMON (on camera): So, take this. Clashing again, Republican Senator Rand Paul going after Dr. Anthony Fauci with false accusations and conspiracies, but this time Dr. Fauci came prepared, laying out exactly why the senator's nonstop attacks are dangerous. Watch this.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Do you think anybody has had more influence --


FAUCI: Let me --

PAUL: -- over our response to this than you have.

FAUCI: Let me finish.

PAUL: Do you think it's a great success -- do you think it's a great success what's happened so far?

FAUCI: You have said --


PAUL: Do you think the lockdowns were good for our kids. Do you think we slow down the death rate? More people have died under President Biden than did under President Trump. You are the one responsible, you are the architect, you are the lead architect for the response from the government and now 800,000 people have died.

FAUCI: Right.

PAUL: Do you think it's a winning success what you have advocated for government?

FAUCI: Senator, first of all, if you look at everything that I said, you accuse me of in a monolithic way telling people what they need to do. Everything that I have said has been in support of the CDC guidelines. Wear a mask. Get boosted.



FAUCI: Get vaccinated.

PAUL: And you have advocated it to make it cursive --

FAUCI: Take a look at everything I've advocated --


PAUL: -- and done to enforce and you've had an (Inaudible) be done by mandate. You have advocated that your infallible opinion be dictated by law.

FAUCI: Right. So, again, Madam Chair, I would like just a couple of minutes because this --

UNKNOWN: All right.

FAUCI: -- this happens all the time. You personally attack me, and with absolutely not a shred of evidence of anything you say. Now some of you may know, just about three or four weeks ago on December 21st a person was arrested who was on their way from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., at a speed stop in Iowa.

And they asked -- the police asked him where he was going and he was going to Washington, D.C. to kill Dr. Fauci. And they found in his car an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition because he thinks that maybe I'm killing people.

So, I ask myself, why would senator want to do this? So go to Rand Paul web site and you see fire Dr. Fauci with a little box that says, contribute here. You can do $5, $10, $20, $100. So, you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.


LEMON (on camera): Did you catch that this time? Is somebody -- is he jealous? Is somebody jealous of Dr. Fauci? That's what it sounds like. If you, like, read the intonation and the body language, right. Dr. Fauci continued to defend himself tonight right here on CNN.


FAUCI: He's raising money for his campaign by making me the villain. He calls me a polarizing figure. Well, if you call me a murderer and say I'm responsible for ridiculous, preposterous, slanderous statements, responsible for the deaths of five million people, doing this and doing that, it's not me that's making myself polarizing. It's him. The only thing I'm trying to do is what you look on the record of

everything I've ever said, getting people to get vaccinated, to get boosted, to wear masks, to abide by the CDC recommendations. That should not be polarizing, Anderson. That's just public health.


LEMON (on camera): And the top doc has backup. The Department of Health and Human Services criticizing Senator Paul saying, it is disappointing and, frankly, unacceptable that Republican senators chose to spend a hearing with the country's leading public health experts, spreading conspiracy theories and lies about Dr. Fauci rather than how we protect people from COVID-19.

As we enter year three of the pandemic, would the country be a lot better off if everyone could attack the virus instead of the experts? That's a question for Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He will answer right after this.



LEMON (on camera): Dr. Anthony Fauci suggesting today that Republican Senator Rand Paul put his life in danger for political gain.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner is with me now. Doc, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us this evening.

Dr. Fauci stood up for himself today, but maybe that's because he is used to it at this point. Senator Paul has been relentless with his political attacks.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. You know, we're in this very, very serious time right now and the Senate is filled with decidedly unserious people. One American is dying every minute in this country of COVID.

I work in a hospital packed with patients with COVID and we're struggling to find ICU beds and I need people that are working to find the solution. I've said before that at this point in the pandemic you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. The solution is getting more people vaccinated and boosted.

You know, Senator Paul has refused to get vaccinated, instead relying on natural immunity. It doesn't work. I need people, you know, who will help us to get better masks to more people. You know, Senator Paul states that masks are useless. All right.

I need people helping to protect children. Senator Paul has stated repeatedly that this virus is of no risk to kids. We've lost 1,000 children to this virus. So, I'm looking for people who are part of the solution, not who beclown themselves the way Senator Paul did today. You know, when I see other -- and when I see other senators --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I used that word earlier too, because that's exactly what he is doing. Go on.

REINER: And when you look at the conduct of that committee, it makes it look like a huge, you know, part of the Senate has really just become basically a confederacy of dunces. And, you know, a large number of health care workers go into battle every day to try and save lives. And then to have to watch this petty politics is really dispiriting.

LEMON: It is. And I'm sure they are dispirited about it. I wonder if it is because that they're taking cues from the Fox propaganda network and things like this. Watch this.


JESSE WATTERS, HOST, FOX NEWS: Then he is in trouble. Now you are going for the kill shot. The kill shot with an ambush, deadly. Because he doesn't see it coming. This is when you say, Fr. Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab.


LEMON (on camera): Is that Fox News? It was Fox News, right? I thought it was like OAN. Why -- and why are they at a political event? Interesting.


Listen, Dr. Fauci took issue with that as well. Words have consequences. Viewers listen to this stuff and they believe it. Can you talk about the role of disinformation and how it is keeping people at each other's throats instead of thinking about how they can actually protect one another?

REINER: Right. So, we've lost almost a quarter of a million people to this virus since the middle of April last year. And I used April as the time point because that was the point that vaccines became available to all adults in the United States. And virtually all of those folks who died since April have made a

choice not to get vaccinated. They've been unvaccinated.

And where do they get this disinformation? Well, they certainly get it from social media, but they're getting it every night from Fox News. They're getting it from people like Tucker Carlson who continually stream into their living rooms this notion that somehow the pandemic is overblown or that vaccines are unproven or unsafe and that this is somehow some kind of liberal plot.

And because of that, when you look at, for instance, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, what you see is this huge split in vaccination rates between people who voted for Joe Biden and people who voted for Donald Trump. About 90 percent of Democrats in this country report that they've been vaccinated and that number is 60 percent for people who voted for Donald Trump. And this is a direct -- this is directly related to the disinformation that comes into their homes and onto their phones every single day, and there's no accountability, and hundreds of thousands of people have died.

LEMON: It's sad, and an embarrassment for America. Thank you, doctor. I appreciate it.

President Biden making a big speech on voting rights today, but where there's talk, will there be action. Stay with us.