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Don Lemon Tonight
Oath Keepers Leader Charged With Sedition; Two Democrats Not Agreeing On Voting Rights Bill; Supreme Court Blocked Vaccine Mandates; Oath Keepers Purchased Stash Of Weapons; RNC Sent A Letter To CPD. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST (on camera): Hey, thanks for watching. I'll be back tomorrow. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know --
COATES: Hey, Don Lemon.
LEMON: Hey. You know what I've been surprised to see, Laura?
LEMON: All the members of BLM and antifa that have been charged with sedition and conspiracy, have you noticed that?
COATES: I mean the numbers. I've got pages and pages of, wait, nothing.
COATES: That's right.
LEMON: It hasn't happened. If this -- if this -- if what happened today isn't proof to all those people who are saying, it must have been the FBI, must have been antifa, it must have been BLM, the Democrats were behind it. And none of that has shown up in any of the charges. Look, you're the law. You're the law lady. You know this should be proof today that what you're believing is B.S. What you're saying is total B.S.
COATES: For some reason I had like -- I had an image now of me walking with cowboy boots talking about I'm the law in this part. It was my -- my immediate image. But you know what? Think about it. The problem is that it was never about what was common sense and logical.
COATES: That's the frustrating part. It was never about that. Because you know it was going to be spun. Now it will be -- now suddenly it will be a criticism of this DOJ being political, and that wasn't the case before for the prior DOJ and attorney general. They are going to talk about them.
So, it's sometimes I think the point is to frustrate, and so the arguments come out, Don, where they're like, well here's the explanation for why this is.
COATES: It's -- I might think, you know, the point is to frustrate because logic has shown its face since January 7th.
LEMON: Yes. But today with the charges from these are the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, right?
COATES: The Oath Keepers. Yes.
LEMON: These are the Oath Keepers. I don't think there are Oath Keepers that are BLM or antifa and so on and so forth.
COATES: No. So, they actually criticized them as I think they call them Marxist.
COATES: They talked about that. And certainly, the person who's the leader has been outspoken on that very issue which we know is not case. But now, I'd be curious -- he doesn't even have a lawyer. As you hear I was talking to his civil or the committee lawyer but not an actual court lawyer. He does not yet have one.
COATES: I'm wondering if we'll get sort of the Rittenhouse in terms of funding to see who actually really does have his back.
LEMON: Yes. We shall see.
COATES: We shall see.
LEMON: I got images of Annie Oakley. Laura Oakley, that's it. Thank you, Laura, I'll see you tomorrow.
COATES: God. Goodbye.
LEMON: Have a good one. So, everyone, thank you for joining us. This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
So, what we've been talking about just now is called seditious conspiracy. Seditious conspiracy. Sedition, you guys know what that is. It's a chilling charge. The U.S. code characterizes sedition as two or more people who conspire to overthrow the U.S. government or, quote, "prevent, hinder or delay the execution of U.S. law by force."
Two or more people who conspire to overthrow the U.S. government or, quote, "prevent, hinder or delay the execution of U.S. law by force." What's that sound like? January 6th.
The DOJ charging the leader of the far-right extremist Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes and ten others. The charge carries 20 years max in prison.
On December 22nd, 2020, according to the indictment, Rhodes allegedly stated that if President-elect Joe Biden were able to assume the presidency, and I quote here, "we will have to do a bloody -- massively bloody revolution against them. That's what's going to have to happen," end quote.
And we saw the Oath Keepers in action January 6th. We saw it with our own eyes, right? It played out live on our television sets and then we got the video thereafter. This video shows what is called a stack of them wearing military gear and moving in tactical formation through the crowd at the capitol. They aggressively pushed through the crowd, eventually getting inside.
But we can't just look at what happened today, OK? Because it's not just what happened today, right? We have to expand our view of this, expand our lens a little bit. We can't even just look at what happened at the capitol on that day.
This is about a months-long plot to block President Joe Biden from ever taking office and using violence to do it. In just the past few days we have learned so much more about how the elements of this coup -- because that's exactly what it was. It was an attempted coup.
We've learned how it was all supposed to come together. The details are pouring out right now, this was no spontaneous uprising. There were a lot of things that had to happen to make all the parts come together like a puzzle. It was a lot of things that had to happen.
There was the plan itself, the relentless pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes even though he had no power to do that and to overturn the election.
We've learned that the committee wants to talk to Mike Pence about that, and he is keeping the door open for that. And in the letter to Kevin McCarthy the committee makes it clear that they think the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had advance knowledge.
Another quote here. "In advance of January 6th you explain to Mark Meadows and the former president that objection to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th was doomed to fail."
This window is just beyond because this one is -- these are the fake Electoral College certificates that we have learned were sent to the National Archives in the weeks after the election declaring that Trump won seven states he actually lost.
And meanwhile, I want you to just take a minute and realize these are the people alleging fraud here. The people who are sending fake electoral certificates are the ones who are alleging fraud. These are the people alleging fraud here, the very same ones who are sending the fake certificates.
The fake certificates created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico. Now, coincidently -- or maybe not -- most of those were states that Republicans planned to challenge on January 6th until the riot at the capitol intervened.
The watchdog American Oversight got copies of the certificates from the archives like this one from Arizona. It's up on your screen. And it's signed by those fake collectors. But one of them Arizona Republican State Representative Jake Hoffman really didn't want to answer a question about it from our affiliate KPNX. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE HOFFMAN (R-AZ), STATE REPRESENTATIVE: So, in unprecedented times unprecedented action is -- there's no case law, there is no precedent that exists as to whether or not an election that is currently being litigated in the courts has due standing, which is why we felt it's appropriate to provide Congress and the vice president with dueling opinions.
UNKNOWN: Did you have direction from anybody in doing this? Was it you yourself doing this, or did someone give you advice on the manner in which you can do it?
HOFFMAN: So, I'm simply -- I was one of the electors. I'm not in charge of the electors.
UNKNOWN: How did you hear?
HOFFMAN: You would need to ask the party chair that.
UNKNOWN: How did you hear about the plan?
HOFFMAN: You would need to ask the party chair that.
UNKNOWN: But you're the person who received the call. You showed up, right? How did you know to show up that day?
HOFFMAN: As I said you can go ask the party chair the logistics of it.
UNKNOWN: So how you got a phone call --
HOFFMAN: You're welcome to talk to them about the logistics.
UNKNOWN: Do you not know how you arrived at a place?
HOFFMAN: Thank you, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
UNKNOWN: Do you really not know how you got a call? HOFFMAN: Have a great one.
UNKNOWN: Do you have --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, it's like Trump hanging up on Inskeep yesterday. Did you -- did you catch that? They thought it was that they had to provide dueling opinions. That sounds a lot like remember alternative facts? Dueling opinions the new alternative facts.
So, we learned about the plot. We've learned more about the plotters. Today we learned about the muscle, the indictment against the Oath Keepers laying out their alleged tactics, weapons, organization and communication.
From the indictment and I quote here, "Rhodes and certain co- conspirators to include selected regional leaders to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by January 20th, 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy force. They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equip themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear and were prepared to answer Rhodes' call to take up arms at Rhodes' direction. Some co- conspirators also amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among quick reaction force, QRF teams, and planned to use the firearms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power."
That whole idea about there were no -- you know, they didn't have guns, many weren't armed. Well, we heard what Commander Kyle and what Michael Fanone said about that. Of course, there were guns at the capitol that day. So that argument is out. That's another lie.
Who's coordinating all of this? Who was behind -- who was the coordinator or coordinators of this? That is a major question yet to be answered by you better bet -- but you better bet that it is being asked.
Like what was working at the Willard Hotel in the so-called war room on January 5th, the meeting allegedly attended by Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, John Eastman and others.
The committee met virtually today with another name. Bernard Kerik. Right? Bernard Kerik. Folks here in New York know him because he's a former New York police commissioner who worked with Rudy Giuliani looking for evidence of voter fraud.
Kerik has told CNN that he paid for suites in Washington hotels used as command centers. And you can bet your bottom dollar the committee has questions about what went on in those command centers. I bet they want to know who the command center was commanding. Who were they commanding? What were they commanding? Why did you need a command center? And when a coup fails, then comes the whitewashing, the cover-up.
Elected officials who were in the United States Capitol while it was being attacked. They knew the score. They knew it then, and they know it now. Just like Kevin McCarthy. This is what he said exactly one year ago tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump. Accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): We play that often because it's important to remind you, the folks out there, the duality, that's a kind way of putting it of Kevin McCarthy and others what they said at the time and what they're saying now.
Because Kevin McCarthy who knew one year ago exactly who was responsible for the attack at the capitol now refusing to cooperate with the January 6th committee. Why wouldn't you cooperate? I have nothing to hide, but I'm not cooperating.
Refusing to tell them what he knows about what happened on January 6th and who he knows is responsible, who he said is responsible. So, we have that, and there's a lot more big news today. OK?
President Biden pulling out all the stops on his last-ditch effort to get one of his biggest campaign promises across the finish line. Here we go again. This time it's voting rights. Forceful speech, an about- face on the filibuster, a trip to Capitol Hill and a White House meeting with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema tonight. And after all that it looks like he's doomed to fail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I hope we can get this done, but I'm not sure. I don't know we can get it done, but I know one thing. As long as I have a breath in me, as long as I'm in the White House, as long as I'm engaged at all I'm going to be fighting to change the way these legislatures are moving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, the president admitting defeat because the GOP won't protect the vote. It's really mainly about the GOP because you can't get one or two when it's usually bipartisan. But you can't get one or two, even a couple? Nope.
GOP won't protect the vote. Two members of his own party won't carve out the filibuster to make it happen. This is what you call -- I mean it's flat out it's a minority ruling the majority. That's what it is. It's what happens when you have a -- a razor thin majority but a minority party explicitly saying we're not going to work with you.
A minority party who appears voting rights, they don't really care about it. It doesn't matter. And then there is the conservative majority Supreme Court in a decision that is a huge hit to the president's attempt to use the power of the federal government to fight the pandemic.
The Supreme Court blocking his vaccine and testing rule for large businesses but allowing a vaccine mandate for some health care workers to go into effect nationwide.
We've got more on all of this coming up tonight. It's a packed news night. We're going to get to all of it. But now I want to get to this investigation.
I want to bring in now CNN's Evan Perez with more on these landmark charges from the DOJ today. And I think that's a good way of putting it, Evan --
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely.
LEMON: -- landmark. And the level of details -- good evening to you by the way. The level of detail in this 81-page indictment is stunning. Is it clear now that the Justice Department is going after not just the rioters but the planners?
PEREZ: Yes. That's, I think, one of the things that you've come away from this document, Don, and you see that for all the criticism that you've heard of the attorney general, you know, there's been a lot of work going on behind the scenes quietly to try to build as they usually do in these cases, to build from the ground up.
And one of the things that strikes you when you read this is that, you know, again, we focus a lot on what happened on January 6th. And this idea that we've seen in all the other court cases that what this was about was about impeding and stopping the certification of the vote count that day.
The prosecutors in this document today, however, go further. They say that this was a conspiracy, that this is the reason why they get to seditious conspiracy. They say that it was a conspiracy that went beyond January 6th, that these people were working to try to impede and try to -- plotting to stop President Biden from taking office.
And then even after they talked about having militias, organizing militias to oppose the new president once he was in office. There's a -- there's a reference in here to Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers who was one of the people arrested today and was charged -- one of the 11 who was charged.
He had a meeting on that night on January 6th where they talked about next steps, according to prosecutors. They talked about retreating to the mountains of Kentucky as a refuge to start Civil War 2.0.
PEREZ: Again, this is all laid out in detail in this document today.
LEMON: Well, for people who were saying this is -- well, two things, Evan, that it was spontaneous.
LEMON: This shows it was not spontaneous. That it was some other -- it was other groups acting on behalf of Democrats and Joe Biden, that it wasn't Trump supporters and it wasn't -- clearly that is not the case.
PEREZ: Not true.
LEMON: OK. I was just -- so I'm reading here because we got new information now on the former police commissioner of New York, Bernard Kerik.
LEMON: Your reporting about his meeting with the January 6th committee, what can you tell us? I'm trying to read it here, but I just got it. Tell us about that, what's going on.
PEREZ: Yes. He met with the January 6th committee, Don, for about eight hours today. So that's a long, long day of interview, virtual interview he had. And he talked a lot - apparently, he was asked a lot of questions about Rudy Giuliani and the effort he was working with Rudy Giuliani on this what they said was an investigation of vote fraud.
Of course, we know that this was all bogus, but -- and he acknowledged, by the way, in this interview with the January 6th committee that they never actually came up with proof of vote fraud. But he felt and Rudy Giuliani felt in all their work, they were working out of the Willard Hotel, they were working out of the Mandarin or Oriental apparently until a COVID outbreak forced them to move hotels.
But, you know, during this whole entire period they never actually came up with any proof, but they felt that they needed to continue pursuing this lie. And so, that's one of the things that we hear ---
LEMON: What do they need a war room for?
PEREZ: He says that it was a misnomer in this interview, apparently. He said that it was mainly to organize everybody who was working on this vote fraud cause that they were pursuing. And, you know, they saw Steve Bannon there periodically I guess during --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: To do exactly what? Working on it, I mean, this was to do
exactly what? To continue to spread lies or --
PEREZ: To continue to pursue, right, the big lie.
LEMON: But not to get people to the capitol? Is that --
PEREZ: That apparently is what he is contending that this is not what this was about.
LEMON: Interesting. He previously provided documents to the committee and went through --
PEREZ: He did.
LEMON: -- them during his testimony.
PEREZ: He did, right, exactly. He had provided documents before, and finally after a bit of a back and forth decided to provide this interview to explain what was going on in those rooms.
LEMON: Evan Perez, thank you.
PEREZ: Good to see you, Don.
LEMON: Good tee to you as well. There's a lot going on. Thank you, Evan.
PEREZ: Yes. Thanks.
LEMON: The indictment today is a huge moment of the investigation of the attack on the capitol on January 6th. So, what about lawmakers who had been trying to whitewash the whole thing? What do they think now?
LEMON (on camera): So, it is a huge moment for the Justice Department filing seditious conspiracy charges against 11 people including the leader of the Oath Keepers, a far- right extremist group. Accusing the defendants of stockpiling weapons and plotting to use force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.
let's bring Chris Swecker now, the former FBI assistant director for the criminal investigative division, and also CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor.
Gentlemen, good evening to both of you.
Look, I don't want to sound hyperbolic, but I mean, Chris, these people sound a little -- it sounds a little scary. I'm a little frightened by reading this. And let me tell you -- let me get this and then I'll tell you why -- I'll ask you why.
A cache of weapons that were amassed ahead of January 6th, some of the allegations from the indictment about the Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes is his and this is what it includes.
It says, on January 3rd or January 3, 2021 Rhodes departed Granbury, Texas and began traveling to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. While traveling, Rhodes spend approximately $6,000 into Texas on an AR platform rifle and firearms equipment, including sights, mounts, triggers, slings, and additional firearms attached. And he allegedly bought more the next day. On January 4, 2021, while still traveling toward Washington, D.C. metropolitan area Rhodes spent approximately $4,500 in Mississippi on firearms, equipments, finding sights, mounts, and optic plate magazine and various firearm parts.
The reason it's scary to me because it sounds like someone is preparing to go to battle. I mean, it is a miracle not a single member of congress was killed.
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Yes, Don. This is called a speaking indictment, and it sure does speak. I mean, I've read it cover to cover. It's impactful. It's a very thorough investigation. It lays out all -- every single step probably backed up by hotel records and texts and all the electronic evidence that the FBI can get their hands on.
So, yes, this is an impactful indictment. I was wondering for a while there whether we were going to see any real conspiracy involving sedition or insurrection. Well, this is it. And it's not surprising that it is the Oath Keepers. They and the Proud Boys seem to be prominent that day, about 20 or so have already been charged. So, this is -- this is very, very serious.
LEMON: One more, Chris, because the indictment details how they had staging areas just outside Washington ready to respond --
LEMON: -- with the purpose of stopping the lawful transfer of power. What's your assessment of the level of planning that went into this?
SWECKER: Yes, it was very militaristic. I mean, they had the quick, so-called quick reaction forces. They had their stacks, their lines of approach. They had people storing weapons and other equipment in hotels. I know that hotel very well. It's right off of the interstate. You can get there in about 10 minutes, which they did when they were called upon. So, the level of detail and the military planning is what really scares me.
LEMON: So, you never thought this was spontaneous?
SWECKER: No, I thought we might see some -- we have seen some conspiracy charges. I wondered if we were ever going to see insurrection or sedition and whether there was going to be some sort of organization behind any part of this.
And I think -- I don't know if we'll see other indictments like this, but I -- you can see why it took so much time. It's very meticulous. When you use this, this statute is very rarely used. I think it was last used about 20 years, 30 years ago, 1990 or so. And it's hard to prove because you're talking about intent. You're talking about some things that overthrow the U.S. government.
You know, it went well beyond the 700-plus charges that we have seen already. So, I'm interested in seeing if you might see other indictments involving maybe the Proud Boys or the 3 percenters, other group, sort of paramilitary-type groups that we've seen individual members arrested.
LEMON: Well, let's talk to Elie about that. Elie is our legal mind here. So, Elie, I mean, nothing about this describes the normal tourist visit that some Republicans have tried to portray. I mean, extremely detail indictment and very serious. What do you think of that and what do you think of what Chris said? Do you think we'll see other charges?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Don, this is game changer as far as it goes. For the first time, and it's taken about a year. We're seeing appropriately serious and heavy charges lodged against some of the people who were behind the organization here. It really lays to rest so many of the myths behind this attack.
And you used an interesting phrase earlier this in show, Don. You said these guys are the muscle -- the muscle. And I think that's a good way to describe it. When you read the indictment, it makes that very clear. But let's remember, muscle does not act on its own. Muscle acts on some sort of impulse I guess to continue the analogy from a brain or from a nerve center.
And so, my big question is going to be, will the Justice Department be able to bring similar charges against other people who were literally above ground level because all these folks, yes, the leader of the Proud Boys did not -- of the Oath Keepers, excuse me, did not physically go into the capitol, but he was there. We are still literally at ground level here. I want to see if the DOJ is able to take it up higher.
LEMON: I want to, let me, I just want to read this. This is from the indictment a message from Stewart Rhodes. This was December 11, 2020. Rhodes stated that if President-elect Biden were to assume the presidency it would be a bloody and desperate fight. He says we're going to have to fight a fight that can't be avoided.
But, Elie, Stewart Rhodes, the leader there, was at the capitol but never entered the building. Are they going after the planners now? And who could be next?
HONIG: Yes. Well, I think the key to answering that question is going to be determined by who flips, right, and who cooperates because that's the key to bring them up the chain even further. I will tell you from my years as a federal prosecutor, people flip in
federal cases all the time. I mean, the Oath Keepers say they have this oath. You know, those oaths go out the window real quick when you get hit with federal charges. And these guys are looking at very serious time.
Unfortunately, we've gotten used to some really laughable short sentences in these January 6th cases. People getting probation on misdemeanors. The highest sentence we've seen so far is just over five years. These defendants are looking at significantly more than that, double that, arguably triple that depending on how the guidelines work out.
So, they're going to have very hard incentives to flip, and if they do, then we'll see if the DOJ is able to take it up beyond just the physical vicinity of the capitol that day into where they're getting their instructions.
And Don, one thing that's eminently clear from page one through the end of that indictment. The reason these guys stormed the capitol was Donald Trump's big lie, the same lie that was being perpetrated and thought of and spread from that Willard Hotel war room that you mentioned before. Why do they call it the war room? That's what drove this muscle into the capitol building.
LEMON: Elie, Chris, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
President Biden meeting with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema hours after they declare that they won't budge on the filibuster? Is there any chance that he can change their minds or is it the final nail in the coffin for voting rights legislation?
LEMON (on camera): The president meeting with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House for more than an hour tonight trying to keep his push for voting rights alive. That after Sinema speaking on the Senate floor made it clear that she is shutting down any possibility of axing the filibuster to pass voting rights. Less than an hour before President Biden arrived on Capitol Hill to push Democrats to do exactly that.
So, joining me now to discuss CNN senior political analyst, Mr. Ron Brownstein.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Ron, here we go again. Good evening, sir. Look, definitely this is a blow to President Biden and to Democrats and to the cause of voting rights that will reverberate throughout the midterms.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. LEMON: It's going to reverberate and beyond, the next presidential election --
LEMON: Right. So, talk to me about the significance of what happened today.
BROWNSTEIN: It's a momentous day. I mean, you know, you can look at the failure now with Kyrsten Sinema saying she will not accept any carve out from the filibuster for voting rights, as well as Joe Manchin echoing that position. You are now in a position where the road may be clear for the red states to proceed to steadily tighten the tourniquet on voting rights throughout this decade.
I mean, the Supreme Court has made clear that it is not going to interfere. The Roberts court has never overturned a state voting rights restriction, and in fact kind of banged the gong for everything you're seeing with the Shelby County decision, in 2013 eliminating the Justice Department clearance authority.
And with Manchin and Sinema saying that you need a super majority, a bipartisan super majority for Congress to act, there may be no effective constraint on what the red states can do. So, we could be in a period of a significant unwinding of civil liberties and civil rights that go beyond voting rights in the red states.
I mean, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court is going to let the states -- the red states restrict or ban abortion. We're seeing roll backs of LGBTQ rights, first amendment rights in terms of limiting how teachers can talk about race in schools or how people can protest, heighten penalties for protesters.
There is a great divergence, I think, that is ahead between what basic civil liberties look like in red states and blue states, and today is a turning point or cross roads on that path.
LEMON: And all of this -- I mean, listen, the lion's share of the blame should be placed on Republicans because they're just not going to budge, but also on the two Democrats who have this sort of misguided idea of what the filibuster is actually about and the history of the filibuster. You said --
BROWNSTEIN: We'll --
LEMON: Go on.
BROWNSTEIN: Think of the asymmetry that is in place here. We're seeing Republicans impose these voting restrictions in the red states on a party line majority vote basis. There are three Democratic votes total in the state legislatures for the most restrictive voting laws. And something like only 19 out of 1,600 state legislative Republicans have voted against it.
The states are passing these restrictions on a party line majority basis. The Supreme Court decisions (Ph) that have opened the door to this. The Shelby County decision in 2013 and Rucho -- the Rucho decision in 2019 each were approved on a party line majority basis. Five Republican appointees outvoting four Democratic appointees.
But Manchin and Sinema have set a standard that Congress can respond to these restrictions on voting rights only with a bipartisan super majority of 60 votes. And that kind of incongruity, that kind of imbalance in the playing field virtually guarantees, I think, through the 2020s we're going to see more rather than less restrictions on people's access to the ballot box.
LEMON: Why are you -- I guess you answered part of it. But you say that today reveals that the trifecta of red state legislatures, the right leaning Supreme Court and the Senate filibuster making it impossible for Democrats to govern even when they win elections.
LEMON: Meaning this isn't a runoff, and what else does that mean?
LEMON: One off. I said runoff.
BROWNSTEIN: It's not a one off, right. As I said before if you look at what's happening -- what's happening across the board is you're seeing red states on a majority vote party line basis, their legislatures rolling back all sorts of civil rights and civil liberties that we thought were established as common national rights.
And they're doing that on a majority basis. The Supreme Court is giving them the leeway to do that potentially, certainly on voting rights so far and potentially on abortion next summer in that decision and on other rights.
And then the one tool Democrats have to protect these rights whether it's codifying Roe or codifying national voting rights is their ability to pass legislation through the Congress. But in the Congress, they now have to reach this super majority in the Senate, which in effect gives a veto to the same red states.
So, what we're seeing I think is kind of a pincer movement from several directions, which is driven by the uniform as you point out resistance of Senate Republicans but fundamentally enabled by Manchin and Sinema with their eyes wide open.
I mean, they can have no illusions about what's happening either in the red states or the refusal of Senate Republicans to try to rein in what their Republican colleagues are doing in the red states. It was kind of logical to begin with. And all these forces I think make it very difficult for Democrats to advance their agenda. Especially when the court on the other side is moving against the exertion of national power as we saw today in their overturning of the OSHA vaccine mandate.
LEMON: Wow. Well, that's we're going to talk about next. Thank you, Ron. I appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: So, Ron just mentioned the Supreme Court, right, and what is happening, handing President Biden a major blow, striking down his vaccine mandate for large businesses. What will he do now?
LEMON (on camera): Look, there's no other way to put it. This is a major blow to President Biden's efforts to fight the pandemic. The Supreme Court today blocking his administration's vaccine and testing requirement aimed at large businesses.
So, let's dig into this decision now with former U.S. attorney Harry Litman. Am I right that this is major blow? I know it was a split right down -- it was a split, right down ideological lines. So, do you think it's a major blow?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Major blow and seems to suggest more to come, a real assault on the administrative state I think by the new conservatives.
LEMON: Do you believe the Biden administration was within its rights legally to put this vaccination requirement in place? What does the law say here?
LITMAN: I do. The law says OSHA must -- must do it if there's grave workplace dangers. The majority said, well, the dangers here are workplace and everywhere. The dissent said so what, there are workplace dangers, and they're accentuated in the workplace. That's enough, and I think they were right.
LEMON: The liberal dissent says this decision undercuts the capacity of the responsible federal officials acting well within the scope of their authority to protect American workers from grave danger. Why didn't that argument win, Harry?
LITMAN: That's the broader theme, right? You know, having administrative agencies with expertise and uniformity, it didn't win because the new majority doesn't like the administrative state very much, doesn't trust it and wants to scale it back.
LEMON: I want to see if you understand this, all right, because these are comments from conservative Justice Clarence Thomas from the oral arguments --
LEMON: -- hearing this -- hearing for this case. Watch this.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: There's been some suggestion or at least it seems to be implied that the vaccinations are efficacious in preventing some degree of infection to others. Could you talk about that? Particularly as I remember in the filings that the 18 to -- that the younger workers, the 20-year-olds who are unvaccinated are actually safer than the older workers who are vaccinated? So, there are obviously some differences.
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): OK. Let me just before you answer that. The science is that vaccinated people regardless of age are way less likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID than unvaccinated. What did you make of those remarks?
LITMAN: Well, I thought it was puzzling and bizarre, but if you put it together with some of the things that the people on that side were saying, I think he's really worried and so is Alito about people who feel their liberty interests are being violated if they have to take a vaccine.
LEMON: Yes, but that's liberty. But the science doesn't show what he's saying, Harry.
LITMAN: Don, no argument there, but he wants to say -- he wants -- they see it as an issue of personal liberty. Their look out here was the people who want to stay unvaccinated and business. The look out of the dissent was the entire country and workers who are powerless if OSHA doesn't stand behind them.
LEMON: All right. Harry Litman, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
LITMAN: Thank you. Thank you, sir.
LEMON: The Republican National Committee threatening to boycott presidential debates if they don't get the changes they want. I wonder who they're trying to please.
LEMON (on camera): Take this. The Republican National Committee threatening to stop future GOP presidential candidates from participating in general election debates. RNC chair sending a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates making that threat and asking for significant procedural changes.
This move clearly aimed to please the GOP's favored future presidential candidate, you know, former President Trump, who during the 2020 campaign railed about the debate moderators and the commission's decision to mute each candidate's microphone during the final debate because he kept interrupting then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden at the first debate.
Think about just how big of a mistake it would be for a candidate not to show up. Debates create moments that may just define a race for a president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have the right approach for the future, and look at the results. It is not midnight in America, Senator, we are better off than we were four years ago.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That's what the question in this campaign is about. It's not only what's your philosophy and what's your position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. Not Al Qaeda. You said Russia. In the 1980s or now, calling to ask for foreign policy back.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As soon as he traveled to 128 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
BIDEN: Would you shut up, man?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Who is -- listen, who is on your list, Joe?
BIDEN: This is --
TRUMP: Who is on your list?
CHRIS WALLACE, FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Gentlemen, I think we ended this --
BIDEN: This is so unpresidential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): It would really be a shame if voters never got a chance to see any of that. The first sedition charges in the January 6th insurrection targeting
the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers. All the latest on the investigation, that's next.
LEMON (on camera): A chilling charge.