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Don Lemon Tonight

Oath Keepers Leader And Ten Others Charged With 'Seditious Conspiracy'; Biden Faces Multiple Setbacks; Don Lemon Interviews Bernice King About Voting Rights; Historian And Bishop Discuss The Role Of Religion In U.S. Politics Amid Deepening Divide; GOP Senator Equates Speeding Tickets To A 'Rap Sheet'; CNN Original Series: Reframed: Marilyn Monroe. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): A chilling charge. The DOJ filing seditious conspiracy charges against the leader of the far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers, and 10 others.

Well, maybe the final nail in the coffin for voting rights legislation tonight.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I hope we can get this done. The honest to God answer is, I don't know whether we can get this done.


LEMON (on camera): The daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joins me to talk about it just ahead.

And do three unpaid speeding tickets amount to a rap sheet?


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): On the eve of his hearing, it has been made public that he has a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations.


LEMON (on camera): Stereotyping much? That's U.S. senator leveling those loaded charges against a Black nominee for the federal bench. We'll talk about that just ahead.

I want to get straight to CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid. She has the latest on the charges against the leader of the Oath Keepers and 10 other people.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department today escalating its efforts to prosecute those who are responsible for January 6th. Charging Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes along with 10 others with seditious conspiracy related to the attack on the Capitol.

It's the first time the federal prosecutors have used the sedition charge after bringing more than 700 cases related to the insurrection. The prosecutors have long signaled that they were considering using the rarely applied section of federal law.

Rhodes is the most high-profile individual charged in the investigation so far. Court documents filed today lay out a wide- ranging plot to storm the Capitol and disrupt the certification of the 2020 election.

Two days after election day, Rhodes allegedly urged his followers to refuse to accept the election results, writing in a signal message, we aren't getting through this without a civil war.

According to federal prosecutors, on his way to D.C. on January 3rd, Rhodes allegedly bought an AR-platform rifle and other firearms equipment, including sights, mounts, triggers, slings, and other firearms attachments in Texas. The next day, he allegedly bought more firearms equipment in Mississippi.

Rhodes, a former army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree from Yale, did not enter the Capitol on January 6th, but video captures Oath Keepers wearing military gear, forcing their way into the fielding in a military-stack formation.

In this clip, you can see a group of Oath Keepers very close to the Capitol doors breaching the building. And here, members inside the Capitol rotunda, including Jessica Watkins, who was among those charged today with seditious conspiracy.

UNKNOWN: We are in the Capitol!

REID (voice-over): The new indictment also reveals the group allegedly had quick reaction forces from three states, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida, to rush into D.C. if needed.

According to court documents, Oath Keepers Thomas Caldwell, arrested in January, claimed that he took a reconnaissance trip to D.C. prior to the insurrection. Prosecutors say Rhodes was planning violence well beyond January 6th, allegedly referring to the Capitol attack as nothing compared to what is coming.

In the weeks after the attack on the Capitol, he allegedly spent more than $17,000 on weapons, equipment, and ammunition. Then, around inauguration day, Rhodes told his associates, organized local militias, to oppose the Biden administration. And another member allegedly said, after this, if nothing happens, it's war, civil war 2.0.

(On camera): Rhodes was arrested at his home in Texas today. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Plano tomorrow. And if convicted, seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Paula, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining me now, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He is now a CNN senior law enforcement analyst. Hey, Andrew. This is scary stuff. I mean, when you think about everything that -- Paula just went through the litany of things that he was carrying and all of that. I mean, this indictment lays out a full-scale preplanned paramilitary operation to stop the electoral process. These people were armed for war. What was their goal?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FBI: Well, Don, it's -- yeah, you're right, it's absolutely chilling. Let's remember that the indictment is an allegation. The government still has to prove this in a court of law.


But the detail that is laid out in this massive document, the specific communications between coconspirators, the expenditures of money for amassing arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition both before January 6th and then also after January 6th, presumably planning for some sort of action that would come next.

It's not detailed in the indictment. It is a wide-ranging conspiracy that starts immediately after the election through January 6 and after, and talks about committing just heinous acts of violence essentially to overthrow our democracy is basically what it comes down to.

LEMON: So, where are we? This is sarcasm. But where are the charges for, you know, BLM and Antifa and, you know, the Democrats? I haven't seen any sedition or conspiracy charges there.

MCCABE: You haven't. And the reason you haven't is because the government is very careful about bringing a big complicated, hard to prove case like this. They only do it when they actually have evidence that it happened. So -- and that's laid out in great detail here.

And I will also add, Don, so, Steward Rhodes, who is kind of the alleged leader of this group, he disabuses that myth himself. He has quoted in the indictment, somebody says, you know, are these real patriots or these are just people, you know, posing as patriots trying to start trouble? And he says quite clearly, no, these are real patriots, they are pissed off, and they're getting the job done or something to that effect. So, it's right there. Stewart Rhodes lays ways to that lie.

LEMON: It's a very interesting idea of what patriotism is. It's actually a warped idea, what patriotism is. Is the next step in this investigation likely happening now to see if there are any -- there is any coordination between these seditious conspirators or others with any Trump White House officials or cronies or the so-called war room?

MCCABE: There is no question. What DOJ will do in a case like this is try to continue going up the chain of command. Now, I am confident they have several cooperators already. They wouldn't have this indictment without insiders. The way we know that is these encrypted communications channels like signal and proton email, you can't get those records with a subpoena because they're encrypted.

The only way the government could have these actual quotes is if they had access to the device of a person who was involved in that conversation. So, that means somebody is cooperating and providing information.

Now that you have these very serious charges hanging over the heads of these 11 defendants, the pressure is on them to cooperate as well. So, we will see who comes in and knocks on the government's door next. That's what could take you up the chain in other way.

LEMON (on camera): There's another Oath Keeper charged today. His name is Thomas Caldwell. This is him on January 6th.


THOMAS CALDWELL, OATH KEEPER: Every single -- in there is a traitor. Every single one!


LEMON (on camera): Look, the indictment includes a message he sent to his contacts four days before the insurrection. This is -- I quote -- "I can't believe I just thought of this. How many people either in the militia or not who are still supportive of our efforts to save the republic, have a boat on a trailer that could handle a Potomac crossing? If we had someone standing by at the dock ramp, one near the Pentagon for sure, we could have our Quick Response Team with the heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our awaiting arms, if it all went to shit. Our guy loads our weps and Blue Ridge Militia weps and ferries them across."

Wow! As bad as January 6th was, it could have been worse.

MCCABE: A lot worse, Don. And, you know, like some of this -- it's so ridiculous.

LEMON: Is this why -- is this why people are pretending it didn't happen? Because they don't want people to find out just how -- just things like this? Sorry to interrupt.

MCCABE: You know, I have to believe that people are pretending because to not pretend to embrace the fact in what actually happened is frightening. And it is a realization that many don't want to have to come out with. That some of the people who support them and their causes were behind this.

You know, Mr. Caldwell has a very confused understanding of what a traitor is. In this scenario, he is the traitor. LEMON: Right.

MCCABE: He is smuggling arms into the Capitol to overthrow the government. That is what a traitor is. So, it reads like a cheap dime store novel, but then you see the details about the massive cache of weapons and the hundreds and thousands of rounds of ammunition right outside the Capitol prepared to be brought in, in case they are needed for something. It's chilling. It's chilling and that happened.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate it.


MCCABE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Now to President Biden's growing list of setbacks. Here to discuss, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. He is a former adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Wow! Mark McKinnon, come on!


LEMON: Who hasn't this guy advised? Mark McKinnon is also -- I mean, he got quite a resume, too. He is a former advisor to President George W. Bush, John McCain, executive producer of "The Circus." So, both these guys, heavy resume, big brains here. Good evening, gentlemen.

David, I'm going to start with you because today, the Supreme Court ended up blocking the president's vaccine requirements for large businesses. Getting nowhere on voting rights, Build Back Better stalled, inflation is at a 40-year high. Clearly, a one vote majority is tough, but does it feel like the White House is under siege right now? I said during the break, wow, the president -- this guy can't get a break.


LEMON: That was for you, David Gergen.

GERGEN: Okay, I'm here. The striking thing is, the first hundred days, I think he was pretty successful. He won the hearts of a lot of Americans. He won this entity. But ever since Afghanistan, half a year ago, the wheels have been coming off the wagon.

We violated our own moral codes by leaving so many people behind. He's not going to be able to get the pandemic under control. Inflation is out of control. He has got defeats, two major defeats on this legislation. And then he lost, which is something you don't want. And natural disasters.

The country is exhausted. The country is tired of all of this. They don't particularly like either side. And we are drifting away. We are less united than we were six months ago. This serious talk about a potential civil war I don't think should be ignored. I don't think we're there yet. I don't belong to that club, but I'm getting a little closer.

LEMON: What do you think of that, Mark McKinnon?

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "THE CIRCUS": Well, I'm a prisoner of hope at the cells getting awful dark. It is a -- as John McCain said, it's always darkest just before it goes completely black. Now, I don't think --


LEMON: I think he's right on that one.

GERGEN: I do, too.

MCKINNON: I think there are two things. It can't get much worse, obviously. The president has hit bottom. And there are two significant things, I think, in the near future or at least over the course of the next year before the election, couple of things are going to happen. One is I do thin, and I think health experts will say that the virus is going to diminish.

I mean, we kind of burn through (INAUDIBLE) with the Omicron virus. And that was (INAUDIBLE) short term (INAUDIBLE) we're finally going to get past this. I believe in experts who know a lot more about it than I do.

I certainly think that once that happens, there's a lot of economic factors that are in place that are very good. I mean, a lot of -- we are fighting inflation, of course, but there are incredibly strong drive numbers that are only going to get stronger as Omicron recedes.

So, there are some things to look forward to. I don't think it is going to help so much in the midterm, but over the long haul, I think those are couple of things that Biden can look forward to.

LEMON: You can't see me, but I have my fingers crossed as you are saying all that. I am -- loo, I think most people make predictions because this is what we are going into. We are in our third winter now of -- it was winter of 2020, 2021. Now, we are in 2020 wearing masks, right, and social distancing and all of those things. So, we will see. I hope you're right, Mark.

Mark, another question for you. President Biden invited senators Manchin and Sinema to the White House tonight after meeting with Democratic senators on the Hill today. Nothing has changed, though. He still doesn't have the votes. Why did he go through this whole exercise? I mean, does it make him look weak?

GERGEN: Yeah --

LEMON: That's for Mark.

MCKINNON: Part of the problem on voting rights, Don, is that Biden hasn't really shown a lot of passion for it over the course of last year. He had other priorities. He made it clear that he has other priorities.

LEMON: And we talked about that. You and I have talked about that.

MCKINNON: Yeah, we have. Activists and Democrats have believed that Biden has not put his weight behind. So, I think the speech was late and it was insufficient and it was super-partisan. I mean, when you draw a line in the sand and say you're either with us or you're a racist, you're certainly not going --

LEMON: You're on the side of the racist, as you said.

MCKINNON: -- cooperation, which, of course (INAUDIBLE) any way. But I don't know if that's helpful.


So, the only hope you have is Sinema or Manchin. And, of course, he's still trying to pick (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: David, I know you want to weigh in on this. Let me just ask you a question. It is like he is using the bully pulpit, Joe Biden is, President Biden, but is unwilling or fundamentally unable to be the bully. So, what does he do now? What happens? Go on.

GERGEN: I think he's got a hard road ahead. I think his supporters have to be patient. This is going to be a long, hard road back. This is not judgment anymore on his competence and his leadership by the country. His numbers are down and they're down around 40 percent or so American approval. It's really hard to turn that around.

So, I do think one of the things that he needs do is make it clearer on these big things what the reality is, how hard it is, not to get expectations up, the social bill and climate bill. He had expectations sky high.

Going down on the civil rights bill, it was a nice gesture, but it raised expectations, and then he comes off weak. You don't want to get into posture of overpromising and underdelivering. That's a road to the oblivion. He's got to get back out of that.

I do think -- a lot of the disputes that are going on are within the Democratic Party. Mark can speak to this. He's got to get away from going after his own party and sharpen the argument about where the Republicans are blocking us on everything we need to do for this country and make that the case. Get some Republicans down there to talk at the White House. Why does he just got to have Democrats down there to continue the private conversations?

LEMON (on camera): Yeah. To be continued, this conversation. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

Next, we're going to talk to the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She says voting rights should be a bipartisan goal and she still believes it can happen.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.





LEMON (on camera): President Biden admitting today that he may not be able to get voting rights across the finish line. Senate Republicans are digging in their heels while Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema aren't willing to carve out the filibuster.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One thing for sure, like every other major civil rights bill that came along, if we missed the first time, we could come back and try it the second time.

I don't know that 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.


LEMON (on camera): We will see. Joining me now, Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is the CEO of The King Center. Bernice, I'm so happy to have you here. Let's talk about what is happening because Manchin and Sinema meeting with the president tonight after both senators publicly declaring that they're against changing the filibuster rules. Even Biden today sounding defeated. What's your response to what happened?

BERNICE KING, CEO, THE KING CENTER: Well, you know, it's unfortunate that we can't get voting rights legislation passed in the Senate of the United States when we've been able to do it in the past. And so, you know, the reality is this should have been a bipartisan effort.

And, you know, I know it is going to happen. I know it's going to happen. When it's going to happen is the question and how it's going to happen is the other question.

There's just, you know, it's real. If it doesn't happen, we just have to keep working. We got to keep working not just on the democratic side but on the republican side.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about that because you say voting rights, it should be bipartisan goal, as you said.

KING: Should be the goal. LEMON: But the GOP is in lockstep over refusing to work with

Democrats and actively working to restrict the vote on the state level. Is there any world where there is a bipartisan solution, you believe?

KING: You know, I know that when my father and them faced these kinds of situations, they used the twin approaches of direct action and negotiation. And we have to continue in that vein. I mean, when we talk about that moral arc being bent towards justice, we have to be that force.

And so, you never know when the heart changes. And so, if we just buy into the notion, they don't support it, let's be done with the Republicans, we won't get there. You know, I think we still have to continue negotiation.

I think we have to corral more people around this issue and continue to even win over people who are considered Republican voters, because this is not a republican or a democratic issue. This is an issue of our democracy.

LEMON: It's an American issue.

KING: Yes, it's an American issue. But democracy.

LEMON: Right.

KING: Because it's going to affect the rest of the world. As go America in this regard goes the rest of democracy.

LEMON: But you talked about your dad. I mean, that was 50 -- more than 50 years ago, and here we are virtually, you know, in a similar place. Not the exact same place but in a similar place.

KING: Right, but we have to be very thoughtful and critical about why we're in a similar place. Some of it is that you have evil forces, not people, you have people who are using evil means to try to continue to resist progress and change.

But you also have had times and seasons in this country where we've been indifferent, we've been apathetic, and we have not been diligent and determined.


Remember, my father said, the tragic of human history still, and I will say that today is that the children of darkness are often more zealous and determined than the children of light.

We have to examine where have we dropped the ball as well. You know, were those of us who continue to move the message, was there a period of time where we didn't corral and make sure that there had always been a force of people engaged on these issues, aware of these issues? You know, I think if we critique it, we will see we did drop some balls. So that's why we are here today, unfortunately. But there is -- I call it a generation, an accountability generation. The younger generation has continued to keep us on our tippy toes and they're not liking where you can go right down and push it under the rug. They're continuing to apply the pressure.

That's why I said I think it is going to -- and I'm not speaking of that just younger in age, but also the generation of this time that has connected less with the younger generation to say we're no longer going to be apathetic and indifferent.

LEMON: Monday is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but your family is calling for no celebration of that day without the passage of voting rights legislation. So, how does your family want to mark your father's birthday this year?

KING: Well, Martin and Andrea called for the no celebration. I come in the limelight to say that we must commemorate this day, which they are actually doing by focusing more attention on the things that are critical to our nation and our democracy, which is voting rights.

And so, it's not that we're not to celebrate but we cannot -- what do we have to celebrate? We need to really be focusing efforts on the King holiday to honor and commemorate him in this way. I say to educate, to advocate and to activate. Those are the three things that must happen during the King holiday.

LEMON: Bernice King, it's always a pleasure to hear your wisdom and we're so happy to have you here. Thank you so much.

KING: Thank you.

LEMON: So, from voting rights to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are more divided than ever, and it seems like it's only getting worse. Is there a way to fix it? Presidential historian Jon Meacham and Bishop Michael Curry, both are here to talk about it. They are next.




LEMON: Voting rights going nowhere in the Senate. Deep distrust on COVID still rampant two years into the pandemic from the highest levels of government to towns across the country. Americans can't seem to agree on basic truths. Want is this division doing to us?

Here to discuss now, presidential historian Jon Meacham and Bishop Michael Curry. They spoke together just a little while ago at an event hosted by the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy about how religion and politics intersect in the U.S., and now, we're going to have that discussion.

So good to see both of you. Thank you for joining. Jon, America is so divided. There's a lot of anger out there. Our political party seems to be one political party that seems to be abandoning democracy. What's happened to the sense of cohesiveness Americans have felt as a country and is all this division doing to our democracy?

JON MEACHAM, WRITER, HISTORIAN AND PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHER: Well, you know, the forces that are buffeting us now are perennial. They ebb and they flow. The task of a mature democracy is to make those forces ebb more than a flow. And democracy is fundamentally a human enterprise. And as human beings, and I don't want to drag the bishop into this, but we are fallen frail and fallible.

And I think that every day is a struggle between our better angels and our worst instincts. And if I get it right, 51 percent of the time, that's a heck of a good day.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: And I don't have many of those.


MEACHAM: And the country -- and I want some absolution because here I am with my spiritual lord, so in the event -- if you are feeling forgiving, your grace, I'm ready.


MECHAM: Democracy is the manifestation of our habits of heart and mind. And that is what is terrifying, because it means that we are all accountable. But it's also kind of thrilling, because it means that we can make a difference. And I think we have to instill -- I'm not going to say recover, I'm going to say I think we have to instill, as Reverend King just said, activate this sense that we have to see each other as neighbors and not as adversaries and think about how we want the future to think about us.

LEMON: So, you said something that was, I want you to be helpful. You said they're perennial. Would you say the forces are perennial because -- is this -- so, do you think this is an outlier in our history?

MEACHAM: No, no, this is real. This is real. The subversion of democracy, the attempt to take elections that by all authoritative sources are full and free and fair, that is putting the will to power at the center of our republic enterprise.

LEMON: Yeah.


MEACHAM: And the whole point of the Constitution, however imperfect it may be, is -- was to check our appetites, because they figured that if we tried to do things, most of the time we would do them wrong. We will try to do wrong things.

And so, I do think -- I don't want us to act as though there is going to be a happily ever after. There was never a once upon a time in American history. There's never going to be a happily ever after. This is a gated day, year to year, decade to decade struggle.

LEMON: Bishop, he said the forces are real. There's not even a shared understanding of truth or shared set of values anymore. We see politicians were gaslighting the public, even when mistakes are life and death. People are willing to put themselves and others in danger because they won't wear a mask or get a vaccine. People are willing to overturn an election to go after lawmakers and say they're going hang the vice president. Is America facing a moral crisis?

CURRY: Yes, America is facing a moral crisis. And much of our history has been a consistent facing of a more crisis. And this particular moment is one -- let there be no doubt. This as a dark moment.

This very well may be, as Dr. King said a long time ago, this may be a midnight into social order. And midnight is both the most dangerous time because it is darkest and it is the time of potential hope because light has the potential of dawning.

We are at midnight. We really are. There is no question about that. And yet, the result of that will be determined by our actions and our willingness, I would claim, to affirm the high ideals and principles that are part of who we are.

And I believe -- I'm not an optimist. I believe that the vast majority of Americans truly believe in the highest ideal. There is more good among us. There are more ideals that we share among us. But unfortunately, I hate to use the phrase, there is a silent majority that is too silent, that is too quiet.

There is a decent majority that is too quiet and too silent, and we must activate that silent majority, the better angels of our nature. I think the more we do that, then we have the capacity and the potential to turn midnight, not untoward darkest hour, but maybe into our finest hour.

LEMON: Okay. So -- but how do you do that? Listen, I think, you know, historically, the right, the religious right you have, they were the party of morals and religion and God and so forth. Moral values, right? and they believe that they are acting upon that, even though they are doing the exact opposite.

There are some sorts of confusion. I'm not sure what it is, some sort of co-opting. I had no idea what is going on. Are religious leaders, in your opinion, doing enough to cut through the noise, call out the ideas of behaviors that is destructive or dangerous?

CURRY: I think on the one hand, many of us as religious leaders are not doing enough. But on the other hand, we're not getting as much airtime either. And sometimes, we have not been as smart at activating and getting airtime.

One of the things that we have to do, I think, as religious folk, is reclaim the deep values and ideals that are at the roots of many of our religious traditions.

I speak as a Christian. And I can tell you, as a Christian, that when you read the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, when you read those four gospels and look at the life and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, you do not find hate, you do not find bigotry, you do not find narrowmindedness.

What you find is the parable of the good Samaritan, one person from a very different culture and tribe in politics, helping another one out because they are child of God.

LEMON: Can I stop you and ask that? Do you think that is too esoteric? Too high minded? Do you think that religious leaders need to be a little more practical? Perhaps they should be in the pulpit saying -- I'm just -- look, I'm not -- I'm not obviously a preacher. I like to preach the gospel of the news and the facts.

But perhaps they should be saying, if you believe in God, if you believe with the tenets of the bible and Christianity, then that doesn't mean that you should be taking part in insurrection.

CURRY: Yeah.

LEMON: That doesn't mean that you should be listening to someone who is lying about a stolen election. Thou shall not lie. That's part of something that you -- that is real. You should not be taking part of that. Should religious leaders be saying that and saying -- talking about the parables in this? Maybe people aren't getting it through their thick skull.

CURRY: No, Don. Don, you got to apply the parables, apply the scriptures, apply the teachings, not in a partisan way, but in a way that seeks to elevate us morally. Talk about the parable of the good Samaritan and then let's talk about law enforcement in our country.


We want our police officers to be good Samaritans. That's their job! You see what I'm saying?

LEMON: I see. I get you.

CURRY: Let's take the religious tradition and apply it. But let's reclaim the real essence of it. I want -- I believe we must we reclaim the essence of the ideals of our tradition as Americans. This country has not always lived up to its ideals.

But cannon (ph) professor, Jon Meacham, will tell us that in the declaration of independence, in the Gettysburg address, in King's "I Have a Dream," and on and on and on, we have ideals that most of us will share.

When we were kids in the second grade, we learned, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

LEMON: For all.

CURRY: You got it.

LEMON: Yes. That is a perfect segue to Jon Meacham here because you helped to draft the speech that the president gave on the anniversary of January 6th, where he really took the gloves off, going after Trump, spreading the big lie, but some worried that it was too tough, that it was only going to cause more polarization. Is that part of the price of telling the truth in 2022, Jon?

MEACHAM: Well, the president speaks for the president. So, to answer your question for me, yes. In Greek, truth means unconcealed, right? It means it is something that you see, that is real. And I don't think any of us are helping ourselves by pretending that this is an ordinary hour of crisis. I don't think -- this is not Bob Dole and George Mitchell squaring off over a continuing resolution in 1986.

LEMON: Right, right, right.

MEACHAM: It's just not. I wish to hell it was. Sorry, bishop. I wish it were.


MEACHAM: I wish it were.

LEMON: Yeah.

MEACHAM: But I think that this is a stress test. Pick your metaphor. It's a crisis of citizenship, of citizenship. We have to decide, are we going to put the will to power ahead of everything else?

The American covenant is fractured. And, God, I hate having to say that. But a covenant is, in fact, this notion that I'm going to help you in the morning, not because I'm a good person, but because I might need to you help me in the afternoon.

LEMON: Yup. Thank you both. I'm just going to say and let the church say amen.

CURRY: Amen.

LEMON: Amen. Can I get an amen, Jon?

MEACHAM: Always. Amen.


LEMON: I really enjoyed this.

MEACHAM: Episcopalians don't do it with quite as much passion.

LEMON: I noticed that. I'm a southern Baptist. We say amen!

CURRY: Amen.

(LAUGHTER) LEMON: (INAUDIBLE). Thank you very much. I appreciate both of you. If you want to hear more from these two gentlemen, you can find their conversations about politics and religion today online at Thanks again. We'll be right back.

MEACHAM: Thanks, Don.





LEMON (on camera): All right, you got to pay attention to this. Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn is under fire for her questioning of a Black nominee to the federal judiciary, equating three unpaid speeding tickets to a rap sheet.


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): On the eve of his hearing, it has been made public that he has a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations, including multiple failures to appear in court in Tennessee. We expect our judges to respect the law, not disregarded it. If Mr. Mathis thought he was above the law before, imagine how he'll conduct himself if he's confirmed as a federal judge.


LEMON (on camera): Let's bring in now CNN political -- sorry, Bakari. I mean, let's get your book in. The author of who are your people. I mean, that was quite the performance. I don't know what you would call it because Andre Mathis for getting paid three speeding tickets more than a decade ago. One was five miles per hour over the speed limit. What is this? What is happening here?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What did you expect exactly? I mean, this is who we have known to comply -- this is like performative racism where you utilize racism as a political currency. And then you get up there and when you get a chance to question the judges, you will see it from Ted Cruz every now and then, you will see it from Tom Cotton every now and then, and it is just an art form that some have perfected.

I mean, listen, they don't want to see my driving record, if that's the case. I mean, I --

LEMON: You're attorney. You're an officer of the court now.

SELLERS: I'm doing better. I mean, I have been clean. When she said rap sheet, I thought (INAUDIBLE). Oh, man! I don't know he was so reckless and just such a criminal at heart, going five miles over the speed limit. I mean, this is just -- it is a distraction.

But Judge Mathis would be an awesome member of the judiciary. Unfortunately, he had to be embarrassed by a United States senator.

LEMON (on camera): This is what he said. This is how he responded to this.


ANDRE MATHIS, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT NOMINEE: I highly regret that I'm in this situation.


I feel like I have embarrassed my family. I truly regret that. Wow. I deserve this thing, though.


LEMON (on camera): Why is he apologizing, though?

SELLERS: I think that he thought as if he didn't have a choice. I feel bad that Senator Blackburn attempted to break this man like that. But at the end of the day, he's got to be a judge. And what she did is just inexcusable, but it's not surprising.

LEMON: It shows that he has humility. It shows that, you know, he can -- he can take it. And that he is class.

SELLERS: It shows that he is better than she is.

LEMON: Yes. Bakari, thank you. Sorry, our segment was short tonight, but thank you so much. I will see you. And congratulations on the book. Best of luck. I will see you soon.

SELLERS: Thank you, brother.

LEMON: All right, don't have a rap sheet, no. We will be right back.





LEMON (on camera): The new CNN Original Series "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe" says it's time to look at Marilyn through more modern feminist lens. Here is a preview.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Twenty-one-year-old Marilyn Monroe decides to pursue another one of Hollywood's biggest players.


LOIS BANNER, BIOGRAPHER: (INAUDIBLE) had a huge estate, and he would just hold Saturday night parties. A lot of people from Hollywood would be there. And Marilyn is invited to his parties. A lot of contract girls are.

MIRA SORVINO, ACTOR: It was understood among the studio heads that these girls were there for the men at studios to date. And then once their contract was up, they'd be discarded and in would come a fresh new crop.


LEMON: Hmm. Well, be sure to tune in. The all-new CNN Original Series "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe" premiers with back-to-back episodes Sunday at 9:00 p.m. only here on CNN.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.