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Don Lemon Tonight

Nothing To Celebrate On MLK Day; President Biden Facing Mounting Pressure On Voting Rights; Hostage Survivors Recall Harrowing Experience; FBI And DHS Warns Faith-Based Communities; Omicron Cases Rising Worldwide. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 22:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Thank you so much for watching. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Don.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hi, Brianna Keilar. It's so good to see you.

KEILAR: It's awesome to see you.

LEMON: Hey, listen, I'm so glad you're doing this because our democracy really is in peril. And to be quite honest, I know it's tough for people to watch because they're bombarded with so much what we consider bad news. You look at what happened with the synagogue.


LEMON: You look at what happened with the big lie but we need to drive this message home especially on a day like today and what is happening with our democracy, especially when it comes to voting rights in this country.

KEILAR: Yes. You know, I get a lot of reaction from viewers who, you know, a lot of them will say I don't want to talk about this anymore. They're sick of the chaos of the Trump years. They feel like it just gives him oxygen to talk about him but the truth is you can't just ignore this, right? This is -- you can't. This is proliferating the tentacles of what we went through during the Trump years persist, there are people who are using his playbook, and we can't turn away because things are happening now.

LEMON: I have a -- I'm going to read a piece from Dr. King's speech letter from a Birmingham jail that's going to speak directly to what we're saying now. I'll do that at the end of the take in just a few minutes here.

But you know, I've been struck by a lot of people who are, you know, they are criticizing President Joe Biden's speech whether you thought he went too far or what have you. Listen, we're in a break glass in case of emergency moment and you know, I wrote about it in this book and I talked to you about it, people more upset when people say that they are on the same side as the bigots or the Bull Connors or the George Wallace. It doesn't mean that you yourself are racist and bigoted. I hate it when people say it. Well, that's what Joe Biden said.

That's not what Joe Biden said. He said if you are against voting rights, then you are -- you are on the same side as those folks. It doesn't mean you are that. But it makes people think about it and I think history may look back if we continue along this road and it may look back favor -- favorably on that Joe Biden speech. Because he, I think he will be right if we continue to gut voting rights and restrict, especially people of color from voting, from access to the voting box.

KEILAR: I think you're right. I think that history will look back on that and part of it is, I think Joe Biden has to be caught fighting, right? Because what we're expecting is debate opens in the Senate tomorrow that ultimately this effort fails and that it fails.

Look, whether or not you think the filibuster should be gone or not, it is Democrats who are not going to go along with that. So, it is within his own party that that is not going to push forward in a way that so many Democratic voters want. He has to give something and that has to be passion if he can't actually deliver on this policy.

LEMON: Dr. King spoke directly to this moment back then and I'm going to get to it now. Thank you, Brianna, enjoy the show. I'll see you tomorrow night.

KEILAR: All right.

LEMON: See you.

KEILAR: I'll see you then.

LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching.

And as we mark what would have been the 93rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I say mark because the fact is that, this is -- it's not a time to celebrate and I was, you know, struck because everyone likes to put things out on social media and what have you. Now we always put out the pictures of Dr. King at the march on Washington and giving speeches and whatever, looking great in a suit.

But they never put out the times where he was hosed, right? Or that dogs were nipping at him or when he was arrested or when his head got bashed in. They never put out those pictures because that really shows the fight that we're in and the moment that we're in and what Dr. King stood for instead of those soaring speeches which were great.

But the real work, that real work was in the trenches and that's what people need to focus on now. Especially now on the -- when voting rights that Dr. King fought and died for, the voting rights that so many Americans shed blood for, those rights are under assault right now and it's going on right out in the open.

We all know what -- you -- we know what's happening and the folks who are fighting against it, they know what is happening, right? States across the country are making it harder to vote, at least 19 states have passed 34 laws in the past year restricting access to the ballot box.

And if we ignore that, then we're ignoring an assault on our most precious right as American, an assault on our democracy itself, and assault on Dr. King's legacy as Brianna just said. We know, look, we are here every night telling you this. And I know, you, God, I want to go watch the Netflix. I want to do this. I want to do that. I just can't -- that's enough.

You got to do it. Because if we don't tell you what is happening, how are you going to know? The Senate is about to take up voting rights legislation which is all but certain to fail.


Dr. King's family saying there is no cause for celebration without this legislation.


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.'S SON: So, no matter what happens tomorrow, we must keep the pressure on and say no more empty words. Don't tell us what you believe in, show us with your votes. History will be watching what happens tomorrow, Black and Brown Americans will be watching what happens tomorrow. In 50 years, students will read about what happens tomorrow and know whether our leaders had the integrity to do the right thing.


LEMON (on camera): Dr. King's granddaughter, she's 13 years old, her name is Yolanda Renee King, not even old enough to vote yet. She's saying pretty clearly exactly what is at stake here and you know what the old (Inaudible) the old saying is, out of the mouths of babes.


YOLANDA RENEE KING, MARTIN LUTHER KING III'S DAUGHTER: The ability to vote is under attack across our country and these attacks strike at the heart, not just of the civil rights that my grandparents and so many others fought for but at the heart of our democracy.


LEMON (on camera): The fact is that the president -- well, Joe Biden has a candidate made voting rights a key promise in his campaign. And now the legislation is facing almost certain defeat. Not just because Republicans are opposed to that legislation but members of his own party are putting the filibuster ahead of protecting the vote.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Where do we stand? Whose side are we on? Will we stand against voter suppression? Yes, or no? Will we stand against election subversion? Yes, or no? Will we stand up for an America where everyone is guaranteed the full protections and the full promise of this nation? Yes, or no? I know where I stand. It's time for every elected official to make it

clear where they stand.


LEMON (on camera): But Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III not letting the president off the hook.


KING III: If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there is no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.


LEMON (on camera): Then there is Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, the current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King served as pastor. He's framing tomorrow's vote as what he calls a 1965 moment, referring to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was gutted by the Supreme Court almost nine years ago.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): This is a 1965 moment because what they've done is they removed the protections that we secured in 1965, and we've seen the mushrooming of all of these terrible voting suppression laws all across the country.


LEMON (on camera): All of that is happening as the FBI is warning tonight that faith-based communities will likely be targets for violence after a weekend of terror and hate on display in America when a gunman held four people hostages in a Texas synagogue including a rabbi.

The FBI investigating the incident as terror related. Now a member of the congregation who was watching a live stream of the service saying the suspect talked repeatedly how he hated Jewish people. Authorities identified him as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram. He's a British national, he was killed after the hostages escaped. He was reportedly demanding the release of a convicted terrorist who is serving an 86- year prison sentence in this country.

And in the face of all of that, here we are on the day that we remember Dr. King getting a bunch of feel-good platitudes. Platitudes as we always seem to do on Martin Luther King Day. It's even, you know, now it's hyped it's MLK Day. Right?

Mitch McConnell praising Dr. King while uniting Republicans to rock- solid opposition to protecting the voting rights that he fought for, meaning Dr. King. Kyrsten Sinema of course, tweeting about Dr. king's legacy while she and Joe Manchin are refusing to take action to try to preserve that legacy. Tweeting about him it's great, voting rights. But what are you actually doing? What are you actually doing? Why are

you so tied to a relic of the Senate, the filibuster, why are you so tied to that? The fact is that they have made a crystal clear, made it crystal clear that they care more about the filibuster than they do about voting rights.

And former President Barack Obama speaking at the funeral of civil rights icon John Lewis awhile back called the filibuster a relic of Jim Crow.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do.


LEMON (on camera): So, here's what -- he's right. This is what the filibuster, this is what it does. It allows a determined minority like Republicans whose leader Mitch McConnell has said he's 100 percent focused on stopping President Joe Biden's agenda. The filibuster allows them to do just that. Dr. King himself spoke out against it. This is back in 1963.


MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., AMERICAN MINISTER: I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting. They won't let the majority senators vote, and certainly, they wouldn't want the majority people to vote because they know they do not represent the majority of American people.


LEMON (on camera): OK. That was July 5th, that was 1963, right? Now I'm going to play it again and listen to what he's saying that could be today. Play it please again, Danny.


KING JR.: I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting. They won't let the majority senators vote, and certainly, they wouldn't want the majority people to vote because they know they do not represent the majority of American people.


LEMON (on camera): Nineteen sixty-three or 2022? Dr. King could be saying that right now tonight. Listen closely, OK? No matter what you hear from all of these folks, Sinema changing the rules, blah, blah, blah. Things we change, we evolve, right? We amend. We no longer in horse and buggies. People are saying get rid of fossil fuels, electric cars.

Like we keep evolving as a society, as a country, as a world. Why shouldn't the Senate and the rules evolve? The filibuster has been used again and again to kill civil rights and voting legislation. That is a fact.

Nearly 39 years ago as a matter of fact on the Senate floor, the filibuster was on display in an ugly attempt by Senator Jesse Helms, he's trying to block the bill declaring Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday. Now that filibuster was eventually broken in an overwhelming 72 to 22 votes by a Republican controlled Senate, Republicans who ultimately stood up for what they knew was right.

Where are they now? Where are those folks now? Where are they when voting rights are hanging by a thread? So, this is what I promised when I was talking to Brianna just moments ago. I want to read to you and see if this resonates because I think it will.

This is from Dr. King's famous 1963 open letter when he was being held in a Birmingham jail. Birmingham jail, he's got a letter from the Birmingham jail. And I quote here, "I've almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negros great stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizen's Counselor or the Ku Klux Klaner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says I agree with you and the goal you seek but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action, who paternalistically believes that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom, who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advices the Negro to wait for a more convenient season."

Dr. King was never afraid to tell America what it needed to hear. We, as journalists cannot be afraid to tell America what it needs to hear. Every single day and night. And those words are just as powerful now as it were 59 years ago. The question is, are we listening?

Let's bring in now the former Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century. Governor, thank you, sir. I appreciate you joining us. How are you doing?


FMR. GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D-MA): Don, thank you for having me and thank you for those comments and particularly for quoting King's letter from the Birmingham jail which is so poignant and so current right now.

LEMON: It's frightening how prescient he was and the startling similarities to where we were in 1963 and where we are now. You know, Governor, the King family is demanding that the Senate pass voting rights --


LEMON: -- but when the Senate takes up the legislation tomorrow all signs point to President Biden and Senate Democrats failing. So, what did Democrats do?

PATRICK: Well, first of all, I have to tell you if that happens, that is not a failure of Democrats or failure of the president. It's a failure of the Senate as a whole and a failure of America. Look, either we believe in participatory democracy or we don't. Either we are going to continue to do what a friend of mine describes as treating our democracy over and over again like it can tolerate limitless abuse without breaking and then act surprised when it's broken.

You know, there is an opportunity now at one of two challenges. The one being in the Senate to deal with the combination of cynicism and naivete including among the moderate Republicans. We keep talking about what the Democrats haven't been able to get done. What about the 14 current sitting Republican Senate -- senators who voted for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act the last time?

LEMON: Right.

PATRICK: We have that drama in the Senate to make voting accessible but we have a different sort of parallel challenge and you alluded to it in your commentary, and that is how to make voting on the ground as you said, in the trenches, meaningful.

LEMON: Right.

PATRICK: And I think one of the reasons why senators get to play these games around, you know, invoking the filibuster when they want to and then ignoring it when they don't want to like just the other week when they raised the debt ceiling is because they don't feel accountable to people on the ground and that's why we've got to be involved in motivating everybody to hold them accountable.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that about the trenches because I really did, it really took me awhile to post it today. Because as I said, you know, I wanted to post some beautiful picture of Dr. King and, you know, some great platitude or quote that he did and I said, that he, you know, that he said, and I said, that's not where we are right now.


LEMON: Where we are right now is the vote is being restricted. What we need to remember is the times that quite honestly Dr. King got beaten up where he was arrested --


LEMON: -- where he got his head cracked, where he was, you know, in jail, where he -- that's what we need to realize that and he wasn't alone in that.

PATRICK: That's right. LEMON: People fought and died for the right to vote and I think for

people to just be ambivalent about it is an insult, you know, not only to our ancestors, our Black ancestors but for our white ancestors for the people who fought before us for this right, the people who voted for civil rights legislation, right, in earnest.

PATRICK: People -- people have sacrificed, people from every background, every community, every corner of this country have sacrificed to make our democracy real.


PATRICK: And they have done so in one form or another since the Declaration of Independence.


PATRICK: It hasn't always been perfect. It's not perfect today but we are better today than we once were because people kept remembering the point that Dr. King kept making, which is that his dream was deeply rooted in the American dream. It's a fundamentally patriotic act.


PATRICK: And so, we can have and should have the debates we have in the Senate. In fact, let's have a debate on the actual merits and a vote on the actual merits and not just a debate about the rules of the Senate invented by the Senate and invoked most often to obstruct civil rights, but the other part of it which I think is so key. Is that, we have to have an unrest in our hearts.

I'm not calling for unrest on the streets but unrest in our hearts, we have to be engaged in our own civic and political future, each and every one of us and we have to reach out and engage people so that there is an overwhelming of these barriers to voting in the next election and the one after that and the one after that.

LEMON: Yes. I was thinking today -- I want -- we're going to take a break because I want to bring you back. I'm enjoying this conversation. But I was thinking about the horrible thing that happened at the synagogue and the alliance that blacks and Jews had during the civil rights moment. And I hope that we haven't moved away from that. But it just made me think about that. And we need to -- we all need to have some sort of alliance now.

PATRICK: That's right.

LEMON: And we all need to be brothers and sisters, especially those of us who are discriminated against for either racial reasons or for religious reasons.


Deval Patrick, stay with me. I want to talk about that video of Dr. King saying he was against the filibuster, why it is still blocking voting rights legislation nearly 60 years later. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON (on camera): The Senate set to take a voting rights legislation even though there's virtually no chance honestly that Democrats will have a vote.

Back with me now, Deval Patrick. Deval Patrick of course the former Massachusetts governor.

So, Governor, you're up with this op-ed, it's in the Boston Globe on the sacred right to vote. And you write this, I quote. "Undercutting the right to vote has been a strategy of Republicans for decades."

Excuse me. You go on to list the reasons why from gerrymandering to limiting voting hours to gutting the Voting Rights Act. And you say this, again another quote. "All of it and more has been core to Republican pathways to power, when you add it up, it as if the GOP has decided it can't win a fair fight." Is this what it's really about?

PATRICK: Well, you'd have to ask them but that show what it looks like from where I sit. You know, I'm -- I'm a loyal and faithful Democrat but I describe myself as a Democrat who doesn't think you have to hate Republicans to be a good Democrat.


I think we ought to have and be able to have a contest of ideas. I'm not naive. I understand the sharp elbows that go with politics. I understand the self-interest that is a part of politics, but I don't think it ought to extend to the ballot box. I think, you know, the trading, the horse trading and so forth, I understand all that to get legislation passed. But not on a fundamental question about what kind of country we are.

And I think that's the -- that's really the question here. I mean, I have heard Republicans cry foul over Democrats pushing reforms of the Voting Rights Act closing these gaps opened up by the Supreme Court and bad behavior in the states. Crying foul that it's some kind of power grab and yet, that's precisely what was motivating these 19 states and counting --


PATRICK: -- to obstruct the vote and to put in the powers of Republican partisans to throw out outcomes they don't like. So, Don, I guess the question I want to -- I'm asking myself is not just, you know, what are Senators Sinema and Manchin going to do, but what is Senator Collins is going to do? What is Senator Romney going to do? When does patriotism actually call the members to see beyond their party and make a decision about what is best for everybody?

LEMON: Well, Senator Romney is saying that he doesn't want to put voting in the hands of one -- you know, in the hands of the federal government. It should be -- it shouldn't be taken -- it should not be taken away from the states but, you know, I had someone on, I'll have someone on earlier who doesn't necessarily agree with that. It's the attorney general from Pennsylvania, he's going to talk to us about that in just a little bit.

PATRICK: Well, that's not even what the Constitution says. As you know, and I'm sure your guest does as well. It's another one of these things you hear Republicans hide behind. But the federal government has had to step in, in the past in situations very like this when states decided a minority of actors in the state decided to use their minority power to keep power from being shared with everybody else.

LEMON: Before I let you go --


PATRICK: And that's all.

LEMON: I want to ask about this video I played, it was from 1963 when Dr. King said that he was against the filibuster because he believed a minority of misguided senators, it's kind of what we're talking about now would use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from voting. Why are we still dealing with this in 2022? Again, he said that in 1963, Governor.

PATRICK: Yes, yes. I mean, Don, I -- why are we still fussing about this? Look, the filibuster doesn't have to be eliminated. They set it aside when they want to. They did it just a couple weeks ago as you know to raise the debt ceiling. They do it every time on budget questions. I think they did it recently when the defense authorization bill came up. They do it when they want to. This ought to be a time when folks feel compelled to do so.

LEMON: Governor Deval Patrick, I've really enjoyed having you on. I always do. But this was especially nice, it was a nice long conversation. I appreciate your thoughts.

PATRICK: I appreciate you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

PATRICK: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you as well.

A daring escape after an anti-Semitic terror attack at a synagogue in Texas. The congregants and their rabbi held hostage for 11 hours. Now they're describing how they took matters into their own hands.


JEFFREY COHEN, HOSTAGE AT COLLEYVILLE SYNAGOGUE: At one point he even said that I'm going to put a bullet in each of you, get down on your knees. At which point I glared at him, I raised up in my seat kind of like I'm doing now, and I may have shaken my head like that but I glared at him and mouthed no.



LEMON (on camera): Breaking tonight, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warning that acts of violence against faith-based communities will likely continue. That as the congregation of Temple Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas is holding a special healing service tonight in the wake of the hostage situation over the weekend. Listen.


CHARLIE CYTRON-WALKER, RABBI, COLLEYVILLE Texas: Thank God. Thank God. It could have been so much worse and I'm overflowing, truly overflowing with gratitude.


LEMON (on camera): That 11-hour hostage standoff at Temple Beth Israel concluded on Saturday with the all the hostages escaping without injury. The video that is up on your screen now shows the hostages getting away through an exit in the synagogue.

I want you to listen to the rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker talking about what happened right before they were able to bolt.


CYTRON-WALKER: The last hour or so of the standoff he wasn't getting what he wanted. I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me that they were -- that were ready to go, the exit wasn't too far away.


I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.


LEMON (on camera): Shortly after they escaped, the FBI rushed in and came face-to-face with the suspect who died during that encounter.

Joining me is Andrew McCabe, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, and Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti- Defamation League.

I'm so glad to have both of you on, gentlemen. Thank you so much.

Jonathan, the suspect in this terror attack was welcomed in the congregation at Beth Israel. The rabbi thought he might be homeless so he brought him in from the cold and gave him tea. This could happen at any synagogue. It's quite frankly similar. Remember Mother Emanuel AME that was quite, you know, --


LEMON: -- the guy came in wanting for help. How are you -- wanting help. How are you processing this senseless attack?

GREENBLATT: Well, I think in many ways, Don, it's a shocking attack but it's not all together surprising. As you alluded too into the lead, into this piece, you know, the level of anti-Semitism has hit historic highs in this country in the last three years. We have seen the highest number and the third highest number of anti-Semitic incidents the ADL has ever tracked in more than 40 years.

We've seen spikes in harassment, in vandalism, in violence. And it is telling that a rabbi who wants to teach Torah, his life was saved because he knew tactical maneuvers. Thank God for the FBI and Andrew's former colleagues who did amazing work by the heroism of this rabbi and the remarkable thing that transpired is because, as the rabbi credited ADL and others had trained him. So, he knew what to do, the congregants knew how to respond.

And what does it mean when whether it's in the places we pray or the supermarkets where we shop where Jews have to worry for their lives and they have to literally do a calculation, will I be killed? Will I be taken hostage? Will I survive? We just saved you even in the sacred spaces, Don, we are not safe, no one is safe. This is a failure not of the Jewish community, of America and I think we've really got to confront that fact.

LEMON: You know, Andrew, Jewish communities are under high alert today. And Jonathan just credits the FBI for helping there. The FBI is warning faith-based communities that will remain targets for violence. Could an attack like this provoke copycats sadly? I hope not, but that's my question.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Don, of course it could. And I'm sure that's one of the prime motivators behind the FBI's warning tonight. It is just yet another sad and tragic aspect of this wave of violence that disturbed, mentally disturbed people who are maybe leaning in that direction sometimes see things happen like this they can -- it can act as an inspirational moment or a triggering moment to set them into motion.

So, at the end of the day, as we saw in this case lives were saved because people were properly trained and prepared and thinking defensively in advance. That's what you're seeing from the FBI tonight, warning other synagogues and other Jewish institutions to think forward, be defensive and be prepared.

LEMON: Andrew, I want to play this for you. This is Jeffrey Cohen. He is one of the survivors from the hostage situation talking about how they were able to get out. Listen. Listen.


COHEN: You know, that training that we had, really, I should say a course, it wasn't really training, that in an active shooter, that's what saved our lives. Because it taught me to be aware of my surroundings, to know where the exits, are and then the rest of that is run, hide, fight and that's what we did.


LEMON (on camera): Listen, Andrew, Jonathan just said, sadly, you know, it's good that they have the training but sad that they have to have the training, if you know what I mean. Could this have ended differently if these hostages didn't have that training or the courage that they showed.

MCCABE: Sure, sure, it could've. I mean, very easily, right? That's the purpose of the training, run, i.e., get out of the situation if you can, hide, i.e., conceal yourself if you can't get out, and when everything else falls apart, you got to fight. You cannot give up. Don't give in. Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

And these people stayed in the fight. They were thinking tactically. They were maneuvering themselves towards the door. They were communicating surreptitiously with each other. They did, you know, everything right here.


And one mistake, one thing if they'd, you know, kind of wallowed in fear and not thought tactically, they may not have been positioned to take advantage that opportunity, so thank God they were.

LEMON: Jonathan, more from Jeffrey Cohen who survived this attack. Here he is.


COHEN: This guy was not the sugar that we hear about all the time that wants to just come in and shoot all the Jews. This was not him. He came here, he came to us, he terrorized us because he believed these tropes, these anti-Semitic tropes that the Jews control everything and if I go to the Jews they can pull the strings.

He even said at one point, that I'm coming to you because I know President Biden will do things for the Jews. I know President Trump will do things for the Jews.


LEMON (on camera): So here is the thing. That really stuck because he went on to say look, I don't see these people, most of them, right, who say these things that they're necessarily racist.

They're just repeating ignorant things, but I think he went on to say and I'm paraphrasing here, when someone who maybe unstable or has mental issues, right, it becomes real to them and they act on these things. Those are the danger -- dangers. These tropes are incredibly dangerous in that -- in that regard. Are you worried that this type of language is now becoming part of the mainstream?

GREENBLATT: I mean, don, I think this language entered the main stream years ago. Wild conspiracy theories that defame or delegitimize the Jewish people or the Jewish state are part now of the public conversation in ways that I think are terrifying. I mean, frankly, I don't have the luxury of writing this off as it was

a deranged person. Anti-Semitism itself is a conspiracy theory. And I sent my kids to Hebrew school not to learn hand to hand combat. I mean, I must say like it makes me angry that I have to think about going to shoot, like it was, you know, survivor or something.

I mean, this is madness and I think it starts with words, Don, so people who traffic in conspiracies, we need to call them out. Again, people on the right need to do it with people on the right who make wild claims about George Soros or Jewish space lasers. People on the left need to push back who called polite Zionists their enemies.

I think, Don, it really starts with words and people in positions of authority need to rediscover that moral leadership that is so critical to having a shared society. This weekend was an example of what happens when everything unravels. And look, we're having this conversation a week after with the anniversary of the terror attack in Washington. Which again, it started with words.

So, we need to take people seriously when they say they mean us harm, the Jewish people have learned we can't afford to ignore them. We've got to take that seriously.

LEMON: I'm so glad to have you here, Jonathan, thank you. And Andrew, as well. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

The surgeon general warning that the next few weeks will be tough as COVID surges nationwide. Hospitals running out of space as more schools struggle to keep classrooms open.



LEMON (on camera): So, the Omicron surge pushing hospitals to the limit. More than 156,000 people now hospitalized with COVID in the U.S. with more than 25,000 adults in the ICU. And while parts of the northeast appear to have crested the surgeon general warning that cases nationwide have yet to peak.

Let's discuss now. Dr. Peter Hotez is here. He is a co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. So good to have you on.

Look, I love having you on. I, quite honestly, I'm looking forward to the day when either I don't have you on or have you on and we're talking about something else. I mean, is that fair? Are you OK with that?

PETER HOTEZ, INFECTIOUS EXPERT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Yes, Don, I'm worried a year from now the country is going to see me and start having PTSD.


HOTEZ: Because I'm the bearer of such bad news so often but it is truly heartbreaking at times.

LEMON: Yes, well, let's -- yes, and we have to talk about it because this latest surge quite honestly is throwing schools back into chaos, doctor. You're in Houston where the school district is cancelling classes tomorrow as cases rise in the community. Can temporary closures like this help stop the spread? Are kids safer being in school?

HOTEZ: Well, I think what's happening tomorrow is it's supposed to be a Teacher's Day. I think school is going to be back on Wednesday. But you know, we're really dealing with some tough issues here in Houston and Harris County and across Texas which is that we have a screaming level of virus transmission, problem number one, so that as of last week, we've got so many teachers calling out sicks -- sick.

We're doubling up classes. We're asking principals and administrators to serve as substitute teachers, so it's -- we're really struggling to keep the schools afloat and then we have the problem that we're not allowed to have mask mandates.

So, the superintendent of HISD, the Houston Independent School District is valiantly trying to implement mask mandates to give us a fighting chance. And then our vaccination rates are awful among the kids especially the 5 to 11 and the teenagers here.

So, you know, the expression, give me something to work with here.

LEMON: Right.

HOTEZ: We're just, you know, it's not even two strikes against the teachers and the administrators. It's practically three strikes. And we're setting up our teachers and setting up our students to fail and somebody has to provide some adult supervision here and help our educators.

LEMON: All right. Well, speaking of, and the people who are in charge of this, right, and it's confusing to a lot of people so help us out here. The CDC's most recent isolation guidance advices people coming out of their five-day isolation to avoid being around people who are overweight, have depression, current or former smokers and more.


A CNN analysis finding this cover more than 80 percent of the U.S. population. What are people supposed to make of that? Are they supposed, I don't know, they say, wait a minute, let me see, are you over weight or are you a smoker? I don't know. Help me.

HOTEZ: Yes, we're asking the American people to get, suddenly get a masters in public health and it's not working. But here is what we do know. We have some new information now coming out of the Japanese government, the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan that's now actually found concordance among the PCR results and the virus isolation among with people with Omicron.

So, you know, one of the problems with the PCR as say, it's very sensitive and can detect both actual virus and virus remnants so you don't know if people are really shedding virus. And now it's showing that it backs it up pretty well.

So, it goes like this, Don. What happens is starting around seven, eight days all of a sudden, it starts to drops off significantly in terms of actual virus being released. It's a small study but if it could be replicated, it tells us actually that the original recommendation of 10 days might have been spot on and we might have to revisit that if other studies, which are larger show the same thing.

LEMON: Yes, I just had questions about like when you're shedding, just real quick, when your shedding, shedding by the way, everyone, the virus, you're still -- are you still contagious?



HOTEZ: That's the basis of being contagious, --


LEMON: That's the basis --

HOTEZ: -- when you're releasing virus.

LEMON: -- when you are -- OK.

LEMON: And that's why vaccines can work, if you got a lot of viruses neutralizing antibody in your mucus membranes, in your nose and mouth, you actually stop the virus shedding.

LEMON: I thought I said the shedding is at the end like when you're getting rid of it, so I guess that's yes, you're still contagious but how do you know that you're not? You have to have the PCR --


LEMON: -- to show how much the viral load is?

HOTEZ: Right. Right, but now it's showing that the PCR is actually backing up the actual isolation of the virus, which are -- which are harder studies to do and they're showing more of less the same thing --


HOTEZ: -- people are releasing virus, we don't even use the word shedding, releasing virus in their nose and mouth either after being symptomatic or after being diagnosed for about nine days, and by day 10 then it really drops off.

LEMON: That's what we need --

HOTEZ: So, it suggests that may be the right recommendation. LEMON: That's what we need the right language, instead of shedding,

you're right, you said releasing the virus but I think everybody can understand that.

Thank you very much. I appreciate it, doctor. I'll see you soon.

So, tennis star Novak Djokovic sitting out the Australian Open after his deportation from Melbourne and now his status for the Grand Slam, the next Grand Slam tournament in jeopardy.



LEMON (on camera): So, take this, the world's number one tennis player back at home in Serbia after Australian authorities cancelled his visa and deported him on the grounds of public health and order. Australia argued that Djokovic who is unvaccinated but sought a medical exception to play in the Australian Open could incite the country country's anti-vaxxers.

But this might not be the end of Djokovic's problems. Should he want to continue this year on the international tennis tour, he will likely have to get vaccinated. France's sport ministry told CNN today that all professional athletes who wish to compete in France must be vaccinated against COVID-19. No exceptions.

Djokovic now has only until May to decide if he wants to compete in the French Open, the second tennis Grand Slam of the year. We shall see.

Dr. King's family putting pressure on senators to pass voting rights legislation, but with that all but certain to fail, where will Democrats turn next?