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Don Lemon Tonight

Not An Easy Year For President Biden; President Biden Called Out The GOP; Voting Rights Bill Dead On Arrival; GOP Don't Mention Biden's Accomplishments; Another Defeat For Former POTUS. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 19, 2022 - 22:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Good evening, Brianna. And we are watching it in action. Before you go, I just want to take a look at the Senate floor so you and I can talk a bit about what's going on. Chuck Schumer now talking about -- what they are trying to do is they're talking about the nuclear option to change the filibuster rule.

They've already voted now to block voting rights legislation, so they should vote on this at any moment, but we are watching our democracy, the direction at least it's going, and as you have been reporting, it is in peril when you don't allow as many people as possible access to the voting booth.

KEILAR: Yes, and I think Chuck Schumer was speaking and now it's Mitch McConnell, and it's so important to hear from both of these leaders right at this moment.


KEILAR: Over this issue. You know, one of the things -- they're actually looking at something right now, Don, and it's kind of like pie in the sky Pollyanna, but Democrats are looking at this idea of changing the Senate rules so that it would actually be a filibuster like Mr. Smith goes to Washington.

LEMON: Washington. Right.

KEILAR: You know? And like there's no way this is going to happen, but I think it would be so important to have the discussion, and I'm not talking about, you know, Ted Cruz green eggs and ham style.


KEILAR: I'm talking about actually discussing, you know, what is at stake and hearing from both sides here to see what they think and to see if it makes any sense.

LEMON: Yes. But I think we're beyond that, it would be great, you're right, if we could actually do it in a democratic way, small d democratic way, but we shall see. Brianna Keilar, thank you. We are going to get to that. And we appreciate it. I will see you on Friday as you said, not tomorrow.

KEILAR: All right.

LEMON: Thank you.

KEILAR: Yes. See you then.

LEMON: See you later.


And that's our breaking news. Senate Republicans again blocking voting rights legislation put forward by Democrats. They're going to vote any minute now on the nuclear option, as we look at Mitch McConnell now on the Senate floor, changing the filibuster to allow the legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Also, all but certain to fail due to the objections of two Democrats, talking about Manchin and Sinema. And all of that comes in the wake of President Biden's nearly two-hour long news conference today. Did you watch it? It was a long news conference.

What I want to do here is really take a clear look at what we saw today, what we actually saw and heard and how it comes across, OK? So, let's use common sense to take a good look at this and I'm going to give it to you straight here, just the facts, no conservative, no liberal, not liberal, right, just facts.

So, we saw the president defending his record, changing his tune. Does he realize now that his presidency needs to adjust to the reality of events? Is he thinking and remembering why he got elected? It was to end the pandemic and end the crazy. That's what people really wanted, some normalcy, stability. End the pandemic, end the crazy.

Just think about it, excuse me, before I go on, think about it. All the press conferences, you're the fake media and the screaming and the light inside the body, you didn't have any of that today. You may not have liked what he said, whatever, but you didn't have anybody attacking anyone, attacking the media, attacking people who didn't vote for him or don't support him. None of that.

Do presidents misspeak? Sure, they do. All the time. They have to come back and clean up on aisle Ukraine as they say, of course they do, but that's normal stuff. How soon we forget. That's normal stuff.

Now, we all know that, look, that the crazy part didn't happen, right? He hasn't really added the civility and hasn't ended the pandemic, and that's why he's in a big jam trying to get out of it and get back on track, but we can't look at that without looking at the Republicans again, facts, Republicans who want to make sure that he stays jammed up, and that's where we are right now. And that's where we saw a change of tone today.

I want you to listen to what he says about -- this is about Mitch McConnell and what he said about Mitch McConnell and Republicans. Watch.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that the fundamental question is what's Mitch for? What's he for on immigration? What's he for? What's he proposing to being better? What's he for dealing with Russia that's different than I'm proposing and many of his Republican friends and colleagues are supporting as well. What's he for on these things? What are they for?


Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they're unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary?


LEMON (on camera): Not wrong. He's not wrong. I mean, think about it. When he says what's Mitch McConnell for? That's not a attack. That's true. Remember repeal and replace, how long did they do that? Eight, ten years?

What do Republicans stand for except for blocking Joe Biden? That was the one thing that I was surprised that he didn't realize, you know, they told you, Mr. President, that they wanted to kill your presidency in the crib, in its infancy. Shouldn't be surprised.

On the night the senators driving a stake through the heart of voting rights legislation, here's how the president answered a question about black voters who fought to put him in the White House and now feel that he is not fighting for them.


BIDEN: Well, I think if, in fact, no matter how hard they make it for minorities to vote, I think you're going to see them willing to stand in line and defy the attempt to keep them from being able to vote. I think you're going to see the people we're trying to keep from being able to show up, showing up and making the sacrifice that needs to be made in order to change the law back to what it should be.


LEMON (on camera): Look, it is true. Black folks are accustomed to having to do whatever it takes to fight for voting rights. We will stand in line for hours. We will stand in line for hours so that the wrong person doesn't get in office, but there is a limit.

Look, I got to tell you, I get a text from my mom. I don't care what they say about Joe Biden is her text, and I'm quoting here, "if he runs again, I'm going to vote for him."

Those are the moderate middle of the road Democrats who are not that political who actually went to the polls, the church ladies with hats. That's my mom. Those are the voters who put him into office, not the extremes. They're still with him. But they want to see the fight. They want the energy, bring the energy, bring the fight. Get voting rights done.

I'm going to talk about what black folks care about in just a minute here. Not that different than anybody else, but they do care about voting rights, it's very important. So clearly, we see that tonight, others including senators in Congress are not doing the right thing. We get it. We see it.

But while people of color care about voting rights, the rights that so many Americans fought and died for, we also care about safety. We care about security, and we care about the economy, centrist, middle of the road Democrats, church ladies like my dad, my stepdad, carried a lunchbox to work every day, God rest his soul, right?

Workers, middle of the road. They don't care about the extremes. They want their families to be safe physically and financially. That's the bottom line, but they do want voting rights. They want that just like every other American to keep their family safe, to be able to afford things.

Everyone cares about how much it costs to put food on the table and put gas in the tank. They care about crime. They care about COVID as we enter year three of a pandemic that has changed life in America and not for the better.


BIDEN: I'm not going to give up and accept things as they are now. Some people may call what's happening now the new normal. I call it a job not yet finished.


LEMON (on camera): So, let's be real. What's been one of the main obstacles to finishing that job? A deliberate strategy on the right to make sure that he does not succeed, to obstruct, to spread misinformation, and to inflame anger over masks and vaccines.

Today we saw a president who wanted to acknowledge the struggles people are facing but who isn't willing to capitulate to the emerging narrative that his presidency hasn't done anything to help.


BIDEN: I think you have to look at things that we used to look at on balance. What is the trajectory of the country? Is it moving in the right direction now? I don't know how we can say it's not. I understand the overwhelming frustration, fear, and concern with regard to inflation and COVID.

I get it. But the idea if I told you when we started, I tell you what I'm going to do, the first year I'm going to create over 600 -- six million jobs, I'm going to get unemployment down to 3.9 percent, I'm going to generate and I named it all, you look at me like you're nuts.



LEMON (on camera): Now, that does not mean that there aren't things that need to change in this administration, OK? There are. This president needs to focus on what got him elected, right? He ran as a problem solver, the adult in the room who could get things done.

That is a Joe Biden people want to see. Not one who is focused on the left or blundering a strategy on voting rights and the filibuster, setting up a defeat on the very night that he tried to turn things around. That's not what people want, adult in the room in the pandemic, normalcy. Get rid of the crazy.

When you think about it and you listen to Joe Biden today, when has Trump ever been -- the former president, that circumstance tonight, that make measured words. Let me think about what I'm going to say here. Never.

People don't want to see one whose party isn't ready to follow the grand vision, a president whose party is not ready to follow the grand vision of transformational change that they have been pushing, and that's why he said that he'd be willing to break up his build back better plan to get parts of it done, and why he said there are parts important to him that he might not be able to get done.

The fact is Democrats are worried with the midterms just months away. Moderates, independents, progressives, blacks and whites, urban and suburban, that's who elected this president, and if you don't forget that, it's not too late to get this administration back on track.

There's a new, New York Times op-ed, conservative columnist Bret Stephens, you should read it. He writes, Biden's performance thus far is sometimes compared with Jimmy Carter's, maybe the better source of comparison is Bill Clinton who ran as a centrist, tilted left in his first year, saw his signature legislation blow up in Congress, suffered military humiliation in Somalia, and then figured out how to recapture the center and save his presidency.

Roll that back for me Mr. Prompter, Teleprompter. I want to read that again. OK? This is from Bret Stephens, listen, Biden's performance thus far is sometimes compared with Jimmy Carter's, maybe the better source of comparison is Bill Clinton who ran as a centrist, tilted left in his first year, saw his signature legislation blow up in Congress, suffered military humiliation in Somalia -- Afghanistan -- and then figured out how to recapture the center and save his presidency.

What did they say, history doesn't often repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes, right? So that's the question. Is Joe Biden more like Jimmy Carter or is he more like Bill Clinton? This is not about transformation or bipartisan dream. It's about how this White House is going to respond to reality.

The reality that Republicans aren't going to work with you just like they did not want to work with you for bill -- for President Barack Obama. They have proved that over and over. It is not the same Senate as when Joe Biden was in the Senate. It's not the same Senate as when Joe Biden was vice president. It is not the same Senate as it was two years ago, three years ago.

The reality of COVID and millions of anti-vax Americans who still believe the misinformation that they have been fed by the right wing, that's where we are now. The reality of inflation that Americans are feeling every day, that's where we are now. The reality of crime that is making our cities less safe. That's where we are now.

Will President Biden deal with the reality that there will continue to be obstruction, there will continue to be resistance, there will continue to be misinformation, the big lie, all of it, there will continue to be that. People are locked in their positions because they have been fed so much misinformation, they don't know what's true, what's not. They're just -- they sit in front of the television locked into one channel that feeds them B.S.

In a few months, the American people will decide whether the administration is living in the real world that they see every day.

Let's bring in now CNN senior politics analyst, Kirsten Powers and Washington Post columnist Max Boot. Hello to both of you, thank you so much. Don't mean to be dramatic, but I listened to the press conference today and that's where I am right now.


Good evening. How are you guys doing?


LEMON: Good.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good. I thought you were great, Don.

LEMON: Thank you very -- what did you think? I'm going to do -- I'm going to do like what's his name used to do on your old network when I used to watch. What did I do -- you know who I'm talking about, right? What did I do wrong? How did I do, Kirsten, right?

POWERS: Well, look, I think -- the thing -- my big takeaway from all of this is -- and I think that it's pretty different than what a lot of people think which is that we have these unrealistic expectations. Joe Biden has been president for one year.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: And it's like how is Joe Biden not solved every single problem in the world? How could he not have done that? First of all, he's been president for one year. Second of all, there's been a global pandemic, which is not something that most presidents have to deal with, and the economy actually is doing very well, which normally people would be talking about that as a good thing. Inflation is a problem, but on every other metric, the economy is

doing very well. He actually has passed some legislation that's pretty meaningful, bipartisan infrastructure bill showing that he can work with both parties. The rescue package around COVID.

I do think that it was a mistake to be trying to get Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to go along with something that they were never going to go along with, but does that make him a failure? It doesn't. And I just think the way that this is covered is like it's covered like, it's sports or something, --


POWERS: -- and it's not sports. It's very -- it's very complex. It's very complicated. He doesn't have 50 senators that he can count on. He has a Republican Party that will not do anything with him basically other than the few people he was able to get for the infrastructure bill, but on anything else, they don't want to work with him.


POWERS: So, when it comes to voting rights, who are the bad guys in the voting rights story? It's the Republicans. Right?

LEMON: I can't believe there isn't one Republican --


POWERS: It's not Joe Biden --

LEMON: I can't believe there isn't one --


LEMON: -- Republican who is not for securing voting rights for people, you know, for everyone. And I got to get Max in. Max, you know, she mentioned the Republicans.

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: President Biden said today that the GOP was not nearly as obstructionist during the Obama years. I'm not sure that's true, you know, because remember McConnell said that -- they said the same thing, one-term president, kill Joe Biden's presidency infancy, in his infancy, Obama, one-term president.

And of course, Senator McConnell previously vowed to block the Biden administration 100 percent. He was elected on bipartisanship, but is he dealing with the reality of the Republican Party?

BOOT: I think the scales are falling from Joe Biden's eyes, and I think a lot of people have been suggesting for the last couple of years that he had very romantic, rosy-eyed views of the Republican Party. I mean, in some ways, Don, frankly this reminded me of Donald Trump's conceit. Because, you know, Trump always said, I'm the greatest deal maker, I can make a deal with anybody. And Biden had kind of the same notion, that he could make a deal with

Republicans. And now after a year of banging his head against the wall, he's realized that's largely not the case. Although in fairness he did get the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is more than Donald Trump was ever able to achieve.

But as you point out, there is not a single Republican vote on voting rights, and you know, Republicans are even afraid to investigate what happened on January 6th. And so, that to me, Don, was actually in some ways the most striking part of the press conference today where Biden was acknowledging that he was wrong about the Republicans.

They don't have any positive agenda as he pointed out. They are just being simply obstructionist, and he is coming to terms with that. And you've seen the last couple of weeks, he has given some of the toughest speeches of his presidency attacking Republicans for inciting the January 6th insurrection, attacking Republicans for not supporting voting rights, and of course the reaction from pundits and Republicans is, you know, Biden is being divisive. How awful.

Well, the reality is 71 percent of Republicans don't even acknowledge that Joe Biden was legitimately elected, so who is being divisive here?

LEMON: Yes, I'm glad you mentioned that. I'm going to let you guys go, but I'm glad you mentioned that because I wrote about -- I write in the book that I wrote last year on the subject of race how people are more upset about the idea that someone will call them a racist than actually doing the right thing.

So, when he said, I wasn't -- I wasn't saying that they were racist, that they were George Wallace, and that they were Bull Connor, I'm saying that's the side that you're on. And I completely get what he's saying, I get the metaphor. I get the analogy.


You can say that someone's on that side or talk about the arc of history without saying that you are a racist. I think people, the pundits like to use that. Anyways, that's it. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. Thanks for listening to me. I'll see you guys soon.

POWERS: Thank you.

LEMON: So, we heard a clear change of tone from the president today when it comes to Republicans. Is he ready take them on? That is a question for -- there he is. Mr. Kasich. Hey, after the break.


LEMON (on camera): As we said at the top of the hour as I was talking to Brianna, we have some breaking news now, the Senate Republicans blocking voting rights legislation put forward by Democrats and now voting on the so-called nuclear option, that is the option to change Senate rules to require only 51 votes to break the filibuster. Jessica Dean is on Capitol Hill. She's covering it all for us.

Jessica, good evening to you. Walk us through what's going on in the Senate right now, please.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: All right. So just down the way from me, Don, the Senate is voting on this nuclear option, and so what we're going to see unfold is that they are not going to have -- Democrats will not have enough votes because Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema do not support changing the rules of the filibuster without bipartisan support, and there is no Republican support from leadership to change any of these rules.

So now we are just watching that all play out on the floor. It's been a long day here as you mentioned several hours ago, they voted on that voting rights legislation, which, again, failed. Schumer had said once that failed, he would proceed forward with changing this filibuster, but the fact remains, Don, that at the end of the evening, Democrats will have failed on two of these priorities that they wanted to see happen.

They knew this was the most likely outcome, but the fact remains, you know, on the day we heard from President Biden you talked a lot about that at the beginning of the show, this is what is happening over on Capitol Hill.

And so the question is where do Senate Democrats go now? Will they try to now turn their attention to build back better or trying to slim that down. That's what we're going to keep an eye out for. But right now, again, we are watching the Senate vote on this filibuster rules changes and what we are expecting to happen and what we are keeping an eye on is that they will not -- Democrats will not have enough votes to get that done.

LEMON: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you very much as expected. We appreciate that.

So, joining me now CNN senior commentator and former Ohio Governor, Mr. John Kasich. John, good evening to you, how are you?


LEMON: Listen, you have been --

KASICH: Always -- always interesting.

LEMON: Yes, I know, and it never stops. You've been critical on the course of this president, the course this president has taken lately even though you supported President Biden against Trump. Did you like what you heard today from him? What did you think?

KASICH: I just don't think he hit the mark particularly well, Don. Look, we mentioned Bill Clinton in -- you know, you talked about him earlier. You know, Bill Clinton did something that was -- but he was an unbelievably gifted politician. He could not only be very compassionate with people, but he could also be very, very positive. You know, he was the guy that came up with the saying I can feel your pain.

So, I think the ability to be compassionate and then to inspire hope I think is good, and I think at the end, Don, you kind of hit on some of the subjects, inflation, COVID, crime, schools, those are the things that people are thinking about across America, and I think because he hasn't touched those issues very effectively, inflation, you know, I think that's why his numbers are down.

Can he -- look, I think you're going to have a Republican House, maybe even a Republican Senate, and you're going to see a different Joe Biden. You're going to see the Joe Biden that I thought we were going to see when he first took office.

LEMON: Which is --

KASICH: They'll be compromises, they'll get some things done. I think he's going to get some things done.


LEMON: But you don't think he's compromised? I think Joe Biden has done all the compromising.


LEMON: I think the Republicans haven't done the compromising.


LEMON: He's been trying -- he's been reaching -- listen, this is why you're here, he's been trying to have this bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship, and nothing is working. He doesn't -- he never gets any votes from Republicans no matter what.

KASICH: Don, the biggest infrastructure package --


LEMON: Except for infrastructure.

KASICH: -- in our modern history.


KASICH: No, wait a minute. That's like except -- that's like except for the fact that the Titanic hit an iceberg. It's a big deal --


LEMON: It is a big deal but there's more than infrastructure there --

KASICH: It's the biggest -- hold on, let me just say this --

LEMON: Hang on, I'm just going to say there's more than infrastructure, there are a lot of other things besides infrastructure. You're right, I gave you infrastructure, except for that, but there are other things --


KASICH: But wait a minute.

LEMON: -- that are important to the American people.

KASICH: I know there are, but you say that they're not getting any help, even Mitch McConnell voted -- and I'm not the biggest fan of any of those folks as you know, look, infrastructure passed the Senate with 19 Republicans, including the Republican leader.

In the House they had 13 votes, and they could have had 20 had he pushed it. Joe Biden made no effort to reach out. Let's talk about voting rights. You heard what the former senator said Mitch -- or the senator now, Mitt Romney, he says no one ever called me.

Hear what Biden said, well, I needed to get my act together before I called them. Don, if you and I are going to put something together where we fundamentally disagree but we think there's something we can agree on, don't call me and just tell me what it is, work with me to put it together.

LEMON: I don't disagree with you --


KASICH: So, I think there's child --

LEMON: I don't disagree with you with that --

KASICH: I think there's a child credit that could happen.

LEMON: -- but I wouldn't think that I would need to call you for something like voting rights. I would think that you are, you know, smart enough, compassionate enough man to understand that the right to vote should be available to all, access to the voting booth should be available to all as, and we should make it as easy as possible. I would think that -- I mean, that's what John Kasich stands for, why would I have to call you about that?

KASICH: I -- let me just tell you this -- I am told, and I don't know this because if you read the wall Street Journal, they say one thing, you read the New York Times, it's like a tale of two different cities.

I was just told tonight, Don, think about this, I was told tonight that the voting restrictions in Joe Biden's home state of Delaware are more severe than in Georgia. I don't know if that's for sure true.


I'm with you, we should not make it hard for people to vote. We should make it easy for people to vote, and the vote has to have great integrity. Anything that starts to make it hard for people to vote I'm not for, period, end of story. And I think there are senators that could feel the same way if they get sought out. That's what I think.

LEMON: Remember, it's not just, you know, people think, well, where can you not vote? People can vote, but if you look at the laws that are actually going on the books around the country by Republican legislatures, it is -- it's pretty scary, and who they're putting in charge of counting and all of that, that's all part of voting rights as well. We must remember that.

But I've got to say, because you said you're going to see -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong -- the Joe Biden that was -- that you thought would emerge after he was elected. This president emphatically is saying that he is not a socialist. He's not Bernie Sanders, that he's a mainstream Democrat.

KASICH: You're saying that.

LEMON: Did that remind you of how he campaigned in the general election, maybe he realizes that he may appear to have moved too far to the left?

KASICH: Don, think about this for a second. The president of the United States said I am not a socialist. I mean, and there are people around America saying it. OK? Just for him to have to say that just seemed patently crazy, right?

The fact of the matter is Biden institutionally in his DNA, he's moderate. He's center left, and there are plenty of people on the center right that could put deals together. I'm telling you the child tax credit. You're going to get something, I think, on this electoral reform. I think it's going to come.

There is grounds on which to do prescription drugs and to lower -- there's plenty of areas to do this. I agree with you in the House, though, the Republicans in the House, they're out of control, and you know what? Sad, the thing is, they're going to probably win the majority, but if they win the majority, it's going to change Joe Biden. He'll be back to the old Joe that we all knew.

LEMON: You know why he has to say that he's not -- partially, I do think that the administration doesn't realize that they are -- they have been catering to the extremes of the party too much, to the left. But also, it's because of a narrative that is created by the right that has been adopted by the pundits, you know, the socialist -- he has to say because many people know him --


LEMON: -- or they are basing their opinion or forming their opinion on something they have seen either on the propaganda network or some right-wing Looney network that Joe Biden is a socialist. And he's not.


LEMON: So, it's crazy that he has to say it.

KASICH: I know. I don't -- I don't -- LEMON: It's only because that's how he's being painted in certain corners.

KASICH: You know, there's one other thing, Don, to think about for a second. There are people that they're afraid that the values of our country are being undermined. They don't want any changes. See, I think there's three groups of people. There's people on the left that are kind of woke. They want to change everything. There are people on the right that don't want anything to change, and then there's us --


KASICH: -- who are in the middle and for evolution, not revolution, and that's --


LEMON: It sounds like you were listening to the beginning of my show --

KASICH: -- what we are losing (Inaudible) that's the group that has -- I actually didn't because I was talking about voting rights with a guy from Ohio secretary of state.

LEMON: I got --

KASICH: But Don, the middle -- that's the middle of the country.

LEMON: I agree with you.

KASICH: And I love when we can have a conversation like this.

LEMON: I agree with you.

KASICH: This is a good thing.

LEMON: Listen, the centrists and the folks in the middle. Everybody is going to get mad at me, you know, the far left and the far right. I don't really care.

KASICH: Yes, they will.

LEMON: The people who put Joe Biden in office were the people who are in the middle, and they wanted -- they -- what people want, right, they want -- they want to get rid of the crazy --


KASICH: Yes, I --

LEMON: -- and they want stability. That's it. That simple. Thank you, sir.

KASICH: And by the way, he's got -- he's only been the president for one year.


LEMON: You're killing me.

KASICH: There's three years to go.

LEMON: You're killing me, my producers are yelling at me.

KASICH: I know you're running out of time. I'll see you.

LEMON: Bye, John Kasich. Thank you.

President Biden defending his record over his first year in office, but has the White House done enough to tout his accomplishments? Infrastructure czar, there he is, Mitch Landrieu, how are you? You're on camera. Smile, you're on candid camera. We'll see --

MITCH LANDRIEU, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER & INFRASTRUCTURE IMPLEMENTATION COORDINATOR: I love -- I love -- I love John Kasich. He can talk a dog off a meat truck. I'm just telling you. He's pretty good.

LEMON: All right, after the break we'll see you.

LANDRIEU: All right.



LEMON (on camera): So, here's our breaking news right now, the effort to change the filibuster rule in the Senate failed, as expected the vote was 52 to 48 with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema voting with Republicans.

That, as President Biden is facing economic headwinds and low poll numbers and a wide-ranging news conference today defending his record. And tonight, outside the White House, the DNC projecting the message Biden jobs shots roads.

Why hasn't it been the message all along? It's a lot better than Dems, infighting filibuster. So. joining me now to discuss the former mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, he's the White House infrastructure czar.

Good evening. So. I don't need to explain everything that is going on --

LANDRIEU: Hi, my friend.

LEMON: -- with you. Thank you. So. you're the guy in charge of, you know, the road parts -- the roads part basically, so what'd you think of the legislation failing? What'd you think of what Biden did today? Do you -- do you -- here's a better question. Do you take issue with the idea that this presidency needs a reset is what I really want to ask you?


LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, we're only in the first year of a four- year presidency. That's why it's a four-year term, and when people talk about reset, it's amazing because nobody wants to talk about actually what he did in his first year.

You know, the president has great empathy for the American people and for what we've all gone through. I mean, all of us have been through a real hellish time with Omicron and how many family members have been lost and the tragedy of it. He has been to many tragic sites this year. And so, he has great empathy for that.

But he also is a guy that's tough and he's deliberate. I mean, if you think about it with the American rescue plan and with -- and with the infrastructure bill, he's passed two of the largest pieces of legislation in the history of the country, and for some reason people seem to be glossing over that today.

He got shots. And when we got there were two million people who were vaccinated, now there are 200 million people. Lots of people were dying when he took office. Not so many today. He actually cut the poverty rate by 40 percent in this country and put money in people's pockets and saved the economy and then he turned around and passed the largest infrastructure bill in the history of the country since Eisenhower, something that the past five, six presidents have been unable to do.

So, basically, we're in a position now to rebuild roads, rebuild bridges, have clean water so that people can have safe lives again, get rid of lead pipes, extend broadband across the United States of America. Clean up wells --

LEMON: Is that --

LANDRIEU: -- that are spewing methane. And so, all of those things are fantastic. And so today I'm listening to the media talk about, you know, the criticism, and by the way, I love John Kasich, but just to remind people on the infrastructure bill, there are actually 214 Republican members of the House, and all but 14 voted against it.

And just now on the filibuster, it is true that two Democrats voted against it, but all of the Republicans voted against it. So, in my life, I'm from New Orleans, and when the music plays, baby, it takes two to tango, not just one.

So, the president is going to do his work. He's going to do what is necessary to get things done and make Americans' lives safer and lower the cost. You know, there are two sides to this story, and right now only one of them is being told.

LEMON: It takes a whole group to second line, and so --

LANDRIEU: I guess -- I guess that's one way to say it. But listen, the president takes responsibility for what's going on in this country, but he's not by himself. This is an all-in kind of deal.

LEMON: Mitch?

LANDRIEU: And so, I think early on -- I mean, if the Republicans sit down and don't do anything, it's kind of hard to drag them along. It would be helpful if they got up and walked a little bit towards you.


LANDRIEU: I mean, he's not their grandma, he's not supposed to be feeding him warm porridge all the time.

LEMON: I'm going to keep you -- I'm going to keep you for another because I want to continue to talk to you, don't go anywhere. We're coming right back with Mitch Landrieu.

LANDRIEU: All right.



LEMON (on camera): OK, so Mitch Landrieu is back with me. Mitch, you and I have had many conversations about the right to vote and the state of our democracy. Are you personally disappointed by the demise of voting rights, at least for now?

LANDRIEU: I think it's awful. I don't know what are the Republicans for, nothing, what are they afraid of? Everything. Why would you be afraid of people voting. I mean, in America it's supposed to be easy, not hard, unless you're scared of something.

So -- and listen, to the white people of America, I'd wake up. This is just not about African-Americans. I mean, the right to vote is an essential American right that without we don't really have a democracy. So, this doesn't just, as Dr. King said if people would read the letter from Birmingham or maybe the latest book he wrote, which is "Where Do We Go From Here," it's a deeper dive.

And this is not just an issue about race, although it's critically important, as you know, Don, to the black community. I think you said black people voting is not the only thing, the safety, being able to make a dollar, being able to build generational wealth, being able to become a business person, you know, making sure that your kids have a better life than you, just like everybody else.

But when somebody threatens the thing that actually gives you the opportunity to have a voice in America, then all of a sudden it gets really personal. And I think it's a shame what happened tonight. And I think that, you know, obviously, this fight is not over, it's been going on and people have lost their lives over this as both you and I know.

So, I was very disappointed in the vote tonight. But you know, the president is going to keep fighting and that's what he does.

LEMON: Can you just give me a quick word, because this is not people say, well, people have access to the voting booth. Where can people not vote. This is about what's happening in different legislatures around the country with this about who counts the vote and who can overturn and so on and so forth.

LANDRIEU: Listen, this is Jim Crow 2.0, there's no question about it. A long time ago they used to scare people, you know, because folks got lynched and then they made you count jellybeans and then they threw all kinds of things in the way of making it hard to vote.

Here's the point. If you want people to do something, make it easy. If you want to make it hard for them to do it, then make it harder. It's just not rocket science. You know, you can dress this up a whole bunch of different ways and it just looks nasty.

So, it's unfortunate, but we're going to keep fighting. People have been struggling for a long, long time in this country, and that road is well worn, but we have a long way to go before we perfect our democracy. But tonight, was a step backwards I thought.

LEMON: It's always good to have you on, tell your mom I said hi. Your momma Nim (Ph), everybody I said hello.

LANDRIEU: Thank you. Your mom Nim (Ph).

LEMON: Take it easy, Mr. Landrieu, always a pleasure.


LEMON: The Supreme Court dealing a blow to the former president, now the January 6th committee will soon get its hands on hundreds of documents that could shed light on what happened leading up to the insurrection at the capitol.



LEMON (on camera): A monumental legal defeat for the former president tonight. The Supreme Court siding with the committee in the case called Trump v. Thompson, clearing the way for them to get his White House records. More than 700 documents will now go to the committee that could shed light on what led up to the insurrection.

So, let's discuss now with CNN senior analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates joins me now. So, Laura, what does this mean now for the January 6th committee and for the former president? This is a lot of information.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is truly monumental have the Supreme Court of the United States with a former president not taking his case and saying really unabashedly that arguments about privilege and the idea that he could somehow withhold documents when the incumbent president says they should be given over for transparency's sake, for the interest of the nation.

They are saying that the committee needs to have these documents and they essentially say that any claim that the former president has is outweighed by the public's need to know.

LEMON: So, the committee will have access to hundreds of documents from the National Archives that Trump wanted to stay secret, including visitor and call logs, notes from Mark Meadows, drafts of correspondents and speeches related to the January 6th. What could they piece together from this information, Laura?


COATES: Remember the timing of this. They've had at this point hundreds of different interviews with people. They have evidence that's already come in. They have people who are behind the scenes already testified. We know the ones who have refused to do so, Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows, but remember at this juncture they probably have a whole host of information that could corroborate anything that comes down the line.

And so, this might be the final jigsaw puzzle piece to show whether somebody was acting at the direction, really the highest officeholder in the land, the president of the United States, and anyone in his orbit and it could give us information about what the president was doing at the time, what he did leading up to January 6th and what he did afterwards and really could unpack that big lie that has been metastasized unfortunately and codified across this land in voter legislation.

LEMON: There was only one Justice Clarence Thomas who's publicly said that he would have sided with the stay. Not making the records public. Legal experts saying that this is the right call, but are you surprised by the decision given the conservative majority on the court?

COATES: You know, it was the right call. And I think Trump is surprised, the fact that three Supreme Court justices that he feels he put in place did not have his back so to speak. And I know that Justice Kavanaugh did talk about the idea of, listen, there are instances when a former president, even though they are former president, might have some rights to having executive privilege.

We don't want a chilling effect for people who want to give candid information. But it has constraints and it is circumscribed by the public's need to know information. And so, it should shock no one, including the former president when that when you got an insurrection on the citadel of our democracy, I think Congress has a right and the public has a right to know what happened and your personal prerogative should not dictate.

This is not an instance of a foreign affairs or a conversation that would inure to your benefit of being private. This is the public's house that was stormed and we have a right no know. And that's what the Supreme Court essentially thought was most important.

LEMON: Laura Coates is our senior analyst here on CNN, her new book is called "Just Pursuit." Pick it up anywhere books are sold. Thank you, Laura. See you soon.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: President Biden holding a nearly two-hour news conference to mark his first year in office and he is signaling a major change in how he approaches his presidency.