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Don Lemon Tonight

Former Trump WH Aide Testifies to January 6th Committee for Seven Hours; Politics in America; How Do We Fix Anti-Police Violence?; Student Aims Racist Rant at Black High School Basketball Player; Masks in Schools Still Major Issue as Omicron Spreads; 'Bomb Cyclone' Blizzard to Slam Northeast this Weekend. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 27, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It's completely insane. Those are the exact words of a top aide outside the Oval Office trying to get the former president to call off the rioters. Terrifying to -- testifying, I should say, to the January 6th Committee for nearly seven hours and not pleading the fifth.

A disgusting racist rant aimed at a Black high school basketball player by another student.


UNKNOWN: Where is his (bleep) slave owner?

UNKNOWN: Chain him up! Chain him up!


LEMON: I'm going to speak to the basketball player and his parents just ahead.

And a bomb cyclone. That's what it's called, a bomb cyclone. It's a powerful winter storm packing heavy snow and strong winds moving into the northeast this weekend. Tens of millions of people in its path. We are tracking the storm for you.

Lots of news to get to, so I want to bring in CNN's senior legal analyst Mr. Elie Honig. Elie, thanks for joining us. We appreciate you. Let's talk about this former Meadows top aide outside the Oval Office as the insurrection was unfolding. And remember, the committee released his text exchange from January 6th in a letter to Ivanka Trump. I'm going to put up here.

It says, is someone getting to POTUS? He has to tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed. Response from White House staff member: I've been trying for the last 30 minutes. Literally stormed in outer oval to get him to put out the first one. It's completely insane. So, we now know that that was -- in that text message exchange, that was Ben Williamson responding to the former communications director, Alyssa -- wait, what is it? Alyssa Farah. Sorry. He spent nearly seven hours with investigators and did not take the fifth. So, how good of a witness is he to the committee? How important is this?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let's start with this, Don. If this witness, Ben Williamson, on January 6th said -- quote -- "it's completely insane," that shows that he is actually quite sane and maybe he was one of the very few people in the west wing at the time to notice that.

Look, this individual, Ben Williamson, could be a key witness because we know Mark Meadows is running from the committee, he's refusing to speak with them, he's been held in contempt, and we'll hear soon, hopefully, whether DOJ will prosecute him.

But the fact that a subject of an investigation is not willing to talk doesn't mean you have to give up on that subject. What you should do as a prosecutor, as an investigator, is exactly what the committee is doing here, go to the people around him, go to the people who are willing to come forward, who saw things, who heard things.

And the fact that he was in there testifying for six or seven hours, that is a lot of time for a prosecutor or an investigator to spend with somebody. You don't spend that much time with somebody unless you think they have really valuable information.

LEMON: Six or seven hours a long time for this, do you think?

HONIG: Yeah. I mean, you can get through an awful lot, Don. I mean, you know, you and I can get through a heck of a lot of material in three or four minutes. Imagine how much you can get through in six or seven hours. And look, I would want to know everything that happened on that day.


HONIG: I would want to know every conversation he had with Mark Meadows, even more importantly conversations he may not have been a part of but he may have observed, things he saw Mark Meadows saying on the phone, things he saw Mark Meadows discussing and doing with other people in the Oval Office, including the president.

LEMON: Well, that's my next question because a source is telling CNN that the investigators spoke to Williamson about the push to get Trump to release a video telling rioters to leave the Capitol on January 6th.

The Select Committee believes that Trump recorded multiple takes, writing, information in the Select Committee's possession suggests that the president failed in the initial clips to ask rioters to leave the Capitol.

How important is this video in the investigation?

HONIG: Can you imagine how bad the earlier versions were given, the final version that we saw, which in itself was not even a decisive call for the rioters to leave? It was very much hedged and full of praise for the rioters.

I mean, imagine what the cuts that they left outsay. I think it's really important to see that because I think those initial cuts of the video will tell us, will tell the committee, a lot about Donald Trump's true state of mind. How did he really regard what was going on? Was he pleased? Was he displeased? I think the proof will be in those videos.

LEMON: Go home, we love you. I mean, as you said --

HONIG: Right.

LEMON: -- that was bad enough.

It has been weeks since the House voted to hold Mark Meadows in contempt. The Supreme Court denying Trump's executive privilege claim damages his defense. And now, his top aide is out speaking. How do you see this playing out for Mark Meadows?

HONIG: I'm at a little bit of loss on this one, Don. It took DOJ about three weeks, about 21 days, to decide that they were going to charge Steve Bannon with contempt. Not that anyone is counting, but we're now on day 45 of DOJ deciding whether it's going to charge Mark Meadows.

Now, look, Mark Meadows is definitely a more complicated case than Steve Bannon. But on the other hand, as you just noted, last week, we got this ruling from the Supreme Court that really gutted Donald Trump's executive privilege arguments, and it wasn't even based on Donald Trump being the former president. They just said even if he was the current president, his executive privilege claims lack so much merit that we can essentially throw them out right here and now.

So, there was some speculation maybe DOJ is waiting for that opinion. Well, that was last week. That was a week and a half ago already. So, I'm not sure what they're waiting for, and I hope we get a decision one way or another soon.

LEMON: Elie Honig, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: I want to turn now to CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. Mr. John Harwood, good evening to you. So, President Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Zelensky for an hour, an hour and 20 minutes tonight, and it apparently didn't go so well. What are you hearing about that conversation, John?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing different things from both sides, Don. From the Ukrainian side, there was an anonymous quote, a leak to our colleague, Matthew Chance, in which the Ukrainian official said that President Biden told President Zelensky that an invasion was certain to happen when the ground freezes and that Kyiv should brace for impact.

The White House says that's absolutely not true, that President Biden said there's a distinct possibility that Russia will cross the border and invade, but that is not a certainty. Of course, at his news conference last week, the president predicted that that was likely. Nevertheless, the president said he was not saying it was certain.

There was agreement between the two sides. President Zelensky sent out a tweet, and in the statement, the readout from the NSC, both agreed that the United States was ready to provide additional economic assistance for Ukraine.

You know, there's a little bit of an unusual posture by Ukraine right now. They're being menaced by 100,000 Russian troops, but they're also trying to tamp it down to preserve confidence among their people, among investors. And so, even as they braced to defend themselves with help from the west, they are -- they're trying to downplay the immediate threat, and that makes for some tricky communications.

LEMON: I want to -- John, let's talk about the economy. I want to turn to the economy. There's a new report and it shows that the economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021. That is the best number since 1984. But there are some caveats here like inflation. What do we need to know about these numbers? They are good.

HARWOOD: Well, they're very good, and there's a lot good in this economy. The economy is coming back from the pandemic. To some extent, the numbers are a little bit artificially inflated because of how far we fell last year.

But then you also had the American Rescue Plan that President Biden put in along with the CARES Act, the previous fiscal support for ordinary Americans and for businesses. And what that did was generate a lot of demand and that has put people back to work. It's a great time to find a job. People are getting raises.


HARWOOD: The flip said of that, of course, the downside, is that the disruptions of the pandemic combined with this heightened demand has created a lot of inflation. So, even as we get terrific growth numbers, terrific unemployment numbers under four percent in terms of unemployment, you got a challenge with prices rising. Workers at the bottom of the income scale are coming out ahead, but others are not. And the public is not going to feel great about this economy until that is tamped down.

The good news is, though, economists expect that to happen later this year. And the more the pandemic gets under control, the better the economy is going to be.

LEMON: Before you go, John, give us the latest on President Biden's search for the next Supreme Court justice. When can we expect a pick? He said, you know, by the end of February, but are you hearing anything?

HARWOOD: Well, look, I think it could come sooner than that because there do seem to be a couple of clear frontrunners, and I think number one on that list is Ketanji Brown Jackson because she was already confirmed to the second highest court, the D.C. Court of Appeals, just below the Supreme Court a few months ago. That means she's been vetted. She got all 50 democratic votes and three republican votes. That suggests a pretty short path to confirmation.

There's also Leondra Kruger. She is a California Supreme Court justice. There's Michelle Childs from South Carolina, who is a choice of Jim Clyburn, the democratic congressional leader.

So, there's a finite set of choices. One clear frontrunner, I think, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who the president has already met with. And so, I think he could get this going fairly expeditiously. He's got a White House chief of staff and Ron Klain used to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Joe Biden used to chair the Judiciary Committee. So, they know how to do this and they've already gotten started.

LEMON: John Harwood, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

So, here's a question for Democrats. Democrats should be asking themselves, as a matter of fact, why aren't they dominating the political landscape in America in 2022?

Two decades ago, the influential book "The Emerging Democratic Majority" predicted they would due to demographic changes in the country. But now, now one of the co-authors says Democrats have gotten the messaging of the book all wrong.

Ruy Teixeira is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is here to talk about what actually happened. And we're so glad Ruy is here. Good evening, Ruy. Thank you so much for joining us.

So, your book was in 2002.


LEMON: It was the book back then. You predicted that Democrats would dominate American politics. One part of that equation was the shifting demographics in the country. What happened to your --

TEIXEIRA: Yeah, that's right.

LEMON: -- theory about the party?

TEIXEIRA: Yeah, at that time we looked at the way the demographic terrain was changing in the United States with the rise of the non- white population and some other important changes in terms of the role of women and professionals, and we thought the Democrats would not necessarily and automatically dominate but rather they had a really good chance if they took advantage of these changes to form a, you know, potentially governing majority that might have some durability.

But we did have some caveats even at the time. I think that's important to point out. And I think that's one of the reasons why the Democrats are in the trouble they're in today. One of those is that we always stipulated that there was a necessity for the Democrats to retain a very significant portion of the white working-class vote because while demographics were changing, they were still a huge voter group, particularly in very important states.

And as we saw over the course of the 21st century, that didn't turn out to be the case, that they're able to keep their share of the white working class votes stable.

LEMON: You said that Democrats are alienating the white working class. So, what are they doing wrong?

TEIXEIRA: Well, one thing they're doing wrong is that they are not able to project a sort of cultural outlook and an economic program that these voters find congenial. They feel that their communities have been left behind. They feel that elites on the coast don't pay much attention to them. They feel they're looked down upon.

And I think this really got a little bit turbo charged with the Trump election and thereafter when basically the take by most liberals in the Democratic Party was the only reason anyone could possibly ever vote for Trump was that they were a racist or a xenophobe or probably both. That didn't go over well with these voters.

Again, they feel like they're being pushed away, they're being looked down upon, they're not been paid attention to by the people around the Democratic Party now. That was a problem. And it continued to be a problem in 2020.

But the interesting thing that changed in 2020 is some of that attrition, some of those losses of working-class voters spread to non- whites.


TEIXEIRA: We saw the democratic margin among Black voters go down. We saw the democratic margin among Hispanics crater by about 16 margin points, which is a huge change all over the country, not just in Texas and South Florida.

And it turns out that one -- another thing we didn't talk about in the emerging democratic majority, which turned out to be important, was that we targeted and talked about the rise of professional class of (INAUDIBLE) in the Democratic Party. This is a growing group with a lot of political clout. They're moving to the Democrats that should really help them.

However, it turned out over the course of time the sort of cultural attitudes of the professional class, particularly the younger members of the professional class, started to dominate the Democratic Party and its views on a whole variety of issues.

And it turns out that, for instance, Hispanic working-class people are not particularly for one of a better word, woke. They're culturally conservative, they're patriotic, they're mobile, they're mostly concerned about their families, their jobs, their communities and so on. And that wasn't the message they felt they were getting from the Democrats in 2020, and one reason why they moved to Trump.

LEMON: You can say that about Black voters as well, because Black voters are really important to Democrats. But something that is clear to you and that I have been saying for a long time, Black voters aren't monolithic in their views, especially a lot of older Black voters. They're more conservative. They're worried about crime. They don't want defund the police. And do you think that Democrats have woken up to that yet?

TEIXEIRA: I guess I think it might be beginning to occur to them. I think they're still comforting themselves with the old nostrums that, you know, of course, Black people are going to vote for the Democratic Party nine to one, doesn't matter who they are, where they are, what age they are.

And I think that's incorrect. I think as you're pointing out, it's a diverse community with different views. They do vary by age, do vary by area of the country and so on. And a lot of them are -- you know, they're not that culturally liberal in a lot of ways. They really are more concerned about family, community, very concerned about crime in their communities as you just alluded to.

I think it's really sort of hard to overestimate the damage that was done by associating the Democrats with slogans like defund the police. This did not go over well in Black communities or Hispanic communities. I think they're still dealing with the fallout of that now.

I think that's one reason why candidate-elect Eric Adams could do so well in New York City by basically saying in forthright way, no, that is not where we're coming from. We want your communities safe, we're not against the police, we want them to do their job, and we don't think criminals belong in the street.

LEMON: I agree with you, 100 percent. I still hear activists and people on the far left saying, oh, you know, defund the police, it's not so bad. And they have to explain it. Listen, I understand what you're saying about a lot of those things, but if you're explaining, you're losing. Thank you.

TEIXEIRA: So true.

LEMON: Thank you so much, Ruy.

TEIXEIRA: Thank you.

LEMON: It's a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.

Crime on the rise all across the country, putting police officers in danger. They're being attacked, even killed. How do we fix this? I'm going to ask my friend, D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone next.




LEMON: So tonight, a Houston -- a suspect in Houston has been taken into custody for shooting three officers. He led police on a chase before barricading himself in a house. The mayor says the officers are in good spirits.

And just moments ago, police in Milwaukee giving an update on an officer who was shot and wounded today after responding to a man slumped in his vehicle.

And in New York, a wake held today at St. Patrick's Cathedral for 22- year-old Officer Jason Rivera. Officer Rivera and Officer Wilbert Mora both killed after a suspect opened fire on them in a Harlem apartment. The incident part of a troubling trend of violence that is really raising concerns about what can be done to keep police and the communities they serve protected.

So, joining me now to discuss is CNN law enforcement analyst and former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone. Mike, thanks for joining us. I know that you are attending the services for the officers here in New York, and we appreciate you being here to talk to us about this.


LEMON: We're going to talk about New York in just a minute. But let's talk about Houston because I just talked about that, what happened there. It highlights the danger that police are in right now as there's more and more of a focus on crime and how it's rising.

FANONE: Yeah, no, I mean, unfortunately, this is nothing new. These are the realities of the job. It's something that, unfortunately, I experience throughout my career. You know, like you said, I'm up here in New York to attend Officer Rivera's services and to honor his sacrifice. I've probably been to 100 wakes and funerals in my career as a police officer. It's part of the job, unfortunately.

LEMON: The funeral is tomorrow. Why is it so important for you to be here? And by the way, he was responding to a domestic disturbance, which can be the most dangerous for officers. Why was it important for you to be here?

FANONE: Well, like I said, I came up here to pay my respects to Officer Rivera. But the reason I wanted to come on your show tonight was to draw attention to both his and Officer Mora's selfless sacrifice. And I think it's important for us as Americans to take the time and reflect that there are men and women like Officer Rivera and Officer Mora who are willing to put on a badge and dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe.


FANONE: I think NYPD Commissioner Sewell, I heard her speak recently, and she summed it up perfectly when she said that these officers died doing exactly what we asked them to do. You don't have to understand that level of dedication, but it demands our respect and our gratitude. So, I think, you know, we should be reflecting on that and asking ourselves how can we honor that sacrifice and what can we do to earn it.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's about the mayor, the new mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, taking a hard line against crime after the shootings that killed officers Rivera and Mora, saying that he's going to revive the controversial Anticrime Plainclothes Unit. That was disbanded back in the summer of 2020. Eric Adams is promising to avoid the mistakes of the past.

You worked as a plainclothes officer in the NPD in Washington. So, tell us how it works, what the goals are, and what you think of this decision.

FANONE: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I applaud the mayor for his decision. I mean, it shows that he's prioritizing public safety by providing the NYPD with the resources they need to keep our community safe.

But like you said, I was a member of a district vice unit. I worked plainclothes pretty much my entire career with the D.C. police. And there's nothing controversial about plainclothes police. In fact, the investigative techniques that those units employ are some of the most effective in taking violent criminals off the street. As long as those officers conduct themselves professionally and operate within the four corners of the law, I think that every police department needs to be embracing those type of units.

LEMON: Do you think that -- look, New York is having, you know, a hell of a time when it comes to gun crime. Do you think that can make a difference?

FANONE: Absolutely. I mean, you see what happened as a direct result. In Washington, D.C., we disbanded district plainclothes units back in 2015, and I thought it was stupid. And then as a result, we saw a rise in crime. We saw open air drug markets like we had not seen in a decade.

I mean, they had become kind of a thing of the past with the advent of the cellular phone, and we started seeing, you know, a return to that type of drug trafficking and other crimes that are associated with it. Plainclothes policing is an absolute necessity to keeping communities safe.

LEMON: Mike, thank you, sir. I appreciate you joining us.

FANONE: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. See you soon.

A high school basketball player was reviewing footage from his recent game when he heard this.


UNKNOWN: Where is his (bleep) slave owner?

UNKNOWN: Chain him up! Chain him up!


LEMON: Those racist insults were (INAUDIBLE) chain him up against Makai Brown going on for the entire game. You saw it there in the footage. There he is with his family. He's going to join us next.




LEMON: I want everyone to sit and please pay attention to this. Tonight, a school district in Southern California is saying it has disciplined an Orange County high school student for making racist remarks to a Black basketball player from an opposing school during a game last week. Here's what was said.


UNKNOWN: Where is his (bleep) slave owner?

UNKNOWN: Chain him up! Chain him up!

UNKNOWN: You always say the wildest (bleep), bro.

UNKNOWN: Chain him up!

UNKNOWN: Who let him off the chains? Who let him out of his cage? He's a monkey!


LEMON: So, the target of those ugly remarks, Makai Brown. He joins me now along with his parents, Sabrina Little-Brown and Terrell Brown. Their attorneys are with them as well. I just want to make sure, how do you say it, Terrell or Terrell?


LEMON: Because I have both in my family.


LEMON: Thank you. Thank for joining us. I really appreciate it. Makai, I'm so sorry that this happened to you. The morning after your game, it was at Laguna Hills High School, you were watching the game footage like you always do, and then you heard some awful things from the crowd. So, talk to me about that.

MAKAI BROWN, HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER TAUNTED WITH RACIST SLURS: Yeah, I was just watching the game film after. I watched it, and I was -- every time I touched the ball or anything happened, it was just constant them saying something. I was shocked at first. I like ran into my parents' room, like, look at this, look at this.


BROWN: But the more it settled in, it really isn't that surprising that it occurred. There's plenty of other accounts from other people and it's not just Orange County or California, it's all across the country, with Black athletes just in general, just society. It happens a lot. But there's a fine line between jokes or where it's just blatant racism. So, I mean, it was a lot to take in.

LEMON: There's a difference between talking smack, right, saying get him, that sort of thing. You would expect that during any, you know, athletic event.

Mom, the student that made these comments has been disciplined. It's so terrible to hear someone talk about your son like that. So, what do you think -- what did you say to Makai?

SABRINA LITTLE-BROWN, SON TAUNTED WITH RACIST SLURS AT HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME: He said, can you believe it? And I said, yes. And we were shocked. We were surprised, but at the same time, we were not. And what do you say? We were speechless. We didn't really have a whole lot to say at that moment. But, of course, I said let's record this and send it to your coach and find out if -- who knows about this and what can be done.

LEMON: Terrell, I understand that in addition to these racist attacks from the student, you had an issue with Laguna Hills basketball coach. Can you talk about that?

T. BROWN: Yeah, I mean, it was a typical basketball game. Feel like it was a typical basketball game. I remember me and my wife walked in, like, it was kind of a hostile environment. Sometimes, that can be fun. But as the game went on, you start noticing Makai was -- you know, they're getting really chippy with him. He's, you know, taking it like a man and continuing to play on.

Late in the third quarter, kid bumped him, gave him another chap shot (ph). Makai was kind of pleading his case to the ref. And while he was pleading his case to the ref, the coach from the other team is what I consider is antagonizing him. And so, I wanted to get close enough to the coach and say, hey, don't talk to my son, don't talk to my son. And at that point, the assistant coach on the sideline looks at me and he tells me to shut up. He's, like, meet me outside.

I think like what any probably real father would do, I probably had some choice words for him, and they asked me to leave the game, which I politely obliged and left the game. And, you know, the next morning, we wake up and Makai brings us the video. And I tell my wife, you know what? We weren't reading the room wrong. I think everything that we felt while we were in there is validated by this video. I think they just have a culture problem.

LEMON: Well, Makai, you're the one -- do you think that there's a culture problem? Have you felt any issues? You're the only Black player on the team, am I correct?

M. BROWN: Yes, yes. I have felt that there's a culture problem. This wasn't the first time that there was an issue when we played there. It was last year, there was another issue with apparently another parent was -- kept making some sort of remark towards me. And then even if you -- there's plenty of people talking to me, telling me different accounts of, oh, when we went there, this happened, or when we played there, someone said this to me.

Even people at that school were saying that there's issues within the administration of our programs. So, I'm not really surprised too much. I do think it is -- there's a culture issue at the school.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, listen, I want to thank you guys for joining us and please keep us updated on what happens. We really appreciate it. Thank you. You be well. Don't let it get to you, Makai, okay? Use it, make your haters your motivators.

M. BROWN: Yes, sir, will do.

LEMON: Thank you. And then send me that shirt. I like it. That is the cleanest star t-shirt I've ever seen. So, you guys take care of yourself. I'm sorry that this happened to you.

I just want to say, the superintendent for the school district released a statement acknowledging that the racist rants were from a Laguna High School -- a person from Laguna High School.

The language and connotations expressed by the words used do not represent the culture, attitudes, or feelings of the students and staff of Laguna Hills High School, nor those of Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Laguna Hills High School is taking action.

Our thanks to that family, the Brown family, and we will be right back.




LEMON: The end of the pandemic may be in sight, but the battle over masks in schools continues. Parents, school officials, local and state leaders still fighting over whether or not kids should keep masks on in class.

Joining me now, Dr. Megan Ranney, the professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, and also Joe Allen, the director of Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University and the author of "Healthy Buildings." Hello. Good to see both of you. Dr. Ranney, I'm going to start with you. Dr. Fauci speaking to CNN earlier tonight. Listen.


ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In general, I'm cautiously optimistic that things are going in the right direction.


FAUCI: We've seen that happen in South Africa, in the U.K., and we're seeing it now in several cities in the United States.


LEMON: So, he told Anderson that we should still stick with the preventative guidelines most of us have been following. But if this pandemic finally gets under control, when do you see masks coming off, doctor?

MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE AND ASSOCIATE DEAN OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, I am quite hopeful that for those of us in the northeast where we're already starting to see Omicron cases drop, hospitalizations stabilize, that within a month or two, we are going to be in a much better space and are going to start being able to talk about taking masks off in public indoor locations, including potentially in schools, now that our 5 to 11-year-olds as well as our 12 to 17-year-olds have been vaccinated.

But Don, here's the thing. Right now, we are still utterly in the midst of this surge. I invite anyone to come to my emergency department or to my hospital to understand the continued impact of Omicron on our health care system and on our most vulnerable citizens right now. This is not the moment to be talking about removing masks. A month or two from now, absolutely.

LEMON: You know, Joe, as the doctor indicated, cases are moving -- you know, actually trending down in large cities -- in a large number of states, I should say, and here in New York as well. Look at all that green on the map, though. What's the best criteria for schools to decide whether or not to keep masks on?

JOE ALLEN, AUTHOR, DIRECTOR OF HEALTHY BUILDINGS PROGRAM AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Yeah, so thanks for having me on, Don. Thanks to Dr. Ranney. She wrote a great piece on all the work her and her colleagues are doing in the health care emergency rooms. So, thanks to all the health care workers out there.

The way I look at about it is from a risk-based perspective and we look at the two biggest determinants of risk. It is age and vaccination status. If you look at a teenager, an unvaccinated teenage, the risk is 1 out of 100,000. They should absolutely get vaccinated. When they do -- my kids are vaccinated, my teenagers are vaccinated -- the risk comes down for hospitalizations about one in a million.

Vaccinated adults, recent data at the CDC shows it's about 1 in 100,000 hospitalization risk if they're vaccinated and boosted. Everyone should do that. I think we are in this phase of the pandemic where, at least in the northeast, as Dr. Ranney said, we're in the back end of this Omicron surge.

Health care systems still feeling it certainly, but it's reasonable, I think, that for people who are vaccinated, boosted, doing everything right, their kids are vaccinated, to start to ask, what else do I need to do? I've done what I can. My risk is actually quite low.

I think as we turn this corner, a way to start framing this is to talk about the power of one-way masking. If you're vaccinated and boosted, you're very well protected from severe disease and death. If that's not enough protection, absolutely wear one of these high-grade masks. That reduces your risk even further.

Let's be clear, if you're unvaccinated, your risk is extraordinarily high. You're the one who should absolutely be getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, but it's hard to get people who aren't going to save a life to take a lifesaving vaccine to wear that high grade mask.

LEMON: Dr. Ranney, the head of one of the largest school systems, Prince George's County in Maryland, saying that he doesn't see an end to mask requirements in the classroom any time soon. Parents and students in some Florida and Virginia districts are fighting to keep mask mandates in place despite blocks by GOP governors. Are you worried that masking may continue for longer than it has to? Is that an issue?

RANNEY: So, one of my really big worries is about equity issues and learning losses in kids. And so many of us have been talking for almost two years now about the importance of getting kids back to school.

There has been study after study showing that when you have universal mask mandates in schools, there are fewer kids and fewer teachers who catch COVID in a school setting. And just today, there was another study coming out showing that child care facilities that have universal masking have lower rates of closure of those child care facilities.

So, particularly in districts with low rates of vaccination, we know that only about 25 percent of that younger age group have gotten their shots, having universal mask mandates in place helps keep kids in school. Whether or not the kids would end up hospitalized, it achieves that goal of avoiding learning loss, protecting their mental health, and keeping them where they belong, which is within the walls of that school during the school year.

LEMON: Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Dr. Ranney. I appreciate it.

RANNEY: Thank you.

LEMON: More than 42 million Americans under a winter storm watch tonight. A bomb cyclone expected to drop heavy snow across the northeast. We've got a live report, weather report, just ahead for you.




LEMON: Tonight, more than 42 million people in the northeast are under a winter storm watch as a powerful nor'easter could bring heavy snow and strong winds starting tomorrow night. It's known as a bomb cyclone.

Let's check in now with our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. Derek, good evening to you. A bomb cyclone. We go through it every time. What's -- what is it? What are the conditions? And what could it bring to the northeast this weekend?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yeah. I asked my producer (INAUDIBLE), said, what is a good comparison for a bomb cyclone this time of year? And he said, what about a winter hurricane? And I said, you are on to something there. That is great apples to apples comparison. Of course, completely different outcomes because, frankly, it's winter time and we expect snow to form with these powerful low pressures.

But a bomb cyclone, basically a deepening low pressure off the coastal portions of the U.S., it meets certain criteria, and this particular one will bring hurricane-force gusts to the coastline.


VAN DAM: We have winter storm watches dotting the landscape, specifically along the coast. You can see that from New England right through the coastal areas of the Carolinas. And all of our computer models coming into agreement that this storm is going to pack quite the punch, specifically for places like Boston into Providence, New York.

Now, some of our computer models indicating you could pick up that 8 to 12 inches snow. But really, the sweet spot looking at you, Providence to Boston, this is an area where some of our computer models pick up on over 2 feet of snow in some locations.

Of course, this is a game of miles. Too close to the coast. We bring in warm air. It changes over to rain. If it is too far off the coast, we don't get snow at all. If in that sweet spot, that benchmark that we look for as meteorologists, well, that will line things up perfectly to see that classic nor'easter. But, of course, this could bring crippling snowfall totals to the New England coastline, specifically into Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Don?

LEMON: All right. Derek Van Dam, thank you very much, sir. We appreciate that. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.