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Don Lemon Tonight

Russian Military Blasts Mariupol Steel Plant Factory Where Ukrainians Are Hiding; Russia Launches Large-Scale Offensive In Eastern Ukraine; The Covert War To Turn Russians Against Putin; MI Lawmaker Takes On False Outrage Over Critical Race Theory; DOJ To Appeal Mask Mandate Ruling If CDC Says It's Necessary; Johnny Depp Takes The Witness Stand In Defamation Suit Against Ex-Wife. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired April 19, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Ukraine saying it has intercepted Russian communications declaring their military's intent to level a steel plant sheltering hundreds of civilians. That's in Mariupol, a city that has been bombarded for weeks now. And with Russia's new brutal assault on the east, that bombardment doesn't look like it's ending any time soon.

Also tonight, the Justice Department saying it will appeal a judge's ruling throwing out the federal mask mandate for travelers, but there is a caveat. Their decision depends on the CDC determining that mandate is actually still necessary. Some airline passengers already making their feelings known.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yay, no more mask! Woo!


LEMON (on camera): Also tonight, actor Johnny Depp taking the witness stand in his defamation suit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, testifying he never struck her.


JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Nor have I ever struck any woman in my life.


LEMON (on camera): Ahead this hour, we're going to see what this court fight is all about.

We're going to begin with the war in Ukraine and CNN's John Vause for us in Lviv. John, hello to you. Hundreds of desperate civilians are trapped in a factory basement in Mariupol. And tonight, a commander there pleading for help to evacuate. Another horrifying scene in Russia's assault. What is the latest?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Don, this is one of the biggest steel iron plants in the world, about 100 years old. It spreads over four square miles. It is also the last stronghold of resistance by Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol.

And the commander there, the Ukrainian commander of the 36th separate marine brigade, says hundreds there are wounded, maybe as many as 500, and maybe a thousand civilians have taken cover in that steel works as well.

He says the Russians are well aware of the presence of the wounded, the Russians are aware of the presence of civilians, but still, the facility has been hit by the Russians with bunker buster bombs, missile strikes, artillery fire from land and sea.

And if it intercepts, which is taken by the Ukrainians, a Russian conversation, is proved authentic, there is a lot worse yet to come. Listen to this.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): We are expecting surprises from Russia here.

UNKNOWN: (voice-over): What kind of surprises?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Three-ton ones, from the sky.


VAUSE (on camera): So, now, that Russian -- now, the Ukrainian commander rather in Mariupol -- here he is -- this is the commander who told CNN that they may actually just have hours left, and he has appealed to the U.S. president, Joe Biden, to intervene for safe passage out of Mariupol for the Ukrainian soldiers and the civilians there, maybe to a third country by helicopter or by sea. All of that, Don, just seems incredibly unlikely at this point.

LEMON: So, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is speaking out tonight about the Russian army as they launch an even more brutal attack in the east. Talk about his message, John. What did he say?

VAUSE (on camera): Yeah, he was blunt, Don. He is describing the Russian military and the Russian federation as the source of evil. He also talked about how they will be remembered by history. Here he is.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Forever, the Russian army will be written in history as the most barbaric and inhuman army in the world.

The targeted killing of civilians and destruction of residential buildings with all kinds of weapons, including those that are forbidden by international conventions, this is just the trademark of the Russian army and this will truly mark the Russian federation as the source of evil.


VAUSE (on camera): He also says the situation in Mariupol remains brutal. Russian forces blocking corridors and evacuations out of Mariupol. Volodymyr Zelenskyy also signed a decree to honor the Ukrainian forces who defended Mariupol there for weeks now against all the odds, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. So, he is honoring the title to the brigade accused of committing war crimes in Bucha? I mean, we all remember these really barbaric images. It is despicable. What is Putin saying?

VAUSE: Yeah. So, you have the Ukrainian president honoring the soldiers in Mariupol for their sacrifice. We also now have Putin going out of his way.

And you may recall that when the investigations began in the atrocities in Bucha, Ukrainian and U.S. intelligence said they knew which military unit, which Russian military unit did this, which one was responsible, and they named Russia's 64th motorized infantry brigade.


And now, they've been specifically honored by Vladimir Putin. He has bestowed the honorary title of guards on the unit or guardians, depending on your translation. In a statement, he said, this is a high honor and recognition of your -- quote -- "special merits, mass heroism, and courage in defending the fatherland, the sovereignty and national interest of Russia."

And Don, if there was ever a question of where Putin stands on the issue of war crimes and the atrocities, what happened in Bucha, now we know.

LEMON: It is despicable. John Vause, we will see you in just a little bit here on CNN. Thank you very much.

So, for more now on Russia, moving thousands of troops into Eastern Ukraine, I want to bring in now CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, good to see you once again. Good evening to you.


LEMON: So, Russia's major military offensive is Eastern Ukraine is underway now. Thousands of soldiers are in the Donbas. What is happening on the ground right now?

LEIGHTON: So, Don, what we have is this area right here is going to be the scene of some major troop movements at the moment. So, we are looking at the cities of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, you've got Izyum, which is the major center of everything that's going on here, possible movement in this direction towards Dnipro. And let's move in a little bit to see exactly how this would look. So, again, Kharkiv is right up here. This is the northeastern corner of Ukraine. And you have them going toward Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. We remember this town because of the attack on the train station a few days ago. That is really the area in which all of this is happening.

So, we are seeing columns moving forward in this area. We are seeing them moving in a way that is indicative of preparations for an offensive operation. So, that's the kind of thing we can expect here.

We can also expect some possible movement towards the west this way. And then once Mariupol is taken care of, as the Russians would probably say, probably from the south up in this -- up towards the north this way. So, that is the general movement of troops at the moment, Don.

LEMON: So, colonel, the Pentagon officials are warning Putin's forces appear to be preparing the battlefield. Talk about the strategy here and what should Ukrainians on the frontlines be bracing for now?

LEIGHTON: So, one of the big things that they have to be looking for is how the Russians are actually going to be moving in these areas. So, they have to look at what kind of troop concentrations there are in

all of these areas. There are small pockets of Ukrainian forces in places like this right here and here. They're very close to being surrounded by the Russians.

But they can use this also to their advantage because there is a lot of terrain here that can be used for open maneuver. And that is one of the big things to look for, is how these forces are going to move in open terrain. Everybody is thinking about the tank battles that happened in the same region during the second world war.

But one of the big things that could happen here is we could have this tank battles or we could have a mix of tank battles and some more direct almost guerrilla-type action such as occurred near Kyiv, but different terrain, different philosophy of fighting, and that kind of thing is happening.

Now, there's one other thing that is going to be important here, and that is the weather. The weather right here is showing that we have the possibility of rainfall in Eastern Ukraine. All of this area right here could be subject to muddy situation because the entire -- almost entire country of Ukraine is going to be seeing rain over the next 72 hours.

So, when that happens, you are going to be seeing a lot of different effects here in these areas because of that and it could very well turn into a muddy slog for these forces in this area.

LEMON: Colonel, multiple sources are telling CNN that the U.S. is prepping another $800 million dollar weapons package for Ukraine. Seven more flights with security assistance are expected to arrive in the next 24 hours. What do Ukrainians need most at this point in this fight?

LEIGHTON: So, not necessarily in the event of need, but some of the most important things include these helicopters. These are MI-17 helicopters, Russian-made, go back to the Soviet period. But these helicopters are important for troop transport and they're going to have to use these helicopters as well as other means of transport to get forces from one part of the battlefield to the other.

Mobility is going to be key to winning here and these can be workhorses to make that happen. They can also be weaponized so they can be important for that reason.

The other thing that we have is howitzers. These are U.S. howitzers that are being prepped for firing. This is the kind of thing that is going to be really, really important in open terrain, especially against Russian tanks. Of course, the Ukrainians will need tanks of their own to make this work.

And to go along with the howitzers, counter-battery radars.


This happens to be a German radar. That is a counter-battery radar, but this is the kind of thing that NATO and the United States can provide, and that can help the Ukrainians work their magic, in essence, against the Russians.

LEMON: Thank you, colonel. I appreciate it. We will see you tomorrow.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don. Absolutely.

LEMON (on camera): I want to turn now to CNN's Ben Wedeman, who visited a hospital treating Ukrainian forces injured on the frontlines.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bomb disposal technicians collect the pieces of a Russian missile that slammed into a warehouse in Kramatorsk Tuesday afternoon. The missile killed a 40-year-old worker, injured three others.

Doctors patch up one of the wounded from the afternoon strike. Since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two months ago, the staff here has had no rest.

We weren't preparing for this, says Dr. Vytali Kyrylenko. Now, we're doing only urgent surgeries.

One operation ends and another begins. This time, a soldier wounded on the frontline. Even here, glass doors must be taped to minimize shattering in case of bombing. Sandbags cover the windows.

(On camera): The director of this hospital says, thanks to help from abroad, they do not lack for medicine or equipment. What they desperately need is neurosurgeons.

(Voice-over): That in a war where intense bombardment is the norm.

These men are recovering in a special unit specializing in treating concussions sustained in artillery bombardments. When shelling is just steps away, the damage is invisible, but it's there. They suffer from intense headaches, nausea, dizziness, and disorientation.

Am I tired? A bit, says Roman (ph), who twice has suffered concussions.

Not all wounds bleed.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Kramatorsk, Ukraine.


LEMON (on camera): Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for that.

As Vladimir Putin escalates his war on Ukraine, there is a covert war being waged to turn the Russian people against him. Can it work?




LEMON: It has been nearly two months since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and Putin's forces have faced major setbacks on the battlefield. But my next guest says he could soon face problems on the information battlefield.

Let us bring in now Douglas London, the retired senior CIA operations officer and adjunct professor -- associate professor at Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies. He's also the author of "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of America Intelligence." Thank you, sir. I appreciate you joining us once again.

Let's talk about your piece -- recent piece that you wrote in "Foreign Affairs," and you wrote, one of the better ways for the west to build leverage against Putin is to foment unrest in his own house and weaken his regime from within. What exactly does that look like, though?

DOUGLAS LONDON, FORMER SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Thanks, Don. CIA is very good at stealing secrets and smuggling that out of totalitarian countries like Russia. It is also pretty good at getting information in throughout the days of the Cold War and since that time in other areas such as Iran and North Korea.

CIA and other elements of the IC are able to smuggle in information, sometimes programming on via shortwave radio or online versions of shortwave radio, DVD, CDs, USB drives, information, pictures which are sometimes worth a thousand words that are meant to stir that type of grassroots opposition.

And the interesting element for Putin is it's mostly catering to his own fears, whether or not a grassroots opposition is anywhere near to happening. His very invasion of Ukraine demonstrates his concern for it, such has also been his reaction to U.S. democracy, expressions, and support for human rights.

So, stirring up the type of opposition will at least get his attention to make him look inward. Complimenting that is an ability to reach out to some of his lieutenants, some of his friends and confidants and oligarchs, and making approaches to those who might be interested in insurance policy or looking for a life raft.

Again, the key is in the doing in the magic therein, because if the CIA, let's say, makes contact with several of them and several of them reported to Putin and turned us down, Putin starts to wonder, were there others that were approached that didn't talk to me?

So, by driving him to look inward and at least playing to his paranoia, ideally, we can stir up some of that opposition and decent, but just making him look inward could be a distraction and could make him more willing to negotiate a way to preserve a situation.

LEMON: But at what cost? What are the risks? What risks could be involved with the U.S. sowing these seeds of decent?

LONDON: There is always a risk when decent has begun. And when opposition starts vomiting, you lose control of it. I think a parallel effort would be to reach out to opposition in countries like Belarus and Chechnya and Kazakhstan where we've already seen Russian -- anti- Russian sentiment, unrest, hundreds of thousands on the streets in Belarus.


There are Belarusians, there are Chechens who are fighting with Ukrainian forces who are ideal points of contact for CIA and other IC and western services who can be taught to organize, train, collect intelligence and perhaps even stir revolt.

But the problem is, once you light that match, are you always able to control it? Are there second consequences? And trying to be able to leverage that while still maintaining our interests but not letting things get totally out of hand that come back to hurt us.

LEMON: Doug, as you know, Russia is a huge country. I mean, many could side with Putin no matter what happens. They may not want to know the truth there. It seems like a lot of them don't. Will these covert campaigns really have enough influence to turn the Russians against their own president who they seem to love?

LONDON: I think the success is, what is the impact on Putin? I don't necessarily think we have to measure that by weeks, months or even the next year of seeing mass protests coming out because they're finally now seeing the truth and the truth is being provided to them by CIA covertly.

Putin being aware of this activity and being aware of people engaged and the information coming in will get his attention and will touch on his very paranoia and concerns. He has clearly reacted to his concern for a grassroots opposition.

Many pundits, myself included, believe the timing for his invasion or reinvasion of Ukraine is based on his own belief he has a limited window to prevent a thriving democracy next door, which is former Soviet state, to occur in Ukraine, to occur in the likes of Belarus, Chechnya, and Kazakhstan. Look at his reaction to the (INAUDIBLE) revolution.

So, I think just the near activity of it will make him think twice and force him to look inward and force him to look over his shoulder.

LEMON: Douglas London, thank you so much. Appreciate it. See you soon.

LONDON: Thanks.

LEMON (on camera): A Republican Michigan state senator accuses a Democrat of grooming and sexualizing kindergartners in a fundraising email. Of course, providing absolutely no evidence to back up the outrageous charge. And, well, the Democrats she's accusing isn't taking it.


SEN. MALLORY MCMORROW, MEMBER, MICHIGAN SENATE: I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.





LEMON (on camera): So, I really want you to take this all in, okay? Watch this one, please. A Michigan lawmaker taking on toxic and baseless political smears against her in a fiery speech today.

I'm talking about state Senator Mallory McMorrow responding after her colleague, fellow state Senator Lana Theis, sent a fundraising email accusing her of wanting to -- quote -- "groom and sexualize kindergartners." Theis also claiming that she wanted to teach 8-year- olds so that they are responsible for slavery. None of that is true.

The senator, McMorrow, could have found her way into a political gutter responding to that. Instead, this is what she had to say.


MCMORROW: So, I sat on it for a while wondering why me. And then I realized. Because I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme. Because you can't claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of -- quote -- "parental rights" if another parent is standing up to say no.

So, then what? Then you dehumanize and marginalize me. You say that I'm one of them. You say, she's a groomer, she supports pedophilia, she wants children to believe that they're responsible for slavery and to feel bad about themselves because they're white.

So, who I am? I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they're white is absolute nonsense.

No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one in this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. Each and every single one of us decides what happens next and how we respond to history and the world around us.

We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can't pretend that it didn't happen or deny people their very right to exist.

I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom. I want my daughter to know that she is loved, supported, and seen for whoever she becomes. I want her to be curious, empathetic, and kind. I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they're not straight, white, and Christian.


LEMON (on camera): All right. Now, Mallory McMorrow, I mean, thank you. It could not have been said better. There she is live. She joins us now. Before we get started, our team reached out to state Senator Theis for statement. Haven't heard back.

So, let us get into this conversation.


Again, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you for your words. What a speech that was. Why was it so important for you to respond to those totally outrageous accusations by your colleague?

MCMORROW: It was important because, you know, whatever I felt in the moment where she accused me of grooming and pedophilia and all the hateful things she said about me, I know that that pales in comparison to what it feels like to be a trans kid who just wants to play soccer and is being told right now that you are wrong and broken and a monster or a Black kid in school.

That is trying to push out basic history and an understanding of what this country was built on for us to learn from. So, I had to say something.

LEMON: This is not normal. This is not political. This is just ridiculousness. And people will accuse you or accuse me just for calling out the ridiculousness of this, as being somehow liberal lefties. Is this what Republicans want to be, people who accuse people -- accusations of grooming and pedophilia?

I mean, these accusations of grooming and pedophilia by some on the right has become a mainstream toxic, political tool in just the last few weeks. There are real world consequences to those baseless charges.

MCMORROW: Absolutely. Whether or not this is -- whether or not this is what they want to be, this is what they are right now. This is the same type of fearmongering and conspiracy theories that came out of QAnon where the belief is that there is a satanic cabal of pedophiles that is running the country and kidnapping children.

And now, that is the mainstream. We have one of our country's major political parties taking this messaging, using it to target marginalized kids. That is what they are right now. And we have to make it stop.

LEMON: You also talked about the manufactured outrage over critical race theory and slavery being taught in schools. You talked about it based on your own experience as a parent. Explain that.

MCMORROW: I am frankly tired of Republicans claiming that they speak for suburban moms. Right? This is an attempt to bring back votes.

And I will be upfront. You know, it was white women like me who elected Donald Trump into office and supported how we got here. And I know that they do not speak for me and they do not speak for many of us. And we have to stand up together and say no, this isn't who we are, this isn't what we stand for, this isn't what we want for our kids.

LEMON: Your speech was very powerful. But these kinds of attacks, you know they won't go away overnight. How are you going to continue to blunt these super potent political tactics? Because there are a lot of people out there who believe this garbage or at least they want to believe. And it is not nothing but -- it's just garbage.

MCMORROW: They do. And part of the point that I tried to make in the speeches is that people like Senator Theis are taking advantage of her own supporters by lying to them, by trying to convince people that all of the problems in your lives with your cost of health care, with the roads or prices at the gas pump, that it is somehow somebody else's fault. That if you can redirect your hatred and anger, that that's going to fix it, and it's not.

LEMON: White saviors (ph).

MCMORROW: So, that's what we have to do. It is. And, you know, if tomorrow, a trans kid wasn't allowed to play soccer, that wouldn't make people's lives any better.

LEMON: Thank you, senator. I appreciate it. I really do.

MCMORROW: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Your message is very powerful. There should be more folks like you. And damn it, this is not political. This is not left or right. This is just asinine. It's stupid, it's crazy, and it's very, very dangerous. More people are like --

MCMORROW: Oh, that's my hope. We need -- we need a lot more people like me to say it and say it loudly, that hate won't win.

LEMON: And the news media needs to do it as well and not be afraid of being called names or biased or liberal or what have you, because it is just plain old wrong. So, to my colleagues out there, do the same thing, carry that message. Do not let this go over. This is not what America should be about.

Thank you. I appreciate it. You be well and be safe. Thanks so much.

MCMORROW: Don, thank you.

LEMON: So, we have to wear a mask, right? You have to wear a mask. You don't have to wear a mask. Do you have to wear a mask? Sanjay Gupta fills us in. That is next.

Plus, Johnny Depp taking a stand. We will tell you about his $50 million defamation suit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.




LEMON: The DOJ will appeal a court ruling striking down the federal government's mask mandate for travelers, but there is an if. They will only appeal if the CDC deems the mandate necessary for public health. And well, with people acting like this when hearing they don't have to wear a mask on a plane anymore --


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Masks are now optional for employees, customers --



LEMON (on camera): Yeah, it might be a little hard to get people to mask up again.

So, joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


Dr. Gupta, Sanjay, good to see you. Thank you for joining. What do you think? Is now the right time to drop the travel mask mandate?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I realized based on the clip you just showed that it will be unpopular for me to say this, but I don't think it's the right time still. I mean, you know, it's one of these things where we certainly see numbers drop, but we've also got this new variant that's circulating, that's really contagious.

In fact, if you look at the numbers sort of more regionally, like where you are, Don, in the northeast, the numbers have been going up. Cases, hospitalizations have also ticked up a bit.

I think the whole reason the CDC wanted some more time was to basically determine whether or not this particular event could potentially be so transmissible that it would still spread on planes, which we know have been generally a very safe place. But if that's the case, lifting the mandates on masks at this time, I think, is a problem.

Also, you know, if you just look at the numbers, 33,000 cases, 14,000 hospitalizations, 425 deaths, about an average of 500 deaths a day, Don, is that sort of what we are saying we are willing to accept as a country, philosophically? I mean, if you do the math, you know, you're talking about 150,000, 160,000 people dying a year, if the numbers sort of plateau there.

I don't think anyone defines that as an endemic. That is significantly disruptive. So, again, not popular, but I don't think we're quite there yet, Don.

LEMON: Listen, you're a doctor, you're going with the science, and we all should. I can understand. There are two different things. There is a science and then there's, you know, the COVID fatigue, right? The mask fatigue that people have. Both are very real. So, I think it's fair what you are saying.

But this decision, Sanjay, does not mean you can't mask up on a plane. But how much protection do masks have if only a few people are wearing them? I don't like wearing a mask, but I'm going to do it, right, because the science may show that. So, if I do it and other people aren't, how much protection?

GUPTA: It does depend to some extent on what kind of mask you are wearing. I think in the beginning when we had this discussion, Don, the cloth mask and things like that, they were probably more benefiting the people around the mask user.

Whereas, if you look at these high-filtration masks, N95, KN95 masks, these are very good masks. I mean, they have significant filtration. They have electrostatic fibers that really help sort of screen out the virus. But they are not perfect.

And to your question, the more people that are wearing, the less virus that is sort of in the air, and the more protection everyone has.

I think, Don, the way to sort of think about this as well, keep in mind that there is a significant percentage of spread that comes from people who are totally asymptomatic.

So, now, the situation is the following: There's no testing. So, you feel fine, you're not getting tested, you have no idea if you have it. You're not wearing a mask. There may be people on the plane who are elderly. They may be immunocompromised. There may be children who could not yet get vaccinated. And there's a lot of viruses out there.

So, you put all of those together and you are in a contained box for a period of time, it could be an issue. Again, we don't know. That's why the CDC wanted at least until the beginning of May or first week of May to study this to be sure that this BA.2 variant wasn't transmitting very readily on an airplane.

LEMON: Yeah.

GUPTA: That is the data. That is the evidence that they want to have.

LEMON: And you're right, there are people -- I think you have -- let's show some data. There are people out there who should still be wearing a mask, right? There are immunocompromised and children, as you just mentioned. They should be.

GUPTA: Yeah, I think -- I think they should. They should be. I mean, they don't have the immunity. They don't have protection. If the virus is circulating significantly in your area, if you are at high-risk yourself, if you are going to be around people who are high-risk, if you, you know, a young child, as you mentioned, who could not get vaccinated, for example.

My parents, Don, are going to be traveling in the next few days, and I've recommended to them that they wear a mask. One thing that, you know, really stuck out to me when I was having this conversation with them is that they are vaccinated, they're boosted. Am I worried that they're going to get so sick that they need to be hospitalized or die? Not really worried. I think that they are older, but because of their immunity, I think it's really, really protected.

But could they develop one of the worst viral illnesses they've had in their lives? One that doesn't necessarily land them in the hospital but really as debilitating for a couple of weeks and is one of the most memorable illnesses in a bad way they've had in their lives? Possibly.

That is what virologists and infectious disease doctors tell me. We keep thinking about this in binary ways. Hospitalized or not? Died or lived? But there is this middle ground: people who get really, really sick, people who develop long COVID, months of symptoms, or simply, Don, just testing positive. If you test positive, that's a significant disruption to your life as well.

These things aren't going to be totally obviated by wearing mask, but it will dramatically bring down the numbers. And by the way, when you look at that number of 33,000 infections, you got to think that there is about ten times as many people who are getting tested at home, never report that.


The point being there's a lot more virus out there than we really have a handle on.

LEMON: I got to tell you, Sanjay, I have never been so happy to have a common cold in my life, because when I was in Ukraine, if I tested positive, I would have to quarantine there, right? I couldn't work.

GUPTA: Right.

LEMON: I would just be sitting in a hotel room. And I was so exhausted after that trip because of the hours. I knew, I was like, I got COVID, I know I'm going to test -- I kept testing. I tested like two or three times and it kept coming back negative. I'm like, I had a common cold, I hadn't had a common cold in probably three years. I was elated just to have a cold.

GUPTA: Right. That's something. There are other things out there circulating. And then there was allergy season. People are, you know, conflating all these different things. Understood.

But, you know, Don, it sounds pollyannish to suggest that we could all be testing ourselves regularly.

LEMON: Yeah.

GUPTA: That we could wear a mask when we needed to wear a mask, when there's a lot of viruses circulating.

LEMON: Yeah.

GUPTA: Then we would have plenty of antivirals and medications at the ready. We still don't have enough of those things. So, we are still in it, Don. I mean, we are still in the pandemic. We will get to an endemic phase. We'll get through this. We are just not there yet.

LEMON: Thank you, Dr. Gupta. See you soon. Be well.

GUPTA: You got it. You, too.

LEMON: So, it's Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard. And Depp is testifying. What he said under oath in court today, that's next.




LEMON: So, let's discuss actor Johnny Depp back on the witness stand again tomorrow in his $50 million defamation suit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, testifying for three hours today. Depp speaking in detail about their former relationship, Heard's allegations of domestic abuse, and his history of substance abuse. But what is at the heart of this lawsuit? So, let's discuss now with Matt Belloni, founding partner of Puck. He is the former editor of "The Hollywood Reporter." Hey, Matt, good to see you. Thanks for joining.


LEMON: So, for those who haven't been keeping up with this trial involving Johnny Depp -- a lot of people are focused on the world war, right, but -- and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, to start, it's a defamation case. What is it all about? Why is Johnny Depp suing that?

BELLONI: She wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" in which she referred to herself as a survivor of domestic violence. Now, she didn't name Johnny Depp, but it was pretty clear to anybody reading that that she was talking about her ex, Johnny Depp.

And he claims that this was defamatory. In all the craziness in his life, he has never been called a wife beater in this way. And he wanted to prove a point. So, he sued. He actually sued twice. He sued the paper in the U.K. and he lost. And now, he's suing Amber Heard in the U.S. and he's on trial.

LEMON (on camera): A key moment in the trial today, Johnny Depp on the stand. Let's play it.


DEPP: There were arguments and things of that nature. But never did I, myself, reach the point of striking Ms. Heard in any way not have I ever struck any woman in my life.


LEMON (on camera): How did it come across to you?

BELLONI: You know, I think he actually did okay. I mean, it was kind of a slow and a little rambling at times. But, you know, what he did is a very classic strategy here. He aired a lot of dirty laundry before the other side could air it for him. And he went through a long history of abuse in his family and substance abuse.

And yes, he said that he has had drug and alcohol problems and was addicted to opioids. And he has sent some text messages that can appear to be threatening. And he has had fights with her that got really heated. But, he said, he did not go over the line and strike her and beat her.

And that is what this case is about. So, he is hoping that by being forthcoming or appearing forthcoming to the jury, that they would then believe him when he says, no, I have all this bad stuff, but I didn't do this.

LEMON (on camera): So, he claims, Matt, that Heard's op-ed led to financial lawsuits, including being dropped from "Pirates of the Caribbean." This is how he put it.


DEPP: One day, you're Cinderella, so to speak, and then in 0.6 seconds, you're Quasimodo. And I didn't deserve that nor did my children nor did the people who have believed in me for all these years.


LEMON (on camera): So, the question is, is it -- will the jury agreed that he was defamed? And as you know -- you are a Hollywood reporter, right? You managed that for years. It's hard with a public figure for a defamation.

BELLONI: It is very hard, especially in this kind of situation, because way before that op-ed in "The Washington Post", there was so much noise around Johnny Depp and his erratic behavior and some of the crazy things that he was doing like shooting Hunter Thompson's ashes out of a cannon and spending $30,000 a month on wine.


And all of this kind of just craziness, including, you know, the shoot for "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" was a total disaster, he was late, and all of these other things around him. So, he has to show that because of this op-ed, he was damaged and he couldn't find work, and that is going to be pretty difficult, I think.

LEMON: Do you think he could do it?

BELLONI: You know, it will entirely depend on this jury. He came across as very earnest and believable today, but they have to believe that he not only didn't do any of these things, but that he suffered and was dropped from the "Pirates" franchise and lost the ability to work, and all of these other things due to this op-ed.

LEMON: Yeah. Look, that is -- there is a difference between shooting someone's ashes out of a cannon. People love celebrities and they think that celebrities are weird. But being accused of being, you know, a wife beater or an abuser, that's a whole another show, as they say. So, we'll see.


LEMON: Yeah.

BELLONI: And that's what he says is the reason why he has been suing --

LEMON: Yeah.

BELLONI: -- and pressing his case. He looked very uncomfortable there today. He did not want to be there, but he says he is there because he has to show his children that he will stand up to this and it's not just craziness. He is being accused of something that he says is over the line.

LEMON: All right. I got to get to the next show, the next hour. Thank you, Matt. I appreciate it. Be well. We'll see you soon.

BELLONI: Thank you.

LEMON: And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues with John Vause live right after this.