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Don Lemon Tonight
Officer Vicky White Died And Casey White Captured; Russia Celebrates Victory Day; Russian Artillery On Display; Sixty People Killed In Eastern Ukraine; Chicago Will Fund Women Seeking Abortion; COVID-19 May Strike Again This Winter. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 09, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's turn things over to Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT. Don?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. I'll see you tomorrow night. Have a good night.
This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
Our breaking news. The Alabama corrections officer who fled with an inmate 10 days ago has died. Reportedly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Vicky White was her name and the inmate Casey White, no relation, captured in Indiana after a chase ending in a crash. The U.S. Marshals task force colliding with the vehicle they were in to end that chase.
The aftermath all caught on camera by a witness driving by on highway 41 in Evansville. So why would a trusted law enforcement officer suddenly take off with a murder defendant already serving 75 years? Who plan the escape and how did it end up in her death?
Plus, we're going to talk about Vladimir Putin celebrating the Soviet victory of the Nazis in World War II while falsely blaming the west for his own invasion of Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia gave a pre-emptive rebuff to aggression. It was a forced time and the only right decision, the decision of a sovereign, strong, and independent country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowing Ukraine will celebrate its own victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Very soon there will be two victory days in Ukraine. And someone won't have any. We will then, and we win now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And this is what Putin's war, the one he's trying to justify looks like, death raining down from the sky on innocent civilians who never wanted war. A school in eastern Ukraine where people were sheltering bombed over the weekend. Sixty people feared dead.
CNN's Sam Kiley spoke to survivors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "I got slammed down by a sled bent into a ball. Then another explosion, small rocks sprinkled darkness."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That is a senior U.S. defense official says there are what they're calling anecdotal reports of Russian troops and even some officers refusing to obey orders to move forward in Putin's Donbas offensive. More on all that just ahead.
But I want to get straight to tonight's breaking news. After 11 days on the run, the manhunt for an Alabama escape convict and an ex- corrections officer it is over. Vicky White dead reportedly of a self- inflicted gunshot wound, Casey White in custody.
CNN's Nadia Romero has the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: It ended the way that we knew it would. They are in custody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A defiant and triumph Lauderdale County Sheriff, Rick Singleton, detailing what happened when U.S. Marshals captured corrections officer Vicky White and inmate Casey White. First, this F-150 truck and Casey White spotted at a car wash in Evansville, Indiana reported to Alabama authorities Sunday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: After the vehicle was located a while back, we at least knew they may have been in our area. But I couldn't believe that they had remained here.
ROMERO: Monday, U.S. Marshals found them in a hotel in Evansville. That's when marshals say the two fled police in a gray Cadillac. Casey White was driving, Vicky White in the passenger seat. U.S. Marshals pinned their car. They ended up in a ditch. Casey White surrendered, but U.S. Marshal say Vicky White Had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. She died from those injuries Monday night. Sheriff Singleton says Casey White will be brought back to Alabama for
his arraignment. He's expected to return to the same place from where he escaped more than 10 days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SINGLETON: He's not getting out of this jail again. I will assure you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: The Lauderdale County district attorney says he is focused on the victims of Casey White and the family of Connie Ridgeway. Casey White is set to stand trial for capital murder charges related to Ridgeway's death this summer. The Lauderdale County district attorney says his office will be ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: After finally being able to indict him for her murder of having this twist and turn in that case it's got to be devastating to them. So, we look forward to bringing him to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: I spoke with the son of Connie Ridgeway, Austin Williams, tells me that capture of Casey White is amazing. He called it a miracle. But the death of Vicky White, he says, was not the outcome he was hoping for.
I also spoke with Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton and he says he always knew on the back of his mind that things could end up this way. Don, he tells me that knowing Vicky the way that he did, he would think that she would want to come back and face her family, her friends, and her colleagues. Don?
LEMON: All right. Nadia, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Now I want to bring in CNN's senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, also CNN contributor and former FBI profiler Candice DeLong.
Hello to both of you. Thanks for joining. I appreciate it.
Andrew, the manhunt has stretched really across 11 days, several states and now Vicky White is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Casey White is in custody. Listen, I think that many people thought it would end in her death. But that she wouldn't be the one doing it, perhaps he would be the one. Is this how you thought it would end?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think this is the -- it's not how I anticipated it would end. I probably like most of those folks that you just referred to assumed that it would end in some sort of violent fashion with the fugitive Casey White kind of really driving, you know, driving the violence. But that doesn't seem to have happened here.
I think the message to take away from this, Don, is that these are always very dangerous, very kind of high stakes and totally unique operations. You never really know how one of these chases is going to end up. It it's very, very hard for anyone to stay on the run for any significant period of time in this country now simply because of the profusion of video surveillance and the ability of the media and social media in particular to get that intelligence out to the public and very, very rapid fashion. So, it's somewhat inevitable that folks get caught. You just hope that it happens in a nonviolent way. That wasn't the case here.
LEMON: Can I ask you, what does it mean for this investigation that they weren't able to get any information from Vicky White?
MCCABE: Ultimately, it won't mean much to the prosecution of Casey White. I mean, he is, you know, he's basically going to be held dead to rights on this case. His escape has been captured by video in the jail as he was walking out the door with her.
I mean, it's almost impossible to imagine any scenario in which he can try to shift blame for this entire escapade to the former corrections officer. Maybe a defense tactic. But more likely he'll plead guilty to the increase defenses here.
LEMON: Candice, let's bring you in now. I'm glad to you have here. This Vicky White story is a tragedy. People who knew her say that they're shocked she would ever be a part of anything like this. The Sheriff in Alabama saying that she had been an exemplary employee before pulling this escape. How can a normal person get pulled into committing a crime like the one we saw?
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, Don, these -- what I would call dangerous liaisons are unusual but they're not so rare. That there haven't been doctoral thesis based on them, female staff falling in love with male inmates. You may recall a few summers ago there was something very similar to this in upstate New York.
Forty-five percent of the prison population, Don, are psychopaths. That's a clinical term. And one of the characteristics of a psychopath is they are excellent manipulators and liars. And what they do, what these guys do in prison, they can spot a weak link.
They can spot, for example, in this case a female staff member that they believe they can -- they go for, they manipulate or maybe she tips her hand that, you know, my husband doesn't pay attention to me or, gee, I'm so lonely. And he, the guy, moves in on that. And he uses that information to turn her to win her over. He becomes whatever she wants him to be, a father figure, a friend, a lover.
And before you know it, as soon as -- as soon as the staff member gives the inmate something that they shouldn't give them like extra food or extra time in the yard, the inmate has them. And they exploit it. In this case, it ended horribly.
LEMON: He was calling her as wife. What do we read into that? Anything?
DELONG: Probably made her feel good.
LEMON: That's it. Interesting. Andrew, marshals involved in that hunt telling CNN tonight that Vicky and Casey White had between 65 and $90,000 in cash to help their getaway. Does that help explain how they were able to get their hands on three different cars?
MCCABE: Yes, it sure does, Don. And there was clearly a high degree of planning going into this crime, right? The fact that she liquidated her home and had that kind of cash on hand to be able to change up their modes of transportation. That's a pretty good tactic.
You know, the advantage that the fugitives have is time. If they can get away and not be, you know, under conditions that mask the fact that they're actually missing, all of that time helps them get a lead out in front of the investigators.
It's somewhat incomprehensible here that they had that advantage of time and they seemed to have wasted it by staying in Evansville, Indiana, and essentially allowing the investigation to catch up with them. They had the cash. They had the transportation, the ability to continue changing modes of transport. But they just didn't take advantage of it. That's how they got caught.
LEMON: Candice, why on earth, number one, we saw them at the car wash, right? The photo of him, is he wearing a short sleeve shirt with the identifiable tattoos and why are they stopping at a car wash? Like, what is? What?
DELONG: Who knows? I would love to ask him if I could. I mean, maybe she said, gee, the car is dirty. Who knows?
DELONG: This whole thing was very high risk to begin with. So, it shouldn't be too surprising that they did something stupid like that.
LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.
MCCABE: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: We're going to turn now to Ukraine. In Ukraine southern cities and towns battered by constant shelling. This is the aftermath of an attack in Odessa. CNN is on the ground with Ukrainian civilians. Just trying to stay alive.
LEMON: Vladimir Putin did not declare war on Ukraine in his Victory Day speech today. He didn't declare it. He just continued as relentless bombing of innocent civilians. This is the port city of Odessa, shaken tonight by multiple blasts and at least one large fire.
This video shows what happened to a civilian convoy trying to escape fighting near Kharkiv. Burnt and bullet ridden cars, a stroller, children's things. CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has what life is like in southern Ukraine for people under constant shelling.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): Both nothing and everything has changed here. The front lines have barely moved on the road to the southern city of Kherson, the first Russia captured in the six weeks since we were last here.
But instead, since then, almost everything in between has been torn up by shelling that literally does not stop. Trapping people who physically cannot flee in the churn of a brutal stalemate. Here in the village of Shevchenko are two neighbors (Inaudible) Lyuba.
LYUBA, LOCAL RESIDENT (on screen text): This granny lives on the second floor. And she's learned quickly how to run
WALSH: We move to the yard as the shells get closer.
LYUBA (on screen text): Lord, this is a nightmare.
WALSH: Leonid (Ph) still manages to get down to his wife's basement shelter. She's installed a plank on the way here to help him rest. They used to get dressed up to go to bed. It was so cold down here. But mention leaving and she chuckles.
LYUBA (on screen text): I've got plans for tomorrow. Every day I go out, the goats are waiting for me. I'd sleep longer but there's shelling and the goats are asking for food. They are my children of war. That's what I call them.
WALSH: Nights spent here are focused her hatred.
LYUBA (on screen text): Russian soldiers are just following orders. Putin I would cut into pieces and scatter the pieces around the world.
WALSH: Across the road is Valentina, alone. Shells always seem to just miss her.
VALENTINA, LOCAL RESIDENT (on scree text): I was born in a time of war and will probably die in one. When I die, as my mother said, burn me in the garden. So, I can see what happens here. Lord, how much more?
WASLH: Overwhelmed yet hauntingly the eloquent.
VALENTINA (on screen text): Look at these torments. This house was smashed to clay. I'm left alone in four walls, nothing anywhere. I cry to my dead husband to rise up and wee what's happening. Better to lie down at night and never get up. Neither see nor hear. Pity the people, the soldiers.
WALSH: It's not so much that life goes on here but that it has nowhere else to go. These men setting cow's milk although that's not what Leonid has been drinking. "Hello to everyone," he says. Forty times a day and night they shell.
Barely a window is intact. Shrapnel flying through the glass daily. Yesterday was Svitlana's turn. But she can't leave. She is waiting for her son to return from the war in Mariupol. Our children are all the war, she says. My son is a prisoner. If he comes back and if I have gone, it's like I've abandoned him. We wait. Hope, worry he is alive and we will live. On the road out of here, the shrapnel rises fiercely above the warm fields.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. Thanks for that, Nick.
Vladimir Putin giving a defiant speech in Moscow during Russia's victory day parade. CNN's Matthew Chance was there.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These troops being celebrated, the weapons being showcased today, the same ones that have fighting in that horrific conflict.
LEMON: Russian President Vladimir Putin defending what he calls his military operation at the Victory Day parade in Moscow today while slamming the west. It's hard to believe looking at these pictures. But this year's event was actually scaled back.
Matthew Chance was there and he joins me now live from Moscow where the Kremlin has imposed strict laws limiting how journalists can talk about Russia's presence in Ukraine. Hello to you, Matthew. Thanks for joining us. What was Putin's message today?
CHANCE: We mentioned it. It was a very defensive one. He defended the conflict in Ukraine, what Russia calls a special military operation, saying that Russia faced an imminent threat of attack from Ukraine and had to strike preemptively to defend the country.
He's made these claims before that have been rejected by Ukraine and Ukraine's allies like the United States. But he made it again this time against the backdrop of the Victory Day parade which is a commemoration of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 along with its allies, but also a significant day in Russia of national pride.
CHANCE: This is how Russia glorifies its embattled military. Spectacular display as a stony-faced commander in chief President Putin inspects the troops paying such a high price for his special military operation in Ukraine.
From the stands, hundreds of invited guests usually loyal officials and their families or foreign dignitaries get a front-line seat. This year for the first time in two decades of reporting Russia and Ukraine I was invited too.
But I can tell you it's always a day of huge national pride here in Russia. But this year it's especially poignant here in the stands viewing this spectacular display here in Red Square in the center of Moscow because this isn't just the band commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 by Soviet Union and its allies. It's also about celebrating what the Russian military is doing now.
And these troops being celebrated and the weapons being shown here today are the same ones that are fighting in that horrific conflict.
Against that backdrop, the armored columns, rumbling over the cobbles of Red Square, they seem less heroic, intercontinental ballistic missiles even more sinister. But the Kremlin leader drew repeated links between the sacrifices of the Second World War in which millions of Soviet citizens were killed and the battles currently being fought in Ukraine. Links Ukrainians and their allies reject.
PUTIN (through translator): I am now addressing our armed forces and the militias of Donbas. You're fighting for our mother land, for its future so that no one forgets the lessons of the Second World War so that there is no place in the world for tortures, death squads and Nazis.
CHANCE: But it is what was not said that was most conspicuous. There have been wide speculation Putin would use this parade to formally declare war on Ukraine and announce a general mobilization to bolster the stuttering forces there, (Inaudible).
Conscious, perhaps, not all Russians, many of whom gathered to commemorate Victory Day outside Red Square were fully onboard with more bloodshed.
"I'm in two minds," says this woman, "because I feel very sorry for the civilians suffering in Ukraine, the children, the old people."
"We are at war" another says, and "I feel sadness for our boys dying on the front lines." When it comes to the Second World War, what Russia calls its great patriotic war, this country has traumatic memories.
After the Victory Day parade, tens of thousands led by President Putin himself marched through the streets of Moscow, many carrying photographs of relatives who fought the Nazi peril. Putin held a picture of his own dad. But state media also broadcast images of people carrying recent photographs too, of soldiers apparently killed this year. The effort to connect Russia's current conflict with its past glories is relentless.
LEMON: Matthew, we were expecting air shows during the annual Victory Day parade today. But they were canceled. Why is that?
CHANCE: Yes. That's right. They were expected to be 77 aircraft, one for every year since the end of the Second World War to take to the skies over Red Square flying in formation. But the Kremlin said that because of the adverse weather conditions, the cloud base was below 500 meters which is the threshold, they said, for this kind of air show to take place. They canceled it. It's not first time it's happened. I remember a couple of years ago I think it was 2017 they canceled it because of bad weather conditions then as well.
But I did see the airplanes take to the skies in the days before the actual parade because there were rehearsals. And we saw these incredible scenes of state-of-the-art Russian fighter jets flying in a zed Z formation across the skies in tribute, in reference, of course, to the military operation that's taking place in Ukraine right now.
LEMON: Matthew Chance reporting from Moscow, thank you, Matthew. I appreciate that. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sending a message to his people on Victory Day saying that they'll beat back Russian forces.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY (through translator): We are fighting for our children's freedom and therefore we will win. We will never forget what our ancestors did in World War II which killed more than eight million Ukrainians. Very soon there will two victory days in Ukraine. And some won't have any. We won then and we will win now. Happy victory over Naziism day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's bring in now Julia Ioffe, the founding partner and Washington correspondent for Puck. Julia, thank you so much for joining. Lot to talk you to about this evening.
A Victory Day without new victories for Putin. What did you make of Putin's tone and rhetoric?
JULIA IOFFE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK: Well, I was surprise that it was so short, the speech, I was expecting another, you know, banger that lasted an hour too, as he's usually wants to treat us. But it was a very angry defiant and bittered tone, kind of an aggrieved tone. And he very quickly in that 10-minute managed to trot out a conspiracy theory explaining why he just had to invade Ukraine. He said there was no other choice. And it was the only correct choice.
And he said it was because in December Russia offered the west to (Inaudible) security agreement that would, he said, guarantee that indivisibility of security in Europe. I -- it would give Russia NATO -- Russia veto power in NATO and veto power over European security. They never offered such an agreement so that's a lie.
And then he said, instead, Russia's -- NATO started taking Ukrainian territory. False. Sending arms to Ukraine, which is true because of the Russian build up on the border. And they were preparing to attack, he said lands that historically belonged to Russia in the Donbas and that he just had to strike preemptively. So, that was -- that was what we heard.
LEMON: Well, you know, he doesn't like so far, he didn't like it especially in the beginning for it to be called a war, right? He is calling it a special operation. I mean, U.S. and western officials thought that Putin could officially declare a war on Ukraine as soon as today. Why do you think he didn't escalate in that way, and could that still happen though, I guess it could still happen later this week, why didn't he do it?
IOFFE: I mean, even if it doesn't happen this week, it could happen next week or next month. He doesn't have to declare war. He can just, he can do whatever he wants. This is a loss --
LEMON: He can just have a war without declaring war, right?
IOFFE: Yes, I mean, he's fighting a war. I mean, it doesn't matter what he calls it, what he declares it, what he does under Russian law. Like, the law is what Putin says it is. At this point it has become a totalitarian regime. So it doesn't matter.
The other thing I would caution your viewers with is that, you know, the comparisons he was drawing between this war and World War II which interesting by the way, he didn't Ukraine at all. He just meant talked about Europe and America. He never mentioned Ukraine.
But in constantly drawing comparisons in the speech and in many others to World War II, it's important to realize that Russians know, Soviets know that for a year and a half the Soviet Union was losing that war, badly. And it took them a very long time to turn it around and eventually win.
So, I don't know that -- I think in Moscow they're thinking about it, kind of in those terms. That, you know, eventually we can turn this thing around. If we just throw more bodies in the meat grinder, if we get more tanks, whatever it takes, we can turn this around because we turn it around then. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen but I don't think they think this fight is over yet.
LEMON: Hey, you're right. I was watching a documentary last night that I fell asleep. And I think of the similarities to this in World War II were astounding. You know, Victory Day is a very patriotic holiday for Russia. So when Putin says Russia was in danger and had to repel the aggression to protect the motherland, do the Russian people still believe him? Do they think any or about that, do they believe that, or they're beginning to doubt it? IOFFE: I don't know. I don't know how we would know that from the
outside. It's dangerous to speak about in real terms. He can't even call it a war. I mean, that is against the law. As for somebody else to call it a war, you can go to jail for 15 years.
It was the, you know, the preamble to Matthew's reporting just now. So, we don't really know. The polling is, you know, has to be taken with several grains of salt but if you're watching TV, like you're watching Russian state TV this is all you're seeing.
And if you have no other sources of information, if you're not really good at using the internet, if you don't know what a VPN is, if you don't even know where to look online to get information that contradicts the Kremlin, you would believe the stuff. And you would believe that Ukrainians are fighting -- sorry, that Russians are fighting Nazis in Ukraine
There was last night on Russian state TV here was a hour-long feature report on, you know, in main Sunday evening news about how the Ukrainians are idle worshiping pagan Nazis. So, you know, and that's not the first time they shown something like that or the tenth or the 20th times. So, I think a lot of people do believe it.
LEMON: And if you look at the sinking of that warship or at least damaging of that warship, you know, the Russian media has just changed the narrative. I was watching the reporting here on CNN last week of the Russian reporting, it was just astounding, Julia.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Be well. I'll see you soon.
LEMON: Illinois could soon be an island surrounded by other states that outlaw abortion. Now Chicago's mayor vowing to provide half a million dollars to help fund reproductive health care. Mayor Lori Lightfoot joins me next.
LEMON: The Biden administration warning today that there is a serious risk of nationwide ban on abortion following the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Also today, the city of Chicago announcing a half million-dollar fund to help women seeking abortions.
Let's talk now with the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. Mayor, thanks for joining us.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: It's my pleasure.
LEMON: I want to put up this map, OK? And you can see it. It Roe is overturned, look at the state of Illinois, you are going to be an island, an ocean state, states with laws already banning abortion or, you know, with these so-called trigger laws that will ban abortion if Roe is overturned. I want you to tell me about your plan and this fund to help women from any state get an abortion.
LIGHTFOOT: Well, Don, that's precisely why we issued our justice for our pledge today and the $500,000. It's really a down payment on what we see is a huge increase in the need of women not only in Chicago and Illinois but as you mentioned, from surrounding areas. We are going to be an island because every state around us whether it's Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, and I would expect Indiana to follow suit, is going to do some kind of ban on reproductive rights and reproductive services.
So, we've got to make sure that our providers here in Chicago have the resources they need to provide the services, to provide security for travel, lodging, recovery. This is going to be a monumental lift. And we want to make sure that we are ready to make sure that women don't lose their rights in Chicago.
LEMON: Well, there's a whole lot that goes along with that when you said prepare for it, I mean, prepare possibly for legal action or some sort of action in the law? I mean what's going to happen to access for women in your city if a large number of women come from out of state to get abortions from Chicago and health providers handle that?
LIGHTFOOT: Well, that's precisely why we started this conversation with them now. They are already seeing a large optic in calls and cases as a result of what happened in Texas. And I think the fear among women who know that they need to rely upon our reproductive services is real.
Many providers told us that with the announcement of the leaked decision last week, a lot of women felt like Roe was gone. They had no more rights. And they were worried that appointments they have set would be canceled.
So, there is a lot of fear but we want to reassure women that Chicago will always be a safe haven for women seeking reproductive rights. But let's face it, Don, that draft opinion, the mean-spirited language that's used talking about phony rights for same sex marriage and phony rights for the use of contraception, interracial marriage, the list goes on and on.
And you've seen if this movement on the right picking up steam. I even saw a governor tweet out that he wanted to take on Brown v. Board of Education.
LIGHTFOOT: So, we've got to be ready because all of our rights are at risk.
LEMON: Well, having said that, the White House is warning that Republicans will try to enact nationwide, a nationwide ban on abortion. So then, then what happens? LIGHTFOOT: Look, I think this is a call-to-action moment. We need to
be talking about this challenge and what the Republicans in the right are intending to do every day between now and November. Our rights are on the ballot. Up and down the ballot. And we've got to organize, we got to educate and we've got to vote.
LEMON: Senate, listen, on the GOP side, the Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell said that it is possible that the GOP could move to ban abortion nationwide, right? The White House is warning that. Other GOP lawmakers like John Cornyn, Josh Hawley telling CNN that that's more of a state issue. Who do you believe?
LIGHTFOOT: I wouldn't believe anything coming out of any Republicans and particularly not Mitch McConnell. If you did a side by side of the things that this guy has said and done, particularly when it comes to Supreme court nominations, he's just not trustworthy. He doesn't have any integrity.
And I'll tell you what. I'm not hanging the rights of myself, my daughter, my friends, women in this country on what Mitch McConnell says. This is a call to action. And we've got to rise to the occasion. And as leaders, make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect our rights writ large.
This is not just about reproductive freedom although that's critically important. This is about our freedoms that are grounded in the right to privacy for the last 50 years. That's what's at stake.
LEMON: Mayor, thank you.
LEMON: The Biden administration warning about a significant spike in COVID this fall and winter with cases already on the rise, experts urging Americans to get vaccinated including Dr. Peter Hotez. By the way, he just tested positive. He joins me next.
LEMON: A top official with the FDA expressing concern tonight that the U.S. may see a spike in COVID-19 cases coming this fall and winter. The Biden administration encouraging all Americans who are eligible to get the vaccine shots plus the booster shot for maximum protection.
I want to bring in Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Doc, thanks for joining us. I'm sorry you tested positive for COVID. How are you doing?
PETER HOTEZ, INFECTIOUS EXPERT, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: I'm doing OK. A little bit of headache and fatigue. But you know, fortunately, I'm vaccinated and boosted and that's helping quite a bit. LEMON: Look, doc, everybody has it. I have been around a bunch of
people, knock on wood. I didn't catch it. I probably just jinxed myself. But what is going on? Why are so many people becoming infected?
HOTEZ: You know, look, it's this BA.2 and BA.212 subvariant that are so transmissible. We are looking at something that's as transmissible as measles and it does have some breakthrough properties, even if you are vaccinated. The good news, if you are vaccinated and boosted, and vaccinated or double boosted, you are like me, you are tending to get fairly mild illness.
And so that's the message. We have too few Americans, Don, that are boosted. Only about 100 million Americans have been vaccinated and boosted and that means more than 200 million Americans are not and they are highly vulnerable not only to this BA.2 and BA.212, but also new variants of concern that are coming down the pike in the summer and in the fall because we failed to vaccinate the world.
And you know, we know the Delta variant arose out of an unvaccinated population in India, the BA.2 and Omicron arose out of unvaccinated population in Southern Africa. So, until we vaccinate the world it's going to be, excuse me, we are going to continue to see these new variants of concern arise.
LEMON: All right. If you need grab some water or something, let us know. Listen, I will let you in on a little secret that I didn't -- I had it over the Christmas holiday and I didn't -- I didn't announce it because I feel like, you know, announcing that you have COVID now is like coming out as gay. Like, you know, it's kind of a thing, right? It's kind of.
LEMON: So, if you have -- I had Omicron. If you have done that, if you had it and then you get boosted does that help anything?
HOTEZ: It really helps. So, if you get -- if you have Omicron and you don't get boosted, you are still vulnerable to reinfection because Omicron is not producing much in the way of durable protection. But if you have Omicron and you get boosted with a vaccine on top of it, it creates greater resilience against new variants.
It causes this phenomenon that we call epitope broadening which makes you especially resilient. So that's the message. If you got an Omicron, get boosted on top of it and that will create better, durable and more resilient protection against those variants.
LEMON: So that's probably why, I, along with others who had it and had the fourth shot, we haven't gotten it and other people have, right?
HOTEZ: Yes, if you got your boost -- second booster after you got Omicron you are going to be in pretty good shape. I can't say you won't get some mild illness but you should do very well. LEMON: OK, good. So then, listen, we have been through this before, a
couple of years, a couple times. We always warn or you guys have been warning that there is going to be a surge in the fall and winter during the cold and flu season. But then in the summer it goes way down. So even with the cases going down in the summer because we are going into the summer months, people are going to be outside, there is still this concern coming up for the winter and the fall and the winter?
HOTEZ: Well, the bad news, if you live where I live in Texas and the southern United States we get our big wave -- get our big wave in the summer. So, we had a terrible wave from the original lineage in 2020 and then again in 2021 from the Delta wave. So, we could be in hot water this summer in Texas and the southern U.S. point one, and then in the fall, I worry about the rest of the country, including the northeast.
Until -- and the other problem that we're -- that we need to address is that the immunity from the boosters with the mRNA may not be holding up as well as we'd like. We don't know if that's something intrinsic to the mRNA or whether this unique Omicron and BA.2 variants.
So, I've being encouraging the White House to look at -- to go -- to look beyond only mRNA and maybe look at some additional vaccine technologies as possible boosters as well.
LEMON: In the next few weeks in the U.S. is likely to hit one million deaths from COVID-19, a staggering number. It's so much worse than we thought it would be in those early days, two years ago. But people are acting like it's totally over. I mean, you think it's too soon?
HOTEZ: Don, remember, for me the equally important number to remember is after May 1 last year when the president announced anyone who wants to get a COVID vaccine can do so, the vaccines are widely available, another 200,000, maybe 300,000 Americans lost their lives because they refused to get vaccinated. They were defiant of getting vaccinated.
I don't even know what to call that any more. Some calls it misinformation or disinformation. I call it anti-science aggression. It's become a leading killer of Americans. So, so many of those one million deaths did not have to happen. And how we break this impasse, especially in the southern U.S. here in Texas and the Appalachian region, the mountain west, I think this is one of the really big challenges for both the Biden administration and our scientific community.
LEMON: Yes. I have been noticing that people have been putting up mask signs again and here we go. People are starting to wear them indoors again. All for good reason. Thank you, doc. Hey, you be well, OK? Sorry about that. Let us know your progress.
HOTEZ: Thank you so much, Don. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Thank you.
It was a Victory Day without victory for Vladimir Putin. So what direction is the war in Ukraine take next? We're live in Lviv right after this.