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Don Lemon Tonight

Donald Trump Support A Losing Candidate; Former V.P. Backs Brian Kemp; David Perdue Using A Race Card Against Stacey Abrams; Another Russian Dissent Condemns Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine; Senator Bill Cassidy Under Fire For Race Comments; Yankees' Josh Donaldson Now Suspended; Monkeypox Now In The U.S. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 23, 2022 - 22:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching. I'll be back on Wednesday. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Hey, Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Wait a minute. I'll be back on Wednesday, too. But that's only because I'm burning the midnight oil. I've got my coffee already.

COATES: I'm going to watch you. I'm going to support you.


COATES: I'm going to cheer on the whole election night in America team. I will be my pajamas doing that.

LEMON: We minute. Now we have a legal panel that we could put Laura on at like 1.30?

COATES: No, no, no. I'm sorry. God. It's a bad connection. It's a bad -- something. Sorry. Well, and by the way, I'm getting older, 1.30 in the morning, Laura Coates is not the 9 o'clock version.

LEMON: It's not the bionic woman.

COATES: What? What?

LEMON: Huh? What? Say what?

COATES: What did you say?

LEMON: All right, Laura, I'll see you tomorrow. We're going to get to it.


LEMON: Thank you. Have a good night.

COATES: Take care.

LEMON: Bye. No. I'll see you to the day after tomorrow, my bad. My bad.


And we are just, as we were just talking about, we are hours away, we are from one of the biggest elections this primary season. Georgia's GOP primary for governor. That's what I'm talking about. But a whole lot of this is about who's not on the ballot. Guess who I'm talking about? You know what I mean. That's the former president.

He is backing one time Senator David Perdue against the front runner. That's governor Brian Kemp who has a strong lead over Perdue, but Trump didn't even bother to go to Perdue's rally today. And tonight, Mike Pence who had to be hustled out of the capitol, remember, while rioters were chanting about hanging him.


CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


LEMON: While they were doing that, all because he refused to throw out electoral votes which he had no power to do anyway. He is now campaigning for Kemp.


MICHAEL PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When you say yes to Governor Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will send a deafening message all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future.



LEMON: A deafening message? That is not going to sit well with his former boss who is all about 2020. No surprise. Trump is slamming Pence, calling him quote, "desperate to chase his lost relevance and claiming that he is hoping someone is paying attention."

He was saying that about someone else projection, right? The GOP primary will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November and David Perdue behind in this race turn to race as he reaches what may be the end of the line. Watch this.


DAVID PERDUE (R-GA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Did you all see what Stacey said this weekend? She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey! She is not from here. Let her go back from where she came. She doesn't like it here?

The only thing she wants to be president of the United States presidents? She doesn't care about the people of Georgia. That's clear. When she told black farmers, you don't need to be on the farm. And when she told black workers and hospitality and all this, you don't need to -- be she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that. I am really over this. She should never be considered for material for a governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live.


LEMON: Well, that was a whole lot. We're going to talk about it, but go back to where she came from? Stacey Abrams is a black woman who was born in Wisconsin. Raised in Mississippi, before attending high school and college in Georgia.

Demeaning her own race? That's not totally clear what comments of hers that he is referring to there, but what is clear is that Perdue, what he did there is called playing the race card. President Trump's handpicked candidate may not win tomorrow. It will all unfold tomorrow night in our special coverage right here on CNN.

But here's the truth. The trust is that the former president still is hugely popular with his base, but is there something in the air in his party? The Washington Post is reporting on the Republican governor's drawing a line in the sand to protect Kemp. One former Republican governor saying Trump is running quote, "a personal vendetta toward the primaries."

This is about to get really, really interesting. So, make sure you tune in. Watch this space, as they say. I want to go right now to CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Atlanta. He joins us from there. Jeff, good evening. Good to see you. You are at the Kemp rally. You heard Mike Pence speak tonight. What was his message?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Don, good evening. The message largely was ignoring Donald Trump. This was something that we saw the former Vice President Mike Pence -- he's not been campaigning a lot really in recent weeks or months, this was his return to the campaign trail. He'll be doing it a lot more, we're told, but he utterly ignored his once loyal president.

Of course, he's been at his side, but in recent months he has put some distance between himself, but tonight he utterly ignored him, but his sheer presence here in Georgia on the eve of this race, where Trump has been obsessed by defeating Brian Kemp.


He's been obsessed by the fact that Kemp and other Republican officials here would not overturn the election. So, the fact that Mr. Pence was here really said all you needed to know. But he also described himself and validated Governor Kemp as he spoke like this.


PENCE: I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order. I am here to support Brian Kemp. I am here because Brian Kemp frankly, is one of the most successful Republican governors in America. I can honestly say I was for Brian Kemp before it was cool.


ZELENY: So of course, over the last several weeks and months, former President Trump has called Brian Kemp a turncoat, a loser, a variety of other words. So, you saw Vice President Mike Pence there using some words of his own to validate and support the candidacy of Governor Kemp.

But Don, the reality here is talking about Republicans on the ground. Talking to a lot of voters who say, you know, they like President Trump. They're not sure if they would vote for him again, but they're not going to follow his lead on this.

So, what is likely to happen tomorrow is a Kemp big win. The question is will he win big enough to get over 50 percent to avoid a runoff? The Kemp campaign is confident that it will. The Perdue campaign is really running up against -- they've not been on television for more than a week. It's a pretty dispiriting and really embarrassing and to a campaign for him. That Trump talked him into running, all about the election. Don, the bottom line is the Republicans I talked to here wants to look forward and move on, not look backwards.

LEMON: Not backwards at 2020. A lot of Republicans have been trying to get the former president to do that.

ZELENY: yes.

LEMON: By the way, that was a good line for Mike Pence. He should've delivered it friendly though. If I was his adviser I would say I was Kemp before Kemp was cool, like I was country when country wasn't cool? Something like that. That's the way, you know, but anyways. I digress.

So, look, Pence's endorsement of Kemp is clearly a huge break from Trump. How is the former president responding, Jeff?

ZELENY: Well, look, did not respond well at all. He did not respond, but his spokesperson really demeaned the former vice president. He said it was a disgrace. He said he is chasing lost relevance. He is trying to parachute into Georgia to try and make himself important and relevant.

The reality here, though, is there, you know, there's no question that Mike Pence has long supported Governor Kemp. They've work together. Mike Pence is a former governor. So, he was here I was told by one of his aides -- in the capacity as a former governor trying to reelect an incumbent.

And Don, when you sort of sort out all the endorsements that Donald Trump has made in May, this one was wildly different. It was so personal. This is an incumbent Republican governor. If you look at other state elections, last week in Pennsylvania, the former president supported Dr. Mehmet Oz. Well, that was an open seat. In Ohio a couple weeks ago he supported J.D. Vance. That was an open seat. This is a seated incumbent Republican governor, a totally different here. So that is why Mike Pence was here. So, he again ignored Donald Trump and the Trump spokesman we must assume that the comment was blessed by the former president. He called his former once loyal partner a disgrace.

LEMON: Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate it. See you soon. I want to bring in now Mark McKinnon, the former adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain, an executive producer of The Circus. and CNN's political commentator Alice Stewart. This one --


LEMON: He is an adviser and also the executive producer of The Circus, and Alice Stewart joins us as well.

Good evening both of you. Good to see you. Mark, Mike Pence says a vote for Kemp will send a deafening message at the GOP is the party of the future. Is this a race about the soul of the Republican Party?

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the message that Pence is sending there is the right ones for Republicans, which is to get Donald Trump off the windshield and put him in the rearview mirror.

This is going to be a stunning embarrassment for Donald Trump, it's not just any old endorsement, this is the most important endorsement of Trump's political life. This was -- this was -- this was vengeance that he wanted to serve cold (Ph). And it's not going to happen. There was a real behind the scenes story here where the Republican Governors Association got together the last fall and decided that they were going to play in a primary race, which is not a thing they normally do, but they thought it was important to protect Kemp.

And this, you know, the reason that Trump is running against him is because he refused to adopt the big lie. And that is, you know, for Trump, there is no greater sin. And so, to his credit, Kemp has stood up.

Now, I would also say, Don, that we -- let's be careful, because this is also masking a lot of really, I would say, problematic legislation. The governors like Kemp have been passing in order to keep their flank happy with the Trump base. So, there's a couple of other side to the story to tell as well.


LEMON: That reporting that Mark is talking about, Alice, it's coming from the Washington Post about the GOP's governors association throwing millions of dollars into Kemp's campaign to protect him from Trump's personal vendetta tour.

Do you think this concerted effort against Trump, will that have an impact? STEWART: I think the fact that Kemp is a good candidate will make

more of a difference than anything than that. Look, the truth is, I'm from Georgia. I'm familiar with the voters in Georgia. And they want someone who will be like Kemp. He has followed the A, B, C, and D's of being a governor.

He has been accountable. He's been believable, he's been competent, and he has delivered. And what he has done when COVID hit, he kept things open as much as he possibly could to help the economy. He has also really worked hard on keeping jobs open. He has cut taxes and he has also got parents involved in education.

That's exactly what they want. He has the winning message. He has beat Stacey Abrams in the past and he can do it again. He has focused this campaign on what he can do for Georgia in the future as opposed to what we are seeing with Perdue. He has used his past grievance to really be the centerpiece of this campaign.

Even tonight, talking with reporters he said that the current polls that show him way behind are full of crap, and he spent the last two years talking about elections are full of fraud. That's not with the people of Georgia want. And he is going to be in for a rude awakening as well as Donald Trump, when they see the results come in tomorrow night.

Because right now, we are seeing Kemp, the Real Clear Politics average has him about 22 percentage points ahead of Perdue. I don't see it being a good night for Perdue or Trump tomorrow.

LEMON: So, you're saying there's a chance? OK. Listen, Mark, Donald Trump can't help himself in Georgia. I mean, he wanted those 11,000 and you know, some odd votes. I just need you to find me those. But what does that say about the battle within the GOP, that instead of spending money against Democrats, right? People like Chris Christie are pushing to spend money helping Trump's enemies.

MCKINNON: Well, I think it says that there is beginning to be a split. And I think that it suggests that there are a lot of -- a lot of people around the country who look at, for example the governor's race in Virginia last year, and that's where they saw a winning playbook.

They said, you know, the sort of things that Alice was talking about, looking forward, talking about schools, talking about parent's rights, the sort of things that Governor Youngkin talked about.

And by the way, Youngkin kept Trump at an arm's length and kept him out of the state. So, the reality is that yes, Trump -- there's a lot of loyalty to Trump in the party, but the reality also is that he is an anchor on a lot of the -- on the strategy as far as moving forward, because when you take Trump out of the equation, Republicans do better across the board.

LEMON: Alice, you know, Trump is accusing Mike Pence of chasing lost relevance. But I mean, is it Trump who is really losing relevance? If you look at, you know, what's up, what he said, right? Had been said about Trump. Because you know, the poll is out in Georgia show Perdue is likely going to lose.

STEWART: Yes, look, we can sit there all day long and pull apart those numbers. The truth is, Donald Trump still has a lot of sway within the Republican Party and he will for some time. But he is not on the ballot tomorrow. And unfortunately, Perdue is.

But as Mark has mentioned, and as you have said, this race and Perdue is really the mantle, the centerpiece of President Trump's former President Trump's Republican grievance tour. And this is going to be a huge loss for him as the polls come in.

And look, I think, you mentioned Governor Christie. He is also been out there on the campaign trail for Kemp as well. And the race has been classic in terms of how they have handled this by not talking about Trump. By talking about the future and talking about issues.

And one of the things that Christie said is look, I can't control what comes out of someone else's mouth, but I can control what comes out of mine. They've been extremely disciplined and not going after Trump. Kemp has been very consistent on not going after Trump.

He really never has attacked Trump and his policies. It's just the questioning and the attacking him over the certification, the election results, but I think that message discipline is going to be very successful for them tomorrow.

LEMON: So, Mark, we played those remarks from David Perdue tonight injecting race into this at the last minute. Is this a desperate attempt to appeal to the worst aspects of otherizing Stacey Abrams? I mean, why, why even do it?

MCKINNON: When you don't get a message, whistle, Don. Whistle hard. That's (Inaudible) Pull out the whistle, and apparently, Steve Bannon working for a (Inaudible). So, it's unfortunate, but it's not surprising.


STEWART: Also, at the same time, Don, it's unfortunate that she said that, saying that Georgia is the worst state to live it. She has done some cleanup on that. But, you know, the truth is, there's plenty of things to go after Stacey Abrams on in terms of policy and her progressive slant to the issues for Georgia that those should be the focus of many attacks as opposed to the way Perdue was going after her earlier.

LEMON: Yes, there is a way to do it. Look, if you don't like the state, or whatever, then -- I love the state. It's the best state in the world. That's why I'm running here for governor. I can't believe that she doesn't love this place as much as I do. There is a way to do it.


LEMON: This was not the way to do it. Alice, can I talk to you -- I want to talk to you about this other key race, right, that we're watching. That's the Alabama Senate primary where Trump rescinded his endorsement of Mo Brooks after he admitted that the former president asked him to be a part of the effort to overturn the 2020 election.

I mean, your former boss, Ted Cruz, out campaigning with Brooks today. Is this race a referendum on the big lie?

STEWART: It appears that Brooks has really making up some ground and with this pulls down to, again is it's not focusing on the past, focusing on the future. I'm focusing in this case on the issues that are important to the people of Alabama.

Mo Brooks was a dead man walking out too long ago, but the fact that he focused on important issues and really worked in terms of meeting with the people, grassroots campaigning, getting good surrogates on there to talk about the economic issues that are important to people. That's with this is about. Not the success and the winning formula moving forward for Republicans through November.

LEMON: Get your sleep now.


LEMON: I'll see you both tomorrow if not --

STEWART: See you tomorrow.

LEMON: Or if not later. Yes. I'll see you. Thank you very much.

MCKINNON: See you.

LEMON: I appreciate it.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, you've got to see this. Right. The crowd at a punk rock concert in St. Petersburg over the weekend chanting f the war!


CROWD: F the war. F the war.


LEMON: The question is, is there a moral crisis in Putin's Russia? I'm going to ask a former counterterrorism official what's really going on in Russia.



LEMON: This week marks three months since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in a brutal and unprovoked war. And we are hearing more of his own people standing up to him. Listen to what happened at a punk rock concert in St. Petersburg over the weekend. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: F the war. F the war. F the war. F the war.


LEMON: So, it's an f the war, if the war. And there is the veteran Russian diplomat, Boris Bondarev putting on his resignation today, writing in a statement and I quote, "for 20 years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I've been so shamed of my country as on February 24th of this year."

And then there is even dissent in Russia's military ranks. One Russian officer telling CNN he quit the war because he felt guilty about Russia invading Ukraine.

Let's discuss now. Counter -- CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd is here. Phil, wow. This is spreading. You know, I mean, it's not -- it doesn't seem like a ton of people at a rock concert, it's a bunch of folks, but we'll see where this leads.


LEMON: If -- good evening to you. If you -- if you had to add up at all this up it looks like a level of public dissent against the war we haven't seen inside Russia. But should we be cautious about reading too much into this?

MUDD: Yes, I'd confess a career intelligence analyst, I'm a negative guy and a skeptic, despite what I appear here, sort of off camera, Don. I look at this and say be careful. You are seeing a couple incidents. You see -- you see an individual who was prosecuted, obviously in Ukraine you see a diplomat who resigned from the U.N. the Russian U.N. mission. You see this concert. Those are data points. That is not a trend.

Let me tell you. As an intelligence guy what I want to see. I presume we have access to detainee reports from the Ukrainians about what soldiers are saying. Those may be dozens or hundreds of soldiers. What's the trend line there? We are intercepting communications from the Russian military in Ukraine. How is that changing overtime? I presume we are intercepting thousands and thousands of communications.

We are seeing demonstrations across Russia, are those demonstrations intensifying? What's the geographic breath, in other words, are they expanding across Russia? Don't take a few data points and say I, as an American want to see dissent in Russia. That must mean they hate -- they hate Putin. Take data and say are we seeing secret and open data? And does that tell us that sentiment is changing? I'm not sure, Don. I'm a skeptic and I'm negative on this.

LEMON: Well, let's go back, you mentioned the Russian diplomat. The one who quit.

MUDD: Yes. LEMON: I mean, he has taken a huge risk by speaking out like this. Do you think that there are others like him that will speak out?

MUDD: Sure, but this is a numbers game. Let's say we have one diplomat steps aside and let's say there's 10 percent or 20 percent, or 30 percent who dispute what Putin is doing, who agreed with the diplomat who stepped away. You go back to this country in America, it took years in an open society with open media for this country to understand what was going on in Vietnam. For this country to understand what was going on in Iraq.

LEMON: Right.

MUDD: For this country, decades to understand that we are losing in Afghanistan and a close society that is Russia where Putin controls the media. One diplomat step aside and you want to tell me that that represents what people think? I don't buy it, Don. I just don't buy it.

LEMON: You know, I would say that this is becoming, you know, a long- drawn-out war. It's becoming longer.

MUDD: Yes, yes.

LEMON: Right?

MUDD: Yes.


LEMON: So, you know, the question is, how much longer can this last? I mean, even if the majority of Russians aren't against it now, do you think that could change the longer this goes on?

MUDD: I do. It's a rare moment. Well, I give you -- it's a rare moment. So, tape this one, Don. I'll give you a glimmer of hope. If I look at this as an intelligence analyst, I'm asking questions to go back to what I said earlier about do you see more defections from the military.

When I was looking at interceptive communications from Al-Qaeda, for example, there's a similarity here. Do you see people talk differently overtime? In this case, do you see people in the Russian military talk differently than they might have talked about three months ago, or if this goes on for years, do they talk differently over the year -- over the years?

Do you see more demonstrations across Russia? I think people will eventually get the message in Russia. But months, a few months? No. This might take years, Don.


MUDD: I am skeptical in terms of how quickly the Russian people might say we don't like Putin. LEMON: And if it takes years, I mean, there's a lot involved with

that, right? It means that NATO, that means that America is going to have to be involved in it for years monetarily to support here, what have you.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: So, I mean, this has worldwide ramifications. The American -- you were talking about the military, the folks in the military. So, what about the police? Because Trevor Reed, speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper about his interaction with Russian police while in prison said this. Watch.


TREVOR REED, RETURNED TO THE U.S. AFTER BEING DETAINED IN RUSSIA: They have absolutely no value of human life, and that apathy permeates every level of the Russian government. And that trickle down from the very top to the lowest level. Prison guards inside of their government, all of their police officers, all of their FSB. Everyone who works for that government has absolutely no empathy for other humans. They're completely desensitized to that.


LEMON: What do you think of what he said?

MUDD: Boy, focus on this. Forget about what we just talked about for five minutes. Focus on this next 60 seconds. Let me tell you something, Don. Watch two things. How willing are security forces, police, paramilitary in Russia, how willing are they to engage and use violent, deadly force against the population?

Remember, by the way the Arab Spring. How willing our governments to kill their populations to maintain control. That's one thing to watch. What we are hearing in the clip is that the security forces will kill people, because they don't care. That's one piece.

The second piece, how willing are the Russian people to go out and squares and sort of city centers across Russia and risk their lives to confront the government? If that increases overtime, the willingness of people to engage in the unwillingness of security forces to kill them, that's something to watch, we might not see that in the short term, but watch it in the long term.

LEMON: Phil Mudd, always a pleasure. Good to see you.

MUDD: Thanks.

LEMON: So, he is a senator, he is a doctor, but when it comes to why his state has high maternal mortality rates, he says things in black and white. He sees things in black and white.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): About a third of our population is African American. African Americans have a higher incident of maternal mortality. So, if you correct the population for race, we are not as much of an outlier as we otherwise appear.




LEMON: Tonight, Senator Bill Cassidy of my home state of Louisiana facing some backlash over comments he made about the high rate of maternal mortality among black women in that state. Maternal mortality is number one -- it's a number, excuse me, of women who die while they are pregnant. Cassidy is a Republican and he's also a physician. This is what he said.


CASSIDY: About a third of our population is African-American. African-Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So if you correct our population for race, we're not as much of an outlier as it otherwise would appear. Now I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.


LEMON: OK. So, I want to bring in now Dr. Richina Bicette McCain, who is an emergency medicine physician. Doctor, good to see you again. Thanks for joining.


LEMON: So, let's talk about, right? So, let's do the facts here. When the senator says "correct the population" that raised some eyebrows, right? Not only does Louisiana have one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country, but for every white mother that dies, there are four black mothers die. Can you speak to the senator's phrasing there, but more importantly, talk about this disparity as well?

MCCAIN: I mean, wow, Don, just wow. I couldn't believe the comments that I was hearing. But let's look at the state of Louisiana compared to the rest of the United States, why don't we. Its neighbor, Mississippi, who is its neighbor in geography, also has a very high proportion of black residents.

As a matter of fact, according to the U.S. census, they have the most black residents in the United States, yet their mortality is almost one-third that Louisiana. So black women are not the problem. The implicit bias in systemic racism that black women face when they see care is the problem. And that's what Senator Cassidy needs to address.

[22:35:03] LEMON: So according to the CDC, the U.S. has the worse maternal mortality rate among developed nations. It has been climbing since the 1980s. I mean, this is all part of a larger issue, right? Can you please explain to our viewers?

MCCAIN: Looking at the numbers, it is perplexing to me that as an industrialized nation, our maternal mortality rates are going in the wrong direction. Since 2018, the CDC has clearly documented that there have been large jumps in maternal mortality rates for all groups, but especially for black women.

And currently, black women are about three times more likely to die from pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications than any other groups. This has to do with access to health care, decreased access to health care. People that are living in rural areas not being able to seek licensed professionals in order to have birth or seeking prenatal care, insurance issues, socioeconomic issues that also relate to social determinants of health.

LEMON: Listen, we would have loved to have the senator on. We invited him on to ask him about this directly but he wasn't able to appear on the broadcast tonight. He is, however, responding on social media, essentially saying that this was one comment in a long interview where he talks about what he's doing to address racial bias and health care.

He is proposing what is called the Connected Mom Act, which would allow women to remotely monitor their blood pressure, their glucose and other metrics. Would that help, doctor?

MCCAIN: That's one step but that's likely what he should have led with. Again, Don, I kind of hinted at it, but we need to remember that a big basis in part of why there are such disparities in health care and maternal mortality as it relates to black women compared to white and Hispanic women, has to do with systemic racism and implicit bias.

It's a subject that we dance around and tiptoe around as if those are bad words, but if we don't acknowledge the issue and acknowledge our history and where we have come from, we can't move forward and address the problem.

LEMON: Calling a thing a thing, you have to call it what it is, right? Thank you, doctor. I appreciate it. We'll see you back on the program soon.

MCCAIN: Thank you for having me, Don.

LEMON: So, allegations of racism on the field, and now a Yankees player will be suspended for one game. We're going to tell what he said. You decide what to think about this. That's next.



LEMON: Major League Baseball fining and suspending New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson for one game for what the league is calling, quote, "inappropriate comments."

Now that comes after White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson Jackson who is black, told reporters Saturday that Donaldson, who is white, called him Jackie in a disrespectful way multiple times during the game. He referenced MLB great Jackie Robinson.

After the comments the players got in each other's faces and naturally the bench is cleared. Donaldson admitted to making the comments but denied any racist intention and is appealing the ruling.

So, let's discuss this now with CNN contributor Bob Costas is here. Bob, I'm so glad you're here to talk about this. So, thanks for joining this evening.


LEMON: So, let's start with Donaldson's comments. The league is calling them inappropriate, the is calling them racist. What do you think?

COSTAS: Well, they are certainly inappropriate. You have to be more aware regardless of what his intention might be. You have to be more aware of the atmosphere, the circumstances, the sensitivities. But just by way of background, Tim Anderson is one of baseball's brightest young stars, very exciting player, passionate and sometimes wears his emotions on his sleeve.

In 2019 in a Sports Illustrated article, he said, I think of myself as this era's Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson changed the game. I can change the game by making it more fun. He is not a fan of baseball so- called unwritten rules which he thinks make the game stayed and players should be able to be more demonstrative.

OK, fair enough. I just think as an aside, although it's an innocently poor choice of words and we shouldn't make a big deal out of it, no one, no person in the present day should compare themselves to Jackie Robinson. No baseball player should, especially a young player without a resume, any more than a would-be civil rights leader should compare themselves to Martin Luther King or presidential candidate, I should say a more modern day Abraham Lincoln. It just doesn't fly.

So that was probably a poor choice of words. Now let's go to Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson is with his sixth team in 12 years in the Major League, so past MVP, a very good player. I do -- I do not know Josh Donaldson, but it is well known around baseball that he has a prickly personality, he's a provocative guy, he's very edgy. He's had run-ins with umpires, with teammates, with opponents. That's not unheard of among players, but he has a pattern of that. OK.

When he read the Sports Illustrated thing, he says he started calling Tim Anderson Jackie every time their paths crossed. Now, that's just designed to dig at him. And he has to be more aware. There's a thousand ways. If you want to be obnoxious, if you want to be a bench jockey, if you want to get on other guy's nerves, there is a bunch of ways without going to that territory. Having said that, that doesn't automatically make him a racist. All

racists are obnoxious a worse. Everyone who is obnoxious is not necessarily a racist. OK. So that's the background and then there's more recent history. Ten days ago, in a game in Chicago, Anderson dove back into third base. Donaldson is the Yankees' third baseman. He put a hard tag on him and then tried to push him off the bag and they got in each other's faces again.

So, there's a history there. And he called, Donaldson called Anderson over the weekend Jackie more than once. Now, as someone made this point and it's a good point.


Look, if he says he just said it in a kidding way, which is his point, you kid with your friends, you kid with your buddies, you don't kid with guys who you obviously dislike, and he obviously dislikes you.


LEMON: Let me jump in here.

COSTAS: Donaldson did --

LEMON: I want to get --

COSTAS: -- Donaldson did apologized afterwards, but OK, go ahead.

LEMON: I want to hear from him, but let me just hear from him, but let me just say this before we hear from him.


LEMON: There's a difference when, you know, when someone is a friend, and you're calling it, but if someone say, hey, Jackie, right? That's a --

COSTAS: That's right.

LEMON: -- no one should be calling anybody out of their name. And I understand that they have a history. But this is what -- this is Donaldson talking about the incident after the game.


JOSH DONALDSON, YANKEES THIRD BASEMAN: First inning I called him Jackie, so let me give you a little context of that. In 2019, he came out an interview and said that he is the new Jack Robinson in baseball, he's going to bring back fun for the game. Right?

In 2019, I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that on the game. I don't know what's changed, and i've said it to him in years past, not in any manner, that just joking around for the fact that he called himself Jackie Robinson. You know. So, you know, if something has changed from that, like my meaning of that is that in any term trying to be racist, by any fact of the matter. It was just off of an interview that what he called himself.


LEMON: OK. Again, so, I look, I stick by what I said before, just don't do it. I mean, even if you --

COSTAS: Don't do it.

LEMON: Don't do it.

COSTAS: You have to be more aware.


COSTAS: Don, you have to be more aware. If you are even a minimally aware person, at present, and Donaldson has been in the league for a dozen years, he's 36 years old, you got to be more aware. If he's an edgy guy, which he is, and if he likes to get on opponents, and if he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, there's a thousand ways to get on people, a thousand ways to rub other people the wrong way. Don't choose this one.

LEMON: And don't make excuses, it sounds like he's making excuses for something, as you said, you should be more aware. Do you think the punishment fits the crime, though?

COSTAS: Yes, I guess so. I think it's more of a statement than anything else. Now he's appealed it, you are allowed to do that.

LEMON: Do you think it will stick?

COSTAS: He can continue to play while the appeal -- yes, I think the appeal will -- no, the appeal will be unsuccessful. The penalty will stick, but then coincidentally he went on the COVID list, he tested positive, so he can't play for a while because he tested positive for COVID. When he's able to play when the COVID is behind him, then, he can appeal the decision, but I'm sure it will stick.

LEMON: Boy. I'm glad you're here to talk about it.

COSTAS: yes.

LEMON: Thank you, Bob. I appreciate it. We'll see you soon.

COSTAS: There you go. All right, Don. See you.

LEMON: So, new cases of monkeypox suspected in multiple states all being investigated right now. We're going to tell you what you need to know about this latest outbreak, that's next.



LEMON: The CDC announcing today there is one confirmed case of monkeypox in the United States, and at least six other suspected cases. The confirmed case involves a man in Massachusetts, a doctor with the CDC says that we can expect additional cases to be reported going forwards.

It turns out the United States has a stockpile of two types of vaccines to treat monkeypox, because the vaccines are also used to treat smallpox.

President Biden was asked about the monkeypox today, saying that Americans should be aware of the disease but not be overly concerned about it.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I just don't think it rises to the level of kind of concern that existed with COVID-19, and the smallpox vaccine works for it. So, but I think people should be careful.


LEMON: The CDC says monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease but it can be spread through sex or intimate contact, it can also be spread by sharing a bed or clothing with an infected person.

Up, next one hour till election day, crucial primaries taking place in multiple states and election officials are already reporting a record turnout for early voting.



LEMON: There is much more happening here on DON LEMON TONIGHT, just an hour until primary election day in several key states.

Let's get right to our CNN political commentators, the former mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the former Congressman, Charlie Dent.

Good evening to both pf you. Charlie, I'm going to start with you. Pence is backing Governor Kemp. Trump is backing the former Senator Perdue out of revenge because he is mad at Kemp for not doing more to overturn the 2020 election results. Yet, Kemp, in the latest polls, leading big time. What do you expect to see tomorrow night?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I expect to see Governor Kemp win renomination, rather handily. And you know, Mike Pence obviously jumped in here pretty late, and it's pretty clear what his intentions are, he is annoyed with the former President Donald Trump over the January 6th situation.

And so, Pence is going to go in there and show that he is on the winning side here, and prove the Trump's endorsement doesn't mean anything in the state of Georgia, at least in -- at least in the governor's race. So, Pence is clearly considering a run for the White House, and even

made clear today that the former president's decision about running won't affect his. So, this looks like they are starting to they -- are bearing their fangs of one another, the former president, the former vice president, and it looks like Mike Pence is going to come out the winner tomorrow in Georgia.

LEMON: Mayor, on the Democratic side Stacey Abrams is running unopposed in the gubernatorial race, yet all the GOP candidates have directed fire at her including this attack from Perdue. Watch this.


PERDUE: Did you all see what Stacey said this weekend? She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey, she is not from here, let her go back where she came from, she doesn't like it here.

The only thing she wants to be president of the United States, she doesn't care about the people of Georgia, that's clear. When she told black farmers, you don't need to be on the farm, and when she told black workers and hospitality in all this, you don't need to be. She is demeaning her own race when it comes to that. I am really over this. She should never be considered for material for the governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live.


LEMON: So, go back to where she came from. She was born in Wisconsin, by the way, raised in Mississippi, went to high school in Georgia. What is he getting at? What did you make of those comments?