Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
The Inauguration of Joe Biden; Biden Promises to Be "A President for All Americans"; President Biden Signs 17 Executive Actions in First Hours; National Youth Poet Laureate Delivers Stirring Inaugural Message; D.C. Security Unlikely to Return to Pre-Riot State. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 21, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: America, should she be called the United States of America?
Again, every day just to remind us of what we're supposed to be in together here. Joseph R. Biden taking the oath of office as the 46th President of the United States. He set the tone for his administration with a call for unity.
"We can disagree. It doesn't have to be a raging fire," he told us.
Today is his first full day on the job.
Welcome back, our brothers and sisters. Special live coverage of the Biden inauguration. You know what that means. If it's in the middle of the night, 2:00 am, you got Chris Cuomo and his man, D. Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You want to know why Chris always starts?
It's because there's this jib camera that's on the other side of the studio. And I can't see that far.
CUOMO: I'm like an eagle. I'm like a fighter pilot.
LEMON: I'm like, Chris, when I shut up, just read because I can't --
CUOMO: That's why I'm here, Don.
LEMON: Hey, listen and I'm happy to be sharing this moment with you. We've done a lot of work together over the last four years. And now this is the culmination and a new beginning. This is how we're going to move on and we have to cover a new administration.
This is an historic moment for our country. Kamala Harris becoming the nation's first female Black and South Asian Vice President of the United States. Both Biden and Harris getting right to work, early, day one, right, on their first day. The president signing a slew of executive orders, many undoing Trump
administration policies. And the vice president swearing in Georgia's two new senators and her replacement in California, essentially giving Democrats control of the Senate.
It was indeed an historic day here for the United States.
But with that said, we're optimistic, right?
We want to be optimistic.
Yes, can we call it the United States of America?
I say yes, we can call it the United States of America. Our democracy was hanging by a thread. We had an open attack on our democracy, on the republic, on the Capitol steps, played out live for everyone to see. People lost their lives.
But guess what?
We're still Americans. We hung in here together. We did the right thing. And now it's a new day in America. Let's see what happens moving forward.
Am I right?
CUOMO: It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It is the past we step into and how we repair it. Amanda Gorman, the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate, read that as part of her poem today, the hill we climb. And she captured it perfectly.
CUOMO: And it was a beautiful metaphor for our country that you have a young person, 22-23, grabbing the gravitas, grabbing the moment and understanding how to project forward. Here's my new criticism of the moment, by the way.
LEMON: By the way -- sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off. We're going to play the full thing from Amanda a little bit later -- but sorry.
CUOMO: You had to say that right then?
CUOMO: Couldn't wait?
LEMON: You were saying -- you were talking about her and now you're moving on to a different point.
CUOMO: I really wasn't. I was going to make a segue but now I forgot it.
LEMON: Oh, my gawd. (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: You said here's what I --
CUOMO: Well, thank you for reminding me. Here's what it is.
We're trying to keep it light because things are so hard. I had people all day long watching the ceremony contacting me about their long haul symptoms, their fears about how they can't get their mother or their grandmother or their father or their -- and they can't get the vaccine. There's not enough and they can't figure out what to do. It's hard.
That's my concern about the moment. We have a list of things that wasn't undoing Trump. I don't think it's a semantic difference. It was redoing what Trump had undone from the Obama administration, some of which were material to our current despair. Leaving the WHO was a mistake for us. We were not in the loop with what was happening in the rest of the world, that was making a difference in the pandemic. We didn't just have our own organic problems with messaging and leadership.
We weren't in the loop. However, I think they have to be careful about going too broad too quickly to please too many masters within the party.
Yes, signing executive orders is the lowest rung of action the president can take. Making legislation is harder. But you have to think pandemic because it's your best bet to force progress.
If the Republicans, specifically the ReTrumplicans, want to keep playing their game of opposition in the face of the pandemic, with the needs of the vaccine program that they didn't vet, didn't question, didn't criticize, that's his leverage right now for Biden. So don't go too wide too fast.
LEMON: I agree with you but also not just within the party but outside the party as well. He can't seem to -- he can't come across as trying to appease the other side too much. Obama did that and he lost a lot of support in his own party.
But also he realized he should have -- I think realized earlier -- that the other side didn't necessarily want to work with him on those issues.
CUOMO: Pandemic, they don't have a chance.
LEMON: You're right, the pandemic, that's different.
But also I think Democrats are going to have to be really strong and Republicans in making the large section, the large group of people in this country realize they have to operate in reality. They have got to. And they're going to have to realize that as well.
The perfect person to talk to about that is coming up right now because I wanted to bring in Derrick Johnson, who leads the NAACP. And we thank him so much for staying up late or waking up early, whichever it is.
Thank you, good to see you.
How are you?
DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP: Good to be here and it is late.
LEMON: So tell me about, first of all, give me your overall impressions of the day. History with a Black woman, the first Black woman, South Asian descent, as Vice President of the United States.
First of all, on that measure, what do you think?
JOHNSON: It's huge. Someone who attended HBCU, that understands the culture but appreciates all of her culture as a South Asian. Let's not forget Joe Biden is only the second Irish Catholic to hold this position.
Race is a social construct and Irish Catholics were not considered white until the late '40s, just like Italians were not considered white until it became politically expedient to do so. The biggest threat to white supremacy is democracy. And what we've seen today is a display of democracy.
LEMON: So let's talk about the democracy. When I said it was hanging by a thread but we -- I mean, both Chris and I agree that it did survive, right?
But many people did not see January 6th coming, right?
JOHNSON: Well, it was awful that it happened but I think a lot of people of color, it was no surprise, sad that it happened, that January 6th did happen. Maybe shocked that it played out in such a stunning way live on television.
But what do you make of that?
Do you think that it was a difference between African Americans and many other people in this country about not being surprised by January 6th?
JOHNSON: No, we're not surprised that you had that type of negative energy across the country. What we were surprised was that that energy was able to penetrate the United States Capitol, the lack of preparedness.
Unfortunately, what appears to be the collusion by those who wear uniforms and those who were elected to office, we have to address the spread of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. It is now a matter of national security.
We can no longer hold (sic) our head in the sand and assume that the threat is from a community over there or religious belief over there.
[02:10:00] JOHNSON: The face of domestic terrorism has always been consistently the same, whether you're talking about 1930, 1960 or January 6th. And we have to come to terms with that fact and deal with it as a nation.
LEMON: What do you think of the president calling out white supremacy in his speech, the rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat?
What do you think of that?
JOHNSON: They're strong words. Let's see what the action is going to be. The Justice Department have to investigate this type of criminal activity as aggressively as we did with Al Qaeda and chasing down bin Laden.
We must also begin to look at what's creating the conditions that would allure people into these (sic) type of negative energy, whether it is the social media platforms and the lack of guardrails, whether it is the economic insecurity that so many Americans are confronted with, whether it's the long history and legacy of just misinformation and not recognizing that this country was strong because of our diversity, not as a result of individuals impeding on someone's rights.
Our rights as a nation is based on our citizenship. Our values should be based on treating every human being with a level of dignity. Our opportunity is embracing all of us as a whole society, one America.
LEMON: This administration has a diverse cabinet, especially compared to the last administration.
But what else would the NAACP like to see from a Biden-Harris administration?
JOHNSON: Well, I commend this administration for honoring what they said, that his cabinet would look like America, that's absolutely true when you see the first lady of America and the Secretary of the Interior. The picture is beautiful.
Now what will be the outcome?
I want to pursue a course of action where racial equity is across all decisions so that we can really tap into the best of who we are.
Think about that young poet today.
Can you imagine her growing up in an environment, where she had to navigate to be on that stage, to get to Harvard?
And how many people just like her was unable to navigate?
We lost so many in the wake of that. We have an opportunity as a nation to look towards 2030 and 2050, not continue to act like 1950 was the best time in the history of this country. And it wasn't.
LEMON: Derrick Johnson, once again, we appreciate you staying up late. Thank you very much, sir.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
CUOMO: And you're talking about Amanda Gorman and how you communicate this threat that we know exists, of white extremism and how horrible it was for the nation that we had a president who not just spoke to the empowerment of that evil but was silent in the face of it.
CUOMO: And she nailed it in her poem today with this line.
"We have seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it."
And that's what white hate and nationalism is about, destroying something rather than allowing it to be what it could be at her best.
"Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded."
I really hope that people don't forget January 6th and don't think that in any way it was hyperbolic in terms of how it was discussed by the media. I'm telling you, it was a very fragile moment.
If those people had prepared for their success, that would have been a bloody massacre the likes of which this country has never seen. Imagine that. And imagine where we would be today if they had just planned for their own success, that they would basically just be able to go wherever they wanted, imagine where we would be right now.
LEMON: I've got to say, look, it was awful. Those elements, though, as I was just talking about with Mr. Johnson, many folks, especially African Americans, we know those are the extremes and we know that they're out there.
And I know that as a son of the South. When I grew up, as I have been telling people on this network for years, the KKK would pass out literature in front of my high school on the weekends. One of my best friends lived next door to the guy who was the head of the KKK.
Those people that we saw at the Capitol, I'm used to seeing them my entire life. We know those elements are out there. They didn't go away after Dr. King. They didn't go away after Barack Obama.
But I think that what is maybe even more dangerous are the people who allowed it to happen. And what Dr. King talked about, the polite racism of white liberals, right?
LEMON: Because just because you are liberal and you may not express yourself the way the people in the Capitol expressed themselves, that is even more dangerous because you're supposed to be our allies.
LEMON: But yet and still, you don't have our backs when it's most important. People should be and should have been, especially allies in the white community, many of them liberals, speaking out against this administration, speaking up for people of color, not giving so much oxygen to racism and fascism and homophobia and anti-Semitism.
So there's a whole lot of, you know, introspection that we need to do and a whole lot of talking and honest talking.
CUOMO: Because we're not as far -- we give ourselves a lot more credit than we deserve --
CUOMO: -- when it comes to progress. And you got to see firsthand over the last four years and you kept saying that we were exaggerating it and you kept saying it really wasn't a danger and you kept saying we were taking his words out of context.
LEMON: Trump derangement syndrome.
CUOMO: We were scared about it because, people, he lived it.
And by the way, I lived it in a different way because I saw how people could become bigoted just on the basis of ethnicity, just because they weren't exposed to Black people. They only knew their ethnic pocket and were afraid of others.
I lived it, I saw it and I covered it for 20 years in this country. Look at where we are. Yes, they're just the fringe. But the fringe can contaminate. You had hundreds of hundreds of people that hit that Capitol.
They weren't all white nationalists. A lot of them were under the sway of what they thought was a righteous cause and in the ignorance of what they had been listening to and the arrogance that they could presuppose that they had an entitlement that they don't have. And it can happen again. So please don't forget.
LEMON: Entitlement, and they weren't afraid of law enforcement that somehow law enforcement people were protecting the Capitol to go along with them.
CUOMO: I'm just saying, we give ourselves too much credit. And what we have here is very, very fragile.
LEMON: Amen. We have a lot to talk about. We have a long way to go until --
CUOMO: I hope we have a lot more hours on television together. LEMON: So When Joe Biden walked into the White House as the vice
president 12 years ago, he's speaking about Black. He and Barack Obama, first Black President of the United States, facing a nation in crisis. Now President Biden will be expected to pull off an even heavier lift this time.
Is he starting things off the right way?
Our political insight pros next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- that I will well and faithfully discharge ...
SONYA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: -- the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.
HARRIS: -- the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.
SOTOMAYOR: So help me God.
HARRIS: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: President Biden wakes up at the White House later this morning, facing an onslaught of historic challenges, a worsening pandemic. Tuesday was the second deadliest day, more than 4,200 Americans died on Tuesday from the coronavirus.
He's also going to have to deal with the economic devastation from COVID and a society that is still highly polarized, even with a peaceful inauguration. So let's discuss now. Bakari Sellers is back. Scott Jennings back. S.E. Cupp back.
Thank you. Good to see you.
So S.E., listen, the president came out today, signed 17 executive orders, also talked about a mass mandate, naming someone who is going to handle the whole COVID response and what we should be doing. A high list of priorities but I think COVID right at the top.
What he did today, good?
S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST: Listen, I'm not in love with, you know, the idea of 17 executive actions on the first day, not because I have a particular issue with the substance of them but because Congress is supposed to write the laws, the president's supposed to sign them. And I hope we get back there.
But I do understand the urgency of now and how so many of the issues, of Trump's agenda, were anathema to the values of people like Joe Biden and Democrats and conservatives like me.
I understand the desire by Joe Biden to hit a reset, turn the page and send an early message. But I hope -- and one of Biden's best strengths, I think, will be his ability to work with Congress. He's been in Washington a long time. He's got a lot of friends in Congress.
And I think he'll be able to pull those levers in ways certainly Trump wasn't, despite all his boasts of being able to make deals. And even Obama wasn't that great at and, in fact, I don't think Biden will be so much be a third term of Obama but almost a throwback to Clinton, who, you know, despite not coming up through Washington, despite coming over from Arkansas as a governor when he became president, was pretty good at working with Congress to get some stuff passed until one party impeached him.
He really had a sort of, you know, knack for that in a way I think we're going to see a lot of in the Biden era.
LEMON: I want to know what you think, Scott, of the mask mandate and kicking off a 100-day mask challenge after his predecessor consistently downplayed the importance, politicized it as well.
Did you think that this is going in the right direction to do what Biden did?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I mean, I think most Americans are OK with the mask mandate. The people who don't like it are still not going to like it because there is an executive order on it now. If it helps control the coronavirus and gets us through this that much faster, then it's a good thing.
Overall I think the first two years of his administration will be almost entirely judged by how he handles the pandemic, vaccine distribution. It's not going fast enough. We've got reports of states throwing vaccine in the garbage because of the onerous regulations that have been put on them. That has to be fixed and totally changed.
So if he can get the distribution thing fixed, sped up, more people vaccinated, people will go back to work, kids can go back to school. That would be a heck of a lift.
But what probably his first two years is entirely judged on, if I were him, doing executive orders, legislation, whatever, it would almost entirely be focused on coronavirus. You saw that reflected in some of what he did today.
LEMON: The expectations are high, Bakari, what Scott just said, because we have to keep in mind that millions of people have filed for unemployment during this pandemic. Tens of thousands of businesses have closed.
But you know, the economic plan -- he's going to have to figure it out. There is a big economic burden on the American people as well as a health burden.
What can Biden do to address all of that and the inequality that goes along, especially with minority communities being hit the hardest?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm glad you asked that question, Don. It's a really good question.
There are two executive orders that we really don't talk about a lot because we want them reversed, xenophobia, the Muslim ban, we want to talk about the Paris climate accord.
But the moratoriums, forecloses on evictions and student loan payments. Those two continuations of policies that were started early and not reverses of Donald Trump but continuations thereof are actually substantive executive actions that change people's lives and their pocketbooks today. These things are important.
Moratoriums on eviction ands foreclosures pushes the ball down the road a little bit, it's something we're going to have to fix. But it does give the president an opportunity to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he's trying to pass.
This is $1,400 checks, money to state and local government, which wasn't included last time so you can actually help with the vaccine distribution. You're talking about money for Native American reservations.
I mean, you're talking about monies that are going to directly affect people and those are the things that we need to do and those are the conversations we need to have.
And this is what drives S.E. and Scott crazy but this is also the spoils of victory. You have a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that you're going to try to get to the number 60 on in terms of getting 10 Republicans to come support you.
But as Scott knows better than most people sitting on panels like this, you know if they don't want to support you, you just go through the process of reconciliation and you get it passed anyway.
That was the question asked of Jen Psaki today and she didn't necessarily answer the question. But we're going to have that relief and people are going to get money in their pockets and it's necessary to do so.
LEMON: But the question is, though, S.E., usually there is a grace period, right?
There's a honeymoon period in all of this. But the need is so urgent right now. Does Biden get that normal grace period honeymoon period or is that --
what do you think of that, is that not going to happen?
Again, people need money and they want this to be fixed.
CUPP: I haven't seen a whole lot of either courage coming from Republicans or a sense that they were sent to the woodshed. In 2012, I helped work on the autopsy because the Republican Party had been sent to the woodshed.
What do you do when that happens?
You think about what you've done and how you got there. And I don't see a chastened Republican Party after January 6th or the loss of the White House, the Senate, the House.
I see a lot of Republicans who want to, you know, quote-unquote, "make Joe Biden a one-term president" or make his life miserable. I'm not sure he's going to get a grace period by a whole lot of folks in the Republican Congress.
LEMON: All right. Stick around, everyone. We have much more to talk about. I have to sneak a break in because we saw history made at the inauguration beyond Vice President Harris, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (voice-over): This young woman fills a role this nation never had before. And her words and this time, have never been needed more. We're going to hear the message of the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate -- next.
AMANDA GORMAN, YOUTH POET LAUREATE: Madam Vice President. Mr. Emhoff. Americans --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Want a treat?
Good. Here's one. This morning you will hear -- you've heard already -- but you will even appreciate more the words of Amanda Gorman.
She is us. She is our potential. She is our promise. Now she's young. She wasn't alive the last time we saw a poet make such an impact at an inauguration. But she is well aware of this mentor, Maya Angelou, inspired Americans when Bill Clinton took office. We talked about it for days and this will happen again.
Gorman, 22, America's first official youth poet laureate.
Now why was she so good?
What is the goal of beautiful poetry?
To help you understand something at a rhythm of your heart and your mind. This is how Gorman did it today.
GORMAN: Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world:
When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade We've braved the belly of the beast We've learned that quiet isn't always peace And the norms and notions of what just is Isn't always just-ice And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it Somehow we do it Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished We the successors of a country and a time Where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one And yes we are far from polished far from pristine but that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect We are striving to forge a union with purpose To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another We seek harm to none and harmony for all Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried [02:35:00]
GORMAN: That we'll forever be tied together, victorious Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree And no one shall make them afraid If we're to live up to our own time Then victory won't lie in the blade But in all the bridges we've made That is the promise to glade The hill we climb If only we dare It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it's the past we step into and how we repair it We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy And this effort very nearly succeeded But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated In this truth in this faith we trust For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us This is the era of just redemption We feared at its inception We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter To offer hope and laughter to ourselves So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation Our blunders become their burdens But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children's birthright So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked south We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it If only we're brave enough to be it.
LEMON: Fantastic. Fantastic. I think Maya Angelou would be proud, is somewhere smiling at Amanda. And you remember, she did Bill Clinton's, "On the Pulse of Morning," she did the poem. But that young lady won the poet, the youth poet laureate.
CUOMO: First ever.
LEMON: First ever. And a message to the nation and an example of youth excellence in this country and what happens when you're given an opportunity.
CUOMO: I love that it was poetry because we need poetry. Words matter. And I know that got banal for a lot of you, cliche for a lot of you, when we kept saying it about Trump. But it's true. And the highest form of it for us is poetry, that which gives words to what you really can't think you can communicate. That's the genius of it.
And a poet deals in words and the selection of words. And she went through tweets about January 6th and she went back and looked at Churchill and she looked at Frederick Douglass and she looked at Lincoln and she wanted to come up with a combination of words.
But ultimately the alchemy is going to be owned by the poet.
"If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy."
That is just heartbreaking to me because it is so simple and so true. And yet we do everything we can to avoid it.
CUOMO: "And so we lift our gazes, not to what stands between us but what stands before us," the power of a preposition. You know?
Between versus before.
"We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, that even as we grieved we grew."
CUOMO: I mean, she just was everything we need to hear right now, in the form that we need to see it.
LEMON: I'm so glad that -- amen, brother. You just took the words out of my mouth. I'm so glad that you're reading the words. And she deserves all the accolades, all the praise. She's amazing.
I don't want people to be just enamored by her beauty, just be enamored by her Blackness, just be enamored by her brilliance, just be enamored by her presence but enamored with the words she said, to listen to those words, to not let those other things be a hindrance or to take your eye off of what she was trying to accomplish.
And that was in the power of her words. She was crying out to a nation that needed to hear what she was saying. All of the other things well deserved. She is beautiful. Man, I wish I had that 22-year-old glowing skin. She's gorgeous. The way she dressed, beautiful. The way she spoke, beautiful.
The way she conducted herself, how she carried herself, beautiful.
But you know what the most beautiful thing, all of it?
The words that she put on paper and the words that came out of her mouth to this nation.
Thank you, Amanda, for that.
CUOMO: The rhythm of head and heart.
CUOMO: Is really best expressed by a poet. And, I'll tell you, sometimes people meet the moment and I appreciate what you say, that don't see her as a one-off.
LEMON: I don't want people to say, oh, my God -- listen, because there are some people who may take what I'm saying out of context. She deserves everything that she is getting, everything, all of the -- she's great.
But don't treat her like a zoo animal. Oh, my gosh. There are many examples of Black excellence that we don't get a chance to see, that don't get a platform. And she's an example of what happens when we say preparation, right?
Means when someone is given a platform, then you get to see their brilliance.
CUOMO: True. LEMON: As I was saying to you in a break, you go to a Black church on
Sunday, you hear Black people singing, wow, that's better than anything I've heard coming out of the music industry. They just don't have the platform.
Jill Biden saw her and recognized that she should be the one there. So we have to recognize the first lady for understanding what true diversity is and what happens when you give someone like Amanda a platform.
CUOMO: Yes, and I just hope that people don't get lost in the paradox of hearing the words, they're so beautiful, they hit you so hard but then you don't live it. That would be a shame because our promise is so apparent that this kid identified it so beautifully and easily.
LEMON: Perfect way to get to the break.
Let's do that right now.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
CUOMO: Let's take a break so I can recite more poetry to Don.
LEMON: "Whose woods these are, I think I know. His house is in the village."
CUOMO: Man, this was not a given today. One of the reasons it was hard for people like me to absorb the moment is because we were worried about what the moment would bring. President Biden had a decision to make, one of his first and it could have gone ugly.
Do you go ahead with the outdoor inauguration under heavy security two weeks after an attempted coup in the exact same location?
Or do you take the oath inside the Capitol?
One would have been understood: safe route. The other was ambitious. He wanted to look out at the National Mall as he spoke of Abraham Lincoln. So he did. And it was OK.
But now what?
We want to talk with Donie O'Sullivan, on the streets of D.C. for us this morning, and then we want to talk going forward with Juliette Kayyem, expert on homeland security issues.
Donie, one of the reasons I had anxiety was because I had been listening to you, who has been trafficking in the rabble as they gossip about what they want to do for QAnon and other sites.
Heading into today, how real was the concern and what is the concern going forward for these fringe groups like a QAnon?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Chris. You can see behind us the fencing here is being taken away. All of that, of course, a result of the insurrection that we saw here just two weeks ago.
But what is not going away is the conspiracy theories, the conspiracy theories, the lies that helped fuel that insurrection, you know. So many Trump supporters have been sold a lie, that Trump didn't lose the election, that Biden would never become president and that Trump would somehow try and even stop Biden, from inauguration from taking place by declaring martial law.
Last night when we were out in the streets here at this time, we came across a Trump supporter, who was streaming live on YouTube and here's what he told us. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: How are you going to feel when Biden is inaugurated at noon today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to ask me that?
I don't believe -- this sounds so crazy and I recognize how crazy this sounds. But I don't believe Joe Biden is going to be sworn in as president today. I don't. I actually don't believe that.
President Trump, up until the point that Joe Biden walks up and says, I, Joe Biden, he can actually initiate martial law. And I actually think that all this operation at 2:30 in the morning on the 20th of January, 2021, is something going on.
O'SULLIVAN: Do you feel like you've been duped, that you've been tricked, that you've been fooled in some way here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually no. The way I felt was -- when I say -- I was waiting up until the minute that he said, I, Joe Biden, I'm watching him walk up. I'm thinking to myself, my life is about to completely change because I've been saying, I'm either a conspiracy theorist or I'm a prophet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: So there is the issue, Chris, right?
O'SULLIVAN: You have somebody there who believes in the election lie conspiracy theory, who was so convinced through conspiracies like QAnon, that, even up until last night, didn't believe Biden would get inaugurated.
O'SULLIVAN: We caught up with him today. He understands that Biden is president but he still believes all the other lies. And so these conspiracy theories, QAnon, is not going away and it's going to be a major challenge for this country this year and in the years to come.
CUOMO: You know, I got to tell you, I appreciate your work. I appreciate it in real time and I appreciate you finding access to people that see you as an enemy. Well done, because it's very important for people to see one aspect of the challenge that we face. Thank you, brother. Stay safe.
Now, Juliette, I'm not to quickly -- and neither are you -- to suffer fools and that man is a fool because he has every reason to know the truth and he is living in a state of denial. The concern is he's not alone. And they're removing those barriers but that doesn't mean the threat is gone.
How perilous is the moment?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So I want to be in a good mood so the moment is less perilous than it was even 48 hours ago because the leader of a terrorist organization, Donald Trump, is gone.
He's been deplatformed, silenced, isolated; the world has moved on. So the biggest concern for President Biden would have been, did Trump still have oxygen?
Was he still able to get recruits?
Was he a winner?
So however painful the last two weeks have been, in some ways, a soft exit for Donald Trump would have been worse because this hate and the stew and everything he was breeding, this horrible thing he's done to people, that man has to take responsibility for his thoughts.
But Trump is responsible for a lot of this. All of that would have been alive and well. And I really like the hard exit, hard, painful exit by Donald Trump.
KAYYEM: Because I do think it minimizes recruitment. Then we'll still have hate out there. Something President Biden said he'll address but it will be different. It won't be organized by the President of the United States.
CUOMO: People in your world say, nope, too late. Release the kraken, these extreme groups were looking for entree, to be legitimized and now he did it and they don't need him anymore. They needed that access to these one-off acts and fringe media sites to take up their calls, to feed it into the vacuum of Trump.
And they'll be here and they are not people on social media that like to say ugly things. They like to act on them. And we're going to see a lot more of this now.
True or fear?
KAYYEM: I think we don't know yet. But let me tell you why I'm not horrified right now.
There's going to still be different pockets of this. They have to be addressed in different ways, so the deplatforming, the way the social media firms are starting to take this stuff down. The prosecutions serve as a deterrent and a lot of people online saying, don't go out, Trump can't save us.
They thought Trump could save us. There's still going to be hate. There was hate before 2016 but, as you said, it will show up in pockets, we have to continue to address it.
But what we have to remember is that at least it's not growing. And I want to say something about President Biden's speech because I think it's lost in all this talk of unity, which I'm all for.
He was clear to separate the violent domestic terrorism and white supremacy, which he mentioned by name, from Trump supporters, Republicans. He was clear to say there is a cancer in the party right now and they let it fester for political gain.
And President Biden was clear when he said domestic terrorism, white supremacy, hate, falsities and untruths, that while he believes in unity, if you promote those things, you don't get a seat at the table. In some ways he was trying to unify all of us against this component which will go far in terms of moving forward.
We haven't heard a president talk like this in four years.
CUOMO: You know these people are not untethered; just saying Kayyem is a fill in the blank with pejorative. You know guys are a different animal and they are animals. So we'll have to keep track of it. I haven't heard a Republican yet say it the way you just did. That's part of the problem, too.
CUOMO: I got to go.
KAYYEM: OK. It's on the Republican Party to excise this hate as much it is on President Biden.
CUOMO: D. Lemon.
LEMON: There's a lot to deal with. We got to deal with the hate.
CUOMO: Speak it to it. None of this violence on all sides. Violence wherever it is. Hate wherever it is. [02:55:00]
CUOMO: And then when you're asked about a specific group, the who?
David Duke, the KKK, I don't know him.
But you know who he is.
How do you feel about him?
Yes, I don't know.
QAnon, what -- ?
LEMON: Who is that? I don't really know that about --
CUOMO: That doesn't work anymore.
LEMON: Yes, you got to know.
So we have to deal with that but we also have to deal with the pandemic that's happening, that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives.
Inauguration Day saw the second highest number of reported deaths in a single day, more than 4,200 and we're closing in on 25 million cases. Let's look at Biden's response plan with Dr. Dr. Esther Choo.
Doctor, we're so glad to have you here in the wee hours. The first executive order that President Biden signed is a mask mandate on federal properties, also issuing a 100-day masking challenge to the public.
We now have a leader who is taking this pandemic seriously.
DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It feels strange, doesn't it?
And the number one word that my colleagues in health care around the country had to me today was just relief, just this tremendous sense of relief. You've had hundreds of guests on the show saying a thousand times we should wear masks.
But all of that was not as effective as the President of the United States saying that mask wearing should happen, wearing masks himself appropriately, making it required on federal property and being really consistent with the scientific messaging.
We know that Trump was the number one source of misinformation about the coronavirus and it appears that Biden is really setting himself up to be the number one source of scientifically-based, effective information.
LEMON: Let's talk about, listen, the vaccine is out there, there wasn't a comprehensive plan, 36 million vaccine doses have didn't distributed and only 16 million administered, according to CDC data.
The Biden administration needs to get those numbers up. What do they do quickly?
CHOO: Well, their transition team has been working on this nonstop. They're really ready to go. Part of it is having this COVID response coordinator, Jeff Zients, who is known as a fixer.
So they're bringing the fixer in, acknowledging that last mile, getting vaccines into arms has been a disaster and we need to completely fix it. So we basically have the Olivia Pope of complex operation disasters coming in to right what's wrong and coordinate efforts and bring funds into states to get them what they need so that those vaccine supplies can be connected to arms.
LEMON: I meant quickly, not you, but what do they have to do quickly to get this?
CHOO: I was trying to answer you quickly --
CHOO: -- but I think they will also do those things quickly.
LEMON: Yes, that's what I meant. Dr. Choo, it's always a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much, we appreciate it.
CHOO: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Much more continuing live coverage ahead, President Biden, Vice President Harris, stepping into a new era.
What do they need to do first to get this country to a better place?
Stay with us.