tv Don Lemon Tonight CNN August 11, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT
we're following multiple big developing stories tonight. new york governor andrew cuomo resigning, trying to avoid impeachment while also attempting to undercut the sexual harassment allegations forcing him out. plus the delta variant putting children at risk. nearly 94,000 american kids testing positive for covid in just the past week. so why are some republican governors trying to punish schools for requiring masks in the classroom? and president biden celebrating the senate passing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a bipartisan vote that included 19 republicans. >> after years and years of
infrastructure week, we're on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that i truly believe will transform america. we've proved that we can still come together to do big things, important things for the american people. >> if passed by the house, the bill would revamp the country's roads and bridges while boosting broadband connections and fighting climate change. so let's start with cnn political commentator david axelrod and senior political analyst ron brownstein. good evening, gentlemen. thank you both for joining. david axelrod, let's start with you. >> yes, sir. >> politicians have been promising infrastructure for years, and it looks like president biden is on his way to delivering with bipartisanship too. 69-30, is that a big deal, or as he says, is that a big effin deal? >> it is a big deal because it's something that he campaigned on. he was roundly ridiculed by some
for being naive, for being nostalgic, for hearkening back to a different day when bipartisanship was possible. and he hung in there, and he kept at this, and now he has delivered and not by a little, but as he would say, by a lot. 19 republicans is a pretty resounding number. now, it's halftime. they still have to get this through the house. but i'm of a mind, as he said today, that they probably will get this through the house. and, look, i was in an administration where we asked for $50 billion a year for infrastructure. that's billion with a "b," not a "t," and we couldn't get it. and so i think this is a big deal, and i think it's a big deal for another reason, don, which is it does suggest that on some things, if not on most things, that you can forge a coalition and do, as he said,
big things. and i think that's important at a time when people are looking at our democracy and adversaries like china are pointing at our democracy and saying we can't get big things done anymore. >> ron, the president is stressing that 90% of the jobs created with this bill don't require a college degree. he is calling it a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild america. you say biden is the party's last chance to bring them back. talk to me. >> yeah. first of all, stressing how many of the jobs do not require a college education is really something very hard to imagine barack obama or bill clinton doing. their emphasis and economic agenda was much more on moving people um the skills ladder and the argument that those were the jobs of the future. biden in a variety of ways, don, is putting a lot of chips on his ability to win back more of those working class white voters who have been moving away from the party since the 1970s and
have really stampeded away in the last three elections, '12, '16, and '20. look, it is a very tough slog. they are betting that if they address the material concerns of those voters -- and you see that in the infrastructure bill, which they emphasize is about blue collar jobs and roads, sewers, bridges, also in the follow-on bill, which will have an unprecedented suite of direct government benefits from a child tax credit to paid family leave, but his approval rating among whites without a college degree is still stuck at around 33%. that was his vote. it was only slightly better than hillary clinton in 2016. it wasn't nearly as good as obama in '08 or democrats in the 20 years before that. and if joe biden, a 78-year-old white catholic offering this level of material benefit to working class white voters can't really dislodge the republican hold on them, it does call into question whether that is a viable strategy for democrats, at least as long as republicans
are offering such an openly racial identity message that is attractive to many of those voters. >> david, president biden says that he is optimistic about this bill passing the house. i think you said that this is halftime, right, or at the halfway point because some house progressives are already threatening to oppose it if they don't get that $3.5 trillion in domestic spending that they want. >> look, i think this has been like watching expert drivers back a semi into a small loading dock here. you know, you inch it one way, you inch it another way, and you kind of ease it in. i think there's a reason why chuck schumer is now -- he went right from the infrastructure bill to the reconciliation bill. he wants to deliver that as an article of good faith to the house, and pelosi needs it in order to hold her group. now, i think there's going to be
a lot of heart burn, exactly how big it's going to be at the end of the day. this is -- you know, the democratic coalition is a diverse coalition. here you've got suburban democrats in the house, don, who are worried about the tax hikes on the wealthy that would be contained in there. you've got progressives who want more on climate in there. i mean there's a lot of demands. and i think what the progressives have seen is that, you know, a manchin, a sinema, by leveraging their votes, have gotten what they wanted. and they're going to try to do that as well. my view is at the end of the day, if you're handed the possibility of $4 trillion in new spending, in new infrastructure spending and in new social safety net spending, climate spending and so on, even if it's not the perfect bill, i
have a hard time seeing democrats walking away from it. >> mm-hmm. ron, you know, clearly this is a big bipartisan win for biden. but the spike in covid cases threatening to derail his agenda. do you think this is why the president is taking on republican governors like ron desantis and greg abbott in texas, who keep playing politics with this virus? >> i think he has to, and i think he's going to have to more. you know, go back to your question to david. the real question is what is the lesson you take out of this bipartisan infrastructure bill? it is a big accomplishment, and it would not have happened without biden's legislative skill and the skill of his team. but, don, it is hard to imagine anything less ideological in the issues that congress faces than pouring concrete, particularly if you avoid raising taxes in order to pay for it and pay for it with a lot of cats and dogs. i mean this does look more like a one-off than a big kind of movement in a new direction. what's happening later tonight
with a complete partisan vote on the reconciliation bill, much less republicans likely blocking any effort to move to voting rights even later in the evening i think is more indicative of what he's dealing with. the same question comes from i think the way he's dealing with republicans in congress to the way he's dealing with republicans in the states. he has turned out the rhetorical kind of heat on greg abbott and ron desantis, but that is not changing their direction. the question is whether he is going to look for any policy levers to try to move them away from these positions they're in, banning masks even while cases are surging in their states. as we talked about before, one quarter of all the k-12 students in the country, many of which cannot receive the vaccine at this point, will be attending school in states where republican governors have banned the districts from requiring masks. will biden put any deeds behind the words of criticizing the republican governors? so far, no. but we'll see. i don't know if he can stay on the sidelines on this if it goes south on them. >> i'll just say you did a good job of pivoting and not
answering my question at first. you got back around to it. i'm not in a fighting move because of these anti-inflammatories. i can barely get my lips to work tonight. i don't know if you've ever had any back issues, but it's no fun. david, let me ask you. you have to check out what happened on the senate floor tonight. this is senator cory booker's response to senator tommy tuberville's amendment against defunding the police. watch this. >> i call on my colleagues to support our law enforcement by voting yes for this amendment. opposing my amendment is a vote in support of defunding the police and against the men and women in blue. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> madam president -- >> senator from new jersey. >> i am so excited. this is perhaps the highlight of this long and painful and torturous night. this is a gift. if it wasn't complete abdication of senate procedures and esteem,
i would walk over there and hug my colleague from alabama. and i will tell you right now, thank god because there's some people who have said that their members of this deliberative body that want to defund the police, to my horror. and now this senator has given us the gift that finally once and for all we can put to bed this scurrilous accusation that somebody in this great esteemed body would want to defund the police. so let's all of us, 100 people, not walk but sashay down there and vote for this amendment and put to rest the lies. i'm sure i will see no political ads attacking anybody here over defund the police. i would ask unanimous consent to add something else to this bill. can we add that every senator here wants to defund the police, believes in god, country, and apple pie. thank you. >> vote-a-rama. >> that was a jedi mind trick.
every democrat in the senate voted for it, and it's officially on the record against defunding the police thanks to tommy tuberville. >> that was a nice pivot. i think that senator booker's -- his tongue was firmly in his cheek there as he delivered that oration. listen, this has been -- and ron's written about it. we've all talked and written about it. this has been an ongoing meme of the republican party that democrats want to defund police. and he's probably right. i don't think there's a senator on the floor of that united states senate who has said that or who believes that. but, look, don, they think they've got an issue. the republicans think they have a winning issue because we have a crime issue. i'm sitting here in the city of chicago. we had a horrific weekend in the city of crime and violence and death, including the death of a young police officer.
and so this is on people's minds, and they want to exploit it. but this is sort of the problem with american politics right now. everybody is of a mind, you know, to weaponize issues, and we really need to try and address them. and one hopes that we have serious discussions about what we do about the issue of crime and violence and safety as well as civil rights. and as the likely incoming mayor of new york says, the two can coexist and have to. >> let me just say this as a former chicagoan. that's where i met you, david axelrod. i watched the rise from barack obama, that speech he gave at the democratic convention, from state senator to u.s. senator to president. let me just say -- and my heart goes out to the families of everyone who is affected and the police officers as well. but there's been an issue in chicago through many different administrations.
this is not new to the biden administration. it was happening under obama. it was happening under bush, under clinton, under reagan. >> and trump. >> and trump. so it's been an issue that needs to be taken care of. so it's not just one administration to blame. >> right. >> for crime happening in major cities. >> 100%. >> thank you, gentlemen. i appreciate it. see you soon. >> take care of that back, don. >> oh, man, if you only knew. if you only knew. thank you very much. i appreciate it. i want to bring in now new york state assembly member yuh-line n niou. thank you so much for joining us this evening. so a stunning political moment in new york. what was your reaction to the resignation of governor cuomo? >> i think that obviously, you know, it was a good thing for our state and for our politics that andrew cuomo is resigning. i just want to also mention that just because the governor is resigning, it doesn't mean that the toxic culture of abuse and misogyny in which he operated in
is going away from albany. we have to fix that. we have to actively work to change that, and we have to pass legislation that will make albany a safe and harassment-free workplace. >> you talk about the culture. you think this is just bigger -- it was bigger than the governor? >> i think that it is, you know, bigger than the governor in one sense, but also the fact that, you know, he was the executive, and i think that he was there for a decade. and i think that there is a lot of things that come with a particular personality, but we also see that, you know, the legislature has changed significantly because we have more women elected. and we saw that that cultural change shifted the way that people were treated, that staff were treated and that fear of getting into an elevator alone or be caught in a room with somebody alone has dissipated a little bit at least in some of
our offices. >> right before his resignation, governor cuomo's attorney spent more than 40 minutes pushing back on many of the allegations in the a.g.'s report. and then governor cuomo said things like this. >> i take full responsibility for my actions. i do hug and kiss people ca casually, women and men. i have done it all my life. it's who i've been since i can remember. in my mind, i've never crossed the line with anyone. but i didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. the report said i sexually harassed 11 women. that was the headline people
heard and saw and reacted to. the reaction was outrage. it should have been. however, it was also false. >> what do you think? do you give him credit for the apologies and the explanations he made, and is he entitled to defend himself? >> well, i feel like -- i mean if you want my direct response -- >> i want your direct response. >> i feel like governor cuomo is still gaslighting new yorkers. he had his lawyer, you know, come out -- by the way, that lawyer is somebody who the state is actually paying for. the state is actually literally paying for his defense on sexual harassment, has come out and defended again on a state platform that is the state is also paying for, basically telling the women that the governor harmed that they were just imagining it. then he continued to say things like i didn't know that the line
had been redrawn, right, when it came to the harm that he caused. and then at the end, he addressed the legislature and tried to say that it would be costly to the state and painful to the state to proceed with impeachment proceedings. well, governor cuomo basically told new yorkers in his remarks that in exchange for resigning, he would like for the assembly to not impeach him and not investigate his conduct any further. therefore gaslighting all new yorkers. impeaching him isn't what is costly. not impeaching him is what is costly. impeachment must continue because we must remember that the governor's abuse of power extends far beyond just, you know -- you know, beyond the abuse of his staff, yobeyond th women that he victimized and groped. it belongs to the staff he abused when he was writing his book and also extends to the people who passed away and were harmed because of his holding
back numbers from the legislature on the deaths within nursing homes. this is a pattern. this is serial abuse, and impeachment is necessary. impeachment means that new york will not be paying andrew cuomo's pension for the rest of his life. and after his disgusting abuses of power, impeachment also means governor cuomo will not be able to run for office again and, you know, therefore i also believe that impeachment means securing justice for all of the folks who came forward and were brave enough to speak about his bullying, about his abuse, about the way that he treats people, and also all of those who have yet to come forward. i firmly believe that, you know, resignation is the first step, and resigning doesn't mean that he gets to avoid accountability for what he did, especially as a public servant, as an elected official, as the highest elected official in the state. >> assembly member yuh-line niou, thank you very much. i appreciate it. >> thanks, don. they're fighting back. communities telling republican governors in texas and florida what they think of their bans on mask mandates. i'm going to speak with some of
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tallahassee memorial health care are here. dr. truman, you're there in tallahassee, florida, i know you have been advising the leon county school district. the county superintendent announced they are going against governor desantis and putting in a mask mandate for pre-k through eighth grade based on the advice you gave him. what did they ask you, and how did you advise them? >> first, thanks for having me on tonight, don. rocky hannah, the school superintendent for leon county, called me, and we just had a really good conversation about what i thought was best for the kids of our community, what would keep them the safest when it's so important for them to return to school very soon. and we discussed the worrisome trend of covid throughout the state, the crisis that we're in, the positivity rates that we're seeing not only in the state but
certainly in our community, and discussed the american academy of pediatric recommendations. and putting all those together, it just makes the most sense to me and a great percentage of the pediatricians in our community to have the mask mandate at least temporarily until we get more data and see how we are down the road. this just -- there's too much covid out right now to be taking a step back. >> i want to play something for you and get your take on what governor desantis said today in response to president biden looking into ways that he can stop states from blocking mask mandates. here it is. >> i think that they really believe government should rule over the parents' decisions and i think the parents' decisions in this regard should ultimately be what is done. the fact of the matter is the parents are in the best position
to know what's best for their kids. >> so he -- dr. truman, he's trying to set up this dichotomy of parents versus the federal government. but you're a pediatric doctor. you tell me. what is the best way to protect kids from covid? >> there's a wealth of information about, you know, protecting people and certainly kids from covid, and that is good hand hygiene, vaccinate if you're an eligible age group, and certainly masks. masks have undoubtedly been shown to prevent spread, especially when the prevalence is so high in the community. >> dr. truman, thank you for your time. we'll have you back as this continues to move on. we appreciate it. now i want to bring in ovidia molina. thank you very much for joining us. the governor in your state is also using this, quote, unquote,
parental rights argument. what do you hear from parents and communities? do they want masks? >> thank you for having the conversation. yes, our parents are reaching out to us, to their school districts. they're wanting their students safe. they're wanting their kids safe. >> the cdc says that texas is a high-risk location for covid. there's high community transmission in almost the entire state. what are you hearing from teachers? are you hearing that they're worried for their own safety? >> the anxiety that they're feeling is similar to when we were starting the pandemic. it's the uncertainty of who's vaccinated, who's not, who's safe, who's not. and the responsibility that we have to keep our students safe, we know that our students that are under 12 years old cannot get the vaccine. so we're asking our governor to help us keep them safe, and he's not listening to us. we are afraid that our students
are going to get sick, we are going to get sick, our families are going to get sick, and then beer going to take it out into the community because we're going to be around more people because more of our students are coming back because our state also didn't fund virtual learning the way they did before. >> ovidia, a judge just granted san antonio county against the governor allowing them to issue mask mandates in schools. do you think this is the only way to fight against the governor's policies at this point? >> the governor has left our school districts, our parents, our localities no other choice. when he took away masks in may, things were looking better, and the governor can easily say, you know what? in may it was looking better. i was planning for the best, but things are not better. things are worse. i want to ensure that our students are safe, so i'm going to change my mind and allow local school districts to decide when they need to use masks. >> other school districts in texas are going against governor
abbott. austin and dallas are implementing mask mandates. the governor's office releasing a statement saying that he has spent his entire time in office fighting for the rights and freedoms of all texans. i've got to ask you, wouldn't freedom be to let local districts decide what's best for them? >> you know, that's exactly it, don. in a state where local control is so much celebrated, this is a case where local control needs to be had. our school districts know what is happening in their communities. they're talking to officials, health officials. they're talking to people that know what is happening in their communities to be able to make the best decisions for our students, our educators, and those communities. >> ovidia, dr. fauci really making some news, now saying that he believes in vaccine mandates in some places, or mask mandates, right? he is saying that teachers should be required to get the vaccine. as the president of the texas state teachers association, do you agree? >> we are highly encouraging all
of our educators, our community members to get the vaccine if they're able to. we understand that there's going to be some instances where somebody cannot get the vaccine. but the more people that have the vaccine, the safer we'll be. we're also asking for all the precautions that were had in the last school year that made our texas agency said we didn't have as many cases last year, that's because we had masks and we had more precautions. and our state needs to ensure that our kids are safe. >> ovidia molina, thank you so much for your time. we appreciate it. be safe. >> thank you. >> thank you. the republican legislature tried to pass six bills that would make it harder to vote, and he vetoed them all. wisconsin's democratic governor tony evers, next.
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30 new restrictive voter laws have already been passed in 18 states this year. that's according to the brennan center for justice. but nud wisconsin, the democratic governor tony evers vetoing six bills that among other things would have made it harder to vote. the governor calling out efforts to limit access to votiing earlier. >> we were reminded january 6th and each day that -- how precious our democracy is and how quickly it can be taken away. we are reminded that democracy isn't something that just happens for us. we choose to make it every day. >> wisconsin governor tony evers
joins me now. my first question is if you hadn't vetoed these bills, what would they have done in terms of voting rights? >> oh, it would have -- and thanks for having me, don. it would have made it difficult for some really -- you know, people that are indefinitely confined or people in nursing homes or people that are physically disabled -- all those people were in the crosshairs of the republican legislature, making it more difficult for them. and so absolutely if i hadn't vetoed these bills, it would be a slippery slope going forward, and it's still going to be. our republican legislators aren't going to give up, and the good news is that i'm in a position to stand up for democracy and stand up for making sure that people have their -- eligible people have the right to vote. we should be encouraging people instead of discouraging them. >> it's no secret to you and anybody else that wisconsin is one of the key battleground states that biden won. and just like in arizona and
georgia, republicans are trying to audit the votes there. protesters demanding it just last week even though there was no meaningful fraud or errors found in 2020. they even held an audit the vote rally in madison on friday. how are you pushing back on that? >> well, first of all, we have one legislator who is trying to take control of that audit. she went down to arizona to visit the ninja turtles and came back really excited about what they're doing there. so she issued a subpoena to two of our counties to essentially send everything you got, your machines and everything else. and frankly it was an illegal subpoena. it's not going to happen. and, don, you talked about it. we've had numerous court cases. we've had all sorts of studies. we've had audits from our local people. it was one of the best elections
ever. bill barr said it at the national level. it happened here too. our election was fair, and it was a great race. obviously i was happy joe biden won, but at the end of the day, everybody knows it was a good election and fair election. >> you were able to veto these bills, but democrats are finding out in a lot of republican-led states like texas where legislators fled the state to delay passage of similar bills. with failure on this issue at the federal level, are state governors going to be the last line of defense here? >> yes, they are. and i am right now in wisconsin, and believe me, if i'm out in this position after 2022, all the bills i vetoed will come back in play, and whatever republican governor is in place will let them happen and will encourage those bills to happen. so, yes, we are the last people
standing here. that's why it's so important for people to understand, you know, governorship is really important work, and it goes beyond what just happens on a daily basis around making sure we're fixing the roads and other things that people can see. this is about our democracy, don, and i will stand for democracy at any time, and i will stand for our ability to make sure that the people in wisconsin that are eligible to vote, they should be voting. >> mm-hmm. listen, before i let you go, i have to talk about new york's governor, democratic governor andrew cuomo resigning today over the allegations of sexual harassment against him. what's your reaction? >> well, certainly we have to applaud the women that came forward. this is a real watershed moment for our country frankly. i know it impacted just new york state, but i think it impacted the entire country, and it tells me that we need to make sure
that we listen to women that bring these -- these allegations forward. they're truthful, and there are consequences to bad behavior, and we just saw that play out. the system works. unfortunately we were in a position that we had to call on the system to work. >> governor evers, thank you for your time. best of luck. >> thanks a lot, don. take care. >> thank you. so cuomo is out. hochul's in. we take a look at the next new york governor after this. -hey. -hi. whoa, nice car. thanks, yeah. i actually got a great deal on it too, although my interest rate is awful. have you checked your credit? i got like a free score from some app or something like that. but lenders don't even use that score. creditrepair.com has a free credit snapshot that can show you exactly what's happening with your credit score. and killing my interest rates. well, great seats though. -thank you. -like really. just knowing your score won't improve it. instead, work to actually fix your credit with creditrepair.com.
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a new new york governor set to inherit a political landscape that has been dominated for andrew cuomo for more than a decade. his replacement, kathy hochul, will be the state's first female chief executive. sources telling cnn she is already assembling a political team, an indication that she will run for a full term in 2022. cnn's miguel marquez has more on the incoming governor. >> reporter: kathy hochul, soon to be the empire state's new gov governor. its 57th and the first woman to take the reins. >> she's very ready. she's been in some weird way preparing for this without knowing it. >> reporter: the 62-year-old mother of two, married 37 years, will now oversee more than 20
million citizens, a $1.5 trillion economy, all still recovering from the pandemic. >> kathy hochul, my cllieutenan governor is smart and competent. we have a lot going on, but she can come up to speed quickly. >> reporter: now she and her staff, says one state official with direct knowledge of the administration, have already been charting out the first days and months of the task at hand. how to spend billions of dollars of covid-19 relief from the federal government and revying personnel decisions and executive orders signed by andrew cuomo that expire when he leaves office. i agree with governor cuomo's decision to step down. it is the right thing to do and in the best interest of new yorkers, hochul tweeted today. as someone who has served at all levels of golfvernment and nextn line of success, i am prepared to lead as new york state's 57th governor. >> i know for 100% fact she is
ready to go. she knows how to govern, and she knows how to listen to the people. >> reporter: hochul's name may be unknown to many nationwide, but here she has served at the local, county, national and now statewide levels. she is known to new york. >> she knows literally all the leaders, all the issues in all 62 counties. >> kathy will represent you. >> reporter: hochul ran on cuomo's slate in 2014, but the two hadn't spoken directly for months, says one official. those who know her say she's been charting her own path for years. >> in the last four years or three years, i don't believe there has been much of a relationship. she just plowed on. >> reporter: with cuomo's dominating style of governance coming to an end -- >> get it already! >> reporter: kathy hochul quietly building relationships for years may have the political wind at her back. >> you're going to see elected officials again at every single level of government really gravitate toward her because of
her style. >> reporter: miguel marquez, cnn, new york. >> miguel, thank you so much. a top senator says there is a herd mentality on capitol hill, but take this. that senator is ted cruz. you got to hear it, next. fragrance infused transs with natural essential oils into a mist. with an extra boost of fragrance you can see... smell... and feel. it's air care redefined. air wick essential mist, connect to nature.
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propaganda network of course. here it is. >> it's a weird thing, sean. there is a herd mentality among congressional democrats that they obey chuck schumer, and their only answer is, sir, yes, sir. >> really, ted cruz? that coming from one of the biggest yes-men of the former president. senator cruz and almost 150 congressional republicans going so far to please the former president by voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election on january 6th with absolutely no proof of fraud or rigging. he went with the herd on the big lie, and even after the one-term, twice-impeached, two-time popular vote losing former president left office, senator cruz is one of many republicans still trying to kiss the ring. >> and they look at donald j.
trump, and they look at the millions and millions of people inspired, who went to battle fighting alongside president trump, and they're terrified. and they want him to go away. let me tell you this right now. donald j. trump ain't going anywhere. >> okay. senator cruz's herding instincts are so strong that he moved on from trump attacking his wife and suggesting his father had something to do with the kennedy assassination. remember this? >> i don't get angry often, but you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that will do it every time. donald, you're a sniveling coward, and leave heidi the hell alone. >> herd mentality is alive and well in washington, but it's just not where senator cruz says it is. thanks for watching. our coverage continues. not touching is still touching protection.
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welcome to our viewers joining us here in the united states and all around the world. i'm rosemary church. just ahead on "cnn newsroom" -- >> i'm just not willing to risk or play russian roulette with somebody's life. especially not a child. >> adults, we've let our children down. >> it is a battle over masks in schools and getting children vaccinated with one top health official saying some state officials are putting kids at risk. soccer superstar lionel