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Previous story Trump Trying to Connive with a DOJ Lawyer; Rep. David Cicilline Interviewed About the Delay of Impeachment Next story
by Don Lemon - CNN
 Published on Sunday January 24, 2021 - 12:56 AM
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Donald Trump Trying to Connive with a DOJ Lawyer; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) Was Interviewed About the Delay of Impeachment for Former President Trump; Some GOP Members Want Trump Out of the Party; Senate Confirms African-American Defense Secretary; Biden/Harris Team The Right People at the Right Time; U.S. Capitol Attack Digs Old Wounds. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 22, 2021 - 22:00 ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That's a tough one on a Friday night. I think it is an important perspective for us to have. That kid, and so many families like that, one all across this country. CNN Tonight, the big show, big, star D. Lemon now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That kid is doing what our lawmakers can't do, and that is stand up to the crowd, or the, in his case, the worst kind of peer pressure ever, your own father. So, they should be taking lessons from him.

CUOMO: You know, you asked me the other night if I had a tear coming to my eye during the inauguration, and I didn't, because I was afraid. But that kid hurts me. That situation. You know, I have a kid, you know, our big shot, Bella, I have a kid that age.

And the idea of putting something on her what she felt she had to get help from me, away from me is staggering, in the name of some perverse sense of politics. Putting that on your kid where now he has to own that because of you? I hope that guy gets word of what his son is thinking, and how he is feeling --


LEMON: I'm sure he will.

CUOMO: -- and he does the right thing.

LEMON: I'm sure he will.

CUOMO: He threatened to kill him.

LEMON: Look, I don't have kids, but I do remember, can you even believe it, being that age? I think young people are much more resilient than you think. I think it's a tough for him, no doubt, don't get me wrong, but I think that because his head is in the right place, he has the right mindset, and the right thinking, that he is going to be on the right track. It's going to be -- it's not going to be easy. I don't think it's

going to be easy for him, but I do think in the end, and I hope that he will be OK. You know, many people have gone through tough things, this is a tough one for him. But because his head is in the right place, and he's trying to do the right thing, he's a smart kid, he knows right from wrong even at that age. So, I think that he'll be OK.

And I commend him, and I hope other kids are watching, and other -- and adults are watching. And it gives them pause about some of the errors of their ways.

CUOMO: Sometimes you do the right thing, and the right thing doesn't happen to you as a result.

LEMON: Yes. That's true.

CUOMO: And he knows he's got a friend in me, but I meant what I said. I'm going to be watching social media tonight, and everyone older has a right to say they want, but I do too.

LEMON: Listen, and I got to tell you on a different subject, you know, I had a conversation about the filibuster thing last night with Ron Brownstein and John Avlon, and I think that, listen, it is gamesmanship, you call it the games within the game.

But I think from listening to them, and listening to Brian Fallon who knows about these things --


LEMON: -- it's just gamesmanship. It doesn't stop Senate business from going on, it's not goin to stop Biden from getting anything through, it may take him longer because they're fighting about rules and all of that, but the Democrats will still have the majority for the biggest, for the big things that they want.

They will be fighting amongst each other, but it's not even binding. None of it -- none of this is binding. As you said, it's not even in the Constitution. So, it's just Mitch McConnell with no cards --

CUOMO: They honor it.

LEMON: -- who try to position himself.

CUOMO: They honor it.

LEMON: They don't have to honor it.

CUOMO: The filibuster is something different.

LEMON: They haven't -- they didn't honor it in '80, '86, '94, 2002, 2006, and 2014. Each time the Senate changed hands they didn't honor it. It doesn't even have to come up now.

CUOMO: Well, it changing hands isn't the issue.


CUOMO: If you have a clear majority, you got a clear majority.


CUOMO: It's when it's 5/50.


CUOMO: And that rule sharing agreement, which they have abided by, means that the committee stay in the control of the pre-existing majority, which would be tricky. But you can't have them fighting all the time --


LEMON: Well, that's the thing. That's the only thing for them now to do anything. It says, anything they gave him on this is nonbinding. If they decide a year from now or six months from now, they want to be rid of the filibuster because he has been relentlessly deploying it, they could just overrule the chair, and do the nuclear option --


LEMON: -- are you changing the rules with 51 votes.


LEMON: Change the rules they theoretically ratified. It's mostly a symbolic move on Mitch McConnell's part to try to give himself further strength to cry foul if they go forward with this.


LEMON: So, it doesn't.

CUOMO: You think they should get rid of the filibuster?

LEMON: I think they should get rid of the filibuster. Who did you just have on?

CUOMO: Tom Daschle.

LEMON: Tom Daschle just said, and go back to the old rules. It makes it simpler. But again, I think people should still take a sigh of relief, because something may actually get done that Mitch McConnell can't block, it may take a longer period of time, but it will get done.

Because that, what Mitch McConnell is doing, nonbinding, no teeth, he's just trying to position himself with no cards. Basically, it's a poker face he's doing.

CUOMO: Daschle said go back to the old rules that kept the filibuster, but did not allow things to be staying on the floor --


CUOMO: -- and not voted on as long. I believe that the time of 60 votes has passed, and it past a long time ago.


LEMON: Yes, it should be 51. Yes.


CUOMO: That the way the Senate wanted it, originally, now waste -- not wasting time, spending the time to go back and reading the legislative history is, you're the minority, and I'm the majority, you get your right --


CUOMO: -- you should have control so that you can speak and make your cases. And once that's done, it's all about numbers.

LEMON: You're right.

CUOMO: You get your right to make the argument, and then --

LEMON: I agree.

CUOMO: -- let the numbers rule. Because that's how the people voted.

LEMON: I agree, and I have to run. But everybody, it's been a week and we should go out on a positive note. Because what a week. What a week it has been. History made. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you later.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, I love you.

LEMON: Love you too.

CUOMO: Speak the truth, brother.

LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

We have breaking news, breaking news and it's stunning reporting on a plot. The plot behind closed doors in the last days of the previous administration. OK? The New York Times is reporting tonight that one of the top leaders in the Justice Department planned with the then president to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and forced Georgia to overturn its presidential election results. OK?

Much more on that tonight, it is an enormous significant story with the impeachment trial now just weeks away, impeachment on the horizon, as on the second full day of the Biden administration the president has already 30 executive orders, and actions, and memorandums. Taking aim at the pandemic that's ravaging our country and leaving our economy hanging by a thread.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This cannot be who we are as a country. These are not the values of our nation. We cannot, will not, let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves. They cannot watch people lose their jobs, and we have to act. We have to act now.


LEMON: Listen to that. Now we have a president. We have a president who talks about the American people. Not above himself. The American people. Who talks about what they need, not about himself, not about his ego? A president who cares that millions of Americans have to go to food banks, like this, one in San Antonio, to feed their families.

Look at those lines. One of many food banks, long lines across this country. President Biden reportedly spending days on the phone, pushing for bipartisan support for his $1.9 trillion stimulus rather than support for overturning an election.

But hanging over all of this and threatening to stall the president's agenda? The impeachment trial. The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announcing the trial will begin the week of February 8th. And it sounds like President Biden is on board.


UNKNOWN: Mr. President, do you support Mitch McConnell's timeline for a February impeachment trial?

BIDEN: The more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.


LEMON: Well, it's interesting that he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to see the former president convicted. But CNN is learning that dozens of top Republicans, even including the former Trump administration officials, that they have been quietly lobbying the GOP to convict the former president, even as others back away from conviction. OK?

And one Republican member of Congress says that Mitch McConnell, Mitch McConnell wants Trump gone.

He wants to stick a fork in the sky. He does, done. It's easy to whisper behind the scenes, right? But maybe the people quietly lobbying Mitch McConnell should they help him out by speaking up publicly. It's clear. If Biden's problem is going to be the Republicans, the Republicans problem is going to be Trump.

A longtime GOP operative in Iowa, Doug Gross, telling the Des Moines Register, and I quote here, "our leadership in our Republican Party in large part has been telling our base lies regarding the election. We have to rely on our leaders, at least to tell the truth to protect our freedoms. And they didn't do that. Instead, they played it. They played our base like a fiddle. And they play them so much, they played them so hard, that they turned around and almost burned us down. And we can't let that happen again."

What a quote that is. We can't let it happen again. They played us and they played our base. They turn around, and almost burned us down. We all saw it, and now the fallout from the insurrection is getting even worse.

Nineteen capitol police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks after the capitol riot, that is according to their union which can't confirm that all 19 were on duty the day of the attack.


Trying to beat back a maskless hoard of screaming people. I want to say some other things. That was real you all. You know when you want to do something? But what a week this has been, a week when America turned the page, inaugurating its 46 president and its first female vice president who's also the first black and South Asian vice president, the first woman, the first black woman.

And I got to tell you, I talked about this the other night, a week of black excellence on display for America and the world to see beginning with the nation's commemoration of Dr. King's birthday. That's how we started the week. Remember? And ending today with tributes rolling in for a giant in sports who used his fame to rise above the races and his talent, of course, to rise above the racism he faced and became -- to become a champion of civil rights.

I'm talking about Hank Aaron who's one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. Breaking Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974 and facing death threats and racist attacks for doing it.

The former President Barack Obama tweeting Hank Aaron was one of the strongest people he's ever met. And he was joined tonight by President Biden in honoring him. And I got to say, the last time I was in Atlanta for any period of time was I gave the commencement address at Clark Atlanta University. And I received an honorary doctorate. And you know who came to see me in a wheelchair, to tell me how happy he was for me he and his wife, was Hank Aaron?

So, thank you, Mr. Aaron, and thank you, Mrs. Aaron. My deepest condolences.

That on the day the Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm retired General Lloyd Austin as the first African-American secretary of defense. The general speaking out against racism and extremism during his inauguration -- during -- excuse me, his confirmation hearing.


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE NOMINEE: We also owe our people a working environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment. And if confirmed, I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault and to rid our ranks of racist and extremists.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: This is a day that Georgia's first black U.S. Senator Reverend

Raphael Warnock tweeted. The last time I was here in 2017 capitol police were escorting me to central booking for leading a nonviolent protest of an immoral budget. This time, look at that picture. They just had to show me to my office.

The Lord works in mysterious ways with wonders to perform. Black excellence on display. You see it and you hear it from Vice President Kamala Harris.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Kamala Devi Harris, solemnly swear --

UNKNOWN: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

HARRIS: -- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States --

UNKNOWN: -- against --


LEMON: Black excellence on display. We rise as Maya Angelou wrote. We shine and keep on shining across America. All we need is the same chance everyone else gets to not just survive, but to thrive.

Listen to the words of our 22-year-old national youth poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the inauguration.


AMANDA GORMAN, NATIONAL YOUTH POET LAUREATE: 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: What a week. Thank you, Amanda. Thank you, Mr. Aaron. Thank you, Vice President. Thank you, all, secretary of defense. Thank you, all, black excellence on display.

To our breaking news now. The New York Times reporting the previous president plotted with a DOJ in another desperate attempt to overturn the election. That as President Biden hits the ground running with his agenda on the pandemic and the economy.


BIDEN: The bottom line is this. We're in a national emergency. We need to act like we're in a national emergency. So, we've got a move with everything we've got. And we've got to do it together.



LEMON: Here's our breaking news. The New York Times reporting tonight that the previous president plotted with a Justice Department lawyer to oust the then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in an attempt to advance Trump's false claims that he won the election.

Let's discuss now with CNN's senior political commentator, David Axelrod is here. Marc McKinnon is here as well, the former adviser to President George W. Bush and the late Senator John McCain. He is also the executive producer of The Circus on Showtime, which in this moment is never lacking for content.

Thank you, gentlemen, both.


And this, this is, David, this is an outrageous story that The New York Times -- a plot with the DOJ lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, in another desperate attempt to overturn the election? It's clear we will find out more and more about the attempt to steal the election from President Biden as time goes on.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. All of it will be appalling. None of it will be shocking. I mean, it's upon evidence upon evidence of what was going on. This particular plot went on at the very same time he was calling the secretary of state in Georgia and trying to strong-arm him into finding the votes that he needed to overturn the results in Georgia.

So, I mean, I don't know how much evidence you need the president was willing to subjugate the Justice Department and the rule of law, and any -- and do anything he needed to try and overturn this election. And I hope, you know, I obviously don't believe the Senate will convict to him, but I sure hope that they contemplate this mounting evidence before they vote party ahead of country.

LEMON: Yes. Mark, listen, among DOJ officials there was a pack, if the acting A.G. Jeffrey Rosen was dismissed, they would all resign. So, Trump kept Rosen because he was worried about the mass resignations.

And I just want to, let me read something from you here. It says, Mr. Trump's decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice" albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

So, if it weren't for these DOJ officials threatening to resign, things could have been even worse than they were. I mean, we really were at the brink here.

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We were, Don. And that's -- that's what's so chilling as we keep seeing mounting evidence about just how close we had to having a free and fair election overturned by our own chief executive.

And this is the kind of thing that I used to just be in admiration, in respect of John McCain, marching around the world, holding autocrats responsible and accountable for activities just like this and it's appalling, it's humiliating. And we -- and as you said, Don, this was not a surprise.

He told us before the election he was going to do this. He said, if I win, great, if I don't, they cheated, and they stole the election. And so, we had a tell well before the election about what happened and we are talking about an impeachable offense for inciting that riot.

Well, the impeachable offense is clearly occurred way before that day and that speech. They occurred in the Justice Department with our own president trying to compel his own Justice Department to violate the constitutional laws of the United States.

LEMON: Really -- go ahead, David.

AXELROD: You know Don, can I just -- what I just want to say because as you pointed out earlier, it's been a very uplifting week for this country. We should -- it's not -- it's not just a footnote to this story that a lot of people resisted him.

LEMON: Right.

AXELROD: A lot of people who work for him resisted him. The Republican secretary of state down in Georgia resisted him. All across the country, there were people of both parties who resisted him. And so, you know, the underpinnings of our democracy don't just lie with the president but with a lot of others who showed courage.

And so, we should as we note just how much he -- he -- how insidious what he did was in the House, so subversive what he did was, let's also celebrate those people who have the guts to say no.

LEMON: David, thank you. Amen. As I said at the top of the show, I was telling Chris that we have -- we have reasons to be optimistic about this week and the future, but also, right, with a little bit of trepidation, Mark, right. Because as I said, we are hanging by a thread here, but I hope that the good continues.

David, let me ask you one more -- let me ask you another question since I have you here. Biden signaled that he supported delaying the impeachment trial because he wants to get his team in place, but could more of these revelations derail his agenda?

AXELROD: Well, I don't know that this derail it because it will advance the trial schedule or divide the Senate, I don't know that he is --


LEMON: And then with time people forget, and you know, and they soften --

AXELROD: I see the delay.

LEMON: -- and they may romanticize, you know, we romanticize history, not that anyone would romanticize an insurrection, but you know, the urgency of it may start to leave some folks, it may wane, I should say.

AXELROD: Well, look, I think that Biden is properly focused on a pandemic that is, you know, ravaging our country, an economy that is ravaging so many people in our country. And knows that his job is to try and fix that, and he is desperately focused on that, disciplined about that.


And so, I think he knows that. Yes, the former president has to be held to account, but he also, we have to do two things at once. And I think this delay was smart in that regard because he has to get his team in place, has to get going on that relief plan of his.

So, you know it's a -- these are tricky times to navigate, but he's got his eyes on the future as he should.

LEMON: OK. Mark, I have to go. I'll give you the last word. If -- you got 10 seconds if you can do it for me, please.

MCKINNON: Well, I -- listen, it's like that kid who came on with Cuomo in the last hour. And it's like the people in Georgia that David pointed out. I mean, there is some real profiles encouraged out there. And if only members of the Republican Party could show just an ounce of with that kid did and an ounce of what that secretary of state in Georgia did, we would have a much better Republican Party and a much better republic.

LEMON: I say amen, and I agree with you 150 percent. As big as your hat. Thank you both of you.

AXELROD: See you guys.

LEMON: Be safe and have a great weekend.

MCKINNON: That big.

LEMON: Get some rest. Yes. That's a lot. Thank you.

The impeachment trial for former President Trump delayed as we learn more about how far he may have been willing to go to change the election result. And new report, quote, "the acting defense secretary saying, the president told him the night before the insurrection there would be a need for 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington on January 6th." More on all of that, next.


LEMON: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer officially delaying the impeachment trial of the previous president.


The Senate trial is expected to begin on Tuesday February 9th, giving Mitch McConnell the extra time, he wanted for the Trump team to prepare.

Let's discuss now. One of the impeachment managers who will be arguing the case against Trump is Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Congressman, thank you. I appreciate you joining us. Give me your reaction to --


LEMON: -- the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's delaying Trump's impeachment until -- the trial until February 9.

CICILLINE: Well, we will deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday. And then obviously the Senate will decide when the trial begins. Whether it begins Monday or if ever the date you just mentioned.

We are prepared to proceed. We will present the evidence that demonstrates unequivocally that the President of the United States committed the high crime and misdemeanor of inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States by provoking a violent attack that resulted in the death of five people. Dozens injured and significant damage to the citadel of our democracy, our great capitol --


LEMON: What's your preference then?

CICILLINE: So, we are prepared.

LEMON: Is your preference earlier or February?

CICILLINE: No, look, the Constitution makes it clear that the Senate has the authority to set the rules and the proceedings that will take place in the Senate. The House has the impeachment authority. We have impeached the president which is the formal accusation. We will deliver the article on Monday and then this Senate will set whatever rules they think is appropriate.

LEMON: Got it.

CICILLINE: The -- it will not change what we do in terms of our responsibility to present the evidence that will result in the conviction of the president.

LEMON: Got you. I want to you about some -- there's some new reporting out. The New York Times is reporting tonight that the Trump -- that Trump and a DOJ official were plotting to fire the acting attorney general to push more baseless claims of election fraud.

I mean, if true, this is outrageous. How does delaying the impeachment trial, you know, how does that help? Because more stories like this might come out. Does that help you do you believe?

CICILLINE: Well, look, I think, you know, there's -- we certainly want to be sure that the proceeding is fair. And so, it's not unreasonable for the president, former president to request time so that he can prepare his defense. We are ready, we will be ready Monday. We'll be ready in two weeks whenever the trial is set. But --


LEMON: But that reporting doesn't --

CICILLINE: -- there's no question --

LEMON: It doesn't surprise you?

CICILLINE: No. I mean, look, there's no question that the president has promoted this big lie since the day he lost the election. He's argued to the American people that he really won. He won by tens of millions of votes. That Democrats stole it away from him. That lie was promoted for months.

And that was part of the way the president incited the insurrection by calling people to Washington to be part of this stop the steal rally and then to march up to the capitol and show strength and fight when you're not going to have a country again. All those words incited the violence that we saw on January 6. It made it inevitable.

So, this is not new. This is an ongoing effort by the president to promote this big lie which incited this anger among the crowd and their effort to stop the meeting of the Electoral College. Remember, this stop the steal rally the president all people in Washington --


LEMON: I want to talk to you about that.

CICILLINE: -- is on a very particular day --

LEMON: I want to talk to you about that but let me just clarify before I move on and ask you about that.


LEMON: Is this part of the evidence that you are going to use evidence like this that the New York Times story and so forth? Is that going to be used in, as evidence in the impeachment?

CICILLINE: Well, I mean, I think you will not see any impeachment managers talk about the evidence we will present. That would not be wise as a strategy. We're going to have a very robust case. We're going to provide overwhelming evidence of the president's guilt of a high crime and misdemeanor and we're prepared to do that whenever the Senate is prepared to receive it. But we're not going to share our strategy on your show or before the trial.

LEMON: OK. So now I want to talk to you about as you said the number of people who are coming in. And the amount of protection and security with which was supposed to be there was or was not there.

So, this is according to Adam Ciralsky of Vanity Fair. The day before the January 6 riots, the then acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller said, Trump asked him, how many troops the Pentagon planned to have on site? As Miller reportedly tells that Trump then said this. You're going to need 10,000 people. No, I'm not talking bullshit, he said that. And we're like maybe. But, you know, someone is going to have to ask for it. At that point, Miller remembered the president telling him, you do what you need to do. You do what you need to do. He said you're going to need 10,000. That's what he said. Swear to God.

So first, are you aware of this report?

CICILLINE: Yes. I saw that report this evening.


CICILLINE: Well, look I think there is no question that the president called people to Washington. They are, you know, he called people on Twitter. He made statements. He had a rally that morning. And the, you know, the impeachment article charges the president with incitement of insurrection. And that is stirring, or causing or encouraging this violent attack on our capitol that resulted in the death of five people, dozens more injured, tremendous damage to the capitol.


And as I said, not an any day, but on the day that the Electoral College met, a sacred ritual where the votes of hundreds of millions of Americans are formally recognized and we elect our president. It was done for the purpose of stopping the meeting of the Electoral College, the peaceful transfer of power so he could remain in power despite the fact the American people didn't reelect him.

This is why it's such a serious attack on our democracy. And the orderly transition of power and the peaceful transition of power. And the president is charged in the article of impeachment with inciting this attack on our democracy on our government, this bloody violent attack.

And so, we will present evidence to support that charge and we'll bring it before 100 members of the United States Senate and then argue for a conviction.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, we've reached out to both parties for comment. And I know you said, you know, any member of the impeachment committee won't be talking evidence, especially to on television to a news anchor. But will you be investigating this as part of your role as impeachment, an impeachment manager, I have to ask.

CICILLINE: Yes. No. We, I think we're going to have tremendous confidence that we are carefully reviewing all of the evidence. Both evidence we already have a new evidence that's developed. And that we will present the strongest possible case that supports a conviction for the article that the House impeach the former president on. And that we're glad to present to the Senate.

LEMON: OK. So, this is what CNN is reporting. That dozens of influential Republicans are lobbying GOP members of Congress to vote to convict Trump, one lawmaker saying that Mitch McConnell wants Trump gone. What can you do in this trial to get his vote?

CICILLINE: Well, again, I think we should really consider the hundred members of the Senate as a jury. And so, we are going to present the evidence and argue the case and convince them that there is more than enough evidence to convict the president of having committed a high crime of misdemeanor.

That's where the persuasion is going to happen. So, when people say that they haven't made a decision yet that's good to hear because we haven't presented our case yet. That's the purpose of the impeachment managers. We have the solemn responsibility of going to the Senate and presenting the strongest case possible with the best evidence to show that in fact the president committed the crime charged.

And I think when we do that, we will have a super majority of the United States Senate that convicts this president, does the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming. And I think, you know, that's what we expect. We expect -- we took an oath to honor our -- to defend and protect the Constitution. The senators are required to take an oath at the commencement of the trial. And I think impeachment managers are prepared to present a very strong case in support of the impeachment of Donald Trump.

LEMON: Congressman, thank you for your time.

CICILLINE: Sure. My pleasure. Good to see you.

LEMON: And President Biden signing a flurry of executive actions many aimed at helping people of color. How long will it be before some of the hardest hit communities see change? A former senior adviser to Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, there she is, next.



LEMON: New tonight, President Biden taking more action on the economic crisis and the pandemic with a focus on people of color. One executive action stating - stating it very plainly, the crisis is particularly dire in communities of color. The administration also announcing plans to take on domestic violent extremism.

Here to discuss now, Valerie Jarrett, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. She is the author of "Finding My Voice: When the Perfect Plan Crumbles and the Adventure Begins."

Good evening, Ms. Jarrett. It's so good to see you. VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good

evening, Don. How are you doing?

LEMON: I'm doing very well. Thank you very much.

Let's get into this. So here we are, tonight is the first Friday night for the Biden administration. What does this mean for you in all of the people who are part of the Biden administration when you look at what is going -- what has happened with Joe Biden, your vice president, your former vice president?

JARRETT: Well, I have to tell you, I have slept better in the past two nights than I have in a very long time just knowing we're in good hands. He is following through on exactly what he said he would do in the course of the campaign, consistent with the values I observed over the eight years.

I had the privilege of working with him in the Obama/Biden administration. And given the dire situation that our country is in right now, I am heartened to see on day one, he started signing the executive orders, he was proposing legislation and it's all focused on making sure we contain this COVID-19 and we build our economy back, as he says better.

And the point you are making at the opening the way we do it better is to make sure we are honest about the inequities that are out there. The health inequities, the economic inequities and closing those gaps is front and center of his agenda.

LEMON: Let's talk about --


JARRETT: I think that's good for the whole country.

LEMON: Thank you. Let's talk about some of that because he is touting his $1.9 trillion relief proposal. That includes plans for bigger stimulus checks, more aid for those who are unemployed, for the hungry and those who are facing eviction and additional support for small businesses.

This is a major plan, that's going to take a huge effort to get it done. It's not going to be easy to get it done. But I think you'll agree that if we all work together, if our lawmakers do, we can.

JARRETT: Well, absolutely. And a trillion of that $1.9 trillion goes for just what you proposed. And we also have to make sure that we have the ability to produce the vaccine and everything that goes with it, the syringes, the protective equipment for our first responders and for our healthcare workers.


We have to -- the only way our economy is going to come back is if we contain this virus. And just leading by example, wearing a mask, having social distancing in his inauguration, signing an executive order saying that if you're on federal property or traveling between states, mandating the mask, because that's what the science, Don, tells us to do.

And to hear Anthony Fauci today, my gosh, it's such a relief to be -- to get up here at the podium and tell you the truth, to be honest and not have to worry about any sorts of consequences from following the science.

And so, it's a new day. It's a great week. It's one that we should celebrate, but we also know there's a lot of hard work ahead and there are people, millions of people across our country who are suffering. Four thousand people a day over, 400,000 have already died. We have got to do something about that.

The sense of urgency that we are hearing from the President of the United States sets just the right tone coupled by the actions that he has taken already in just these last few days.

LEMON: So, I would be really remiss in my role as a journalist if I didn't ask you about this. President Biden and Vice President Harris are set to model their relationship on Biden's tenure working with President Obama. So, you know, on the relationship that President Obama and vice -- then-Vice President Biden had.

You saw that relationship up close for years. What does that mean for Harris's role?

JARRETT: It means it's a true partnership. It means just as President Biden has said, she will be the last and most important voice that he listens to before he makes decisions. I am sure as time goes by, he is going to give her portfolios and responsibility just as President Obama did for him.

And the Recovery Act that helped make sure that we didn't go off the cliff back in 2009 was delivered by then-Vice President Biden. And he played a major role in so many parts of the eight years that he served. And so, having a relationship that's based in trust, being base and being to tell the most powerful person in the world the truth.

And let's face it. He knows Vice President Harris well. He experienced her firsthand in the primary when they were opponents to one another, and I think it speaks volumes about his character and how important it is that he makes fully informed decisions. That he wanted this powerful woman with life experiences different than his own, right by his side.

And that is exactly what President Obama did when he chose Joe Biden as his vice president. Somebody who brought a wealth of talent, foreign policy that at that time President Obama didn't have. A few more gray hairs as President Obama spoke to say as well, to round out the way that you make your decisions.

LEMON: Valerie Jarrett, thank you so much. And those good sleeps are hard to come by lately. So, congratulations on that. I'm jealous. Thank you. I'll see you soon. JARRETT: Good night, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

President Biden calling for a nation to come together to heal. But, if his first few days or anything to do, if there's anything to do Democrats and Republicans are far from united on what unity actually means.



LEMON: In his inaugural address President Biden call for unity in our divided, especially after the deadly insurrection two weeks ago at the capitol, the very spot where he took the oath of office. Joe Biden says his decision to run for president in 2020 was sparked by the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in the summer of 2017.

That was the white supremist -- supremacist that unite the riot rally that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Biden says that he was disgusted by Trump's response to the violence.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


LEMON: Joining me now is Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother. She is the cofounder and president of the Heather Heyer Foundation. Susan, it's good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.

SUSAN BRO, HEATHER HEYER'S MOTHER: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: You doing well?

BRO: I think so.


BRO: I think so.

LEMON: Let's talk about the scene on January 6 of that violent mob attacking the capitol. We all saw the anger, the hatred, and the bigotry. What did you think when you saw that happening given the events that led to the death of your daughter?

BRO: Well, I was furious. I started watching the proceedings in Congress, about the time they started debating Arizona. My husband and I were watching while we are eating our lunch. And I said to him, something is not right. They're pausing, they're pointing. There are people leaving. And we proceeded to watch TV, and basically shake with anger for about the next 12 hours.

LEMON: My God.

BRO: It was a long day.

LEMON: Yes, it was a long day for many of us. But to you I would imagine it's really close to home.

Many including President Biden are calling for unity. But you say unity requires work, justice, accountability, reconciliation. Talk to me about that.

BRO: Well, first off, I was asked that question prior to inauguration day. The question was put to me as what would you like to hear from Biden. So, on actual inauguration day, I he did hear some of that. I have to say that it takes time to prosecute, I'm hearing things going in the right direction. But I am cautiously watching.

I just know that, and I've been saying consistently since 2017 and on through, that you cannot just run together and hug each other and say oh it's OK. As Woodrow Wilson once said all our quarrels are forgotten at a reunion of the Civil War soldiers.


We can't just you that. We have to do some reconciliation, some truth telling, accountability has to be had for the events of that day, and I'm glad to see that Congress is moving forward with the impeachment.

LEMON: You are. What do you say then? Because Congress is moving forward, the Senate though has yet to vote. Do you have anything you want to say to the Senate who may not invoke -- who may not vote to convict?

BRO: Yes, I realize they may not. And I don't envy their job. They're caught between their voters and what they believe is right. I hope that the gentleman who is on earlier can present a fair case. The country deserves justice.

And my fear is, in the same way that it was important to me that Heather's murder be convicted. My fear is that if you don't serve justice, then we will repeat these events again and again until justice is served. If people think they can get away with it, they are going to.

LEMON: Susan Bro, it's your -- it's amazing your journey. And that you have the Heather Heyer Foundation that you're doing. You're using a tragedy, something that was very tragic for good. I envy you. I admire you, and we need more of you. Thank you for coming on, and you be well, OK?

BRO: Well, thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much. We really appreciate it. Our breaking news, the New York Times reporting President Trump was plotting with a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general to push his bogus election claims.