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Joe Biden Formally Becomes Democratic Presidential Nominee; High Profile Republicans Show Up to Support Biden; Bill Clinton Tears into Trump on Night Two of Democrat National Convention; Virtual DNC Roll Call Highlights Diversity across U.S. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 19, 2020 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: When you hear that music, you know what it means, it means special live political coverage and this is CNN's special live coverage of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. This is night two. I'm Don Lemon and that guy you see there to my left, that is Christopher Cuomo.

We have three hours together tonight, so just about anything to happen.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Live TV, baby. Let's start with what did happen.

Joe Biden now officially the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States. He accepted in person and on Twitter. So that was the big box they had to check.

Then it was the challenge, what would they make the case of the American people for Joe?

They took a big step.

LEMON: They did take a big step because we no longer have to say presumptive and you don't have to humanize Joe Biden, right?

He is probably one of the most empathetic people we have seen in public life and certainly more empathetic and more human than Trump. And we have heard not one but two former presidents making the case against the second term for Trump, Bill Clinton built on the first lady Michelle Obama's searing indictment of the Trump presidency. "It is what it is." That is what she says about this president. Smart on their part.

CUOMO: A lot of this is strategy, how to use the current president's words, how to use the past, how you use Joe. And, to me, Democrats haven't been pushing this idea of new. They're pushing the idea of true.

What is real? What is deep?

What actually matters?

They are hanging it on the person of Joe Biden, being positive about him, every bit as much if not more than being negative about Trump. Let's be honest. Beating up on Trump isn't enough, it wasn't enough last time. So they are making it about character. And that is really interesting.

LEMON: What I was looking, as I'm looking here, I was looking for the coronavirus numbers, you don't really have to -- I don't have them with me. It's over 170,000 people. You don't have to make the case.

I think you're right, what is true. And that is what is true about -- about this president and what he is doing when it comes to the coronavirus.

I think that Democrats will be smart to keep hammering that and they should talk a lot more -- look at what is happening in the country right now. We have an administration, for the most part, and a president who has been downplaying it and at least trying to give alternative facts and realities and making it -- I call it "The Apprentice" briefing every night -- or whenever they do it -- rather than a true press briefing.

CUOMO: One thing is for sure, we have never seen a president before -- and put that map back up -- I have never seen a president -- I have never seen anybody in charge of anything in this country look at a map like that and hunt for the white spaces and say, you know, if you look at this one area over here, around New Mexico, it's actually doing pretty well.

This is panic in color. That is what this pandemic is. It's bad, it's getting worse. We're not making progress where we need to. And the biggest reason for that is this country has not been called together. And our leadership has not owned our reality.

That is why we are where we are. The virus does what it does. It's not doing anything differently here than any where else. We are not doing things here and that will fall on the desk of the president.

I have to tell you, my moment of the night, I'm a we guy. It's hard to get me with just selling any individual in politics. I always believe it's who can capture a movement, who can make it about the we?

That roll call tonight --

LEMON: Loved it.

CUOMO: We said, I can't tell you about any other roll call in any of the many conventions I have been at because I never paid attention.

But I got emotional, recognizing, not what -- who they were endorsing but what they were endorsing about us and how different we are and how different we look and how we care and the masks and the continuity of concern and the faces and places.

This country is like none other in the history of man. And we have to remember how special it is because we're not treating it as if it were special.

LEMON: Well, we got to see America.

[00:05:00]

LEMON: And you and I talked about this last night. I said, we're too close to it in the beginning. I said, oh, it was boring. I actually think Americans liked it. Today, all day, people were stopping me, saying, I really liked it. I got to pay attention to it. It wasn't like before. We don't need balloons. This convention is meeting the moment.

We don't want to be somber but there is a seriousness going on in the country. We're on the wrong path, they believe, and that this convention is reflective of that without being somber, without making people sad and being depressive.

As you say, Chris, and, right on, again, you should you mark this down, I think you're right, this is about the truth.

And look at what you're seeing there, you're seeing the diversity that is America. The political parties don't often reflect that. Administrations don't often reflect that. Even we in cable news and in television, we don't reflect it but. It was reflected in the roll call tonight from all over the country. I thought it was beautiful.

CUOMO: Oh, absolutely. What you got to see, is diversity is our strength. This country has never done anything well without harnessing that. And you see people, what unites us. We're united by cause, not by color, not by creed. That's not what America is. And that is a really important reminder because it's a double edge sword, right?

You can look and say look how different you all are. Look how many thems there are. Or -- you can look at this roll call and say, no, this is about us.

LEMON: That's is the whole point, right, this is the point of this grand experiment.

I have to ask you, did you think any differently after getting feedback today?

What did you think?

CUOMO: Well, I mean, what do I think?

What do I think about the impact of the convention?

I think that the Democrats have a harder task than the Republicans. They have a sitting incumbent. They fall in line as a party. You and I have covered it. We know these people. We know the party bosses there, the party boss in the DNC. It is herding cats on the Left. This pandemic will be a mobilizing principle for the Democrats because everybody is affected by it.

Again, to reiterate, why we are so screwed right now. And I don't excuse my language. Because that is how we are. We all know it and we're learning it --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's midnight; you can say it.

CUOMO: -- schools whether it's 8 o'clock in the morning or 12 o'clock at night, that is the reality. If you don't like it, do something and change it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let me help you make your point here. Let me do this. Let's put this up.

Almost 172,000 deaths, more than 5.4 million cases in the United States. Dr. Fauci says he does not foresee a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the United States. He says COVID-19 testing is still not completely faced (ph). He says the test results are still taking too long in parts of the country. He is part of the administration. Look what he is saying.

CUOMO: And he didn't go far enough. I can tell the truth. I can tell you, Tony Fauci, personal friend, very good to me when I was sick. I wouldn't have gotten through it as quickly if I didn't have him helping me as part of my team of counsels.

But it's not that we don't have testing where it needs to be. The testing sucks. The testing is a joke. The testing is inadequate. The turnaround times in too many places, it's a really horrible situation.

We should have rapid testing. We have the money. We have the time. That is how we would have gotten our kids back to school. It's as common as it is not that people tell me about testing as a function of delay.

Once in a while, they say, yes, it was a few hours. It was a day, it was 24 to 48 hours. But that's the exception.

The rule is, you can help me?

Can you call your brother?

Can you help me out in New Jersey, Colorado, over here?

How is that true in America?

LEMON: The point of that, though, the point of that -- and I want to move on and talk about some of the speakers -- did the Democrats get that across?

CUOMO: That is the good news. It is the reality. They don't have to sell it as the reality. "Make America great again"

was offensive because, one, when have we been more free than we are right now?

We have a long way to go. But there was something regressive about it. You don't have to sell the urgency of the pandemic. It's literally killing us.

So the question becomes, how do you solidify the proposition in more people's minds than the president can that you will make things better?

That's where tonight's voices come in.

LEMON: And then making the case for her husband, Dr. Jill Biden, she did it in a classroom as a teacher. That is where she started, about kids not being in school because of the pandemic. Let's listen and we'll pick it up on the other side.

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DR. JILL BIDEN, JOE'S WIFE: When I taught English here at Brandywine High School, I would spend my summer preparing for the school year about to start, filled with anticipation.

But this quiet is heavy.

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BIDEN: You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There's no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors. The rooms are dark as the bright young faces that should fill them are now confined to boxes on a computer screen.

I hear it from so many of you: the frustration of parents juggling work while they support their children's learning or are afraid that their kids might get sick from school; the concern of every person working without enough protection; the despair in the lines that stretch out before food banks and the indescribable sorrow that follows every lonely last breath when the ventilators turn off.

As a mother and a grandmother, as an American, I am heartbroken by the magnitude of this loss, by the failure to protect our communities, by every precious and irreplaceable life gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: She reminded me of my teachers. I mean this in the most positive way.

"Hey, Ms. Biden," I remember my third grade teacher. She's the one that got me through that hump that I needed for math. She was every woman. She was very relatable in her speech.

CUOMO: Yes, more of my teachers were dressed kind of like me because they were nuns. (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: -- but we had some civilians.

CUOMO: I can't believe that I'm making a joke right now because I have never been more honest as a journalist presenting information than when it comes to kids in schools. I don't like the hybrid situations. I know everybody thinks it's an accommodation; I see it as a hedge.

We're going to expose them in the classrooms so they can get sick and then we're still going to have to screw up everybody's homelife and figure out how we work and take care of these families?

I think it is a surrender to a normative value that you can't find a better way to deal with. And it is really disgusting, that this country has let this happen to our kids.

Jill Biden is right. It's not a partisan point.

Now the question becomes do you believe that if Joe Biden were or is president, becomes president, things will get better faster?

And I know -- you know, for people on the Left, they can say, yes, how could we do worse than this?

It's not could you do worse, it's are there enough people out who are open to picking one of these two men -- there aren't many who believe that there could be something better, that government is capable of it.

LEMON: If you look at the facts, don't look at the politics, just look at the facts, look at other countries, what they have done. Look at the countries and the people and the societies that are taking this seriously. Their numbers are not where our numbers are.

So the fact is, someone who is saying, whether it's Joe Biden or Joe Schmo running for president, who's saying should you wear a mask, you should listen to scientists, you should social distance, would we be in a better place?

Would they be a better person to deal with this?

Absolutely because they are dealing with science and facts. That has nothing to do with politics --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But the reason we didn't here is all politics. The reason that not wearing a mask became a particular statement --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: -- when you're saying about a Joe Biden, would it be better, could he do better, I would say yes, whether it's Joe Biden or anyone who is telling to you listen to facts and science, yes, they will do better than this president.

And it would have been better.

CUOMO: So the obstacle becomes, can he please those open minded people -- there are a few -- and can he corral his entire party?

I hear all the spin about AOC tonight. Her job was to nominate Bernie Sanders. She wasn't supposed to talk about Joe Biden.

But you don't even mention his name?

You couldn't have found a way to fit Joe Biden into your nomination --

LEMON: They missed an opportunity. They missed an opportunity with progressives.

CUOMO: Did they miss an opportunity or did she make a point?

LEMON: It could be both. I think she made a point. Clearly in her speech, it was hers. She could have said, "and I nominate Bernie Sanders" but the next POTUS will be ...

She could have done all of that but I do think they missed a opportunity with young people, who may be on the more progressive side. I thought they were probably trying to appeal to the moderates more than anyone.

CUOMO: Well, it had McCain, Hagel and Powell. I've never seen anything like --

LEMON: But it is McCain, Hagel and Powell, I mean --

CUOMO: Big names, though.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- but the legacy is strong.

LEMON: But if it was anybody, if it was Republicans of lesser stature, then I think that people would have a bigger point about giving them this platform and the time that they gave them.

It's Colin Powell. It's Chuck Hagel and it's Cindy McCain talking about the legacy of her husband. Those are big, important players not only in the Republican Party but in the world.

CUOMO: If they didn't have that tonight, the AOC thing would be a much bigger deal because more of the party is center left than far left. And Twitter is not America. So they're trying to get more mainstream people. We will see how it works.

LEMON: So we both had nuns in grade school. I decided in high school I didn't want to do it anymore. So I am dressed appropriately.

[00:15:00] LEMON: It may seem like an Election Night costume or a convention night costume or -- but you look like -- did you ever think you were going to be a priest or a brother with that outfit on?

What's going on? CUOMO: I'm certainly not good enough for either of those things. But I always believe I dressed formally because these are formal occasions. These are heavy times. When we have lighter moods, I will wear your careful --

LEMON: I'm matching the background. Check it out.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You're fading right in.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: All right

LEMON: Get to the break.

CUOMO: Let's go to break. We have a lot of show. This was a big night. You saw not just the determination of the nominee for the Democrats but where they want to go and what they want you to believe.

Bill Clinton, you can believe he was on tonight?

And we haven't talked about him tonight.

Why?

A lot of big names and a lot of change for this party. One of Clinton's close advisers from back in the day is here.

What did they make of the message?

Where does it take this party? Next.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it's a storm center.

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CLINTON: There's only chaos. Just one thing never changes: his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there. Now you have to decide whether to renew his contract or hire someone else. If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he's your man. Denying, distracting and demeaning works great if you're trying to entertain and inflame.

But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: For a long time, that was the biggest, the most dynamic and the best voice in the Democratic Party. Former president Bill Clinton, of course. Let's bring in for perspective on what he had to day, Paul Begala, Laura Barron-Lopez and Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Thanks for being here.

Paul, let me start with you, some of our colleagues here had some bite in their analysis of Bill Clinton's speech. They said he got a walk-on part in a party that left him behind as he trekked to the Left. Much of his own party now view Clinton's revisions on welfare, trade and criminal justice as a betrayal.

And the #MeToo era recoils from his affairs.

Fair assessment or no?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that is nonsense. The CBS poll said the vast majority of Democrats wanted to hear from him. But it's not his convention. It's Joe's.

I did not have a role in the speech. I love the guy but I'm not flacking my own writing. I had nothing to do with the speech.

But he never calls it a speech or an address. He always calls it a talk.

This metaphor of job interview is very powerful because he's had the job. So he is walking voters through the choice they have to make in this very conversational way. And he used the word "chaos" that I heard Michelle Obama speak last night. President Clinton said it tonight.

I think you will hear that more and more from Democrats. I think a lot of the voters they're trying to reach believe their lives are chaos. Look at the conversation you and Don were having about when the kids go back to school.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They're not. They're not going back to school. It's a total mess. We screwed up the whole thing. We had months and months. And we didn't get it right, we didn't do the rapid testing. We didn't think. It's a disgrace. I don't know how you harness that.

BEGALA: I do. CUOMO: I have never seen an issue affect as many of us as this does

in real time. But I'm not hearing you guys go crazy on pandemic as metaphor for everything.

BEGALA: I don't know about going crazy, but I think it is a metaphor for everything. I think 80 percent of Americans believe we are moving in the wrong direction. I have done this a long time. You have done this a long time.

Fundamentally there are only two messages in politics: stay the course and time for a change. I think Bill Clinton made a pretty powerful case there is time for a change. I think it's going to resonate with a lot of voters.

CUOMO: Laura, it is not common to hear former presidents go at a sitting president, whether that was good or bad, it's now gone. You heard Carter, literally, and we wish him, the whole family well, good health for a long time to come.

But you heard him and he was critical of this president. You heard Bill Clinton and, as Paul was saying, use the job application metaphor, an effective device. But he went at him.

Effect?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a central theme of the DNC across the two nights that we're seeing, something we heard from Michelle Obama on the first night. This is this stark contrast to the current occupant of the White House, President Trump.

The Democrats are trying to strike and present to the American public. And what they're doing is they're listing the ways think Biden would be vastly different than President Trump.

And they focus more on character and they focus more on the empathy they think that Biden would bring to the office as opposed to what we're seeing from Trump in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

So they are mincing no words across the speeches and they are hoping that also speaks to the voters that are the swing voters, that could be the margins in the battleground states.

CUOMO: Did the roll call get to you or am I just getting old and soft?

I got soft when I watched the roll call. It was something about seeing the diversity, the urgency, so many different people dealing with masks in so many different places. It reminded us what we used to be about, Left or Right, it was reasonable.

We are all different here but we are all connected by common concern. We usually ignore the roll call. This one got me.

What you did think about the presentation?

BARRON-LOPEZ: So sorry, Chris, was that for me? CUOMO: Yes, ma'am.

BARRON-LOPEZ: So I thought the roll call was really striking (INAUDIBLE) that we saw last night.

[00:25:00]

LOPEZ: We're hearing more from regular people in the virtual convention, from Democrats. And so one of the ones that really stuck out was Jacquelyn Asbie, the elevator operator, who was -- who rode with Joe Biden when he went to "The New York Times" editorial board.

And he didn't get that endorsement but it was about how she felt a deep connection to him. And that will be a striking contrast when we will see the Republican National Convention next week, whether or not you hear these multiple testimonials of everyday people talking about Trump the way we are seeing people talk about Biden.

CUOMO: On the right, Doc, the problem is you're not going to make Donald Trump a good man. It's going to be that he has a good set of intentions and he wants change. He is breaking up the norms.

In this party, you have someone you can hang your coat on in terms of him being a good man. You will hear a lot of that. The problem is whether or not he suits the party.

I don't think it was about role for AOC tonight not saying Joe Biden's name. Yes, she was nominating Bernie Sanders but she didn't have to not say Joe Biden's name at all. I think it was intentional.

What does it say about the state in play in your party?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There are a couple things to say here. Number one, she is one of the most dynamic figures in the party, there is no doubt, and, two, I think pigeonholed her into a 90-second a speaking spot where her job is to nominate one of the other candidates.

And I don't think it gave her the space to tell the story of where we are right now. And it's hard to judge what she did or didn't do in 90 seconds.

CUOMO: She could have said his name. And I know it, you know it.

Wouldn't you have mentioned Joe Biden in the 90 seconds?

EL-SAYED: I will say this. Ady Barkan and the way he was able to tell his story and talk about the change he wants to see and to showcase that kind of emotion from the progressive Left on to a Joe Biden and the decency of the man, I think more than did that work.

So I think between Bernie Sanders' speech yesterday and what AOC talked about the today and Barkan's moving presentation on the future of health care and the vision we all need to embrace with guaranteeing health care for everyone, many of us prefer Medicare for all. But the guarantee for health care in the midst of a pandemic, I do

think reflects really well on Joe Biden and what we can come to expect from his leadership and the opportunity in front of us.

CUOMO: I will let you slip that straight question I asked you about AOC for two reasons One, I want to ask Begala something and, two, I like your mustache.

Paul, Jill Biden took a different tack. I like that I don't expect the first lady to say a certain thing or because it's the candidate's spouse, they will stay in a certain box. If you have intelligence to supply, supply it. That doesn't go for anybody more than Michelle Obama. She obviously is your guys' best athlete. You have to deal with the fact that she's not in the game but she's your best athlete.

And Joe Biden, too, came to play tonight. Life experience; we screwed up; this a problem; this is bad; it's time for us to do better because we are in a bad place right now.

Not just "Joe is so sweet. He likes everything, I make the dinner and he is so nice with the children," all those saccharine platitudes that we're used to. She didn't go there. She has real experience. She sees real problems and then she made a call to for us to come together.

Effectiveness?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, I thought it was brilliant. I thought it was wonderful. And I thought back to Hillary Clinton's speech in 1992 and her husband was Sunday (ph). Oh, wait, she didn't speak.

Spouses of candidates didn't use to speak at conventions. Even as recently as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton's a pretty good speaker. Pretty powerful personality. We never even considered -- she never considered getting on the stage.

So for Dr. Jill Biden to get on that stage and to speak with such empathy and compassion, reflecting the best of her husband and this wonderful master metaphor she had, I loved it.

She talked about how she and Joe had to heal a shattered family. And you think, we are a shattered family, too. Our country has been shattered by an economic collapse, COVID-19 and racial injustice and the Trump presidency.

And even as a professional, I thought, wow, this a family that can help stitch the family of America back together. I thought as a master narrative of the election, it was genius.

CUOMO: All right, thank you, each and all. Appreciate it, especially at this time. Be well, stay healthy.

So I said it last night, a lot of you came after me about it. I don't believe that we denigrate one another. I don't think we are better or at our best when we do that.

[00:30:07]

But I'm telling you, you don't wear a mask. You believe that this pandemic isn't real. You believe this virus isn't going to do nasty things to you, no matter what kind of symptoms that you get, you are wrong. And too many of us are acting like COVID idiots, COVIDIOTS, COVIDIOCY. That's what I was talking about.

We have to remind of the impact this virus is having on us, because we have to do better, or things are going to get a hell of a lot worse. Next.

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DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Leadership. Who can lead? Who can do it better? That was a big theme tonight, and Democrats ran with it as they honed in on the president, President Trump's failure to lead in the coronavirus crisis.

This is where we are now. There's more than 5 million cases, more than 171,000 Americans dead right now. Infection rates, while falling in the south, now rising in the heartland.

[00:35:06]

And yet in the face of new hotspots, more schools facing outbreaks, the president is still choosing politics over public health. And giving way to allies like the MyPillow founder, Mike Lindell, who is pushing an extract from a toxic plant as some kind of a miracle cure.

This is where we are right now. The former first lady said it is what it is.

Let's bring in now CNN medical analyst and epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, who also advised the DNC on their safety protocols.

Doctor, I appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I want to play for you what President Trump ally, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, he's talking to Anderson earlier today. What he said when he was pushed on his Oleandrin claims. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sir, you said you've seen this test. Where is it?

MIKE LINDELL, MYPILLOW FOUNDER: The tests are out there. The thousand people -- Phase I, Phase II --

COOPER: Where -- where is the test? Show it to us?

LINDELL: I don't -- I don't have the test on me.

COOPER: Name where it's from, who did the test? What -- what university? What doctors?

LINDELL: Well, you'd have to talk to -- I guess you'd have to have Dr. Carson and the company that -- all the tests were done.

COOPER: You said you saw the test. You read the test, so tell me about the test. How are you different than a snake oil salesman? You have no medical background. There's no evidence of the substance. It hasn't been tested in animals or humans.

LINDELL: You know what? You know what, Anderson? I've done my due diligence. I think my platform stands by itself, a platform that God gave me.

COOPER: It's not even a real study, because it's not peer-reviewed. It hasn't been published.

LINDELL: Yes, you're going to hear about it.

COOPER: And you've been -- you're saying --

LINDELL: Just because you're -- Anderson, you are misconstrued. You're misconstrued.

COOPER: I'm going to take --

LINDELL: You don't know. There's been a study. I wouldn't go all in and take it myself every day. If a thousand people -- it's tested, safety tested for safety.

COOPER: It's not safety tested.

LINDELL: You can use it. Yes, it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So he never answered any question. He insists that it's safe. Can't back it up with any substance or any science. Doctor, please, what does the science say?

BRILLIANT: Don, you know, I also advised a movie called "Contagion," and in "Contagion," the film, the fictional film, we had a character, Jude Law, and he played someone who tried to sell the world on a cure for the fictional virus in the fictional movie, and that fictional herb was forsythia. Maybe you remember, forsythia. Forsythia.

And maybe it's not fair, but I can't help but think about that when I listen to this.

Oleander is a plant, we know it. Oleander. We know it's close to digitalis in some of its cardiovascular effects. Yes, there have been trials of this herb, or the extract of this herb, in cardiovascular illnesses. It does seem to have some antiviral capability in a test tube.

We have hundreds of thousands of herbs that have antiviral activity in test tubes. The idea of elevating this one into making it already at the president's ear and the national conversation is humiliating. It's -- it's not science, and it's not right.

LEMON: Is this -- to have someone like that -- I mean, look. The guy's done well for himself. You can't doubt that. I don't doubt that. No one should doubt that. He's not a scientist. He's not a doctor.

And to have them touting this sort of, you know, miracle cure. I mean, it sounds like -- it feels like a sign of desperation from this administration to be going to this level, because they don't want to face the reality of where we are and how they screwed this up.

BRILLIANT: I wouldn't put the blame on -- on him.

LEMON: No, I said desperation is from the administration, not him.

BRILLIANT: Yes. Whether it's bleach or the obsession with hydroxychloroquine, which is a legitimate drug for malaria and many other things, but not for COVID, this lack of attention to detail, focus, science, seriousness of purpose, that characterizes the U.S. government and the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus.

It's the reason why, with four percent of the population, we account for 25 percent of the death and suffering in the world. It's a tragedy, not a comedy, even though it's sometimes hard to tell them apart.

LEMON: But I think you need to -- I want you to dig in on this, because not to mention that this was irresponsible, it is potentially deadly. This is dangerous if you prescribe a substance that -- that doesn't work.

BRILLIANT: Oleander is a poison. One leaf is enough to kill a dog. It's -- it's a very serious thing.

But the idea that it has been elevated, and more conversation has gone into this than into legitimate cures, and it's captured the imagination of the White House, that's the tragedy.

We frequently find strange medicines from strange places and strange people. That's not -- that's not the tragedy. The tragedy here is that it goes on a long list, along with bleach and hydroxychloroquine. And the idea of putting light inside the body.

How can these things happen when we're dealing with the worst pandemic of our lifetimes, perhaps the worst pandemic in 5 or 10 generations?

LEMON: Let's talk about what could be better and some actual science here, things that might work, like testing. This administration is touting the fact that new COVID cases are on the decline, especially in hotspots across the south. But how much of that can be attribute to inadequate testing, Dr. Brilliant?

BRILLIANT: I don't know if it's inadequate testing in terms of quantity. We certainly have had a shambles of our testing regime. We don't have an organized national testing program or a national testing strategy. Some good notes. Seven governors have banded together to form a buying

consortium in a place that advanced purchase for 3.5 million tests to do what the federal government in past pandemics and epidemics have always done. To put some order in the industry by doing for testing what we've done for vaccines. By making these advanced orders, then manufacturers can have confidence to build up their capacity.

So we have seven (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and I hope it will be more working together to replace the federal government. And we have lots of new tests, lots of new tests coming in, lots of exciting, new developments.

The problem is, we're eight months into this. This should have happened in one -- in month No. 1.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I appreciate you coming on. But more than that, I appreciate your wisdom. Thank you, Dr. Brilliant. Be well.

BRILLIANT: Thank you, Don. Thanks for inviting me.

LEMON: Will Americans seeking to vote safely by mail have their votes counted? That's a real question right now, especially now that people are concerned about the post office and whether they can trust the post office to deliver their vote, their right to a free and fair elections.

All of this after allegations of election sabotage, the postmaster general, a Trump loyalist, has just made a big reversal to the suspicious changes at the USPS. But some lawmakers are saying it's not enough. OK? Why were these changes made in the first place? The fallout with the former chair of the Postal Service Board of Governors, next.

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[00:46:39]

CUOMO: Here is the latest development in our post office concerns. Trump's handpicked postmaster general now says, It wasn't me, but I'll let it be. He's going to hold off on any changes that might slow down the mail until after the election. Why? Intense scrutiny.

But this isn't the end of the story. You have 20 states suing, no word yet on putting back mailboxes that were already removed or how this system will work to ensure that ballots get delivered on time.

Let's talk about what the potential problem is here and what the solutions would be.

Perfect guest. David Fineman, he spent a decade on the Postal Service's board of governors under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Good to see you, sir.

DAVID FINEMAN, FORMER MEMBER, POSTAL SERVICE BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Nice to be with you.

CUOMO: So the postmaster general says retail hours at the post office will not change. Mail-sorting equipment stays in place. No more blue mailboxes will be removed. No processing facilities will be closed. Good enough?

FINEMAN: No.

CUOMO: Why?

FINEMAN: Well, I think America needs to know that their votes are going to be counted, and I think he has to reverse his actions. How about send -- how about resending the letter that he sent to, I think, 46 states, telling them that he wasn't sure that the mail -- that their ballots were going to be counted on time. How about telling them that's not going to happen?

How about, second of all, assuring all Americans, while we're in this pandemic, that they're going to be able to get their mail, their packages, and the drugs that they have, that they need, prescription drugs that they need, delivered on time? I think that that's -- that's the kind of action that you need.

CUOMO: Is medicine being delayed right now? Are people not getting things that are essential to their livelihood and their health?

FINEMAN: I believe that they are. I mean, that they are not getting prescription drugs and checks.

You know, I have -- I'm an attorney. We have a small law firm. I can just tell you, you know, mail is delayed here in Philadelphia. And all over the country, we're hearing stories about veterans not getting prescription drugs on time? That's a disgrace.

CUOMO: Yes. A mentor of mine is a veteran, and he told me just that, that medicine that he needs for his heart transplant that he had is being delayed.

Now, the question is why? DeJoy says, Hey, I didn't do any of this. These were all things that were put in place by the last person. I just got here. So I didn't do anything wrong, and this sure as heck isn't the president. He had nothing to do with any of this.

Is that a fair pushback?

FINEMAN: I don't -- I don't believe so. I think that Mr. DeJoy has got a big problem. The big problem is he has to understand that he's now working for you, me, your friend who's the veteran and others. That is who he's working for. He's not working for himself.

And what he has to do is shine a light on what he is doing. He has to tell us why and when he's going to make these changes. You know, he said he's going to rescind the changes until after the election. I was just listening to your prior guest. I suspect we're not going to have a vaccine until sometime after the first of the year. I mean, come on. Having that senior person that's sitting in their

house waiting for their prescription drugs and is told not to leave their home. Aren't they entitled to get their drugs, their prescription drugs, delivered on time?

CUOMO: Don't we have a right, sir, to see the plan that he supposedly is just effectuating? Why they would need to pull mail-sorting machines in the first place? Why they would need to pool mailboxes in the first place?

The pushback from the administration is, Some of this stuff was put in place in 2011. Well, why? Why would we need less mailboxes? Why would we need less processing equipment?

FINEMAN: I'm a lawyer. Let me just talk to you a little bit about the law, if I can. In 2000 --

CUOMO: I'm a lawyer, so I'll listen like one.

FINEMAN: I'm not sure that happens. But anyway, in 2006, Congress passed an act. And in that -- in that legislation, they basically said that, if the Postal Service is going to make substantial changes to the manner in which it operates, it has to go before the Postal Regulatory Commission and show the people what the changes are. And there's going to be a hearing.

Now, the Postal Regulatory Commission can only issue an advisory opinion. But really, what it does, it allows everyone to see what the changes are going to be.

CUOMO: Duly noted.

FINEMAN: Yes. And actually, you might go to the hearing. Maybe you'll find out something.

CUOMO: So they never did that, you're sayingclint?

They never did that. And that, to a large degree, is the basis of what these lawsuits are all about that have been brought by the attorney generals of -- of I don't know, 25 states or so.

CUOMO: Right. So Mark Meadows said something I want your take on, as somebody who understands the law and the system.

Mark Meadows, obviously, the president's chief of staff, former member of Congress. "The problem we're running into" -- and he said this on the record, of course -- "is one day, four or five, right before the election, they're going to say, My ballot is not in. The post office didn't deliver it. So then what do you do? You have a real problem, because you have a qualified ballot you sent in. It's not there. You want your vote to count. So part of what we're doing is trying to figure out enough lead time to make it work for mail-in ballots with the secretaries of state so they're not trying to request it -- so you're not sitting there two days before November 3 saying, Well, I need to vote. I want to vote for Trump. I want to vote for Biden."

What do you make of that?

FINEMAN: There's two things I make of it, one of which is, you know, the law was changed in 1971 so that there would be a Board of Governors, five of one part, four of another, and we would take politics out of the Postal Service.

I served during two administrations. I served during President Clinton's administration, and I was the chairman of the board during President Bush's administration. I never heard from the president of the United States. That's the way it was supposed to be.

In 1971, they changed the law. Larry O'Brien, you know, chief political operatives for President Kennedy. Red Blund (ph), one of the chief political operatives for President Nixon. They came to the conclusion that the Postal Service could not operate as a political institution.

So what did they do? They tried to make it apolitical: five people of one party, four of another. And they would hire and fire the postmaster general.

I'm a little bit offended. Mark Meadows, you know who he works for? He worked for President Trump. And all of a sudden, he's going to get in the middle of what's happening with the Postal Service?

What I'd like to know -- and I think your viewers and you'd like to know -- what did Mark Meadows tell Mr. DeJoy? I want to know what he said to Mr. DeJoy and what Mr. DeJoy said to him. And maybe, what did Mr. DeJoy say to the president of the United States, and what did the president of the United States say to Mr. DeJoy? When we can find out those facts, then we'll know what really is happening here.

CUOMO: Well, we haven't had a great deal of success in getting truth and candor out of this White House.

But I did get it out of you, and I appreciate your concerns and giving this audience some questions that they should be asking and what they should be looking out for going forward.

And also, sir, I'd like to invite you back once we're doing our regularly-scheduled programs again, to track the story. And what makes sense to you and what doesn't because you've got the experience. Thank you, sir.

FINEMAN: I look forward to coming back with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you. David Fineman, you know, lawyer, knows the plan.

You know, D. Lemon, here's the problem. I've been telling people, you ever get a bill late from the post office? No.

LEMON: No.

[00:55:03]

CUOMO: They can do the job. They handle billions of pieces of mail, if they're properly financed and not messed with. The -- both parts of that equation are in doubt right now. Do they have the right funding? Because it ain't the time to be cutting resources, not right before an election. And are they being messed with? That's what we need to know. We need to know, what was this plan DeJoy was following? Why was it set to be phased in right now? Why was this important? You know, why was this happening, because the why is everything in stopping what might be done next.

LEMON: Well, I think the question is why right now? That's -- that's the real question. Why can't you just wait a couple months, if you didn't even want the appearance, as you would say, Mr. Attorney, of impropriety?

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And one should know, the administration should be aware now Mr. -- if this Mr. DeJoy had any experience with the Postal Service, he would've known that this is not the time, when you're in the middle of a very contentious election, to do it.

But, I mean, really, do we want to think about coincidences here? Is this really a big coincidence? Come on. We're talking about the truth and the beginning of --

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CUOMO: It would have been different if the president hadn't been talking about trying --

LEMON: The president gave it away.

CUOMO: -- to remove this option of voting.

LEMON: He gave it away, in what he said. Don't you think? He said, I don't want to do it. I don't want to give the money, because if the -- if the Democrats get the money, then they will be able to do mail-in voting, and that way he was going to lose. So he said it.

CUOMO: So, look, and now we've got questions about the post office all of a sudden. People just need to be aware, and we'll stay on it.

Let's get to break, keep the show going. We're going to get back to the Democratic National Convention. We're right back after this. Me and that guy.

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