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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Biden and Vice President Harris Take Office; Biden Signs 17 Executive Actions in First Hours; President Biden: We must End the Uncivil War; President Biden's Focus Turning to COVID-19 on Second Day in Office; Best Moments from Biden's Inauguration Night Concert. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 21, 2021 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Joseph R. Biden embarking on his first full day on the job, and there is a lot to do.

Welcome back to CNN's continuing live coverage of the inauguration of the 46th President of these United States. Chris Cuomo along with the man, D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we've got a new commander in chief, right?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Embarking on this new mission and he's inheriting multiple crises, a deadly pandemic, an economic disaster, racial injustice, the list goes on and on and on. But President Biden says that he is never been more optimistic about the future of this country. And the Vice President, Kamala Harris, echoing this message saying that even in dark times Americans always believe that we shall overcome.

I have to agree with that. We must be optimistic in this moment and yet and still hold the new administration's feet to the fire. But we got to be optimistic and hopefully we can get past all of these crises that we mentioned.

CUOMO: And if we learn from history, we see how fragile we are. We learn from Martin about the promise of overcoming, from James Baldwin about doing the work otherwise you don't overcome and that's where we are today. We know the challenge. We've seen it beat us and now we know to get where we want to be it's going to take more than one side fighting the other. And Biden had to deal with that today. And he dealt with it. Do you want to play some sound, David, from his speech? I want you to hear the president taking his own path about what he wants you to believe about who we need to beat. Take a listen and we'll talk about what he did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From now on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we've acted together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The last part is everything. So now he gets to the acting part. How is he going to walk the walk? We saw today a slew of executive orders. Actually, we saw yesterday, a slew of executive orders that will carry into today and they are not all about the pandemic. Some are. And this will be the early set of challenges. Let's go through what he did and what that implication is.

LEMON: And this is executive orders, right, and there they are from the screen. Rejoin the Paris climate agreement, rejoin World Health Organizations, install the coronavirus response coordinator.

CUOMO: Big.

LEMON: That is huge.

CUOMO: Big, because you know what, what have we been dealing with the vaccine? You know, Don, I know you watch your show very early on. He was saying, oh, we've got questions about this. He'd have experts on. There is nobody to ask. Now there will be somebody to ask. Why isn't it going the way it's supposed to in this place? Now they'll be someone.

LEMON: Cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. Include noncitizens in census. That's huge. And that's going to be a talking point because people are saying, oh, you're trying to legitimize people who are noncitizens, who are undocumented.

[04:05:00]

But it is a correct counting of people who are actually in.

CUOMO: And it'll actually reduce tax burdens by getting better representation for what your community needs so that you can make the case to the federal government to help for funding with different programs.

LEMON: Another thing that's big, a mask mandate on federal property. That is going to be big. Halted funding for Trump's border wall. That's huge as well. Reverse travel ban targeting largely Muslim countries. Resuming regular press briefing. That's huge. Pause some deportations for 100 days and rescind the 1776 commission that popped up in the days -- the waning days of the former administration.

But I do have to say, yes, we must move forward but as you know with any relationship, you cannot move forward without addressing how you got here. You can't just say, we've got to forget about everything. Forget about everything of the things that the former administration said, all of the ills of the former administration. How people enabled him, all of the rhetoric, what happened at the Capitol, all of the lies, all of the racist -- yes, we must move on, but you have to address those in order to move forward and to come to some realization about what happened and what we need to do in this country. You've got to do it.

CUOMO: And look, the proof is going to be in the reaction. All right. You start looking at the Murdock papers, you start looking at state TV, you start listing to the Republicans, and you'll start hearing this. I'm telling you. It already started, but now it'll catch their ear. They don't want unity. The left doesn't want unity. See how they're coming after us? It's because the right doesn't want unity, they want a pass.

And they can't get a pass because what we just lived through was not politics, OK? It wasn't about the ebb and flow, pendulum move of left and right, this was an aberration. And this was literally existential. So of course they want a pass. Of course they want to move past it. It can't happen.

But I will tell you this, this is the problem that Biden is going to have is focus. I'm not saying this personally to him. If anybody is set up to do this job, he is, because you're going to need the experience to deal with all of the challenges, but really pandemic should be the only thing on the plate right now. You were in the middle of a medical crisis the likes of which we've never seen since 1918. And really that's his best political capital. And a lot of these have nothing to do with that but he's got a lot of people to please.

LEMON: Yes, listen, I disagree you that should be the only thing, I think it should be the priority. Because that's what we need to get to right now.

CUOMO: You're assuming they can do more than one thing at a time.

LEMON: I think people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

CUOMO: I know but you've never seen Congress do it since we've been doing this job.

LEMON: Look, let's just agree that it should be the number one priority right now.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Because we've got to get people back to work. We also have to get people health, right?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And we've got to deal with it. We've got to get this thing -- we cannot deal with anything else, right, when it comes to --

CUOMO: All flows from it.

LEMON: When it comes to the economy and that sort of thing until you deal with the actual pandemic itself. And that's really the theme. It was the theme of contrasts as well but also COVID was a major theme today. And I think installing this coordinator is a step -- a real step in the right direction and telling people that they should wear masks, and that it's not political. And you know why it's not political now? Because no one is running for office. There's no one there saying, oh, if you wear this, this is an indication that you don't support -- I don't even want to say his name in this moment, because this is not about him.

CUOMO: Voldemort?

LEMON: You don't support he whose name shall not be mentioned right now because that doesn't matter. Joe Biden won. Wearing a mask, the science is there. This has nothing to do with politics, it has to do with keeping people healthy and getting rid of the scourge on our society.

CUOMO: But they politicized it. The irony of the people who say they are anti-elitists, right? On the right, especially the fringe right, they're anti-elitists but they won't go through a metal detector because you're better than that and you don't have to be put through that. And if you want to bring a weapon, you will.

So they literally pushed security people out of the way and refused to have people look at what beeped when they went through a metal detector. But they're anti-elitist because there's nothing elitist about that. Look, it's ugly and obvious. Biden's to deal with it. The pandemic is his best opportunity to get people to be exposed for not doing what's right.

LEMON: But if you get -- if you get some sort of handle on this and you get the vaccine in as many arms as possible and as many arms as he says he wants to, the goal, I think that he -- I think he's trying to lower expectations because I think that's what he wants to do.

CUOMO: And he must because Trump over inflated them. He was saying late spring, early summer, we're going to be fine. He never planned for --

LEMON: And he got this reserve and as they're going out the door it turns out, what? No reserve.

CUOMO: They're lying.

LEMON: They're not doing it. And there are doses that are going unused and being thrown away.

[04:10:00] And listen, I would love to be able to get the vaccine. I don't want to jump in line but if I'm near some place and they're handing out vaccine and they don't have enough people to take it, why can't I run over and get it.

CUOMO: I would have no problem with that. Personally, it's just not case. What you have is, people are getting appointments. Look, I'm living this. Right? We've got my mom, my in-laws, thank god Christina, by going online and refreshing her screen a gazillion times found an appointment slot near us where a slot opened up for my 80 plus-year- old in-laws and they went.

And you know what they found out at the place? A lot of people made appointments, but they don't have enough vaccine. So you kill yourself to get the appointment --

LEMON: And you can't get it.

CUOMO: -- and then they say that you can come but we don't have the vaccine. Everybody thought the problem was going to be demand. I never bought it. Because once you see how the vaccine changes the possibilities in your community, you're going to want it. It's a supply issue that we have, and they should have seen it coming.

LEMON: But it's not just a supply issue, it's a coordination issue.

CUOMO: It's a supply, coordination of supply, logistics and manpower to put it into arms.

LEMON: But you know what, the new president of the United States, who is Joe Biden, is calling for unity and healing in a divided nation as he takes the reins of government as the 46th President of the United States. We're going to have much more on CNN's continuing live coverage. That is just ahead.

[04:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So more than 25,000 members of the National Guard on hand to maintain safety at President Biden's inauguration making sure there was no repeat of the deadly violence that we saw at the Capitol two weeks ago. And the heavy security, well, it paid off.

So let's bring in now CNN legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa. Asha, look at you, looking bright and chipper early, early in the morning. Thanks for joining us. So let's talk about how things remained peaceful around the country for the most part. Were you concerned about the potential for additional attacks from far-right extremists in the weeks ahead?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think this is going to be a continuing threat. President Biden mentioned domestic terrorism in his inauguration speech today. And I think what it is going to require, Don, is really a coordinated policy response at the national security council level.

There are just so many facets to this. There's the international facet in terms of organizations that may have transnational components or foreign actors who are taking advantage of our domestic situation through disinformation or coordinating with these groups. And there could be legislative fixes that need to be coordinated with Congress, and that includes -- could include things like even strengthening our gun laws.

These people who are being arrested right now, if they're convicted of a felony, they are technically disqualified from owning a firearm. But we don't really have a way to enforce that very strictly. And then there's also coordinating with tech companies. They've done that already a lot in terms of taking down QAnon accounts, for example. But that online is where the radicalization is going to happen. But there's just a lot of different aspects that are going to need to come together in a unified, you know, policy plan basically.

LEMON: So you said corporations with the national security level. So that's where you believe law enforcement needs to go from here, correct?

RANGAPPA: Yes, I mean, the FBI will be a part of that, but they are one, you know, investigative tool and they're a primary one, but DHS, the State Department, private actors and maybe even a public awareness campaign. I mean, Don, after 9/11 we had this if you see something, say something, right? And it's a way of kind of getting everyone on board, you know, to be unified -- to use Biden's language -- against a common threat. And that is also something because at some level this is also a civil society problem in terms of people being susceptible to being radicalized into these, you know, white nationalist ideologies.

LEMON: It's amazing, Asha, you know, to mention that when you say the right nationalist ideologies, because when you read the arrest information from the people who are were arrested in the Capitol, it's fascinating to hear what their thoughts are about why they were at the Capitol, who they were doing it for and what they were doing. And the person who's going to be in charge of a lot of what you're saying to coordinate that is going to be the head of the FBI. The White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden has confidence in the FBI director, Christopher Wray. He punted on that. Do you think that he's going to stay in that role or should stay in the role?

RANGAPPA: I don't know if he will. That will be up to President Biden. I think he should. I mean, for one thing, with regard to domestic terrorism and right-wing extremism, Christopher Wray was kind of one of the lone appointees in the Trump administration who was vocal about this, even withstanding pressure to really not speak out about it. So I think that he would take a policy priority very seriously within the agency as well and get on board with that.

But then there's also, I think, Don, it's important to get back to the norm, I think, of allowing the FBI director to serve out the ten-year term which is there precisely to allow the FBI to span multiple administrations and be independent of those -- of the political roller coaster when a new president comes in.

[04:20:00]

So I think kind of re-establishing that, especially since Biden's son, Hunter, is under investigation right now by the FBI. And I think we don't want a repeat of the perception that, you know, there's any attempt to interfere with that. And, you know, maintaining that distance once again is going to be so important to re-establishing the legitimacy of the Department of Justice, the FBI and rule of law in the United States. LEMON: Well if anything has shown us that we have a lot of work to do

when it comes to domestic terrorism in the manner that happened at the Capitol -- actually what happened at the Capitol and unfolded, and still unfolding over the last couple of weeks. Thank you, Asha. It's a pleasure seeing you. Thank you for staying up late or waking up early. We appreciate it.

RANGAPPA: Thanks.

LEMON: Thank you.

Coming up next, highlights from the star-studded inaugural concert including the boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER, SONG WRITER: Grab your ticket and your suitcase Thunder's rolling down this track

You don't know where you're going now But you know you won't be back

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: President Biden's inauguration was like no other in U.S. history. Keeping everyone safe during the pandemic was a priority. It was such a source of anxiety many thought this was a mistake instead of doing this. So what do you do? You can't have packed inaugural balls.

[04:25:00]

But they found a way to make it a moment and a collection of reasons for us to believe in something better for ourselves. Star-studded TV concert, much of it live on the National Mall. I'm sure you saw a lot of it, but it was really good so let's look at the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPRINGSTEEN: Grab your ticket and your suitcase Thunder's rolling down this track

You don't know where you're going now But you know you won't be back

Darling, if you're weary Lay your head upon my chest

We'll take what we can carry And we'll leave the rest

Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

DEMI LOVATO, SINGER: Seems impossible to think That someone else can stand on me

Oh, it seems to know the way Of saying I love it

And the world's all right with me Just want to look at you

And I know we're gonna be Oh, no, lovely day

Oh, no, lovely day

JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: Stars, when you shine you know how I feel Send all the time, you know how I feel

Oh, freedom is mine I know how I feel

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me And I'm feeling, oh, I'm feeling good

Yes, I'm feeling good.

KATY PERRY, SINGER: Tonight the light can let it shine You just gotta ignite the light

And let it shine Just own the night Like the Fourth of July

'Cause baby, you're a firework Come on, show 'em what you're worth Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh" As you shoot across the sky Baby, you're a firework Come on, let your colors burst Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh" You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

You don't have to feel like a waste of space You're original, cannot be replaced If you only knew what the future holds After a hurricane comes a rainbow Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light And let it shine Just own the night Like the Fourth of July

'Cause baby, you're a firework Come on, show 'em what you're worth Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh" As you shoot across the sky Baby, you're a firework

(END VIDEOTAPE)