tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN December 15, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
prosecute mark meadows for criminal contempt of congress. the house voted overnight to recommend that the doj pursue criminal charges against trump's former chief of staff. this after meadows stopped cooperating with the january 6th committee. meadows did hand over thousands of documents, including communications before suddenly defying the panel's subpoena to testify. >> president biden was just asked about meadows in the last hour as he was leaving the white house on his way to kentucky to survey the storm damage there. take a listen. >> i don't know enough -- just what i've seen. i've not spoken to anyone. it seems to me he's worthy of being held in contempt. >> the documents handed over by meadows are shining a light on these text messages, right? a number of them sent by currently unidentified sitting lawmakers which reveal a plan to overturn the election, joe biden's win.
that plan was already in the works as early as november 4th, the day after election day. joining us to discuss, cnn's senior legal affairs correspondent paula reid and chief congressional correspondent manu raju who is on capitol hill this morning. as we wait to see what the doj decides to do and how long it will take to learn of that decision, there are these texts from lawmakers to meadows, and specifically one from november 4th that's really stood out in terms of what it laid out in the hours after the election. >> absolutely. let's take a step back here for the full context. before he stopped suddenly cooperating, meadows handed over 9,000 pages of records to the committee. now it's been interesting over the past three days to watch the house select committee take a more aggressive stance, really sharing a lot more about what they learned specifically from meadows. before the vote last night, the committee revealed more messages, including this one you just referenced from november 4th. now the day after the election, a member suggested to meadows,
an aggressive strategy for republican-led state legislatures to just send their own electors to congress. let the supreme court decide who won the election. that's the day after the election. a member of congress suggesting that they disenfranchise millions of voters. there's another text message from last night to meadows urging him to move their conversation, the conversation between him and a member of congress to signal an encrypted app suggesting that there are a lot of records, a lot of messages that this committee does not have. again, all of the things we've heard about over the past several days and weeks, these are all things meadows handed over voluntarily. makes you wonder what he could be withholding. there have been a lot of questions about why lawmakers have not been named. they named fox news hosts, the president's son but did not name the lawmakers sending these message b messages. who better to ask than our own manu raju and he was told
they'll consider whether to release these names. they wanted to get the context out before releasing the names. definitely, though, some more potential news to come out of this committee related to these messages. >> manu, two republicans, liz cheney and adam kinzinger, both members of the january 6th committee, voted for this meadows contempt resolution along with democrats. seven had vote forward steve bannon's referral. neither number particularly large, but did they explain their differences between one vote and the other? >> we heard very little from those members but we do -- a lot of them were siding with their former colleague and indicated this was different than what happened with steve bannon. of course, bannon at the time was not a member of the administration. mike meadows and january 6th was the white house chief of staff. but the republican leadership made clear they wanted all of their members on the house side to vote no. they recommended a no vote. just two, kinzinger and cheney, members of the committee were the only ones who voted to go forward with this contempt referral. but the seven others who voted for steve bannon's contempt
referral, they voted no, including several of those who also voted to impeach donald trump. john katko of new york, anthony gonzalez of ohio. all -- jaime herrera beutler of washington state who were part of that ten who voted to impeach donald trump. at the same time, there are a lot of questions about who these republican lawmakers were who were in contact with mark meadows on january 6th. yesterday i had a chance to ask the republican leader of the senate, mitch mcconnell, about whether he was in contact with mark meadows and he made clear he has interest in learning more. what are you learning from the house select committee that a number of republicans reached out to mark meadows asking for donald trump to get more involved and do more on january 6th to secure this building. w were you personally in contact with mark meadows that day and other white house officials to urge trump to do more? >> i was not, but i think we're all watching, as you are, what
is unfolding on the house side. and it will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved. >> so interesting comments from the republican leader there because, unlike other republicans, top republicans who have criticized this committee, contending it's a partisan witch hunt and made to go after donald trump, even though two republicans society that committee, mitch mcconnell sounding more open to learning about it and also mcconnell was instrumental in killing that outside commission that would have investigated what happened here that would have been split evenly between the two sides. and as a result because of his posture and kevin mccarthy's posture on the house side, ultimately this is why the house select committee, led by democrats, was formed to investigate this going forward. but interesting comments from the republican leader in the senate who is, of course, criticized donald trump for his role in january 6th. has not backed away. hasn't said much about donald trump in the last several months but clearly wants to learn what this committee finds out.
>> and who also, as has been noted, he chooses his words carefully and decides when he wants to answer a question. the fact he was giving you that answer also speaks vieolumes. joining us now, chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor jeffrey toobin and alice stewart. jeff, looking at where we stand this morning. a lot of questions about, is the doj going to act? how long could that take? we'll have to wait that out is the bottom line. but when you look at the cases being laid out here, you know, methodically by liz cheney specifically yesterday and monday, what more do you anticipate is coming? because this it would seem is really sort of the tip of the iceberg. >> if i can just make one comment first about what president biden said. >> yeah. >> he shouldn't say that. you know, the democrats criticized president trump for years for interfering with justice department decisions. there is no reason for president biden to say that this looks like contempt to him. he should leave those decisions
to the department of justice. however, it does look like this investigation has a long way to go and there are potentially lots more prosecutions and the evidence that came out this week only adds to that. two federal judges this week said that the obstruction of justice statute does apply to the attempt to interfere with -- on january 6th. that raises the question of not only the people who were inside the capitol, the people who were actively disrupting, but the people who were trying to influence, perhaps in a corrupt way, the justice -- the members of congress from certifying the election. that raises the question of, what were the people in the famous willard war room doing? and even mark meadows and people in the white house? the scope of potential liability has only grown. >> alice, i wonder, as you see more and more evidence, explicit text messages between sitting republican lawmakers, going back
to november 4th, mentioning this, detailing a plan to overturn the election. straight up as paula was recounting. just reject the electors from these half a dozen states that didn't go the president's way here. does the republican party need to be policing itself on this? clearly there's very little political appetite in the house, but should they be looking in to say, what were you up to here? i know that's probably a pie in the sky idea given the partisan nature of politics today. what's your view? you're a longtime republican. >> right, jim. there are a lot of longtime republicans like myself who have faith in the election process and do believe joe biden was the duly elected president and did support a peaceful transfer of power and did oppose the insurrection at the capitol. that's important to stress to people looking on the outside. but there are a lot of trump supporters who question all of that. and didn't believe the election results and do think that the
questioning and challenging the certification of the election was the right thing to do. moving forward, at the end of the day, we need to find out exactly how this insurrection happened, who was responsible and make sure this doesn't happen again. and this is not a political issue. this is right now a legal issue. and the goal here is to find out who was responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power. looking at these texts that we've seen from mark meadows, i see this as certainly undisputable evidence, but what this shows me is that -- not that he did anything criminal or anything legally wrong. this demonstrates that he simply did not have the influence to pressure the president to stop and quell these protesters at the time this was happening. and that -- i don't see that as a crime. that just goes to show he's not quite as influential as many chiefs of staff would have. that's what we need look at moving forward. i do appreciate the fact he has cooperated by producing documents. whether or not this means he'll
eventually speak, i seriously doubt that. >> but to follow up on one point that jim was asking about, alice. specifically when deal with the unnamed lawmakers. in your conversations with folks there in d.c., how concerned are people this morning that those names are going to come out? some of those folks may not care if their name comes out, but how much concern is there even within the party about their texts, the senders of those texts, being revealed? >> it's a good question. i've spoken with several of them over the last several days and they have all checked their old texts to see exactly if they texted mark meadows during this time period and what exactly they were. a lot of them that didn't actually text with him during that time it was things absolutely nothing to do with this. but those that are involved, they are concerned that what's going to happen is that the democrats will do death by a thousand paper cuts. and subpoena and drag this out closer to election and use this more as an election tool against republicans who communicated
with mark meadows. that's where we run into the challenge of taking something that is truly important from a political standpoint and an american democracy standpoint of who is responsible for trying to stop the certification of the election and using important information as a political tool to use against a republican in the midterm elections. that's where a lot of them are concerned, but that right there goes to show that the motives are not where they should be. >> it's kind of surreal to suggest that democrats are stretching this out when no one from the white house is cooperating and practically no one close to the president is even agreeing to testify so they have to go to court to force people to testify. it's not democrats who are stretching this out. they are trying to get the facts, and it's actually all the people connected to trump who are not cooperating and stretching this out. >> i agree with jeffrey. we need to get to the facts. we need all of the information out there. my point was, we are hearing
from democrats that they have more texts. they have more information. let's put it out there. let's get it all out there and have everyone answer to what their communication was with mark meadows and let's move on. because, look, democrats may think this is a winning issue for them. i can tell you, republicans are ready to move forward and talk about the economy and jobs and other issues. the independents are really frustrated with the 9/11 commission -- >> except the head of the party. >> he's not willing to move on to the 2020 election. jeffrey, from a criminal perspective here, liz cheney is deliberately using language from the criminal code that gets at obstruction that gets at, from her point of lot more than
a -- >> mcconnell is already face -- several gop candidates have made voting him out of leadership now part of their platform. chris cillizza has a piece about that on cnn.com. so walk us through how real this morning is that threat for mitch mcconnell, chris? >> sure, erica. let's start with what we definitely know. point one, donald trump does not like mitch mcconnell. he has gone after him many times. point two, donald trump has tried to recruit someone within the senate to challenge mitch mcconnell for that leadership role and so far has been unsuccessful. what is he doing now? well, kelly shibaka, the republican running against lisa murkowski from alaska, came out on monday and said, if i'm elected, i will not vote for mitch mcconnell to be the next leader. she's not the first republican candidate to say that.
missouri's former senator said he, too, would not vote for mcconnell if he wins. why does this matter? well, there is an obvious rival to mitch mcconnell right now. that's why mitch mcconnell is mitch mcconnell. he's done a really good job of beating back any potential people who are going to beat him in a leadership race. but what is worrisome for him is if this becomes a trumpian litmus test, there's races i n un
the omicron variant expected today. we'll hear if current vaccines work when pitted against this new variant. >> plus, former minneapolis police officer derek chav sin set to appear in court. he's expected to plead guilty now to violating george floyd's civil rights. will that change his sentence. and president biden on his way to kentucky to see firsthand the devastation from the deadly tornados there. we'll take you there live just ahead.
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>> yeah, like you said we'll hear more specifically about omicron and the effectiveness of these vaccines. but delta is still the biggest concern. so we do get -- we do have some data from moderna specifically about delta. looking at hospitalizations, looking at infections. we'll separate those out. and look, against hospital admission, what the vaccines are really designed to do to prevent severe illness, it remains effective against delta. that data holds up. what a lot of people are paying attention to is the waning of immunity when it comes to preventing infections overall. so high in the first two months and then wanes to about 80% after that. the larger story that is also part of this as well is still the distinction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated overall. if you just look at hospitalizations of covid patients and say let's separate out the unvaccinated from the vaccinated, look, this is a story that is being told with
this graph. the green line is the vaccinated. and the red line is the unvaccinated. so as much as we're going to talk about omicron and the distinctions between infection and severe illness and what the vaccines do, that graph on the screen tells a really important story about what still needs to be done just in terms of getting people vaccinated in the first place. >> dr. fauci told us yesterday morning that this new nih data that's coming out in the next data will confirm most of what we know so far on omicron. based on that, is omicron just more transmissible or are there signs it also causes more severe, maybe less severe disease? >> well, i think the first question you asked in terms of transmissibility, i think that's become very clear that it is more transmissible. you can look at, as you are talking about in this country, look at how the percentages have changed just over a short time. it's still a small percentage. but if you look in the country overall, you look at what's happening in new york, new jersey, it's gone from 2% to 13%
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