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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

U.S. Marshals Take Up Search For Suspect's Parents; Data From South Africa: Covid Cases Have Quadrupled Since Tuesday, With Omicron Fueling The Surge; Meadows Doubles Down On Debunked Election Fraud Claims And Whitewashes Jan.6 Riot In New Book; Candidates Running On Promises To End Controversial Programs Like "Critical Race Theory"; Community Honors Victim Of Oxford School Shooting After Family Chooses To Donate His Organs. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 20:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Thank you all so much for being here. Really appreciate it. I'm Kate Bolduan. AC 360 starts right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. A vigil tonight in Oxford, Michigan for the four students killed at Oxford High School on Tuesday. This comes at the end of a day's worth of developments that have been nothing short of stunning and it is not over yet.

First, the unprecedented charging of the parents with manslaughter. Then the search for them and now just in, new details on that effort. They are James Crumbley, who authority say bought the 9-millimeter pistol for his 15-year-old son and the shooter's mother, Jennifer Crumbley who texted him after he was caught at school searching online for ammunition and told him quote "LOL. I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught." They remain unaccounted for.

The couple was supposed to show up for a 4:00 PM arraignment. These were patrol cars staking out their home late today, instead they dropped off the radar, a manhunt began and though their attorney later said they hadn't fled and were on their way back to turn themselves in. We have still yet to see them tonight.

In a moment, the county prosecutor who charged them. First CNN's Alexandra Field joins us from Oxford with new details on the parents -- Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, we are learning now that investigators had been keeping tabs on those parents, tracking their cellphone pings. At some point, the cellphones were switched off and it seems that the trail then went cold, at least temporarily.

A law enforcement official also telling CNN's Mark Morales that we now know that the couple withdrew some $4,000.00 from Rochester Hills, the city in which they were supposed to show up for their arraignment earlier today. They never went to the courthouse, that after a prosecutor decided to charge both parents laying out a passionate case for why they should be held accountable. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to this.

FIELD (voice over): In a rare move, a prosecutor holding the parents of a school shooter responsible in the deaths of four teenagers hunted down investigators say by their son in the hallways of a high school.

MCDONALD: Anyone who had the opportunity to stop this from happening to have done it.

FIELD (voice over): James and Jennifer Crumbley each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter following Tuesday's attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an active shooter incident. So far, we do have confirmed injuries.

FIELD (voice over): The Oakland County prosecutor saying the father bought the semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting four days before the attack with his 15-year-old son by his side.

The shooter later posting a picture of it on social media with the caption, "Just got my new beauty today." And his mother in her own now deleted post writing. "Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present," according to prosecutors.

Within days, their son's behavior sets off alarm bells at Oxford High School, prosecutors laying out a series of glaring failures that followed.

A teacher at Oxford High School observed the shooter.

MCDONALD: Searching ammunition on his cell phone during class and reported the same to school officials.

FIELD (voice over): Jennifer Crumbley doesn't respond to messages from the school, but investigators say she does send a text message to her son. "LOL. I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

The next day, the morning of the shooting, another teacher makes a shocking discovery.

MCDONALD: A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words quote, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me," end quote.

In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet quote, "Blood everywhere," end quotes.

Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji.

Further down the drawing are there words quote, "My life is useless," end quote, and to the right have that are the words quote, "The world is dead." End quote.

FIELD (voice over): Officials say the suspect and his parents met with administrators, law enforcement isn't notified, neither is the School Resource Officer, but the Crumbley's who were told to get counseling for their son within 48 hours resist taking him home for the day. They never asked him where his gun is likely in his backpack investigators say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it out as a mass casualty, please.

FIELD (voice over): As news of a shooting at the high school breaks on Tuesday afternoon, a text from Jennifer "Don't do it." Minutes later, prosecutors say James Crumbley calls 9-1-1 to report a missing gun that had been stored investigators say in an unlocked drawer.

MCDONALD: I am by no means saying that an active shooter situation should always result in a criminal prosecution against parents, but the facts of this case are so egregious.

This doesn't just impact me as a prosecutor and a lawyer, it impacts me as a mother.


COOPER: Alexandra, do you have any more late details about this manhunt now?

FIELD: Oh sure. The F.B.I., the U.S. Marshals, the Sheriff's Department have all been trying to track down this couple. The Sheriff's Office said that they had been in touch with attorneys representing the couple to coordinate the arrest, but they say that the attorneys then lost contact with the couple.


Now, bizarrely, Anderson later in the day, the attorneys put out a statement saying that the couple had not fled. They had simply left town for their own safety following the attacks, and that they would be making their way back.

The last we saw them publicly, of course, Anderson, was when they appeared via video link for their son's arraignment on Wednesday. It appeared at that time that they were in a car -- Anderson.

COOPER: Alexandra Field, appreciate it.

Joining us now is Oakland County prosecutor, Karen McDonald. Miss McDonald, appreciate you being on the program tonight. Do you know where the shooter's parents are right now?

MCDONALD: I do not. I am being briefed on any kind of update, but no, I don't. So, I'm confident they will be apprehended swiftly.

COOPER: Do you believe their attorneys when they say that the parents left town for their own safety and are not actually fleeing? Does that make sense to you? MCDONALD: You know, their attorneys are doing their job. They're doing their best to represent their clients. So no, I don't -- I think, just as they contacted our office last night, we don't -- we purposely don't reveal information about what we're doing and when we're doing it to a defense attorney on this kind of crime.

So, you know, I don't -- if they were going to turn themselves in, this was announced. The swearing to the warrant was around 11:40. And, you know, it's now eight o'clock. So, I think it actually isn't surprising given what has now been revealed, and I know I mentioned to you last night that there was a critical piece of evidence that really showed their culpability here and based on that, it doesn't really surprise me that they won't stand up and follow the Court order and turn themselves in.

COOPER: What we learned today, is that -- it is one of those pieces the piece of critical evidence you had been referencing?

MCDONALD: The drawing that was produced at the meeting with the school officials and parents and shooter, their son. At that moment, there was, in your story, indicates there were some really, really troubling facts such as "Blood everywhere," "The world is dead." There are drawings of guns, drawings of a bullet, drawing up a person holding up a gun or being shot.

That coupled with the search on his cellphone of ammunition. You know, what really I can't as long it's been, I would say, three days knowing this, but to think that they sat there, knowing that, looking at those drawings, and also knowing that they had purchased a gun for their son, given it to him, allowed him access.

He acted as if it were his own. He posted it was his. Mom posted as we published today that she was given that -- a gun for her baby. Proud of that, and then left no obstacles for access to it. And that they didn't say to the school officials or anyone else. Hey, just so you know, he has a weapon. I think we should take him home. Just so you know, he has access to a gun.

Instead, they resisted taking him, and the decision was made that he should go back to class. And what we know now is there was actually -- we have to assume based on the footage that we've seen and a lot of other things, that gun was in the backpack with the child at that meeting. And it wasn't two hours later that he walked into a bathroom, walked out, and began to systematically try to kill as many people as he could.

So yes, I think they are culpable, and I think their actions upon hearing that there was an active shooter at their son's school are even more disturbing.

COOPER: This may be a dumb question, but do you know when they were told to come to the school that day? Did they know what it was in reference to? I assume -- I know they had been contacted the day before and didn't respond about, I guess, about the ammunition. I don't know if they were told about the searching for the ammunition.

MCDONALD: They were. There was a voicemail left for them.

COOPER: I guess, I'm asking that question because if they knew this was about, you know, disturbing images of a gun and stuff, you would think as a parent, the first thing you would do is say, oh, you know what, before we go to the school, let's just check. Make sure -- see where that gun is.

I mean, is it possible they knew that gun was actually in the backpack with their child in the very meeting?


MCDONALD: I can't say with certainty, but let's just take it another step further.

Upon looking at the drawing, which by the way, it wasn't really a drawing, it was a worksheet handed out by the first hour teacher on about a review. And so on the worksheet, there were drawings of the all these disturbing drawings and statements.

Upon looking at that, why wouldn't they go straight to their home? Putting aside which actually, I can't put aside that they didn't even disclose it at that moment or check to see if their son was -- had that weapon, go right home and look to see where the weapon was. They did not. And how do we know that? We know that because right after the public being notified about an active shooter, dad doesn't do what you and I would do, Anderson. He doesn't immediately run to the school and ask about his child or call his kid to see, are you okay? Is everything okay?

He drives to his house. And it was -- it's for one reason, to look for that weapon, and finds it missing, and then makes a 9-1-1 call and says, this gun is missing and I think my son is the shooter. And, you know, I've reviewed these facts for three days -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Jeff Toobin here. Why didn't you arrest them first and then hold the press conference? Wouldn't that have eliminated the problem today?

MCDONALD: The prosecutor's office doesn't arrest people. We were in constant communication with the Sheriff's Office. Our prosecutors that were leading the case, and they were surveilling them, and we were told they were surveilling them.

We were getting updates about the cell phone pinging, and they conveyed to us that they were confident where the two people were. One of the detectives working on the case, who is very skilled swore to the warrant immediately after we had the press conference.

This was all laid out very early in the morning in terms of the timing, but to -- at least a day and a half prior to this, I specifically said to one of my assistant prosecutors who is the lead on this case, do we have eyes on those two, and he left the room, he made a call, he came back. They know where they are. They were comfortable with that.

TOOBIN: So what happened?

MCDONALD: What happened between the -- I can't speak to it. And I know that there was a representation that they would be turning themselves in. So, you know, look, this isn't a perfect science. And I'm not going -- I'm not in law enforcement and there are a lot of things that they don't disclose to the public.

But it's possible that -- it's possible to evade for some period of time, and that doesn't -- that doesn't mean that there's any -- anyone did anything wrong, but I know that -- I certainly wouldn't go on TV and announce charges, and then just hope for the best that these two people would be apprehended.

But you know, and I know this is an interesting story. And I understand why, but we have victims in Oxford watching this. And I think it's a real discredit to these families and these victims to be talking about why these two defendants have not been apprehended yet. They will be apprehended one way or another, and I just don't want that story to be about those two anymore.

This story should be about that community suffering. That's what this story should be about and what we're doing to hold people accountable.

COOPER: Let me just ask you just on that, finally, the terrorism charge. It caught a lot of people's attention, because it's unusual to hear that charge in this. But it seems to speak to what you just said, which is that the victim -- you when you say victims, you're not just talking about those killed, those shot. You're talking about that school community who lived through this, whose lives may be forever changed in ways we can't even imagine.

And is that what's at the heart of the terrorism charge? I mean, terrorism is often thought of as you know, it is violence in order to have a political or social end to it.

MCDONALD: Well, the Federal's terrorism charge is different than the charge in Michigan, that requires an act against a community, not a government. And charging the shooter with first degree murder, four counts, seven counts of intent, assault with intent to murder that captures the brutal, brutal murders and assaults.

But we also need to respect the hundreds of students that were in that school that day, running for their lives out of the building, running, hiding underneath desks, in bathroom stalls, and sending messages -- I've had an opportunity to look at some of the messages or review that those kids were sending their parents and I can't even imagine what that must have been like, receiving a text that your teenager is saying, "I love you so much. I think I'm going to be killed."


What are we -- what charge addresses that? And the answer is a terrorism charge.

COOPER: And just briefly, do you hope that --

MCDONALD: I think it's appropriate

COOPER: The charge -- charging the parents that that sends a message to other parents in the future about gun responsibility, about, you know, just being decent parents when you have a troubled child?

MCDONALD: Yes, and you know, I have great compassion for parents whose kids are struggling. I leave -- my husband and I have raised five teenagers and there are lots of things that happen and I'm certainly not suggesting that every parent of a child who commits a criminal act should be criminally responsible.

But this is something different, Anderson. This is something totally different. And you know, laying out the facts today in the press conference, you just can't deny. I mean, mom texting her son, "Don't do it." I don't even know -- I don't understand that. I don't understand how the day before, upon hearing the voicemail that he was looking up ammunition, her text was "LOL. Just make sure you don't get caught."


MCDONALD: This is something completely different and it is criminal. And I couldn't even imagine not holding those two people responsible. They bought a weapon for their son and had every reason to believe, at least the day before and certainly the morning of that he was very likely going to commit a violent act and they did nothing. They did nothing.

They allowed him to go back to class and walked out of that building and never once thought or cared enough to say to a school official or anyone else, our son has a gun.

COOPER: Attorney McDonald, I appreciate your time.

MCDONALD: You know, we have answers to give to these parents. We just do.

COOPER: Yes. Miss McDonald, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, more on the manhunt and the unprecedented step to charging the parents. We will talk to Jeff and the rest of our legal and law enforcement team.

Later, CNN has just obtained a copy of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows's book, what we're learning from it, including what he said the former President told him on January 6th right after telling the crowd to march in the Capitol.



COOPER: Well, as we speak, the parents of the alleged Oxford Michigan school shooter remain unaccounted for. Officials telling us they've shut off their phones and earlier today, withdrew $4,000.00 from a local ATM.

Jeff Toobin is back, joining us, criminal defense attorney Sara Azari, also, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, so the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals are now involved in this manhunt. Can you just walk us through what they're doing right now to find these people?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure, Anderson. So immediately, the analysts at the F.B.I. and the Marshal Service will be putting together every known fact about these two individuals. So, that's their -- the telephone numbers they use, the e-mail addresses they use, their social media accounts, their addresses, former addresses, business addresses, colleagues at work, friends in the neighborhood -- and all of those pieces of fact, those pieces of evidence are being run down by agents on the street.

People are being interviewed. Electronic data is being searched, known credit cards would be tracked through the use of legal process. Their cell phones could be pinged, if you have the cell phone numbers, you can go to the service providers and find out what towers those phones are currently accessing. It gives you a general area where that phone might be.

So there are many, many different investigative avenues that I'm sure all those folks are running down right now.

COOPER: Jeff, you heard the prosecutor defending herself against criticism about announcing the parents without having them in custody? Is that --

TOOBIN: I mean, let's ask Andy. I mean, Andy, look, you know, the F.B.I. arrests people all the time. Do you hold a press conference before you have people in handcuffs where they could just disappear?

MCCABE: You know, it's confounding to me, Jeff. A case of this prominence, where you plan to do a press conference -- I mean, press conferences are not done until after people are in custody. I mean, typically, F.B.I. cases, people don't know they're going to be arrested because there aren't press conferences, so you don't have this concern.

But in big cases like this, it's confounding that they would make a move like that without already having their hands on those two.

COOPER: Sara, despite the fact that the attorneys of the parents claim they'll turn themselves in to be arraigned, they didn't do so today. I mean, this just lands them in more legal trouble, doesn't it? I mean, this is obviously a really dumb thing. It's not like they're mastermind criminals who are going to be able to you know, live, you know, get a private jet and go somewhere.

MCCABE: No, so -- COOPER: Sorry, sorry. Sorry, Andrew, that was for Sara.

MCCABE: I'm sorry. Sorry.

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's what criminal defense attorneys do to sort of bring down the temperature. You know, they tell the court, the prosecutor, they're on their way they're coming. Don't worry, they're just -- you know, they just left for their own security.

But I mean, what? They had traffic? I mean, it's ridiculous, it's baloney, and really, this is going to work against them, Anderson, because now they're deemed to be fleeing. They're deemed to be a flight risk when you don't show up to court. It doesn't matter where you are. You are a flight risk.

And so if and when they are arrested or they decide to surrender, that's a bad fact for them in terms of bond. I mean they may not get bonds, and they may stay in detention.


COOPER: Andrew, one of the things that is just sickening about this case is that, you know, there were red flags, and there were red flags that were noticed by vigilant teachers who took a photograph of the drawing made by the suspect, because the suspect later, you know, changed around the drawing by the time we had the meeting with the parents. There was the teacher who saw him searching for ammunition the day before that. You know, there was the meeting that the school officials had, and yet this still took place.

MCCABE: That is the heart of this tragedy, Anderson. There were so many people who did the right thing, those teachers who brought their concerns to the administration of the school, of calling in the parents to have that meeting. But the final step wasn't taken. And of course, the parents, it appears completely abdicated their responsibility to maintain the security of that weapon and cater to their son's obvious problems.

So, you know, I guess the message here is, you have to get everything right. Any mistake, any dropped ball in that series of events, could lead to the sort of tragedy we saw on Tuesday. It's just heartbreaking.

TOOBIN: But what's interesting is, legally, it's going to be interesting to see what the prosecution says the parents did there, was it a crime?

COOPER: I mean, how tough is this to go against the parents?

TOOBIN: It's very rare that we prosecute people for omissions like, you know, this sometimes comes up with bartenders, when they serve like really drunk people, and they go out and have -- you know, kill somebody with a car. Those cases are very hard to make.

And, you know, as I was listening to -- I mean, this story is horrible, what the parents did is terrible. But, you know, the criminal law is about acts, and like, when did they commit a crime? Did they commit a crime by failing to take the gun out of the backpack? Did they commit a crime by saying don't do it to their son? I don't know.

COOPER: Although, isn't it a crime -- I mean, it's a crime to buy a gun not for yourself to give it to a 15-year-old?

TOOBIN: No, it's not. I mean, I don't think it is. I mean, you know, Michigan is a state where teenagers hunt with their parents all the time. I mean, there is not -- you know, and Michigan is a state that's very pro-gun in its laws. And so there are not rules about, you know, you have to secure a gun, there are not rules about, you know, who can have access to guns.

So I mean, look, I'm as horrified by this as anyone but, you know, the legal case against the parents is --

COOPER: Sara, you agree with that, as a defense attorney? That it's actually a tough case for prosecutors?

AZARI: Yes and no. I mean, I agree with Jeff, that it's rare that you have a case of omission versus act, but I've had cases of omission. And, you know, I mean, these are some really egregious set of facts. I mean, that's why we know we say that the charges are unprecedented, so are the facts, you know.

And I think the prosecution does have a chance here. The text messages are bad, the events that took place at the school are bad. I mean, knowing that your child is in mental crisis and you bought him a gun, and he has access to the gun. And instead of pulling him out of the school, you leave him there after he has basically drawn out what he is about to do. I mean, I can't think of anything more criminally negligent than that.

And so if they are convicted, of course, they're facing up to 15 years on each of those counts. And so, you know, we'll see how it goes. But I think the prosecution has a shot. But I agree with Jeff, that it's not common for us to see cases of omissions versus act.

COOPER: There's also the mom texting the son allegedly saying, you know, well, you've just got to figure out how not to get caught in the future.

Sara, I really appreciate it. Jeff Toobin, and Andrew McCabe as well. Thank you.

Coming up, Emergency Medicine physician, Dr. Jeremy Faust joins us talk about troubling new data about how quickly the new coronavirus variant may spread.



COOPER: Tonight, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says data shows the Omicron variant could be more contagious than others. Also health officials in South Africa raising concerns over the new variant infecting people who have already had COVID or vaccinated.

Joining us now emergency physician -- medicine physician, and Inside Medicine Newsletter writer Dr. Jeremy Faust.

Dr. Faust, COVID case in South Africa, they've quadrupled since Tuesday, rising from 4,000 to 16,000 new cases today. What do you make of what we know about Omicron variant in just one week?

JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Good to be with you, Anderson. We have learned so much we didn't know this existed a week or two ago. And now we know a lot and we're learning more. We are concerned about the transmissibility, the contagiousness of this virus, but we actually have really so far up until now largely been going based on genetic information.

And we really -- the science on this is developing and it's fascinating. And what do I mean by that? When we look at a genetic sequence of a mutation or a variant, we don't really know what that means. We can't really make a lot of inferences. But we're starting to be able to the way that meteorologists can track storms and say, well, this one worries us, we're not sure but watch out. And some of them turn out to be duds, and some of them are Category Five. And that's where we've been with this so far.

Now, we're learning that it certainly seems to be as contagious or maybe as contagious as people were beginning to worry about. But I think the question on people's minds is what does that mean? Does it cause worse disease and in whom.

COOPER: The person in Minnesota who was infected with Omicron variant had a mild case of COVID got two vaccine doses and a booster dose. In the UK of the 22 confirmed cases Omicron, 14 people had received at least two doses of vaccines. It is that a concern? I mean, mild cases, as far as we know, at least on the one in the U.S. Does that tell you that the vaccines are working? Does it tell you what?

FAUST: These anecdotes are difficult to parse out. Not all anecdotes are symmetric, there's a little bit a little bit of asymmetry. If we were to hear that, we had a lot of ICUs full of people who've just been boosted and they were on ventilators. I think even a small number of those cases would alarm us.

And so, right now it's too soon to know the severity of these conditions on a systemic population level. I do think that it's reasonable to prognosticate into guests that this is breaking through people who have had vaccine or booster. The question is as you say, is it really just an example of the vaccine doing? What they were always designed to do? They were always designed to stop these serious suffering, that the bad outcomes, and we got this gift in terms of the effect -- the infection protection, which that clearly was a short, shorter term thing, and that we can boost to get that better.

[20:35:29] But really, these vaccines were always designed to keep the worst outcomes from occurring. And even in the Delta period. I think we saw them hold up remarkably well. Great study out in the New England Journal of Medicine this week showing that look across all age groups. The effectiveness against severe illness, even during Delta was just outstanding for two doses. Now we know that certain groups definitely need three. But really, these vaccines are doing what they were designed to do.

COOPER: Yes. Dr. Jeremy Faust, appreciate it. Thank you.

FAUST: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, what former White House chief staff Mark Meadows says the former president told him right after he stepped off the stage on January 6?


COOPER: New information tonight about the former president's behavior on January 6. CNN has just obtained his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' book. In it he recounts conversation he allegedly had with the former president after the rally where he called on people to march on the Capitol and quote, fight like hell.

Meadows writes quote, when he got off stage President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol. He knew as well as anyone that we couldn't organize a trip like that on such short notice. It was clear the whole time that he didn't actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd. Not sure it was clear to the crowd.


Joining us now, CNN contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, and CNN senior political commentator and former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod.

David, in the days leading up to the rally, you had the former president telling his aides he wanted to march the Capitol with his supporters, but he was told the Secret Service would be unable to protect them. That's according to Maggie Haberman, in the New York Times. Is this suddenly just Mark Meadows trying to cover for his former boss who I also don't think use the word metaphorical?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, it may well be for it. Yes, I can't exactly, exactly imagine President Trump saying I was only speaking metaphorically. But be that as it may. Look, I think that it is true that is hard to organize a walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the Secret Service. I mean, my sense was the president at that time, never had any intention of going down there with the crowd, he's trying to get them to go down there.

COOPER: Of course.

AXELROD: And so, but in terms of what Meadows was up to, I think a lot of this book seems to be rationale for a bunch of stuff, conspiracy theories that that the President was trying to foster over those months. And Meadows was the instrument for a lot of that.

COOPER: John, this is the only conversation that Meadows discusses between himself and the former president on January 6, does writing about this conversation in this part of the conversation, as well as others on other dates undermine any claims of executive privilege?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good question, whether there's a waiver or not, there's no litigation whatsoever that I'm familiar with, that is ever been addressed by a court. In fact, every kind of a waiver case you get into are pretty nuanced and difficult. So, you know, he may well claim that he has a right to reveal what he has revealed, because he's carefully considered whether this is something that is executive privilege or not, and use that before the January 6 committee.

I don't know that that will work. It would again, be endless stalling to litigate this, whether he has waived it or not. But he he's going to clearly try to have it both ways where you can give enough to sell a book, but not give away anything that's going to get either his boss or himself in trouble.

COOPER: Yes. We'll see how many books he actually sells with this thing.

David, Meadows engages in more revisionist history, he writes, quote, no one would be focused on the actions of those hundreds of thousands of people in the months to come. All those peaceful supporters of President Trump who came without hate in their hearts or any bad intentions, instead they were laser in on the actions of a handful of fanatics across town who decided on their own, by the way with absolutely no urging from President Trump to break into the Capitol Building and try to wreak havoc.

I mean, he clearly didn't have a fact checker, because I mean, a handful of fanatics. That's how he dismisses the worst attack in the Capitol building by Americans since the War of 1812. I mean, why should anyone expect the Meadows is going to be honest and forthcoming when he sits for his initial deposition about the select committee?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, I wonder whether he decided that he had to sit for -- sit with the committee because he had this book coming out. And he knew that he had things here that would raise questions about privilege. But yes, no, look, there's so much evidence that this you know, he calls this organic, all of the activities of January 6, there were people planning this, you know, Steve Bannon was touting that that all hell was going to break loose that day, they were meeting over at the Willard Hotel. Someone thought, you know, the organizers from Trump's campaign who were involved in, in organizing this event on January 6.

So, you know, to say that it just happened was, it belies the fact to do. And, and by the way, I mean, the President himself of late has been defending the people who were there. There -- you tell about revisionist history, the new revisionist history is that this was all benign, this activity, people expressing their First Amendment rights. I had Mark Short, Vice President Pence, his chief of staff who was with him that day, on my podcast this week, and Pence, and Short said, you know, was really offended by that having been in the middle of it.

So, this -- these weren't people. These weren't patriots. This was a mob. This was a riot. That's the truth. But that so, you know, maybe Meadows had to turn his manuscript in before the President changed the knobs on his story. But the story now is that this was all benign.

COOPER: Well, I also think Meadows delayed testifying as long as he could because he knew his book was coming out and he wanted his testimony to be around the same time that the book came out so that, you know, it would perhaps boosts book sales which I'm sure he's very, very concerned about.


John, we also learned that this evening, John Eastman, the conservative attorney who helped craft the baseless legal theory that the former Vice President Pence had the constitutional authority to interrupt the certification the election. He's going to defy the subpoena from the January 6, select committee. Do you think he'll be held in contempt?

DEAN: Very, very possible, but not likely with the Fifth Amendment if that's what he's going to take. In fact, I think that's what Clark is relying on and claiming, when he does appear, he's going to take the fifth. This is an area that you really are not likely to find any resolution of Congress holding somebody in contempt for and that's it's so specious and so outrageous that they there's no choice.

But I think they're both will be careful enough. I think somebody out I asked Mark Meadows incidentally, to put his book under oath. See if he'll submit it that way.

COOPER: John Dean, David Axelrod, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next, race and politics will take you to rural Virginia for a closer look at how culture wars are playing out in elections across the country.


COOPER: The culture wars are taking centre stage and elections across the country. Take for example Virginia where Republican governor elect Glenn Youngkin won with a focus on parents rights around what their kids learn in school. Similar thing happened in the state House of Delegates raced in Franklin County Republican candidate Wren Williams won his race after he vowed to ban critical race theory even though tonight we taught in Virginia schools.

Donie O'Sullivan went to Franklin County for a closer look.


BRIDGETTE CRAIGHEAD, OWNER, ELEVEN 11 BEAUTY LOUNGE: I'm going to tell you this. I'm in the community. I'm a hairstylist so I talked to a lot of people. We did not care a lot about no critical race theory until he started bringing it up.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Critical race theory it's a way to study systemic racism in the United States and it's a term many people had never heard of until this year. But now it's central to the country's culture wars and it's playing out here in rural Virginia.

CRAIGHEAD: I witness Wren Williams take a national agenda propaganda, bring it here to the small town divide us.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A Democratic underdog Bridgette Craighead lost to Republican Wren Williams in a state legislature race here in the Franklin County area in November. Williams, a lawyer who worked on Donald Trump's failed recount in Wisconsin last year, promised if elected, he would introduce a bill to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools in Virginia.

WREN WILLIAMS (R-VA) DELEGATE-ELECT: Is teaching our children to hate America.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Even though the Virginia Department of Education says critical race theory isn't on the curriculum. But in politics, it's not so important whether critical race theory is a real issue, or even what it means.

(on-camera): What is critical race theory?

WILLIAMS: So effectively what it is, is, you know, simply put, it's, it's a lens, it's a way to look at the world through the lens of race.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): If you stop there, that's pretty close to even what the founders of critical race theory would say. It's what comes next is what opponents of this aspiring politician say is where he is misguided.

WILLIAMS: And what's unfortunate about that, or, or not productive about that is basically, you are suggesting that because we're white, that we are more, more better often and better able to do things. And then because you are not white, you are oppressed or you aren't looking for the future or success, or you won't be able to overcome those things.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But the theories founders have said is that it was originally an examination of how pass laws based on race are still with us today in the legacy of inequality they were meant to enforce. As Republicans, by defining it on their own terms have made it an effective battle cry.

WILLIAMS: You know, when you we start off with these fresh, clean slate of children, we can effectively teach them you can be anything you want to be in this world. You have to work hard, you have to continue to try to get an education and you will be successful to say anything else or otherwise is just flat out wrong. O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Well, maybe not wrong, but maybe describing -- the numbers nationally when it comes back to incarceration of men, when it comes back to poverty. Black people have a tougher time.

WILLIAMS: I mean, would you say that same thing for Hispanics? I mean, would you say that same thing for poor whites.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Data provided to CNN by the social media analysis company NewsWhip shows how mentions of critical race theory exploded in right wing media throughout 2021.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Republicans are calling critical race theory --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Critical race theory is critical racism theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia has emerged as ground zero in the fight over critical race theory.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): On Fox News, talk of critical race theory spiked around this November's election in Virginia.

PENNY BLUE, LOST FRANKLIN COUNTY VA SCHOOL BOARD SEAT LAST MONTH: Critical race theory is not being taught in K through 12 in this county or in the state of Virginia. K through 12 does not teach theory of anything. But they know that's the dog whistle that you need in order to get the votes.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Penny Blue was on Franklin County School Board for eight years. And a seat that she says was specifically created for a member of the Black community to address past discrimination.

(on-camera): You were in a seat that was created to have --

BLUE: An African-American representation.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): And that seat has been filled by an African- American for 40 years?

BLUE: Since it was created in 1973.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): You lost the seat to who?

BLUE: A white male.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Did you get pushed out? I mean, was there a campaign against you?

BLUE: Oh, yes. I would say this has been the most visceral campaign that's been in Franklin County, but I am aware of.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Blue says she received threats and even this letter.

BLUE: You promote division and hate against white people. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): She says the level of vitriol around the school board election was unlike anything she had experienced. But she says it's not really critical race theory that some Republicans have a problem with.

BLUE: They don't want African-American history taught in the school system.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): So you're saying really when people say they're against critical race theory, you're saying they're actually against African-American history.

BLUE: Which is American history. They are against African-American history being a part of the American story or the American history.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): You are not against, I take as the teaching of the history of slavery in this country?


WILLIAMS: Oh no, not at all, no. Those are objective facts that we can be taught.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Putting them in history into the context of systemic racism. Would you agree that there is still some systemic racism in this country?

WILLIAMS: I've said that there are bad apples everywhere. And that's an issue. But as far as organizations in government, particularly, I don't believe that racism has been embedded into every system in our world.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): How do you feel when you hear someone saying systemic racism, no we're not too sure to think?

CRAIGHEAD: Is because you don't live it, you don't experience it, you don't have this black skin I have to live in every day. And for you to say that you don't see it as it is. It's a smack in the face, because it's right here and your face is right here.


COOPER: And Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. Is really well told piece. This issue is not going away. I mean, this is probably going to be a big cultural issue ahead.

O'SULLIVAN: And as we reported that piece out, you know, began to learn that this was more about a debate about systemic racism in this country and people denying that it exists, obviously does exist, than it is about any sort of academic theory or anything like this. But what it does show is that how this can effectively be weaponized as a sort of scary term like this, and then use throughout social media.

And one thing that I did see in the lead up to last year's election, a lot of these grassroots events, even QAnon type events, was people being told run for your school board run for your school board, which should be a good thing to engage with democracy at that level. But so much of it now seems to be happening on a level that has been encouraged by misinformation and disinformation.

COOPER: Yes, school boards the new battleground. Donie, appreciate it as always.

Coming up next, we'll return to Michigan for a powerful moment of community support.



COOPER: This evening an honor walk was held to pay tribute to one of the Oxford school shooting victims Justin Shilling. Hundreds gathered outside the McLaren Oakland Hospital to pay respect to Shilling and support his family after they made the decision to donate his organs.

The Detroit Free Press staff also lined the halls of the hospital to clap for Justin as his body was wheeled from his room to the operating suite. His family released a statement today expressing their grief and saying, in death, he continues to give himself as an organ donor.

Our weekends on that note, but the news continues with a special report from CNN Fareed Zakaria.