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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Omicron Makes Up 73 Percent of U.S. COVID Cases Reported Last Week; House Progressives Push Executive Action On Biden's Social And Climate Priorities; Jan. 6 Committee Asks GOP Rep. Scott Perry To Sit For Interview With Investigators; Retired Generals Warn Of 2024 Insurrection; Prosecutor Says Potter "Made A Series Of Bad Choices"; Jury In Kim Potter Trial Ends Deliberations For The Day Without Reaching A Verdict; Donald Trump's Long History Of Lawsuit. Aired 8- 9pm ET
Aired December 20, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: She responded to the lawsuit from Trump saying, quote, "Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump."
AC 360 with John Berman starts now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening, we start with breaking news the day before President Biden addresses the nation on COVID. The C.D.C. now reports that the omicron variant of the virus first reported in South Africa less than a month ago is now the dominant strain of new cases in this country. It made up 73 percent of new infections last week, 73 percent.
A senior health official warned this weekend that these infections are likely to increase exponentially and we've just confirmed the first death in the United States due to the omicron variant in Texas, it should not come as a surprise given the rapid increase in this variant.
All of this comes on top of a surge largely due to the delta variant that has seen cases rise across the country. Here in New York, we have had four consecutive days of record case numbers statewide. It is causing confusion and frankly, exhaustion, especially among overworked frontline workers, one of whom you will hear from in just a moment.
I'm John Berman, in for Anderson.
And now, let's be clear, as negative as these headlines might sound, this is not like the darkest days of the pandemic, not at all. For one, hospitalizations do not appear as of yet to be closely tracking the rising case counts. That has been the case in New York City according to top health officials, and in New Jersey according to the Governor there. Time will tell if the broader country will be able to say the same.
Another explanation is also a second reason for hope, and that's vaccines. Moderna today announced a third shot of its vaccine significantly boosted the body's defense against the omicron variant. The normal booster dose, which is 25 percent of the two-dose cycle increases antibodies by a factor of 37.
But as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President's Chief Medical Adviser reminded us today, our fight against the virus is only as effective as the number of people taking these life-saving drugs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When someone says, well, I'm taking my own chances, it is my body, I'll worry about it. Nobody should tell me that I need to get vaccinated, or that I should wear a mask in an indoor setting.
Well, that might be fine for you. Because you have confidence that you're not going to get seriously ill, which quite frankly, hospitals are full of people who made that mistake and so are graveyards full of people that have made that mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Unfortunately, that is where we start tonight, overburdened hospitals and staffing shortages. Tonight, The Pentagon announced it is deploying two teams to Indiana and Wisconsin to support hospitals in those States with COVID relief. This comes as Ohio has deployed its National Guard to hospitals this week. Ohio's case count is at its highest point in just over a year.
Joining me now is a doctor who works at one of those hospitals where the National Guard is being deployed. Dr. Brook Watts is the Chief Medical Officer for Community Health at the Metro Health System in Cleveland. Dr. Watts, thank you so much for being with us this evening.
Look, it's easy to get lost in all the numbers and cases. What do things look like for you right now as a doctor working every day in the hospital?
DR. BROOK WATTS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER FOR COMMUNITY HEALTH, METRO HEALTH SYSTEM IN CLEVELAND: Thank you. We're in crisis here in Northeast Ohio. I think the health systems together said it best this weekend, when we took out a joint ad with all the hospitals in our region and it said one word, it said "Help." It said help because our hospitals are filled with patients with COVID and we are struggling.
BERMAN: The National Guard is being sent in to help. What will they be doing?
WATTS: We're very grateful to the State and the Governor for offering up the National Guard as a resource. They will be coming into our Cleveland area to help offer access for testing. Right now, because we have so many COVID cases, there isn't a rapid test to be found and the PCR tests that are offered generally at testing sites, the wait period is approximately seven days. So the National Guard will be helping us by setting up the testing
site. I do want to acknowledge we are so grateful for their help, but these are also folks with families and we know they're coming to us during this Holiday time at cost to their own personal lives.
So we're very grateful for their service, but also want to appreciate the sacrifice they're making here.
BERMAN: What kind of patients are you seeing in your hospital who have COVID? Are these mostly unvaccinated?
WATTS: We continue to see that most of our patients particularly the patients in the ICUs are unvaccinated. I think what felt a little bit perhaps different for me, this time having taken care of COVID patients since the beginning of the pandemic is I do feel like we're seeing more younger folks.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than walking into a COVID patient's room and seeing pictures of their young children, so young parents.
WATTS: The second group that I think is really struggling right now are those most vulnerable among us. So, I think of our cancer patients, our transplant patients, those folks who don't have normal immune systems because of their own medical troubles, and they may have done everything right, they may have gotten the first dose and the second dose and God bless, they got their third dose, but because their immune system isn't normal, they're really not able to take that vaccine and make the protection others of us get.
BERMAN: Dr. Watts, I have to say, you say you're in crisis mode, how you're being overwhelmed with COVID. You sound a little bit exhausted to me tonight. How are you feeling about where things are? Are you scared?
WATTS: I think you used the right word earlier, we are exhausted, and you know, I feel for myself, I certainly feel for our staff, you know, all of us have families, and this is the Holiday season.
Last year, we were in a similar situation, but we sure had a lot of hope that we were going to get to a better place. I just don't think any of us saw this coming.
For us right now, most of the patients still have the delta variant, but as you mentioned in your intro, omicron is coming on fast and strong and we are all sort of waiting to see what happens next, and I think that -- that unknown and that fear is contributing to the exhaustion we are all feeling.
BERMAN: Well, Dr. Watts, I hope you get the help you need. I'm glad the National Guard is there. I hope you get the tests you need. Seven days on a PCR test is not worth taking. Seven days doesn't tell you anything at that point. But look, thank you for being with us. We appreciate the work you're doing, and please let us know how we can help.
WATTS: Well, thank you for drawing attention to us. That's the first start.
BERMAN: So one more thing about that first death due to the omicron variant we reported at the top of the show, we've just learned that deceased was unvaccinated and had underlying health conditions.
Perspective now from someone who has been warning about the surge in its burden on hospitals and their workers, Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in University of Minnesota. He was also an adviser on COVID during the Biden transition.
Professor, it's always a pleasure to speak with you. I just spoke to Dr. Watts in Ohio, who says, you know, she's overwhelmed and they are in crisis mode right now due to COVID. What's the likelihood that we're going to see things like that across the country?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA Well, we are seeing it in certain parts of the country right now due to delta, and that likely, though, will change in the next two to three weeks as I think that omicron takes over delta, then instead of seeing the regional surges that we were seeing with delta, much to the West, right now is very low level with delta, parts of the South. I think omicron is going to be a national viral blizzard.
And that we can expect to see substantial activity throughout all the states, just as we're now seeing it throughout all the countries.
For the next three to eight weeks, I think we are going to be in a very, very difficult place.
BERMAN: A national viral blizzard, you say. We've got the news in the C.D.C. a short time ago, 73 percent of new cases are omicron. What are the implications of that?
OSTERHOLM: Well, you know, John, we got data today out of South Africa that says that, if you look at the number of patients presenting with omicron versus delta, there was actually about a four- fold decrease likelihood of needing hospitalization or being on a ventilator, which is good news.
The problem is with omicron, the transmission levels are much higher than four times what we saw was delta. So actually the net gain of potential hospitalized cases, even though more people who get it have milder illness, so many more people overall will get it that I think we're going to see a real challenge in our healthcare systems over the course of the next three to eight weeks and what really is challenging is on top of that, we can expect 10 to 30 percent of healthcare workers to get infected during that time.
People were vaccinated who have breakthrough infections, and that is only going to add to the burden then of trying to provide care, all at the same time through all 50 states. BERMAN: So the concern is so many omicron cases that it could
overwhelm the healthcare system, even as you say, and Dr. Gottlieb pointed this out, I was speaking to a leading South African doctor this morning who pointed out what you just said. There does appear to be a decoupling between the rising cases from omicron and hospitalizations. It is not causing a corresponding increase in hospitalizations among the infected, correct?
OSTERHOLM: It is not, but the difference is that when you have that many more people infected, and remember that in South Africa, one of the things that unfortunately they had going for it was so many people had been previously infected with delta that they had a lot of underlying immune protection.
Right now in this country, we know, for example, that all those who have received two doses of vaccine, only 30 percent have had that very critical third dose and we know that already, if you don't have the third dose the likelihood that omicron will actually override what immune protection you have is very real.
OSTERHOLM: And the problem also is the fact that it takes seven to 14 days after you've been vaccinated before that immunity really picks up. Well, that takes us into the New Year. It takes us right through the Holiday season and right into the heart of the omicron, what I call blizzard.
So, it is not looking good. It's a real perfect storm, unfortunately, of events.
BERMAN: And your primary concern still among the unvaccinated in the U.S.?
OSTERHOLM: Well, the unvaccinated are a key, key issue. We're going to continue to see, just as we've seen with delta, severe illness in that group, and with the kind of transmission we're seeing right now with omicron, many of these people who thought they could wait out the game, you know, run the clock out are going to get infected.
Now our hope is, of course, they're not as severely ill in the same numbers, but because so many will get infected now, again, the absolute numbers of cases will increase. And again, our healthcare systems are just not able to handle this given already the very, very difficult position they're in.
BERMAN: And just one more question about a study we saw today from "The New England Journal" that they focused on the delta variant and found that breakthrough infections are more common among people vaccinated more than six months ago, people who have been vaccinated six months or longer ago, are seeing more of the breakthrough infection.
So, what does that tell you? And what does that tell us about where we are in the need for boosters? OSTERHOLM: Well, as you know, I've been saying since the middle of
the summer, that I thought the breakthrough infections were very important. They were indicating to us of this waning immunity.
But on top of that, is the fact that again, as I just pointed out, 70 percent of the people who have been vaccinated, these are the vaccine willing, they're not vaccine hesitant, but they haven't yet come in to get that third shot.
I don't like to call it a booster. It gives it a sense that it's kind of an add-on. All along, this should have been a three -dose regimen and that should be what fully vaccinated means. And right now, we have a lot of people in this country who have bought some protection, but will it be enough to actually avoid serious illness with omicron? We don't know.
BERMAN: Professor Michael Osterholm, I do appreciate your time tonight even if the warning you give does sound quite ominous. Thank you.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
BERMAN: I'm joined now by the Mayor-elect of New York City, Eric Adams. Mr. Mayor-elect, thank you so much for being with us.
Look, Professor Osterholm just said he expects a national viral blizzard three to five weeks from now. You're inaugurated what -- two weeks from now. So how does that news sit with you?
MAYOR-ELECT ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is a formidable opponent and we don't know where it is going to end up, all of my experts here that I have been partnering with and learning from is telling us there is a great level of uncertainty, the numbers are going to increase likely. But we have to be prepared and we must understand that COVID is here, it is going to be here with us and we must learn to live with it in a smart way and that's what we're going to do in New York.
BERMAN: What does that mean live with it in a smart way?
ADAMS: Well, think about it. I was on the ground during 9/11 when the terrorist attack crippled our World Trade Center, and we were terrorized. We were afraid, many people did not want to go back to work, and felt as though our city will never recover.
Clearly, COVID is not terrorism, but it has brought terror. People are afraid to go back to work, they're afraid to go back out. We just spent almost $11 trillion in our economy. We can't do that again.
So it means doing smart things, getting vaccinated, getting your booster shots, making sure you do the social distancing, making sure you do the smart, simple things that is needed so we can combat COVID in a real way. Our cities must return.
And if we don't do that, then the long term impacts on our economy, our children, and our families is going to be greater than what COVID can ever do.
BERMAN: Look, I'm sure you've seen the long lines for testing around the city. They're everywhere. I mean, it's very hard to get a test at a drugstore, one of the instant tests. You have to wait for hours if you want a PCR test. What are you going to do to make testing more available?
ADAMS: Well, number one, let's not look at the downsides. Let's look at the opportunity. Let me tell you what's going to happen in the city and country just as we were able to find a vaccine in a short period of time, we're going to find a faster way to do testing.
You're going to see the great minds of Americans and global ingenuity come up with a faster way. You're going to find times when people are going to be able to wear a mask and determine if someone has COVID. This is going to open our creativity.
Out of crisis comes creativity. Let's stop with the woe is me and let's start with, why not me? We're going to make sure we do as much testing here. We're going to get those kits to test people, but we also want to encourage New Yorkers and Americans, darn it, we had battles before and we're greater than any type of COVID or any type of virus, that's what I know and that's what I believe.
BERMAN: it's not so much of woe is me thing, it has been 18 months. I mean, people have waited for these tests for 18 months. It's not like they're rushing anything or asking for something that they haven't been hoping for or promised for a long time, but I do want to get you on another question here, Mr. Mayor-elect. The head of the W.H.O. said today, regarding Holiday gatherings, quote, "An event canceled is better than a life canceled."
And there is word today from the Mayor of London that that city is going to cancel its New Year's Eve celebration in Trafalgar Square. So do you believe that New York City should consider the same?
ADAMS: I think that the Times Square celebration, if the numbers are at a dangerous level, this continues evolution, we need to pivot to do what's right. Remember, we have two crises here. We have the crisis of our economy, and we have the crisis of hope, and the crisis of COVID.
And so I believe that if there is a dangerous level, our healthcare professionals will inform the current mayor and he'll make the right decision. And if until that has taken place, we have one mayor at a time, I keep saying it, I believe Bill de Blasio is doing an amazing job around this crisis with this team, and he'll make a determination on the 31st.
I'm the mayor on January 1st, and that's when I have to make a decision for this city.
BERMAN: You are the mayor on January 1st, just a couple of weeks from now. I know you say you weren't looking for any kind of grace period. It doesn't seem like you're really going to get one, Mr. Mayor-elect. Good luck to you, if I don't get a chance to talk to you, have a Happy
ADAMS: Thank you. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: Still to come tonight, we have breaking news out of the White House involving COVID. Also, negotiations between President Biden and Senator Joe Manchin surrounding the President's Build Back Better plan. Those talks died Sunday and following some very public finger pointing between the two sides, it is possible they may live again, may, being the operative word.
Legendary Democratic strategist, James Carville joins us.
And later, the January 6 Committee wants to talk with a sitting Member of Congress. We will tell you which Republican when 360 continues.
BERMAN: A head spinning past few days for negotiation surrounding President Biden's signature Build Back Better plan that were alive, then dead, and now perhaps alive yet again?
In between very public criticism from the President's staff and progressive allies and with Democratic senator and holdout, Joe Manchin, the latest is the President has personally spoken with Manchin and we'll get to that in a moment.
First, though we do have breaking news out of the White House. We are joined now by CNN's Jeff Zeleny, and Jeff, we understand that this involves the President and a staffer who is COVID positive. What more can you tell us?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, we are learning tonight that a close contact of the President, someone who was described as a mid-level staffer who spent some time on Air Force One with the President on Friday as they flew from South Carolina to Pennsylvania before weekending in Wilmington, Delaware. This staffer had COVID at the time, they did not realize that, but on Sunday, they tested positive.
So the President received a test today a PCR test. It was negative. He'll test again on Wednesday.
The White House said they're following protocols on this. But again, this mid-level staffer who was not identified by the White House spent about 30 minutes or so with the President. So, the guidelines would mean that the President had close contact with him. So, we'd have to keep testing here going forward.
All this of course, coming on the eve of a big speech he is giving tomorrow here on that new variant hitting the U.S.
BERMAN: But negative as of today from a PCR test. ZELENY: That's right.
BERMAN: So Jeff, well, what about the phone call between Joe Biden and Joe Manchin? What is the status as of this minute on the Build Back Better negotiations?
ZELENY: John, I think you could call it a cooling off period, but the question is, will it ever get hot again? And that is very uncertain. The reality here is we are told and learning tonight the President Biden spoke with Senator Manchin last evening to air some grievances, which really was an extraordinary war of words between this White House in between Joe Manchin that continued today on West Virginia radio.
The Senator mentioned blasted staffers here at the White House and the White House pushed back, but today there was a measure of calm, a tone of respect, because if the White House wants to get its agenda going forward, they still need Senator Manchin.
So things are cooling off over the Holidays. We will see if it resumes next year. There may be a path for this, John, but it is hard to imagine exactly what that would be.
BERMAN: I mean, there is a line of thinking that Joe Manchin was just trying to show Democrats that they really, really need him. If that's true, what has to happen going forward for this bill to stay alive?
ZELENY: Oh, Democrats know they really need Joe Manchin, at least the Democrats here at the White House, perhaps not as much in the House. But look, this is a huge -- that's now a huge blow for the President's agenda. This is his biggest agenda item. But it's much more than that.
Look at the economic hit. Goldman Sachs, Moody's -- they're already saying if there is no big agenda like this, the Build Back Better agenda, like the White House calls it, it's going to have devastating impacts for the economy. They're adjusting their forecasts down.
So that could be the incentive that gets people back to the table next year. For now, I think probably a good thing that Congress is out of town for the Holidays, we will see what happens when they come back.
But interesting, the White House changed its tone and there was not a sharp word about Joe Manchin said here today, certainly not by the President. So, it's going to be built on their relationship. But boy, it's an uphill path.
BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
BERMAN: Perspective now from Democratic strategist, James Carville. James, great to see you. Build Back Better dead or alive, what do you think?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Build Back Better is dead, but build back differently is going to be very alive after the first of the year. They're going to get back. They will have substantial agreement on things. Everybody needs a little cooling off period.
Look, it's 50. I'm getting -- a second grade math teacher needs to go to Washington and explain the number 50 to people, and you know, we did -- we didn't do that well in these congressional and Senate elections, so we are where we are. I think the President and Senator Manchin are going to be able to work this out, but for right now, we're just going to put it on hold for a couple of weeks, but I have no doubt this thing is going to come back.
BERMAN: What is this thing? I mean, how much will this thing resemble the bill right now?
CARVILLE: I'm not a legislative mechanic, but it will contain many good things, and what stupid people need to do is stop talking about what's not in it when we get it and what's in it. And by the way, we've had a good year economically, a historically good year economically in this country.
I read a piece in "Businessweek" by a guy named Matthew Winkler who is a very good journalist. This has been a historic year in terms of some of the things we accomplished. And the biggest thing this President can do is keep this recovery going and fight this virus and I think he can do both things, and I think we can get this. I don't think anything is dead right now at all.
BERMAN: So in a radio interview today, Senator Manchin indicated that his biggest problems in the negotiations weren't with President Biden, but somehow with some White House staffers. So, what's the solution there?
CARVILLE: I think that President Biden -- let's cut out the middleman. Let him and the senator have lunch in the White House. I think that's what's going to happen and people are tired. They've been working on this for a year.
Senator Manchin is -- I don't think he's enjoying this at all. So I've seen his -- reading that he is enjoying this, I don't think that's necessarily the case. And I think a little timeout right here, and the President has got a big speech tomorrow night. You know, we've got this -- Dr. Osterholm pointing out, we've got terrible tsunami coming at us.
But they'll get back and they'll get this done in two or three weeks and the timeframe is just not that big, but it's just hard to do anything with 50 votes. It's just very, very, very difficult and you have to acknowledge that and it's going to require some people's egos to tone down a little bit, and it's going to require the President to land his plane, and I think he can do it.
BERMAN: You do understand there are progressives, though, who feel betrayed by this. They feel like they were led to believe that their votes earlier on, even some moderates that their votes earlier on, you know, would get them something and Manchin would be there. CARVILLE: Well, I would say to them, I'm disappointed, too, all
right, it's not like I -- I wanted this thing to get done as bad as anybody else, but it is just the reality that they're in and that is what happens when you don't do well in elections.
And what I would say to Democrats is, we should do everything we can to not listen to history, but try to pick up seats in 2022. And if we keep this economic recovery going, we may be able to do that. But it's just a fact of life. It just -- I don't like the fact that I lost my hair early in my life, but it's just the facts. I just got over it. Like you've got a full crock. So what?
I mean, you've just got to deal with lightweight errors, and you're leading -- you're dealing with life with 50 Democratic senators and a united Republican opposition. It is not easy, people, and we need to quit complaining and support this President and get this thing done.
BERMAN: I would lend you some, if I could. But I can't --
CARVILLE: I'm happy with what I've got to tell you the truth.
BERMAN: Listen, NPR/Marist has a poll out today that puts President Biden's approval rating at 41 percent. That's a new low in their poll. He has seen some lows in a bunch of different pollsters here. So, if you were advising this President, what do you do to start getting that number up?
CARVILLE: Well, the first thing I do is give a good speech tomorrow night, and I think he will. This is quite a concerning time in America. And I think, you know, he needs to assess the gains that he has had in the first year of his presidency, and say, you know, we've done a lot of things, probably communications is not the best thing we do. So I want to see us get better than that.
And I think he can, again, I think he is going to get a big accomplishment here with build back differently, and he has just got to stay focused and understand that he is governing in a very tough time with a very fragile majority. And I think President Biden understands that and Democrats around the country have got to give him a little leeway.
But if this economy continues to improve, he can do better. It's not where you are in December before the election, it is where you are in November of the election. I think we've got to keep that in mind.
But yes, the numbers are universally not that great. I agree with that.
BERMAN: James Carville, trying to make fetch happen with build back differently. I appreciate your time. Have a wonderful Holiday.
CARVILLE: Thank you. And you have a good Holiday, too. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right. Up next, we have more breaking news. Details on the Republican Congressman the January 6 Committee wants to speak with.
BERMAN: More breaking news, the January 6 Committee has asked Republican Congressman Scott Perry to sit down for an interview with investigators. It's important to note they haven't subpoenaed him. They're hoping he will talk without one.
According to a Senate panel report from Democrats, in addition to being a very vocal supporter of the big lie, Congressman Perry also introduced the former president to Justice Department Attorney Jeffrey Clark. According to documents and testimony from former Justice Department officials, Clark and the former president would later come close to ousting the acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replacing him with Clark. That's the background.
As for where this goes now, over the weekend, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a member of the committee, said they would cast a wide net to get answers. This is what he told ABC News on this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (D-IL), HOUSE JAN. 6 COMMITTEE: We're going to pursue doggedly everything to the ends of the earth. And that includes -- and we don't like necessarily having to go here, but that includes members of Congress that had any involvement. So absolutely. Anybody, nobody member of Congress, former president, nobody in America is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now, Conservative Attorney George Conway. George, great to see you. In your estimation, do you think the former president has reason to worry about what the January 6 Committee has uncovered so far?
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Yes, absolutely. I mean, there are a number of different ways he could be potentially held criminally liable for what happened on January 6th. He doesn't have to be one of the people who actually went up on Capitol Hill and did, you know, committed crimes such as obstructing Congress and breaking and entering and engaging and all that kind of physical activity.
There's a concept in the law called aiding and abetting, that says that someone who provides aid or assistance to somebody who commits principle crime can also be held liable for the same crime. And I'll give you three examples of how that works. One example would be you're walking down the street and you see a bunch of people about to break a window to break into a store to steal stuff.
If you just walk across the street and ignore it and don't call 911, you haven't done anything. You didn't help them, you're not liable. But if you walk up to them and say, hey, give me that hammer and you smash the glass for them and then you walk off, you've aided and abetted them.
Now here's the third possibility which is the one that's most relevant to Trump which is that if her -- if you're the security guard at that store, and you see these guys trying to come in and starting to work on breaking into the store, and you decide to take a two-hour coffee break, you too, could be held liable for aiding and abetting, whatever they steal -- whatever stealing or crimes they commit inside the store.
And that's the big danger for Donald Trump, that he, you know, he was there, he took a long five-hour coffee break in effect on January 6, and did nothing. And what was going on, he was watching television, he saw everything that was happening on Capitol Hill. He -- you know, Mark Meadows was coming in trying to tell him he's got to do something, he's got to make a statement, his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, came in to try to tell him he had to do something.
And like the security guard, he had a duty to stop what happened on the Hill, if he could do that on January 6th, by ordering out the National Guard, by doing any number of things. Because he was sworn to do that as President of the United States by his oath of office.
BERMAN: And that's the 187 minutes that we heard from the committee last week. They talked about that so much, as was revealed in these text messages. And Congressman Kinzinger also says the committee has more text that they haven't released. And he says it's not folks saying things like, hey, Mark Meadows, why don't you make sure all the votes are counted, and that whoever has the most votes win?
So look, if it's proven that members of Congress were involved in this plot, what then?
CONWAY: Oh, they potentially could fall within the scope of criminal liability. If they did something to help or encourage people to break, you know, to come up to the Capitol Hill, if they gave them suggestions about how to do that, we don't know. If they did anything of that sort, they're potentially liable.
BERMAN: How critical do you think Scott Perry's testimony is?
CONWAY: It's hard to say, I don't know. I mean, I haven't seen the text messages exactly. And, you know, he clearly was involved to a great degree, because he was not just -- you know, he was involved with this whole effort to get the Justice Department to intervene on behalf of the Trump campaign that was unsuccessful.
You know, it's going to be very interesting to see what all these various links between all these groups and members of Congress and the White House, and the Trump campaign and people who are, you know, all the bizarre groups like the Proud Boys. We -- all of these connections, we're just beginning to scratch the surface.
It's -- we're at the tip of the iceberg right now. And the committee clearly knows more than we do right now. And it's going to be interesting to see what they dribble out over the next few months.
BERMAN: So three retired U.S. Army generals wrote this recent column for The Washington Post was pretty stunning. And they warned Pentagon leaders to prepare now for another insurrection. They describe this nightmare scenario of competing commanders in chief.
This is what they write. They say, "In a contested election, with loyalties split, some might follow orders from the rightful commander in chief, while others might follow the Trumpian loser. Arms might not be secured depending on who was overseeing them. Under such a scenario, it's not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war."
Now, that is pretty hyperbolic. But do you think it's a legitimate concern?
CONWAY: Well, it -- I mean, in theory, if you have a real question as to who's in charge, you know, you may -- you could possibly lose discipline over people. That didn't happen, thankfully, this year. And I hope it would never happen in the future.
But the fact that, you know, what we saw on January 6th were -- what people are actually breaking in on Capitol Hill, and there's an issue about whether or not the guard, the National Guard, or the military's means are called out. I mean, we need to prepare for eventualities that we never even considered would be possible in the United States of America. And, you know, this is the kind of thing we see in other countries. We are now in sort of that zone where these things are imaginable and that is just terrifying.
BERMAN: These things are imaginable. That in and of itself, is a pretty stunning statement. George Conway, thank you for your time and I look forward to talking to you more about this as we learn more about what the committee has in its hands.
CONWAY: Thank you.
BERMAN: Moments ago, the jury in the trial former Police Officer Kim Potter concluded today's deliberations without coming to a decision. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has the details next.
BERMAN: More breaking news, the jury in the trial a former Police Officer Kim Potter concluded deliberating today without a verdict. A reminder, Potter faces manslaughter charges for shooting and killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April. The jury deliberated for more than five hours following closing arguments.
During the closing arguments, the prosecution said Potter's actions are a crime even if it was an accident. That offense hit back saying she had the right to use deadly force. The jury will resume deliberating tomorrow morning. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has more details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ERIN ELDRIDGE, ASSISTANT MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: This was a colossal screw-up a blunder of epic proportions.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friday, it's Christmas Eve and Erin Eldridge starting the prosecution's closing argument with a reminder.
ELDRIDGE: The defendant told you her sons will be home for the holidays. Daunte Wright's parents, Katie and Aubrey Wright will have an empty seat at their table this holiday season because the defendant shot and killed him.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Eldridge argued 20-year-old Daunte Wright died at the hands of a highly trained 26-year-police veteran. She said former Officer Kim Potter was supposed to practice pulling out her taser every day she was on the job. And she also pointed to Potter's own words after the shooting.
KIM POTTER, POLICE OFFICER WHO SHOT DAUNTE WRIGHT: I grabbed the wrong -- gun. I'm going to go to prison.
ELDRIDGE: It was precisely that thing she had been warned about for years, and she was trained to prevent it. It was irreversible and it was fatal.
BROADDUS (voice-over): According to prosecution, this shows recklessness or culpable negligence. Potter is charged with first and second degree manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty.
ELDRIDGE: Now, the defense may refer to this as an unfortunate mistake or a tragic accident. Or that because the defendant didn't know or didn't realize that she had a gun in her hand, that this is somehow an accident and not a crime. That is simply not the case. It's just plain wrong.
BROADDUS (voice-over): But that is precisely what the defense argued during their closing statement.
EARL GRAY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect, ladies and gentlemen, and this lady here made a mistake. And my gosh, a mistake is out of crime. How could you recklessly handle it if you don't know you have it?
BROADDUS (voice-over): Defense Attorney Earl Gray argued under the law, Potter had a right to use deadly force during the incident since Daunte Wright tried to flee the scene.
GRAY: Tragically, but she didn't know she had a gun either. And then he said, you shot me and being alone, what does he do? Does he stay there and say hey, help me out. He takes off them. And you see the video he goes like a jet.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Potter testified in her own defense Friday.
POTTER: We are struggling -- we are trying to keep him from driving away. It just went chaotic. It -- and then I remember yelling, "taser, taser, taser."
GRAY: That they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she causes death now. Daunte Wright cause his own death unfortunately.
BROADDUS (voice-over): In their rebuttal, the prosecution caught the defense's argument stunning and said there was no evidence deadly force was necessary including Potter's own belief she was pulling her Taser instead of her gun.
MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTOR: Her conduct created a risk that she would use the wrong weapon, her conduct going to her gun holster, drawing her gun and pointing it and pulling the trigger.
BERMAN: And Adrienne Broaddus joins us now. Adrienne, what kind of evidence is the jury have while they're deliberating? And what have we heard from them in terms of questions?
BROADDUS: Well, John, members of the jury will be able to hold the gun Potter use the day she shot and killed Daunte Wright. They will also be able to see and feel the Taser she intended to grab. It's an opportunity for them to compare and contrast the two weapons. They also have access to a laptop. It has the body camera video downloaded on the laptop. But Internet access has been disabled.
About three hours into deliberations, members of the jury wanted to know the date Potter met with Dr. Miller. You may recall, Miller was the psychologist, the witness the defense called on who talked about action error. During that interview which was conducted via Zoom, Potter told Dr. Miller she didn't make mistakes. John?
BERMAN: Interesting. Adrienne Broaddus, thanks so much for being there for us. Please keep us posted.
Coming up, the former president does what he likes to do, sue other people while he has filed suit against the Attorney General of New York, next.
BERMAN: The former president is suing New York Attorney General Letitia James. He's asking a federal court to stop or limit her investigation into the Trump Organization. The suit accuses James of misconduct claiming she's abused her investigatory powers to target her political adversaries and advance her career.
This legal action comes as no surprise. After all, he has a long history of suing people. With a look at that, here's 360's Randi Kaye.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does anybody know more about litigation than Trump? I'm like a PhD in litigation, OK?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's had plenty of practice with it, too. In fact, he and his businesses have filed lawsuits more than 2,000 times. According to USA Today, he's been added a while. As far back as 1973 when Trump and his father were accused by the Justice Department of violating the Fair Housing Act for not renting to African Americans.
ELYSE GOLDWEBER, FORMER DEPT. OF JUSTICE ATTORNEY: Some of the applications were marked with a C, which we learned that it meant colored.
KAYE (voice-over): Trump was just 27, but quickly learned to deploy lawsuits as a weapon. So Trump counter sued the federal government for $100 million. In the end, Trump suit went nowhere and he settled out of court in a case against him without admitting guilt.
There are practically too many lawsuits to count. He also initiated a $100 million lawsuit against Palm Beach County for allegedly directing air traffic over his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump even once sued TV host Bill Maher for $5 million, after Maher suggested Trump's mother may have made it with an orangutan.
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: The color of his hair --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MAHER: -- and the color of an orange orangutan is the only two things in nature of the same color.
KAYE (voice-over): Maher had promised to give $5 million to charity if Trump provided a birth certificate. Trump later withdrew the lawsuit. Trump also once sued author Timothy O'Brien for reporting in his 2005 book that Trump was worth millions, not billions, as Trump had claimed.
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, SUED BY DONALD TRUMP: He sued us on the notion that I had low balled his net worth and somehow that had libeled him.
KAYE (voice-over): Trump's lawsuit was later dismissed. Long before his presidency, Trump sued the town of Palm Beach, Florida for $25 million over a flagpole at Mar-a-Lago. Officials claimed was too tall. The two parties later settled.
Donald Trump also once filed suit against the government of Scotland for allowing a wind farm to be built next to his golf course. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled against him and Trump seemed to still hold a grudge years later. TRUMP: If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations. Your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK?
KAYE (voice-over): Donald Trump's strategy has also included suing women who have accused him of sexual assault. Like former Advice Columnist E. Jean Carroll. She said Trump raped her in the 1990s, which he denies. He countersued after she filed a defamation suit against him and the case is proceeding.
More recently, Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times, several journalists and his niece Mary Trump for sharing information about his taxes and finances. Trump claimed that violated a 2001 settlement agreement Mary signed. The suit is ongoing.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.
BERMAN: Randi Kaye, thank you very much. We'll be right back.