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At This Hour

House Panel to Hold Contempt Vote for Former Justice Department Official; Overdose Deaths From Meth Surge Across America. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Great reporting, thank you so much, Matthew. I really appreciate it.

Also developing this morning, he was very clearly trying to kill people. That is what the Oakland County, Michigan sheriff is saying this morning about the deadly shooting at a high school yesterday. A 15-year-old boy opened fire, killing three students, injuring eight others.

Shimon Prokupecz is live in Michigan with more on this. Shimon, what more are you learning, what more are they learning today?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just actually spoke to the sheriff again. He was over here. We talked to him. We got a chance to ask him some more questions. And like you said, he's not holding back words about the alleged shooter here calling him cold-blooded.

What's interesting, Kate, is that he tells us is that it does not, at this point, appear that he was targeting specific people, that he was firing indiscriminately. There's been a lot made about the fact that the alleged shooter was using this handgun and aiming it in such a precise way. He says that they don't think it's because of any kind of training. They believe he was just -- because it's easier to fire a handgun, that perhaps that's what sort of was going on here. But they don't believe that he was targeting anyone specifically.

The sheriff telling us they're going to have a press conference later this afternoon around 3:00 or so here, where we can learn some more details. One of the things, Kate, that he tells us is that he would like to see the alleged shooter charged today and he would like him to be charged as an adult. So, he expects to present some evidence to the prosecutor today so that that can happen.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, thank you so much for that reporting. And we should note, to think that the sheriff did say that two of the people who were in the hospital, two of the students are in critical condition still. This is just another tragedy in America's schools. Thanks, Shimon. We're going to get back to Shimon later. Coming up for us, Donald Trump is facing new questions after his

former chief of staff says he tested positive for coronavirus days before a debate with Joe Biden. That story, next.



BOLDUAN: Now, to the congressional investigation in the January 6 insurrection. The House panel leading the probe will hold a contempt vote tonight against former Justice Department Official Jeffrey Clark. The committee says that Clark has refused to cooperate with their investigation, forcing them to go this direction.

Let's get over to CNN's Whitney Wild. She's live in Washington with much more on this. So, Whitney, what's going to happen?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this criminal contempt vote will slide right out of the committee, then it will eventually go to the House floor. The reality, Kate, is that this move will certainly have a ripple effect throughout the community of people who have been called to testify and produce documents, and here is why. He will be the second person referred for criminal contempt of court. Steve Bannon was the first, and that's mostly because he never showed for an interview and never produced documents.

The difference here, Jeffrey Clark did show up. So, his case is clarifying what the committee considers cooperating, and, clearly, they consider cooperating, actually providing information. You can't just go in and say, no comment, no comment, no comment. The committee is justifying this referral by pointing to a 90-minute deposition in which Clark revealed, Kate, next to nothing other than basically his own stamina to say, I'm not saying any more.

The committee has asked for his communications with President Trump, Trump's re-election campaign, state lawmakers and senior members of the White House, which brings us to the other big news that CNN broke this week, the Mark Meadows story. The chief of staff for then- President Trump is cooperating with the committee. Source tells us he has handed over thousands of emails, but what he eventually tells the committee is still unclear.

However, Kate, it's very obvious that there is a new willingness coming out of Mark Meadows to work with the committee. A source telling CNN, frankly, Meadows does not want a criminal charge, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Whitney. Thank you for laying that out.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. Elie, let's start on Jeffrey Clark, because this report that the committee put out says that he did show up and his attorney essentially handed over a letter objecting to almost all of the questions that they had presented -- that they wanted to ask on the grounds that then-President Trump is entitled to confidential legal advice, a sacred trust is how the attorney described it. Is that a sound legal argument here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, Kate, it's not. Look, first of all, showing up and stonewalling is still stonewalling. Now, Jeffrey Clark has made a couple of arguments. The first one is what you just said, is this sort of attorney-client-like privilege. The problem with that is the Justice Department does not represent the president in an attorney-client capacity. There is no attorney-client privilege between the Justice Department and the president himself.

He's also, Jeffrey Clark, raising an executive privilege-type argument with that. The problem is, one, he didn't work in the White House, two, Donald Trump has already gone on record. Back in August he wrote a letter -- his lawyers wrote a letter to Jeffrey Rosen saying, I'm not going to invoke executive privilege as to you or to certain other DOJ officials, including Jeffrey Clark.


So, he doesn't have an executive privilege claim either.

BOLDUAN: So then the other thing that Whitney was reporting on, Trumps' former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, now cooperating with the panel. Lawmakers say this -- I think it's -- as Whitney was reporting, it's thousands of emails and he's going to sit for a deposition soon. We see so often, Elie, that people in Trump's orbit defying courts and defying Congress if only to slow things down. Why do you think Meadows could be the exception here?

HONIG: So, Kate, on the surface, this is a smart and reasonable deal for both parties, and I think it is significant. As you say, we're talking about somebody very close to Donald Trump who has stepped away from Steve Bannon, stepped away from Jeffrey Clark and at least done what normally happens in this scenario, which is say, let's negotiate, I'm willing to give you this, not that, and they can negotiate as between Congress and Mark Meadows. That's a return to some degree of normalcy. That's a big deal.

The big question though is what's going to happen when the rubber meets the road? What's going to happen when the committee says to Mark Meadows, okay, what did Donald Trump say and do the moment those rioters stormed the Capitol? What was his reaction? Who called him? Why didn't he act sooner? If Mark Meadows says, I'm not answering those questions, then the committee is going to have a little bit of dilemma on its end because that's the core of the issue.

So, are they going to just take sort of peripheral information from Mark Meadows and call it a day or are they going to push him and potentially fight for, really, the key information.

BOLDUAN: That's a good question, yet to be seen.

There's also the criminal investigation into January 6 still. And this new video that was just released of the FBI interrogation with one alleged Capitol rioter, Danny Rodriguez. In it, he states very clearly, and it's long, and that he very clearly states that he came to D.C. because Trump called him there. And he also admits to tasing Officer Michael Fanone.

Watch this one small part.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you tase him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I'm a piece of (BLEEP). Sorry, I don't know. He's a human being with children and he's not a bad guy, it sounds like. He's just doing his job, and I'm a (BLEEP).


BOLDUAN: Emotional in more than one part during this interrogation. He was indicted last week. What does the Justice Department do with this as we see this video?

HONIG: Yes. Well, first of all, they used this video against this defendant. They'll convict him based on it. It's actually a bit refreshing to see some legitimate contrition, some legitimate acceptance of how horrible the actions were. I think it's also important that this defendant says he was motivated by Donald Trump. I think that's sort of consistent with what we're seeing with a lot of these defendants. They're not saying Donald Trump personally contacted me or personally arranged for me to come in and storm the Capitol. They're saying I was motivated by his words, by his conduct, by his tweets, by his action. And that's really a common theme we're seeing across many of these Capitol rioters.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point, absolutely. Good to see you, Elie. Thank you so much.

Now, I want to turn to this. Former President Trump is responding to a report that he tested positive for COVID three days before a debate with Joe Biden last fall. Now, this comes from The Guardian reporting details of a new memoir from Trump's former chief of staff, who we've been discussing, Mark Meadows. This news, in the timeline that Meadows reportedly is laying out in this memoir, raises a lot of questions.

CNN's Gabby Orr is live in Washington joining us with more on this. Gabby, Trump, in his statement, is essentially accusing Mark Meadows of lying.

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: So, what's interesting about this statement, Kate, is he's saying that he -- a test that he took before the presidential debate with Joe Biden back on September 29th of 2020 did not have COVID -- revealed that he did not have COVID prior to that debate.

What he's not acknowledging in this statement is what Mark Meadows said happened, which is that he received a positive test at one point prior to that debate, in the 72 hours leading up to it, and then received a negative test.

And what Meadows acknowledges in his book is that the negative test was basically taken as gospel inside Trump's inner circle and that they proceeded as normal and totally ignored that previous positive test.

So, not to parse the statement there, but it is interesting that he does not directly contradict what Meadows did say in his book.

What is interesting about this entire episode is what it says about the way that the Trump White House handled the COVID-19 pandemic and internal outbreaks of the virus inside that inner west wing circle. After he received this initial positive test, the president did multiple events, both indoors and outdoors, at the White House before even going to that debate where he faced off with Joe Biden.

BOLDUAN: Gabby, thanks so much for the reporting. That timeline now even more interesting. I appreciate it, thank you.

Coming up for us, a startling firsthand look at a deadly crisis facing America today, meth addiction. That is next.



BOLDUAN: Sounding the alarm on the massive spike in deaths across the country from overdoses across the country. Today, we're putting the spotlight on one city facing one massive crisis from one drug in particular, meth. The highly addictive stimulant can cause long-term heart and brain damage and is very clearly ruining lives and families all along the way.


CNN's Kyung Lah reports.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Burk --

DEPUTY TODD BURK, FRESNO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Hey, are you okay? Can you get out of the road, please?

LAH: -- on his typical graveyard shift, digging away night after night --

BURK: You're out here doing drugs?

LAH: -- at a deadly national crisis.

BURK: Out of the road, we're trying to help you.

Something is causing her to panic and to be paranoid.

LAH: That something is likely the drug law enforcement most often sees in Central California County.

BURK: Methamphetamine, when was the last time used?

Very common for meth users that smoke it, but this is also a common way to use methamphetamine, is they inject it.

LAH: This needle belongs to this driver.

BURK: Your car is expired big time.

LAH: This man says Deputy Burk can search his car.

BURK: Got any needles in the car?

LAH: And then talks to us about his addiction. He asked we don't show his face.

Have you used a lot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been using a lot, like on and off all the time, you know, since, like I said, 13. So --

LAH: Why did you get started when you're 13?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have an older brother I looked up to and he just felt like that. He wanted to introduce it to me, I guess. Of course, since I'm a kid, I'm going to say yes to my big brother, you know? And from there on, it just took control.

LAH: Would you say you're a meth user?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I'm a drug addict.

LAH: He'd been in and out of prison and says he just lost his job as a forklift driver that paid $25 an hour. He just took meth yesterday, worried about how he'll take care of his family.

How old are your kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven and five.

LAH: And how old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 28. That's why I'm trying to stay straight so I can have my kids straight.

LAH: How many people do you know do meth?


BURK: Methamphetamine, it is such an addictive drug, they can't get rid of it. They can't stop it. Even if they want to stop it, they can't. Their body won't allow him to.

LAH: Every single stop Deputy Burk makes on the shift involves meth.

BURK: Are you having a hard time? Do you need a program?

Methamphetamine would be the number one drug used in Fresno. It's so easy to obtain. It's not difficult. It's all over the streets out here.

LAH: New CDC data shows meth is all over the country's streets, and it's getting worse. More than one in four overdose deaths this year involved meth and other psycho-stimulants. That's up nearly 50 percent from last year. In California, deaths were up 64 percent year-on-year. And in Fresno, no other drug, including fentanyl, comes even close to the death rate of meth.


LAH: Former Department of Justice Special Agent Bob Pennal says dealers used to cook meth from ephedrine in super labs.

PENNAL: We had hit these labs and we've seen nothing but blister packs. You had to have to pseudoephedrine there. And the minute we stopped it, yes.

LAH: It was over?

So, now, Mexican cartels use common chemical agents in mega labs.

PENNAL: They're like Costco. They're just huge, huge industrial-sized buildings. So, they're basically warehouses.

LAH: And you can just manufacture it now at a much higher quantity.

Smuggled across the border as liquid, difficult to detect means cheap prices.

BURK: Hey, no warrants, right?


LAH: And high supply impacting life across Fresno.

CHAPMAN: It's not even meth anymore.

LAH: Do you feel different on today's meth and this stuff --

CHAPMAN: More violent.

LAH: More violent.

CHAPMAN: More violent.

LAH: John Chapman lives in the neighborhood Deputy Burk patrols. While he shares a common story --

CHAPMAN: I think I was 11, 11-and-a-half years old when I started.

LAH: Who introduced it to you when you were 11?

CHAPMAN: I just have to say my mom did.

LAH: Your mom gave you meth?

At age 55, he managed to quit.

CHAPMAN: My legs will start spazzing and stuff like that from it.

LAH: Because of the meth?

CHAPMAN: Yes. It gave me nerve damage. It does actually fries your brain.

LAH: If you had kept going, what would have happened to you?

CHAPMAN: I would be dead.

LAH: There is no live-saving antidote for meth overdoses. That's why Deputy Burk keeps going night after night.

BURK: I want to see somebody who's constantly high on methamphetamine to change their life and become a productive citizen. I think they want it as well.

You're all done?


BOLDUAN: Kyung Lah is joining me now. I mean, Kyung, the fight and the struggle with meth is so clear from your reporting in California. Is it most acute there?

LAH (on camera): It just happens to be Fresno. The sheriff's office had allowed us to see the very hard work that they do night after night, but it's not just the city of Fresno. It is certainly not just the state of California. In fact, every single state, nearly every single state that reports data to the CDC showed an increase in meth overdoses.

And there are eight states that are worse than California when it comes to meth overdoses, from Rhode Island, Mississippi, North Carolina, Delaware, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Virginia, Alaska, all of these states are worse than what you just saw in that story.


BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. Thank you for that reporting. I mean, starting using meth at 13 years old, at 11 years old, it's a crisis. Thank you so much, Kyung.

All right, everyone, we are now two hours into the Supreme Court oral arguments in the case that could overturn Roe versus Wade. You're looking at a live view outside the Supreme Court.

Inside Politics with John King continues our coverage after this break.