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At This Hour

Jury Deliberations resume in Kim Potter Trial; COVID Booster Doses Among Nursing Home residents Lag Behind; NHL Pauses Season Until After Christmas Amid COVID Concerns. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 21, 2021 - 11:30   ET



PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And Perry actually connected Trump and Clark at a time when Trump was pressuring the Justice Department to find evidence that the election was stolen.

Now, it's not clear how much new information or any information at all that the committee will get from Perry. They have not responded yet to his declination throughout that letter. But there is other stuff going on with the committee right now. They are continuing to investigate other aspects. We know that they are not shying away even from potential criminal referrals.

Now, Representative Adam Kinzinger told our colleague, Jake Tapper, over the weekend that they are looking at whether former President Trump may have acted criminally. Now, what crimes potentially? Well, the committee vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, she has raised the possibility of obstructing an official proceeding. The New York Times is reporting that they're also potentially looking at wire fraud.

But, look, Kate, these kinds of crimes, and this would take a lot of evidence, is something that the Justice Department, if they received a referral, would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And it's also important to note that the Justice Department is under no obligation to act on any criminal referrals that it receives from this committee.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Paula, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Also developing, the Pentagon is taking new actions to address and root out and stop potential extremism within the ranks of the U.S. military. The context here, at least 74 active duty and veteran service members, were charged in the attack on the Capitol. Now, three retired U.S. generals are sounding the alarm about another possible coup attempt in 2024.


BRIG. GEN. STEVEN ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): When you see all the signs that are out there, you have people like Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, you know, a guy with whom I served in Iraq, who's advocating a coup after the election. We have 124 leaders that signed a letter believing the big lie, advocating the big lie that Donald Trump has told about the election results. Evidently, they looked at the pillow guy as the authoritative source on election fraud.

So, to me, that shows the weaknesses we have within our military to be consumed by political thoughts and ideations instead of thinking about our country. We love our country. We need to prepare now for the next coup. And that's why we wrote the article and that's why we're incredibly worried.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for more on this for us. Barbara, talk to me about these new actions that the U.S. military is taking to tackle extremism within the ranks. What are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, I think it's important to start with on January 6th, most of the arrests, the law enforcement actions that involve people with military ties were, in fact, against veterans. There were a very small number of National Guard reserve and active duty. The military has had a persistent problem with extremism, but they continue to say at the Pentagon it's relatively small numbers.

Now, that said, they have made a big effort here to try and put some precision on the extremism problem and say exactly what is allowed and what is not allowed without impinging on free speech. So, look at some of the things that this new policy says, that you cannot take extremist actions, which would include recruiting, training, fundraising, organizing, demonstrating or rallying, no active participation in extremist organizations.

Now, the Pentagon does not name any particular organizations, but what it really focuses on is extremist actions. Those are prohibited. And for the first time, they're including social media, telling the troops they will be responsible for what their postings are on social media if it reflects active participation in those extremist groups. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you for that.

Still ahead for us, jurors have just begun the second day of deliberations in the trial of former Minnesota Police Officer Kim Potter for the shooting death of Daunte Wright. An update from the courthouse, next.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, a jury in Minneapolis has begun a second day of deliberations in the trial of former Police Officer Kim Potter. Potter is facing two counts of manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright. She took the stand in her own defense last week, growing very emotional at times. And the question before the jury is did it help her case?

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has more on the deliberations. ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Adrienne Broaddus in Minneapolis, and it's the second day of deliberations. Members of the jury are trying to determine whether or not Kim Potter is guilty of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors argued on Monday Daunte Wright was shot to death by a gun in the hands of a highly trained officer. Prosecutors call that recklessly handling a firearm. By contrast, Defense Attorney Earl Gray said his client made a mistake. He also said Daunte Wright caused his own death.

Listen in to some of those arguments.


EARL GRAY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Daunte Wright caused his own death, unfortunately. He could have taken him and thrown him against the car and put his knee on his neck. No. He said put your hands behind your back. I'm going to handcuff you.

MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTOR: And this contention that he caused his own death is factually wrong and legally wrong.


It's factually wrong because, very simply, as you saw, Kim Potter shot a bullet into his chest.


BROADDUS: About three hours into deliberations on Monday, members of the jury had a question. They wanted to know when Potter met with Dr. Miller. Miller is the psychologist called by the defense. He talked about the action error concept. The judge did not give any specifics.

Meanwhile, members of the jury have access to the gun and the taser Potter used. It's an opportunity for them to compare and contrast the two weapons. Jury deliberations continue at this hour.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the surge in new COVID cases is straining hospital resources once again in many parts of the country. Now, what new data from the CDC tells us about the most at-risk population, that's next.

But, first, a quick programming note for everyone. A new CNN film takes a look at a 50-year-long friendship that has had a remarkable impact on American music. Here's a preview.


CAROLE KING, SINGER-SONGWRITER: When we first met and we sat down to play, I don't remember what song, I don't think it was either of our songs, it might have been Crosby, Stills, and Gnash, but we started playing and it was like we had played together our entire lives. We had a musical language in common.


KING: And, you know, we had listened to a lot of the same things, and apparently I didn't know this, but you had been listening to my songs, which I had written. So, it was just an amazing connection.

TAYLOR: Yes, it was. It was immediate, an immediate thing.

KING: I just want to add, to this day, we cannot have played together for years, and if we were to sit down right now, we could play together and just have that same thing.

TAYLOR: I think that you and I probably just have the same musical DNA, musical sources, probably the same. And a lot of that was coming just what people listened to during those days. Of course, a lot of what I had been listening to was you because you were like a child prodigy, started so early. You really had ten years of beautiful stuff by everyone. So, at any given point, there were probably two or three Carole King songs playing on the radio at any given moment.

KING: So, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and credit where due, but that's true.



BOLDUAN: You can tune in to the new CNN film, Carole King and James Taylor, Just Call Out My Name, premiering Sunday, January 2nd, 9:00 P.M. only on CNN.



BOLDUAN: So much of the nation's focus is rightfully on the omicron variant right now. And there is new CDC numbers showing that the most vulnerable are not getting the protection that they need. Only about half of nursing home residents have received a booster dose. Less than a quarter of nursing home staff have received the same, a booster. And since the start of the pandemic, nursing home residents have been the most at risk, accounting for nearly one in five COVID deaths. So, how can this be?

Joining me now is Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, an organization that represents over 14,000 assisted living facilities. Mark, thank you for coming back on.

How can this be, this data that I just laid out? Why aren't more people in nursing homes and the staff that are caring for them getting booster shots?

MARK PARKINSON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION AND NATIONAL CENTER FOR ASSISTED LIVING: Well, Kate, you're right. We need to do better, and we will. The good news is that we spent most of this year trying to encourage people to get their regular vaccine. We encountered much more vaccine hesitancy than we ever thought we would, but by working hard, we've been able to get the staff vaccination rate to almost 80 percent, and the resident vaccination rate to almost 90 percent.

Now, we have to turn our attention to the boosters, and we've done that, and it's also starting to work. Just a few weeks ago, the vaccine rate for residents was around the same 20 percent that it is in the general population. We now have 55 percent of the residents with a booster. It is our number one priority. And we're not going to stop until we get to that 90 percent level that we've been able to achieve with the regular vaccine.

It is absolutely critical to get the booster whether you're in a nursing home, an assisted living facility or just a resident in the general population. It's the only way we're going to get through this.

BOLDUAN: Mark, more broadly, how concerned are you about this omicron variant compared to the level of your concern already, which was high, about nursing home residents with the other variants?

PARKINSON: Well, I'm extremely concerned. I mean, the data speaks for itself. It is highly contagious, doubling in the U.K., doubling in South Africa every two or three days. The silver lining appears to be that the cases are milder, but we don't have enough data yet to definitively say that. And we certainly don't know if it's mild or among our residents. The average age of a nursing home resident is 83. Our residents have a lot of frailties. So, we're extremely concerned about it. We're going to know a lot more in the next two or three weeks, but we are on high alert right now.

BOLDUAN: If you have so many people who are still so vulnerable in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, we know, of course, that one way to try to make sure that they are protected is to use rapid test or more rapid testing before anyone would come in to interact with them or interface with them or even care for them.


Is rapid testing happening is rapid testing happening amongst assisted living facilities? What is the level of availability? Because we know this is the focus of the president's today, and we know that there isn't enough testing available in the general population.

PARKINSON: Yes. Well, fortunately in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living buildings, we now have most of what we need. The government has been really good at providing us testing. We now have the personal protective equipment that we didn't have all throughout 2020, so we're really in pretty good shape.

I mean, if you think about this at a very high level, when we sat here a year ago, exactly this week in December a year ago, we were at the absolute worst of the pandemic in nursing homes, over 30,000 residents getting infected, over 6,000 dying in a single week. As we sit here today one year later, cases are down over 85 percent. Deaths are down over 90 percent, and nursing homes have become a safe place for older people to be. And that's because residents, families, staff members, providers, the government and media people like you that are drawing attention to this matter have pulled together and gotten to us where we're at right now.

It's not over. We're tired. A lot of people are burned out, but we just have to stick together, because if we do, I think just fight this a little bit longer, we'll be able to put this nightmare behind us.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's one place that you can't give up, and that is, for sure, not letting --

PARKINSON: You cannot give up. You've got to keep going.

BOLDUAN: -- what you are definitely not doing. Thank you so much, Mark, for being here. I appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: So, sports leagues are also wrestling with how to handle the COVID surge. The NHL solution right now, stop all games, at least until after Christmas.

CNN's Brynn Gingras, she has more on that decision and also how other leagues are dealing with this latest COVID wave.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Packed stadiums, screaming fans, it seemed like the sports world was back in full swing. But COVID-19 and the highly contagious omicron variant proving to be team's toughest opponents yet, again, threatening sports schedules and forcing leagues to quickly pivot their protocols so seasons can stay on track.

DR. ALLEN SILLS, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NFL: I think we can't apply 2020 solutions to the 2021 problems that we're having.

GINGRAS: The NFL making a controversial call over the weekend to only test vaccinated players, coaches and staff who were showing symptoms of COVID-19. It's a sharp shift from its previous protocols of requiring weekly testing.

SILLS: Testing is a tool. It's a tool that can offer us certain things but it has certain limitations. And I do think, as I said, have you to look at each era and each phase of the pandemic as to what the value of the testing is.

GINGRAS: League Commissioner Roger Goodell calling it a targeted testing plan. Some disagree.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: That is, I think, a terrible message of less testing for those communities in which these teams are pillars, and the role models for so many others.

GINGRAS: Under the new rules, unvaccinated players must still test daily and high-risk players can opt out of the rest of the season without pay, but the approach undoubtedly means asymptomatic cases will slip detection and the virus will potentially.

ZACH BINNEY, SPORTS EPIDEMIOLOGIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY: It was an admission by the NFL that they're not going to be able to completely contain the omicron variant.

GINGRAS: The NFL essentially leaning on the fact that more than 94 percent of its players are fully vaccinated, and, therefore, it says likely safe from serious infection. Adding in a memo, omicron appears to be a very different illness from the one that we first confronted in the spring of 2020.

BINNEY: I think that they are probably right as far as their people go. My concern is if everybody in the country makes that choice, you may see a whole lot cases. And even if only a very small percentage of them are severe, that can stress and overwhelm an already overtaxed health care system.

GINGRAS: The move comes just days after the league was forced to postpone three weekend games and sidelined dozens of players who tested positive at a crucial point in the season, just before playoffs.

The NHL taking a more hands-on approach, the league ramping up its testing, temporarily pausing seasons for at least nine teams with surging COVID cases and postponing all games that require teams crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.

As for the NBA --

PATTY MILLS, BROOKLYN NETS PLAYER: We're kind of going day-by-day at the moment.

GINGRAS: So far, games have been postponed there too, but the league is trying to soften blow for teams short on players because of positive cases by allowing replacement players to be added to their rosters.

Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Brynn, thank you so for that much.

Coming up for us in just a couple of hours, President Biden will address the nation, this as cases of coronavirus are surging and the omicron is taking over as the dominant variant.


More on the new move the White House is making to fight the pandemic, that's next.


BOLDUAN: It is the top of the hour. Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We begin this hour with the president's fight against the pandemic. A short time from now, he will speak to the nation and lay out his plan for fighting the new winter surge.