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At This Hour

Surge In Respiratory Illness Overwhelms Pediatric Hospitals; Jury Selection Begins In Trump Family Tax Fraud Trial; MI School Shooter Pleads Guilty To Murder, Terrorism Charges. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 24, 2022 - 11:30   ET



BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two students were injured and are on their way to the hospital or already there. Unclear the extent of their injuries, but we're also seeing reports of possibly more injury so again, we're working to confirm how many people we're talking here right now.

This is a high school of about 400 students, and we -- you can see they are with family members now, they're being reunited at a different location, and of course, it's still an active scene, which means you saw the FBI, other law enforcement agencies there on the scene still working through the high school, making sure there were no other victims, that the shooting is all clear.

Those details we're still working to confirm. But yes, we know that a shooter is in custody with police and that at least two students were injured and are on the way to the hospital, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Yes. Fear relief, this just tear of this happening again in America all wrapped up into one and we're seeing that in some of these images coming out.


BOLDUAN: Yes. Brynn, thank you, and stay close and let us know what updates you're getting because this obviously is a very yet again, fluid situation. We're getting new details out of St. Louis. Thank you so much, Brynn.

I want to turn now to a new report that is showing that the Coronavirus pandemic caused historic learning setbacks for children across the United States. Fourth and eighth graders falling behind and reading and also showing the largest decline ever in math. CNN's Gabe Cohen joins me now. He's been looking into this. Gabe, what are the details of this assessment?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Kate, this is a very alarming snapshot of the learning loss that parents and teachers have been talking about for two years now. These test results from an exam known as The Nation's Report Card show a significant drop in reading and math scores for fourth and eighth graders from 2019 to 2022. And the students that were already struggling in school saw the most dramatic drop-off.

Let's take a look at the numbers and they are troubling. For reading, 37 percent of fourth graders and 30 percent of eighth graders performed below the basic level. That's the lowest of the three achievement levels that they track for the test. For math, 25 percent of fourth graders and 38 percent of eighth graders were below that basic level. And the math numbers are historic. It is the largest decline we've ever seen recorded on this test.

Now just last month, we saw similar results showing math and reading scores for nine-year-olds fell by a level not seen in decades. And the federal government is trying to act. They're pumping billions in relief funds into districts and requiring them to spend at least 20 percent of it on learning loss.

And just this morning on "NEW DAY," education secretary Miguel Cardona said they're proposing a 21 percent increase in the education budget but in the short term, Kate, with teacher burnout and fewer new teachers, a lot of schools are struggling to hire staff and it's only making this issue worse.

BOLDUAN: Yes, the problem, very clear the fix is much more challenging. Gabe, thank you.

So another new concern facing kids across the country, children's hospitals really all over the place raising alarm as they are facing an overwhelmingly -- no, overwhelming early surge in RSV infections. CNN's Rosa Flores, she's live at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, the largest pediatric hospital in the United States. She's been looking at this. Rosa, what are you hearing there?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, there's so much concern from parents around the country. Here's the latest that we know from the CDC during a one-week period in mid-October. More than 7000 cases were reported, according to the CDC. Now, this only included a 9 percent of the population, and yet the CDC says that this was the most cases reported in a one-week period in the past two years, so very alarming there.

According to HHS, three in four pediatric hospitals around the country -- hospital beds, excuse me around the country are in use right now. Here at Texas Children's Hospital, over 40 children are hospitalized with RSV including over 10 who are in the pediatric ICU. So as a parent, what do you do? What doctors are recommending is for you to be informed to know the symptoms. Here they are, first of all, runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing.

Doctors say that parents know their children best and so you want to observe your children. If they have any sort of change, if they're not themselves, then you have to pay attention. Now, according to doctors here, there is no vaccine for RSV, but they do ask parents to do the following again to reduce the strain on hospitals. And, Kate, these are simple things. First of all, teach your children to wash their hands well and often, and also get them the flu vaccine, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you for that. And joining me now for more on this is Dr. Paul Offit. He's a Professor of Pediatrics and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. It's good to see you, Dr. Offit. Why are we seeing this surge right now, and how serious do you see it?


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Well, first off, there can be sort of bad RSV years and not-so-bad RSV years, so there was a fluctuation from year to year. And pretty much every sort of late fall, early winter, we do see an influx of respiratory syncytial virus infections in our hospital. But I think there may be a so-called immunity gap.

In other words, in 2020, when the SARS-CoV-2 virus entered this country, we didn't have monoclonal antibodies, we didn't have antivirals, we didn't have vaccines, all we could do was limit human contact, which we did by closing schools, closing businesses, restricting travel, isolating quarantining.

And by doing that, I think we -- you know, we deprive children of the school. I think there's probably no greater collateral damage, frankly, than what we did to those children in terms of lack of socialization, lack of education, and that's the price that we paid for this. And that's another possibility is that we lacked that boosting if you will with RSV that normally occurs every year.

BOLDUAN: It's kind of something that a lot -- I mean, I know as a parent, I was a little bit wondering about what kind of the -- I don't know, fallout sounds too dramatic, but kind of the lingering effects of the big changes of behavior that we had to put in place, what it would be if it would be something like this, you know. The former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, he was speaking out and he had a warning for parents. Let me play this for you.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: For parents who have children who have an upper respiratory infection, many times they're testing them finding out it's not COVID and feeling relieved, I think they still need to be vigilant that it could be RSV, it could be early flu. So if you see progressive symptoms, seek out help from a doctor. There are treatments that are available that could help children with RSV.


BOLDUAN: So, I heard this, Dr. Offit, and I thought this gets at a big problem with kind of this round of viruses if you will. The symptoms are all feel very similar, at least in the early stages. I mean, what are your -- what is your advice to parents? What's the bar? When should you get worried?

OFFIT: Right. You have to make sure your child is well hydrated, meaning that they can take fluids and hold them down. And you have to make sure that your children are not having difficulties breathing. I mean, if there's difficulty breathing and can't keep the trouble

hydrating then you really should see a doctor and it might be that they need to be hospitalized. But this is a common infection, and usually, children do well with it. So I wouldn't panic. I would sort of hold those two bars, hydration, and then making sure that they can breathe comfortably.

BOLDUAN: Can I also -- just because I always love your take on basically everything as long as it's not totally off-topic for you, can I ask you about the assessment that Gabe Cohen was laying out?

I mean, it's pretty alarming the numbers that he was saying in terms of student achievement the first time -- the first one in three years just out this morning, and it showed fourth through eighth graders fell behind in reading and the largest decline ever in terms of the math assessment. What should the takeaway be from this?

OFFIT: I think that we paid a price for this virus and this is in part that price. I'd like to think that in the future, if something like this, God forbid should ever happen again, there will be a little smarter about it. I know that it is true that children certainly can suffer and be hospitalized and die from COVID, or I'll be one thousandfold less likely than say an older adult.

And I'd like to think we can probably be smarter about how to move forward with this so that the cure isn't worthless in the disease because we paid an enormous price and nobody I think paid a bigger price than kids.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's good to see you, Dr. Offit. Thank you.

OFFIT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So big question. Right now, will Donald Trump comply with a congressional subpoena from the January 6 committee? Liz Cheney says the panel is prepared either way.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): He's not going to turn this into a circus.




BOLDUAN: Jury selection is underway in the tax fraud trial of former President Trump's family business in New York. The Trump Organization is facing nine criminal counts related to allegations of a years-long scheme to defraud the state's tax authorities. CNN's Kara Scannell is live outside the courthouse for us. Kara, what's happening there?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, jury selection is just underway. The judge has sworn in 130 prospective jurors. Now he's going to begin the process of questioning them. He's asking them to go through a questionnaire and then he'll route through him and the attorneys about who could have some bias until they get to a panel of 12 jurors, and a number of alternates.

And the judge has said that this trial will last between five and six weeks because he noted the Trump Organization is charged with nine counts including grand larceny, and tax fraud. The company has pleaded not guilty.

It's important to note that the former president is not a defendant in this case and he's not expected to be implicated at all during this trial where we hear testimony from Trump organizations insiders explaining how this tax evasion scheme worked. Now, if convicted, the Trump organization would face a maximum penalty of $1.6 million. But there is no sort of corporate death penalty here. The company will continue to operate as it is, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Kara, thank you so much for that. Joining me now for more on this is CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. So as this is just kind of getting underway, what are you going to be looking for?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm anxious for them to pull back the curtain a little bit, right? The Trump Organization has always been a bit of an a (INAUDIBLE) --


RODGERS: -- Public corporations. So, I'm interested in seeing actually how successful it was, how much money it was making that sort of thing.


But the number one thing I'm looking for is how is Allen Weisselberg and the prosecutors questioning him going to thread this needle between talking about what he did as a CFO implicating the company, and yet not talking about who else at the company knew about it.

Because his defense is -- the defense of the company is allegedly, he was rogue, he went off by himself and committed this crime without the involvement of others at the organization, so how do prosecutors thwart that defense without asking him who else knew, who else benefited? That's what I'm waiting to see.

BOLDUAN: It's a great question, especially in how he has been depicted through well, we know it prosecutors are really leaning on him throughout this entire thing as CFO, kind of like the man who knows where everything is. How hard will it be to do this, what you're describing, testify against the company, but not testify against any of the top executives?

RODGERS: It's really, really hard because if this were a plea, it would be easy. He would write up an allocation. He would talk about what he did say that he did it on behalf of the company, you know, done.


RODGERS: But the company is fighting back, right? They are putting on a defense and that defense is going to be that Allen Weisselberg was not acting on behalf of the company. So what prosecutors have to do to get around that is to say, OK, who else at the company knew about this? Who is the one who come up with the scheme in the first place?

BOLDUAN: There's like glaring follow-up questions that will be missing, yes.

RODGERS: Of course. And how do you -- you know how do you get around that defense if you don't find out who else in the company was involved? So, I just -- I'm really anxious to see how they think they're going to go about it. It seems to me you can't really prosecute this case --

BOLDUAN: And one without the other.

RODGERS: -- Without implicating more people.

BOLDUAN: It's really interesting. So also, so totally separate because we know Donald Trump has not been implicated here. But looking at the other issue that Donald Trump is facing right now, Trump is facing this new subpoena from the January 6 Committee, and the committee vice chairman, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, she was just on yesterday, she was asked how the committee would handle his testimony if he did comply with the subpoena. I want to play for what she said.


CHENEY: He's not going to turn this into a circus. This isn't going to be, you know, his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and the food fight that became this. This is a far too serious set of issues.


BOLDUAN: What do you make of them?

RODGERS: Well, I think it's a smart approach. I mean, if he did come in, they certainly would want to have it be controlled in a way that they've controlled all of the evidence that they put out to date.


RODGERS: They would have it recorded. They would play clips that kind of go along with the narratives.

BOLDUAN: You are very specific on who they would allow to speak in the public setting, right? Yes.

RODGERS: Exactly.


RODGERS: And they never would allow Trump to do it because they want to control exactly what gets out. But of course, this is never going to happen.

BOLDUAN: Really?

RODGERS: We don't have time for it to go through its paces and be challenged in court and so on. So he's never going to appear. But I'm glad that they're ready for it just in case.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. It's good to see you, Jennifer.

RODGERS: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

So a Michigan teen accused of killing four classmates changes his plea in court to plead guilty. Detail's next.



BOLDUAN: This just into CNN. A former Minneapolis Police officer who was at the scene when Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, he just pleaded guilty for his role in Floyd's death. Jay Alexander Kueng was charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of Floyd in May of 2020.

Kueng helped restrain Floyd by kneeling on his chest. And according to the plead deal, Kueng will be sentenced to 42 months in prison. He's already serving a three-year sentence on federal charges for violating George Floyd's civil rights.

There's also a big shift in court we want to tell you about in Michigan. Ethan Crumbley was what -- has now pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism charges after allegedly shooting and killing four classmates and wounding several others last November at the school shooting in his Michigan School. CNN's Jean Casarez is live in Pontiac, Michigan with the very latest on this. Jean, this seems a very big shift.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is a huge decision on his part. He's 16 years old now. He was 15 a year ago when the shooting happened. But he has two attorneys and he has a guardian ad litem.

But what's interesting is he can't talk to his parents. He can't ask them their counsel and advice because there's a no-contact order. They are facing their own charges of involuntary manslaughter.

But I was in that courtroom. It was packed. It had so many family members of the victims. There was law enforcement lining every wall. He came in fully shackled, very tall. He sat between his attorneys. They really spoke to him.

You could tell he was listening. He even pointed at a piece of paper because he is giving up a lot of rights here, a right to have a trial by jury, a right to call witnesses, a right to testify himself, and he will have no right to appeal. The judge came in and he wanted to make sure that this was free and voluntary. He asked him all of these questions if he was aware. And then he had to answer questions about the actual crimes that he brought the gun to school, he went into the bathroom, went into the stall loaded this nine-millimeter gun, came out, and started shooting. Then the prosecutor started asking him some questions. Listen to the question and listen to his responses.


DAVID WILLIAMS, OAKLAND COUNTY CHIEF ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR: Is it true that the firearm that you use on November the 30th was purchased on November the 26th 2021 by your father James Crumbley?


WILLIAMS: Is it true on November the 30th 2021 when you obtain the firearm, it was not kept in a locked container or safe?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, it was not locked.


CASAREZ: He also asked his father to buy the gun and he gave his own money to buy it. In the courtroom, Madisyn's mother, one of the victims was in the courtroom, she started crying uncontrollably when her daughter, Madisyn Baldwin's name was mentioned, and court personnel tried to console her. But they had to listen to this. He has pleaded guilty and next will be a hearing, not sentencing, a hearing in February.


BOLDUAN: Wow. Jean, thank you for bringing that to us. Just so horrible that you remember the details of that crime, that shooting, those murders. Thank you, Jean.

So police in New York City, they are searching right now for this man who violently pushed another man onto the subway tracks, you see there, before running away. It happened Friday afternoon at a Brooklyn station. And then last night, another commuter was knocked onto subway tracks in a separate unprovoked attack in the Bronx. Fortunately, the victims were not struck by trains.

Thank God. Police say they do believe these were two -- they believe the two different suspect -- that two different suspects are responsible. New York City's mayor says the city will increase police presence on the subways as this has been a continuing problem and also provide additional resources to the homeless and the mentally ill.

Thank you so much for watching, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this.