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The Lead with Jake Tapper

NYC To Implement Vaccine Mandate For All Private Sector Workers; Prosecutor Weighs More Charges Against Parents After Manhunt; White House Announces Diplomatic Boycott Of Olympics; Admin Official: Biden Will Make Clear To Putin "What The United States Is Prepared To Do"; Ukraine Defense Minister Talks To CNN Amid Invasion Fears; Trump "Big Lie" Allies Vie For Key Election Posts. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: So -- but I give -- but I give him an "A" for effort.


CAMEROTA: But I don't think he thought it all the way through, that plan with the fake arm.

BLACKWELL: So, the woman who's administering, she said she felt bad that someone sent this man with a prosthesis to get the shot and then she realized he's got another arm under there.

CAMEROTA: Oh, we got to go.

BLACKWELL: All right. THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Winter is coming with another COVID wave.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A first in the nation as COVID cases surge again -- the new vaccine requirement for just about anyone who works in the Big Apple.

The parents of the accused Michigan school shooter now on suicide watch as they face rare charges related to the massacre. The Michigan attorney general will join us live to discuss.

Plus, with the U.S. fearing Russia is getting ready to run over Ukraine, a critical phone call is about to happen between President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Can the U.S. president get Putin to stand down?


BASH: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper.

And we begin with the health lead and the sweeping new vaccine requirement for nearly everyone who works in New York City. Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced all private sector employers

will be required to implement a vaccine mandate by the end of this month. Just as COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at their highest levels nationwide in six weeks. So far, 17 states have identified cases of the Omicron variant and while more cases are expected, delta remains the dominant strain by far in the U.S.

As Jason Carroll reports, Dr. Anthony Fauci says there are encouraging signs that Omicron may not be as severe as first feared.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City's mayor has made it official. Anyone working in the city will be subject to a vaccine mandate. The mayor announcing all private sector employees must be vaccinated by December 27th. Public city employees have been under a vaccine mandate since October.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: We've got to up the ante here. We've got to encourage people even more. Get that second dose because that's what gives you so much more protection.

CARROLL: And while some business organizations say they were caught off guard by the announcement, some medical experts support the new mandate.

DR. MICHAEL MINA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD SCHOOL PUBLIC HEALTH: It is a smart public health move. I think we should have -- we should set the right expectations about what the purpose of these vaccine mandates are.

CARROLL: In addition, beginning December 14th, children in New York City ages 5 to 11 will be required to show proof of at least one shot before being allowed inside restaurants, gyms or entertainment venues.

Also today, new nationwide restrictions are in place for international airline passengers arriving to the United States. Those travelers must test negative for COVID within 24 hours of departure. No test means passengers will be banned from their flight.

Until now, international travelers heading to the U.S. had three days before their flight to show a negative test.

Meanwhile, the Omicron variant spreads quickly, although emerging evidence showing at this point, it may not be as severe as the delta variant which continues to drive a surge in hospitalizations in the U.S.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't cause any severe illness comparable to Delta. But thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity.

CARROLL: Nationwide, cases of coronavirus are rising. For the first time in two months, the U.S. this weekend averaged more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

But an encouraging development on the booster front, a new unpublished study has found using the J&J vaccine as a booster for people initially immunized with the Pfizer vaccine produced a strong immune response with patients. This comes as CDC data show the pace of vaccinations is rising with an average of more than 2.2 million doses being administered daily.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: It's encouraging. We still have tens of millions who have chosen not to vaccinate themselves or their children in this country.


CARROLL: And, Dana, as for the New York City mandate, just like with public employees, there will not be a testing option for private sector employees either. And that means that the mandate will also, we should tell you that that mandate will also apply to businesses where more than one person is employed. So that's a lot of people out there.

BASH: It sure is. Jason Carroll, thank you so much for that report.

And let's discuss all of this with Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

Dr. Jha, thank you so much for joining me.

So some New York business leaders say they were caught off guard by de Blasio's vaccine mandate you just heard about.


And one said that employers don't want to be enforcement agents. Are we at the point of the pandemic where this really is necessary?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN OF BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yeah. Dana, first of all, thanks for having me back.

I think we're all just exhausted and need this thing to come to an end. And the way it's going to come to an end. And the way it's going to come to an end is if most Americans get vaccinated.

So I fully understand what the mayor of New York is doing. It's obviously on the aggressive side of policy. But this is going to be an important piece of evidence. I think if we can really drive vaccination numbers into the 90s in New York City, we will see what the benefits are. But all the data we have suggests it's going to make a big difference.

BASH: Let's talk about the Omicron variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Jake Tapper that early data on the Omicron's disease severity are a bit encouraging. But he also says it's too early to say whether it causes less severe disease than the delta variant. How do you interpret the early data?

JHA: Yeah, similarly to Dr. Fauci. And, you know, one of the things I always remind myself, is there's something I really desperately want to believe, I try to be a little more careful. I really want to believe this is going to be a mild variant. We have to be careful. The early data does suggest it but most of the cases so far have been at least outside of South Africa in people who have been vaccinated. We expect them to have mild disease.

In South Africa, I think a lot of people recently got infected with delta and have recovered. We expect them to have milder disease. We don't know how it's playing out in the unvaccinated. So, a lot more to learn in the weeks ahead.

BASH: So, if Omicron is as mild as Dr. Fauci suggests, as you think may be the case, should the travel restrictions on several African countries be lifted?

JHA: Yeah, I think the travel restrictions should be lifted because the disease is out. It's in our country. It's global. It's in every continent.

I think we should be using other tools such as testing and vaccination requirements for travelers. That makes more sense. Even if it turns out to be mild, it's still going to be a problem if a large number of people get infected but I don't think that should justify the travel restrictions at this point.

BASH: So, you said that you do support testing, obviously, vaccines, but also testing as you know today, there is a new one-day testing requirement for international travelers who are coming to the United States, either back in or coming from -- who live in other countries.

What do you think of that?

JHA: Yeah, I think it will help. I think it will help. Part of the problem in the past when you had a three-day requirement, you could have gotten tested three days before, turned positive. This is going to make it tighter, also a little harder for travelers to get it done. But I think anything we can do to narrow that time window lowers the risk that people who are infected are going to come into the country.

BASH: Do you feel comfortable with antigen tests in this situation as much as PCR tests?

JHA: I do. I do. And antigen tests are quite good at picking up people who are contagious. That's what we want. I would love to see some sort of test on arrival for antigen. I know that's going to be logistically hard. There are other ways we can do this. Antigen tests are really quite good and they give you quick results. There's some real advantages to that.

BASH: Moderna's CEO told CNN yesterday that they're going to have answers about whether its vaccine works against the omicron variant. They'll have those data over the next 7 to 10 days. Until that happens, what should people with the Moderna vaccine or other vaccines be doing?

JHA: So I think we'll have more data from Moderna, Pfizer and J&J in that 7 to 10 days. We'll have laboratory evidence, which is not definitive but very, very helpful. At this point my expectation is we're going to see a hit to vaccine efficacy but not a complete wiping out of vaccine efficacy. And what I expect is all the vaccines. If you are fully boosted, it's going to give you a good degree of protection.

So what people should do is make sure they go out and get their booster and be ready for the Omicron variant when it becomes more common in the U.S.

BASH: Before I let you go, there is a new preprint study which means it hasn't been peer reviewed yet, but that study finds people who got Pfizer and then got J&J as a booster are producing a strong immune response, and maybe better protected against more severe disease. So what do you think hearing that is the best course of action? Should people who haven't gotten their boosters yet intentionally mix the vaccines?

JHA: Yeah, it's a great question. We've now got several studies on mixing and matching. I'd make two key points. One is we often have this idea, that somehow one vaccine is better than another. J&J vaccines are absolutely terrific. And they are absolutely, I think, as good as the mRNA vaccines Moderna and Pfizer.

And if you want to use it as a booster, great. Second, most of the evidence suggests it probably doesn't matter which booster you get. It's really important you get a booster if you want to mix and match, great. If you want to stick to the original, I think that's fine, too.

BASH: OK. Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you as always for giving us your expertise and insights.


Appreciate it.

JHA: Thank you.

BASH: And the suspected school shooter's parents are now in the same jail as their son. We'll talk to the Michigan attorney general next.

Plus, fears of our democracy in peril are growing with election skeptics put in charge of the elections.


BASH: In the national lead, funerals are set for this week. Four students murdered in last week's school shootings in Michigan. While the parents of the teen charged in the killings are now on suicide watch, locked up in the same jail as their son. As CNN's Adrienne Broaddus reports, their arrest comes after an extensive manhunt that could result in even more charges.




ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today, Jennifer and James Crumbley now sit in the same jail as their son Ethan, all under close observation.


The parents were arrested early Saturday morning, found in a warehouse in nearby Detroit, hours after they were charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors saying the Crumbleys were making preparations to flee during the time they evaded capture.

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN PROSECUTOR: They withdrew $4,000 from an ATM in Rochester Hills. They fled and they sought multiple attempts to hide their location and were eventually tracked down and these two individuals were found locked somewhere in a room hiding. These are not people that we can be assured will return to court on their own.

BROADDUS: Still, no word on whether a third person, the man who allowed the couple to get into the warehouse, will face potential charges.

SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: Clearly, somebody helped them into that location and made it available to them. And it was after it was publicly announced that there were warrants for them.

BROADDUS: Both Jennifer and James Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to the charges and their attorney took issue with the timeline of events laid out during their arraignment.

MERIELL LEHMAN, ATTORNEY FOR JAMES CRUMBLEY: The facts that have been presented by Ms. McDonald and her office have been cherry picked to further her narrative of making an example of Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley.

MCDONALD: None of this should have happened. A 15-1/2-year-old should not be sitting in jail facing life in prison. These children who were terrorized and killed and shot, none of it should have happened, and it could have been prevented.

BROADDUS: The prosecutor is still investigating the school's role in the events leading up to the shooting.

MCDONALD: No one is trying to take anyone's right to possess a weapon, but four kids were murdered, seven more were shot and hundreds and hundreds more, their lives will never be the same. So I just think it's time we start -- stop talking about how terrible it is that we have school shootings and look to see what we can do to prevent them from happening again.

BROADDUS: Meanwhile, a community still grieving the death of four teenagers and rallying around those injured in the shootings. The Detroit lions dedicating its first win of the season to all the victims.

DAN CAMPBELL, DETROIT LIONS HEAD COACH: This game ball goes to the whole Oxford community. All those who were affected.

BROADDUS: The family of Tate Myre honored by the University of Michigan during his Big Ten championship game over the weekend, scoring 42 points, the same number Tate wore.


BROADDUS (on camera): And less than ten miles from here, there's a visitation under way for Tate. His family wrote in his obituary, the 16-year-old who died in the patrol car on the way to the hospital loved the holidays, especially this time of year. Decorating the Christmas tree with his mom and making Christmas cookies -- Dana.

BASH: Adrienne Broaddus, thank you for bringing us part of his story. It's so important and so heartbreaking. Appreciate it.

And I want to bring now in the Michigan attorney general, Dana Nessel.

Thank you so much for joining me.

So it took almost 12 hours and a ton of resources to find James and Jennifer Crumbley. Would you support additional charges against them, specifically related to the manhunt?

DANA NESSEL (D), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would, but, you know, more than that, I think what the Crumbleys are finding, that they have will have very high bonds which if they would have just turned themselves in in a timely manner, it's unlikely that they would have $500,000 cash or surety bonds.

The other thing that could happen is, if they are convicted, there are actually actual additional points that are scored for the obstruction of justice. And so, they are likely to get higher sentences and more time in the event they are convicted because of this.

BASH: But just to be clear, you do think there should be additional charges based on the manhunt that they were fugitives?

NESSEL: Well, I don't have all of the information, so I think it would be unfair for me to comment on it. But from what I hear, from what it appears, from the facts that they are known, if they are a fugitive of justice charges that could be additionally added, it seems like it's appropriate. At least that's the circumstances. But that's up to the Prosecutor McDonald, and I trust her discretion.

BASH: What about the man who helped the Crumbleys at the Detroit warehouse? His attorneys say he didn't know what was going on. But should he face charges?

NESSEL: Well, again, I just don't have enough information in order to make that assessment, but have I seen cases in the past where there are aiding and abetting a fugitive from justice charges lobby against people? Certainly. I've charged it as a prosecutor. I've defended it as a defense attorney.

BASH: You mentioned the Oakland County prosecutor. She said that there are additional factors that suggest others may have known the intentions of the suspected gunman. Have you seen any evidence of that?

NESSEL: Well, I'm not directly working with her office to the extent that I would know all the information that she has right now.


We have provided assistant to the Oakland County prosecutor's office in the form of memorandums and research as a means of assistance and support, but she has more facts available to her right now than I do. So I would rather not comment on that.

BASH: Let me ask just more broadly. It really does seem unprecedented to charge the parents with involuntary manslaughter after the alleged actions of their son. Can you explain why the prosecutor is taking this step there?

NESSEL: Well, first of all, it's not unprecedented here in Michigan. Does it happen only rarely? Yes, it's not a frequent occurrence, certainly in our state, but it's happened before.

And now, under circumstances that were not obviously exactly the same, but circumstances where a -- an individual who was a gun owner made his gun -- when I say available, did nothing to secure it and that child then took the gun, brought it to school, he killed a classmate and he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the father was.

But really the question is this: were the parents grossly negligent? So was their conduct in this instance so reckless as it demonstrates a substantial lack of concern for whether or not injury resulted? So, that's the question that the jury is going to have to answer in this case.

BASH: You mentioned another case that this was -- that the gun wasn't securely stored. It appears to be the case here, according to the prosecutor. Michigan does not have a so-called safe storage law where gun owners must keep their weapons locked up away from underage kids. Given what we've seen here, could that change?

NESSEL: I sure hope so. You know, it's really abhorrent to me that our legislature and at least the Republicans that control both chambers, won't entertain this at all, even though it has wide approval from not just the residents of the state of Michigan but gun owners of the state of Michigan. I mean, it seems like such a small inconvenience to safely store or secure your weapon to get a gun lock which most police departments give away for free in order to ensure that if you reside in a home where a child lives or is present that that child cannot have unfettered access to that firearm.

So, you know, the facts as alleged, of course, are very concerning in this incident, and as Prosecutor McDonald has indicated, she believes them to be the egregious that she felt compelled to charge involuntary manslaughter. So, it's certainly not the first time that it's been charged, but, of course, it's in sparing circumstances that we would see it. But that will be for our jury to decide. BASH: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you so much for

joining me. Appreciate it.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

BASH: And up next -- Russia's massive military build up on the border with Ukraine. CNN just spoke with Ukraine's defense minister as he and his country prepare for a potential invasion.



BASH: In our world lead, this afternoon, the White House confirmed a full diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. That means no one from the Biden administration, from the president to diplomats, will attend the Winter Games. They start the first week of February.

I want to go to CNN's Phil Mattingly who is at the White House.

So, Phil, what reason is the administration giving for this boycott?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: To send a message, Dana. I don't think there's any other way around it. But that is the intent here and that message comes around very significant concerns related to human rights, particularly what the administration called a genocide in Xinjiang, China, as it relates to Uighur Muslims.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying, basically, at this point, it's an indication that it's simply can't be business as usual. You can't send a United States delegation to a country where they are alleging genocide at this point in time. Now, it's a key distinction here. This is a diplomatic boycott. The athletes are still going to be participating. The White House is supporting U.S. athletes that are expected to land in Beijing in a couple of months here.

But it is a recognition that in a very complex relationship, one that's really at the center of the Biden administration's foreign policy at this point in time where tensions have been high in several areas now for pretty much the entirety of the president's time in office, the United States at least on this specific issue is intent on sending this message, Dana.

BASH: And, Phil, turning to another adversary of the U.S., Russia, President Biden is scheduled to have a crucial call with Vladimir Putin just in a matter of hours. You have some new reporting on what Biden plans to bring up.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, and before that call, the president is having phone calls with is some of the U.S. top allies in Europe. There's an explicit reason behind that. They're trying to align on the messaging side and on the policy options here. And that is what the United States and top officials have been working on for several weeks, putting together a sanctions package that the president will lay out in some detail officials say to President Putin tomorrow during that video call.

This is what will happen if you move forward with the potential invasion of Ukraine or try and go through their sovereign borders. Now, obviously, there has been conflict between Ukraine and Russia for the better part of seven years at this point.

But the troop build up with the potential to be 175,000 Russian troops, according to U.S. intelligence, has drawn major concern inside the administration over the course of the last several weeks. This phone call highly anticipated, extraordinarily high stakes, where the president is going to make clear to his Russian counterpart that there are options for an off ramp here.

However, if those options aren't taken, sanctions, including potential sanctions on allies of President Putin, sanctions on the energy sector, potentially even significant sanctions related to the financial sector are under consideration right now and won't just be the U.S. It will also be their European allies, Dana.

BASH: Phil, thank you so much for that reporting.

And ahead of that discussion that Phil was just talking about, Ukraine's defense minister sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN, saying he wants President Biden to take an even firmer stance with Vladimir Putin, make it clear that the U.S. will not hesitate to act if Russia moves to invade Ukraine.

Still, the defense minister tells CNN's Matthew Chance, the support they want does not include sending American soldiers to fight on their front lines.


OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINE'S MINISTER OF DEFENSE: You see that this is empty plates.


REZNIKOV: I hope that they will empty forever. Just only these guys.

CHANCE: These are the guys that have already lost their lives. These could soon be filled.

(voice-over): This is the real threat Ukraine now faces. More soldiers dying in battles with Russia, something the country's new defense minister appointed just a month ago tells me he's struggling with.

REZNIKOV: In Russia, they will have also the same places. Old reason, old saying (ph), Russians will die. For what?

CHANCE: Across the border, the Kremlin calls these its regular winter drills. Ukraine says there are now about 95,000 Russian troops within striking distance. U.S. intel indicates that will rise to 175,000.

But even that, the defense minister tells me, is an underestimate. REZNIKOV: One hundred seventy-five, it's not enough to go to Ukraine.

CHANCE: You think Russia will need more than 175,000?

REZNIKOV: Yes, sure.

CHANCE: How much more is unclear. But these latest satellite images from Russia suggest Moscow is now engaged in an unprecedented build up near the Ukrainian frontier, enough to mount an overwhelming invasion, alarming the U.S. and NATO -- Although Ukrainian officials seem calm at what looks like an imminent threat.

REZNIKOV: I would say that the different means that we're not in fear mood. So, we have no chance to be on this -- pushing of this.

CHANCE: But you're not fearful of a Russian invasion? Is that because you don't believe the intelligence?

REZNIKOV: No, no, no.

CHANCE: You don't believe Russians are going to invade?

REZNIKOV: We believe through our intel. We believe to all facts that was fixed by the United States intel and et cetera. But this is the last decision.


CHANCE: But do you believe Russia will invade? Do you believe Russia will invade?

REZNIKOV: I'm not believe that -- I will not believe that Russia will have a victory in Ukraine. It's a different, because it will be a really bloody massacre and Russian guys also will come back in the -- coffins, yes.

CHANCE: There's also a belief in Ukraine that Russia, which denies plans to invade, can, with the help of the United States and its allies, still be deterred.

This is the defense minister inducting two new coastal patrol boats from the U.S. into the Ukrainian navy. Part of a much broader military modernization program Ukraine is trying to carry out with support from the West, angering Moscow.

Ukraine's growing ties with NATO and Kremlin demands for NATO expansion to be curbed is set to dominate President Biden's virtual summit with Vladimir Putin of Russia on Tuesday, a crucial online meeting that could determine Ukraine's fate.

The U.S. president, the defense minister tells me, should double down on support for Ukraine.

REZNIKOV: If I can advise President Biden, I would like to ask him to very understandable, articulate to Mr. Putin that no red lines from Kremlin side could be here. Red line is here in Ukraine, and civilized world will react without any hesitation. We don't need the American or Canadian soldiers here to fighting for Ukraine. We will fight by ourselves. But we need modernizational weaponry.


We have -- we need electronic warfare and et cetera, et cetera.

CHANCE: The problem with America and NATO and others stepping up their help, their assistance for Ukraine is that it could potentially provoke the Kremlin even further. Could be poking the bear and force them to invade.

Is that a concern for you? Do you think that's realistic?

REZNIKOV: The idea don't provoke Russia will not work. I'm sure.


REZNIKOV: Because Georgia, Salisbury, Crimea.

CHANCE: So, you think confrontation with Russia is the only way to stop Russia's malign activity around the world?

REZNIKOV: It could be not only confrontation. It could be very -- it should be strong position. We are partners of Ukraine. We will help them in all kind of ways to do it.

CHANCE: And the Kremlin will hear that and it will understand that and it will stop?

REZNIKOV: I'm sure.

CHANCE: But it is a high-stakes gamble with no guarantee such a hard line from the White House to the Kremlin will do anything to force Russia back.


CHANCE: Well, Dana, Ukrainian officials are expressing gratitude for the continued strategic support of the United States. President Zelensky of Ukrainian tweeting that he had discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about agreed positions before the meeting between President Biden and President Putin as it goes ahead tomorrow. Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine, that's what he tweeted amid these assurances that he will be consulted all along the way in these discussions between the U.S. and the Russians.

BASH: Matthew, what a fascinating and incredibly important interview that you did there. Let me also ask you before I let you about sources telling CNN that President Biden is considering sanctions against Putin's inner circle. How are Kremlin sources telling you that they plan to respond?

CHANCE: Well, they're not prepared to answer that head on. They've called it -- in fact, the Kremlin spokesman today called it information hysteria. That there would be any kind of sanctions imposed on Russia because of this. Russia denies any plans for having an invasion of Ukraine, but, of course, they must be mindful of the fact that the United States and others in the international community have sanctioned Russia repeatedly for its activities around the world and perhaps the threat of the kind of severe sanctions that the United States and its allies are now sort of suggesting they'll impose against Russia will give Moscow pause for thought.

BASH: Matthew Chance, thank you so much for that exclusive reporting from Ukraine.

And a top Trump strategist says we're taking over all the elections. Election deniers are making more moves to take control of the vote. That's next.



BASH: In our politics lead, the January 6th committee says it's postponing Michael Flynn's testimony. The former Trump national security adviser was scheduled to be deposed today about his attempts to try to overturn the election, including a pair of Oval Office meetings. A committee aide says Flynn has begun to engage with the investigation.

But even as the committee ramps up its probe, CNN's Sara Murray reports supporters of the big lie are looking ahead, positioning themselves for key posts for the next election.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As Donald Trump toys with the 2024 run --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think if I decide to run, I'll get it very easily.

MURRAY: His supporters who wrongly believe the 2020 presidential race was stolen are jockeying for positions to play a more hands-on role in the next election.

In Michigan, a microcosm of a strategy Trump allies like Steve Bannon hoped to deploy in battleground states nationwide.

STEVE BANNON, TRUMP ALLY: We're taking over all the election.

MURRAY: In Wayne County, Michigan, briefly spiraled into chaos as Republicans on the board of canvassers considered refusing to certify the election results. They eventually did so. Now those who made wild claims about 2020 are joining those boards in several Michigan counties.

Like Nancy Tiseo, who was appointed to the Macomb County Board of Canvassers this year. In November 2020, she tweeted that Trump should use the insurrection act and delay the Electoral College so military tribunals can be set up to properly investigate fraud claims and later urged Trump not to concede.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Nancy Tiseo here? Nancy, would you like to speak?

UNIDENTIFIED FMALE: Have you had any experience actually working an election as one of election workers?


MURRAY: Election officials from both parties stood up to Trump in 2020 but democracy advocates are convinced these election skeptics would do the same.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What we're seeing is the use of out and out lies, spreading across the country to change the way elections are run in this country. Really, a global model for how elections should be run is now being undermined and in some cases hijacked.

MURRAY: When Trump hopes state legislators would seat alternate electors and overturn Joe Biden's victory, GOP House and Senate leaders in Michigan refused to go along with the plan.

Now, State Representative Matt Maddock, a Trump acolyte who tried and failed to put forward alternate electors --

UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: These are the rest of the electors.

MURRAY: -- wants to be the state's next GOP House leader.


MATT MADDOCK (R), MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We've got about a handful of legislators in Michigan that are going to be sending a letter to Vice President Pence today, telling him not to certify the Michigan electors.

MURRAY: After secretaries of state stood up to Trump's efforts to meddle in the vote, he's backing election deniers like Kristina Karamo who said Trump was the rightful winner in Michigan.

KRISTINA KARAMO (R), MICHICAN SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: Very excited to get President Trump's endorsement and talk to him. He's extremely supportive of me for secretary of state.

MURRAY: The former president has also endorsed backers of his false fraud claims running for secretary of state in two other key battlegrounds, Arizona and Georgia.

After 18 Republican attorneys general rallied behind a lawsuit to try to upend the 2020 election results, Trump is aiming to tip the scales in those races too, backing Matthew DePerno, a purveyor of election misinformation from Michigan attorney general.

MATT DEPERNO (R), CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: By extrapolation and based on other data from other parts of the state, we can say that there was fraud throughout the state of Michigan.

MURRAY: For Democrats like Jocelyn Benson, running for re-election as secretary of state, it's a sign the challenges to democracy are far from over.

JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Everything we have overcome this far was truly just the beginning, and it's not hyperbolic to look at 2020 as a prelude to a much bigger, much more significant challenge to our democracy that is looming ahead of us with the 2024 presidential election.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, Tiseo, Maddock, DePerno, Karamo, either declined our requests for comment. For the folks who need to run for office, it's unclear what their path forward will look like. A lot of them have Republican primaries and then a general election. That's true in Michigan and a number of other states where Trump has thrown his support behind others who think he was the victor in 2020.

BASH: We cannot say it loudly or more strongly enough how important reports like you just did are because this is, as people have said, so many times, it's possible 2020 was really a dress rehearsal for what's to come. Thank you so much, Sara. Appreciate it.

And also in our politics lead, the Biden administration is taking aim at Texas once again. This time accusing Republican lawmakers of discriminating against Black and Latino voters.

Today, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit that says the state's new redistricting plans were specifically designed to have, quote, Anglo voting majorities and dilute the voting strength of minorities. Last month, the DOJ challenged a different Texas state law that imposes restrictions on aid provided to disabled voters at polling locations.

And coming up -- actor Jussie Smollett accused of faking a hate crime against himself, taking the stand in his defense. Details are next.



BASH: In our national lead, right now, former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is testifying in his own defense. Smollett is accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in 2019 which he has repeatedly denied.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live outside the courthouse in Chicago.

So, Omar, Smollett has been on the stand now for more than two hours. What is his defense trying to prove?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Dana. So, right now, the defense is going through piece by piece through some of the prosecution's major points in this case. For example, during the car ride where the Osundairo brothers testified that Jussie Smollett first told them about this alleged scheme, Jussie Smollett testified all he did was drive around and smoke blunts which he said he did often. Sometimes by himself but also with Bola Osundairo more times than he can count. When he was specifically asked by his defense attorney, if at any point in time they talked about a hoax, he answered emphatically, no.

Now after an alleged hate mail later was sent to the "Empire" studios a week before this alleged attack unfolded, Jussie Smollett said he was offered security but denied it and to quote him here, he said I don't need to be driven around like I'm Miss Daisy. And that's important because the prosecution has argued that part of the motivation for creating this alleged scheme was because he doesn't believe the show was taking this threat seriously.

Also after that alleged hate letter came through, one of the brothers, Bola Osundairo, approached him about doing security for him, which Smollett testified today but he also said at that point it was more of a running joke he believed because he said that he had been approached repeatedly by Bola.

And that's important because the defense has argued that this real attack as they say came about because Bola was trying to intimidate him into hiring him for security. So these are the points being hammered out right now so far in testimony. The prosecution will likely go right back into these points and press Jussie Smollett on some of what he's testified on so far, as part of cross-examination.

But this will likely be the last full day of testimony we see until it gets sent into the jurors' hands.

BASH: Omar Jimenez, sounds like it could be a very long, full day. Appreciate it.

And up next, how Washington plans to remember a war hero and a giant of the U.S. Senate.




FORMER SEN. BOB DOLE (R-KS): I, Robert J. Dole --


Do solemnly swear. Oh, sorry. Wrong speech.



BASH: That was World War II hero Bob Dole, giant of the Senate and Republican presidential nominee joking about his 1996 loss to Bill Clinton as he received the presidential medal of freedom from Clinton just before inauguration day 1997. Dole passed away on Sunday at age 98. And this afternoon we learned that Dole will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda on Thursday.

Right now, flags are flying at half-staff in honor of Dole following an order from President Biden.

I'm Dana Bash in for Jake Tapper.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."