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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Sources: 1/6 Committee Members Believe Rick Perry Sent Text To Meadows Pushing States To Overturn Legal Votes; Colleges, Sports, Entertainment Venues Tighten Rules Amid Surge; House Oversight Panel: Trump Admin Made "Deliberate Efforts To Undermine Nation's Coronavirus Response For Political Purposes;" Biden Forced To Punt Key Agenda Items To 2022 By Stalled Senate; Potter Breaks Down Describing Moment She Shot Daunte Wright. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 17, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A text message pitching an aggressive strategy to undermine American democracy.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking news: we now know whose phone sent that message to Mark Meadows suggesting state electors or state legislators rather ignore the voters of three states while votes were still being counted. It turns out the phone belongs to a former member of Donald Trump's cabinet. And we'll tell you who in a sec.

A viral blizzard. The new warning about COVID as Radio City cancels its Christmas spectacular and Times Square New Year's Eve crowds. Well, they may be next.

And, former Police Officer Kim Potter recalls the moment she shot and killed Daunte Wright.


KIM POTTER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: And remember yelling, Taser, Taser, Taser and nothing happened. And then he told me I shot him.


TAPPER: Will her tears impact the jury?

Hello. And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with breaking news this hour. In fact, we are breaking it for you right now. We are learning more about that text message that former President Trump's then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, one that outlined a way to deliver the election to Trump before the votes had even finished being counted.

Three sources tell me and my colleague Jamie Gangel that members of the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection believe that former energy secretary and Texas governor, Republican Rick Perry, texted Mark Meadows November 4th. That's the day after the election.

Now, multiple sources who have Perry's phone number and separately databases of phone numbers confirm that the number from which that text was sent, which CNN obtained from a source, that number belongs to Rick Perry. That unsettling text message sent while votes were still being counted in several states.

It said, quote: Here's an aggressive strategy. Why can't the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other Republican-controlled state houses declare this is BS, where conflicts in election not called that night and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Now a spokesman for Rick Perry tells us the former governor denies having sent that text. When asked how he explained the fact that the text came from Rick Perry's phone number, which we confirmed through multiple ways, the spokesman had no explanation. The text message was among more than 6,000 documents that Mark Meadows turned over to the committee. It was made public on Tuesday when Democratic congressman and January 6th committee member Jamie Raskin of Maryland read the text on the House floor during debate on whether to hold Mark Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to testify.

Raskin cited the text as evidence demonstrating why the committee needed to interview Meadows about the events leading up to and on January 6th.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): How did this text influence the planning of Mark Meadows and Donald Trump to try to destroy the lawful electoral college majority that had been established by the people of the United States and the states for Joe Biden?


TAPPER: We should note Raskin mistakenly said on the House floor that it was a House lawmaker who sent the text. They do not believe that it was. They believe it was Rick Perry, the committee.

After CNN reached out for comment, a source close to Raskin told us the congressman confirmed he had actually made a mistake and he has now written a letter to correct the congressional record.

Let's talk more about this with CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel, my partner in this story as always.

Pleasure working with you.

So what do you think is the significance of this text which was sent the day after Election Day, before many states had even called who won.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: My understanding is this is -- look, there are a lot of important texts the committee has. This is a very important one because it is November 4th. And aggressive, to use the word in the text, to say the least. Imagine the election has not been called. The votes have not been counted. And this text message comes to Mark Meadows basically laying the groundwork to overturn the election.

It is hard to imagine how this comes from Rick Perry, who is the longest serving governor of Texas, three times. He served for two years as energy secretary in Trump's cabinet.


How this impacted what happened between November 4th and January 6th is going to be key to the committee's work.

TAPPER: And it's interesting also because we should note the three states he was calling for, it appeared that he picked them, among other reasons, that they had Republican legislatures.

GANGEL: Absolutely.

TAPPER: And one of them, Trump went on to win, North Carolina. He cites Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, North Carolina Trump won.

GANGEL: But no one was waiting --

TAPPER: Right, they didn't want --

GANGEL: --for the voters to vote. They were ready to go in, send your own electors. Ignore the voters.

TAPPER: Yeah, and we only have had eyes into a handful of these texts when Mark Meadows turned over 6,000 documents.

GANGEL: I think this is a very key point, Jake. We know -- you and I have both heard that in other instances where we're seeing text messages, it's not just one text message. We don't know yet, but were there multiple text messages from this phone, how did Mark Meadows respond to that?

And remember again, Mark Meadows voluntarily handed this over without any claim of privilege to the committee. It's one of the first texts the committee has released. They clearly see it as important.

And despite the fact that Perry says he didn't author it, we do know it came from his phone, and I'm told that eventually all of these texts will be identified.

TAPPER: Well, it's easy to deny something through a spokesperson. It's less easy to do so when you're under oath.

We should note about Governor Perry, and this is somebody who in 2015, when he ran for president, he has run for president twice. In 2015, running against Trump, he referred to Trumpism as a cancer of conservativism and said that that cancer would ultimately corrupt conservative principles and, you know -- I mean, the evidence is right there. GANGEL: I spoke to some longtime Republicans, people who know Rick

Perry very well about this. They could not understand why he would do this, but it does speak to something we've seen over and over again with Trump loyalists and that is this text is going around the American people. End of story.

TAPPER: Yeah, Jamie Gangel, thank you so much. A pleasure working with you on this. I'm sure we'll have more stories on this subject in the future.

Let's discuss with our panel.

And, S.E. Cupp, let me start with you because before the show, you heard me rehearsing. We have three individuals on background and a fourth off the record confirming Rick Perry's phone number for us. The number that we got from a source familiar with where this text came from. And then why don't you tell people about the conversation you and I just had.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I said, you know, if you want to share the number, I have it as well. I have the number because he emailed me his number to talk about something unrelated -- actually about mental health. We had a really interesting, good, nice conversation about mental health just a few months ago. And I corroborated that was the number that he personally gave me.


CUPP: And so, you know, look, I like Rick Perry personally, but I think the question of whether it's his number is probably the wrong one. Whether somebody got a hold of his phone, I guess is a possibility, but that is Rick Perry's phone number, the one he gives out.

TAPPER: What's odd about that also is, obviously, they won't offer an explanation. They just deny it. I didn't write that.

Well, it came from your phone. We've now confirmed the phone number on two different databases and from five people who know you.

Daniela Gibbs-Leger, we just talked about this with Jamie, but this is the same Rick Perry who said this six years ago.


RICK PERRY, FORMER ENERGY SECRETARY: Let no one be mistaken, Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded. It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles.


TAPPER: It will destroy a set of principles. That's interesting.

DANIELA GIBBS-LEGER, FORMER SENIOR OBAMA ADVISER: Yeah, who knew Rick Perry was going to end up being quite the soothsayer. It just shows again how deep the rot of Trumpism has gone within the party. Look, I don't agree with Rick Perry on probably pretty much anything, but given like what he said during the 2015 election, I never would have guessed he would have become a person who would text Mark Meadows the day after the election before votes were counted trying to subvert the will of the American people.


It's really, really disturbing and it just goes to, again, how important it is to get Mark Meadows under oath and talk about what happened after he received those text messages.

TAPPER: And, S.E., we should note, you know, this is a former governor and cabinet secretary, generally well-regarded. And this week, we also learned sitting lawmakers, Justice Department officials, former Defense Department officials, so many of them in on this attempt to undo the will of the American people.

We can't just dismiss this as fringe, just some harebrained scheme among a couple bad apples. How is your own thinking shifted this week from what we've learned?

CUPP: Well, it was a massive attempt at scamming, rigging, meddling in an election. All the things Donald Trump has accused other people of doing. All these people were interested in doing. Look, democracy was at work while they were suggesting this.

Democracy was doing its job. The wheels of democracy were turning because the democracy is the counting part, the counting part of the votes, right? You count the votes. That's how you know how -- who won and who voted for whom.

Before the votes were counted, while democracy was working, all of these people were suggesting a scam, a way to scam and thwart democracy. That is perpetrating a massive fraud on the American people. And I just can't imagine anyone defending this. And I am not surprised Rick Perry if he authored that, we don't know. If he authored that, I'm not surprised he's denying it. I'd like to hear him denounce it, though.

TAPPER: Daniela, Roger Stone was deposed today by the January 6th Committee. He was planning to invoke the Fifth Amendment for much of his deposition. We'll find out more about whether or not he did that.

But it does pose a question. Why wouldn't other witnesses such as Mark Meadows or Steve Bannon who both just refused to show up to testify, why not just show up and plead the Fifth?

GIBBS-LEGER: Right. That may be what they end up doing because they know perhaps that if they -- they don't want to perjure themselves under oath, right? That's what they are trying to do. They want to avoid having to lie or having to admit that they had a hand in trying to overthrow democracy and had a hand in allowing what happened on January 6th to happen.

So we'll see what happened with Roger Stone. We'll see what happens with Mark Meadows. But these people really love this country, if they were true patriots, if they believed in all the conservative values they've been espousing for years, they would just go and tell the truth about what happened.

TAPPER: S.E., Daniela, thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.

It's starting to look a lot like a Christmas of cancellations everywhere you go. And we've not even hit the so-called viral blizzard.

Plus, why a TikTok threat forced hundreds of schools to cancel class today.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the CDC says COVID hospitalizations could reach record levels in the coming weeks as the holiday season and travel are getting into full swing. Now, long lines for COVID testing are forming in New York and Boston, Miami.

And as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, one expert says omicron with its high transmissibility could strike millions more soon.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's COVID time warp, long testing and vaccination lines from Miami to Massachusetts. In New York City, the positivity rate has doubled in just four days. A city health adviser tweeted we've never seen this before in NYC.

Radio City Music Hall canceled Friday's shows of its Christmas spectacular citing breakthrough cases. In pharmacies, store shelves for rapid tests sit empty, all echoes of the past. People here waiting more than an hour to be tested as omicron reveals its rapid spread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is after coming yesterday twice and then not being able to get tested here.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is a whole new animal. We got to be honest about the fact that it's moving very fast, and we have to move faster.

LAH: The past is prologue as New York's mayor redoubles restrictions and considers scaling back the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, a visible return of sports restrictions. Hockey in Montreal played to empty stands, and the NFL and NBA increasing COVID protocols.

This is all in response to deaths, increasing in nearly half of U.S. states, up sharply in seven. That's an increase of 8 percent from just last week. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH

AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I think we're really just about to experience a viral blizzard. If you look at what happened in South Africa, in Europe, in the next 3 to 8 weeks, we're going to see millions of Americans will be infected with this virus.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated.

LAH: As with previous surges, the unvaccinated are filling hospitals as weary doctors warn they are exhausted and losing staff.

DR. SHELLEY STANKO, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, SAINT JOSEPH HOSPITAL: The reality is you can't -- you can't just create humans in order to provide that care and staffing is a challenge everywhere.


LAH: Now the NFL announced three games this weekend would be postponed. On Saturday, the Cleveland Browns versus the Las Vegas Raiders. On Sunday, Seattle Seahawks versus the L.A. Rams and the Washington football team versus your beloved Philadelphia Eagles, Jake, all of them are going to be postponed a few days because of the number of players being put on the COVID-19 reserve list -- Jake.

TAPPER: I can wait a couple more days for the Eagles. Thanks so much.

Kyung Lah, appreciate it.

Joining us to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, this is a damning new report from the House Oversight Committee led by Democrats, revealing how the Trump White House deliberately undermined the COVID response because they say the administration put Trump's re-election ahead of America's health and safety.


That's their take.

You've spoken to former Trump health officials throughout this pandemic. When you hear this, when you see two years later cases still spiking, lines still forming, just to get tests, what stands out to you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, what stands out to me, reporting on this consistently and talking to these officials in the beginning there was a desire to sort of downplay this, to say, hey, maybe this isn't going to be as serious as we think, which I think a lot of people realize that was happening and there was a lot of wishful thinking.

I think what is sort of striking from this report and also some of the interviews I've done is that became increasingly strategic. The idea of saying, hey, people who have -- who don't have symptoms don't need to be tested despite the fact that we knew much of if not most of the spread was coming from asymptomatic people. And then also just really curtailing the amount of time officials could speak about this.

They were -- had to get permission. Oftentimes couldn't got those permissions. It was really challenging. I asked Dr. Deborah Birx about this for this documentary. Take a look.


GUPTA: Were you being censored?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR UNDER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Clearly, someone was blocking me from doing it. My understanding is I could not be national because the president might see it.


GUPTA: That's sort of an example of what it translated to for people like Dr. Birx. But even Dr. Fauci who said they were ready to present a new plan in terms of how to progress with the pandemic. And around the same time, tweets were going out saying liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia -- very much at odds with what the scientists were saying.

TAPPER: President Biden has offered a clear warning. If you're unvaccinated, you're looking at a winter of severe illness, maybe even death. What is this winter going to look like for those of us who are vaccinated, even with the boosters?

GUPTA: I think you're going to be far less likely to get sick. I mean, you should feel pretty good if you're vaccinated and boosted. But let me show the problem here. So, if you look at vaccinated and unvaccinated, with regard to hospitalizations.

And, Jake, as you know, I think the hospitalizations end up being the truest metric of things. It's so tangible. Are hospitals becoming overwhelmed or not?

The vast majority, as you can see, the red line, that's unvaccinated patients with COVID in the hospital compared to the green line. What happens, Jake, if these hospitals do start to get full, the tangible impact on people in society is that the hospitals may go in diversion. They may not have enough beds. Harder to take care of trauma patients, harder to do elective operations, things like that.

So that impacts everybody. So that's, even if you're vaccinated, that could have an impact on you. And also just look at omicron versus delta for a second. Everyone says this is more contagious but I want to show you what that means based on some of the data we're seeing out of the UK. What they found was that to get to 5,000 omicron cases, this is the big one, it took 20 days. For delta, which was super contagious, it took closer to 70 days, 75 days to get to that same number. So, you know, you get an idea of just how much more contagious. People

are going to get exposed. People are going to test positive as a result of those exposures, even the vaccinated. That's going to interfere with -- there will be quarantines and all sorts of things that result from that.

TAPPER: The CDC has updated its guidance to allow kids who are exposed to COVID to test rather than forcing them to stay home for a ten-day quarantine. Do you agree with that?

GUPTA: Well, I -- you know, at first I thought this was going to be tough to actually implement. You know, are you sort of saying will testing in this sort of situation be effective enough? But let me show you what they found. They had -- they looked at 31 school districts, 90 different schools. And they basically implemented this policy.

And out of those -- out of those students, I think they had 16 people who tested positive out of -- there you go, 1,035. They found out they saved over 8,000 sort of days of school as a result of this sort of plan.

So it looks like it's working based on a couple of these studies coming out. So the CDC is showing enthusiasm for this. We'll see if it's something that's adopted more widely.

TAPPER: Finally, Sanjay, you're back this weekend with the sixth installment of your series on medical marijuana. It's called "Weed." You decided to investigate cannabis and autism.

Why that subject, and what did you find?

GUPTA: Well, there was a couple of reasons. We've been reporting on this for some time. We were reporting on the use of cannabis for refractory epilepsy, seizure disorders.

And researchers kept telling us in addition to the seizures children sometimes had these symptoms of autism which did sometimes also improve as a result of being treated with cannabis. Fourteen states now permit the use of cannabis for severe autism.

But we wanted to really look at where the data is on this. The trials are happening in the United States, but also even earlier than the United States in Israel and actually show some of that data, but also introduce you to families who have been dealing with this, Jake.


I mean, you know, it's -- the thing that always strikes me about this, the cannabis as a medicine sort of story is that oftentimes it's the evolution of things. These kids have tried so many different therapies, including powerful psychotropic drugs that don't work for them and they evolve to cannabis. And sometimes, not always, but sometimes they get some really remarkable results.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

And you can watch Sanjay's new CNN special report, "Weed 6", marijuana and autism, at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Progressives were promised it would get done if they just said yes to the bipartisan infrastructure deal. But President Biden just admitted it's not going to happen this year. The chair of the progressive caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, joins me live next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In the politics lead, President Biden's Christmas wish list is now his New Year's resolution, acknowledging two major parts of his agenda are stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Today, President Biden told graduates at South Carolina state university, historically black college, that he'll keep up the fight to get voting rights passed. And in a lengthy statement yesterday, Biden said talks on his Build Back Better plan are ongoing, acknowledging he will miss his self-imposed Christmas deadline.

Let's bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond live for us at the White House.

And, Jeremy, President Biden did not get into the particulars of why these deals are not yet done but he did name check one of the known holdouts on Build Back Better, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. The president in that statement yesterday acknowledging that there will not be a deal on Build Back Better in time for the New Year, certainly not by Christmas. The president saying that there will be days and weeks of conversations ahead, and in that same statement, he did name check Senator Joe Manchin making clear the conversations with him are still ongoing, but that they have not yet yielded a deal.

That was really one way of saying that they are still very, very far apart. That is that the divide between Senator Joe Manchin on the one side and Senate Democrats and the president on the other side still remains very wide. And it's certainly will not be bridged by the end of this year.

That frustration was apparent among Senate Democrats this week who began to talk about the frustration of dealing with Senator Manchin and the fact in a 50/50 senate, he is one of the main holdouts here on pushing this forward. Now, the president's concession here that this isn't getting done ultimately running into the reality of the fact that they are not only far apart but also that time was indeed running out.

In fact, the Senate is about to go into recess just hours from now as they are expected to wrap up some nominations here. And then this makes the very difficult task of getting this done in 2022. It is certainly not a cliff. Nothing magical happens.

Once the clock changes to 2022, but it does become more difficult the longer you go into that midterm year.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

So, President Biden says his conversations with Senator Manchin are going to continue next week and that, quote, it takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote, unquote.

But isn't this exactly what you and your fellow progressives feared that Biden's infrastructure plan would become law and Build Back Better would ultimately die because of people like Senator Manchin who has never been enthusiastic about it to begin with?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Yeah, Jake, it's great to see you. Look, this is what we feared. It's why we tied the two bills together to pass them through the House. And we did take the president's word that he would get 50 votes in the Senate.

And the president called me yesterday. I do believe we will get there. I think he is still just as committed. And I don't think it's out of the question that we'll at least have an agreement by the 25th.

Part of the reason we didn't want to vote for the bill when it was just a framework is because when a framework gets translated into legislative text, there's a lot of things that happen. And we did add in the House some things that were not in the framework, and I think we did it because we thought they were important, but I do think that there's still a negotiation going on about which of those things will survive that are beyond what the framework was that was agreed to.

And so that is the conversation that the president is continuing to have with Senator Manchin and I think that, you know, I said when we passed it out of the House and in the days leading up to it that negotiating is a tricky business. There are a lot of swings. And I think that -- swings back and forth -- and I think that we can't hang our everything on, you know, whatever one person happens to say on a particular day.

I still think we're going to get it done, and I've been urging the president. I communicated this to him yesterday from the progressive caucus, that we are trusting his word. He does need to deliver on this because it is 85 percent of his agenda. It's what we're going to do to actually address rising costs across the country by lowering costs of child care, lowering costs of prescription drugs, insulin, paying 35 bucks for your insulin instead of hundreds of dollars.


And so, I believe we're going to get it done, and I think -- I think we should continue to push for an agreement on the legislative text, the changes will still have to be made.

TAPPER: Right.

JAYAPAL: That may take longer. But on that legislative text before December 25th, and that's what I told the president.

TAPPER: But a source told CNN that talks between Biden and Manchin over the bill are, quote, very far apart.

Have you seen any movement between these two parties in recent months? What makes you believe that they can actually come up with an agreement by Christmas or a deal by next year?

JAYAPAL: I'm not sure that that's accurate. I was going to say that in listening to the reports because, you know, the president and Senator Manchin agreed on a framework. It was months of negotiation because we held up the infrastructure bill. We were able to get that agreement moving. We got the framework that, as you remember, Jake, was rolled out the day before the president went to -- or the day that the president went to Europe for COP26.

That is the framework that had the commitment, and I think that, you know, it's not -- I don't think it's accurate to say we're very far apart. I think -- or that they're very far apart. I think that there are some details that need to be worked out. I think there was a commitment that was made by Senator Manchin to the president about that framework.

And I think now the question is, you know, what about making sure that this legislation is what that framework was, plus what of the things that have been agreed to beyond that can be incorporated.

So I don't think we're very far apart. I just think this is the back and forth of negotiation. I think we're going to get it done, and I think we are counting on the president to deliver on this.

TAPPER: Yeah. So, one major sticking point is the child tax credit. The plan now extends the child tax credit for one year. Manchin believes the benefit will likely ultimately be extended beyond one year and that cost of that to extend it, make it permanent even will hike up the bill's current price tag which Manchin wants to keep at $1.75 trillion.

I mean, he's not wrong, right? You do want this to be permanent.

JAYAPAL: Look, he is wrong on this. And even as I was trying to follow your logic, I was getting lost. Not if your logic but the logic being made because, look, we score bills based on what the bills are. You can't score a bill based on a fictional cost being added without saying, well, there may be a fictional pay-for added as well.

Everything in this bill is paid for. The CBO scoring is it's deficit neutral for the first decade and for the second decade it actually cuts the deficit by $2 trillion.

So, let's focus on the bill. We had to make choices to let some programs only go for a shorter period of time which means we're going to have to try to extend them if we can. But at that point, we'd also then be able to say, and we have this pay-for.

So it makes no sense to score a fictional bill and only increase the cost but not increase the revenue side of it. So, I mean, the real score is this bill is deficit neutral and it reduces deficits for the second decade.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much. If I don't see you, merry Christmas, happy New Year. Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful holiday with your family.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Jake. To you as well.

TAPPER: The former police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright takes the stand today.


KIM POTTER, DEFENDANT: I'm sorry it happened.


TAPPER: What impact might her tears have on the jury?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the fate of the former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright will soon be in the hands of a jury. The defense just rested their case a short while ago following hours of testimony from the defendant, former Officer Kim Potter, who explained publicly for the first time how she mistook her firearm for her Taser.

CNN's Josh Campbell takes a look at what the 26-year veteran officer told the jury about what happened that tragic day.


POTTER: And I remember yelling, Taser, Taser, Taser and nothing happened. And then he told me I shot him.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Officer Kim Potter testifying for the first time, explaining the moment she shot and killed Daunte Wright last April. Potter describes seeing her fellow officers struggling with Wright during the traffic stop.

POTTER: He had a look of fear on his face. It's nothing I'd seen before. We were struggling. We were trying to keep him from driving away. It just -- it just went chaotic. CAMPBELL: Wright who officers learned had an outstanding warrant for

a weapons violation was initially pulled over for minor offenses, pointed out by a rookie officer.

POTTER: We discussed a little bit of suspicious activity. He noticed a pine tree or air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror and the tags were expired.

CAMPBELL: Potter revealing they would not have pulled Wright over at all if she hadn't been training that officer.


POTTER: An air freshener to me, it's just an equipment violation.

GRAY: You did stop the vehicle, right?

POTTER: Yes, part of field training is my probationer would make numerous contacts with the public throughout the day.

CAMPBELL: That contact would turn fatal --

POTTER: I shot him. Oh, my God!

CAMPBELL: -- when she pulled her gun instead of her Taser. The state pointing out --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never saw a weapon on Mr. Wright, did you?




Oh, my God!

CAMPBELL: Adding she did not try to save Wright or check on other officers in the aftermath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't make sure any officers knew what you had just done, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't run down the street and try to save Daunte Wright's life, did you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were focused on what you had done because you had just killed somebody.

POTTER: I'm sorry it happened. I'm so sorry. CAMPBELL: Prosecutors continuing to push.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted in this circumstance.

POTTER: I didn't want to hurt anybody.


CAMPBELL (on camera): And, Jake, the jury has heard from all of the witnesses that will be testifying in this case. Closing arguments begin on Monday. That will be the last opportunity for the prosecution to make their case that this senior officer should have known better than to pull her service weapon rather than her Taser.

Potter has pleaded not guilty. Her defense has claimed that this was a tragic mistake. The jury will be sequestered beginning Monday as they start their deliberations -- Jake.

TAPPER: Josh Campbell, thanks so much.

Inside the TikTok school shooting threat that had parents on edge today. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our tech lead, many Americans woke up this morning to an alarm not from a clock but from TikTok. A vague and viral social media threat putting students and parents on edge. Schools across the country put on high alert with some canceling classes in response to a warning of violence, a warning originating on social media.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now live with more on this.

Polo, parents and students now breathing a sigh of relief, but this threat really terrified a lot of people today. What do we know about how it started?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely did, Jake. And even now, it still remains unclear what or who was behind this threat that authorities were able to confirm that was not credible but nonetheless certainly led to concerns from parents and even increased police presence.

TikTok, for its part, they said that they have been investigating basically since these threats began to circulate online. And so far, they posted an update on Twitter basically saying what they have and have not been able to find.

The platform writing they've exhaustively searched for content that promotes violence at schools today. But have still found nothing. What we find, they write, are videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe. TikTok going on to write, local authorities, the FBI and DHS have confirmed there's no credible threats. We're working to remote alarmist threats that violate our policy. And

they lay out that policy there. But in the end, though, this is all coming amid growing calls for social media platforms like TikTok to be more proactive and to be more responsible in the way that it monitors its content to try to keep things like this from happening again.

But, again, it did lead to some serious concerns for parents and students across the country.

TAPPER: And, Polo, authorities took this threat seriously. Some school districts shut down today. What are officials saying about the reaction to this?

SANDOVAL: Yeah, if they didn't shut down, and it was one Houston area school district I read about that we were able to confirm, they implemented a backpack ban, and some obviously increasing their police presence as well just to take no chances at all. What you hear from local law enforcement and just authorities across the country, there's a concern that even all of this noise on social media could provoke at least a lone individual to potentially carry out these kinds of attacks.

Not to mention the damage done stretching law enforcement out and also those concerns for staff, parents and those kids that were just trying to bring their fall semester to a close.

TAPPER: Yeah. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

Coming up, CNN goes inside the lab where they're trying to find out just how transmissible the omicron variant is.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, a vaccine expert will tell CNN the data suggests omicron escapes vaccines more than any other variant. So we went inside a lab that could hold answers about the risk of omicron.

Plus, it appears President Biden's warning to Vladimir Putin did not work. Russia is still amassing combat troops at the border with Ukraine.

And leading this hour, Trump ally Roger Stone today showed up for his deposition with the January 6th Committee, but he did not do much talking. He said he exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in the room, though outside the room, Stone told reporters he questioned the legitimacy of the committee. This comes as we learn more from the information previously handed over by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before he stopped cooperating with the committee as well.

Three sources tell me and my colleague Jamie Gangel that members of the House Select Committee investigating January 6th believe former energy sector and Texas Governor Republican Rick Perry texted Meadows on November 4th, the day after the election, and he outlined a way to deliver the election to Trump before votes were even being done counted. The text came from a number that CNN has confirmed belongs to Perry.

And the text said, quote: Here's an aggressive strategy. Why can't the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other Republican- controlled state houses declare this is BS, where conflicts in election not called that night, and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Now, a spokesman for Rick Perry tells CNN that the former governor denies selling that text. When asked how Perry explains the fact the text came from Perry's phone number, well, the spokesman had no explanation.

As CNN's Ryan Nobles reports, these revelations cap off a breakthrough week for the January 6th Committee.