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The Lead with Jake Tapper

El Paso Struggles To Process Thousands Of Migrants Crossing Border; Rep. Tony Gonzales Is Interviewed About Crisis In El Paso; Lawmakers Call On President Biden To Extend Title 42; Suicide Rates Rise Among Border Patrol Agents, Highest Since 2009; Growing Discontent Within GOP On Bipartisan Spending Deal; GOP's Rep. Mace Confronts Liberal Activist Over Threatening Tweets; Stephen Miller's Law Group Touts Itself As "Answer To The ACLU"; House Select Committee On COVID Crisis Releases Final Report On Trump Administration's Handling Of Pandemic; Sandy Hook Families Reflect On Losing Their Children. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 17:00   ET




ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Martin helps run a homeless shelter program in El Paso. Three of its shelters are open to migrants. This family welcome center can fit about 80 people, but in recent days, they've taken in as many as 125 per night.

MARTIN: The concern that we have is at some point, we just simply run out of physical space. And we don't want to be in a position to say no, but I think the reality is very close.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In recent days, the El Paso area has seen a major wave of migrants crossing into the United States.

(on camera): The average number of migrants arriving here in El Paso has been about 2,500 a day. And because of that, many people here, city leaders in El Paso are concerned about what this could look like if Title 42 is lifted next week.

(voice-over): The public health policy known as Title 42, which was used during the pandemic to remove some 2.5 million migrants from the U.S. is set to expire next week. But for many migrants, the talk of Title 42 isn't on their minds. Well (ph) and Reina (ph) of Alaska has left Nicaragua six weeks ago with their nine-year-old girl.

(on camera): He said they came they were unaware of Title 42 and the Title 42 could be lifted. So they really just want to come here to work for a couple of years and go back home to Nicaragua.

(voice-over): The family is headed to Georgia to await immigration court proceedings. But El Paso leaders say the humanitarian safety net that has long existed in this border city is stretched too thin already. PETER SVARZBEIN, EL PASO CITY COUNCIL: We need people to step up. We need to stop pointing fingers, we need to work together, we need to collaborate, and we need to make sure that we keep folks that are passing through our neighborhoods safe, also keeping our communities safe as well.


LAVANDERA: And, Jake, this is what is starting to unfold and become a bigger problem here in the downtown streets of El Paso. These are people who have been released from border patrol custody. They have their immigration papers. They are awaiting transportation out of El Paso.

Many of them are also waiting for other family members to get out of detention as well. But in the meantime, they're forced to sit and wait here on another frigid night. And what we're seeing, Jake, is a number of people who have been coming here, this is completely uncoordinated at this point. Volunteers and people who are bringing clothing, food as these people are very likely to spend the night here on the streets just outside one of the bus stations in downtown El Paso tonight, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Ed Lavandera and El Paso, Texas, thank you so much.

As the Biden administration faces the looming expiration of Title 42, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Biden's Chief of Staff Ron Klain with concerns that the administration might not be prepared for the coming influx of migrants. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins me now live.

Priscilla, what are you learning about that phone call?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it seems like the ones that you just saw in El Paso that have been generating concern within the administration and among Democrats, including senior Democrat Chuck Schumer who called Ron Klain to share exactly that, concerns about the termination of this authority, which is happening because of a court order, and also what happens in the coming days and weeks. It really provides a window into this complex policy and political moment that is happening for the administration. And it's not the only one, we have been told that lawmakers have been calling administration officials on a frequent basis, concerned about what is to come just simply by looking at El Paso where hundreds have already lined up in just that one section of the border.

Now DHS officials tell me that they're considering a temporary facilities on the border, scaling up air and ground transportation and increasing referrals of prosecutions for people who cross repeatedly. But ultimately, it's a big challenge for the administration ahead.

TAPPER: And President Biden is facing increasing calls, bipartisan calls to visit the border itself to see this humanitarian crisis. Is there any consideration of a trip by the White House? ALVAREZ: The White House won't say and they ultimately pivot back to the administration focusing on this moment and the preparations right now. But the common theme with the administration, both at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security is that they need congressional action. They need funding and they also need those statutes to be reformed.

TAPPER: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much. Let's bring in Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales from Texas, his district stretches 800 miles along the U.S. Mexico border, more than that of any other congressional district.

So Congressman, thanks for joining us. You just came back from the trip to your district. What did you see and hear their reflective of this crisis?

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Yes, Jake, thank you for having me on. You know, the city of El Paso is a beautiful and compassionate city. But what we're seeing it was completely overrun. You know, you have hundreds of migrants sleeping in the streets in near freezing weather. It's sad all the way around. You have Border Patrol agents that are stretched beyond their breaking point.

To date, we've had 14 Border Patrol agents commit suicide. There is a rising mental health issue within that agency. But it can't just be talked, you know, myself Representative Cuellar, Senator Cornyn Republican from Texas and Democrat Manchin put together this letter urging the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place until a another plan is in place that can correct this issue.


I worry, the worst isn't here yet. I'm hearing from folks on the ground that there are 50,000 migrants waiting to cross the border.

TAPPER: So this letter calling on the Biden administration to extend Title 42, which would allow Border Patrol agents to continue to quickly expel migrants who cross the border using COVID as their justification, it's a court ruling that's what's causing Title 42 to expire, not the Biden administration. What could President Biden do?

GONZALES: He could certainly use every avenue in his power to make sure that he encourages Title 42 to stay around. That's one. Another one is just visit and see it for yourself. When you visit the border you cannot unsee what is there. And I've tried that work and I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner.

Look, I like a sternly written letter as much as the next person, but it takes well more than that. You know, just an hour ago, myself and Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar, we hosted the CBP, the Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner, to have a discussion to go what is the plan? What do you need from Congress in order to get through this?

I fear the worst is yet to come. And we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg. This is this is going to be a problem for a lot long time. We're going right into the holidays. TAPPER: So you mentioned that 14 Border Patrol agents have died by suicide this year alone. This comes in the context of agents struggling with staffing shortages, the increasing number of migrants crossing the border. Some -- I'm sure some horrific scenes, because of the dangers of the journey, as well as coyotes. You're leading this bipartisan coalition to fight to get more funding to address these mental health concerns among agents. Specifically, what do agents need from Congress?

GONZALES: Yes, I introduced the TAPS Act in order to help a bipartisan piece of legislation that helps address this. I served 20 years in the military, and it reminds me a lot of the height of Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent five years in Iraq and Afghanistan where there was all these suicides that were happening within DOD. Well, DOD put together a task force that addressed some of this.

I work with my good friend, Henry Cuellar, on the Democratic side, we got $23 million in there for mental health. But that's just a drop in the bucket. A large part of this is stigma. You know, mental health is creeping in all parts of our society.

Border Patrol agents are no different. They're just having to deal with these horrific incidents, not to mention many of the people coming over illegally, I get it, they're seeking a better life for themselves. But you're having to pull babies out of the water and just deal all kinds of different issues that is certainly impacting our border patrol agents. This is an area that shouldn't be partisan, we should come together and make sure that our Border Patrol agents and customs officials are safe.

TAPPER: Well, speaking of coming together, I mean, the Biden administration is stressing that the only long term solution to the border crisis is going to come from congressional action, is going to come from Democrats and Republicans sitting down and compromising. It's been decades since Congress has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill since Ronald Reagan, under both Democrats and Republicans in control of Congress and the White House. Don't you, not you personally, but doesn't Congress shoulder some of the blame here?

And what's the plan to sit down and actually have a bill that changes some of these laws. So there's less of an incentive for these individuals to make this dangerous journey provides more border security, provides a path to some sort of legal status for Dreamers who came here through no fault of their own, et cetera, et cetera. The deals right there. Is there the will of Democrats and Republicans, especially I should say, Republicans to compromise on this stuff?

GONZALES: Look, Jake, you're exactly right. While the administration has a role to play in this, and they should certainly be part of this. Congress has a role to play and Congress needs to lead. I'm certainly -- me, I'm committed to immigration reform. I honestly recently spoke with Senator Sinema, as I know she has a plan, we start to work through some things.

But I will tell you, Jake, it is very difficult for me to talk about immigration reform when I've got 50,000 migrants waiting on the other side of the border to come through. To me, immigration reform starts with border security. But these are the conversations we should be having in a bipartisan constructive manner. You know, sadly, that's difficult to do. I've been pushing for the administration to help lead in that, help encouraging that. A trip to the border would certainly help that.

I hosted President Biden after the Uvalde shooting. At that meeting. I asked him, look, Mr. President, this isn't the time or place, but I would love to have a discussion with you either in at the White House or at the border to continue the dialogue and how we fix this.


TAPPER: All right Congressman Tony Gonzales of Texas, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. Good to see you again.

GONZALES: Thank you Jake.

TAPPER: Investigators lay out their case against the accused Paul Pelosi attacker. They're using the 911 call, police body cam footage, and even showing the hammer. That's ahead.


TAPPER: In our world lead, Iran is out of the United Nations Women's Rights Council. Twenty-nine member states voted to remove Iran today for enforcing policies that do the exact opposite of empowering or protecting even women and girls in that country. The move comes after months of protests in Iran sparked by the death, some say murder of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Jina Amini, who died in the custody of Iran, so called the morality police. She was detained for showing just a little bit of her hair out of her hijab.

Iran condemned the removal from the Women's Rights Council. They called it an illegal request. CNN Salma Abdelaziz joins us now live.

Salma, beyond the public shaming, will this actually change anything in Iran, do you think?


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, this is absolutely not going to make a major impact on the ground. It is of course, Jake, largely symbolic, but it is the largest symbolic gesture we've seen from the United Nations so far since this popular uprising began. And it is an unprecedented move, a historic move to kick a country off of the United Nations body like this.

And the message here from the United States, to those protesters on the ground from the U.S. and its allies, is we hear you, we are listening with you, we have your back, and we stand alongside you in your fight. And that message of solidarity is extremely important right now, Jake, almost three months into these protesters fighting their government on the streets.

And I think the other win here, the other victory here, of course, it's a victory for President Biden's administration that had been campaigning for this, but it's also a victory for Iran's expat community, for those abroad, who you know, have been extremely vocal, extremely active. Now they can say, we have made an impact for our family and friends back home who have been suffering under this crackdown, Jake.

TAPPER: And meanwhile, speaking of suffering, these executions of detained Iranian protesters continues. One Iranian parliament member said today the protesters should be executed within five to 10 days after their arrest.

ABDELAZIZ: What haunting comments to hear those and I have to point out, this is a prominent member of parliament Mustafa Mursaleen (ph), he was a former presidential candidate, today saying that he believes the time between arrest to execution for what he calls are rioters, but of course we know are protesters, he believed that time period was too long, and he wanted to see people executed in a matter of five to 10 days. How chilling, Jake, and that's exactly the intention behind this statement, to make protesters believe that if they are caught by the government, if they are arrested by the authorities, they could be hung in just five days. In fact, one rights group says, don't even think of these as courts, they're really lynching committees, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much for that report.

New details revealed in the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, as the police officer who witnessed the attack shows the hammer in court.



TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead. We are learning new details about the man accused of attacking Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, with a hammer as he makes another court appearance today. Prosecutors played audio of Paul Pelosi's 911 call and body camera video from one of the officers who responded to the scene. CNN's Josh Campbell is filing this trial for us.

And Josh, prosecutors also revealed some of the other potential victims that the suspect was allegedly planning to target.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that alleged target list also included Hunter Biden, of course, the son of President Joe Biden, as well as California Governor Gavin Newsom, and actor Tom Hanks. And speaking of Hunter Biden, the suspect in this case allegedly told police that he wanted to kidnap Hunter Biden to discuss, quote, "all the corruption in Washington."

Now, this occurred this new information in this hearing on state charges. This suspect, 42-year-old David DePape stands accused of assaulting Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He faces charges of attempted murder as well as assault. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. And in court today, we learned that one of the officers who interviewed the suspect said that the suspect confessed to all of this. And so, again, a lot of new details about what the suspect was allegedly planning.

And of course, Jake, when you look at the list of these targets, there's no question that this appears to be a politically motivated attack. The suspect allegedly also talked to police about Hillary Clinton, of course, the former Secretary of State telling authorities that the evil in Washington, quote, "originates with Hillary Clinton." And of course, this is what we've heard from law enforcement sources throughout the last past few years that they are concerned about that there are people out there who are on the receiving end of so much of this vitriol. So many of these conspiracy theories, they are concerned that they could be ticking time bombs just waiting to act on those beliefs with violence, as we saw in the case when Nancy Pelosi.

And finally it's worth pointing out that people might say, well, look at this target list, this is aspirational. The Biden's and the Clintons are protected by the Secret Service. Of course, Governor -- California's Governor Gavin Newsom, he has a security detail from the California Highway Patrol.

But look, no further than that Pelosi attack itself. The House Speaker was not there. She was out of town. But it was her husband who of course was so severely injured, he could have been killed. This is something that law enforcement FBI sources tell me that they continue to be concerned about that there are more people out there like this on the receiving end of this vitriol who could pose a threat to the public and elected officials and their families, Jake.

TAPPER: And Josh, I'm not sure if this came out in court, but I look at that list and I hear the name Tom Hanks. I know Tom Hanks is smeared regularly by the deranged lunatics who pushed the QAnon theory with all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories. Is that why he was on this list?

CAMPBELL: So, in court today what police said was just recite what the suspect told them. And they didn't mention the actual reasoning behind that, at least they did lay out an evidence today. But we went back and looked at the suspect's social media footprint, it is littered with far right and QAnon type conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, about COVID vaccines, about all of the, you know, the who's who list of targets of people that adhere to QAnon and a lot of the far right conspiracy theories, and I think that's why we see that same name here as well. People like Tom Hanks, people like Hunter Biden, who of course, is he himself has been targeted by people in government, people outside of government who believe a lot of this.


TAPPER: All right, Josh Campbell, thanks.

Turning to our politics lead, top congressional negotiators have announced a bipartisan framework agreement to prevent a government shutdown this Friday. Many Republicans say they are not happy with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you disappointed Senator McConnell appears to have signed off on this?

SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN): Well, we'll see where we land on it. I still need to see a final -- I may have it (ph) process.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I'm sure it will involve Kevin McCarthy is. He's said publicly that he wants this to -- he wants a medium term continuing resolution to the Republican House because wishes the position I think is the right one.

But who knows? Nobody knows. It's in the agreement. We do this every year. And you know, it's a terrible way to do business.


TAPPER: I mean, he's not wrong, it is a terrible way to do business. Let's talk about this.

And Abby, a lot still needs to be hammered out in the framework deal. It's not just Republicans voicing opposition, Senator Bernie Sanders says he's going to be a no, because of the increase in Pentagon spending. How do you think it's going to play out do you think?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: Well, first of all, they have no one to blame but themselves.

TAPPER: Right.

PHILLIP: For the position that they're in, they could have done this months ago. And they do do this every year. But because they do it every year, it's kind of a well-worn pattern. You got Republicans complaining that it's too quick, they can't read the bill, they don't have time, a Democrats complaining that the spending levels, especially for defense, like Senator Bernie Sanders is saying, are too high.

And at the end of the day, because Congress is controlled at the moment by Democrats, a majority of Democrats and a handful of Republicans will join more than a handful, but some Republicans will join in, and they will ultimately vote for this. Why? Because no one and I mean, no one, wants to deal with this in January or in February, because --

TAPPER: Even though McCarthy is saying he wants to, you know buy it?

PHILLIP: McCarthy -- It's very important that Kevin McCarthy to say that right now as soon as it incentivize everyone to get it done in December.

TAPPER: That's interesting. And Carlos, right now, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy likely going to be the next speaker. It seems to be on a collision course with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over this spending deal. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We're 28 days away from Republicans having the gavel, we would be stronger in every negotiation. So, any Republican that's out there trying to work with them is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that includes Mitch McConnell?

MCCARTHY: Why wouldn't you wait if the hand is stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that include McConnell?

MCCARTHY: Yes. Why would you want to work on anything if we have the gavel inside Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just won the House.

MCCARTHY: We have a stronger -- yes. Wait till we're in charge.


TAPPER: A lot of senators say that McConnell was blindsided by that. What do you make of it?

CARLOS DIAZ-ROSILLO, FMR. TRUMP W.H. DIR. OF POLICY & INTERAGENCY COORDINATOR: Probably, put differences between the House and the Senate have been going on for more than 220 years. These are two individuals. I know. It's tempting to think that all Republicans in the United States Congress are the same, but they're not, they have different incentives, right? One, Mitch McConnell was just elected -- reelected leader of the Republicans in the Senate, he has job security for the next two years. The other one hasn't yet been elected speaker.

TAPPER: Right.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: So he's doing what he needs to be doing to shore up his base and to get the job that he wants.

TAPPER: What do you think?

PAUL BEGAL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think Carlos is right. McConnell has got command of his party. There are some dissenters in the so called Breakfast Club and Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, and they don't amount to anything that stops McConnell. McCarthy certainly doesn't have command. He didn't even have the support of enough people to become speaker just yet. So he's playing politics with it.

But this is a harbinger of what's to come. Kevin McCarthy may not even become speaker, but if he does, I promise you he'll be a failed speaker. Because if he can't even get this done, then he won't be able to get anything done.

TAPPER: And Nia, a group of moderate House Republicans met with Kevin McCarthy today, they are on board, they want him to be speaker. A source tell CNN that they warned him if he cuts a deal with these hardliners, the MAGA folks on the so called motion to vacate, which sounds stupid and boring, but it's actually very important and consequential, it will allow anyone at any time to make a motion to remove the speaker of the House. That if he includes that, they're not going to -- the moderate Republicans are not going to include -- not going to support the rules package. But it's possible that you know, Kevin McCarthy needs this in order to become speaker.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And if he cuts this deal of essentially, the far right of his party, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene are going to own his speakership, right? They essentially can say, listen, if you don't do what we want you to do, in sort of essentially brand the House Republican, a caucus in their model, then they can, you know, push them out of the job. We saw that happen with John Boehner. That's why he was run out of town because of the far right of his party.

So if you're moderate Republican, you are worried, you're going to be up in two years and you've got Marjorie Taylor Greene possibly pulling the strings if Kevin McCarthy ends up being speaker. We'll see, the big vote is January 3, but this is his dream job, but it sounds like it could be a nightmare if he actually ends up being speaker.

TAPPER: So we were just talking about violence and dangerous rhetoric when it comes to the attack on Paul Pelosi. There was a hearing today in the House, I believe, it was in the House Oversight Committee. It was yesterday, I'm told actually.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, had an interesting moment with Harvard Law Instructor and LGBTQ rights activist Alejandra Caraballo over hypocrisy with the left constantly calling out violent rhetoric on the right but not policing their own. Take a look.


REP. NANCY MACE (R), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Do you believe that rhetoric targeting officials with violence for carrying out their constitutional duties is a threat to democracy?


MACE: One of the witnesses Alejandra Caraballo tweeted out the following in response to a decision on abortion, overturning Roe v. Wade, and I'll quote directly from the tweet, "The six justices who overturned Roe should never know peace again. It is our civic duty to accost them every time they're in public." I know something about being accost. The night of January 5, I was physically accosted on the streets of D.C. in Navy yard by a constituent of mine."

Do you believe your rhetoric is a threat to democracy when you're calling to accost a branch of government, the Supreme Court?

CARABALLO: I don't believe that's a correct characterization with my statements.

MACE: But you tweeted that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's just a truncated version of the clip but you get the general gist. I mean, she did directly use the word accost and say that they should never know peace again, the six justices. You've been one that's been willing to criticize left and right, even though you're clearly a Democrat. What do you make about all?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: When people protested in front of Justice Kavanaugh's home. I tweeted, this is stupid, dangerous, and politically counterproductive. And God help us. I was right.

TAPPER: There wasn't someone who wants to take his life, yes.

BEGALA: Right. So it's always wrong, I think, to harass people personally or at their home. Having said that, this is not an equal (INAUDIBLE). Congresswoman Mace makes a good point but she overstates it. And that it's not equal and opposite. I do call down both sides of try anyway. But the Anti-Defamation League took a look at 450 political murders over the last decade.

75 percent of them were committed by the far right, 4 percent by the far left. So there is a problem on the left, but it is not equal and opposite. The real problem is when the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani stands up on January 6, it says we need trial by combat. And then there's an assault in the Capitol. Not that Rudy caused it, but people have to be more careful about their rhetoric.

TAPPER: Carlos?

CARLOS DIAZ-ROSILLO, FMR. TRUMP WH DIR. OF POLICY & INTERAGENCY COORDINATION: They do have to be more careful. I think the Congresswoman is absolutely right. When you attack, when you threatened to attack somebody on the left, you're a bigot, you're a racist, you're a threat to democracy. But when you do on the right, nobody says anything about it, right.

You were one of the few ones who did. But most liberals, most Democrats are silent on the issue, which is wrong.

TAPPER: Which is -- that they -- the Democrats didn't vet that witness enough --


TAPPER: -- to --


TAPPER: Anyway, thanks to all for being here.

How the leading architect of Trump's anti-immigration policies has been waging a battle in the courts to stop federally funding programs meant to help women and minorities. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our buried lead, stories that we feel are not getting enough attention. Stephen Miller, one of the leading architects of the Trump administration's brutal family separation border policy, has now made fighting for the rights of white people, a priority of a new legal group.

Miller even waged a legal war against the Biden administration's efforts to even the field for minority farmers who have, as a matter of fact, for decades faced institutional discrimination by the U.S. government. And as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports for us now, so far, Stephen Miller is winning.


STEPHEN MILLER, ACLU: We have multiple tools across multiple fronts to ensure that we are preventing terrorist infiltration of our country.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephen Miller off in the face of former President Trump's crackdown on immigration now continuing his conservative crusade. Even after leaving his post as a top adviser in the last administration. He spent the past two years as the president of a right-wing organization that pledges it is fighting back against lawless executive actions and the radical left.

America First Legal touts itself as the long-awaited answer to the ACLU. And just as the ACLU sued to block many Trump era policies, AFL has filed a litany of lawsuits challenging Biden policies they view as anti-white. And just like the ACLU, they are flush with millions of dollars in new donations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did racism against white people become OK?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This is the ad the group ran before the midterms. John Boyd, who says a lawsuit filed by Miller's group caused him to lose aid, argues the group is way off base.

JOHN BOYD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BLACK FARMERS ASSOCIATION: I want to set the record straight. No one is against white farmers in this country.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Miller's groups sued saying the Farm Debt Forgiveness Program that gave preference to non-white farmers violated civil rights law. Congress eventually put a new program in its place offering funds to all farmers.

BOYD: White farmers were getting debt relief. They were the ones getting all of the debt relief for all of these decades, and it's been blacks and other minorities that clearly haven't been getting definitely. And that's what this whole measure was about.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): AFL also challenged a COVID Relief Fund for restaurants that Miller's team said gave first debts to women and minorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden put white people last in line for COVID relief funds.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): AFL filed both of these lawsuits in the conservative leaning Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth, though filing in friendly courts as a tactic used by liberal and conservative groups alike.


No one from AFL responded to our request for comment but Miller told The Washington Post that after a never-ending stream of litigation during the Trump years, one of my goals was to try to help and inspire and coordinate a larger legal movement on the conservative side of the spectrum to do the same.

AFL isn't just rallying against Biden's policies, but also a broader array of social issues, including transgender rights and affirmative action. They sued Texas A&M for relying on race and gender preferences and hiring, something Texas A&M disputes. Some advocates say Miller's group is taking the idea of reverse discrimination too far.

DORIAN SPENCE, VP, STRATEGY & PROGRAMS, NATIONAL LAWYERS' CMTE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: It's the use of grievance politics, through the rule of law, to try to exclude people of color blocked broadly, but in certain pockets, black people specifically from areas of opportunity.


SCHNEIDER: And Miller's group has a number of other legal actions still pending, and proclamations are on their website that promise more legal action to come. Jake?

TAPPER: Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Congressman Jim Clyburn of Democratic leadership. Congressman, what's your (INAUDIBLE) new group, this law firm that fights to block Biden administration programs that are trying to remedy racial and gender disparities?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you very much for having me. Look, I have been saying now, for more than a dozen years that I did check throughout the country and in a lot of legislative halls, attempts to turn back the clock. I just finished today, a mock up in the Veterans Affairs Committee of two African Americans who came home after World War II.

One of them was while in uniform was blinded by a local police officer here in South Carolina, took a bit of a stick and pushed his eyes out, deny any kind of assistance from the veterans, the so-called GI Bill. Maddox (ph), up in New York, was admitted to Harvard University, was not allowed to get veterans benefits, because they did not want to set a precedent. That's what has been going on since the 1940s. And we moved to correct that in this country with the Civil Rights Act of 64, the Voting Rights Act of 65, the Fair Housing Law of 68. These things were done to correct traditional discrimination that are taking place against black folks. Now, we knew, in fact, I used to run the South Carolina Commission For Farmworkers.

The veterans -- I'm sorry -- the Agriculture Department, but discriminating against black farmers. And all the records show it, depicts the case is replete with it. And Biden administration move to correct that. And now they're saying you've been unfair to white people.

That is why today, there are eight less African Americans in the South Carolina legislature than they were in the past legislature. Because these laws are now making it fair game to discriminate. So Miller knows what he's doing. They think they've got enough people on the Supreme Court to back up what they're doing. And so that's what's going on here. I would hope the media will not allow this to go unchecked.

TAPPER: You are the chairman for the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which held its final hearing today, which is why we booked you and you say the committee's final report lays out that, quote, "The Trump administration's poor management of relief programs left them particularly vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse and that the previous administration, the Trump administration, prioritize politics over public health engaging in an unprecedented campaign to undermine federal agencies responsible for protecting Americans health and lives."

How much blame for the poor response to the pandemic that you put on the Trump administration? And how much do you think our country's health agencies were just unprepared as opposed to purposefully failing?

CLYBURN: Well, there's no question. But there we were unprepared for this pandemic. And at our hearing today, I'll finally hear it. I asked Dr. Corbett, who, as you know, is an African American woman, who's credited with having done the lion's share of the work on the Moderna vaccine.

And she said to me, there are about 19 other variants out there that will ill prepared for. So that's what this committee was all about, trying to identify where we had problems in the system.


So when you get a pandemic and visit a community that has already been discriminated against, already been ill prepared, health wise, then it becomes a big, big problem. So as a combination, I not say there was all Trump administration, no, this country has allowed inequality in health care to be a part of it for a long, long time, inequality in education for a long, long time. These things run rapid. But all I'm saying is, when that exists, and the pandemic comes, then those who are less prepared, are more effective.

TAPPER: Congressman Jim Clyburn in South Carolina, good to see you, sir. Thank you so much.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up, 10 years later, one Sandy Hook survivor says she feels like a failure after every new school shooting. Stay with us.



TAPPER: 10 years ago today, the unthinkable. 21st graders and the six adults there to protect them were killed by a gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a CNN Special Report, Alisyn Camerota talked to some of the parents about what it was like trying to find their kids in the hours after the shooter.


NICOLE HOCKLEY, MOTHER OF DYLAN HOCKLEY: In the one room, I could see first graders, you know, sitting down with cross legs and I kept looking at all the faces and I didn't see any of Dylan's classmates and I didn't see Dylan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an entire class that has not come out of the school yet.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice-over): Nicole Hockley kept scanning the crowd for her six-year-old son.

HOCKLEY: I remember just like looking, staring at each one and just not understanding why he wasn't there. People were holding signs with classrooms and I found someone holding Ms. Soto's (ph) sign that it wasn't Ms. Soto and there were just a couple of kids there including Dylan's reading partner. And I walked up and I said, where's the rest of the class?

And I looked down at Dylan's reading partner, and she just -- her eyes were like wide like saucers. And she was just staring. And I thought, oh, gosh, this isn't good.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Scarlett Lewis was also there searching for her six-year-old son, Jesse.

SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF JESSE LEWIS: I remember being told repeatedly, if you can't find your child, go into the back room and put his name down on the list. And I'm like, I'm not going to put my child's name down on a list. I'm just going to find him. I tried to go up to the school. They wouldn't let me.

MARK BARDEN, FATHER OF DANIEL BARDEN: It was surreal. It was frightening. It was -- I was just -- it was hard to process. And at that point, the governor brought everybody into a room in the firehouse. And that's where we got the news.

HOCKLEY: When he said that, if we were still in that room, that our loved ones weren't coming back. The room erupted. It was chaos. There was wailing, there was screaming, yelling. The gentleman who was to my right, was on the ground, pounding the floor.

BARDEN: It was just catastrophic beyond recognition.


TAPPER: Doesn't get any easier to watch. Alisyn joins us now. And astoundingly, since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 210 people killed in nearly 460 school shootings in the United States. How do the families you spoke to, how do they feel that this problem persists?

CAMEROTA: Well, they feel sick about it like we all do. In fact, when I was interviewing the father there that you just heard Mark Barden, I got a text on my phone that my town's schools were all going into lockdown. Because there were calls to police of a shooter. It ended up being a false alarm. But for that hour, the PTSD, even for a false alarm, comes flooding back to them.

And so you can imagine how they feel when there's a real shooting like in Uvalde. It's sickening. But I have to tell you, Jake, that much as this is very, very heavy material to dive into tonight, I left -- after every one of these conversations with the parents, feeling energized because they have this life affirming energy because they never saw dead ends even in their grief. They never thought when they lost some sort of legislative battle. They never saw a dead end, they only saw setbacks.

And since Sandy Hook, there have been 525 significant gun safety laws passed mostly at the state level. It's true, but they're slowly making a dent in the states that have passed the laws like Connecticut, like Florida. And so the parents are still hopeful and you'll hear that tonight. They're still working they work day in and day out to try to stop it from happening to any other families.

TAPPER: There absolutely has been progress made and they are absolutely responsible.


Cyrena Arokium, was in second grade at Sandy Hook. She survived by hiding in a code area. I want you to take a listen to what she said on CNN this morning about the recent school shootings.


CYRENA AROKIUM, SURVIVOR AT SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: It's definitely difficult, especially seeing all these other school shootings and accepting fall day which hit close to home because of so similar to Sandy Hook. It really affected me because I felt like I failed.


TAPPER: I just -- it hurts me so much because these kids, they haven't failed. They got all those laws passed in Florida. One of them just got elected to Congress. They're having an influence. But tell us some of the ways that the survivors and the loved ones of the victims are trying to prevent school shootings.

CAMEROTA: Well, they are preventing school shootings actually, Jake. That's one of the incredible things that I learned in producing this documentary as you'll see tonight. 11 school shootings across the country, this is according to police and school administrators, have been stopped because of the work that these Sandy Hook parents have done.

They have gone into schools, and trained students and teachers for the warning's ones because they -- what they've learned is that 100 percent, 100 percent without fail, of school shooters send-off warning signs beforehand. And if you can spot them, you can be proactive, and they have actually stopped some school shootings. So you'll hear more about them soon.

TAPPER: I can't wait to watch. Alisyn, thanks so much. Thanks for doing this report. The CNN Special Report Sandy Hook Forever Remembered airs tonight at 10: p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

Coming up the National Weather Service confirming a tornado just hit the New Orleans area, that's ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer.