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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Insurrection Investigation Continues; Panel Discusses The Battle For The Gavel; Sources: Investigators Used Public DNA Database To Find Suspect; Michigan Governor Sworn In For Second Term; Jeremy Renner Critically Injured In Snowplowing Accident; Study: Hydration Can Significantly Improve Your Physical Health. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 02, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After this December exchange between Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and Trump --
UNKNOWN: What did the president say when he called you?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors.
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump called again on January 1st. I do have a recollection of him asking me what my relationship was with the vice president, and I said I didn't know him very well, McDaniel said in her transcript. She couldn't recall if they discussed Pence's role in certifying the electoral college vote.
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
MURRAY (voice-over): But after the Capitol was attacked, Trump told her privately that Pence had the authority to not accept the electors. Another former close aide to Trump --
HOPE HICKS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We were damaging his legacy.
MURRAY (voice-over): -- offering a glimpse into the despair Trump staffers felt about their employment prospects after the riot. Hope Hicks telling Ivanka Trump's chief of staff on text messages on January 6th, they will be perpetually unemployed. In one day, he ended every future opportunity that doesn't include speaking engagements at the local Proud Boys chapter, Hicks says. I'm so mad and upset. We all look like domestic terrorists now.
MURRAY: Also in this document is a letter from the committee to White House counsel basically saying, you know, we know that you provided some witnesses who provided testimony, we agreed not to release their identity, we no longer have control over these materials, we can't ensure the confidentiality of these witnesses, and we share concerns for their safety, security, and reputations. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now to discuss, former White House communications director under Trump and CNN political analyst Alyssa Farah Griffin. Alyssa, thanks for joining us.
Before we get into your interview with the committee, the transcript was released a few days ago, I want to get your reaction to what Sara Murray just said.
The committee telling the White House that they're worried that when Republicans take control of the House, White House personnel, these are career employees, not political appointees presumably, witnesses whose identities were protected, could be revealed by House Republicans. Do you think that's a legitimate fear?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It's a very legitimate fear. It's astonishing and it's something that any Republicans in Congress who, you know, care about the credibility of oversight going forward need to oppose.
These would be people like valets, Secret Service agents, people who worked within the residence of the White House that may have provided details that were important to the investigation of the committee. And they were simply just, you know, complying, whether voluntarily or with subpoenas.
And as we've talked about many times, Jake, those of us who testified to the committee, we face harassment, we face threats, and it's opening these private citizens up to that, which they never signed up for.
TAPPER: You told the committee in your testimony this, about former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
You wrote -- quote -- "I'm a Christian woman, so I will say this. Kayleigh is a liar and an opportunist. I wish her the best, but she made -- she's a smart woman. She's a Harvard law grad. This is not an idiot. She knew we lost the election, but she made a calculation that she wanted to have a certain life post-Trump that required staying in his good graces. And that was more important to her than telling the truth to the American public." -- end quote.
Would you put a majority of your fellow White House staffers and officials in that category or was Kayleigh McEnany a stand out?
GRIFFIN: Listen, it was -- it was -- it was hard to read back, to hear and to say it when I did, but it was the truth. Listen, silence is one thing. People who are in the White House not themselves speaking up against election lies. That's shameful. It's not a good thing. But it is far worse to amplify the lies that led to January 6th, and that have taken hold in this country in such a dangerous way.
So, I hold those who pushed those lies, especially who I believe knew better, in a different category than those who merely remained silent.
And something I keep going back to and just kind of reflecting, you know, two years after the fact of January 6th is if doing the right thing was easy, more people would do it. But so many people sat on the sidelines and just decided someone else might speak out and do the right thing, someone else might step in and stop this violence in real time.
Kayleigh and others have massive platforms. They have massive public profiles that they could have used that day to hopefully try to stop the violence. But in the months and years that followed to stop this just insidious lie, that's consumed the Republican Party that the 2020 election was stolen when in fact that, of course, was not.
TAPPER: I mean, she has a huge platform on a different channel. And she, as far as I can tell, doesn't use it to correct the record. Texts between Hope Hicks, another White House aide, and former Ivanka Trump chief of staff, Julie Radford, reveal how upset they were with Trump's actions on that day. This is private communication and not stuff they've said publicly.
Hicks texted Radford -- quote -- "We all look like domestic terrorists now," adding -- quote -- "This made us all unemployable." She also texted -- quote -- "Not being dramatic, but we're all effed."
Alyssa, meaning you, looks like a genius. That text was referencing, my guess is, your resignation about a month before the insurrection. What went through your mind when you saw that?
GRIFFIN: Listen, when I stepped down in December, it was -- of course, I was thinking about my future prospects, but it was first and foremost because I was uncomfortable tying my name and my integrity to this lie that was being spread by the campaign and by some White House officials.
Listen, I think there was a lot of self-preservation going on by folks in the Trump orbit. It still is to this day. But I would also note, especially Hope, she knows President Trump very well. She knows that if you cross him, it comes with, again, threats, harassment, and being maligned. So, I think there's an intimidation factor that has contributed to more people not speaking out and telling the truth about what they know about him.
And I just want to note what has been so masterful about the January 6th Committee, is they've gotten all these people in their own voices on camera, you know, talking about how they really felt about him. And I thought it was very notable that Hope called it what it was, domestic terrorism. That's important. I'm glad that she said that.
TAPPER: The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, testified about unflattering opinion articles written about Trump by former flag officers, generals and admirals.
In referral to one of those former officials, Milley says Trump and his aides asked Milley to -- quote -- "Bring him back on active duty, court-martial him, you know, make him walk the plank sort of thing, right? I advised them not to do that."
That's just deranged. I mean, that is the behavior of a tyrant. Does it surprise you?
GRIFFIN: No. And I worked with Chairman Milley at the Department of Defense and I'm grateful that he was constantly this block, this roadblock against these terrible instincts by the former president, but it just goes to show Donald Trump does not even understand the U.S. Military that he oversaw, which is right now the most diverse force it has ever been in history, ideologically, racially, religiously.
This idea that, you know, somebody who is in the military shouldn't be able to criticize him is absurd. That's something you would expect to see in the kremlin, not the United States. And it's just, you know, another dot to remember in the long and long list of things that make him so unqualified to ever hold office again.
TAPPER: You told the committee that the CIA director at the time, Gina Haspel, had a -- quote -- "suicide pact" with the entire intelligence community if Trump actually fired her. You don't mean that literally, but you mean career-wise, that if he fired her, that others would resign.
You say Trump tried to fire her, but he backed out almost immediately and -- quote -- "Allegedly, for about 14 minutes, Kash Patel was actually the CIA director."
Now, there is no public record of that, but that is absolutely terrifying. Kash Patel was the acting CIA director for about 14 minutes?
GRIFFIN: Well, I want to be clear, this was anecdotal, but I heard it from very senior officials who I trust, that this took place. And because so many officials within the IC and the national security community knew what Donald Trump was capable of and how he just fundamentally didn't understand his role and their role, they had these pacts and these alliances in place to make sure that the incredible and important work that they do couldn't just be stopped on his political whims.
So, in the final days, it was a very, very scary time in the intel community as well as the Department of Defense. We obviously saw he installed a loyalist at DOD, he installed Kash actually ultimately at DOD. But even within the CIA, and it was someone like Gina Haspel that was able to stop that and other officials within the NSA, DIA and other places, that, my understanding, stopped it from happening, which could have been crippling to our intelligence gathering all over the world.
TAPPER: Milley testified about a rescue operation that Kash and some others said, oh, yeah, we got approval from the other country for a flyover and they hadn't. That could have been disastrous. Who knows what would have happened? There was a clear pattern in your interview with the committee about Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Here is one little bit. Quote -- "Sometimes Meadows would be an ally and would help, like, stop certain things. But then other times, he would either be just nonexistent. Injecting bleach, for example. Like, he's, I've got this, I've got this. And then it ended up going forward. I never saw evidence that he really pushed back on the president."
You also told the committee you tried to get Trump to walk back when he said, when the looting starts, the shooting starts, which is a tweet he sent a few days after George Floyd was killed by police and there were protests. He refused.
Was there anyone that Trump actually listened to? Was there anyone that could actually say to him, Mr. President, this is a horrible idea, if you do this, you're damaging the country, if you're doing this, you're damaging national security, do not do this? Anyone like that that he listened to?
GRIFFIN: Honestly, in reviewing my testimony and when I gave it, not that comes to mind.
There were people -- I mentioned Robert O'Brien as someone who I found to give him sound counsel. Many folks at agencies did. But nobody could truly change his mind. I mean, that was exemplified, obviously, on the events leading up to January 6th.
I tried to, in my testimony, give as many concrete examples to sort of show what I meant. The injecting bleach story, which has become, you know, infamous now just goes to show that even the White House chief of staff couldn't stop a briefing like that from going forward and leading to this horrifying moment that will go down in history as one of the worst White House press briefings.
But then, of course, much, much worse was the days leading up to January 6th where we were told, we won't let this person get in front of him, we're not going to let these lies get in front of Donald Trump, and yet they somehow still ended up in the Oval Office. That's where I reserve some of my harshest, frankly, criticism for Mark Meadows.
TAPPER: Yeah. Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.
Coming up, it's down to the wire for Kevin McCarthy's dream to be speaker of the House, and it's still not clear that he has the magic number of votes to become the speaker.
And "Avengers" star Jeremy Renner is critically injured after a snowplow accident. The latest on his condition ahead.
[17:14:58] TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, some 11th hour scrambling from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is trying to line up enough votes to win election as speaker of the House. There are a handful of far-right holdouts and they warned they will not support him during tomorrow's vote.
McCarthy is hoping to seal the deal by making several concessions to these hardliners over rules changes, including lowering the number of votes needed to trigger a vote on getting rid of the speaker himself.
CNN's Manu Raju, the chief congressional correspondent for CNN, is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, are those concessions having any effect on the members who have publicly announced their opposition or at least skepticism to him? I think the number is up to like 14 or so.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Not at the moment. In fact, right now, Kevin McCarthy is in the speaker's office. Even though he is not formerly the speaker, he has moved in, essentially. This is normal process. There's no placard above the speaker's office, but he's been in there all day, making phone calls.
Now, he is meeting with a number of allies and also some key detractors. I just saw Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is one of the hard noses on Kevin McCarthy, walked into the office. Others expressed skepticism. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert also walked in. And also, Scott Perry. He is one of the signatories of that letter from nine members yesterday who raised concerns that concessions that Kevin McCarthy has made so far are simply not enough.
Now, the question will be, what will happen tomorrow if Kevin McCarthy is unable to secure the 218 votes he needs to win the speakership? He can only afford to lose four votes. At the moment, he could lose up to 10, maybe 14 votes. That is the prediction at the moment.
Then what happens? It is uncertain. It has been 100 years since the speaker's race has gone onto multiple ballots. And at the moment, I'm told that Kevin McCarthy has no plan to go anywhere. He's planning to grind it out on the floor, ballot after ballot after ballot, until his detractors fall in line.
Also, the big question is, who will be next? In talking to a number of Republicans, it is very clear that virtually nobody in the republican conference can get to the 218 votes needed to become speaker. So, if McCarthy can't get there, can his deputy, Steve Scalise, the number two, get there?
Republicans say he simply cannot, which raises even more questions about McCarthy's future and his prospects tomorrow ahead of the critical vote as he tries to make more concessions, continues to negotiate, as the conference prepares to meet tomorrow morning ahead of the critical vote.
Still uncertain what it will mean for the Republicans going forward as a number of Republicans are concerned that it would undercut their ability to govern just as they come into power in the 118th Congress.
TAPPER: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you. Tomorrow is going to be exciting. Let's discuss this with our panel. Eva, McCarthy told CNN today he thinks it's going to be a good day tomorrow. He has offered all these concessions.
For people out there who are just -- you know, just got back from vacation, they don't understand what is going on, what do these people want? What do these hardliners want? What is their issue with Kevin McCarthy other than he's, you know, a swamp creature, blah, blah, blah? What tangibly are they looking for?
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, some will argue that he wasn't loyal enough to the former president. Some will argue that rank-and-file members don't have enough power in Congress. I think that's why the 72-hour will to review bills was instituted or proposed and the rules changed.
But really, there's going to be no end to their demands, even if he is able to successfully pull this off. I think that this whole episode really illustrates that, you know, you can't abandon your principles in pursuit of power because it ultimately may not work out for you in the end.
We'll have to see. I think that over time, these members that are challenging him might get sort of worn out by the process, right? This could stretch on and on and on. And then maybe in the final hour, he's able to pull it out. But I think if anyone in Washington tells you they know with certainty what's going to happen, they're lying.
TAPPER: So, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent was on the show earlier, and he said basically that he thinks that Kevin McCarthy has been offering too many concessions for too long to this wing, this MAGA wing. Not all 14 of them are, but a lot of them are. What do they want other than not Kevin McCarthy?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Well, the ability for any single one of them to be able to basically call a vote of no confidence and kick him out as speaker.
TAPPER: That's still not -- that's still not Kevin McCarthy. It's just like in the future, not just today. You know what I mean?
CHAMBERS: And he already offered them the ability for any group of five to say that. So, they want for one person to be able to say that. The other thing that they've asked for is for leadership to not play in republican primaries, which would also be a break from precedent. I think that they're essentially asking him to abandon other members of his conference at that point in order to get these votes.
So, he's really stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the two sides are playing a game of chicken right now and trying to see who will wear down first.
MCKEND: And some of the demands are not ridiculous, right? Having more time to read a bill --
TAPPER: Oh, sure.
MCKEND: -- that's not a ridiculous demand.
TAPPER: No. And paying for legislation by making cuts elsewhere, that's more mainstream, traditional republican fair. You used to work on the Hill for the other side, the Democrats.
What's your take on all of this?
DOUG THORNELL, CEO, SKDK POLITICAL CONSULTING FIRM: Well, normally, chaos and dysfunction consumes the party heading into the minority.
THORNELL: It's consuming the party that's heading into the majority right now. If you look at what's going on in the democratic side, they had a relatively easy transfer of power from Nancy Pelosi to Hakeem Jeffries. Their signature achievement in the Inflation Reduction Act, capping the price of insulin at $35 happened yesterday. You don't hear a lot of people talking about challenging Joe Biden in a primary.
So, there's relative stability over on in the Democratic Party. And for the party that's heading into the majority, this was supposed to be Kevin McCarthy's week, right? They are consumed with all of this chaos and dysfunction. He may not win in the first ballot. They've got this fraud heading into Congress who has a whole story about whether or not --
TAPPER: Oh, Santos. Congressman Santos, yeah.
THORNELL: Santos, right. You know, these are the two headlines that Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are dealing with. And they also -- you know, Democrats picked up a seat in the Senate. So, this is not how Republicans thought they would be starting the new year.
And it's, you know, a real problem for them heading into like trying to govern. How are they going to pass a debt ceiling? How are they going to fund the government? How are they going to do anything in the House?
RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They're not.
SHAH: Simply put. I mean, look, you asked what do they want, these people. They want to decimate the republican establishment as we all know it.
SHAH: I got a fundraising email today at noon from Congressman Andy Biggs saying I need $30 donation from you in four weeks in order to mount a pressure campaign against McCarthy and his type of people. What that tells me? That tells me that Biggs has not only grown in power at a time where we just really didn't think he would.
But these people really believe they have that power to decimate the republican establishment. They will not rest until it's done. They don't want a guy like McCarthy there because they think he stands for nothing. They think he'll make deals with the Democrats.
Is that the worst thing? Those of us who spent time on the Hill know that's the only way that things get done. But this is what they saw Trump do. They thought that Trump stuck it to the republican establishment, so they're doing Trump's work. They're continuing to do that.
And I find it problematic because, again, these extremists hold the power. They're holding Kevin McCarthy in the toughest place. And let us remind people who Kevin McCarthy is. I think he will pull it off tomorrow. No doubt. But --
TAPPER: You do?
SHAH: I do. I do because let's again not forget who he is. He's a political animal.
SHAH: When Speaker Ryan was in the speakership, Ryan wanted nothing more than to be the policy guy. And he got to do all that because guess who his right man? That was McCarthy. McCarthy was the political animal who is ready to play the dirty political games that Speaker Ryan didn't want to do. And now, he's in a tough fight, but he's going to prove himself tomorrow be the political animal. He has always been known to be.
TAPPER: Okay. So, let's assume that the nine skeptics who wrote the letter, Chip Roy, et cetera, that they come around. Okay, that's certainly possible. There is a reason that they're not never Kevin. They're just skeptical of Kevin.
But these five, he can only afford to lose four of them. Who is going to buckle of these five? I mean, I just don't know. They're all out there. They have nothing to lose, it seems to me. I mean, other than the Republican Party.
THORNELL: I actually think that he wins it eventually. But for these five folks, they kind of have to -- they've gone out there. I think they kind of have to push this to a second ballot and really try to at least embarrass him. Because after that, I mean, they're out there. They're all out there. They're kind of all in on pushing this. So, you know -- and again, like -- MAGA wins here. I mean, Trump has endorsed Kevin McCarthy.
SHAH: Can I just say --
CHAMBERS: Steve Scalise has done something.
SHAH: They could have gone for the jugular here and tried to flip four Republicans. We will give you something. Get in this with us. Kevin again just didn't play hardball, I feel. And I know. That is me saying putting it on the Democrats, but you want to save democracy? Don't end up with the --
THORNELL: I think Democrats are actually really happy watching this all play out because it's literally chaos and dysfunction. This is the MAGA Republican Party on display for the American public to see. They're pretty happy with what's going on. It's a shame that this is the ruling party of the House. But this is what, you know, people voted for, and I don't think Democrats feel any pressure to bail them out.
TAPPER: Isn't this exactly why Senate Republicans cut that deal with Senate Democrats to pass that giant spending bill because they just look at the House Republicans and they think these guys can't do anything, they can't do this?
CHAMBERS: And Kevin McCarthy says that if he becomes speaker, those are the sorts of things that he would block in the future. When you talk about Democrats, I'm hearing exactly what you said from Democratic lawmakers. They say that this is evidence of the inability, the GOP's inability to govern, and that this is what's going to happen for the next two years.
One told me they felt this was going to metastasize. And this is what they're building their argument on for 2024, to try and take back the House of Representatives. So, I don't think that you're going to see them step in and try and bail out Kevin McCarthy here.
TAPPER: But don't you think this also just like suggests that we are going to have a government shutdown, we are going to have the debt ceiling chaos, we are going to see -- I mean, all of that -- if he can't even win the speakership, 218 votes, with a 200 -- what is it, 222 votes? I mean --
MCKEND: Two eighteen.
TAPPER: Two eighteen, yeah. No, but I mean like he has a cushion of four votes.
Then how they're going to pass like -- voting for Kevin McCarthy is nothing like voting to raise the debt ceiling. That's an ugly vote.
MCKEND: We could. I mean, it certainly doesn't inspire a lot of confidence about the competence of our government, but I will say, I don't know, you know, how many tears I shed for McCarthy because at the end of the day, I do think that it shouldn't be a coronation, right? Leaders should be challenged. I think that we have to be concerned about the people who are challenging McCarthy, but ultimately, you know, he should -- he should have to fight for the speakership.
TAPPER: Sure. It shouldn't be coronation. Absolutely. All right, we have some predictions here. You guys both think he's going to get it. We will see what happens. I'm not so sure. Thanks to all. Coming up, how the suspect in the Idaho student murders was tracked down using a public DNA database. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, the suspect in the University of Idaho student killings is scheduled to be in court tomorrow in Pennsylvania, where he is expected to not fight efforts to bring him back to Idaho to face four murder charges. Today, CNN's Jean Casarez spoke with the public defender assigned to the case in Monroe county, Pennsylvania.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man who police say killed four college students, then weeks later drove cross country, tracked by police will go back to Idaho to face charges.
CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO, POLICE: Detectives arrested 28-year- old Bryan Christopher Kohberger.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were stabbed to death November 13 in this Moscow, Idaho home.
FRY: This was a very complex and extensive case.
CASAREZ (voice-over): DNA was recovered at the crime scene. A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN the suspect was identified through genetic genealogy, a process where DNA from an investigation is compared to a public database, potentially leading to a family member of a suspect. Kohberger's lawyer says his father flew to Washington state to bring him to northeast Pennsylvania for the holidays.
JASON LABAR, PUBLIC DEFENDER: His father actually went out there and they drove home together.
CASAREZ (voice-over): They drove his white Hyundai Elantra, a car matching that description was in the immediate area of the killings, police said. CNN confirmed they stopped at a repair shop in Pennsylvania, where some work was done on the vehicle.
LABAR: I believe he arrived somewhere around the 17 of December.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Jason LaBar, the chief public defender from Monroe County, Pennsylvania, is representing Kohberger until he is extradited. A law enforcement source says the FBI watched him for four days before he was arrested.
LABAR: FBI, local police, Idaho state troopers were at their house at approximately 03:00, a.m. Knocking on the door and announcing themselves to enter.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Kohberger graduated in May from DeSales University in Pennsylvania with a master's in criminal justice and was pursuing a doctorate at Washington State University, only about 7 miles away from the University of Idaho.
(on-camera): He has to appreciate the seriousness of what is happening right now.
LABAR: Oh, absolutely. He is very intelligent. In my hour conversation with him, that comes off, I can tell that. And he understands where we are right now.
CASAREZ (voice-over): While in college at DeSales, Kohberger asked ex- cons to participate in a study. "This study seeks to understand the story behind your most recent criminal offense, with emphasis on your thoughts and feelings throughout your experience," he wrote on an online message board.
HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, STUDENT: This person that had been, you know, kind of grading my papers was, you know, allegedly does this like, horrible murderer.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Kohberger was working as a teaching assistant in Washington, and one student claims his demeanor and his strict grading changed after the murders.
STINCHFIELD: He started grading everybody just 100s. And now obviously, he seems like he was probably pretty preoccupied.
CASAREZ (voice-over): For victims' families, this arrest is a step toward closure and a chance to see Kohberger in court.
STEVE GONCALVES, VICTIM'S FATHER: It's a little bit of hope. Things are moving in the right direction. There's a lot of time of not knowing. We're going to definitely look this guy and look him in his eyes. He's going to have to deal with this.
CASAREZ: And the extradition proceeding will take place right here in northeastern Pennsylvania tomorrow, 03:00 Eastern time. And after that, the authorities will get him back to Idaho, where we very shortly thereafter, will have his initial appearance to face those four felony counts of first degree murder.
And the chief public defender here in northeastern Pennsylvania did tell me that he does believe in Idaho, which has the death penalty, that this quite possibly could be a capital case. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jean Casarez in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis joins us now. Commissioner Davis, sources tell CNN that authorities used a public DNA database to find potential matches between DNA found at the murder scene and then the potential family members, and that led to the suspect. Hypothetically, how would that work? Has that happened before? EDWARD DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Hi, Jake. Yes, it has, and it's being used more and more often. But you have to remember that this is not a definitive test that will give you sometimes a number of suspects, dozens, maybe hundreds, that you have to start to filter through.
And what you're looking for after you get that initial list is people who have some proximity to the crime or some motivation.
If his name popped and he was in the area, he drove an Elantra, those are obviously indicators that would have the FBI concentrating on him. In then in the past, when we've run into situations like this, we would attempt to get a direct sample of DNA from the suspect.
So those surveillance teams may have been doing more than just watching him. They may have been looking for discarded water bottles or other things that would produce a sample that they could check to be certain that it was in fact him.
TAPPER: Not every one of these genetic databases shares information willingly with law enforcement. I use ancestry.com. I don't think they willingly share with law enforcement. Others do. How does that work?
DAVIS: I do, too, and I think the -- I think that information is accurate. It all depends on the system that you're putting your DNA into, whether or not they tell you that they're going to share, and whether you sign a release for it. And in some cases, when you look at that release, it might not tell you directly. And you're exposing your -- not only yourself, but your family to a review by public authorities.
TAPPER: We learned over the weekend that the suspect and his father drove across the country after the killings, supposedly in this Hyundai Elantra that was possibly seen at the site of the crime scene. What would you want to ask his father if you had an opportunity to?
DAVIS: Well, I would certainly want to ask if there were any indications that he was feeling stressed or disoriented or not paying attention to things. All of those would be indicators. He may have confessed. Sometimes people in this situation, when they feel safe with a loved one, will start to talk about it.
I'm not seeing that happen in this particular case, but those are things that they're going to ask the father. And also, was there anything in the car that may be helpful? Trace evidence is a huge issue in a case like this. So anything that was out of the ordinary would be of great interest to the investigators.
TAPPER: Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, good to see you again, sir. Thank you so much and Happy New Year.
Coming up next, the Michigan Governor weighs in on a possible presidential run and the future of her party. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back in our politics lead. On Sunday, Democrat Incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer was sworn into her second term as the governor of Michigan. It is the first time in nearly 40 years that a Democratic governor will lead that king -- that key swing state with a Democratic controlled legislature.
CNN This Morning Anchor Kaitlan Collins, who is blessing us with her presence in the studio right now, traveled to Michigan to talk to Governor Whitmer just hours before she took the oath. And you talked to the governor about so much, about the plot against her and also, of course, about her political future.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You spent your New Year's some more fun, I was in Lansing. But it was awesome because she was getting ready to be inaugurated on Sunday. So I went to her house at 07:00 in the morning. She was just getting up.
Her whole family was there, her two daughters, her sister lives, her husband. It was this remarkable moment, not only because of what has happened in Michigan, politically speaking, the fact that this is the first time since the 1980s that Democrats have had this majority.
It was also her first interview since we found out about the sentencing for these two people, the two men who basically led the plot to kidnap her, which she, as you'll hear here, she doesn't like that it's called a kidnapping plot. She thinks that it should be referred to as an assassination plot.
TAPPER: Absolutely, yes.
COLLINS: She weighed in and she compared it to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but she said essentially that when it comes down to this, it is really personal for her because she thinks of herself as this ordinary person. Yes, she's governor, but she's a mom, she's a sister, she's a wife, and she talked about what that was like, and she said she is very much fazed by what happened to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: In recent weeks, two of the men who were essentially co- conspirators in the plot to kidnap you were sentenced, respectively, one to 19.5 years, one to 16. What did you make of that?
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: Well, you know, I think that it's important to have accountability. And I filed a victim impact statement because I think it's important to understand I'm an ordinary person. I've got an extraordinary job. I have served in extraordinary times.
But I'm a mom, I'm a daughter. I'm an average person who's trying to serve my state. And the heightened threats that we are now seeing rampant across this country are scary. It is important that people are held accountable. So whether it is someone harassing, you know, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh or Congressman Fred Upton here in Michigan or me or our Attorney General or Secretary of State, it's unacceptable.
And so I was pleased to see the guilty verdicts and accountability. But I do think it's important that people on both sides of the aisle who care more about our democracy than their political agenda stand up and take it on, because we cannot let this kind of rhetoric, this kind of violent threats continue in this country unabated.
COLLINS: And you have said -- you mentioned Justice Kavanaugh there, that it bothers you. This is so often referred to as a kidnapping plot, not an assassination plot.
WHITMER: Well I think that there is a tendency to minimize some of these threats and how they are -- have been talked about, you know, there were a dozen men who plotted for months, staked out my, you know, home up in northern Michigan, made multiple trips there, had shooting -- you know, all these things they did.
And they weren't planning to ransom me. They weren't going to keep me. They were planning to assassinate me. And the plot has been covered as a kidnapping plot. There was one person who showed up on, you know, Supreme Court Justice's lawn and turned himself in, and it was covered as an assassination attempt.
And so I think that when you look at the facts of both of those and you see how differently they're covered, I do, you know, have concern about the language that we use, especially when women are the target as opposed to men.
COLLINS: You already had a pretty big national profile because of the pandemic, because of the former president's criticisms of you. You have an even bigger one now, I think it's safe to say. What is your responsibility, do you think, going forward as a national leader of the Democratic Party?
WHITMER: I think my responsibility is to show that we can lead and that we can be successful and to build a state that is a powerhouse where people are moving to for opportunity, and every person has a path to prosperity and a good quality of life. I think doing my job well is the best way that I can contribute to the National Democratic Party, is to be able to be someone that they can point to and say, this is what happens when you elect Democrats.
COLLINS: On 2024 overall, you often get asked about potentially running, and your answer is, normally --
WHITMER: I just took my oath of office to do the job I've always wanted in circumstances that are better than I could have ever fathomed. So, I'm excited to be right where I am.
COLLINS: You said earlier you may never run for another office.
WHITMER: You know what? When I left the legislature eight years ago, I never thought I would run for another office again. I know enough about myself to know if there is something that need to get done and there's a role I can play, I will want to play it.
But I do not have plans to run for anything other than to spend the next four years serving this state as governor with a majority Democratic legislature for the first time in a long time, and to get a lot of good stuff done here in Michigan.
COLLINS: Have you ever thought about what being president would be like, whether or not you'd want that job ever?
WHITMER: I'll be very honest with you, Kaitlan, I have not spent a whole lot of time thinking about that, no.
COLLINS: But you spent some time thinking about it?
WHITMER: Well, because people ask me, so briefly/
COLLINS: And what goes through your mind when you're thinking of those kinds of things?
WHITMER: You know, I'm -- I have -- I've often been asked if I might run for Congress or for the United States Senate and it has never been something that I've seriously thought about because my heart and my family and my everything is right here in Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Yes. I saw my favorite part. So we're watching this, just so people at home know. So she says, I haven't spent a lot of t -- you asked her about it if she's running for president. She says, I haven't spent a lot of time and I have the exact same reaction as you did in real time.
COLLINS: You do bet?
TAPPER: So you spend some time thinking about it. You know, it's weird because the Democrats, you hear a lot of talk about what -- after Biden who, that's -- I mean, Midwestern, I mean, success story. That's not one that D.C. Democrats talk a lot about, but theoretically, I could see an appeal there for voters.
COLLINS: It's kind of remarkable that you don't hear people talk about it more often given the profile she has, it is massive right now. And how -- look, how people talk about Ron DeSantis and his margin --
COLLINS: -- on election night and how people didn't talk about hers in the same way. That's a great point about Biden, because I had lunch with someone from the Biden White House, and they were -- you know, the idea of when people before were saying Biden shouldn't run before the midterms and they were saying, well, who are they going to have run --
TAPPER: Right. COLLINS: -- what they think could be effective. And she was very interested when she talked about 2024, saying, I don't have a plan, saying, you know, admitting she has thought about it --
COLLINS: -- when people have asked her about it.
TAPPER: Because people ask her about it. Right.
COLLINS: Because people do ask her about it all the time. But the thing that stood out to me is she said, you know, I also said I wasn't going to run again for another office after --
COLLINS: -- the legislature. And then, of course, she ended up running for governor. She ran twice. It is a term limit. This will be her last time being the governor. And big questions about what happens in her future after that.
TAPPER: And she's young. And she's young. Kaitlan Collins, great job and so good to see you. Don't be a stranger.
Coming up, why drinking water could actually help you live longer. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our pop culture lead, actor Jeremy Renner is in the hospital following a snow plowing accident in Reno, Nevada. Renner is known for his role as Hawkeye in the Marvel films. He's in critical but stable condition, we're told. Over the past few years, Renner has posted Instagram videos of himself driving big snow plows and snow removal machines around his property near Lake Tahoe, including this one from more than a year ago.
Quote, "I have so much respect for mother earth and mother nature. I expect to lose the fight, but I'll always give it my best shot," he says, about battling the snow. No details have been given on the extent of Renner's injuries or how it happened. Police say he was the only person involved in the accident. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
Turning now to our health lead, we know there are several health benefits to drinking water, but a new study suggests staying hydrated could actually be a lifesaver and ward off some serious ailments. Joining us now to discuss CNN's Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, tell us about this new study.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's really fascinating. What they did is they followed more than 11,000 people. This is a huge study, and they did blood tests to see how hydrated they were. And what they found was that it really made a huge difference. Let's take a look at what they found.
Folks who were at kind of a lower end who were sort of on the more, the less hydrated end of things. They had a 21 percent increased risk of premature death and up to a 64 percent increased risk of heart failure, diabetes, dementia, and a host of other diseases. So it really does seem to make a difference.
We all know that we should stay hydrated. Here's a really good reason to begin the New Year with a new resolution, which is, keep drinking preferably water. Jake?
TAPPER: How much water are we talking about here? How much water do people need?
COHEN: You know, there's no one number that we can give everybody because people are different sizes. Some people live in hot climates, some people exercise more than others. But there are some rough guidelines. So let's take a look.
So for women, it's nine cups per day. For men, it's 13 cups per day. That's according to a National Academy of Medicine report. But again, it's different. If you exercise a lot, if you live in a hot climate, you may well need more than that.
TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" coming up. He will talk about the Hill fight for Kevin McCarthy's political future. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at JakeTapper. Tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Download our podcast from whence you get your podcast. I'll see you tomorrow.