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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Court Rules Trump Does Not Have Immunity In January 6 Case; Bipartisan Border Security Deal On Brink Of Collapse; Blinken: Will Discuss Hostage Proposal With Israel Wednesday; Guilty Verdict For Mother Of School Shooter; Trump's Support Runs Deep In Haley's Home State Of South Carolina. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Others said that he was an awesome teacher and they also said he knew how to communicate with his students. So far, this post has been shared hundreds of times. It's received more than 5,000 likes. Brook's son posted, I'm in tears, so emotional, dad truly loved doing this activity with his students.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: That is lovely. I actually had a similar project in middle school. We tossed bottles into the ocean. I don't know if my showed up anywhere and did anything other than pollute the ocean, but this is very sweet.

KEILAR: May be in years. We'll find out.

SANCHEZ: Fingers crossed.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump's his presidential immunity claim today rejected by three federal judges.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A major blow to citizen Trump as the D.C. federal appeals court denies his presidential immunity defense.

A conservative former judge is taking us inside today's ruling. Plus, his take on what might play out if citizen Trump takes his case to the U.S. Supreme Court where he appointed three of the justices.

And frustration from Capitol Hill all the way to the border with a bipartisan immigration bill on the brink of collapse. Independent Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema helped write the bill. She'll be here and we'll talk to her about what, if any, options are left.

Plus, the mother of a school shooter in Michigan found guilty today of involuntary manslaughter. How this case might set a precedent nationwide.


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

We start today with our law and justice lead and a massive illegal defeat for Donald Trump. Today, a federal appeals court in D.C. unanimously ruled that Mr. Trump is not immune from prosecution for alleged crimes he may have committed during his presidency as he attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The three federal judges strongly writing in their decision that, quote, for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become a citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.

The three female judges, two appointed by Democrats, one by a Republican, went even further than that today, however, repeatedly eviscerated citizen Trump's behavior after the 2020 election as an attack on American institutions. The judge is writing, quote: Former President Trump's alleged efforts to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election were, if proven, an unprecedented assault on the structure of our government. He allegedly injected himself into a process in which the president has no role. The counting and certifying of the Electoral College votes, thereby undermining constitutionally established procedures, and the will of the Congress, unquote.

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump and his legal team are signaling that they're going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially with the former president writing on his social media platform that, quote, if immunity is not granted to a president, every president that leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. Without complete immunity, a president of the United States would not be able to properly function, unquote.

It's odd, one might observe, that the republic has somehow managed to survive more than 200 years without this being an issue until Donald Trump tried to overturn the election.

CNN's Paula Reid starts off our coverage with a closer look at today's ruling and what comes next, as we move even closer to the 2024 presidential election.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a unanimous historic ruling, three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting former President Trump's claim that he has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: The attack on our nation's capitol on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.

REID: Special counsel Jack Smith charged him with four federal counts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

SMITH: It's described in the indictment. It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government.

REID: Trump has repeatedly insisted he was acting within the scope of his duties as president, and therefore cannot be tried.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A president of the United States has to be free and clear of mind. And you can't be worrying about something where you're doing the right thing. But if it doesn't work out, you're going to end up in prison.

REID: The judges on Tuesday batted down that argument and slammed Trump's alleged efforts to stay in power despite losing the election as unpresidential and an assault on American institutions.


It would be a striking paradox if the president, who alone is vested with a constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, were the sole officer capable of defying those laws with impunity.

In a statement today, the Trump campaign argued that without complete immunity, no precedent could properly perform their duties for fear of retribution. If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party.

But the court also rejected any suggestion that prosecuting Trump in this case would have a chilling effect on future leaders. Past presidents have understood themselves to be subject to impeachment and criminal liability, at least under certain circumstances. So the possibility of chilling executive action is already in effect.

Trump is vowing to appeal, and the Supreme Court will likely have the final say. The justices, though, were already set to hear arguments on Thursday in another case with huge implications for Trump on whether his actions after the 2020 election disqualify him from the 2024 ballot.


REID (on camera): Trump is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court and while this is a novel constitutional question, the even bigger issue here is timing and how long it will take the court to indicate what its going to do it because the longer they take, the less likely it is that this case will go before the November 2024 or election.

And, Jake, it is expected if Trump is re-elected that he would likely through his attorney general, have both of Jack Smith's criminal cases against him dismissed.

TAPPER: Paula Reid, thanks so much.

Let's bring in conservative former federal judge and legal scholar, J. Michael Luttig, who has been outspoken against Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Judge Luttig, always good to see you.

So, this three-judge panel is made up of two judges appointed by Joe Biden and one appointed by George H.W. Bush. You know, the conservative judge, Judge Anderson.

What does it say that this decision was unanimous amongst all three of them?

J. MICHAEL LUTTIG, RETIRED FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, they're -- Jake, thank you for having me on this afternoon. The party -- political party affiliations of the judges is utterly irrelevant to their decision as it is to the decisions of all judges, all the way to the Supreme Court but today's decision was a historic decision. It is a landmark interpretation of the presidential powers under the Constitution of the United States. The former president had made the argument that he was absolutely immune from federal prosecution for any crimes that he may have committed while he was president. And today's decision, the court rejected that argument straight down the line and it was not an untimely decision. I know that there had been a lot of criticism of the court up to today, that it was dallying and taking its time at the expense of the trial that was scheduled for March.

I never thought the court was dallying. I thought the court would rule about when it did and I also believed that the court would rule as it did today. There has never been an argument, Jake, that the president is absolutely immune from criminal prosecution for acts that he committed when he was president.

TAPPER: So, in one of the most striking lines of today's ruling, the judges write that, quote, for the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant, unquote.

What's the importance of using that language about citizen Trump?

LUTTIG: It is actually a reference to a statement made once by our Founding Fathers were repeated by a justices of the Supreme Court where they said that once a president returns from being president, he returns to his life as an ordinary citizen of the United States.

Jake, I know that there's a lot of concern about the timing of this decision even today. The Court of Appeals specifically instructed that its mandate would issue six days from now on February 12th, unless the former president had sought a stay from the Supreme Court of the United States within that time frame.


And if he had, the Court of Appeals provided that it would -- its stay would continue until the Supreme Court acted on that application for stay.

TAPPER: Right.

LUTTIG: Now, none of us knows what the Supreme Court will do with this case. I believe the Supreme Court will ultimately deny review of this case, so that the trial can proceed as expeditiously as possible.

TAPPER: All right. Former Judge J. Michael Luttig, thank you as always for your time and expertise.

Let's discuss this now with CNN's Joan Biskupic and Jamie Gangel.

Joan, let's start with what Judge Luttig and I were just discussing. You've literally written books on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Do you agree with his prediction that the U.S. Supreme Court is ultimately just going to defer to whatever the U.S. Court of Appeals decides?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It's close. It's a very close call. This was a very strong opinion. I think it's important that it was unanimous.

I think it was important actually that there were Republican and Democratic appointees on this. And I think at hued completely to pass precedent. And Donald Trump has never had strong arguments in this area, but it's the U.S. Supreme Court that has the right to be the final arbiter of what is in the Constitution. And there might be some justices who think that they should do it.

They also might be some justices who think that they shouldn't give Donald Trump any kind of, in their mind, short shrift here. It takes four justices to grant a case. It would take essentially five to try to expedite this, the way they're asking and I think in the end, it will probably produce a denial, but I'm not -- I'm not 100 percent certain, just because of how it plays out.

But let me tell you what our audiences can start to look for. By Monday, Donald Trump will have to have made his initial filing to the Supreme Court, then the court will probably give us a schedule of when Jack Smith's responses do on behalf of the Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States. Probably his lawyers are writing that right now because they will want to keep the pressure on and so that if there's a chance for a trial to happen this spring, it can. And then Donald Trump will, of course, be able to do -- have a reply to however, Jack Smith responds.

The justices next meet in private on February 16. There's a chance that they could actually take it up that soon. But I would think something of this magnitude actually might take a couple of weeks for them to decide whether they're going to take it and then to Judge Luttig's point about whether this is going to be an outright denial, there might be one or two justices who dissent from that, and they might actually be thinking about writing something and that's the last thing that John Roberts would want is for someone to dissent and say Donald Trump is not getting his fair day in court.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, Trump's arguments today is that, quote, if immunity is not granted to a president, every president that leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. How strong of an argument do you think that is?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we should start by looking at presidents number 1 through 44.

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: They clearly -- it did not happen. They were not worried about it.

Look, no former president has ever been indicted. No former president has ever been charged with trying to overturn an election and a transfer of power?

These judges flatly denied Trump's claim that his criminal indictment would have a chilling effect.

So I think you look at American history, you look at the judge's decision. It is not an argument.

TAPPER: Right. I mean, Nixon might have been indicted, right.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: But President Ford pardoned him.

GANGEL: Correct.

TAPPER: Also, Jaime today, House Speaker Johnson, Mike Johnson came out in support of Trump in this case.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: He's saying Trump is being targeted for political purposes. If this moves forward, if Trump goes on trial and is possibly convicted, do you think that Republicans' support is going to ever crumble away?

GANGEL: How many times do you know he asked me --


GANGEL: -- this question?


TAPPER: They wrote it down for me to ask you. I know the answer. I know the answer.

GANGEL: But we've just seen this over and over again for years now, privately, Republican elected officials say they wish he would go away. Publicly, they stand with him and when we look at the base, when we look at the polls, Trumps base has not moved one bit.

TAPPER: There and the Republican officials, many of them are just terrified of the base, terrified of, A, losing an election, B, death threats to themselves and their families.

GANGEL: The two words are power -- keeping power and grift.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks to both you. Appreciate it. GANGEL: Sure.

TAPPER: On Capitol Hill right now, House Republicans are nearing a vote on whether to impeach the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. We're going to monitor that.

Plus, the collapsing deal that tried to do something thing on immigration. Is there any chance that can be revived?

I'm going to ask Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the independent from Arizona, and one of the three lead negotiators of that legislation right after this break.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden touting the bipartisan border deal while taking a clear shot at Republican lawmakers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reforms of this bill are essential for making our border more orderly, more humane, and more secure. That's why the Border Patrol Union, which by the way, endorsed Donald Trump in the 2020 election, endorses this bill. These are the people whose job it is to secure the border every single solitary day. They not just show up for photo-ops like some members of Congress.


TAPPER: Republican lawmakers are beginning to pull their support from the deal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said just a few hours ago, that the bill will not become law.

Just for reminder, a quick reminder of how we got here, Republicans had insisted on changes to immigration policy that they be added to any package that included aid to Ukraine and Israel. So Senate Democrats and one independent went along with that and created in a bipartisan way what the conservative "Wall Street Journal" editorial board today said was, quote, by any honest reckoning, the most restrictive migrant legislation in decades. They meant that as a compliment.


And now, Republicans are refusing to take yes for an answer. Donald Trump wants to use the border crisis as an election issue.

And with us now to discuss, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. She's an independent and was one of the three lead negotiators on the -- on the border deal.

Senator, is your deal already dead? SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): Well, unfortunately, Jake, it appears that politics have overtaken practical policy once again in Washington, D.C. You know, when my colleague said back in September that the border crisis was a national security imperative and must be paired with a solution to fight Putin, to, of course, stand with our allies in Israel and to stand with Taiwan, I stood up and said a wholehearted yes.

You know, I'm a child of the border. It is my state that has been an unmitigated crisis for decades, and I agree, it is a national security crisis.

And so, as you know, for the last four-and-a-half months, I brought Republicans and Democrats together to form a real solution to address our border crisis. And unfortunately today, my colleagues in the United States Senate have decided that they don't actually want this solution and don't want to secure the border.

And I'm disappointed. But I'm mostly disappointed, Jake, for the folks back home because my state is still in crisis and will be tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

TAPPER: You have said that you asked the Senate majority leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, to push the vote to Thursday. Is that what you still want or is that just off the table because Republicans are signaling that they're not going to do it?

SINEMA: Well, yesterday, some of my Republican colleagues told me that they would like a little more time to read the bill before getting onto the bill and having a robust amendment process. And I agreed.

So I did ask Leader Schumer if he would consider that are pushing the vote a little bit later. He agreed. But unfortunately, today, Senate Republicans indicated that a delay isn't needed, that they don't want to move forward on this bill.

TAPPER: Now, we've reported on the show that the very conservative Border Patrol Union is supportive of this legislation. They say it's not perfect, but it's a much better than status quo.

Donald Trump, however, posted on Truth Social, quote: Only a fool, or a radical left Democrat would vote for this horrendous border bill. Don't be stupid, unquote.

How -- how much is he the problem? How much is his push to keep this as an issue for the election, which is what Senator Mitt Romney says, is the problem, how much of that is what is resulting in what happened today?

SINEMA: Well, Jake, I believe that each senator has to take responsibility for his or her own decisions. And so, look, it doesn't matter what one candidate or the other says. What matters this is what individual senators choose to do.

And I can tell you that I always choose to do what is right for Arizona and that's why I've been partnering closely with Brandon Judd, the president of the Border Patrol Council. As you heard and have seen, they came out and supported this legislation because it will make a real difference in border communities experience every day.

Our bill ends, catch and release. It allows us to shut down the border during times of high flow like today, and every other day this year.

And so while some folks might want to point blame to one person or the other, the reality is, Jake, is each of us senators is sent to this city and to the Capitol to do one thing. And that is to take votes, to make laws on behalf of our constituents. So we each bear the responsibility for analyzing this bill and making a decision.

And as I've been saying to my colleagues in the last several days, take a look at the bill and then make a decision. Do you want to secure the border? And unfortunately, Jake, it sounds like a lot of folks, their answer is no.

TAPPER: So, Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst said about this deal, I'm very disappointed that so many of our members came out as a hard no before the legislation was even released. I wish we had given James Lankford -- who also worked with you on the bill -- the benefit of the doubt to lay -- to take a look at the text before we started speaking our opposition.

But then she went on to say something along the lines of, but the political climate has made it so that, you know, having a vote on this is untenable. And I'm just wondering what you think about that excuse, the idea that the political climate is now impossible to get this passed as opposed to what you were just talking about, individual senators, you know, taking a vote on the merits of the legislation?

SINEMA: Well, Jake, you and I've had a conversation about the political climate before and my position remains unchanged. You know, it's unfortunate that we are working in a Washington where individuals are more interested in their next primary, they're more interested in what the base wants to hear and are frankly more interested in the politics of a situation rather than making good policy.

Now, I know I'm a little bit different than many of the folks here in the Senate. But I believe that it's our job to come here each day and work on behalf of what's right for our constituents.


Now, Jake, for a lot of people, the border is a political issue and they would rather have immigration and border not solved so they can keep talking about it. But I can promise you this, back home in Arizona, people in elected and important positions of both political parties came out immediately endorsing this bill. Whether it'd be a county supervisor in Yuma or the mayor of one of my small towns or our governor or our own sheriffs because they understand that the politics might be easy for folks in other states, but in places like Arizona, an actual border state, it's not about the politics. It's about the damage that occurs every day from our failure to address this crisis.

TAPPER: There are conservatives who say, even though they want border reforms, the people who negotiated this bill just did this incorrectly. Erick Erickson said in a post that you misread the room.

He writes, quote, close the border, that's what people say they want. They didn't ask for a multi-thousand page piece of legislation. People have no faith that Congress can do small things competently. They sure as hell don't trust Congress to do big things, competently, unquote.

Now, okay. First of all, its not thousands of pages, but it is a big piece of legislation and I'm wondering what you think of that criticism. Erick basically is saying, look, President Biden could take serious actions today to limit the number of migrants illegally crossing. So, why is this even needed?

SINEMA: Now that's an important point, Jake, and I want to interest that specifically. There is no doubt that the Biden administration could be doing a much better job of securing our border and folks have heard me criticize this administration time and time again over the last three years for their failure to appropriately address this crisis. But it is absolutely true that there are tools that our government needs to have through statute to do a better and more complete job.

One of those things that we must do is change the asylum standard. Right now, it's much too easy to claim asylum, even if you have no legal right to it. Four out of five people who come to the border and claim asylum passed the initial screening right now. That's absurd, when only 15 percent of people ultimately gain asylum in our country. So, we have to change that by statute.

A second thing is closing the border. We had the authority during COVID to close the border under Title 42. As we know, a court ended that authority after the COVID pandemic ended. Our bill creates a new legal authority in statute that both allows and requires the government to shut down the border during times of heavy traffic.

Those are just two examples of statutory changes that we have to give to this administration or a future administration in order for them to fully protect the border.

TAPPER: One of the points made by "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board and others is that in previous efforts to have immigration reform during the Bush administration, Bush Jr. and Obama, these conservative type restrictions that are in your legislation were paired with things that progressives wanted like a path to legal status for the Dreamers or things along those lines.

And this time, the progressives didn't get anything. It was honestly just more restrictions and "The Wall Street Journal" calls this, you know, the most conservative -- something along the lines of the most conservative immigration compromise that they've seen in the last 20 years.

I'm just wondering like what your responses when you hear people who voted for more previous -- previous more liberal immigration compromises, I'm thinking of the Gang of Eight and Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Lindsey Graham now opposing something that is more conservative. SINEMA: Well, Jake, this was not an immigration package. This was a

border security package.

TAPPER: Right.

SINEMA: And so "The Wall Street Journal" was correct when they said that this had the strictest migration policies that they've seen in decades. That is accurate because the crisis is so severe.

As you know, in December, we saw thousands of individuals crossing illegally into Arizona every single day. And even just yesterday, over 6,500 individuals came through our ports of entry and between our ports of entry illegally just yesterday.

So I have been reminding my colleagues that if my bill were law, none of that would be occurring because the border would be shut down right now. So, we are in a very different situation than we've been in the past. This is a border security bill, not an immigration package.

What is hard for me to understand, Jake, is why individuals have chosen -- individual senators have chosen not to move forward on a package that they themselves have demanded, a package which creates as you've said, some of the strictest migration policies in decades.

And one could ask, what is the motivation here? Now, I don't know what it is. But what I can tell you is this -- we have a clear choice about whether or not to secure the border. And many colleagues have said today that they do not have an interest in doing so.


But make no mistake, Jake: I'm going to ensure that we do take a vote on this piece of legislation. All senators will get to vote on whether or not they want to secure them border. And as an Arizonan who represents the border state facing the worst brunt of this crisis, I'm going to continue to remind my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle about the choice that we can make and can continue to make.

TAPPER: Do you think you can get, let's say, if there are 50 Democrats plus you, can you get nine Republicans? I mean, Senator Mitt Romney says that the reason this is all happening its because Donald Trump wants -- Donald Trump wants this issue as an election issue for November. He called it appalling what Trump is doing.

I know you're reluctant to blame this on Trump, but can you get nine Republicans? I mean, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, that's three. Maybe Lindsey Graham.

I mean, are you counting? Is there a chance this could pass?

SINEMA: You know, from what I heard after Republicans had a conference lunch today, they've decided not to move forward on this border security package.

And again, I can't emphasize this enough, Jake, each senator makes his or her own decision. We are elected by the people of our states to make decisions for our constituents. So, none of us are controlled by any one person or a candidate or president. Each of us make a decision that is right for our constituents, and we each be held accountable for that.

Now, I will continue to urge my colleagues to be serious about taking a border deal, when a significant conservative deal is on the table. And each person will get to choose if they want to secure the border.

TAPPER: Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

SINEMA: Absolutely.

TAPPER: We're following movement in the Middle East right now. Hamas has made a counteroffer on a proposed deal to release more of the Israeli hostages they are holding. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has just landed in Tel Aviv. What we are hearing from the region, next.




ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Together with Qatar and Egypt, we put forward as you know, a serious proposal that was aimed at, not simply repeating the previous agreement, but expanding it. As the prime minister just said, Hamas responded tonight. We're reviewing that response now.


TAPPER: That was U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier today on the latest attempt to broker at least some sort of pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas when it comes to remaining hostages in Gaza, the government of Israel says they believe about 100 hostages are alive and about 30 are believed to have been killed.

Let's get right to CNN's Nic Robertson in Tel Aviv.

And, Nic, President Biden characterized Hamas's response to this offer, this pause and release of hostages as quote, over the top. What do we know?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, the U.S. officials are saying positive response and reasonable. The Qatar has said it was also positive, but they clearly indicated it wasn't a straight up and down yes/no answer. Hamas themselves and their own statement not detailing what they're actually putting that proposal, but it saying they have responded positively, but it still talking about the items that have so far way beyond reach of the scope of the deal, which has a complete ceasefire and the handing back of all their -- of all their prisoners. This is sort of language they're still using, but we don't know what

precisely they've said. We know Mossad is evaluating this right -- evaluating Hamas's response right now, but I think let's break it down for a second. I mean, let's look at the timing of Hamas's response. We now know that it came literally an hour into the hands of the Qataris, an hour before the emir sat down with Secretary Blinken.

So the timing of all this by Hamas, if had over a week to respond, everyone's been waiting for a week and they're doing this now, knowing that they're putting it right on Secretary Blinken's plate as he lands here and has his meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and others in the government tomorrow.

So, it's really the timing here. It's got -- it's Hamas and it's under their sort of control and aegis, that part of it. But you know, the secretary of state, as he arrives here right now, is faced with this huge challenge. Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated is not going to go along with one with what Hamas appears still to be asking for is members of his right-wing government have said that they would -- that they would leave the government, break the government.

So it's hard to see where the compromises are going to come. So why is the language positive? We don't know, because we don't know what's in the detail.

TAPPER: All right. Nic Robertson in Israel.

As we saw Secretary Blinken getting off the plane and getting into the limo while he was speaking.

Coming up next hour on the lead, I'm going to talk to the father of Emily Hand. You might remember Emily. She's the nine-year-old who was kidnapped and spent seven weeks as a hostage of Hamas. We're going to talk to him about what he makes of the counteroffer by Hamas coming up.

But, first, the guilty verdict. Just hours ago against Jennifer Crumbley. She's the mother of a school shooter in Michigan. The precedent that this case and this verdict could set and a nation facing the constant rain of mass shootings.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead today, an unprecedented guilty verdict. A Michigan jury today convicted Jennifer Crumbley on all four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the Oxford High School students her son killed in 2021. Their names: Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana.

To be clear, no one is alleging that Jennifer Crumbley knew of her son's shooting plan ahead of time, the case instead relies on accusations of negligent parenting and irresponsible household gun ownership.

Today's verdict marks the first time that the parents of a mass shooter in the United States has been held legally accountable for their child's deadly actions.

Let's bring in trial attorney Misty Marris. And Stephen Gutowski, a CNN contributor and founder and editor of "The Reload".

Misty, I want to play some sound from the jury foreperson who was asked what stuck in the deliberations. Take a listen


JURY FOREPERSON: The thing that really hammered at home is that she was the last adult with the gun.



TAPPER: What is your reaction?

MISTY MARRIS, TRIAL ATTORNEY: So this was a huge issue in the case, Jake. It relates to who was responsible for the maintenance and for the safety and for the keeping of the gun out of the hands of a minor.

Now, Jennifer Crumbley was the last person to have access to that gun. This makes sense that this was a central issue to the jury during deliberations. There was a specific question relating to how Ethan Crumbley got the gun. The jury asked, can they draw an inference that the prosecution did not put forth any evidence as to how the shooter actually gained access.

And the judge, of course, said you have to base this off the evidence of the courtroom, so we know that that was a central issue to the jury and certainly something that seems to have swung the day in the prosecution's favor.

TAPPER: Stephen, do you think this verdict will change how gun owners' care for their firearms in homes that where there are children present?

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could, but I guess one of the difficulties there is if you're not already securing firearms when you have children present, given the immense risk of doing that, I don't know if a court ruling in another state where you are affecting somebody else is going to change your mind and make you more responsible.

TAPPER: Misty, the next trial will be for the shooter's father, James Crumbley. Do you see a similar outcome for him?

MARRIS: Well, it will be a whole new trial. There could be different evidentiary decisions, but the trials are going to have the same nucleus of facts. And we know that the trials were separated specifically because James Crumbley was the one who actually purchased the gun for his son, the gun that was used to the shooting.

So, seemingly, there's going to be additional arguments relating to his responsibilities with the gun. In Jennifer Crumbley's case, that was a large part of the defense was pointing the finger at her husband, clearly, that was not successful ultimately.

But with respect to James Crumbley, there's additional arguments that put the gun within his control as far as gun safety and keeping out the hands of his child.

TAPPER: So, Stephen, you're skeptical and I certainly understand your argument that this is going to change individual parents behavior necessarily because if they're not already concerned about keeping their guns secure, what -- you know, why would this cause them to what about legislators? Do you think this might put pressure on states to pass or enforce safe storage laws, red flag laws, et cetera, to ensure that kids don't get guns?

GUTOWSKI: It certainly could, although, honestly, I would think it would probably perhaps lead to more pressure on prosecutors to try and bring cases like this against other parents. You know, obviously it's a very high profile case with a very interesting set of facts, a very unique set of facts, including that the meeting the morning of the shooting where nobody took action. You know, there may be a lot of -- the outcome may be tied up in the individual facts here, rather than a broad approach, but I don't know. I mean, that's where I would see potentially a lot of change coming is from some prosecutors will feel emboldened to go after these sorts of cases in the future.

TAPPER: Interesting, Stephen Gutowski, Misty Marris, thanks to both you for your expertise. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the popular "All Over the Map" series from our own CNN's John King. What Republican voters in South Carolina told him about their support for Donald Trump and for Nikki Haley ahead of this month's primary contest in the Palmetto State.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We are back with our 2024 lead. Cue this week's sounds of our election music, please?



With just 18 days until the South Carolina GOP primary, CNN's John King has been on the ground in the Palmetto State talking to voters. People there have lived under both a Nikki Haley governorship and a Donald Trump presidency.

And here's how some are weighing this choice. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hartsville is two hours inland from the coast. Billy Pierce here for 70 years, except for a stint in the Navy, is another piece of the Trump comeback puzzle.

The four years he was president, how was your life?

BILLY PIERCE, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN VOTER: Better, definitely better. We didn't have the high inflation. We didn't have a high interest rates.

KING: Not an election denier, not a fan of the toxic tone.

PIERCE: If he had just shut up and, you know, got off of Twitter and that kind of stuff, he'd made a great president.

KING: His 2016 and 2020 votes for Trump track his 1992 vote for Ross Perot.

PIERCE: I wanted a non-career politician in there that would do would run it like a company, run this place like a company, like a CEO.

KING: Pierce calls himself likely Trump in the primary, the border is his top issue.

PIERCE: Shut it down.

KING: And on that, he trusts Trump more than Haley.

PIERCE: He's going in to fix the things I need him to fix. I have no problem be honest with you. I have no problem. We put up two rows and mining the other. So if they come in, you tell 'em it's mined, you put signs out that say it's mined.

KING: Like many voters drawn to Trump back in 2016, Craig Thomas wanted to send Washington the message.

CRAIG THOMAS, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN VOTER: It was like, all right. Like this is good. Let's blow some things up.

KING: Now, he's voting for Haley to send his children a message.

THOMAS: I don't think there's any sort of crazy, you conspiracy between the NFL and Taylor Swift and everything else just showing up for Biden coronation.

KING: To end, Thomas hopes awkward conversations after his teenage daughter gets home from the stables.

THOMAS: How do I look at my daughter, who is a huge Taylor Swift fan and this guy is attacking Taylor Swift for just because she's going to support another candidate, right? And other things like that. And so having those conversations, with them, it does matter and it does matter with who you support. KING: Charleston is ready rich with revolutionary and civil war

history. It is more affluent, more educated, less Trumpy, than most of the state.

THOMAS: But there is quite a bit of talk about Trump, even here.


KING (on camera): And, Jake, that last part there from Craig Thomas is instructive.


Quite a lot of talk about Trump, even in Charleston. Trump carried all but two of South Carolina's 46 counties eight years ago in the South Carolina primary. Marco Rubio carry the other two, that there's a lot of Trump talk in Charleston really underscores Haley's problem.

Yes, it is her home state, but it is very much Trump's parties, Jake. She last ran in 2014. Trump has won South Carolina three times since then, the 2016 primary, the 2016 general election and the 20 general -- 2020 general election.

So, there's a lot of wind. It's her state, but the wind is in her face.

TAPPER: All right. John King, thanks so much.

On the floor of the House of Representatives right now in Washington, D.C., debates ahead of a major vote, Republicans are pushing to impeach the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, that is expected to happen in the next hour. The case Republicans are trying to make to take this route. That's next.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): To make the case for impeachment. They failed to articulate.


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

A lot going on this hour. Right now, a floor debate in the U.S. House of Representatives ahead of a significant vote.