Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

MI School Shooter's Mom Convicted Of Manslaughter In Son's Killings; Spokesman: Trump Plans To Appeal Ruling Rejecting Immunity Claim; Biden Slams Trump, GOP For Killing Bipartisan Border Bill; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Discusses About Border Bipartisan Deal DOA At The House. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 15:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It's a precedent setting ruling that could change how mass shootings are prosecuted. Jurors in Michigan finding a mother responsible for the deadly spree that her son carried out at his high school.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Plus, no immunity. A federal appeals court rules former president, Donald Trump, can be held responsible for his actions leading up to January 6th. We're learning what his next legal move might be.

And the border fight on Capitol Hill growing even uglier. The Democrat who helped craft what appears to be a now doomed bipartisan bill says Republicans can't be trusted, calling their treatment of their own Republican colleague "disgusting."

We're following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

KEILAR: We're back now with our breaking news. Jennifer Crumbley, whose son killed four students in Oxford, Michigan during a school shooting in 2021 has been found guilty of all counts in her involuntary manslaughter trial.

SANCHEZ: And CNN's Jean Casarez is back with us from Pontiac, Michigan.

Jean, jurors deliberated over two days. I believe they deliberated about 10 hours in total. What's the latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to tell you about the courtroom because obviously the sentencing is on April, so that's the next time that everyone will meet in that courtroom. But there were 10 security officers that came into the courtroom, a larger law enforcement presence than we had seen during the trial. They were standing around the courtroom as everyone filed in.

There were many family members there. There were two rows in the courtroom that were for the family members. And this jury, if you think about them coming from this community, what they have been through as citizens of this community, they went through the mass shooting. They went through the aftermath. They realized that four young lives were taken. Others were injured.

You also know that it's the elected county prosecutor, Karen McDonald, of Oxford County, that was the one that was the lead prosecutor on this case. She delivered the closing argument and she was elected by the people of this community. As the verdict rang out and was repeated four different times for the four counts of involuntary manslaughter of every student that Ethan Crumbley gunned down. There was no audible response in that courtroom at all. But afterwards, Justin Shilling's father, one of the victims, his - she told our cameras exactly how he felt.


CRAIG SHILLING, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JUSTIN SHILLING: It was a long time coming, but it's definitely a step toward accountability like what we've been talking about. It's kind of been our goal the whole time. It was tough to wait it out for sure. There was a lot of emotion back here and in the courtroom. It's definitely going to resonate with me for a while. And I hope that I'll be able to calm down and get some sense of a good feeling, but it's not really a good feeling.


CASAREZ: Now, a big question is how did the jury reach their decision? Well, my colleague, our producer, Lauren Del Valle, actually spoke with the jury foreperson and we have a little bit of insight here.

She was asked, "How was the jury, unanimous from the beginning? Divided?" She said, "Well, each side was very well represented."

So in other words, this was not a jury that was all on the same page through the more than 10 hours of deliberation. And the next question was, "Why did you find Jennifer Crumbley guilty?"


And the foreperson said, "I will only say this, Jennifer Crumbley was the last one seen with that gun." That's the response we got from the jury foreperson. And they went target shooting on Saturday together, mother and son.

KEILAR: Well, that is very interesting that she was able to speak with the foreperson on that jury who we saw. We actually - we did not see. We heard, I should say, as the verdict was read there.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, now.

Shimon, you were there when Jennifer and her husband, James Crumbley, were arrested in a Detroit warehouse by police after an hours' long search for them in December of 2021 at the time. This hadn't been done before. What was the reaction?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, for the community when information started getting out that the parents may have had more information about his situation about Ethan situation and the mental illness problems and the gun issue. Certainly for the community, they felt the parents should be held responsible and seeing these charges be brought by the prosecutor.

And it was tough. I remember being at the - at the press conference with the prosecutor on the day she was announcing these charges. She made a point of saying this was not an easy decision in the sense that they had to consider a lot. But given all the facts they had here and the knowledge that they believed at the time that the parents had of what was going on in Ethan's life, the fact that they were told by the school that they should take him home and get him counseling and they refused, they felt the prosecutor at the time they had no choice but to bring these charges.

And the other thing I think that's important in all this is they - the prosecutors at the time took a lot into consideration in terms of gun rights and what effect this would have on gun rights and gun right advocates and gun owners were very much opposed to this. Obviously, there was a lot of concern that this would somehow infringe on the right and I think the defense attorneys tried to make that a point.

And even the prosecutors here tried to make a point of that, that this is not about gun rights. It's about holding people responsible who should have taken better care of their kid.

SANCHEZ: Jennifer Crumbley - her husband now expected to face a courtroom in just a matter of weeks.

Shimon Prokupecz, Jean Casarez, we know you'll both be watching that. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Today, a federal appeals court told former President Trump that presidents are not above the law. The three judges wholly rejecting his claim that he has immunity from any crimes he committed while he was in office. They're unanimous ruling now paving the way for the federal criminal prosecution of Trump by special counsel Jack Smith.

He has charged Trump with several counts, accusing him of trying to undermine the 2020 election.

SANCHEZ: Perhaps not surprisingly, Donald Trump says he plans to appeal. He posted online that immunity is a must, saying, "A president will be afraid to act for fear of the opposite party's vicious retribution after leaving office."

Let's discuss now with CNN's Katelyn Polantz and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Dupree.

Katelyn, how much time does Donald Trump have to appeal here?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Not a lot. This court was speaking both about the speed of this case and then also quite forcefully and in depth in unanimity about saying there's no immunity for Donald Trump in this case.

As far as the timing, they're giving him six days to go to the Supreme Court and essentially asked for the Supreme Court to delay the case further to take - to look at other appeals. If the Supreme Court doesn't want to delay the case further, then that's it. It goes back to the trial court and he doesn't have a very good shot in the way that this court set it up for him to take time to do other appeals before the Supreme Court. Sometimes that is an option. It's not here.

But the forcefulness that these three judges came together in this unanimous opinion, 57 pages, they addressed every issue here and are saying Trump is wrong in his arguments. The president isn't above the law. It is the responsibility of the courts to step in and deal with a situation if a former president is accused of breaking the law by the Justice Department.

And on top of that, the allegations here against Donald Trump throwing out votes, alleged obstruction and conspiracy, that is absolutely something that can be charged. And they say this quite clearly. They write, "Former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three Branches of government," if he had indeed won this immunity argument, he has not. It's going to continue the appeals court system.

But Donald Trump is facing a much steeper attempt to try and get his trial off the books this year than he was even just a day ago.


KEILAR: All right. Katelyn, thank you so much.

And Tom, I mean, do we know if the court has an inclination to go one way or the other? Are they more inclined to step in or are they more inclined to just let the lower court decision here hold?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I think their natural inclination as it often is, is to defer deciding cases unless and until they absolutely have to. And believe me, I can't imagine that there's a single justice on that court that is eager to take on this issue at this point in time. So it's possible that they'll turn Trump's appeal away. The Supreme Court, unlike a lot of our courts in the system, isn't required to hear every case that the litigants present to it.

And sometimes the court might say, look, we recognize this is a very important issue. We are sensitive and appreciative of the gravity of the constitutional questions that are presented here. But the time is not ripe. Now, if that's what happens, if they say to Trump, look, come back later, he may get another bite at the apple. If the trial goes forward and if he is convicted, he could still raise these immunity arguments on the back end.

He'd have to work his way up again through the federal court system, but it's possible that there would come a day, months, maybe even years from now, where that immunity question would again lie on the Supreme Court's desk.

SANCHEZ: Tom, the ruling here laid out that these three judges want Trump to take this up with the Supreme Court or at least to make a decision of whether to take it up with the Supreme Court. But his team still has the option of bringing it to the full circuit court, right, a much broader panel of judges. If they decide to, how much longer could it delay this process?

DUPREE: Well, normally it would delay the process for some time. But keep in mind that this panel that decided the case today was very deliberate and I think somewhat strategic and calculated in giving for and laying out Trump's appeal options, because what they said is they basically said, we are going to hold off our decision. It's not going to become effective if within the next seven days you file something in the Supreme Court.

Now, if he files something for rehearing, namely asking the D.C. Circuit to hear this case again, that's not automatically going to stop the process from going forward in the district court. So I think strategically the court has basically said to Trump at this stage of the game, it's the Supreme Court or bust.

KEILAR: All right. Tom Dupree, thank you so much for that analysis. We appreciate it.

DUPREE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So ahead this hour, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the economy is strong and absolutely heading in the right direction. But is that how Americans really feel? We'll discuss.

Plus, he rushed to the U.K. after learning of his father's cancer diagnosis. We have new details about Prince Harry's meeting with the King, his father, and whether he plans to see his estranged brother.

And hits like "Red Solo Cup" and "How Do You Like Me Now?" made him one of Nashville's biggest stars. Today, the country music world saying goodbye to Toby Keith. Those stories and much more still ahead.



SANCHEZ: The border deal emerging from months of bipartisan Senate negotiations is DOA, dead on arrival. Last hour, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said it is having no real chance of becoming law since numerous members of his own caucus won't support it. The bill includes some of the most ambitious border control measures offered up in decades, measures that many Republicans had been calling for.

Of course, that all changed once Donald Trump came out against the legislation. President Biden is now lashing out at the Republican Party for flip flopping, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something. The American people are going to know why it failed. Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends.


SANCHEZ: We're joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. Senator, thank you so much for sharing part of your afternoon with us.

After McConnell has declared that this bill is basically dead because we won't see it in the House. Is there anything that could resuscitate it? Is it completely dead?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Boris, I hope not, but I have a sinking feeling that once again Donald Trump has succeeded in killing any hope of real progress on securing our border, on protecting our families from fentanyl, on making our country safer.

Look, it was Senator McConnell, the Republican leader who asked one of the most conservative members here, James Lankford of Oklahoma, to take on the difficult task of negotiating this complex border security deal and over months, he did. He drove a very hard bargain.

And senators who just a few days ago were saying that they were demanding a tough border security deal are now in the hallway saying, oh, never mind, because Donald Trump is telling them so. I think this is the height of hypocrisy.

Boris, what the house is doing right now is moving ahead on trying to impeach Secretary Mayorkas and make Marjorie Taylor Greene one of the impeachment managers rather than coming to the table to get this bill passed. So I wish there were some way forward, but if McConnell says his caucus won't support it, then I'm gravely worried that we are simply at a point where Republicans are not serious.


They are not willing to take the vote to move ahead on this package and it'll have huge and terrible consequences for our country and our border.

One last point ...


COONS: Many of my colleagues are saying, oh, Joe Biden could fix it anytime he wants. No, he can't. This bill contains emergency authorities that Donald Trump asked for when he was president, that Joe Biden, our president asked for in his first day to the union, we need to change the law and provide the resources.

This bill would include $14 billion for deportations, for increased asylum hearings, for hiring more Border Patrol officers. I'll remind you the head of the Border Patrol Union, one of the most conservative people I've ever met ...


COONS: ... I met Brandon at the border. He's endorsed this deal saying it would make our border safer and more secure and yet Republicans are walking away.

SANCHEZ: Senator, I do want to zero in on that objection that you mentioned on the substance of the bill from Trump and other Republicans. They argue that the laws that we have on the books, if President Biden followed them, would ease the current state of crisis at the border. They specifically mentioned that 2017 saw a lower number of migrant crossings, one of the lowest in history, and the laws haven't really changed that much. They say that what changed was the enforcement and specifically who is in the White House.

Obviously, 2017, that was Donald Trump. What's your response to that?

COONS: My response is one of the measures that Donald Trump took was cruel and was decried by everyone here, Republican and Democrat, intentionally separating parents and children to deter families from trying to come to the border. One of the other steps that he took was ruled invalid, illegal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers California, Arizona, a big chunk of our border.

That's one of the areas where President Biden and this bipartisan group that has negotiated for months is trying to give the president emergency authority that would be to the benefit of either President Biden or a future president. The fact they're walking away from that shows how deeply unserious they are.

SANCHEZ: You obviously support this bill, but there are some Democratic priorities on immigration that were not included, including protections for undocumented migrants who are here illegally. Many of them obviously make up a huge part of the American labor force, including in agriculture. Why was that not a deal breaker for you?

COONS: Well, there were lots of provisions that were in the 2018 bill that I worked hard on that included, for example, a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. I'll remind you what happened in 2018. Donald Trump met in the White House when he was president with Sen. Graham, Sen. Durbin said, if you fund the border wall, I will embrace giving dreamers a pathway to citizenship.

A bipartisan group of us worked on it for months. We thought we had the votes. When it got to the floor, Donald Trump - President Trump then got on the phone and started haranguing Republican senators until they walked away from it. He killed the last bipartisan immigration reform bill that would have given dreamers a pathway to citizenship. That was not in this bill and I think that was truly regrettable.

But we are at a point with our asylum system, which is what is today bringing hundreds of thousands of people to our border where we need to reform it. We need to improve it. We needed to secure our border. That was one of the core provisions in this bill ...


COONS: ... that I support. That was very difficult for us to reach, but that I support and the funding to assist the president in securing the border.

SANCHEZ: Senator one last question quickly, do you feel bad for Sen. James Lankford? He sort of puts himself out there. He negotiates this bill. You said he drove a hard bargain. He gets it across the finish line without, as you noted, some of the key components that Democrats have wanted for years and yet the former president calls this bill a betrayal. What do you make of that? He's sort of being left - hang out to dry.

COONS: I do feel very badly for James. Sen. Lankford is an actual friend of mine. He's one of the most conservative people I've ever been actually friends with. We've traveled together. I've gone to Oklahoma. He's come to Delaware. Our wives know each other and work well together on an annual event for the spouses of the Senate.

Look, James is a determined, earnest, honest man who's very conservative and he was asked to take this up and he spent months working on it. He drove a very hard bargain. Trump endorsed him in his last election and Trump just last night was lying on TV and saying, oh, no, I didn't endorse him.

He's being left out there on the field by his own team when he took on hard work that they asked him to do and he delivered.


I think the abandonment of James Lankford by his own caucus is again one of the more shameful moments I've ever seen in the Senate. I've been here 13 years and this is a depressing day for those of us who want to believe that we can work together. What we're getting out of the house is chaos, political theater, Marjorie Taylor Greene governance. What we deserve here is to show that the Senate can work together, that when folks like Sen. Lankford and Sen. Murphy, Sen. Sinema roll up their sleeves and come to a bipartisan deal that will take it up and pass it.

SANCHEZ: Sen. Chris Coons, we have to leave the conversation there. Appreciate your perspective.

COONS: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course. Next we have a look at the life of Toby Keith and his career after the country star loses his battle with stomach cancer.

And Prince Harry's landed in the U.K. after learning of his father's cancer diagnosis. How long he plans to stay and whether he intends to see his estranged brother, details ahead.