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CNN This Morning

Why Some In GOP Work To Kill Border Deal; Michigan School Shooter's Mother On Trial; Vikings Coach O'Connell On What Football Taught Him. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 26, 2024 - 07:30   ET





DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You take a look at our border. It's so bad. There's never been a border like this.

REPORTER: Do you think the border is secure?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it's not. I haven't believed that for the last 10 years.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican frontrunner and the Democratic president. There is little policy-wise the two agree on when it comes to the accelerating crisis at the southern border but there is no avoiding the crisis itself.

Between December 1 and December 28, U.S. Border Patrol took more than 225,000 migrants who unlawfully crossed the border from Mexico into custody. That's from preliminary data. For much of the month, officials were wrestling with more than 10,000 migrant crossings a day. Those numbers capture a system that is completely overwhelmed. And on their face, seem to lend credence to three years of relentless attacks on this issue on the Biden administration.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): The crisis at our border is a direct cause of Biden's dangerous and intentional policies.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Right now, America is being invaded.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Why is the border so broken? Because the policy choices of President Biden are not working.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): The Biden regime absolutely has blood on its hands for their failure to secure our border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a direct result of Joe Biden's failed policies.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Republican, Democrat all across America pleading with President Biden to address this problem and he refuses.


MATTINGLY: And that surge also comes with a devastating human toll. The U.N. named the treacherous trek to the border the world's deadliest land migration route after nearly 700 deaths were reported in 2022.

And there's a financial cost as well -- a cost that has Democratic mayors pleading for federal funding as they say the money will only continue to increase into the billions.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We are dealing with fundamentally, a broken immigration system and one that has been in dire need of repair for more than three decades.



MATTINGLY: That, from Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, is not hyperbole. It is a very important element here. For decades, lawmakers have tried repeatedly and failed repeatedly to clinch any kind of wide-ranging agreement on what has become the most intractable issue in U.S. politics.

In the last 20 years alone, major efforts have reached the precipice of passage in 2005, in 2013, in 2018. Each time, they went up in flames, victim to hard-right fury over provisions Democrats viewed as essential in any deal. And that's what makes this moment in the current negotiations underway between a bipartisan group of senators so incredibly unique.


MATTINGLY: Do you feel like that where Democrats are on the policy -- the willingness to make deals on specific issues has shifted dramatically over the course of the last several months because of the issues at the border you're talking about?

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): Yeah, I think it has shifted dramatically and it should have shifted dramatically because of what's happened at the border.


MATTINGLY: That's Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, a player -- a key player in past talks -- acknowledging just how far Democrats have moved on the policy. They have dropped key priorities, like a pathway to citizenship or protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. It's just the same question I posed to Democratic Sen. Chris Coons.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Yes. I think there's a willingness to reconsider the initial screening standard for asylum, for example, because so many people are now using the asylum process who ultimately, years later after a court review, will be deemed ineligible for asylum. That's one of the biggest changes in recent years.


MATTINGLY: And that's also an issue that was never on the table before. Democrats now acknowledge there's a crisis at the border and they also say they have shifted significantly on the policy, which means Republicans appear on the brink of the most significant border wins they've had in probably a generation. That's not my assessment; that's the assessment of the Senate Republican leader.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This week, Sen. Lankford and several colleagues continue their work to finalize the most substantial border security policy in 30 years. This agreement would come not a moment too soon.


MATTINGLY: Now, the Sen. Lankford McConnell is referring to is Jim Lankford. And to be clear, he's an unquestionably conservative Republican who given the urgency expressed by those in his own party said this.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): There's an expectation that Congress is going to actually do something and that we're not going to just wait around and to be able to hope things get better, but we're going to take the action to actually make things better.


MATTINGLY: Now, that expectation, to the extent Americans expect anything from their lawmakers at this point in time, is on the verge of being proven wrong because of things like this. Quote, "A border deal now would be another gift to the radical left Democrats. They need it politically but they don't care about our border." That's Trump -- not currently the president or even the actual Republican nominee yet -- publicly undercutting Lankford's efforts. And Trump's gone even further, lawmakers say, in private.

And Republicans -- the same Republicans who have made clear over and over and over again in hearings, in news conferences, in border visits, in political ads just how much of a crisis this is -- they're listening. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAETZ: I'm encouraging President Trump to oppose the contours of the Senate deal such that I've seen it.


MATTINGLY: Which has led to a very sharp intraparty divide for the GOP in large part because at Trump's behest, many want to kill a deal that hasn't actually been reached yet -- a deal almost all of them haven't actually seen yet and a deal that Democrats involved acknowledge moves further in the GOP direction than any ever has, all to maintain Trump's political advantage in a general election.

Now, to be clear, not all are in this camp.


SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): This could be a very significant achievement of this Republican minority in the U.S. Senate of forcing the issue. So I hope no one is trying to take this away for campaign purposes.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): When you have an opportunity to make this country safer you take it and you don't play politics.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): The question is do you want to get something that will help us stem the tide of humanity coming across the border in drugs, or do you want to get nothing?


MATTINGLY: But those types of statements are even harder to find in the Republican-controlled House where Republicans have been repeatedly told their preferred legislation that they pass is a non-starter. They have to negotiate.

This was Speaker Mike Johnson.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): The border is a catastrophe and it has to be addressed. And you're going to see House Republicans standing and fighting on that Hill because it's important for the country.



MATTINGLY: Well, senators are on the verge of clinching a deal to address the border. It certainly won't be everything Republicans want. And to be clear, policy disputes are unquestionably legitimate and worth having. But working to sink the efforts, sight unseen, solely because Trump demands it -- well, perhaps Krysten Sinema, one of the lead negotiators, captured it best.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. KRYSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): Look, we're at a place where this package is almost done and when the text comes out, senators will be about to review it and make their own decision. Do they want to secure the border? It's a choice.


MATTINGLY: It is a choice. So is politics over policy, crisis over just wanting to have one to win an election -- Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think, having all the years you had on the Hill, this is different than 2005, 2013, 2018. They can eke this one --

MATTINGLY: On the policy?

HARLOW: No, that they can --


HARLOW: -- eke this one out?

MATTINGLY: I'm very skeptical because of what we've seen in the last 24 hours.

HARLOW: Because of the -- yeah. Thank you -- great.

So ahead for us, the mother of the Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley set to testify in her own defense. She will take the stand. We have reporting on that ahead.


HARLOW: Testimony has begun in the landmark trial of Jennifer Crumbley in Michigan. Crumbley and her husband James are the first parents of a mass shooter to be charged for their son's crimes. Ethan Crumbley is already serving life in prison for the shooting deaths of four students at Oxford High School in 2021.

In opening statements on Thursday, the defense for Crumbley's mother said that she will take the stand, but also blamed the gun purchase on her husband.

MATTINGLY: Now, a gun store employee testified that it was James who brought the -- bought the weapon in front of Ethan. Prosecutors allege both parents ignored the warning signs involving their son and made a gun accessible to him.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now. Jean, the prosecution's case here -- how strong is it?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're -- we've just gotten through opening statements and --

MATTINGLY: Yeah. CASAREZ: -- the first few witnesses. But they really have a basic case that this was gross negligence of a parent. Violation of a legal duty to their child. That they saw things. They didn't act. They didn't help him.

We learned yesterday they had three guns in the home and it appears as though the cases weren't locked. That some of the guns were just out and about.

But the prosecutor yesterday -- the assistant Oakland County attorney Marc Keast gave the prosecutor's opening statement. Listen to him in his own words.


MARC KEAST, ASSISTANT OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Despite her knowledge of his deteriorating mental crisis, despite her knowledge of his growing social isolation, despite the fact that it is illegal for a 15-year-old to walk into a gun store and walk out with a handgun by himself, this gun was gifted.


CASAREZ: Now, the defense attorney Shannon Smith, in her opening, said it's not that simple because the prosecution is going to give you little tidbits in time versus their life as an entirety as a family. And she said that her client, Jennifer Crumbley, is going to take the stand. Take a listen.


SHANNON SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: And she did not have it on her radar, in any way, that there was any mental disturbance. That her son would ever take a gun into a school. That her son would ever shoot people.


CASAREZ: The prosecution says they're going to have 20 to 25 witnesses and 400 exhibits. There's going to be so many texts, and emails, and Facebook as they're communicating -- Instagram. It goes on and on. So there's going to be a lot of communications to show the state of mind.

HARLOW: Yeah. And this case, as we said at the top, is the first time you've seen parents charged for the crime of their child.

CASAREZ: The first time in this country.

HARLOW: Right. So --

CASAREZ: They are charged with homicide.

HARLOW: -- it could be very precedent-setting.

I wonder, is it correct that Jennifer Crumbley, when she takes the stand, also wants her son to testify in her defense?

CASAREZ: The defense has said from the beginning they want Ethan to take the stand because they want him to testify for this jury.

Very quickly but so important, the prosecution has texts coming in where Ethan texts a little friend. He did so much of this in his bedroom. He had a journal. He was texting. He was watching videos of mass shootings. The parents knew nothing about it.

But he texts his little friend, saying, "You know, I have mental issues and I went to my dad and I said take me to a doctor. And my dad said just take a pill and suck it up. My mother laughed."

Well, he told the psychiatrist when he got in jail after he was arrested -- because he had psychiatric counseling and therapy -- he said, "You know what? I lied. I lied to my friend. My dad didn't say that to me." And they need that -- the defense needs that.

But the appellate attorneys for Ethan Crumbley say no, we're appealing this life without any possibility of parole. It's privileged. You're not going to get this.

HARLOW: Interesting.

MATTINGLY: A precedent-setting case. Jean, keep us posted. Thank you very much.

CASAREZ: I will -- thanks.

MATTINGLY: Well, Donald Trump is taking his presidential campaign back to the courtroom again. He will be at his defamation trial for closing arguments here in New York City.

HARLOW: We do have breaking news this morning out of the Hague. The International Court of Justice says it does have jurisdiction over the genocide case that was brought against Israel. More on those breaking developments ahead.



HARLOW: It is championship weekend in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Cinderella story Detroit Lions, and the Kansas City Chiefs head to Baltimore in a battle with the Ravens.

My team, sadly, the Minnesota Vikings, as you know, will not be there. But you do know my love runs deep for the Land of 10,000 Lakes and I certainly bleed purple for the Vikings.

This was not the second season that head coach Kevin O'Connell envisioned for his team after leading them to a division title last year. They fell short of the playoffs, losing their last four games of the season.

But this year had plenty of highs for the purple and gold, including a heartwarming story when they traded for quarterback Josh Dobbs. Just days into being a Viking, Dobbs was forced into emergency action because of quarterback injuries. He led them to a comeback victory and then another win.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's make sure we let him hear it, all right?



HARLOW: Helping Dobbs through that chaos, a former NFL quarterback- turned Vikings head coach, Kevin O'Connell himself.


KEVIN O'CONNELL, HEAD COACH, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: I felt it was the right moment to walk over and just let him know no matter what happens these next 2 1/2 hours I'm going to be with you every step of the way.


HARLOW: And he was.

Our latest "Coaching Life" takes us to the North Star State.


O'CONNELL: Our path to where we get to doesn't always go the way we think. If you would have said hey, what would your path be? Oh, I'm going to play 15 years in the NFL as a quarterback. I might win maybe one or two Super Bowls and ride off into the sunset.

There's a -- there's a distinct line there. It's that white chalk line that they make me stand on this side with a headset and a polo shirt on.

HARLOW (voice-over): Kevin O'Connell dreamed of winning Super Bowls, for the Minnesota Vikings head coach, that dream started on the field, not on the sidelines.


ANNOUNCER: Preach, baby -- Kevin O'Connell. Come on. When you study this guy, he is an outstanding passer.

HARLOW (voice-over): Before landing one of only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL, O'Connell was a backup quarterback for five teams in the league.

O'CONNELL: I used the saying adversity is an opportunity.

HARLOW (on camera): And where does that come from?

O'CONNELL: I just -- HARLOW (on camera): Did you struggle with adversity?

O'CONNELL: I experienced a lot of it as far as --

HARLOW (on camera): As a quarterback?

O'CONNELL: Yeah, as a quarterback. You come into the NFL as a third- round pick with so many hopes and dreams and things out in front of you. You get drafted to the place with the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL in the quarterback room already, which was a blessing.

HARLOW (on camera): Tom Brady.

O'CONNELL: And it has made me a better coach and a better leader having been around him even for a short amount of time.

And then the adversity of being cut, being traded --

HARLOW (on camera): Yeah.

O'CONNELL: -- being told that you are not good enough. Being told multiple times hey --

HARLOW (on camera): Who said that to you?

O'CONNELL: I got told a lot of times that -- the beauty of it, it normally coincided with a compliment of we think you're going to be a heck of a coach. But when you're trying to be a player that's not always the greatest thing to hear.

HARLOW (voice-over): Backing up Brady and being coached by Bill Belichick would become a gift for O'Connell in a very different way.

O'CONNELL: Tom Brady is already a Super Bowl champion, an MVP. There's nobody better in the -- in the league playing the position. And now I'm in the room with him and the more and more you get to know him and you're around him you see such a unique leader. The dynamic traits where everybody around him was better because they were just around him. He sure was a part of me learning and creating my beliefs in what matters.

HARLOW (on camera): But isn't that interesting that you thought Tom Brady might make you a better quarterback, but Tom Brady actually made you a better coach?

O'CONNELL: Yeah. It's a unique example. And I've shared with our players. Never underestimate whoever you're around having an impact around you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'd like to officially welcome Kevin and his family to Minnesota.

O'CONNELL: There's nothing better than an NFL locker room after winning a football game. If you're going to ascend as a coach you better have foundational

beliefs that have been impacted by, in my case, some of the greatest football minds, whether it's Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Sean McVay. The list goes on and on.

HARLOW (on camera): What about Bill Belichick? I mean, learning from him -- just a great coach.


HARLOW (on camera): And now, you're competing with him.

BILL BELICHICK, FORMER HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: How are you, man? You're doing a great job.

O'CONNELL: This is the greatest coach in NFL history --

HARLOW (on camera): Yeah.

O'CONNELL: -- and a former coach of mine. And I've always thought back on the moments where his presence in front of the team was always something that I just marveled at.

HARLOW (voice-over): Winning a Super Bowl title with the Los Angeles Rams was part of Kevin O'Connell's meteoric rise to the coaching ranks before taking over the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. He proved to be more than an offensive mastermind in his first season while leading the team to a division title, focusing on compassion and optimism.

HARLOW (on camera): It is right to say that this is a team you're trying to lead with love and empathy?

O'CONNELL: It's more than right. It's really the -- what I view as the standard. And first things first is you've got to -- you have to have a world where you speak it and you've got to be willing to be vulnerable enough to say the word love.

HARLOW (on camera): What's it like to talk to a room of NFL players about being vulnerable?

O'CONNELL: Yeah, they probably look at me crazy sometimes. But I think you earn the moments to speak like that to the team.

HARLOW (on camera): Yeah.

O'CONNELL: You've got to be a resource of just love and support for them, or some tough love sometimes.

HARLOW (on camera): Sure.

O'CONNELL: And that's where I think number one, these guys will respect you if they think that you're getting the real you. If you're authentically being yourself.

This team is built of the right stuff because of you guys. Because of our leadership. HARLOW (on camera): You're building them as leaders.

O'CONNELL: I think that's the best way to empower this whole organization is to build leaders upon leaders and empower them.

HARLOW (voice-over): And to explain the why, always.

O'CONNELL: I learned that as a really good coach, you provide clarity not of just what you're asking them to do but teach them why. And then if you say you're going to try to make them the best version of themselves, you sure as heck better be able to make them understand that they can be better players by just listening and watching, and experiencing things. And --

HARLOW (on camera): That's why we can't tell our kids just because. You can't have that candy just because. We have to explain to them --

O'CONNELL: That's exactly right.

HARLOW (on camera): -- why, which is frustrating sometimes but we have to do it.

O'CONNELL: The why is the -- the why is exhausting. And if you've got a why, that can be a very powerful thing.

My number one most important thing is my family at home. My wife is an absolute rockstar.

HARLOW (on camera): You know her job is way harder than yours, right?

O'CONNELL: Yes, I do.

HARLOW (on camera): OK.

O'CONNELL: And she's not allowed --

HARLOW (on camera): I just want to make sure we're --

O'CONNELL: And she's not allowed to walk away.

HARLOW (on camera): I just want to make sure we're clear on that.


HARLOW (on camera): Do you have a message to other dads? I think, especially, dads often don't feel like they can.


HARLOW (on camera): Say, some stuff to prioritize kids even though they want to prioritize family? I wonder what you say to that?

O'CONNELL: Yeah. I think that's a great, great question. There will always be time down the road to make up for your personal time loss, but there's not going to be time to make up for their time with you. There's times where I am tired.