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Erin Burnett Outfront

CDC: Everyone 18 Plus "Should" Get A Booster; Pfizer Expected To Seek FDA Authorization For Boosters For 16 And 17-Year-Olds; Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) Discusses About What He Thinks About The Feud Between Rep. Omar And Rep. Boebert; Police On Alert To Combat "Smash And Grab" Robberies Across U.S.; Defense Argues Ghislaine Maxwell Is "Not Jeffrey Epstein"; Former Top DOJ Official May Face Charges For Defying January 6 Panel. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 29, 2021 - 19:00   ET


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the prosecution is currently moving forward with their opening statements. And they said they have to prove to things: that Jussie Smollett actually reported to the Chicago Police Department that a hate crime occurred and that he knew there was no real hate crime. The defense would be up next, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Omar, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, U.S. health officials bracing for a new coronavirus variants, strengthening booster recommendations tonight as President Biden tries to reassure weary Americans the new strain is not a cause for panic.

Plus, anger boiling over on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert blasting one another after Boebert's anti-Muslim comments and a tense call that was meant to defuse tensions.

And the opening statements today in the sex trafficking trial for Jeffrey Epstein's longtime companion. What prosecutors and Ghislaine Maxwell's defense are claiming tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the CDC is new booster strategy, the agency tasked with protecting the health of Americans now emphatically saying all fully vaccinated adults should get a booster, this new guidance because of the Omicron variant. And while there are still so many unanswered questions about whether it's more dangerous or resistant to current vaccines, today, President Biden urging calm in the face of new fears.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. We have more tools today to fight the variant than we've ever had before, from vaccines to boosters.


BOLDUAN: The President stressing the importance of what we've known really from the beginning, getting vaccinated is the only way out of this pandemic. Though, as of tonight, there are still more than 60 million eligible Americans who have not yet received any shots. And just moments ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci telling CNN that while Omicron's mutations may allow it to spread more easily, existing vaccines are likely still to protect against severe illness and death.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We have every reason to believe even though this is an extraordinary unusual variant, because of the number of mutations, there's no reason to believe that it will not happen that if you get the level of antibody high with a regular booster to the regular vaccine, that you're going to have at least some effect, and hopefully a good effect on our ability to protect against this variant.


BOLDUAN: And this comes as the world is rushing to protect itself against the spread of this new variant. As of tonight, more than 50 nations, including the U.S. are restricting travel from countries in southern Africa. A move that is being both embraced and criticized.

A lot of moving parts tonight. I want to start with Kaitlan Collins. She's live at the White House for us.

Kaitlan, what more is the administration doing or trying to do at this point?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, when it comes to a messaging standpoint, you're seeing President Biden come out and say, hey, I'm going to urge a sense of calm here, but I also want people to pay attention. And that's why today when you saw the president come out, they don't know a lot more of the specifics than really what is publicly known already.

And so the steps that they are taking in the meanwhile, is telling people who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so and telling those who have not yet gotten their booster shots to also do so, because the President was highlighting the discrepancy today between those who have actually gotten the vaccine and those who have gotten the booster shot.

And so you see the CDC making that key change in the language tonight. It seems like a small change. But it is significant, saying that those who are 18 and older instead of could get the vaccine booster that they should get the vaccine booster now. That is significant in and of itself.

And Kate, it comes as we are now learning that Pfizer is expected to seek authorization for its booster shot for those who are 16 and 17. Right now, it's only authorized for people who are 18 and older.

And so it just speaks the level of what's happening behind the scenes when it comes to them trying to essentially build this up with boosters until they find out more about this variant, which they say they think is going to take about a one week, maybe two weeks before they know more about whether or not it's spreading faster, causing more severe disease. And, of course, the big question that everyone wants to know, which is whether or not it can evade vaccines and so those are two big factors as well.

But when it comes to the White House and what's happening here, we do note that the COVID-19 team is going to be briefing reporters tomorrow. They're also briefing the President on a daily basis.

And then you're going to see President Biden speak again on Thursday. The White House says that's to lay out his plan for what it's going to look like in the months ahead, of course, the winter months, people going inside and bigger concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

But the President himself said as of today that does not include more restrictions. Of course, a big question will be whether or not that stands to be the case in several weeks from now.


But that is what they're planning so far. So really, Kate, they don't know much more than we do so they're trying to urge a sense of calm but also they want people to be paying attention to what's going on.

BOLDUAN: Yes. The world all in the same situation on this one, especially. Thanks, Kaitlan. Appreciate it.

And for so many Americans tonight, new questions and new concerns, Amara Walker is OUTFRONT.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Omicron arriving what feels like overnight is serving as a stark reminder that this pandemic is far from over.


DR. PAUL BURTON, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA: This is a new wrench that's been thrown into the fight against COVID.


WALKER (voice over): Armed with a concerning set of mutations, this variant is raising red flags and with it, plenty of questions.


DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WHO SPOKESPERSON: It's just got more of things that we don't like the look of. But we don't have enough information about whether it's more transmissible, whether it's going to cause more severe disease. And critically, is it able to escape the effects of the vaccine?


WALKER (voice over): While it will take weeks to have any definitive answers, South Africa, the country that first identified this variant is offering clues.


SALIM ABDOOL KARIM, CO-CHAIR, SOUTH AFRICAN MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON COVID-19: It has mutations that are similar to the Delta variants, so we're expecting it to transmit faster and based on the early evidence we're seeing in South Africa, it's certainly transmitting faster than the Delta variant.


WALKER (voice over): Already confirmed in at least 15 countries, it's clear Omicron is making its way across borders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost definitely here already.


WALKER(voice over): Trying to slow the spread, the U.S. along with more than 50 other countries have put travel restrictions against countries in southern Africa in place.


KARIM: It's outrageous that South Africa and Southern Africa is being punished for having good surveillance and ensuring that we wanted to be completely transparent and to share this data with the rest of the world as soon as we knew it and confirmed it.


WALKER(voice over): These restrictions have not only prompted outcries, but have already left travelers in limbo.


LAUREN KENNEDY, AMERICAN STUCK IN SOUTH AFRICA: We've probably, what, already had about 10 flights booked that were either cancelled or that we were not allowed to board.


WALKER (voice over): But what top health officials continue to remind us is that vaccines are what will make the biggest impact.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: Please, folks, if you've been on the fence, I'm not a politician. I'm a scientist. Maybe we could even ask all the politicians to agree on this one, get your vaccine. Get your booster. It's the best chance we've got to drive this COVID 19 pandemic away.



WALKER (on camera): So Kate, bottom line is your best protection against this variant right now is to get vaccinated. As we've been saying, we don't know whether or not Omicron can evade vaccines. But just in case it can, Pfizer and BioNTech says that it is preparing to adapt its vaccine within six weeks and ship out initial batches within 100 days. Johnson & Johnson making similar plans saying that it is pursuing an Omicron-specific vaccine at this time. In the meantime, in New York, city officials there highly recommending now that people wear masks indoors, in public places to try to get ahead of this new variant, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Amara, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT with me now for more on this is Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, he's advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush. Thanks for both for being here.

Dr. Jha, you say that this variant is not likely to set us back to square one in this pandemic. I saw you say this is not going to be March of 2020, which is very promising I have to say when I saw that. So what concerns you then most about this new variant?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes. So first, thanks for having me back. Look, what concerns me about this variant is two things. One is pretty good circumstantial, but good evidence that it is highly contagious. Maybe more contagious than the Delta variant. And then all of those mutations on the spike protein in areas that our antibodies target, which really worries me about vaccine efficacy.

I'm not worried that the vaccines won't work at all, but I am worried that the vaccines will take a hit on their efficacy. And if they do, that's going to make it harder to control this pandemic.

BOLDUAN: And Dr. Reiner, I want to play something for you that Dr. Margaret Harris, she's a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, which she told me earlier today which gets at that South Africa should be applauded for its work and what it's done here, not facing travel restrictions. Listen to this.


HARRIS: So South Africa should get a gold medal for the quality of its science and the quality of its transparency. As I said, we have not seen nearly enough of that transparency particularly. And indeed to then make South Africa feel that doing all the right things leads to a very bad outcome is not good. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: We've got 50 nations now who are putting travel restrictions in place. I mean, do you agree with her? Do you think these travel bans missed the mark?


JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. I do agree with her, Kate. There can be instances where a travel ban can buy a country some time and it may have actually done that at the very outset of this pandemic 22 months ago for the United States, although we squandered that time.

If we were in a situation where we did not have a test that could identify this variant, which is not the case, perhaps a few weeks would buy us the time to put in place those tests, but we have that.

So I think this is really an illusion of protection, a metaphor that I've been using, it's like locking a screen door. You feel like you've done something to protect yourself, but you really haven't. This virus is almost certainly already in the United States. We'll hear over the next day or two, that cases have been identified in the United States and it's also important to understand that, since October, the United States has had a requirement for all foreign travelers coming to this country to be fully vaccinated and tested and that's still in place.

So I'm not sure what this ban will achieve, other than to add some disincentive to other countries that might be looking to do intense sequencing and identify variants. This might incentivize those countries to maybe back off on that a little bit because no good deed goes on punished and that I think is what we've shown the South African, so I'm not a fan of this ban.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly what the World Health Organization is fearing here. The disincentives then to do what must be done, which is right.

I mean, Dr. Jha, we're also learning that Pfizer is expected to seek authorization for their booster for some teenagers. The Chief Medical Officer for Moderna, though, says that it could take two to three months for an Omicron-specific booster if needed to be ready. And I'm looking at both of these together and wondering what does this all mean for people thinking about getting a booster right now.

JHA: Yes. What I would say is if you're thinking about getting a booster and you're six months out from your second shot, go get it. There is no question in my mind. Because as Dr. Fauci said earlier, there's good reason to believe that a boosted person will have still a pretty good degree of protection against this specific variant, not perfect, maybe not a hundred percent, but still a good degree of protection.

And whether we're going to need an Omicron-specific booster or not, that will be down the road, even if in 100 days, they can make one, they're going to have to make enough to make enough for Americans, get it out there, so it'll be a while before people will be able to get that. I would not wait for that, I would get a booster today. BOLDUAN: And Dr. Reiner, in this interim period, when so much is

unknown, it leaves kind of a space in a vacuum for misinformation and we're seeing more of that today. Soon after most Americans started hearing for the first time about this new variant, Republican Congressman Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former Trump White House physician, he put out a tweet and in part it says, "Here comes the MEV - the Midterm Election Variant."

And what Jackson is accusing Democrats of here is manifesting this variant to try and help them in the midterm elections. He is an actual doctor and I'm sure you've seen that tweet.

REINER: Yes. I think Ronny used to be an actual doctor, such a disappointment. You would think that we would really benefit from having more medical doctors in Congress during the time of a pandemic, but not when you're spreading disinformation. Most of us take the Hippocratic Oath when we graduate from medical school. And part of the oath has us pledge to share information. But what Ronny is doing is sharing disinformation.

And we also pledge to do no harm and his disinformation does a lot of harm. And it reminds me of sort of the original sin of the last administration's pandemic response which was to cause parts of the American public to doubt the severity of the pandemic. That it was a hoax, it was all going to go away. It was the flu.

And when I hear Ronny Jackson, a former physician talking that this is some sort of political ploy on part of the Democrats to get more mail- in votes, it's incredibly distressing and disgraceful.

BOLDUAN: And it only feeds into fears that are already out there and misinformed.

REINER: Right.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both. It's very good to see you. Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, the feud between Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Lauren Boebert escalating tonight. Omar saying she hung up on the Colorado Republican after Boebert refused to publicly apologize for her Islamophobic comments.

Plus, police departments across the U.S. scrambling tonight to stop the wave of smash-and-grab crimes targeting retail stores. What can be done to stop them?

And tonight, a former top Justice Department official could soon be hit with a criminal contempt charge for refusing to cooperate with the January 6 investigation.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert defiant after making bigoted anti-Muslim comments against Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, suggesting that Omar could be a suicide bomber when they shared an elevator. Boebert and Omar confirmed that they spoke on the phone today. But it ended with Omar saying she hung up on Boebert. Boebert took to Instagram to say this afterward.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Make no mistake, I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can't say the same thing.


BOLDUAN: And Omar releasing a statement saying this in part, "Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Congresswoman Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments." So there's that.

OUTFRONT with me now is Republican Congressman Tom Reed of New York. Congressman, thank you for being here.

This really went from ugly to uglier just when you thought that it couldn't get more ridiculous in the House of Representatives. I mean, what do you think of this?

REP. TOM REED (R-NY): I would agree. I mean, first, obviously, I disagree and condemn the kind of comments that were made by my colleagues in Congress towards a fellow colleague on the other side of the aisle. But you're absolutely right, this is a pox on all of our houses. And I will just tell you, this rhetoric, this type of commentary has to stop. We need to focus on the American people in solving their problems. That's got to be the mission.


But these types of rhetoric exchanges are very disappointing.

BOLDUAN: And look, I mean you disagree vehemently with many of Ilhan Omar's policies and you don't have to like Omar's politics to get this right, just as you just did. I mean, Boebert is a flame thrower and clearly doesn't care. But this is, as you're getting at, this is bigger than her. It speaks to kind of a larger, more insidious problem of if you allow this type of behavior to slide, if you try not to give it oxygen or attention, Congressman, hasn't the last Congress shown that it only gets worse?

REED: I would agree that you have to confront this, but you have to look at the bigger picture here too, like you're like articulating. This is the institution of Congress. This is the people's House. And we have to respect each other.

We can disagree. I'm a proud Republican. I know colleagues on the other side are proud Democrats. But it doesn't mean we go into that chamber not united as Americans. First, we are American citizens that should be working together, as opposed to engaging in what could be called antics of a high school level nature, at times. BOLDUAN: It speaks to the definition or what you think the definition

of leadership is. And Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, he's spoken privately with Boebert. There is a lot of reporting about that. But he has not said anything publicly about her anti-Muslim comments. What does your vision of a leader in the Republican Party do in this situation?

REED: Well, I think when you're in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it. I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly, discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld.

But at the end of the day too, you have to recognize that there's pox on everyone's houses here, historically. We have degraded to a point in the institution of Congress, where there's a level of hatred I've never felt before and we have to get over it. And we have to lead the nation and we have to have leadership that says, you know what, we're going to disagree, but we're going to do it respectfully.

BOLDUAN: I want to dig a little deeper on that, because McCarthy is also being criticized from another on the kind of extreme faction of the right, Marjorie Taylor Greene. She's angry with McCarthy that he isn't defending members like her, while she thinks doing nothing to punish members like you and other house Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I want to play for you what Greene said.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Thirteen traitor Republicans helped Joe Biden pass his agenda handing their voting card over to Nancy Pelosi, and nothing happens to them. Kevin McCarthy has a problem in our conference. He doesn't have the full support to be speaker. He doesn't have the votes that are there, because there's many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats.


BOLDUAN: Yet, Congressman, and I looked at all this with interest. There's one moderate Republican, unnamed, who told CNN, who just told CNN that McCarthy's embrace of some extreme members in your party is in this member's opinion 'taking the middle of the conference for granted'. Is that a fair criticism?

REED: Yes. I'll defer on that question in the sense of that's for Kevin McCarthy to answer. But what I see is a colleague who just thinks things of a black and white nature. And when I came in Congress in 2010, I came on the Tea Party wave. And I will tell you, I've learned a lot in the 11 years I've been there.

The problems of our country are much bigger than black and white. They are very complex and that's what's going to take statesmanship and leadership to solve. And when we engage in this type of rhetoric, and this type of distraction, we're missing the point of what we should be doing in Congress and that's leading by solving big problems with the American people.

BOLDUAN: And it's leading to - I mean, we've seen rhetoric lead to violence, but we're in even of late, not even talking about January 6 for a moment, but even of late today we heard the Congresswoman Debbie Dingell's district office was just vandalized and there's much more to learn about exactly what happened there. But you have also talked about threats to your office and to you personally that you've received over the past year.

And the question then becomes, as you said, this rhetoric must stop but how do you bring the temperature down, because it doesn't seem like anything is working?

REED: I think I was raised by a mother who had a strong faith and a belief, a single mom with 11 older brothers and sisters. You do it by turning the other cheek. You do it by leading, by willing to listen to people, disagree with them, stand up to them, especially when you adamantly and passionately disagree with them. But do it with respect, do it by listening and do it in a way that shows other people, especially the next generation. This is how you resolve disputes and conflict by listening, respecting each other and then inspiring the hearts and minds of the American people.


BOLDUAN: Unfortunately it seems there's a fear that doing that might also mean lower fundraising dollars, which seems to be at the heart of a lot of this. It's good to see you, Congressman, thank you very much.

REED: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, cities scrambling to stop the rash of smash-and-grab robberies plaguing major cities across the country. What can be done to stop these brazen burglaries? The Mayor of Oakland is next.

Plus, prosecutors call her a predator. Her defense, she is a scapegoat for Jeffrey Epstein. We're going to take you inside the dramatic first day of court for Epstein's longtime companion and associate, Ghislaine Maxwell.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a rise in violent crime. Major cities across the U.S. seeing a spike in smash-and-grab robberies as Americans are heading to stores for holiday shopping. The uptick in crime has police around the country struggling to stop this brazen trend. Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT.


organized smash-and-grab robberies at two separate Best Buy stores last Friday.


TVs, tablets and hoverboards stolen by brazen mobs, mimicking the thieves that hit an Apple store near San Francisco, grabbing and running off with expensive electronics.

The robberies adding to a recent spate of similar large-scale thefts hitting big retailers and grabbing and running off with expensive electronics. The robberies adding to a recent spate of similar large- scale thefts hitting big retailers and designer stores in major cities last week, including this Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco.

CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT: We have been seeing this wave of people invading stores by and large numbers. There is no way, in my mind, that we can have a situation where 20, you know, up to 80 people can invade a store or series of stores and there not be some communications and some organization.

CAMPBELL: On Friday, a Home Depot near Los Angeles was robbed by as many as ten thieves who stole sledge hammers, crow bars, and other tools, like those used in smash-and-grab thefts. Four men have been arrested in that robbery.

On Saturday, a security guard died after being shot during an armed robbery of a news crew covering the smash-and-grab robberies in Oakland.

Kevin Nishida, a former police officer, was shot while guarding the crew earlier in the week, and later died from his wounds.

CHIEF JOHN MUNSEY, COLMA POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was just a tremendous human being and it's such a loss for our law enforcement community, as well as our -- our community at large.

CAMPBELL: The Oakland police department using tactical teams to de- escalate threats as other police departments across the country ramp up efforts to combat thefts that are becoming more frequent and more deadly.

CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT: We have arrested some of these folks and recovered millions of dollars worth of property. Some of this is motivated by greed, motivated by people that are just brazen and don't want to abide by the laws that we have. So, we're going to attack this at all angle.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, there are a lot of unanswered questions tonight about why we are seeing this wave of brazen robberies. But two things are certain in talking to experts. One, ahead of the holidays, store shelves are filled. And two, there remains a hot market for stolen items which, of course, means tonight police departments around the country are increasing patrols, increasing their presence around certain retail locations hoping to deter or disrupt the next brazen robbery -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Josh, thank you so much for that reporting.

OUTFRONT with me now is Libby Schaaf. She is Democratic mayor of Oakland, one of the city's that's been hit by these smash-and-grab robberies.

Mayor, thanks for being here.

You heard Josh Campbell just talk about the security guard, the guy was -- the man who was working security who was shot and killed while protecting a local news crew in your city. I mean, that is a tragedy, by itself.

But does this speak to a bigger problem? I mean, how concerned are you?

MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF (D), OAKLAND, CA: Kate, it does. Oakland had been successful at cutting gun violence in half, and sustaining those reductions for more than five years. But with COVID, we saw that progress undone. And the horrid death of Kevin Nishida is one example of so many tragedies.

Every injury, every death caused by gun violence is an absolute loss for the community. And we, for one, are committed to having a comprehensive and effective approach to stopping it.

BOLDUAN: I think -- and the big question for you, mayor, as well as mayors in other major cities because these are happening in many cities now -- is what does comprehensive mean? And what is the solution to stopping this? I mean, what are you doing now to do that, to stop this from happening again?

SCHAAF: Well, we already doubled down on prevention as well as standing up a non-police response option.

But let me be clear: Oakland needs more police. We have been impacted by staffing reductions. COVID interrupted our recruitment and training processes. And the defund rhetoric is challenging our ability to attract and retain recruits. And we know that that is not unique to Oakland.

But let me be clear: We appreciate the incredible service of the hardworking men and women that are in our police department. Oakland has been ranked number one by Eight Can't Wait as the major department in the country that's been most successful at reducing racial disparities in arrests.

We want people to be proud of being in this service to our community and we are going to be staffing up. That is a necessity at this moment where we are with our crime in this season.

BOLDUAN: But look, Mayor, I mean, you say you need more police. The police chief has asked for help. The police union says that the officers who are on the job right now are hitting a breaking point.

I want to read for you -- and I am sure you have seen it -- what the president of the -- of the police union wrote in an op-ed. Writing in part, many officers and their families have had enough of mandatory overtime, the lack of support, and the city's unwillingness to stem the tide of violence or even condemn it. They leave the cities -- meaning, these officers -- they leave for cities that value their service, experience, and professionalism.

Mayor, it does not sound like there is a quick fix to this.

SCHAAF: But that's why I believe now is the time that the leadership will come together to say we need to maintain basic levels of police staffing. That is what we are going to be demanding of all city leadership to get behind. And that's what I believe that we can do, together, because this unacceptable loss of life.

We -- we know what has worked in the past. And it's not just police. We are looking at the interruption of our entire criminal justice system, the court system, the impacts of new policies with regard to bail. Everything is on the table, as we look at a comprehensive approach to turn the tide of this spike in violence.

No one is -- is absent from being part of the solution and we have to have better coordination. I mean, you talked about the coordinated impacts of these criminal caravans. We need state and federal resources to interrupt those efforts. Lord knows, they're coordinated. We need to be coordinated, as well.

BOLDUAN: Mayor, thank you very much for your time.

SCHAAF: Thank you.


SCHAAF: Stay safe this holiday.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. OUTFRONT for us next, prosecutors calling her Jeffrey Epstein's partner in crime, accusing Ghislaine Maxwell of luring teen girls into sex traffic -- a sex trafficking ring with him.

Plus, parents crossing the line. One school board member revealing to CNN what she is hearing online as parents target her child.


KELSEY WAIT, PARENT: Kelsey needs to be in jail because her youngest "daughter" is a boy.




BOLDUAN: Tonight, a pyramid scheme of abuse. That is what prosecutors are accusing Ghislaine Maxwell of creating.

Today was the first day of her long-awaited trial for sex trafficking as the longtime partner of Jeffrey Epstein. Prosecutors arguing today, Maxwell recruited girls for years for Epstein to sexually exploit.

But Maxwell's defense attorney fighting back that she is being used as, quote, a scapegoat for Epstein who died in his jail cell before he could stand trial.

Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT. She's been following all of this.

This has been a long-awaited trial and in opening statements, the prosecutors really used their time to try to portray her as a predator.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they are essentially saying she recruited these women. She would go find these women who were impoverished, underage, and try to get them to come to the houses of Jeffrey Epstein under this cover of a massage. And that, she was very much aware of what was happening behind closed doors. In fact, calling her the lady of the household and saying that she actually told the staff to look away, don't say anything, and she was all part of this.

So, being a predator, you talked about this pyramid scheme. It got to the point prosecutors say where she not only recruited these women, but then she would get these girls to recruit each other. Basically, trying to, you know, give them money, give them clothing, lingerie, all these reasons that they might want to take part in this. And even in one part, they allege that she took part in some of these acts.

BOLDUAN: As young as 14 I think were some of the ages that we were hearing about. And there is a long way to go with this, of course. This is just the first day but are you getting any kind of window into the defense' strategy that they are going to be laying out?

GINGRAS: Yeah. Six-week trial is what it is slated for so we are going to get a lot but as far as opening statements were concerned, the defense is essentially saying that she is the scapegoat as you said for Jeffrey Epstein. That she shouldn't be criminalized for what Jeffrey Epstein did and we will see if that works. As you mentioned, there are going to be these alleged accusers who take the stand and they'll have a lot to say.

But certainly, the defense is trying to paint this picture that they have some stake in this, that there is a Jeffrey Epstein compensation fund where they have already received money. So it behooves them to include Ghislaine Maxwell in their testimony to even get more money so we will see if that works. Remember, this is the first time really in a Me Too era that a woman is the defendant in the trial. So we will see how jurors react to that, as well.

BOLDUAN: It's -- I mean, it -- it's very, at the least, it is going to be so troubling to hear these women speak out.

GINGRAS: Absolutely. BOLDUAN: As they should be able to speak up but my god, what they are

going to have to go through to get there. Good to see you, really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, parents are furious over a school board member's politics. They turned to targeting her child.

Plus, a former top DOJ official could, soon, become the second person to face contempt charges for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th investigation.



BOLDUAN: Tonight's inside look, the vicious and personal attacks directed at a school board chair. Tonight, the mother of two now set to leave town after parents took to targeting her 8-year-old child, in part because they were angry over her push for COVID measures in schools.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is out front.


CHRIS WAITS, PARENT: I took him in the car.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kelsey and Chris Waits and their kids Abby and Kit live in their dream house in Hastings, Minnesota, for a few more weeks anyway.

C. WAITS: Look at the steam on that one.

When I left the Navy, when I left active duty, I had a job opportunity here and I flew out. Kelsey said, well, I hope the interview went well because we're moving here. This town is great. This town is perfect. This is what I want.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: How do you feel about Hastings now?

KELSEY WAITS, PARENT & OUTGOING SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRWOMAN: I can't unsee the things that have been sent to me. I think with time I will find forgiveness.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Kelsey is one of those school board incumbents defeated this year by parents angry over mask rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Masks should be a parent's decision.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And diversity and inclusion programs.

K. WAITS: This community was very split.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: She voted for masking. She supported diversity and inclusion programs. Choices that energize parents in a Facebook group opposed to pandemic restrictions. The group was formed in July under the name Conservative Parents of

Hastings. A few weeks later the name was changed to Concerned Parents of Hastings.

It's a small town. She knows a lot of the parents in this group.

K. WAITS: I'm fine with that. That's politics.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: One day, a parent wrote a long post complaining about Kelsey and masking. And the replies, things got ugly.

K. WAITS: Someone responded to that post by saying Kelsey needs to be in jail because her youngest "daughter" is a boy.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: A parent outed Kit because of Kit's mom's politics.

K. WAITS: This was my most precious secret. The thing I protected most and the thing I was most afraid of ever being used in a political way.


I dropped to the floor and I cried.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Other parents soon piled on. One attacked the Waitses, calling them woke parents. Another wrote my heart breaks for any child who has parents that push the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on them.

One moderator of the group hid some of the ugly posts but another moderator posted more. It kept going.

C. WAITS: It's just a kid trying to impress their woke parents. And I'm like, my God, I voted for Bush, but every time he was on the ballot. My wokeness, if you want to say that my understanding of what it is to be transgender makes me woke, it's because Kit woke me up. Kit taught me not the other way around.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Kit is 8 years old, uses the pronouns they/them. The Waits have asked we not show their face on camera.

C. WAITS: I like that your socks never match. You got style, kid.

K. WAITS: For Kit's fourth birthday, Kit asked for one thing. They really, really wanted the Kit Kitridge American girl doll. Now, I was standing right there in the kitchen and Kit walks up to me. And goes, mom, can you call me Kit.

And I said, sure. Still my little boy? And Kit goes, no, your little girl. And I was like absolutely, sweetie, you got it.

And then I ran into the other room with a panic attack and called daddy in Japan and said, what the heck just happened?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It was a journey for these parents.

C. WAITS: I remember a conversation I have with a family member that said, you know, have you ever just considered doing more manly things with Kit and less nurtury things. And at that moment it was kind of a, well, wait a minute, what am I trying to do here and what is really -- what's wrong with this?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The waits decided the right course was love your kid. They let Kit be Kit.

K. WAITS: We lost our friends when Kit first came out and we lost family.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The family kept all of this a secret from most people, for a simple reason, safety.

K. WAITS: You out a kid before they're ready, you're subjecting them to that sort of behavior that's going to increase their risk of suicide. This is not about my parenting practices. This is about the lives of kids.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: After kit was outed online, Kelsey realized the family might not be safe. She wrote a letter to the local newspaper. She appealed to decency.

K. WAITS: I basically said there's still a line. Don't cross the line. And then I continued my later saying, here are the great things. Here's how we come together as a community.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: On Facebook, some parents responded, with glee. We made the paper, one parent wrote.

K. WAITS: They are proud of what they did.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: CNN reached out to parents in the group. We reached out to the moderators. No one responded. But Concerned Parents of Hastings blocked us.

She knows these parents. She sees them in the grocery store. They know each other. And yet when it came to a political debate, they chose to out her child.

How do you see that happening? Where does that come from? What's going on?

NINA JANKOWICZ, AUTHOR, "HOW TO BE A WOMAN ONLINE": I think there's been a behavior like that that's been modeled by a lot of politicians in the United States over the past several years. And I think normal people who are looking at these small issues at their school board, in their local elections say, well, there's not a consequence for those people and I'm just a small fry so there's not going to be a consequence for me.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: This family is not sticking around this neighborhood to find out what comes next. They're moving.

C. WAITS: That's where we're at right now, that there are people that we know that are not safe for our kids in our neighborhood. And that we can't trust our kids alone at the bus stop waiting for the bus. Not because of the kids necessarily but because of the parents.


BOLDUAN: I mean, what a horrible reality to be facing. And, Evan, this isn't the first kind of, I will say, like insane and terrifying school board incident that you have covered. But I mean, like, parents at home looking at this, what are they supposed to make of all this?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Which is the most disturbing of a series of disturbing stories I have done throughout this school board election, throughout this year of school board races. People like Kelsey say is that things have really changed on the ground in American neighborhoods. We are used to hearing about national politics being ugly, attacking everybody. There is no, you know, sacred cows.

But now, it's your neighbor. People who know you, and Kelsey says that's going to actually drive people out of school board races and out of school boards that we need to help run schools that we have. It's a big change in America.

BOLDUAN: Neighbor taking on neighbor now. It's now the violence is coming directly to your home. So terrifying. Amazing reporting, though.

Thanks, Evan. Great to see you.

OUTFRONT for us next, the former top Justice Department -- former top Justice Department official that could soon face a criminal contempt the charge for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th investigation.

Be right back.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a former top Department of Justice official may soon become the second person to face contempt charges for defying the January 6th Committee. Jeffrey Clark is his name. He refused to cooperate with the committee. He is accused of using DOJ resources to back former President Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud.

According to officials who interacted with Clark, he was in touch with Trump repeatedly. If Clark is held in contempt, he will join Steve Bannon as the second person to potentially face criminal charges for refusing to provide information to Congress. Bannon is facing up to two years in prison if found guilty.

The January 6th committee is set to vote Wednesday on whether to recommend the full house refer Clark for charges.

Thanks so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts now.