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Erin Burnett Outfront

U.S. Marshals, Sheriff's & FBI Searching For Parents Of School Shooting Suspect After Criminal Charges; Police: Shooting Suspect's Parents Considered Fugitives; Charged With Four Counts Of Involuntary Manslaughter; CDC Director Says Omicron Could Become Dominant Strain In U.S.: "This May Well Be A More Transmissible Variant;" Meadows Whitewashes Deadly Capitol Riot In New Book; 14 People Arrested In L.A. "Smash And Grab" Robberies; Pollster Warns Dems After Virginia Focus Group: "We Have A Problem." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Let's see what happens. This is an extremely tense situation.


BLITZER: Yes. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much for your exclusive reporting.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, on the run. A manhunt for the parents of the alleged Michigan school shooter after they were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The prosecutor in the case laying out their disturbing behavior before their son was accused of killing four classmates.

Plus, a warning tonight on just how contagious the new Omicron variants may be as more states are reporting cases of the COVID strain this evening.

And Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows with new details about what he claims was going on behind the scenes on the day of the deadly insurrection. Let's go OUTFRONT.

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

OUTFRONT tonight, manhunt. The U.S. Marshals, the FBI and police are searching for the parents of the accused Michigan school shooter. They are now considered fugitives and on the run after failing to show up for their arraignment this afternoon on involuntary manslaughter charges. Officials say that they are using all available resources to try and locate Jennifer and James Crumbley who you can see them right here.

This is from the last time that they were actually seen publicly appearing to be in a car, Wednesday, when they joined a virtual arraignment hearing for their son. The fact that they are facing criminal charges is a huge development. Parents in the United States are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children.

But today, the local prosecutor is saying that the parents committed such egregious acts, she had no choice.


KAREN MCDONALD, PROSECUTOR, OAKLAND COUNTY, MI: I want to be really clear that these charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable.


BOLDUAN: And the details about Ethan Crumbley's parents alleged role are chilling. According to the prosecutor, the day before the shooting, a teacher found Crumbley searching for ammunition on his cell phone during class. This was the first incident to be reported by a concerned teacher.

And according to prosecutors, the response from Crumbley's mother is this text message, "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught." And the next day, the day of the shooting, the teen's parents were called to the school after another teacher discover something very different. A drawing of a gun, a person bleeding and a laughing emoji and the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me."


MCDONALD: At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were showing the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun which he had with him.

James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of then leaving the school at that time, of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returned to the classroom.


BOLDUAN: A short time later, four students killed, six others and one teacher injured. And while authorities search for Crumbley's parents, the community is gathering at a candlelight vigil to remember the four lives lost, the four lives stolen. Hana St. Juliana was 14, Justin Shilling, 17, Tate Myre, 16 years old and Madisyn Baldwin, 17.

Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT live outside the Sheriff's Office in Pontiac, Michigan, for more on this for us tonight. Shimon, where does the search stand now for the Crumbley parents?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: It's still very much active and, in fact, in some ways getting more aggressive with the U.S. Marshals really now taking a huge role in this search. They just released a statement saying that they are involved. They are the best of the best, so certainly, this manhunt is still underway.

We've talked to the Sheriff's Office. They have not heard anything. There's a lot of talk about lawyers reaching out. They have not heard from anyone since around this afternoon, so that manhunt still continue.

Of course, Kate, this all happening as for the first time prosecutors laid out what happened and finally we're able to give this community some answers.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): A dramatic manhunt today for James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the suspected school shooter.


SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MI: As soon as we knew charges had been issued, and that they weren't any longer cooperating with the attorney that had pledged to bring them in. We begin to activate our fugitive team.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): The couple was charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter for the four classmates their son is accused of killing. After failing to appear for their arraignment, the Crumbley's attorney claimed they 'left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety, they are not fleeing from law enforcement'.


This afternoon, prosecutor Karen McDonald detailed a shocking series of events laying out why the parents should be held accountable.


MCDONALD: There was absolute reason to believe this individual was dangerous and disturbed.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): One day before the shooting, the prosecutor says the school contacted Crumbley's parents after a teacher reported him searching for ammunition on his phone during class. Their voicemail and email were unreturned.


MCDONALD: Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day stating, "LOL I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."


PROKUPECZ(voice over): On the morning of the shooting, a teacher found Crumbley drawing a disturbing note, MacDonald says.


MCDONALD: A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me." In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, "Blood everywhere." Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, "My life is useless."


PROKUPECZ(voice over): McDonald says Crumbley's parents were immediately called in to meet with school officials and told they were required to submit their son to counseling within 48 hours. The Crumbleys resisted taking Ethan out of school, McDonald says, and at that point, the school allowed Crumbley to return to class. A decision the school superintendent defended.


TIM THRONE, SUPERINTENDENT, OXFORD COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT: No discipline was warranted. There are no discipline records at the high school.


PROKUPECZ(voice over): But the parents were aware their son had access to a gun, which authorities believe was likely already in his backpack during that meeting. McDonald says Ethan was at the shop when his father bought him the handgun he allegedly used in the attack just four days before the shooting.

Crumbley posted about the purchase on social media writing, "Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm." On the 27th, McDonald says Jennifer Crumbley also posted about the gift writing, "Mom and son day, testing out his new Christmas present."

During the meeting, the day of the shooting, neither parent asked Ethan about the gun or inspected his bag for the weapon. Shortly after news of the shooting, James Crumbley reported his gun missing from his house and Jennifer texted her son.


MCDONALD: Ethan, don't do it.



PROKUPECZ(on camera): And, of course, having spent this week with this community here is a lot of anger, anger over what the school knew and over some of the inaction on the part of the school. And just think about this, Kate, next week funerals are going to start beginning and to think that this manhunt could go on, we don't know how long this could go on through next week. But certainly the Sheriff's Office here feels they're going to find them, with the U.S. Marshals now helping them and other people coming in, they feel that they're going to be able to find them.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, thank you so much for that.

OUTFRONT with me now, Juliette Kayyem, former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, our National Security Analyst, Joey Jackson, CNN Legal Analyst and Shannon Watts, the Founder of Moms Demand Action, an organization fighting against gun violence.

Joey, first to you, the fact that law enforcement are still looking for the parents at this point, when they eventually do find them, what does that mean for the case that's going to be brought against them?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It means a lot. So what it means, Kate, it means consciousness of guilt. In the event that you don't believe you did anything wrong, what do you do? You stay and there's no basis or need for you to run anywhere.

I think this is very interesting with respect to what prosecutors are doing now. If there's not going to be a legislative fix with respect to legislatures around the country or Congress doing something about guns, this particular prosecutor says I'm going to do something. And if your conduct creates a condition which you believe can result in death or serious injury, guess what, it's involuntary manslaughter.

And when you look at the compelling facts here, I mean, it's compelling that the parents should be charged. You purchase the weapon, the weapon is something that your son has access to. You're aware of his apparent either overtures or conditions that kind of lead to or manifesting to something dangerous, you call them by the school to give you indications that he's doing these writings. You know he's searching for ammo and you say, haha, don't get caught next time.

I think it's high time they move forward. When the parents are caught, Kate, they'll be brought to justice. They'll be arraigned and they'll have to answer for these potential and alleged crimes.

BOLDUAN: Look, Juliette, from what the prosecutor laid out and explaining the charges against the parent, what stands out to you most about what the parents did or didn't do?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'll tell you I went into that press conference thinking maybe the facts aren't as good as we would later learn.


I was a little bit worried she was pushing it because the case is quite unique, it is hard to bring charges against parents. They're worse than anything I imagined from the get-go, starting with the purchase of the gun, the sort of performative behavior by the mother and son about the purchase of a gun going on social media, the emojis, the mother doing the LOL, ignore the school. So what is that telling a teenager? I have three.

When you say it's us - she's saying it's us against them. That's essentially what she's saying. But Tuesday is the hardest day as if I were their defense attorney to get out of this, because Tuesday they are in the room and they are begging the school to let their child who they don't know where the gun is back into the school. They're basically aiding and abetting this murder and it seems indefensible shocking when you first hear it.

But Tuesday is, to me, the moment where the parents, any rational parents would have known that that behavior would have led to a killing.

BOLDUAN: Shannon, this is rare as both Joey and Juliette are laying out. I mean, parents of a student being charged. The student being charged in a school shooting being charged themselves. Do you think this is a new chapter here?

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION: I mean, I certainly hope so. Something like secure storage laws that require gun owners to keep their guns locked, unloaded, separate from ammunition, it's non- political, it's non-partisan, it should be non-controversial and they should be passed tomorrow in every single state.

This is something Moms Demand Action does all over the country. We lobby for these laws so that gun owners are held accountable when something like this happens. We just passed them last legislative session in both Colorado and in Oregon.

But the bottom line is this, every nation is home to disgruntled teens. Only America gives them easy access to arsenals and ammunition. The reality is if kids didn't have easy access to guns, we wouldn't have school shootings. The vast majority of school shooters are students and they have easy access to loaded weapons inside their homes and it really is incumbent on all lawmakers to act on this and to protect our kids.

These are preventable, senseless tragedies. The Constitution is a framework for making laws. It is not a suicide pact and our children need to be safe in their schools.

BOLDUAN: And the prosecutor made really clear, Juliette. What she's saying is not anti-gun, it's that people who have guns have responsibility. And there's also a lot of anger being directed at the school in terms of responsibility right now. The prosecutor said herself that she was angry at the school.

I mean, after being shown a drawing by this kid with a gun and phrases like, "Blood everywhere," and, "The thoughts won't stop. Help me."


BOLDUAN: When I saw that, after that the school sends him back to class allows him back in class, is there any reason why you can see a school official doing that?

KAYYEM: No. Certainly not in hindsight. So let's just be clear here, not in hindsight, so we know this. So I'm not going to defend the school district. But at the moment they have a kid with no discipline ...

BOLDUAN: But we live in a world, Juliette, we know of school shootings and the threats. I mean, we live in the post-Columbine, post-Parkland, post-Sandy Hook world.

KAYYEM: Right. No, no, so what I'm saying is I want to separate our anger at the school district with our anger with the parents. In other words, they're not the same.

Because, look, every school has to do everything right and you're hoping that there's not a mass shooting with every kid that has trouble, whatever. And so basically why they believed the parents is going to be the quintessential question, did they know the parents, was it raised, was it socioeconomic status, what was it that would make you believe these parents that this kid was safe, that's the question.

But let's just take a step back, we all have kids in schools. The schools cannot be expected to be the last line of defense when it comes to our kids. It's got to begin so much further than when someone comes into a school with a gun and that's why I want to separate the school district from the parents who really did, I mean, I'm using stronger language than the prosecutor who from the facts of it just really essentially said aided and abetted their child.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Joey, look, and maybe I'm going too far in asking this, but I'm here to ask the questions. Do you think anyone in the school could face a criminal charge?

JACKSON: Yes. I mean, I think that'll be looked at, Kate. It's unlikely that they'll face criminal charges, whether they're civilly liable is another question. There's a major distinction between whether or not you're criminally responsible or whether the school knew or should have known that something like this could have occurred and have taken the proper precautions to ensure it did not.

And so when a school takes the step of inviting the kid in, now, you invite the parents in.


Do you allow, Kate, the kid to go back into class or do you expel or otherwise ensure that he's not there. Look for the lawsuits to come fast and furious. I see civil monetary liability, not necessarily criminal culpability.

BOLDUAN: So Shannon, so much of your focus is preventing this from happening and it did happen again. You have four children dead. You have a young kid charged. His parents now charged. The school facing serious criticism. The Sheriff saying that he'd wished that they'd been alerted so they could have helped and been part of this. I'm looking at just the bare facts that we've just gotten just today, it feels like there are so many failures on so many levels. Where do you begin?

WATTS: Well, I agree with that. And it's important to remember that before COVID, about 4.6 million American kids lived in homes with unsecured guns. Today, because of the gun sales during COVID, that number is about 5.4 million.

We need to be having these conversations with friends and family about how they store their firearms and we need to not just be reactive. Active shooter drills, checking backpacks, calling the police, all of those things are reactive measures. We need to be proactive.

And when we look at the data, we know what works, secure gun storage, something called a red flag law, which is now the law in 19 states, which allows family or police to petition a judge for a temporary restraining order to remove guns when someone is a danger to themselves or others. And we need to look at the warning signs.

They were there for a while. And if we had a higher mental health counselor to student ratio, they may have identified those while back and been able to report that but everything we're doing is reactive. Our kids deserve so much more than this. And the lawmakers in this country have the power to act and they have been sitting on their hands. The logical outcome is tragedies like what happened in Michigan.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, a new study tonight finding there are more breakthrough cases of COVID because of the Delta variant. Does this mean that we need to reconsider the definition of what fully vaccinated means and that now it should include the boosters?

Plus, CNN learning tonight the lawyer who devised a plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election is now planning to defy a subpoena from the January 6 Select Committee.

And these scenes are really just shocking, mobs of people storming stores, clearing out shelves across the country. What is behind this disturbing trend?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, the CDC Director is offering new insight and a warning about what she's seeing with a new Omicron variant.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: What we do know is that early data and even mutation data are telling us that this may well be a more transmissible variant than Delta. And so this is going to take some time to sort out. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Rochelle Walensky also said that while they study Omicron, the most urgent problem still is the Delta variant. There are more than 59,000 people currently hospitalized in the United States with COVID right now. That's a 23 percent jump higher than one month ago.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

Dr. Schaffner, on Omicron, South Africa's health ministers is warning of, the way they put it is a steep rise in infections since the Omicron variant was first detected. Dr. Walensky says that variant could become dominant in the United States. Does that concern you?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DIVISION, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, sure, it concerns me. But we have to understand, we don't have definitive information yet. This is a marathon. In the first quarter, it does look as though Omicron can keep up with Delta or even outrun it, so let's let the data kind of evolve. Let's make our judgments a little bit down the road.

But it truly does look early on as though this Omicron virus is very contagious, even more contagious than Delta.

BOLDUAN: But still so many questions that still need to be answered as studies are still underway.

Doctor, I've got to ask you, the Biden administration announced today that it is shipping out 9 million more vaccine doses to Africa, 2 million to other countries around the world. The President also made the case in his view that supply isn't the problem globally. He said South Africa has all the vaccines that they need. And I want you to listen to how the World Health Organization's spokesperson reacted to that.


DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SPOKESPERSON: I would say it's a bit of a convenient myth. What we are seeing in countries is not any difficulty actually with getting people to be vaccinated. The struggle is making sure that it's available in the right place at the right time so that people can get to it and so that it can get into people's arms.


BOLDUAN: And so when it comes to all the people who need to be involved from government, to the private companies to COVAX, the need to work together to get the world vaccinated. There's clearly a problem here, which has me thinking, we still have a long way to go in this pandemic then.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right, Kate. The United States has fully vaccinated almost 60 percent of its population. Africa has fully vaccinated about 7 percent of its population. So we're sending 9 million more doses of vaccine to Africa. Africa has 1.2 billion people and what we need to understand now, if it's not abundantly clear, is that we are not safe until everyone is safe.

Think of it this way, if you live in a row house and the house at the end of your street is on fire, it's in your best interest to help put that fire out. And places like Africa in the developing world that have vaccinated very, very small amounts of their population. These are the places where mutations are going to continue to evolve. And unless we put the fire out there, it is coming for our house.

And we need to duller, we need to just dig down deep and gather the rest of the developed world and get vaccine, surge vaccine into Africa.

BOLDUAN: Surge vaccine, surge personnel, surge refrigeration, I mean, come on, it can be done. We've done it in the United States, put it all around the globe.

REINER: Exactly.


BOLDUAN: I mean, so Dr. Schaffner, there's also this new study out tonight finding that there are more breakthrough cases because of Delta and here's an interesting part of it. The key takeaway from these researchers in this study is this, "Especially with the emergence of the Omicron variant, we need to reconsider our definition of being 'fully vaccinated' to include the booster vaccinations." This has been a big topic of conversation for quite a bit, do you agree?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think the answer, Kate, is vaccination, vaccination, vaccination. We have a large proportion of the population that still hasn't received its first dose. We have children, five and older need to be vaccinated in a very small proportion of them and then we have many, many people who are have had two doses or of the mRNA vaccines or one dose of J&J, who are eligible for vaccination for their booster.

And all of those people, if they went out and got vaccinated tomorrow, within two weeks, COVID in this country would plummet. We need to keep everybody vaccinated. And for sure, if you've had your two doses of mRNA vaccine or your one dose of J&J, and you're eligible for booster, please get your booster. We've learned that two doses are great. Three doses even better.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Reiner, President Biden was asked earlier about requiring vaccines for domestic air travel, I want to play for you what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I continue to rely on the scientist and asking them whether or not we have to move beyond where we did yesterday. Right now, they're saying no.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: What do you think of that?

REINER: The administration is wrong. First of all, it makes no sense to me that there's this burning imperative for us to make sure that everyone flying into the United States is vaccinated. But we don't have that same imperative for everyone flying around the United States. There are two reasons to vaccinate people who are traveling on airplanes in the United States.

One is to protect the people on the airplane and also to help prevent transmission of virus around the country. But the other enormous piece of that is incentivizing people to get vaccinated and it is the last big incentive we have.

If you look at places like New York that require vaccinations for restaurants, and movie theaters and bars, vaccination rates in New York City are about 90 percent. If you look at private companies that have instituted vaccine mandates, look at United Airlines, almost everyone who works for that airline is now vaccinated.

So we've seen this mandates work. The administration is eventually going to do this. The only question is when. They should do it now.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both. I really appreciate it.

REINER: My pleasure.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Trump's former chief of staff with a new book doubling down on Trump's claims of election fraud, unfounded claims, and detailing what Meadows says what's going on during the deadly insurrection.

Plus, President Biden is touting America's low unemployment rate today, but I'll talk to one Democratic pollster who has a warning for his party tonight. Their economic message isn't working.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: New tonight: Mark Meadows doubling down on fiction in his new memoir. The former chief of staff to President Trump whitewashing what happened on January 6th, claiming the deadly insurrection was orchestrated by a small group of people, and a handful of fanatics, according to the book just obtained by CNN.

Even though roughly 2,000 people breached the Capitol, and nearly 700 people have been charged, of course.

Meadows, also, writing this in the book. Trump did not call for violence, and he did not expect anyone would enter the Capitol building. Even though Trump, himself, said this on January 6th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you are not going to have a country, anymore. So, we're going to -- we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we're going to the Capitol. We're going to try and give our Republicans -- the weak ones because the strong ones don't need any of our help -- we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.


BOLDUAN: Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT with me now.

Ryan, Meadows now says that Trump said to him that he didn't mean it when he was talking about that walk to the Capitol. What else is Meadows saying?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Quite a peculiar claim from the former chief of staff, Kate. He said everything that happened on January 6th he described it as being organic.

And he said about that specific line that you just played, when the former president at that time encouraged his supporters to make their way from in front of the White House, down Pennsylvania to the Capitol, that that was a line that he ad-libbed. That it wasn't part of his prepared remarks and that when he left the stage, that he told Mark Meadows, the then chief of staff, that he didn't think of his supporters took it seriously.

Quote, when he got off the stage, President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol. He knew, as well as anyone, that we couldn't organize a trip like that on such short notice. It was clear, the whole time, that he didn't actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd.

Now, even though Mark Meadows believes that it was metaphorical and if that was President Trump's intention at the time, it certainly wasn't interpreted like that from the thousands of people that were on the ellipse that day because many of them made their way from that rally down here to the Capitol. And many of them broke into the Capitol on that day with the express purpose of interrupting the democratic process.

So, that alone is interesting. But also, Kate, the fact that he is talking about his conversations with President Trump when he said that he can't talk to the January 6th select commit degree because it's protected by executive privilege, that is going to make his deposition up here next week very interesting.

BOLDUAN: Great point, Ryan. Thank you so much.

Let's talk about that right now.

Shan Wu is OUTFRONT with me now, former federal prosecutor.


It's good to see you, Shan.

So, this is, as Ryan is laying out, what Meadows is writing in his book, writing about private conversations he had with the president. Does that undermine his claims of executive privilege that he is making to the January 6th committee?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it does, Kate. I mean, I think this is an example of Mark Meadows wanting his book contract and wanting to eat it too and he really may be forced to eat it because it's common sense that if you are claiming your conversations are private and privileged, that you are not going to be writing a book about it.

Now, we have to remember courts don't like to construe a waiver very broadly. They are going to want to look at very specific instances. So it doesn't mean everything is waived.

But even bigger problem for him, Kate, is whose privilege is it? It's no more his privilege than it is the former President Trump's privilege. It's really Joe Biden's privilege and they have decided to waive it.

BOLDUAN: You know, someone else who has tried, um, to help Donald Trump push the big lie is conservative lawyer John Eastman. And he -- he, of course, is the man who wrote that memo ahead of January 6th urging Vice President Pence to overturn the election.

Today, Eastman says that he plans to claim Fifth Amendment protections when he shows up before the January 6th committee and this is just after, Shan, you know, another key figure here, former Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark. He said he is going to do the same. And I am seeing this and I am wondering if you think this is some kind of a domino effect it's creating and kind of what it means in the bigger picture of the committee's investigation?

WU: Yeah. I am actually just surprised no one else has taken the Fifth, already. There's obvious potential criminal culpability here. There could be a referral. DOJ could already be looking at it. And so, they are right to be concerned.

It seems like they may have been trying a two-pronged defense. The first is to put up the executive privilege and if that doesn't work, they can fall back on the Fifth Amendment privilege.

For the committee's work, I think even if they do successfully invoke the Fifth Amendment, I think the committee has lots of evidence and documents that they can reach their conclusions upon. Obviously, they could try to grant them some immunity for testifying but I think they need to be really cautious about that.

I mean, Iran Contra taught us the dangers of that. It could be very difficult to detangle what you are immunized from before Congress, versus what you could still be held liable for criminally. So, as -- it's a dicey situation.

BOLDUAN: So interesting. Shan, thank you so much.

WU: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next. A troubling wave of smash-and-grab crimes hitting retail stores across the country. What can be done to stop this?

And President Biden highlighting today's jobs report.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jobs, a record for a new president.


BOLDUAN: I am going to talk to a top Democratic pollster who says that economic message might be a real problem for the midterms.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, 14 people arrested in connection to a series of smash-and-grab incidents in Los Angeles. Robberies and burglaries, using weapons and physical force to steal more than $330,000 in goods from high-end stores -- it is a disturbing trend that's happening in cities across the state and the country.

But also, in California, Oakland, where burglars opened fire on police officers in at least two incidents over the weekend.

OUTFRONT with me now is Oakland Police Chief, LeRonne Armstrong. He's been with the department 22 years.

Chief, thanks for being here.

What is -- from what you have been able to gather -- behind and driving this trend of smash-and-grabs in your city and elsewhere?

CHIEF LERONNE ARMSTRONG, OAKLAND CA POLICE: We really believe it's organized crime. It really is groups of individuals that are coming together to commit these crimes throughout the bay area and throughout our nation. We've seen groups as large as 100 to 200 people come into our city in vehicle caravans, armed, and attempting to take over businesses and loot those businesses.

BOLDUAN: I mean, are you making headway in arresting any of these people when you are talking about that many people involved?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah, arrests have been made both in Oakland and other cities. We are working together to connect these crimes. They -- it's occurred throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco and Walnut Creek and other cities have been impacted by these groups. We know that they didn't just impact one city, that this is a collective group of people who have impacted multiple cities.

So our district attorneys are all working together to levy charges against the people that have been arrested so far.

BOLDUAN: Chief, we spoke to the mayor earlier this week, mayor of Oakland. And she was very candid and clear and says part of the problem is that you don't have enough police on the force. I want to play for you what the mayor told me.


MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF (D), OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: 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 are going to be staffing up. That is in necessity at this moment where we are with our crime in this season.


BOLDUAN: Chief, I've heard you say very similar. But that -- that doesn't -- there doesn't seem to be a quick fix to what is an urgent problem. You need to hire. You need to recruit. You need to train. You ever got you have got a crisis right now. So what do you do until then?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I think we are asking a lot of our police officers that are still here on the force. They are stepping up in a tremendous way and we really appreciate that.

We also are trying to lean on our federal and state partners as well to help us during this very difficult time. But also, we're really drawing our community to be more of a partner right now in this moment where crime has been something that has been out of control for us. And so, we are trying to manage it through a multi-pronged effect, which includes violence prevention and violence interruption but it's really difficult in this moment.

BOLDUAN: It's understandable.

You know, Chief, while I have you, I do want to ask you about the tragic school shooting in Michigan because this type of violence hits very close to home for you.


Your older brother, Andre, was reading, was shot and killed at his high school when you were young. You were just a teenager, as well.

As an officer, and someone who knows this pain, is there anything you would say to the now four families in Michigan who have lost their young kids so tragically?

ARMSTRONG: Well, my condolences go out to the family. I have been watching the story. And like you said, it definitely hits home for me because I understand how tragic that is for all of those families that have been impacted.

I just really say that this is a long process. That there's so much hurt and pain that comes along with these incidents. And I just think we, as a country, have to begin to look at laws around these firearms. The -- you know, the risk that it poses to our young people, to our communities, is just so detective dating and so for me, it's something that I carry with me as -- as somebody who's lost someone for the rest of my life.

And I know that these things, you know, that they hurt for a long time. But -- but really, I feel sorry for the community and I know they are now healing and I -- our prayers go out to them and their families.

BOLDUAN: Very long, long process of healing ahead.

Chief, thank you so much.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Americans -- America's unemployment rate tumbling to its lowest point since the pandemic hit. Yet, according to my next guest, Biden's message when it comes to the economy is still not working. Why?

Plus, a first look at CNN's new special that takes viewers inside the disturbing world of the white supremacists who were behind that deadly rally in Charlottesville.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, the U.S. economy adding a lower than expected 210,000 jobs last month. And President Biden, while acknowledging the economic anxiety many Americans are feeling, was touting, though, the overall progress that he says has been made since he took office.


BIDEN: All told, in the first ten full months of my administration, the economy has created 6 million jobs, a record for a new president. This is a significant improvement from when I took office in January, a sign that we're on the right track.


BOLDUAN: But it comes, as one Democratic pollster has a warning for his party that they're in trouble over this exact issue.

OUTFRONT now is that pollster, Brian Stryker. He is a partner at ALG Research.

It's good to meet you, Brian.

You know, you did this focus group so everyone understands, like, the background here. After the Virginia's governor's race that is getting a lot of attention. You spoke with Virginia governors who supported Biden in 2020, most of whom, then voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor.

You found the number one issue for them was the economy. And that they don't like what they are hearing from Democrats on this. Why?

BRIAN STRYKER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think a lot of it is they're not feeling progress and I think Biden actually acknowledges it in that interview or in that press conference right after that remark, he says something about families feeling anxious and not feeling that progress in their wallets yet. And I think that's the -- the reality is that people are feeling stressed about the cost of gas, stressed about the cost of meat, stressed about global supply chain issues, anxious about a lot of different economic indicators.

So, job creation isn't really telling the story of what their o economic frustrations are right now.

BOLDUAN: And touting progress isn't necessarily -- voters want to know that you feel their pain. Is that -- that you empathize with what they're going through, not just like, hey, look at all the progress we're making.

STRYKER: Yeah, I think that is a big part of it is hearing empathy from people, which is something that the president does well. And I think also job creation numbers don't tell the whole story for people and we have to be realistic about what they're really feeling in terms of pain and listen to them. Listen to what their frustrations are with the economy.

BOLDUAN: It is interesting. And one thing heard a lot of in that Virginia governor's race. Terry McAuliffe did it in an interview I had with him over and over again is tying to try Republican Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump.

Listen to this.



Everything Trump says, this guy's in on.

He is a Trump wannabe.

He is a Trump acolyte.

We don't need a Donald Trump in khakis.


BOLDUAN: That didn't work in Virginia and your focus group, I think I saw it written that your focus group kind of laughed at this when you kind of brought it up. Is the message then, Brian, from -- that Democrats should just ignore Trump and Trumpian politics, altogether? I mean, what do you think the takeaway of that is? STRYKER: I think the takeaway is that voters -- look, this may have

been the best choice to this campaign. I can't quarterback that. But what we learned in 2016 and 2018 and 2020 and, again, in 2021, is if Democrats are running against someone that is not Donald Trump, you probably can't win by running against Donald Trump. They are able to distinguish between the two. And these voters talked about Youngkin as the type of guy they'd see on their soccer field, a soccer dad, intelligent, well informed.

I mean, all of these things that these Biden voters didn't think about Trump, they were able to distinguish between the two so they didn't buy the connection.

BOLDUAN: Do you think Democrats from what you learned -- do you think Democrats have time to correct course? Have a chance of not losing as significantly as some fear in 2022?

STRYKER: Oh, for sure. And I think there are a lot of Democrats talking about this in the right way. I mean, I -- I highlight one that I -- that I work with in Ohio. Tim Ryan, who is really hammering on the global supply chain issues, talking about some of the problems that we've brought on ourselves by letting manufacturing go overseas, getting tough on China, bringing manufacturing back, talking about the value of hard work.

I also think time for a lot of these things to improve so we just got to -- we just got to, you know, improve things and talk about things in the right way and get some things done for people.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting. Tim Ryan is one of those people who were actually talking about all this before talking about all this was cool.


I mean, just look back at the Democratic primary in 2020 and you can see did -- yeah, you can see adjust that.

Thanks. Really appreciate it, Brian.

STRYKER: Of course. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, our Elle Reeve revisits the deadly Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and what she found out may surprise you.


BOLDUAN: And finally tonight, four years after the violent and deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, CNN is returning to the scene with a special report that takes you inside what happened that day.


ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why did you say that Charlottesville was a success afterwards?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the most important thing was raising awareness about the issues.

REEVE: But you didn't even get to give a single speech. It was cancelled before it began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. But -- but part of -- part of the national conversation about the importance of maintaining historical monuments that did happen.

REEVE: Everyone paid attention to it because someone got murdered.


BOLDUAN: CNN's special report "White Power On Trial: Return to Charlottesville" airs this Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.

Thank you, all, so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts right now.