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Erin Burnett Outfront

CDC: Omicron Variant Now Dominant In U.S. 73 Percent Of COVID Cases; NY Cases Triple In A Week; Officials Weighing NYE In Times Square; Source: After Blowing Up Build Back Better, Manchin And Biden Have Cordial Talk; May Re-Engage In 2022, No Commitments Made; Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) Discusses About The Blowback Against Sen. Joe Manchin Amongst Democrats; January 6 Committee Asks To Speak With A Sitting Member Of Congress, First Known Effort Of Its Kind By Panel; Jury Wraps Day 1 Of Deliberations In Ex-Officer's Trial; Peng Shuai Suddenly Denies Ever Making Assault Allegations. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 20, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're told Commander was a gift to the President from his family. And CNN has also learned that a cat will be joining the Bidens at the White House in January.

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, we have breaking news, the Omicron variant now the dominant strain in the U.S. accounting for 73 percent of cases. It was said to be just 3 percent. The U.S. Surgeon General is my guest.

Plus, on again, off again and CNN is learning of the President speaking to Sen. Joe Manchin after the West Virginia Senator torpedoed the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. Where do discussions stand tonight?

And closing arguments in the case of the former officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright. Her fate now in the hands of the jury? Let's go OUTFRONT.

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

OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, the country's fears confirmed. The Omicron variant is now, by far, the dominant variant in the United States amid a surge of cases across the country. It makes up 73 percent of new cases right now, which the CDC previously estimated was just 3 percent.

Right now the U.S. is averaging more than 130,000 cases every day and President Biden preparing for a major speech tomorrow to address this wave and announce new steps to fight the threat from Omicron.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is not a speech about locking the country down. This is a speech outlining and being direct and clear with the American people about the benefits of being vaccinated.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, cities in the Northeast are taking action the Mayor of Washington, D.C. declaring a state of emergency and reinstating the City's indoor mask mandate. Boston announcing it will require proof of vaccination to enter most indoor public spaces. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is weighing whether to cancel the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square as the state reports of record number of COVID cases for a fourth day in a row.

All of this coming amid warning signs from Europe, the Netherlands entering day two of its strict lockdown to stop the spread. Officials in the U.K. are considering new restrictions as well before Christmas, with hospital numbers rising. And while we hear President Biden has all but ruled out new lockdowns in the United States, the Surgeon General today telling the 71 million eligible Americans who are not vaccinated right now, quote, "I'm worried about you." I'll speak to the Surgeon General in just a moment.

But first I want to go to CNN's Amara Walker. Amara, the CDC new report Omicron making up 73 percent of COVID cases right now, that is a big jump.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's quite a big jump and Omicron overtaking Delta even faster than predicted. So those numbers raising a lot of eyebrows. The CDC estimating three out of four new COVID-19 cases are caused by the Omicron variant and the trajectory when you look at it, it is quite stunning.

The week ending December 4th, according to the CDC, Omicron only made up 1 percent of COVID-19 cases. Now, we're at 73 percent, Kate, as you mentioned. All of this goes to show just how contagious this variant is and how urgent it is for all of us to do our part.


WALKER (voice over): Health officials are bracing for a wave of coronavirus infections around the country.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is going to be a tough few weeks to months as we get deeper into the winter.


WALKER (voice over): Familiar scenes from the peak of the pandemic playing out. Some schools returning to virtual learning. The Rockettes and Broadway canceling shows and the NBA, NFL and NHL postponing some games.


The people are tired and sick of hearing this, but if you are unvaccinated, you are open to a lot of negative consequences from COVID. Not only lung COVID, but severe illness, death and being in the ICU for weeks.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK: We are feeling of the Omicron wave especially hard right now, but we know it's going to be all over the country.


WALKER (voice over): New York State breaking the highest single day COVID-19 case count for the third consecutive day.


DE BLASIO: We expect a substantial number of cases and a quickly growing number of cases.


WALKER (voice over): De Blasio asking President Biden's White House to invoke the Defense Production Act because of a shortage of at-home tests and antibody treatments.


PSAKI: We're in touch ...


WALKER (voice over): COVID-19 cases more than doubled just from the beginning to the end of last week in New York City, leading to long lines for COVID tests.


MAN: We don't want to be standing in line when it's 30 degrees outside waiting for test.


WALKER (voice over): Health officials warn it is too soon to say with certainty whether or not Omicron causes milder disease, but they are certain of one thing, Omicron is extremely contagious.


The National Institutes of Health warning that even if the Omicron variant has a somewhat lower risk of severity, there could potentially be up to a million cases a day in the near future.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It's clear that Omicron is an extremely contagious variant that it doubles every two to four days and you just have to look at the projections of what that means. And yes, we are in for a lot of cases of people getting infected with this virus.


WALKER (voice over): The pace of spread has health officials concern that the Omicron variant will overwhelm America's health system again. Across the country, ICU beds are already nearly 80 percent full.


JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: This may be the most contagious virus that civilization has faced in our lifetimes.


WALKER (voice over): Health officials continue to stress that getting boosted is now more important than ever. Moderna announcing today its 50 microgram booster shot increases antibody levels against the Omicron variant, a 100 microgram dose the size of its first two shots, raises antibody levels even higher. Moderna leaving up to U.S. officials whether to change the size of the booster dose.


WALKER (on camera): Now Moderna, as President says, the biotech company is currently working on an Omicron-specific booster and that clinical trials could start in early 2022. But health officials stress the boosters that are available right now offer us the best protection, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Amara, thank you so much for that.

OUTFRONT with me now is U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Doctor, thank you so much for being here. What should we make of this news of Omicron variant now making up 73 percent of cases in the United States when it made up a fraction of that last week?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Kate, I absolutely recognize that this news is going to be concerning to many who hear it and especially after the end of two years of battling this pandemic. A lot of people are feeling tired and I absolutely understand that.

In terms of where Omicron is now, we expected it was going to rise quickly. And we learned today that it's at 73 percent of cases, is it's similar to what we've seen in other countries, a rapid rise that has overtaken the Delta variant. But in moments like this, I tried to look for what's going for us and it turns out, we have a lot that's going for us right now, Kate.

We know that our vaccines still work and work well, especially with a booster shot at doing their most important job, which is keeping us out of the hospital and saving our life. We know that our masks still work, that testing can be used to make our gathering safer. But what worries me, Kate, is that we still have many people in our

country who are not boosted. We still have a number who are not vaccinated and I'm worried about their health in the face of Omicron.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I mean, there has now been weeks of conversation about when the definition of fully vaccinated will change in order to mean three shots to include the booster which seems more important now than ever. What is holding that up doctor?

MURTHY: Well, the actual definition, they have to take a number of things into consideration, including a number of rules built around the term fully vaccinated. So they've got to look at the legal implications of that, look at the implications for businesses and other entities.

But here's what people need to understand out there and all you need to take away to be fully protected against Omicron or I should say maximally protected against Omicron. You should get all three shots of your Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. If you got J&J, you should get that booster shot. That's the best way to optimize your protection against Omicron.

BOLDUAN: Look, I understand there's lots of considerations, but when you make the case as you do so well of why, what people should know and that people should get boostered, it just makes sense that the definition of fully vaccinated should now change. You said earlier today and you continue to say now to the unvaccinated I'm worried about you.

And that really stuck out to me because so many of them, the people who are still unvaccinated, they really seem incapable of being convinced now two years into this pandemic. I mean, Dr. Murthy, even Donald Trump is now getting booed for saying that he's gotten a booster shot. Let me play that.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Both the President and I are vaxed and did you get the booster?


O'REILLY: I got it too. Okay, so ...

TRUMP: Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, that's always - there's a very tiny group over there.


BOLDUAN: Dr. Murthy, you're rightfully worried about the unvaccinated. But are your efforts better spent elsewhere instead of appealing to them since no matter what you say, many are never going to get the shot.

MURTHY: Well, Kate, I certainly understand the frustration. But I was trained as a doctor that we never give up on anyone, that every life matters and so I will continue to do everything I can to speak to those who have questions. I've actually had a number of conversations with people who were not willing to get vaccinated and then later change their mind. But the bottom line is the most powerful messenger is often for those who are not vaccinated are the people they know, their family and their friends.


And that's why one of the things I'm encouraging everyone to do out there is if you are vaccinated, please get boosted. If you're (inaudible) talk to your family. You can be a lifesaver. You can be somebody who helps them understand the importance of getting vaccine.

And finally, Kate, I'll just tell you today I got a text few hours before I came to see you hear from a high school friend actually who had not been vaccinated this entire time and she finally made the decision to get vaccinated today. And so never give up on people for sure. For those who are vaccinated, I want to make sure you hear the clear message, you got to get boosted. It's the best way to optimize your protection right now.

BOLDUAN: It's great to hear that people are getting the message no matter how long into this pandemic it comes. Testing is part of the solution, we know that, and testing has long been a problem. And even though testing availability is getting better, we do know that why are people still waiting in hours long lines to get a COVID test, Dr. Murthy?

MURTHY: Well, it's an important question, Kate. And look, we've heard the stories about the lines. I've certainly talk to people who are looking for testing, some have been able to get it, some had a harder time getting it.

We have made a lot of progress this year, getting more over the counter tests, quadrupling our supply of tests over the last half of the year, but we've got to do more and we've got to do more quickly. And this is part of what the President will be speaking to you tomorrow.

Our goal is for everyone who needs a test and wants a test to be able to access it, period, full stop. And that's the goal that we're working toward. And again, the President will have more to say about this tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: London is just now joined Paris in canceling their big New Year's celebrations over COVID concerns. We know New York City is going to be making a decision sometime before Christmas. Do you think New York can host the ball drop celebration safely?

MURTHY: Well, it's a really good question, Kate. And a lot of people are asking a question, can I still do the things I was planning to do a few weeks ago. And generally what I would say is if you can use the tools that we have at our disposal, if you can get vaccine boosted. If you can wear your mask, if you can make sure that you're gather in well-ventilated spaces, if you can test before you gather, these are all things that reduce your risk over time and can make it a lot easier to get together with low risk.

On the other hand, if you're somebody who's immunocompromised or if you're worried about people at home, who may not be vaccinated, and it makes sense to be more cautious. And so look, I think you're going to see a lot of families and cities trying to make decisions about these kinds of events.

I would say though, that for the events that are most important to us, including gatherings with families over the holidays, there are ways to do these events safely. And especially after two long years of hardship not seeing the people we love, I want people to know what those tools are so they can gather and see the people they love. We need that especially at a time like this.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Murthy, thank you very much.

MURTHY: Thanks so much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course. OUTFRONT next, the White House not giving up hope that the President's massive spending bill can still survive despite Sen. Joe Manchin standing directly in its way and why the optimism?

Plus, the first known instance of the January 6 Committee wanting to speak to a sitting member of Congress, someone who played a key role in trying to overturn the election.

And the Chinese tennis champ who accused a retired state leader of rape, changing her story. What she's saying about the sudden reversal?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, the White House still believes there's hope for President Biden's Build Back Better bill that is despite Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, the key vote and the person Biden has been negotiating with most, announcing he opposes that bill still from the White House podium hope.


PSAKI: I think Sen. Manchin had a strong statement yesterday and we had a strong statement as well. And we're ready to move forward and get this done and work like hell to do that with Sen. Manchin with members of the Democratic caucus across the Democratic Party and that's our focus moving forward.


BOLDUAN: This as CNN learns Manchin submitted a counter proposal to the White House days before he called off negotiations and mansions saying in a new interview today, Democrats should not be surprised.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I was at $1.5 from the beginning. I gave Schumer exactly the philosophical beliefs and the amount of money that I thought we could raise and pay for everything. So they've had that from day one.


BOLDUAN: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT with me now. Phil, we're learning the President and Manchin, they spoke on the phone last night. Is there still really hope for a deal?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hope is probably the best way to frame things at this point in time I think at the White House. But I think that call is part of the reason why at least temperatures appear to have cooled off over the course of the last 24 hours.

Kate, you can't put it any other way. Sunday was extraordinary from Sen. Manchin's decision to go on Fox News and announce that he was opposed to the bill to the 700 plus word statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki just lambasting the Senator for what the White House said was essentially going back on his word.

Keep in mind, President Biden has made very clear to his staff behind closed doors, not to attack Sen. Manchin, not to go after Sen. Manchin in any way, shape or form. That obviously shifted.

Now the two men did speak last night before that radio interview you played the sound from and the takeaway from that call was two things, one, that it was cordial and two, that there was a sense inside the White House that negotiations in some way, shape or form would probably restart in the new year.

The biggest question, though, and I think this has always been the case is how do you thread the needle for what Sen. Manchin wants versus what President Biden and pretty much every other Democrat in the caucus, not just wants but has outlined. The House has passed this version and that's been the rub throughout the entirety of these months of negotiations, how do you thread that needle.

You mentioned, Sen. Manchin put a proposal on the table on Tuesday, brought it to President Biden, a $1.8 trillion proposal. But what it did was address many of the issues that Manchin has laid out. He doesn't want short term programs that would have to be essentially passed back into place or reauthorized.

That proposal had 10 years of preschool, which is an essential component of President Biden's plan, but it did not contain either one year or any years of the expanded Child Tax Credit. That is a non starter for both President Biden and Democrats. That has been an issue that they've been trying to resolve.

So it's up in the air right now where this heads, but I think White House officials are at least trying cool things down right now in the hopes of starting again in January with the reality being at the White House.

[19:20:05] The view is they can't not find a way to get this done. How they get

it done though is still an open question.

BOLDUAN: Yes. As it has been. Phil, we're also just getting some breaking news and I need to ask about from the White House that the President had a close contact with a staffer who then tested positive for COVID. What more do we know and how's the President?

MATTINGLY: Yes. We're just getting the statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at this moment. The White House has said since this summer that if the President has close contact with any staff member that test positive, the White House will release that information. That is precisely what happened.

Here's some of that statement on Monday morning, a mid level staff member who does not regularly have contact with the President received a positive result for a COVID-19 test. Three days earlier on Friday, that staff member had spent approximately 30 minutes in the proximity of the President on Air Force One during his trip from South Carolina to Pennsylvania.

Before boarding Air Force One that staffer had tested negative. They had not shown any symptoms until two days after that trip. Now the President was tested was given a PCR test when it became clear the staffer tested positive. The President has tested negative he will test again on Wednesday, but as of now, not in quarantine, full schedule and keep in mind, Kate, he has that very important speech on the coronavirus pandemic scheduled for tomorrow at 2:30 in the afternoon.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right. Phil, thank you very much for that.

OUTFRONT now Democratic Congresswoman and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. Congresswoman, thanks for being here. There's been a lot of blowback against Joe Manchin amongst Democrats tonight. What's your reaction?

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): Well, we cannot afford to take no for an answer and that's what I would say to Joe Manchin and that's what I say to the American people. This agenda is built on their needs and the stories that we have heard that President Biden has heard.

If we want to meet this moment of historic challenge, we have to move with historic progress. And we simply can't afford to say, we are not going to build an inclusive economy. We are going to leave women behind by not investing in childcare. We are okay with allowing climate change to rage and cause the severe storms that we're seeing. We're not okay with any of that. That's why we have to keep fighting for the Build Back Better Act agenda.

BOLDUAN: You said that you can't take no for an answer. I want to play for you how Sen. Manchin responded today to all of the pressure leading up to this coming from Democrats like yourself included who weren't taking no for an answer, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MANCHIN: They just never realized that because they figure, surely to

God we can move one person. Surely we could badger and beat one person up. Surely we could get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they'll just say, "Okay, I'll vote for anything, just quit." Well, guess what? I'm from West Virginia. I'm not from where they're from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they'll be submissive. Period.


BOLDUAN: Where's the room for yes in that?

CLARK: Well, I can tell you that I'm sure Joe Manchin is feeling pressure. And I also know this, it pales in comparison to the struggles and the pressures on American families. As we look across this great country, American families feel like they are not seen and they don't have a place in this recovery.

BOLDUAN: But Joe Manchin says he is responding and reacting to the needs of his constituents in his position, how is he being unreasonable if that's the case?

CLARK: Well, let me give you just one example. The child tax credit, the largest tax cut for families in our country's history, almost 350,000 children in West Virginia have benefited by that. In my state alone, that child tax credit has reduced food insecurity by almost 32 percent, 55 percent of the people who got it the majority are spending it on childcare, 58 percent are spending it on food.

So when Joe Manchin says he's concerned about inflation, he's concerned about the economy, those are reasons to vote yes on this bill, not no. Because this is the bill we need to help American families cut costs, from childcare to prescription drugs. Health care needs to improve our supply chains, to drive down the cost at the grocery store and the gas pump.

This is the solution that the American families need and Joe Manchin is elected to withstand a little pressure to do the right thing by them.

BOLDUAN: I don't hear though what the path to yes is.


Because Joe Manchin has been clear from the get-go that he is not and he is still today that the child tax credit it busts the budget in his view in terms of how comfortable he is with the overall cost. When you say you can't take no for an answer, you still have to keep pushing forward on the Build Back Better agenda, do you at this point after what happened in the last 24 hours, trust Joe Manchin's word going forward?

CLARK: This is a negotiation and what we're going to do is to keep finding that common ground and we have been negotiating for months and there is far more area that we agree on than we disagree on.

BOLDUAN: So this is not dead?

CLARK: I'm not saying this is not ...

BOLDUAN: You do not think this is over?

CLARK: I don't and I think it is because of the historic moment we're in. And we have to do the most good for the most people we can and I stand shoulder to shoulder with the President on this. We simply have to move forward and keep putting the American family in the center of our work.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you for your time.

OUTFRONT next, it's a first, the January 6 Committee sending a letter to formally request a lawmaker's cooperation, a sitting member of Congress, one who tried to overturn the election.

And the jury begins deliberating in the case of the former police officer who says she mistook her gun for a taser. What the jury heard today in closing arguments?


BOLDUAN: Breaking news, the January 6 Select Committee formally requesting Republican Congressman Scott Perry sit down for an interview with investigators, marking the first known time that the committee has made such a request to a sitting member of Congress.


Perry played a key role in former President Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election. For those who don't remember, Perry objected to his home state's election results hours after rioters had stormed the Capitol on January 6th.

Here he is.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): I object to the electoral votes of my beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the grounds of multiple constitutional infractions.


BOLDUAN: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT with more on this now.

Evan, the first sitting member of Congress that we know of called to come before the committee. What more can you tell us?


And the significance of Scott Perry to this investigation is the fact that he was in close touch and -- and coordinating with Jeffrey Clark. He was a former Trump Justice Department official, who the committee is trying to bring in for -- for interview. But who is fighting a subpoena that it has issued to him.

Now, Clark and -- and Scott Perry were in touch, according to the committee and according to testimony from other Justice Department officials who have provided testimony to this committee, about various conspiracy theories about elections -- about -- sorry, about the election machines. And the fact that the Trump supporters believe that they were used to steal the election.

According to the committee in this letter to -- to -- to -- to Scott Perry, they say that they know he was in touch via text and other communications with Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff of the former president. And they also know that he was communicating using Signal, an encrypted -- encrypted app and so that's one of the things they want to discuss with Perry if he comes in for this voluntary interview -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, big -- I think a big question of if on that one. Thank you so much, evan. Really appreciate it.

So, as Congress investigates January 6th, three retired U.S. generals are warning of a possible insurrection in 2024 through political violence from within the military the next time around. Writing in a new opinion piece this, in part, quote: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.

Joining me right now is one of those generals sounding the alarm here, retired brigadier general Steven Anderson. He served in the Army for 31 years.

General, thank you for being here tonight. You paint a frightening image of a threat not only of another coup attempt but one involving military members.

What makes you so concerned about a potential military breakdown next time?

BRIG. GEN. STEVEN ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.), SERVED 31 YEARS: Well, we're extremely concerned about what's going on within the ranks of the military. First, I want you to understand that I'm very uncomfortable talking like this. I've been raised in the army for 31 years to be apolitical, to not get involved in such matters. I am a conservative Republican. But no more because the -- the -- the --

BOLDUAN: Let's see. General Anderson, think we might be having a technical issue as you might see. Can we get it?

All right. We are going to try to reconnect with General Anderson and bring him back on.

But OUTFRONT for us next, day one of deliberations in the books in the trial of a former police officer who mixed up her Taser and her gun.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even nice people have to obey the law.


BOLDUAN: And Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai speaking out denying that she accused anyone of sexual assault, and claiming she is not being forced to do anything.


BOLDUAN: All right. We have reconnected with retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson.

Thank you so much, General.

You were saying this was not a position you were comfortable with, speaking out so publicly. So, why are you so concerned, though, to do so in -- of another -- of another possible coup attempt, an insurrection and next time it coming from within the U.S. military?

ANDERSON: Well, I swore an oath 43 years ago to support and defend the constitution against all enemies, be they foreign or domestic. I never thought I'd have to worry much about the domestic threat. But we do now.

My co-author is Paul Eaton and Tony Taguba and our friends at Vote Vets. We're incredibly concerned.

When you see all the signs out there, you have people like Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, you know, a guy with whom I served in Iraq, who is advocating a coup after the election. We have 124 leaders that signed a letter believing the big lie, advocating the big lie that Donald Trump has told about the election results. Evidently, they look at the pillow guy as the authoritative source on election fraud.

We have a brigadier general out in Oklahoma, the National Guard of Oklahoma, who is refusing federal mandates. That says that he worked for the state and not the federal government. Somebody needs to remind him he works for the National Guard.

And then, we got all kinds of commanders and soldiers out there that are refusing to take their shots. You know, we -- they -- they line up to take yellow fever. They line up to take anthrax but COVID has somehow been politicized.

So, to me, that shows the weaknesses we have within our military to -- to be consumed by political thoughts and -- and ideations, instead of thinking about our country.

We love our country. We need to prepare now for the next coup and that's why I wrote the article and that's why we are incredibly worried.

BOLDUAN: You write in the article that with the country as divided as -- still as divided as ever, we must take steps to prepare for the worst. What's the single-most important thing that needs to happen?

ANDERSON: The most important thing is accountability. You need to be -- we need to account for all the people, all the insurrectionists that participated and a lot of them are being brought to justice but we haven't accounted for the leaders. The people out there -- the Josh Hawleys, the Donald Trumps, the people that fanned the flames of insurrection and then stood back and acted surprised when it happened.

You have people like Lindsey graham, a great American that I served with in Iraq twice who has somehow lost his mind and decided that -- that -- that -- and believes this big lie.

19:40:09 We've got to hold people accountable.

But the other thing that we advocate in our op-ed is that we need to educate soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines on civics 101. You need to understand the difference between allegiance to the Constitution, and allegiance to a -- a -- a -- a cult-like figure, like -- like Donald Trump.

We cannot let that happen. We signed an oath to the Constitution, not to a person. We need to gather intelligence about the people within our midst. We need to find out next -- the next generation of insurrectionists out there and we need get them out of the army. And I believe the military took a step in that direction today with this new policy in which they are making it very difficult to become an active member in an extreme group which is really good.

And the final thing I would say is strategic planning and working. We need to think now. We need to imagine the unimaginable. When I -- a year ago, if somebody told me on the 6th of January, we would have thousands of Americans storming the Capitol, I would have said it's ridiculous. It's unimaginable.

Well, we need to think about 2024 now. There are things out there that could happen -- cybersecurity and other threats -- we got to start thinking about it now and take action.

BOLDUAN: General Anderson, thank four come you for coming on tonight.

ANDERSON: Delighted to be here with you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

I want to turn to some breaking news this evening. The jury just wrapping day one of the deliberations in the trial of Kim Potter after five hours. Potter is the former police officer charged in the killing of Daunte Wright after she pulled her gun when she says she meant to pull her Taser. Prosecution and defense delivering closing arguments this morning.

Omar Jimenez is OUTFRONT.


ERIN ELDRIDGE, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Daunte Wright's parents, Katie and Aubrey Wright, will have an empty seat at their table this- holiday season because the defendant shot and killed him.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daunte Wright's parents were in the courtroom Monday as closing arguments in the trial of former officer Kim Potter began.


She claims she meant to grab her Taser in order to protect herself and her fellow officers during an April 2021 traffic stop, but instead, she grabbed her gun.

POTTER: I shot him. Oh, my god.

ELDRIDGE: This case is about the defendant's rash and reckless conduct. It's not about her being a nice person. Even nice people have to obey the law.

JIMENEZ: Prosecutors say potter's actions add up to first and second- degree manslaughter.

ELDRIDGE: Carrying a badge and a gun is not a license to kill.

JIMENEZ: The defense, however, claimed there were two absolute reasons Potter is innocent, despite firing her gun.

EARL GRAY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She didn't cause this and she had a right to use deadly force even though she didn't know she was using it, she had a right to. And that's what the law is.

JIMENEZ: Defense Attorney Earl Gray pushed even further saying Daunte Wright is to blame.

GRAY: She says Taser, Taser, Taser and he should -- okay, stop, I give up. Daunte Wright caused his own death, unfortunately.

JIMENEZ: A characterization prosecutors took issue with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to consider if we accept that argument, that he caused his own death, we have to accept that anytime a person does not meticulously follow the commands of a police officer, they can be shot to death. That's absurd.

JIMENEZ: Monday's closing arguments came after eight days of testimony and over 30 witnesses, including Kim Potter.

POTTER: And remember yelling Taser, Taser, Taser and nothing happened. And then, he told me I shot him. I'm sorry it happened.

JIMENEZ: But prosecutors emphasized Monday intent isn't what the jury will be deciding.

ELDRIDGE: An accidental killing is still a crime if the defendant's actions are reckless or culpably negligent. This was a colossal screw- up. A blunder of epic proportions. It was irreversible and it was fatal.

JUDGE: Good luck, members of the jury.

JIMENEZ: Now, Kim Potter's future lies in the hands of 12 jurors, who will decide whether she was justified in her shooting of Wright are wrong for having pulled the trigger.


JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, the jury has broken for the evening after deliberating for a little more than five hours.

At some point during the deliberations, they did have a question they posed for the court, specifically about the timing of an interview Kim Potter did with a forensic psychologist at some point after the shooting. The interview involved her use of the Taser and her weapon and it was an interview that she testified she did not remember key portions of during this trial. We'll of course be back tomorrow when the jury returns to get ever closer to a verdict.

BOLDUAN: Omar, thank you so much.


I want to go now to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former defense attorney and former Baltimore mayor.

Thanks for being here.

So just heard from Omar that late today, the jury sent their first question to the judge about a particular date that Potter met with an expert witness. I mean, it may be hard to know and decipher. But what does this question from the jury tell you? Anything?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It tells me that they are trying to get to her state of mind when she pulled what she thought was that Taser. I think they are opening up to the possibility that she really did, um, think that the other officer was in danger but they are trying to get to the bottom of it. They are trying to decipher whether that's true or not.

BOLDUAN: More broadly, just what do you think the jury is considering as they decide a verdict? And -- and how big is the challenge before them?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: The challenge is huge. They are considering -- you know, who deserves the benefit of the doubt? Does a 26-year police veteran with no record of abuse or excessive force -- does she deserve the benefit of the doubt? And that is a big question because a big and tragic error was made.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. The prosecution and defense, they delivered closing arguments today. I want to play for everyone, some of the key arguments from both.


ELDRIDGE: This was no little oopsie. This was not putting the wrong -- wrong date on checks. This was not entering the wrong password somewhere. This was a colossal screw-up.

GRAY: Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody's perfect, ladies and gentlemen, and this lady here made a mistake. And my gosh, a mistake is not a crime.


BOLDUAN: What did you think of those?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I thought it was pretty, um -- pretty mixed. You know, I thought the prosecution kind of was a little flippant with her delivery. Um, I don't think anyone called this a whoopsy and I don't know how the jury would find that.

And I think the defense was a little flippant, as well. I mean, you know, I -- I think it was a stretch to blame Daunte Wright and, you know, we will see what the jury says about that.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. It's good to see you. Thank you for being here.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT with us next, the Chinese tennis star who had claimed she was raped is now changing her story. And tonight, denies she is being silenced.

And President Trump resorts to a go-to tactic to try to keep New York's attorney general from investigating his company.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai changing her story, saying she never accused a senior communist leader of rape, despite a since-deleted post on her verified social media account nearly seven weeks ago detailing the allegations.

Why the sudden change?

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the sidelines of a skiing competition in Shanghai, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai breaks her silence, speaking to international media for the first time since her explosive allegation.

Are you taking a video, Peng asks? Yes, says the reporter, from a Singapore newspaper, known for pro-Beijing coverage, the only overseas Chinese-language newspaper allowed in the mainland.

Are you free to go as you please, the reporter asks? Is anyone monitoring you? Peng replies, why would anyone monitor me? I have always been free.

Peng's freedom has been in question for weeks ever since she disappeared in early November. She accused a retired communist party leader of sexual assault, an accusation Peng apparently now denies.

PENG SHUAI, CHINESE TENNIS STAR (through translator): I want to emphasize one thing that is very important, that I have never spoken or written about anyone sexually assaulting me. This point is very important to be emphasized clearly. In terms of the Weibo post, first of all, it's my personal privacy. There possibly has been a lot of misunderstanding.

RIPLEY: That November 2nd post, erased within minutes from Chinese social media. The story censored on China's Internet, ignored by state media inside the country. Outside? State media reporters tweeting ferociously for weeks trying to discredit concerns over Peng's wellbeing. Now, saying the outside world should respect her denial.

In a statement to CNN, the Women's Tennis Association says these appearances do not alleviate or address the WTA's significant concerns about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion. The WTA made similar comments last month when Chinese state media released these videos of Peng, videos WTA's CEO Steve Simon told out front were just as unconvincing as e-mails from the tennis star, supposedly walking back her claims.

The WTA suspending all tournaments in China, indefinitely, putting a lucrative ten-year deal on the line.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: The WTA knows Peng. Peng Shuai knows the WTA. Why in the world with all these interviews is she not talking to the one group of people that desperately want to hear from her?

RIPLEY: In her international interview, Peng says she's very grateful to the International Olympic Committee, very happy to have video calls from them. The IOC accused of sports washing, releasing just one image of two calls with the three-time Olympian, issuing statements claiming she's fine. The IOC telling CNN, we will continue our quiet diplomacy.

CNN's repeated requests for comment from Peng and the Chinese government, unanswered.

IOC president Thomas Bach planning to meet with Peng next month before the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. Retired vice premiere Zhang Gaoli -- the man Peng accused of sexual assault -- the former Chinese face of the games, now just weeks away.



RIPLEY (on camera): The WTA continues to say as they have said repeatedly here on OUTFRONT, they are not backing down unless there is a full, fair, and transparent investigation.

Kate, former tennis star Chris Everett summed up the feelings of a lot of people when she said looking at that video is unsettling.

BOLDUAN: Will, thank you for your continued reporting on this. OUTFRONT for us next, President Trump taking action to try to block

investigations into his been. Not surprisingly, he's suing again.


BOLDUAN: Former President Donald Trump and the Trump organization are suing New York's attorney general. They want a federal court to block or limit ongoing investigations by Letitia James and her office. The suit accuses James of misconduct, claiming she has abused her powers to target political adversaries and further her career.

The AG's office is investigating whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of its properties and James wants to depose Trump under oath. She responded to the lawsuit from Trump saying, quote, our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.

"AC360" with John Berman starts now.