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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Mark Meadows Suing to Stop Jan. 6th Committee Subpoena; Adam Mosseri Testifies Before Congress About Instagram's Harm to Youth; Day Two in the Trial of Kimberly Potter. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 05:00   ET





CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Thursday, December 9, everybody, 5:00 am in New York. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We have reports this morning from Minneapolis, Chicago, Kyiv and Hong Kong.

But we begin with the Capitol riot investigation. And Mark Meadows suing the January 6 Select committee now. The former Trump Chief of Staff is asking a federal judge to block on subpoena demanding his testimony and another to Verizon for his phone records.

Now Meadows had agreed earlier to sit for a deposition, you'll remember, but he says he changed his mind after being blindsided by the subpoena to Verizon.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We came to the conclusion that they're still going to try to question those personal, private conversations that I had with the President of the United States and other senior officials in the West Wing. And quite frankly their scope is way --

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Well the courts going to have to determine that.

MEADOWS: -- too broad. So we're going to challenge it.


JARRETT: Committee members note that Meadows himself gave the Capitol Riot Committee some 6,000 pages of documents voluntarily, but is now refusing to testify about their contents containing executive privilege.

Here's Congressman Adam Schiff.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It's a very superficial filing meant to try to obstruct and stall, but it won't be successful. We intend to move forward and hold him in criminal contempt and expect and hope the Justice Department will move with equal alacrity.

I was surprised by it in the sense I was expecting a lawsuit. I don't think it's going to do him any good.


ROMANS: More now from CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, there was no doubt a lot of news related to the January 6 Select Committee on Wednesday, but perhaps the most important and the biggest news was that Bennie Thompson did say that the committee is prepared to move forward with a criminal contempt referral of the former White Houses Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as soon as next week.

Now, this is despite the fact that Meadows filed a lawsuit against the committee in D.C., a district court on Wednesday, seeking injunctive relief from the court to prevent him from having to turn over any information or records to the committee despite their subpoena request.

Now, Meadows just a couple of days ago had signaled that he was willing to cooperate with the committee, even handed over thousands of pages worth of documents, but something changed in the beginning of the week that forced him to change course and now show up for a deposition that scheduled for Wednesday.

Now Congressman Zoe Lofgren, whose a member of the committee, she told CNN that she thinks this attempt by Meadows to take this court is nothing more than a delay tactic by Meadows.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: It doesn't look like there's much merit to this lawsuit. But I -- you know, isn't it interesting that while he's out selling his book for money that includes portions where he talked directly, reveals conversations with the president, he's trying to keep from telling the truth to the committee. It's just not tenable, but, you know, the lawsuit looks to be not very well founded.


NOBLES: So the committee will continue to move forward with the criminal contempt referral as we said. Thompson telling us that could happen as soon as next week.

Meanwhile, they have a number of depositions that are still planned for later this week. The committee still remaining confident that they're getting enough information from these other folks that they're talking to, more than 275 people, that even though they are seeing some resistance from these high-profile Trump aligned individuals that they're still going to be able to get the information that they're looking for and get to the bottom of what went wrong on January 6.

Laura and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Important here, the head of Instagram testified before Congress on Wednesday, questioning claims about the harmful impact of social media on teens. CEO Adam Mosseri did say the company's rolling out parental controls and new rules to try to keep users safe next year.

Concerns about Instagram grew this fall after leaked internal documents showed the company know how it can damage mental health and body image and promoted eating disorder profiles anyway. And those rabbit holes you go down on Instagram, that's all for profit.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Laura and Christine. This was Adam Mosseri's first time appearing before Congress, and despite being Zuckerberg's -- one of Zuckerberg's top new tenants and running Instagram, he has got very little scrutiny relative to Zuckerberg in the past. So yesterday was a big day out for him. And we saw a lot of tense exchanges between senators and between Mosseri.

Have a listen.




ADAM MOSSERI, CEO OF INSTAGRAM: Keeping people safe is not just about any one company. We believe there should be an industry body that will determine the best practices when it comes to what I think are the three most important questions with regards to youth safety. How to verify age. How to build age appropriate experiences. And how to build parental controls.


O'SULLIVAN: And one question that was asked by Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, was that even when parents of young people see troubling content on the app, when they see it on Facebook or they see it on Instagram and they report it to Instagram, often times Instagram does nothing. Have a listen.


BLUMENTHAL: Shouldn't children and parents have the right to report dangerous material on youth and get a response? Get some action? Because we've heard harrowing stories from parents who tried to report and have heard no response.

My office made a report and got no response until CNN made the report to press relations. Shouldn't there be an obligation that Instagram will respond?

MOSSERI: Senator, yes. I believe we try and responds to all reports and if we ever fail to do so that is a mistake that we should correct.


O'SULLIVAN: And the CNN reporting Blumenthal is referring to there is reporting on how his office set up a fake account purporting to be a teenage girl on Instagram and they followed some dieting accounts, some eating disorder accounts and now Instagram quickly began recommending to that young teenage girl more and more accounts that were promoting eating disorders.

Now this is all supposed to be against Instagram's policies. But Instagram didn't take down many of these accounts until it was brought to their attention by CNN. So there you can see so many holes in their moderation policy and how they catch -- how really if they have any control at all on their platform.

Laura and Christine.

JARRETT: Donie, thank you for that report. Some significant news on the booster front this morning, a third shot of Pfizer's COVID vaccine can reduce infections and deaths by 90 percent or more, 90 percent or more. That's according to two separate Israeli studies.

The research also found that while COVID deaths and severe cases were already low among fully vaccinated people, booster shots lowered them even more dramatically.

And Pfizer now has new evidence that boosters are critical in the fight against the Omicron variant.

Here's our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Christine, when the Omicron variant was first identified there was a lot of concern that the vaccine might not work so well against it because this variant has so many mutations. But Pfizer has done the study in their labs that finds that the vaccine does work to a great extent.

Now, it did take a hit. The variant is tough and it did manage to outsmart the vaccine to some -- to some extent, but still two doses are effective in many ways and three doses are even better.

And Pfizer's news, well this actually seems to jive with what researchers in South Africa found when they did their own lab studies. So let's take a look at what these studies show.

These studies, which are in a lab and are preliminary suggest that two doses may not provide sufficient protection against infection with Omicron. In other words, you might have two doses of Pfizer and still get infected with Omicron. Now the question is, how sick will you get. So these studies also seem to show that two doses may still give significant protection against severe disease.

In other words, you might get infected, you might get somewhat sick, but it does seem that the vaccine will give protection against the kind of disease that will put you in the hospital or that could kill you. But Pfizer says that their lab work also shows that a third dose, what some people call a booster dose, may give more robust protection.

So in other words, Omicron is what scientists call an escape variant to a certain extent. It did manage to escape the vaccines, but this is much better news than what many people had feared.

Christine, Laura.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that Elizabeth.

This just in to CNN, one-third of all parents in the U.S. still fear of vaccinating their children according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Thirty percent of parents say they will definitely not vaccinate their 12 to 17-year-old children, 13 percent say they will wait and see, 49 percent say they will get their kid's shots.

When it comes to younger children age 5 to 11, the hesitancy there rises only 29 percent of parents say they definitely will vaccinate their 5 to 11-year-olds.

According to the CDC more than 200 million people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated. So I think an important part, you see that hesitancy, but we know in the last week or so there has been a rush to vaccinate.



ROMANS: Now 60 percent of the American public is vaccinated. Certainly not leading the world, but you can see the news of the Omicron variant spurred people to go out there and finish the two -- the two courses of vaccines and apply (ph) for the boosters.

JARRETT: And get those boosters.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: That was the big news of yesterday. Got to get the booster.

All right, still ahead for you, the mother of Daunte Wright killed by former police officer Kim Potter opening the trial on day one.


KATIE BRYANT, MOTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: And I would (ph) say, what's wrong? And she said that they shot him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: More from the emotional day in court, next.



ROMANS: All right in just a few hours day two in the trial of Kimberly Potter. The defense claims this ex-police officer mistook her gun for a taser when she killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. There was emotional testimony Wednesday from the prosecution's first witness, the victim's mother.


KATIE WRIGHT, MOTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: I heard the officer tell Daunte no. And I heard Daunte say, "No, I'm not" -- don't -- it sounded like he said, "Don't run." Daunte said, "No, I'm not." Female answered the phone because it was (inaudible) and she was screaming. And I was like what's wrong? And she said they shot him.


ROMANS (voice-over): The attorney for Daunte Wright's family tells CNN the defense argument that Potter made a mistake and Wright should have surrendered just doesn't fly.


ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY FOR DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FAMILY: This was not a mistake. She intentionally -- she knew -- she knew that she was grabbing her gun. And she was going to still use a taser on somebody who was unarmed and not a threat. I mean, it was really ridiculous.


ROMANS (on-screen): We get more now from CNN's Adrienne Broaddus in Minneapolis.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Good morning, Christine and Laura. Today will mark the second day of testimony in the trial against Kim Potter. On Wednesday compelling opening statements from the prosecution and the defense.

The prosecution focusing in on Potter's training saying she'd been a police officer longer than Daunte Wright was alive. Also saying that her job and her duty as an officer is to protect life and not take life. By contrast, the defense saying what happened that day in April was a mistake.



ANTHONY LUCKEY, POLICE OFFICER: No, you're not going anywhere.

BROADDUS (voice-over): And that's the voice of the rookie officer Potter was training that day, Anthony Luckey. You hear him tell her you are not going to prison. He also testified about why officers wear their service weapons on the opposite side of their duty belt.


BROADDUS (on-screen): He testified it's so officers aren't confusing their firearms with their taser. Laura and Christine.

LAURA JARRETT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Adrienne Broaddus, OK. The jury and the Jussie Smollett trial begins day two of deliberations later this morning. The jurors are considering six felony counts against the former Empire actor charging that he essentially staged a fake hate crime and gave a false report to Chicago police.

In closing arguments, prosecutors claim Smollett lied to the jury from the stand, and the actors lawyers making the same claim about the two main witnesses against him. CNN's Sara Sidner has more from Chicago.

SARA SIDNER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Christine and Laura, the jury will begin again deliberating in this case in the next few hours. We heard, of course, the closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense and then the rebuttal argument from the prosecution.

The prosecutors going after Jussie Smollett not just saying that his words on the stand were inconsistent but saying that he was a liar. Here's how prosecutor Webb put it. He said that "In January 2019, Mr. Smollett developed this secret plan to carry out a fake hate crime, he falsely reported it and I told you that is a crime.

Mr. Smollett failed to tell the truth and made many false statements. He lied under oath to you jurors, he lacks any credibility whatsoever, he was tailoring his testimony." Now, as you know there were two men who took the stand who were very important witnesses in this case.

And that was the Osundairo brothers, both of them testifying that they indeed were paid by Jussie Smollett to carry out this fake hate crime against him in order for him to get more media attention. That's what they said on the stand. Smollett's attorney went after the Osundairo brothers, he talked about them this way saying the relationship between the Osundairo brothers and Smollett was a "One-way friendship."

He says, "They are not who they say they are." He said, "The brothers are the wolves who are disguised as sheep in a hen house." Strong words from both sides but now the jury just has to look at all of the evidence and make a decision. Christine, Laura.

ROMANS: All right, Sara, thank you so much for that. The defense has rested its case in the trial of Elizabeth Holmes. The founder and former CEO of Theranos wrapped up her seventh day on the witness stand Wednesday.

She testified that while she wasn't aware of everything that happened at Theranos, she never tried to mislead people who invested in the blood-testing company or mislead patients about the accuracy and reliability of the tests. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the fraud and conspiracy charges. Closing arguments are scheduled for next week.

JARRETT: Coming up, the Russian military sending a message as 120,000 troops currently sit at the Ukrainian border. CNN is live in Kyiv next.



JARRETT: Welcome back. Today President Biden will speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A follow-up to his two-hour video chat on Tuesday with Vladimir Putin. This as Ukrainian defense officials tell CNN that Russian troop levels have swelled to 120,000. That includes additional Army, Air Force, and Naval personnel.

The president will also speak to the Bucaress 9, a group of eastern flank NATO allies that includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. CNN's Matthew Trent -- Chance joins us live from Kyiv this morning. Matthew, good morning. What doe President Zelensky want to hear from President Biden when they speak today?


MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it's an important call, of course, for the Ukrainian leadership. Remember, when Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Biden had that video conference call, they were talking about the future of this country, the future of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian delegation was not in the room as it were, not on the call.

And so, they're very anxious to hear exactly what was discussed, and what assurances if any President Biden passed on to his Russian counterpart. They haven't had that call yet, it's coming tonight in, you know, six or seven hours from now is when they say they're going to be expecting this call from President Biden.

There's already been some general comments coming from Volodymyr Zelensky who's the president of Ukraine. First of all, he said it was a positive that the call took place in the first place between Biden and Putin. He said because he meant that President Biden was now personally involved in resolving the conflict with Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country.

He also said that he considered it a victory for Ukraine that United States continued to support Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity. And so, that's good. It was a good thing as far as they're concerned. What they want to hear though is what are the details.

What if anything is Ukraine expected to do in order to avoid Russia, you know, pressing the button on the plan, which it says it doesn't have to invade Ukraine. And so, it's a very anxious moment here in the Ukraine capital.

JARRETT: All right, Matthew Chance, thank you for that report.

ROMANS: All right, new cases of COVID are on the rise but the Senate voted to block President Biden's vaccine mandate. The two Democrats who voted with Republicans ahead.