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Big Lie Persists As Trump Allies Defy Jan. 6 Subpoenas; Sen. Grassley Embraces Trump As GOP Welcomes 2024 Bid; "Exceptionally High" COVID Cases In Kids Warns American Academy Of Pediatrics; Youngkin: Education Is No. 1 Issue In VA Gov's Race; U.S. To Open Canada, Mexico Borders For Vaccinated Visitors; Supreme Court Revisits Boston Marathon Bomber Sentencing. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 13, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It's not right or left, it's right or wrong. Trump one, we deserve an audit. You could look at that and say, well, it's only a few 100 people. But a few 100 people on a Tuesday afternoon is not nothing and they believe what they believe.


JANICE DANIELS, ELECTION INTEGRITY FUND AND FORCE: If government agency is potentially guilty of fraud, should we have a government agency check them out? I don't think so.


KING: Our panel is back with us now. And joining us also is CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. Let's start with that. Look, it's a few 100 people on a Tuesday afternoon, some people say pay no attention to it. It's a few 100 people on a Tuesday afternoon showing up at the state Capitol yet again. This has been a frequency of protest the Michigan State Capitol to say that Biden is not my president, that Trump won.

We're supposed to be past that, we're supposed to be preparing for the next election. My question is how much is that going to be an issue next year in the Michigan Democratic Party, for example, responded to that event with this. "The 12 gubernatorial candidates that currently make up the crowded Republican primary field have all either voiced support for an audit, echoed conspiratorial claims that Trump had a second term stolen, or thrown their support behind any legislation that will make it harder for all Michiganders to vote."

Is that going to be as much an issue next year, or is it going to be about Biden and about COVID?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Republican leaders in Washington would certainly want it to be about Biden and how he has handled the first year and in the second year of his presidency. But with Donald Trump out there continuing to spread the election lie and just the power and the grip that he has over the Republican Party means that this is a major storyline and clearly a major focus for Republican primary candidates and key House and Senate races. And obviously, will be a major issue in the 2024 race as well.

KING: So, one way to try to counter it, try, emphasis on try, because many of them, I don't believe sadly, will listen because of their leadership -- we'll get to that point in a minute -- is to search for the truth. And so you have the January 6th committee which says we're going to put together all the pieces, part of the big lie. But then what happened with the big lie when Trump was defied when Republicans would not steal the election for him, then you have the big rally, then you have the insurrection.

Several of the Trump allies have refused to cooperate. Adam Schiff, member of the committee says," OK, you won't cooperate, we're going to ask for prosecution."


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not messing around. If people don't show up, if people don't provide the documents they're compelled to, we intend to take up criminal contempt and refer to the Justice Department. And we expect that it will be prosecuted. And so we intend to move quickly.


KING: The quickly part. Is that real -- is it realistic when you have people, Steve Bannon and other Trump allies defying subpoenas? One of the ways to move this along is to have them held accountable quickly, possible?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this is the moment of truth, the next three days. We're facing these deadlines today. People associated with January 6th rally, they're expected to turn over documents. We know some of them expected to comply. But tomorrow a big day, a lot of questions.

Steve Bannon is scheduled for deposition as is Kash Patel the next day, former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Now we know Bannon has said he has no intention of complying with this investigation. And that's where we get to this question of OK, what next and how fast? And so far the committee is signaling that potentially a criminal referral to the Justice Department for contempt could come as soon as tomorrow.

Now they could also wait until Friday in case Mark Meadows also doesn't show up, and they could do them as a batch. But then this decision, it had -- there are several steps before it gets to the Attorney General. And look, historically, it's been easy for Bannon over the past four years to obfuscate because Republicans were in charge of the House and the Justice Department, not the case anymore.

KING: Not the case anymore. The question is, how quickly do they move? And again, one of -- one way is to build the record of truth and hope that people read it and change their minds if they believe things that are misguided. The other way would be for Republicans to actually show leadership and say, we don't want any part of the big lie. We don't want any part of Trump as long as he keeps repeating the big lie. Forget about it.

This is a Barry Loudermilk in some new CNN reporting. "If he ran, I think he would be the nominee. He didn't have anything to do with January 6th. I think that's a far-fetched idea. I don't think he's damaged himself within the party."

The last part may be true, I don't think he's damaged itself within the party. The first parts of it about having nothing to do with January 6th is ludicrous.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, they're clearly -- he's clearly saying that to cater to one person, Donald Trump. I mean, I just want to go back to the -- what can Democrats do right now. They can't do a whole lot. I mean, even if the Attorney General decides to hold these people in criminal contempt, and there's still question about whether he will do that, this has got to go to court, and that's going to drag out for a long time.

Democrats have been dealing with this now for a really long time when it comes to Trump. You know, he ignored all their subpoenas, their investigations, they had a huge problem in terms of getting people to cooperate, and they took some of them to court and then they settled. They never got final rulings on them. And so on a lot of ways, you know, they have this problem with the courts, they can't get people to comply. I mean, congressional subpoenas right now, frankly, they're joke.

KING: Well, you have to pay traffic tickets. Whether you like them or not, you should have to follow these rules. Whether you like them or not, watch it play out. But again, the question becomes we just very loud because (ph) you might say, oh, he's just a House member. The House is so Trump. Here's Chuck Grassley, senior member of the United State Senate in Iowa with you know who this weekend.



SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I was born at night but not last night. So if I didn't accept the endorsement of a person that's got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.


KING: He would be a chairman, again, if Republicans retake the Senate. Trump wants to remove his leader, Mitch McConnell, but Chuck Grassley is he could, if the picture tells it all. Once you move a little closer to me, Mr. former President, I want to win, I want power.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean, it's clear that several Republicans are -- have blinders on right now and they're focused on gaining the support of Donald Trump just for their political benefit. But I think the farther we get from January 6, the easier it becomes for members like Senator Grassley to be able to do that, because they're relying on the public to sort of forget about what happened, and to sort of change their -- to sort of dance around in their responses about January 6.

I think it's interesting because pulling -- at least looking ahead to 2024 is still a little divided among the Republican Party on whether they want Donald Trump to be the nominee. But it seems like they're clearly relying on Donald Trump to remain as the leader of the party, and to have that influence that he currently has.

KING: Some days and the root causes of those days should not fade from history, and I would put January 6 on that list. Maybe some people disagree, but I would put January 6 on that list. Thanks everybody.

Up next, kids, COVID and one doctor's push to persuade hesitant parents.


DR. RHEA BOYD, PEDIATRICIAN, PUBLIC HEALTH ADVOCATE AND SCHOLAR: Yes, the COVID vaccines are incredibly effective for kids just like they're incredibly effective for adults.




KING: A new alarm from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It describes the number of new COVID infections in children as still, quote, exceptionally high. Help could come soon. FDA advisers meet in two weeks to consider authorizing Pfizer's vaccine for children's ages five to 11.

Now vaccine hesitancy though remains a giant challenge. In recent polls, as you can see, around a third of parents say they'll definitely get their kids a shot when it's available. But you see the maybes and the nos. That's a bigger number there.

Dr. Rhea Boyd joins us now. She's working with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics to talk to parents. Dr. Boyd, grateful for your time. So you are doing the most important work trying to get parents to keep their kids safe. Why is it so difficult?

As we have to start the conversation, just look at the COVID-19 cases in kids, new cases in kids. The weekend last month, 25 percent of the cases were children, nearly 150,000 of them. More than 750,000 kids getting COVID infections over the past four weeks. When you tell a parent, this is the way to protect your kid, what are the biggest hesitancies you hear back?

BOYD: All right, thanks for having me today. And this is so important for people to understand that kids are affected by COVID. Kids contract COVID cases, as you said. Nearly a quarter of the COVID cases most recently have been in children, some of whom are previously healthy and well. And so, our efforts are really to try to make sure that parents understand the number one ways to keep their kids safe, which is first vaccination. And then it's all the other public health precautions we all know and love now, wearing masks, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, making sure you have good ventilation, and washing your hands.

KING: And so we -- just show this -- shows vaccinations across the country is two-thirds of eligible Americans are vaccinated, two- thirds. 66 percent of all the -- entire eligible population are vaccinated. But if you look at 12 to 15-year olds, it's only 45 percent. If you look at 15 to 17-year olds, it's just 53 percent. Understandably, parents might want to think twice, I'll -- maybe I'll get a vaccine, but I'm not sure for my children. How do you pop through that?

BOYD: So I think some of what we see in those numbers is that adults were the first populations who were authorized to receive any of the COVID vaccines. So they got a jumpstart on kids. And that's why they have a greater percentage of their populations who are vaccinated.

But I think as you're pointing out, the other thing that we see is that parents have questions and concerns that need to be addressed before they feel comfortable making this choice for their kids. And so that's why we're trying to spread credible information. We're trying to share the science directly with parents, through their schools, through their churches, through their community-based organizations to make sure they understand that the vaccines are not only safe for kids, they're incredibly effective. And they're really the number one way to protect kids and kids' households and school environments and communities from COVID spray.

KING: Is there a different message or is it the same message when you're talking to we know, for example, high hesitancy in some segments of the African American community because of historical issues, high hesitancy and some maybe wider more rural areas, maybe for more political reasons? Is it the same message to break through, or do you need to tailor it?

BOYD: You know, how we have approached talking to particularly black and Latinx populations, especially across the U.S. South is to respect their concern. Instead of calling it hesitancy, what we're acknowledging is that there are critical access barriers to information about health and healthcare, in general, for communities of color, particularly in the south where insurance rates are lower. And where most folks of color in this country, particularly black populations live.

And so we've had a concerted effort there to go to folks and say, what are your questions? If you don't have a regular provider, you can talk to me, you can talk to other experts across the country directly one- on-one about your concerns. And what we hear time again is that people don't have general concerns in our communities of color.


People aren't talking about conspiracy theories. They have specific questions about their own health history and how that relates to getting the COVID vaccine. And so once we're able to answer people's specific questions, what we find is that more and more folks get vaccinated. And so now we are pleased to see that the inequities that we've seen in the vaccine distribution among racial and ethnic groups have been narrowing in recent weeks.

KING: Well I hope that narrowing continues and if it does, it's important because of the work you're doing every day. Dr. Boyd, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Keep it up. Thank you.

BOYD: Thank you.

KING: When we come back, the Virginia governor's race is close. As you can see, very close. Next, we'll map out what that means. It includes this, a battle for turnout and a battle for the suburbs.



KING: You can see the map of Virginia behind me. Take a look at it. In 2020, in the presidential race, it wasn't close. It was a 10-point win for Joe Biden. But there's more evidence today that the Virginia governor's race is actually very tight. As we mark 20 days from today now, we count the votes.

The Democratic nominee, Terry McAuliffe, he voted early today right here. You see Fairfax in the Washington suburbs, Northern Virginia suburbs, Terry McAuliffe trying to encourage early turnout in those critical Northern Virginia suburbs. Right now as we speak, the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, he's right here. This is called pepper county and you see it right there, it's more reliably read. He's trying to turn out Republican votes right there.

Well, let's bring into the conversation CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's just back from some time on the trail in Virginia. And right behind you, you see the poll of 50 to 47. So that is uncomfortably tight for the Democrats heading into the final days. We'll walk through some of this, but you were just down here.

Again, this is the presidential map, right? You were just down here. Among the places you visited, Chesterfield County, which are the suburbs south of Richmond. This is blue, when you look at it right now. If you go back in time and presidential politics, you have to go back -- let's go back even to the Obama race in 2008, John McCain carry Chesterfield County. You go back to 2004, George Bush carried it by even a bigger margin, George W. Bush.

So, if we come back forward to where we were in 2020, this has been the battle for America, especially in the age of Trump. In the governor's race, Glenn Youngkin probably needs this to be read. And for that reason, let me just bring this up. This is the 2017 race for governor, Chesterfield County was very close. Where are we now?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely was. And look, this is one of the sprawling suburban communities across America where Republicans in 2018 and 2021 went away from the Republican Party voters, went away from the Republican Party. So this will be a critical test on election night.

If Terry McAuliffe is doing well there., that is a -- not a good sign for Glenn Youngkin. If Glenn Youngkin is doing well there, it's a good sign for him, but it does not answer all of the questions. We did spend some time there and really talking to voters, a lot of things are animating them. But one thing above all we're seeing across the Commonwealth schools, school board meetings are a good indicator of the frontline of where the anger, the enthusiasm, the energy is.

And in an off-year election like this, energy is what you want. So that is what worries some Democrats that their voters may not be as animated, or in tune to turn out.

KING: So let's dig deeper. This is one of the voters you spoke to, Amy Dodson, who says she's a true independent. Listen.


AMY DODSON, VIRGINIA VOTER: I'm historically an independent voter. I have voted every which way you could vote. What led me to vote for Glenn Youngkin this time around was education.


KING: So now, it's just one voter we need to be careful, but this has been an animating issue in the Youngkin advertising, spending a lot of money right there. He's trying to make this about education, about parental rights, about the government not getting in the way. Terry McAuliffe will get to in a minute trying to make it about very other issues.

ZELENY: Absolutely. And she also said something else interesting as we talked to her outside her home yesterday in Midlothian, Virginia. She said, "I do not like Donald Trump. I did not vote for Donald Trump. But I am going to vote for Glenn Youngkin." She actually cast her ballot this week.

So that is a question, how many Amy Dodsons are there out there who didn't vote for Donald Trump, but are going to vote for Glenn Youngkin? That is a wildcard in this race.

KING: Right. So another wildcard if you're the Democrats, again, you outnumber Republicans in Virginia. You mentioned enthusiasm.

ZELENY: Right.

KING: This is the new CBS/YouGov poll, I believe, it is here. And you look at it, 50 percent of Youngkin voters say we are very enthusiastic, only 44 percent of McAuliffe voters. Again, Terry McAuliffe voting earlier today up here.

This is important, this set of suburbs are very important in a close race. Most important this is where Terry McAuliffe is up here, that's where he voted. He's trying to get -- trying to motivate Democrats because he's a little nervous. ZELENY: He absolutely is. Yes. He's trying to really sound the alarm. He's been trying to do this really several weeks and most Democrats didn't necessarily believe him that he could be in trouble. Now that has become clear in poll after poll.

So he was definitely trying to really convince everyone to vote early. This is the first time early voting has been allowed in a governor's race. So Democrats believe they can use this extra time to pull people out to the pool.

KING: And when we count the votes, again, just 20 days away, look at Ed Gillespie only 31 percent here.

ZELENY: Right.

KING: Can Youngkin do better in the suburbs? This is what will tell us how it plays out. Jeff, appreciate it. Come back as the race moves down toward the finish line.

Ahead, a milestone in the pandemic. After 18 long months, the United States is about to reopen the border with Canada and with Mexico as long as you are fully vaccinated.



KING: Topping our political radar today, some good news for fully vaccinated travelers. The United States announcing it will roll back restrictions, allowing fully vaccinated visitors from Canada and Mexico. First phase starts next month. It allows travelers to drive or walk across the land border to visit friends.

Later this afternoon, the President will talk about what's happening with big bottlenecks at the nation's ports. The White House announcing this morning a 90-day sprint, it says, to fix global supply chain issues. Private shipping carriers and the big ports in L.A. and Long Beach will move to 24/7 operation.

Supreme Court appears ready to reinstate the death sentence for one of the Boston Marathon bombers. The Biden administration, just like the Trump administration before it, argued today Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death penalty should be reinstated, that after a federal appeals court wiped it away in 2020, citing some issues with the original trial. The courts conservative justices signaled their support for reinstatement. We'll keep an eye on that case.

Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.