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The House Majority In 2022: Redistricting Gives GOP Advantage; Soon: Key Decisions On Pfizer Booster Eligibility For All Adults; Rittenhouse Jurors Send More Questions To The Court. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 12:30   ET



NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: But still hinting at the kind of violence that folks on January 6th wanted to happen to members of Congress.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And we could -- I don't know if we have a live photo, but they just started debate on the rule on the House floor. First, they have to pass the rule for the debate, then they move on to the actual sensor resolution. So you see them now starting to debate the rule. This process will take at least an hour perhaps a little bit more.

I want you to listen to the Speaker of the House this morning on Capitol Hill. She says, yes, Congress has to hold one of its own accountable, but she thinks the Justice Department should take a peek. Listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think that threatening the lives of anybody, not just member of ongress, but certainly the President of the United States, should warrant law enforcement attention.


KING: Will the Justice Department look at this. Can Congressman Gosar say it's just a video? It's not a specific threat. There is that issue but I think the larger issue here is that the Republicans will not deal with extremism in their midst.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's exactly right. And, you know, we talked about how it's a tough balance for Kevin McCarthy. But what he's done in the process --

KING: Forgive me for interrupting, but it shouldn't be a tough balance. I'm sorry, I said principle, power, country should come before, principle and countries come before power.

PARTI: He wants that speakership. And that's I think what he's focused on, but you're right, I mean, in theory, it shouldn't be tough for him. But he's frustrated.

Both sides, I mean, he's obviously frustrated Democrats, but he's also frustrated, his own party members, like the moderates who are running in these swing districts who don't want these comments, and associated with the Republican Party, a lot of people would argue that we can talk about immigration without having these animated videos that incite violence. But, you know, Paul Gosar has said he deleted this video, and he's claimed he's apologized, but then walk that back.

And a lot of members just don't want to deal with this on a day to day basis. And Kevin McCarthy hasn't really stepped in to say that this is not something that Republicans stand for.

KING: And that's his excuse, right? Well, he deleted it. I talked to him, he deleted it. So we're done. We can move on. There no accountability. I would just imagine what the Republicans would be saying if a Democrat had done this. But the Republicans are fine with well, he deleted it. So we're good.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, they're not formally whipping against this, which means they would take like a whip check and try to get members voting it. So but they are recommending a no vote. And Kevin McCarthy went behind closed doors yesterday, tried to contain this fall out said, look, I called him, he deleted it. His intention was not to cause harm. His intention was not to encourage violence.

And for some members, they said that was enough. They said, we -- that's what we needed to hear. Kevin McCarthy did enough to sort of get everyone on board. But obviously Democrats say that is just simply not enough.

KING: If, you know, I'm not encouraging people to watch the video, but if you watch the video, it's pretty clear what the video was. So I'm not encouraging anyone to go back and do it again. Thanks, everybody.

Republicans only need five seats to flip the House and redistricting is already giving them a leg up. We'll map it out next.



KING: You see the narrow numbers here, the Democratic majority in the House. That means Republicans need do the math at home to flip just five seats next year to take control of the House. And their giant advantage in the redistricting process, well, it allows Republicans right now to redraw the map this year in ways that should make next year's math easier. Let's take a look at what we're talking about.

Again, currently 221 Democrats, 213 Republicans, right? Republicans are redrawing the map now Republicans control the process in 20 states. Every state has to go through this after the census. Republicans have full control in 20 states. Democrats have full control in eight states. It's split for their independent commissions in the other states. If we look where we are in the process right now, 15 states have

already passed their maps. That does not mean they wanted up in court. There may be some court challenges, but 15 states have passed the map so far. Let's discuss this now. Let me get some help from Kyle Kondik is with us. He's from -- he's managing editor of the University of Virginia Politics at Sabato's Crystal Ball.

So Kyle, here's where we are so far, this can be a very confusing process. I just want to take us through, just look at Texas as an example. Republicans control the legislature, they control the governorship, they're picking up two seats because of the census, 23 to 13 is the current breakdown. So you see 36 seats there. Texas will have two more when you go through the process.

If you want to look at the maps, hard to understand, you're just seeing white lines here. But here are the current House districts. Here are the new house districts. So if you just take the new House districts and overlay them with the presidential election results, it's not a guarantee, but just to show, you see a lot of red, right, you see these white lines around the new districts, Texas is going to have more Republican districts.

Now let's zoom in, Kyle, this is where it gets interesting. As you're drawing these maps, you could easily draw more of these blue areas into single districts. But look what happens. You see this blue area here. It goes out into a big rural stretch down in one district. You see the blue area here split into a district that goes up this way. This is Houston, and you move into other parts of the state up here.

The Republicans, look at the map, and this is what Latino voters are mad about. They say voters of color should have had more districts drawn specifically for them. But Republicans dilute the power by, look, here you have some blue areas, and this giant red rural streak.

KYLE KONDIK, MANAGING EDITOR, SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL AT UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: You know, redistricting, the districts often look like bacon basically that's a term that even shows up in some of the literature that, you know, if you're a Republican, you draw some very, you know, Democratic blue areas and then you connect them out to rural and exurban voters for more Republican, you know, Texas's map last decade the current one that's being replaced it had a lot of that too but over the course of the decade, a lot of those districts that were so red at the start of the decade got more and more competitive.


And so Texas Republicans have redrawn the map sort of recut the bacon in a way to protect their large lead in the Texas House delegation.

KING: You make a key point, though, there's no question. There is no question this new Texas map favors Republicans. And Republicans, again, you need five to flip. They'll pick up two or three just in Texas in the next election, while by the way they drew the line, but they could have actually been even more aggressive, probably not, because they want to avoid a court challenge. KONDIK: That's right, yes. And I think they're cognizant to that, you know, Texas is changing. I mean, the Democrats are growing in great numbers in Dallas, Fort Worth, in Houston, and Austin, et cetera. So you know, it's one thing to draw the map for 2022. The goal, if you're a gerrymander, if you're Democrat or Republican, is to draw a map that last not just for the next election, but for the rest of the decades.

KING: Right, you want the cement to dry, if you will. So this is a state, Texas, where again, Republicans have full control. They have the governor, they have the legislature. Montana is a different case, we're going to move out to Montana now, it's a state where they have a so called Independent Commission. This is always about politics. So it gets cut up. Montana, right now only has one because the population only has one member of the House.

But because of the growth in the population out there, Montana will have two in the next. So you see what they did here. They drew a district right here. Currently, one House member represents the entire state, after next year, you will have two districts here. I just want to bring it in over the county map of the presidential election. So what Democrats wanted is they wanted to do something like this, they wanted to come up from here and go up like this and come across here and come down.

They wanted to keep more of these blue areas in a district that they thought would create a more, not guaranteed Democratic district, but a more competitive district for them. But the Commission, the two Republicans, and then the chairman, voted no to do essentially an East, West split of the state. So even where you have a commission, sometimes you get a result. These are two Republican districts, when you look close at them.

KONDIK: Even in a state like Montana, which you think it'd be pretty simple, just two districts in the state. They're getting their second district back after they've had several decades ago. There are still really important and controversial choices here. And even when you have an independent system, they're almost always a winner.

And there's almost always a loser, which is also why you see some of these commissions like in Virginia, for instance, as a new commission system, they deadlock because if you have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans on a commission, they're not going to be able to come up with a map that is fair. You need some sort of tie breaking process, the Commission systems that work and they're growing across the country, the ones that work usually have some sort of tiebreaker.

KING: And so if you think this through history says the party out of power, generally not always but generally does well in the President's first midterm, that's next year for President Biden. It's good for Republicans. History says that, and then you come back to this the balance of power, it only takes five seats, because the Democratic majority right now is so narrow, it only takes a five seat flip, but we just went through, you could pick up three, maybe more just in Texas, one in Montana. So Republicans halfway through the process could argue that we've got three or maybe four of the seats already. KONDIK: Yes. And, you know, the Democrats are gerrymandering too, you know, Illinois, the governor hasn't signed the map yet there. But that is going to be a Democratic gerrymander in Illinois. They're going to squeeze probably a couple more seats out of out of Illinois, New York State is a big question mark where Democrats likely have the power.

But, you know, overall, Republicans control the drawing of 187 districts, Democrats only 75. And the rest of the states are commissions or split party control, et cetera. So the Republicans came into this with a big advantage. And they're working to sort of realize those gains now.

KING: Right. No question. Republicans are closer to their five already, but you make a key point, we got away for Illinois, we got away from New York, we're going to go through this chess game throughout the rest of the year. We'll bring you back in to walk through it again. It's a complicated process, but it is fascinating.

Kyle Kondik, thank you. You should check out Kyle's new book as well. It gets right to this point actually, "The Long Red Thread: How Democratic Dominance Gave Way to Republican Advantage in U.S. House Elections," worth a good read for you.


Ahead for us, vaccine boosters for all adults could very soon be part of the Biden winter COVID plan.


KING: We could get a big change in COVID treatment by the end of the week. The FDA and the CDC poised to give the green light for every American over the age of 18 to get a vaccine booster shot. What do we mean by that? Right now, here's the eligibility for booster shots in the United States. Six months after a second Pfizer or Moderna shot for adults over 65, get a booster shot the government says.

If you're an adult at high risk of infection and or severe disease, and you have six months after your Pfizer or Moderna fully vaccinated, the government says get a booster shot. If you had the J&J single dose vaccine, two months after that, all adults the government says, should get a booster shot.

The question is, should they revisit this and just say all adults should get another booster shot as they walk -- as we walk through vaccinations and head into the winter. Here's the map so far. And just as we were coming into this segment, add Maine to this as well. These states have decided to get ahead of the government and say adults should now immediately get a booster shot if you're eligible.

Let's bring in right now to share his expertise and insights. Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, Dr. Jha grateful for your time. The government will tell us by Friday what it believes you see a number of governors saying I'm not going to wait for Washington, is boosters for all the right approach. DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN OF BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, John, first of all, thanks for having me back. Yes, it is. The data is really clear on this now. I think all adults, six months after from their second shot, from their second Moderna, Pfizer shot, all adults benefit from a booster. And I think it'll make a really important difference as we head into the winter. So I'm really happy to see FDA doing it. It gets the right answer.

KING: And so as you mentioned as the boosters for all you think it's the right science let me come back to where we are right now. Number one, the vaccination rate in the country, we do see an increase in vaccines in recent days, Dr. Jha, but this is mostly children aged five to 11, those whose parents are most eager to get their kids vaccinated are doing it, and the numbers are going up.


But if you look at the trends map, and we now, are in the middle of November, I know you are concerned about this, you see 22 states now trending up. And if you notice, most of them are in the northern half of the country where it's colder, 22 states trending up, 21 holding steady, only seven states, Dr. Jha, reporting fewer new COVID infections this week than last week. So we've been through this cycle before. Yes, there are more vaccinations now and better treatments.

But how concerned should we be in the middle of this booster debate when you see so many states now trending in the wrong direction?

JHA: Yes, you know, and we're heading into the holiday season where people are going to travel and spend more time together. I am worried about what the next six to eight weeks will bring. In my mind, obviously, we know what to do to mitigate it, you know, the last winter, it was a very different situation. This year, we still have to work on getting people unvaccinated their first shot. And we've got to continue to try to be careful.

We are so close to the end of this kind of emergency phase of this pandemic. And watching people get infected and sick and die right now feels particularly tragic.

KING: I like the way you put that near the end of the emergency phase of the pandemic. And again, you know, some of these case counts going up or it's not all that significant, but it's trending in the wrong direction. You mentioned a key point.

There a lot of people out there who say now don't pay attention to cases anymore cases are going to go up sometimes. But with vaccinations with better treatment, the metrics we should be paying closer attention to our hospitalizations and deaths.

In that regard, if you look at a month ago, just shy of 60,000 Americans hospitalized a week ago, it was 46,000 Americans hospitalized. That number on Tuesday jumped back up a little bit to 48,000, so a plateau perhaps a slight uptick in hospitalizations. Is this a better way to judge sort of where we are? JHA: Yes. And here's what's happening when you see cases rise among vaccinated people, breakthrough infections, they usually don't lead to hospitalization increases, and that's good. That's something we should pay attention to.

But it's still the unvaccinated who are the most, the vast majority of all the infections and those infections, of course, duly to hospitalization. So we should be looking at all of it. But obviously separating out what's happening to the vaccinated and the unvaccinated because they're having very different trajectories once that infection happens.

KING: Dr. Jha, as always, thank you sir, appreciate it.

JHA: Thank you.

KING: A break for us, when we come back, the jury in the Rittenhouse trial has more questions for the judge. We'll bring you the latest after a quick break.



KING: More breaking news now in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse out in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This morning the jurors had one question of the judge. Now we are told two additional questions have been sent from the jury of Judge Bruce Schroeder. Let's get straight to CNN Shimon Prokupecz outside the courthouse in Kenosha. Shimon, what do we know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, that's basically all we know. Two more questions coming from the jury. We were just told by the pool reporter inside the court. So we're waiting to see what those questions are. It could be follow up to obviously what we were discussing earlier about the video.

We're also told by the pool report that the judge is -- that the defense attorneys, the attorneys are setting up video monitors for the jury to come down and watch the video. What video they want to see, we're still trying to find out, obviously still a lot up in the air. But it looks like the process to have them view this video has now started.

KING: Shimon Prokupecz, grateful for the update. Joining me in studio former U.S. Attorney Kim Wehle. Not unusual for a jury to have questions, especially in a high profile complicated case like this, including the video evidence.

What is unusual as we wait to find out exactly what the jury is interested in, every time we have the -- we go back into the courtroom, you have a judge who in addition to dealing with the questions in the case, likes to give media commentary, likes to respond to what he views as too much criticism in the media, in this case earlier today about the process he used essentially putting the names of all the doors in a tumbler and letting the defendant pick out the jurors who make the final cut, too sensitive, unusual? KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Very unusual to have the defendant be part of the process for deciding who the actual jurors will be, particularly in this a criminal case of this high profile nature. But I think this underscores, John, the nature of state elected judges. I mean we've talked about voting a lot, does voting matter. If you care about our judges go to the polls and vote on them. This is someone who does it by his way.

And we also know he didn't use let the lawyers use the word victims. But it's OK to use things like rioters. These are really important substantive questions. And the problem is it's creating a lot of potential holes for an appeal if he is convicted.

KING: And the judge deciding that he wants to comment on things that have been said in the media about him during the actual trial. I've covered a lot of trials. It's been a while but back in the day, I used to cover a lot of trials. And I don't recall a judge every day deciding to rebut what he views as unfair media criticism.

WEHLE: Yes, sure. I mean, I think in the old days too, judges weren't in the news in this way and it wasn't a 24/7 video maybe for O.J. Simpson. But we saw many of us who watched the last big trial of course, we can see the difference between good judging and not so good judging, when I say that I don't mean to disparage as judge but really the idea of neutrality, applying the facts, applying the law just calling balls and strikes that's the ideal judge.


KING: That is the ideal judge. We'll continue to watch developments in Kenosha.

Thank you for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage on this very busy News Day right now. Have a good afternoon.