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Jones, Stone Signal They Won't Cooperate With Jan.6 Committee.; U.S. Sees Uptick In COVID-19 Cases Heading Into Thanksgiving; RNC Paying Some Of Trump's Legal Bills In NY Probe. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 12:30   ET



LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can understand why the Committee is really torn. Maybe this witness may not be honest. But maybe they have very valuable information, it might be a fight to get that person to testify, you may never get that person to testify, or if they come in, they may plead the fifth, but you can understand exactly why the committee is going after him.

I think the other question is, how broad is this investigation going to become, the number of subpoenas coming out of this investigation? I think it's really tremendous. The number of witnesses they've talked to roughly around 200 at this point, this investigation is massive. And it does kind of have a deadline if Democrats don't win the House in the midterm election, so a lot of work to do, how much time they want to give to legal battles with Alex Jones, I think is another question.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: But you make a key point there, you'll run into people, especially on the Trump side of the equation, who say this was 10 months ago. Just give it up, let it go. Just some new video, this is Department of Justice video, Olivier, showing part of what's happened.

It's a security gate at the Capitol. You see the police behind it. People on the other side, trying to keep that gate open, shoving in chairs, throwing in boxes, throwing things at the debris at the security personnel, another misuse of the American flag. Every time I see that, it drives me nuts.

This is incredibly work -- incredibly important work by the Committee to try to build the facts of the challenges as everyone at the table has noted, you're building facts with a lot of people who, A, don't want to cooperate and B, have, shall we say, interesting reputations.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And I think when you talk about people who say this was 10 months ago et cetera, one of the things you hear from Democrats in Congress staff and elected is they want to be able to do this, again, that the former President Trump has not backed off the rhetoric that he used for months leading up to the election claiming there would be fraud if he lost, and then of course, ramping that up a lot more afterwards. The Dems I've talked to on the Hill are all saying like, no, no, no, this -- we have to do this not because we're only looking at January 6th, but because we want to discredit this entirely. And the only way we can discredit this entirely, is if we lock down who were the authors, the intellectual authors of this insurrection, and if we meet out some kind of punishment, whether it's in courts or in the Court of Public Opinion.

KING: Right, And this quick footnote, this is at a plea hearing yesterday for one of the defendants. So Adam Johnson, photograph carrying the speaker's Nancy Pelosi's lectern, Judge Reggie Walton was appointed by George W. Bush said this of Donald Trump. Al Gore had a better case to argue than Mr. Trump, but he was a man about what happened to him. He accepted it and walked away, hard to argue with that from an esteemed federal judge here in Washington.

When we come back, another COVID Thanksgiving, yes, new infections are climbing. But no, we didn't have vaccines last year. Up next for us, how to enjoy the holiday and your family safely.



KING: Yes, we have the tools this pandemic Thanksgiving to do some things that were just not safe last year. But there also are some new warning signs to consider in your holiday planning. Let me show you just a couple of those.

Number one, the map of COVID transmission, red means that your community is high transmission and you see much of the country especially the northern half of the country still has very high transmission of the COVID pandemic, less so down in the south where the temperatures are warmer and out in California as well, a little smattering up here.

But a lot of the country, especially the northeast, still has high transmission in every county. And the case count frustratingly going back up again, 95,000 new COVID infections yesterday, a month ago it was 72,000. Seven-day average is up 31 percent from just one month ago. So let's bring it in to share her insights and expertise, Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner.

Dr. Wen, you wrote an excellent column in "The Washington Post" about how to safely get through Thanksgiving. When you see the high transmission in many communities still, you see the case count, sadly, going back up again. Walk through what you think are the most important things for families to think about.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, first, and most importantly, John, I think it's time for us to urge caution once again, because we do see these rates climb. And we were hoping to see a decoupling between infection rates and hospitalization, but actually we're seeing a rise in hospitalizations and still a very high death rate as well. And so it's important to have caution. The first and most important thing when we're getting together is to make sure that everybody around us is vaccinated.

We know that those who are unvaccinated are six times more likely to be infected with COVID compared to those who are vaccinated. Also, having a booster dose further protects you as well. Then the second thing is asked what are the surpluses is the medical surplus, this is the people in your household. If everybody is generally healthy, and they're vaccinated and boosted, probably it's fine for everyone to remove their masks and have a very normal Thanksgiving meal.

On the other hand, if there are unvaccinated young children or severely immunocompromised people, you might want to have an additional level of protection. Be outdoors, open all the windows indoors or get a rapid test the day for everyone that helps to ensure that everyone stays healthy from COVID and safe from COVID this Thanksgiving.

KING: I want to walk through some of the other numbers as you go through it. You mentioned get a booster if you can. I've had mine, I know you have had yours. Thirty-six million Americans have had their booster shot so far, 117 million Americans are eligible. As you watch the rate of this play out, do you see any questions? Is it those people just waiting their turn? Or do you see any hesitancy or maybe people saying, oh, I got two, I don't need three?

WEN: I think there's been a lot of confused messaging around boosters to the point that a lot of people including patients that I see, they're not even thinking about boosters as if they've heard about this debate, they're now thinking well I'm pretty well protected with two doses. Do I really need this third dose? Is it just something that's a nice to have? We need to change this narrative and say that at this point in the pandemic, boosters are essential for everyone.


So if you're six months out from getting Pfizer and Moderna, or two months out from the windows, Johnson & Johnson, you need to get a booster dose right now. We know that immunity to symptomatic infection wanes a lot from the high 80s, low 90s, all the way down to the 40s to 50s, after five or six months.

And so after that point, especially coming into the holidays when we're gathering indoors, and when there's a very high level of community transmission, we need that additional level of protection.

KING: Right. And the conversation we've had many times, you helped me understand what you make of these numbers. If you look at the number of Americans who are still unvaccinated, we chose here over the age of 12, because those five to 11 have only been eligible for a couple of weeks. Two months ago, there were 72 million Americans from age 12 and over unvaccinated.

One month ago, that was down to 65 million. Now it's down to 56 million. Should we consider this progress? Or should we consider this, wow, there are still a whole number, a giant number of stubborn people out there who refuse to get vaccinated, especially the CDC put this number out. The unvaccinated face a 14 times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than the vaccinated. If I've looked at a number like that and I was unvaccinated, I would be in line at my doctor's office or pharmacy ASAP.

WEN: Right, except that those individuals who remain unvaccinated are not going to be moved by the thought of death from COVID because those who are unvaccinated have the same fear which is that somehow they fear the vaccine more than they fear the virus. Look, I do think it's important for us to keep on working towards getting the unvaccinated vaccinated.

But we also have to look at the depth of protection in addition to the breadth of protection, so that it's much easier to get a booster dose to those who are already vaccinated and convinced them to get a booster dose, then to get first doses to the unvaccinated.

Of course, that's even more important. However, if we look at the overall level of protection, increasing the rate of protection for those who are already protected, but giving them that extra boost, I think that will have a shorter and quicker impact than getting the unvaccinated vaccinated.

KING: Dr. Wen, as always grateful and if I don't talk to you before Thursday, have a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family.

WEN: And to you too, John, Happy Thanksgiving.

KING: Thank you.

Coming up for us, why the Republican National Committee says it is paying some of Donald Trump's legal bills and some brand new reporting about the toxic climate in the Congress.



KING: Donald Trump's continuing grip on the Republican Party is not just about power. He also benefits financially. The Republican National Committee for example, last month paid more than $120,000 to a criminal defense attorney representing Trump in a New York investigation into his company's business practice. When asked to comment, the RNC put it simply, he's our leader, and we need to protect him.

Our panel is back with us to discuss. When you -- I guess when you leave in place your handpicked chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, they will help you pay legal bills. A lot of those donors I suspect thought that money was going to go help a Republican candidate in a campaign somewhere.

FOX: Well, that's exactly right. And I think that the use of this money to pay for the former president's legal bills is pretty peculiar and pretty unprecedented. I also think that this is another marker and we say it all the time that Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, that there is not another better spokesman in the eyes of Republican campaign leaders that he is the leader of the Republican Party, and any damage that might happen to him in court could be potentially damaging to Republicans, which is why they felt the need to pay these bills.

KING: And you see just in the last week or so, so many different examples of the debate in the Republican Party. A number of the incumbent Republican governors out in the states are like, we're not, we're just -- we're trying to inch can we how fast can we get away from him, right?

The RNC, I mean, the Republican Governors Association, forgive me, says it will support Republican incumbents. Trump is at war, the number of those Republicans, seven of the 16 Republican governors are up for reelection, face challenges from Trump endorsed or inspired incumbent, say include the governor of Georgia, of course, who Donald Trump thinks should have helped him cheat.

They include the race in Arizona. Doug Ducey again didn't help Trump. He's term limited. He's not running. But Trump was involved in that race. This is what Doug Ducey the governor of Arizona says when it comes to Republicans and the states.


GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ), CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR'S ASSOCIATION: We've got 36 other races over the next year. We intend to protect our incumbents and keep our red states red. We believe that our incumbents across the country deserve reelection.


KING: As to follow the language, the words Donald J. Trump were not used there at all. But they're trying to say please leave us alone. Let us run our races the way we think they should be run.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Right. I write for the newspaper in Georgia. And it's not just that President Trump is not supporting Governor Kemp. But if he continues to undermine the integrity of the election, it could depress Republican turnout in in a swing state like Georgia.

That doesn't bode well for Governor Kemp against, you know, whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, potentially Stacey Abrams. So I think what the Republican governors are saying is it's not just we don't want the competition but Trump can really hurt our chances to win in close states.


KING: Right, especially if every day, every day he puts out a statement that repeats the big lie and then a whole bunch of other things. But the foundation of Trump is still the big lie about 2020. So it's fascinating to watch different Republicans with ambition, how they respond to the Trump factor, some are willing to get in his face. Others are more careful about it.

Let's start with one willing to get in his face. Larry Hogan is the Republican governor of Maryland. He cannot run for reelection. He has a favorite in that election. Donald Trump has a different favorite in that election.

Personally, I'd prefer endorsements from people who didn't lose Maryland by 33 points, Larry Hogan essentially selling Donald Trump, who cares what you say in Maryland?

KNOX: Yes. And it's interesting to look at the races, the different levels and how they respond, right, because you're seeing at the Senate level, and the gubernatorial level, you're seeing Republicans push back on Donald Trump, that phenomenon is basically absent in House races. And it speaks to sort of the different ways that these dynamics play out inside the Republican Party.

If you're running in Maryland, you do actually have to capture a number of independents and a number of Democrats. If you're running for a safe house seat, that in a district where Trump won by 50 or 60 points, you're not going anywhere. You got to you got to hug him close.

KING: But it's a dynamic, though, you see over and over again. You talked about to win a general election in Maryland, you cannot be a Trumpy candidate. Maybe you can win a primary. We just saw the President's candidate in Pennsylvania have to drop out of the race and they're looking for a new candidate there. That's what Republicans, that's what those governors are worried about that the President will get behind people in primaries who, yes, win the primary because the Trump voters turnout.

KNOX: Mitch McConnell is worried about.

KING: Right, yes, he lived through, he's lived through it.

KNOX: Yes, they're obviously very concerned about his impact in the primaries.

KING: And so here's another example. Chris Christie, who, as you're about to hear was first in the line to back Donald Trump now has a book out in which he says, you know, the party has to just leave the big lie behind and implicitly leave much of Donald Trump behind not all of it. On "Fox News" he's trying to split the baby, if I guess if that's the right word.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: What you don't like about Trump is more personality or backward-looking stuff. The policies you liked, correct?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), FORMER GOVERNOR: Look, the policies I supported in you know, Laura --

INGRAHAM: Yes, you did.

CHRISTIE: -- that you have the line of supporting -- the line of supporting Donald Trump starts behind me. I was the first elected official in America to endorse them in 2016, prep him for those debates, prep him in 2020 for the debates, you know, and stood up for him as the chairman of his opioid commission, and the chairman of his transition.


KING: That work, did that work, I was for him before I was against him?

MITCHELL: And some of these Republicans will say, I was for him and I was against him a little bit, but I could be for him again in 2024. We heard that from Secretary Raffensperger in Georgia. So it's just really interesting. Yes.

KNOX: Didn't Christie in another show say the exact same thing?


KING: He says he won't vote for Joe Biden, because, you know, so you get it. So you write about the toxic I'm going to connect these dots because I do think they are connected. You write about the toxic climate in the distrust in Congress right now. And it's in the House more than anywhere. And a lot of the pro Trump Republicans are constantly in the face of Democrats.

And the insurrection January 6th is a lot of this, Democrats are still mad that Republicans supported the big lie even after people stormed the Capitol building that day. This is a little piece of your reporting from Chip Roy, a Republican congressman from Texas.

Asked if he was including the insurrection in the things that people needed to let roll, Roy said, quote, people here have got to get thicker skin about representing the people and doing their job and not making everything personal on the floor of the House. So Chip Roy thinks that Democrats should just let it go?

FOX: And it's really painful for some members. I talked to Cheri Bustos on the steps of the Capitol and she pointed to a group of interns that had come to the vote series with her. And she said, I'm going to write them a list of like guidance and I always give them the same guidance every intern class. One of them is don't take things personally in politics. She said this insurrection, that day, the fallout from the insurrection, the constant barrage of lies, it is so personal to me that it is one of the reasons I decided to retire.

And there are real implications. I talked to Representative Garamendi in California today. I could hear his wife on the phone. When I asked him whether or not he felt like there were more threats, she was interacting on the phone call and she said, yes, there are more threats than there ever had been. This is having an impact on families as well as the members.

KING: Toxic, I think stronger words are necessary there.


Ahead for us, a conservative firebrand throws his hat into a very high profile, statewide race in Texas.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, Congressman Louie Gohmert is running for Texas Attorney General. The Republican and former Texas judge announced his bid in the video Monday. Gohmert is among House Republicans who repeatedly downplayed the January 6th insurrection. There are other Republican candidates in the race including George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, and the incumbent Ken Paxton, who has the backing of Donald Trump.

Lawmakers in New York State have released a damning report the findings of a month-long impeachment investigation into the former Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation found, quote, overwhelming evidence the former Governor sexually harassed several women. The report also alleges Cuomo was, quote, not fully transparent about the number of nursing home deaths in the state during the COVID 19 pandemic. Cuomo of course resigned back in August and he has denied the allegation.

Listen to this staggering statistic, $161,000 in airline fines racked up by eight people for quote alcohol related unruly behavior, that announcement from the FAA today. This year, the agency has received nearly 300 reports of disturbances due to alcohol. A sobering thought, we might use that word, is 20 million people will fly through a Thanksgiving holiday.


We'll see you back at this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.