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Inside Politics

Jan 6 Committee Issues Subpoenas Targeting Far-Right Groups; Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Mark Meadows Among Trump Allies Included in 45 Subpoenas so Far; Arbery Jury Asks to See Videos, Hear 911 Call Amid Deliberations; Poll: Nearly Half of Americans Might Have Unvaccinated Guests at Thanksgiving; Trump Loyalists Could Withhold Support for McCarthy as Speaker. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, everybody. Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The jury in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial now in day two of deliberations. The three defendants could face life in prison if found guilty if the most serious charges. Plus, Thanksgiving may feel more normal, but not old, normal, new COVID infections are climbing again in 27 states added up new cases back near 100,000 a day.

And brand new CNN reporting this hour on Republicans in the Trump effect, including how allies of the former president keep reminding Kevin McCarthy his path to the speakership depends on keeping Trump happy.

Up first for us, though, a close look at the January 6 Committee, its latest demands for evidence and a giant question hanging over the panel's work. When will we? When the American public gets to see what new will is being learned?

The Committee issued five new subpoenas Tuesday focusing on far right figures responsible for some of the insurrection day violence, the new round of legal demands, runs the number of known subpoenas get this to at least 45. Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill CNN's Ryan Nobles for the latest Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. And we see with this new round of subpoenas from the January 6 Select Committee a clear indication of the direction that they're heading. This is a group of far white right extremists that were pretty prominent here on January 6, involved in the riots on that day, including members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and also this fringe QAnon group called "The First Amendment Praetorian".

And what we see is the committee trying to get as much information as they can from these different groups to try and make connections. Connections between the misleading information that was peddled by the former president and his associates in the days after the November election, this concerted push to bring people here to Washington on January 6.

And then the last piece of all of this the riot itself, people breaking into the Capitol with the express purpose of interrupting the democratic process. And what the committee is trying to find is whether or not there are direct connections between each level of what happened on January 6.

That's another reason why you see them interested in people like Alex Jones and Roger Stone. These were the provocateurs that were trying to encourage people to come here and even suggesting in the days leading up to January 6, that there could be some sort of violence or there could be some sort of an attempt to overthrow the certification of the electoral process.

The big open question, though, John, is whether or not they are making any progress? The committee is very much telling us every single time they issue a subpoena, but they've been very quiet about what they're learning from the subpoenas. They say that they've talked to more than 200 people that they've collected thousands and thousands of documents, and that they are making progress in this investigation.

But they've given no clear indication when we will learn that information when they'll bring that information to the public, or even when their next public hearing will take place. We're approaching the anniversary of course of the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

And John there's a lot of questions as to when this committee will reveal just what they've learned up until this point, and how much longer it will take them to get this investigation going and complete? Of course, they have a hard deadline, right? And that's likely next year's midterm elections John.

KING: Ryan Nobles grateful for the live reporting to kick us off. Let's bring it in studio with me to share their reporting and their insights today CNN's Melanie Zanona CNN's Eva McKend and Margaret Talev of "AXIOS".

I just want to put up on the screen. Ryan talked - just talked about 200 people or so they've talked to we know 45 at least received these subpoenas. It's a who's who of Trump land? It's a who's who of conspiracy theorists out in America who have worked with Trump world and what the committee is trying to do and as Ryan knows, we're approaching now early in the new year, we will get the anniversary of the insurrection is to try to get the facts together.

The question is it's a critically important investigation for history. It's critically important because many of these people want to be involved in a Trump comeback? If so, do we have any sense of when they even preliminary findings? Is that part of the plan? Or is it finished the work and then goes public?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: They have told me that they do plan to release some sort of preliminary report before their final report, which as Ryan said, is probably when the midterms happen next year. If the control of House flips, Republicans, this whole thing goes away. But I think it's a fair question to ask what success they've had thus far? I mean, they've had some mixed results.

Yes, they've talked to 200 people; a lot of them are lower level witnesses. The biggest targets so far, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, Steve Bannon had been much harder to get information from and there are no signs of a breakthrough despite the criminal contempt charges, despite the Department of Justice being on the Democrat side. And so there is some concern about the pace of progress going on here--

KING: And to your point about the big witnesses, a lot of them are waiting to see what happens in the courts? Number one, Steve Bannon has been indicted for contempt of Congress. And number two more important I think to most of these people is what happens to Donald Trump?

He has to file a response today to the government. There's a hearing next week after we come out of the Thanksgiving holiday at the U.S. appeals court level that is - that seems to me to be the next gateway if you will.


KING: Do the courts order Donald Trump to cooperate and if so if Trump has to cooperate Trump documents become part of the evidence. What argument does anybody else have?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, absolutely. They are very much all of these people call to testify call to participate are very much taking his lead. But we now are in the fifth month of this. I remember being up on the Hill, when they started that, that hearing with the Capitol Hill police officers testifying, everyone was glued to the screens in Cuffs Cafeteria, watching the this, this investigation unfold.

I think there's a lot of pressure on this committee at this point to come up with some results, especially as the former president continues the same rhetoric that led to the insurrection in the first place, right, because first and foremost, this investigation is about making sure that this doesn't happen again.

KING: Right. The president continues the same rhetoric. But so do many of these same people continue to the same rhetoric about you know, be prepared, be prepared to stand up and fight for your country. For example, this is Stewart Rhodes. He's the Oathkeepers Founder. He's one of the new subpoenas that were issued.

This is right between the election and two weeks, two weeks, plus a few days before the insurrection. Listen.


ELMER STEWART RHODES, OATH KEEPERS FOUNDER: He has full authority of the insurrection act to suppress it insurrection, and he has a duty to do it. He must do it now. Because he does not do it will have to fight a bloody civil war bloody revolution to take our country back against a corrupt illegitimate regime.


KING: I mean, this is the committee's challenge, connect those dots. You know, they wanted Trump to stay in power somehow to declare an insurrection, to use the military to stop the Biden inauguration to stop the Electoral College counts. And if you heard right there, if he doesn't, we could have a bloody civil war. Well, we had a very bloody day.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: We did and there are real concerns about what's going to go on going forward. You know, I think this is actually an under covered part of the committee's work. It's easy to focus on the big political names.

But it is the - it is these groups and their tentacles all across America of disgruntled Americans who are part of a nationalist movement, often white nationalist, while Trump was still president, his own department of homeland security, singled out some of these groups as really the biggest threat on domestic soil to American safety, domestic terrorism.

And this committees work alongside what the Department of Justice appears to be interested in investigating really goes to not just January 6, not just how long were these folks in touch with the White House in touch with maybe President Trump himself?

Months, not weeks before January 6, but also what are the - what are sort of their continued work? Who are these people of interest? And how much of a threat do they or their affiliates or the underlying concerns or kind of conspiracy theories that they traded how much of an underlying threat is that to domestic security?

We think about this in the political context, because Democrats are nominally in charge, because there's a congressional investigation. But there's actually major national security implications and concerns about threats to public safety by groups of disgruntled nationalists who are, can be pulled together to act violently.

KING: And are still out there and I think that's why you make an interesting point. You have the committee's work. And then you have the compilation of all these legal cases. 655 people charged 137 pleaded guilty 41 have been sentenced 19 sentenced to jail or prison.

The records of those cases, the pleadings, when those people get the pleas, and they get a lesser sentencing if they cooperate, they still have to lay out what they knew who they worked with in the committee can call on them as well as they build this historical documents a critical point there.

We'll come back to this story but happening right now. The jury is deliberating in the trial of the three men accused of chasing and then killing 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery. This morning, the jurors asked the judge to let them review video of the shooting.

You can see Arbery in the video they requested. You can see him running and a white pickup truck. This is just moments before he was shot dead. The jury also asked to hear the 911 call that one of the defendants Gregory McMichael made on the day Arbery was shot and killed. CNN's Sara Sidner live outside the courthouse for us in Brunswick, Georgia. Sara, what's the latest?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we have learned that the jury has broken for lunch. We do not know though however, whether or not they're going to be deliberating through lunch like they did yesterday. What we do know you had just mentioned some of what they asked for they asked for two videos to be played for them again, and for the 911 call to be played for them from Greg McMichael.

And they wanted specifically the slow motion video of the shooting and the high contrast video of the shooting so they can get a very good look at it. They asked to watch those videos three times each, as well as that 911 call this jury clearly going through some of the most pertinent evidence in this case obviously when you have video of an incident that is paramount to the case and it was used by both the prosecution and the defense for their cases.


SIDNER: The prosecution saying look these men decided to try to take the law into their own hands. They went after a man they hadn't even seen commit a crime that day. They cornered him with their trucks, and they shot and killed him. And that's murder the prosecution says. They are charged with nine counts, including five counts of murder.

And then the defense said, look, these men were simply trying to do a citizen's arrest against Ahmaud Arbery. They believed that he had committed a crime, particularly burglary, and that they were just defending themselves when he and Travis McMichael were fighting over the gun.

So those are the - those are the ideas that they have put in front of the jury, the jury now going through that evidence, and we hope that they will come up with some kind of verdict, John.

KING: Sara Sidner grateful; you're there to help us get through the deliberation phase of it. We'll stay in touch throughout the day. Up next for us, though, COVID and Thanksgiving, millions of Americans travel together for the holiday. This map well, it's not in your GPS, but it does show where new COVID cases are rising.



KING: Tomorrow, as you all know is Thanksgiving which means today is one of the nation's busiest travel days COVID Of course, again a complication along with crowded roads and crowded airports. Cases arising but more Americans are also determined to get Thanksgiving back to normal or at least as close to normal as we can.

Let's take a quick look just at the trends right now. 27 states, 27 states in red and orange trending up Missouri is in the deep red. That means more than 50 percent new COVID infections this week, compared to last week in the State of Missouri.

You see a lot of it's on the east part of the country, the northern half of the country where the temperatures are colder 19 states holding steady at least not going up. Only four states reporting fewer new COVID infections this week compared to last week. At this point of the conversation let's bring in Dr. David Kimberlin. He's the Co- Director of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Kimberlin grateful for your time, I just want to walk through with you a couple of the other trends. You see 27 states trending in the wrong direction. The overall case count now approaching 100,000 new infections a day again, we're averaging 95,778 that last year at this point it was 177,000.

So we're in better shape by the numbers, we have more vaccines, but we are trending up. And lastly, just to bring in 32 percent "The American Academy of Pediatrics" says 32 percent increase in cases among children over the last two weeks and a quarter a little more than that a little more than 25 percent of all new cases in the past week, were in children.

Put that in the context of tomorrow and today Thanksgiving travel, Thanksgiving meals and children many of whom are either still unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

DR. DAVID KIMBERLIN, CO-DIRECTOR, UAB & CHILDREN OF ALABAMA DIVISION OF PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's a challenging situation. And as it has been throughout this pandemic, I'll tell you down in the southeast where we were hurt so bad by the Delta variant in August and September and into October.

This is not surprising what's happening in other parts of the country are very much what we were experiencing just a handful of months ago. I think though with Thanksgiving here with more vaccines in more people's arms with children now eligible for receiving vaccines, I think we can come together in many or hopefully most situations at the family dinner table and have Thanksgiving together.

It's been a long time. And we need to celebrate and be thankful for where we are with the pandemic we need to be careful and safe as well. But I think it largely can be done.

KING: So help me walk through some of the how you get it done? I'm just going to bring up vaccination by age right now. These are Americans who have at least one shot. So 82 percent of adults, those over 18 have at least one shot many are fully vaccinated had two some of them even have boosters by now.

In the 16 to 17, age group 65 percent so two thirds 12 to 15 it's 58 percent 5 to 11 the newly eligible group is 11 percent of partially vaccinated right now, how do you make these decisions, whether it's about rapid testing, whether it's about we better keep the meal outside?

Whether it's about you have maybe a younger kid who's not fully vaccinated in the presence of a grandparent who might have immune compromised issues or just simply age issues? How do you juggle all that?

DR. KIMBERLIN: I think your question really, really shows the gamut of the different possibilities if everyone is vaccinated. And you're especially if you're in a part of the country that does not have high or substantial amounts of transmission, within your location within your county, for example, if you're in that kind of situation, I think you can get inside gather inside without masks and be very confident that everyone will be safe.

If you're in a situation where you're in a very high transmission area, that and you've got a substantial number of people in the household, for instance, that are not vaccinated. That's a much riskier situation. And in that kind of a scenario you may want out of an abundance of caution to have people be tested before they come into the house and make sure that in fact, they are negative using the rapid tests that are pretty widely available.

So it really depends on who's gathering on where they're gathering, and to a very large extent what's happening in the community around them?

KING: And so lastly to that point I just want to bring in this is from an "AXIOS IPSOS Poll", the people you'll see a Thanksgiving unvaccinated more than half of Americans 54 percent say no. Yes, three in 10 Americans say they will be with unvaccinated people on Thanksgiving.

70 percent say they don't know. I would assume you would recommend that you answer that question before you walk into whether it's invite people into your own home or walk into someone else's home that you know the answer to this question and then you decide how to deal with it?

DR. KIMBERLIN: It's going to be on your mind. No doubt about that. It's on all of our minds. It has been for a year now. So I think yes, have the conversation. Ask the question. Don't do it in a confrontational or hostile way. But simply inquire and if they're not vaccinated perhaps use that as an opportunity to say look I love you.


DR. KIMBERLIN: I want the best for you. I want the best for all of our family and all of our friends. I would - I would really appreciate it if you would get vaccinated it would it would be something I want for you just as in fact it's something that I've wanted for my own family as well.

KING: Dr. Kimberlin as always, but especially on this day grateful sir for your time and your insights. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving.

DR. KIMBERLIN: Happy Thanksgiving!

KING: Thank you, sir. Ahead some brand new reporting from Capitol Hill Kevin McCarthy dreams of being Speaker of the House and as learning the path includes walking the Trump tightrope.



KING: KING: Fascinating new reporting now about the battle within the Republican Party and efforts by Trump loyalists to flex their and his power. Some House Republicans are warning Kevin McCarthy he's no shoo in for speaker if the GOP wins the majority next year.

Sometimes they even float Trump himself as a potential speaker mostly though they make clear to McCarthy that if he wants their votes, he better keep the former president happy. Melanie Zanona is the reporter on this great reporting.

I just got rid of some of these quotes from your piece Lauren Boebert Trump ally in the House; Trump matters on everything he weighs is on. Jim Jordan, longtime Trump ally. And of course, Trump will influence who the next speaker is. Scott Desjarlais from Tennessee and other Republican Trump voice carries weight. And Marjorie Taylor Greene, Trump will have big time impact 100 percent.

They like this. They enjoy the idea that every day they poke Kevin McCarthy, you want to be speaker, keep us happy and keep Trump happy?

ZANONA: Absolutely. This is going to be the dance over the next year in the Republican Party. And look, most Americans think in the end, Trump will be behind McCarthy, he has been a reliable ally for the former president and having McCarthy in charge of the House would be beneficial for Trump if he's running for president again.

But they are going to dangle this threat over McCarthy's head to try to keep them in line and to try to get them to do what they want. And they don't want to give up the leverage by saying yes, we'll vote for you for speaker. They want to be able to prod him to behave how they want.

And it's going to be a delicate balancing act for McCarthy, as we saw last week, when he you know was under fire from these conservatives for not punishing the Republicans who voted for an infrastructure bill. What did he do? He turned around defended Paul Gosar said he would reinstate Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene to their committees and then he delivered this marathon speech which earned him praise from Donald Trump.

KING: Right. But yes, the key point there is so at Trump is volatile. That's an understatement, right? There's the understatement of the year Trump is volatile and unpredictable. This is from Mike Rogers; another Republican quote in your piece, Kevin has his full support. But if Trump came out against him, it would be ugly.

One of the things we watch we know Trump is unhappy because Kevin McCarthy has not cracked down remember 13 Republicans voted to give Joe Biden what Donald Trump wanted. And Donald Trump is unhappy about that meaning 13 Republicans voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but Trump says if I'm not president, you're not supposed to do anything. The question is, at some point, this McCarthy do something that Trump blows up about?

MCKEND: We'll have to see in the months ahead. But you know you know who's going to be running the show on Capitol Hill for the next several months, the right wing of the Republican Party. This is where Kevin McCarthy is going to get his marching orders from right Marjorie Taylor Greene?

By the way, no longer the fringe members, they are very much running the show. And that is who McCarthy is going to have to take his direction from in order to ensure that he has the speakership. Now, I know in your great piece, also conversation about Trump himself on being the speaker. I don't necessarily see that happening, right? This is not a ceremonial job. This is a difficult job, and I'm not so sure that I see Trump necessarily wanting that demotion.

ZANONA: No, but they want to put McCarthy on notice. That is the only reason why they're even bringing this up. It's a wild idea. It's not going to happen. But they want McCarthy to know who holds the keys.

KING: Right. They want McCarthy to know he lives on a tightrope or standing on a trapdoor every day, including again, it's not just the members in Congress, the American Conservative these Trumpy websites out there Trumpy organizations out there, they promote Jim Banks, who says he's a member of the House leadership now.

He's from Indiana, he's a conservative, he says he has absolutely no interest. You always say that that's the right thing to say--

TALEV: I'm not sure--

KING: --it's the right thing to say at this moment. But the idea that you know, you're heading into a midterm cycle, the wind is at your back history says you should be to take back the House. And yet you're the leader of the House Republicans. And I've criticized him many times for not having the principle to stand up on certain issues, including the big lie. But every day of your life, you're on a tight rope.

TALEV: Right. And like, by the way, just ask John Boehner or Paul Ryan about their experiences, I'm sure they'd be happy to share them. But for McCarthy, this has been the single concentrated focus of the last several years of his climb through leadership is that he wants to lead the House of Representatives as the Speaker.

And so you know, you're thinking tactically about how to get to November, in order to be the speaker, you have to win; your party has to win the majority. And then you have to be the guy who reaps the benefits of winning. And so you have these two kind of strategic games to play if you're, if you have 13 members of your party, some of them are running for reelection, some of whom are in swing districts where that infrastructure is going to help them stay in office.

You want to help those guys get reelected because it makes you more likely to be speaker again. But then if you've got the former president, threatening you, suddenly threatening you breathing down your neck and you've got the number two in the wings and the number three in the wings who would stab you in the back in a second to get that job because they want it to that's a lot of calculus, and that's where he is right now.

KING: And the part that I think McCarthy doesn't spend much time on is do you really want the job?

TALEV: Well.