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Dem Caucus Chairs Call For Boebert To Lose Committee Assignments; Stacey Abrams Running For Georgia Governor In 2022; Sheriff: Parents Met With School Officials About Gunman's Behavior Hours Before School Shooting. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 02, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Progressive Democrats are trying to turn up some heat on the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy asking him to remove Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert from committees after she made racist and anti-Muslim comments about a Democratic House colleague. In a letter, those progressives say there must be consequences when members of Congress demonize an entire religion and promote hate from their positions of public trust. So far, though, Mr. McCarthy is ignoring them and the Democratic leadership also has signaled an unwillingness to go after Congresswoman Boebert at this moment. Speaker Pelosi telling members yesterday she's worried about giving them more publicity and helping them raise money.

Let's bring the conversation in the room because if you -- this is -- I want to read. This is from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the squad, people truly don't understand the scale, intensity, and volume of the threats targeting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Kevin McCarthy is so desperately speaker that he is working with his Ku Klux Klan caucus to look aside and allow violent targeting of members of Congress, this woman of color members of Congress. This cannot be ignored.

Speaker Pelosi yesterday essentially said, I get it, I agree with you. I'm afraid we will help them, actually help them if we go after them. But there's a great frustration among the members of the squad, that they're the ones who take the brunt of these threats.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's what Democrats are really wrestling with right now. I caught up with Sean Patrick Maloney. He's the head of the Democratic campaign arm. He said if we played whack-a-mole with every stupid thing that Republicans said, there'd be no hours left in the day. But at the same time, you have to hold these members accountable. And Kevin McCarthy isn't going to do it. So the, you know, it really comes down to what Democrats are going to do about it.

But members of the squad say death threats are on the rise. They are feeling the brunt of these attacks. The toxic dynamic in the House right now is really, really low. I mean, Jo Mart -- J. Martin, you can speak to this too. I mean, just I can't remember the last time it's been this bad. January 6th is just coloring everything. And you can't blame Democrats for feeling this way when they have GOP colleagues who are spreading lies about them that are leading to death threats.

KING: Right. And so you get, I want you to listen, this is Republican Congressman Nancy Mace. Kevin McCarthy has yet to publicly condemn Congressman Boebert and in fact, he publicly rewarded Congressman Gosar by saying he would get his committees back. He's one who posted that cartoon video, anime video, in which he kills Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. And he says that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar will get the committee assignments back. So why don't we hear McCarthy speak publicly about extremism in his ranks? This is Congresswoman Mace.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): He's in a rock and a hard spot. He works extremely hard to bring people together. You see the 19 Democrats now that have announced their retirement. You see what happened in Virginia. You saw a trucker in New Jersey with $153 beat the state senator in New Jersey. We have an enormous opportunity to turn things around next year. And that's what all of us should be focused on.


KING: No, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Some things maybe, we can win, we can get power, if we don't talk about these things.


KING: Because we need their votes, but not hate and racism in your ranks. Leadership is condemn it, even if you pay a price for it.

MARTIN: That's not Kevin McCarthy's approach right now. And he is making the bet that as Ms. Mace there just said that the winds blown in their direction, and we just got to sort of keep things tamped down, and we're going to have the majority of next year. The longer term risk putting aside the immediate moral question that they raised, which is I think a fair one, the longer term issue is, you don't make these issues go away by tamping them down, and that they're going to come back to bite you if and when you do have the majority. And I think that's what he's not perhaps taking into account.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST, NPR "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED": Or just trying to get there first, right? And you're not going to tell your conference not to feed a beast that you want to use to ride to getting --


CORNISH: Exactly. And I don't think anybody is waiting for particular profiling courage there in terms of someone who's going to speak out on this or that. I mean, I covered Congress going back, as you know, 2011. I don't remember that being his MO. But the issue is, again, creating consequences. Do people in this district want to have a lawmaker who is stripped of power? Or are we in a political environment we're being media friendly, right? Like just being in front of the camera constantly is more powerful than holding any Committee seat.

ZANONA: And Greene has told me too that committees are stupid, that they're useless anyway.

CORNISH: They don't care.

ZANONA: She doesn't care.


ZANONA: She's raising money off this --

CORNISH: And you're not there to govern.

MARTIN: It's a platform, right? But that gets to the heart of the tension in the conference, though, between the folks that want to platform and those that actually want to do Committee work, want to legislate this sort of unexplored element of all of this, you know.

KING: Right. But leaders just -- can -- we have to condemn this or it will grow and it will flourish. But he's beholden to the voters, not just those members of Congress, but to the voters who share their views.


Coming up, a must watch race next year. Democrat Stacey Abrams says she's running for Georgia Governor again. Will it be a rematch with Brian Kemp? Well, not if Donald Trump gets his way?


KING: Stacey Abrams is in. And now the 2022 Georgia governor's race is a guaranteed must follow. The Democrat and voting rights activist made it official yesterday in a video that made no mention of Republican incumbent Brian Kemp.


STACEY ABRAMS (D-GA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn't be determined by your zip code, background, or access to power. But if our Georgia is going to move to its next and greatest chapter, we're going to need leadership. Leadership that doesn't take credit without also taking responsibly. Leadership that understands the true pain folks are feeling and has real plans.



KING: And Abrams-Kemp race would be a marquee rematch, she lost in 2018 by just shy of 55,000 votes. But a rematch is not guaranteed. Kemp remember refuse to help Donald Trump cheat in 2020. And the former President is trying to find a big name primary challenger. Back into the room, this was Brian Kemp, the incumbent's reaction to this yesterday a series of tweets. He would like to run against Stacey Abrams again, and he would like to run, he talks about woke politics. He talks about a far left agenda. He talks about -- she just wants power. And he talks about the Biden agenda. He wants to run a traditional Republican race. But?

MARTIN: Yes, he could be facing a serious primary from David Perdue, the former Georgia senator who lost narrowly in the runoff in January and who is now being encouraged to run against Kemp by none other than Donald J. Trump. Why? Because as you said earlier, Trump is not happy that Kemp would not echo and even go beyond echo sort of actively engaged and trying to overturn the results of the Georgia election. And if Purdue does that that could really create a bloody Republican primary for the first half of the year. And give Abrams a better chance.

KING: This to your point, this was Trump's statement yesterday, the MAGA base will just not vote for him after what he did with respect to election integrity and two horribly run elections. Some good Republicans will get my endorsement and some good Republican will win. Again, for the record, for the facts, Governor Kemp refused to help Trump cheat. That was what Trump was trying to cheat. But the aim was campaign to me is a fascinating test, right? Next year, President's first midterm --

MARTIN: Right.

KING: Traditionally bad for the party in power, her whole calling card, voting rights, activism, sign up, organize, vote, and do it in a way that can overcome tides, that can overcome election tide. So to me, this is just a fascinating test, especially in the middle of this national conversation about voting rights and election laws to take those away.

CORNISH: I have to say, following the Supreme Court oral arguments yesterday in the case that could affect Roe v. Wade and then her announcement, I felt like there was some sort of starting gun for 2022. You know what I mean, like the biggest issues have -- are reaching their boiling point. But to your point, she's a very consistent candidate. And, you know, voting is good. It's not like some crazy hot potato issue, even though it has become more politicized. And she's been remarkably consistent in her focus. So I don't actually see her is that much of like a wild card, right? The wildest part is who the Republican candidate is.

KING: Right. But to that point, she is a consistent candidate, and she's an energetic candidate. Can she convince Democrats who might be discouraged, right, and maybe you voted for Joe Biden, you're not getting everything you wanted. But please come out.

ZANONA: You're right. And please come out. I also think another big question I have is if Purdue doesn't get in the race, what does Trump do about Kemp? Is he actually stumped for him? Does he actively try to discourage him from winning? I mean, we saw what Trump's involvement did in the Georgia Senate races, lost them for Republicans and handed the majority to the Senate. What does he do here? He's also equipped and joked before that Stacey Abrams would have been a better governor than Brian Kemp.

MARTIN: Yes, joke.

ZANONA: So that's, right, joke, but not really -- joking but not really joking, so.

MARTIN: Two fast points. I was at the RGA, a couple weeks ago in Phoenix, the sort of post-election conference that the GOP governors hold, and there was some talk there that actually, the better case for the party would be if Purdue is able to beat Kemp in the primary, because they are so concerned. And this is just chatter not from the governance themselves who are committed to Kemp. But there's chatter that Trump is so dead set against Kemp, that he's going to undermine him in a general election.

I mean if just 20,000 GOP voters stay home, that can be really devastating, and the cost maybe a Purdue nomination and the United Party gives us a better shot. And then secondly, the stakes here for Stacey Abrams, she has been very clear for a long time that she wants to be President of the United States. It's difficult to climb that next rung on the ladder if you cannot win your home state first, losing twice in a row in Georgia, will I think undermine her ambition here in long term. So this is a huge choice for her to make. There are people in the party who were skeptical that she was going to run because they thought that she couldn't afford the possibility of two losses in a row. She is sort of casting that aside going forward here, big gamble.

KING: She's taking a big risk in a tough year which makes it again, it's a must watch race and we'll keep our eyes on it.


Up next for us, some new details, sad details about the horrific Michigan school shooting. The suspect's parents met with the school about their son's behavior just hours before the shooting rampage.


KING: Some startling new details emerging as investigators retrace the hours leading up to the deadly school shooting in Oakland County, Michigan. The sheriff says the suspect and his parents had a meeting with school officials just hours before the shooting, that after two different teachers separately reported concerning behavior. The gunman will be tried as an adult and faces one count of terrorism in addition to murder, assault and weapons charges. Let's get straight live to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He is in Oakland County for us. Shimon, what's the latest?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, the sheriff revealing these new details about these meetings that the teachers, two separate teachers is one the day before the shooting and then one the morning of the shooting, separate teachers raising issues over some of what the alleged shooter was doing, some of the things perhaps he was saying and some behavioral concern. Here's the sheriff talking about that this morning.



SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: On the day prior to the tragedy, a teacher in a classroom where he was a student saw and heard something that she felt was disturbing in terms of his behavior. The day of the shooting, a different teacher in a different classroom saw some behavior that they felt was concerning. And they brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials called in the parents and ultimately was determined that he could go back into class.


PROKUPECZ: And John, this is raising a lot of questions here, certainly for people who live in this community wondering why law enforcement was never brought in to this concern, perhaps raising the idea that the school knew something and should have done more to prevent the attack. As for the parents, we are waiting on word from prosecutors. Yesterday, they indicated that the parents are likely to face charges in this investigation. We are waiting on word from prosecutors if that's expected anytime soon, John, obviously that would be a significant development in this investigation.

KING: Shimon Prokupecz, grateful for the live reporting from the scene in a very sad case. For now you stay on top of it. Appreciate it very much. Four students, four students that Shimon noted died at that Michigan High School, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin was expected to graduate this year. She had already been accepted to several colleges, Justin Schilling also 17 was co-captain of the bowling team, 14-year- old Hana St. Juliana was supposed to make her debut with the woman's basketball team Tuesday night, and 16-year-old Tate Myre was a star football player, an honor student. He died on the way to the hospital. This shooting, the deadliest U.S. school shooting since May 2018.

Coming up for us, a very tense meeting this morning between the top diplomats of the United States and Russia. Why? Concerns growing about Russian military maneuvers at the edge of Ukraine.



KING: Topping our Political Radar today, this one's curious, the former Trump White House Chief of Staff now calling his own book presumably when he wrote fake news. In the book Mark Meadows reveals President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID 19 three days before the first presidential debate in 2020 and six days before the White House publicly disclosed the President was sick. Donald Trump denies that happened. Now Meadows appears to agree.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, the President is right. It's fake news. If you actually read the book, the context of it, that story outlined a false positive. Literally had a test, had two other test after that that showed that he didn't have COVID during the debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: OK. A key meeting today between the top American and Russian diplomats but no clear path forward on easing tensions in the region, CNN's Alex Marquardt is traveling with the Secretary of State.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John this highly anticipated sit down between the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov was serious and sober according to Blinken. But it did not result in any sort of concrete agreement that would lead to the immediate de-escalation of this crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Nor did Secretary Blinken layout explicitly what the serious consequences would be for Russia, should they decide to invade Ukraine. Blinken did tell the Russians both before this meeting and in it that there would be serious costs from the U.S. and its allies if Russia does decide to go ahead with military action.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Foreign Minister Lavrov and I had candid exchanges on our different perspectives. We agreed to report those back to our presidents who may have the opportunity to speak directly in the near future.


MARQUARDT: Blinken says it is not clear whether Russia has made up its mind to invade Ukraine or not, but that they have put in place the capacity to do so in short order. What the U.S. and NATO are seeing right now is very similar to what they saw in 2014 when Russia did invade and ended up annexing Crimea. John?

KING: Thank you to Alex Marquardt for that. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote today on a deal to keep the government funded, that one day before a deadline to avoid a shutdown except there's still a few Republican senators who could torpedo the bill. They're trying to take a stand against President Biden's federal vaccine mandate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate side says he hopes cooler heads will prevail.

The Los Angeles chapter of Planned Parenthood has been hit by a ransomware attack. It happened back in October and exposed the personal information of about 400,000 patients. It was revealed though, as the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Mississippi abortion law, data such as insurance information, diagnosis, prescriptions, and procedures were stolen.

The second gentleman Doug Emhoff made some history last night as the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president. He took part a lead role in a celebration of Hanukkah at the White House.


DOUGLAS EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN: And then to think that today I'm here before you as the first Jewish spouse of an American president or vice president, celebrating Hanukkah in the people's house. It's humbling and it's not lost on me that I stand before you all on the half of all the Jewish families and communities out there across our country.



KING: The menorah used and that ceremony last night was made by artist and Holocaust survivor Manfred Anson.

Thanks for joining us today in Inside Politics. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage on a very busy news day right now.