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MI School Shooting Suspect's Parents Charged With Four Counts Of Involuntary Manslaughter; Sinema Gives Rare Interview About Policy And Her Politics. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 12:30   ET



KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I'm not going to give you a political answer, and I'm not going to cover for anybody. And I'm just going to say what I think. And that is, of course, he shouldn't have gone back to that classroom. Of course, he shouldn't have.

And I don't have ill feelings or negative feelings about any anyone and I -- but of course he should have. He should not have been allowed to go back to that class. And I believe that that is a universal position. And I'm not going to chastise or attack but yes, I mean it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you have the task of reviewing whether there's criminal negligence there.

MCDONALD: I do. And then the investigation is ongoing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where these involuntary manslaughter charges, the strongest possible charges you are considering in the case?

MCDONALD: It's the strongest possible charge that we could prove and that there's probable cause to charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So obviously, it's illegal for a minor to own a handgun. What are Michigan's laws regarding bringing a child to a firing range and practicing with them? States have rules on that, I'm not sure where we're at.

MCDONALD: Good question. Michigan's laws are woefully inadequate. We don't have a safe storage law. We were not legally required to store your weapon in a safe manner. Children are allowed to attend with their parents, so long as their parents is present. So the answer to that question is we don't have strong enough laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you uncovered in the evidence before the gun purchasing days leading up to the attack, things of what his state of mind was when parents were there, what his mind was up to the day of shooting?

MCDONALD: There's evidence about state of mind prior to that day, I can't comment on it. And it is not related to the allegations that we're making at this time. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any of the teachers injured in the shooting, one of the teachers who made any of the complaint?

MCDONALD: I don't believe so. But I can't say that for certain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prosecutor, how long was the plot, could you described it as pretty meditated. How long had it been meditated?

MCDONALD: Long enough, long enough.


MCDONALD: Yes? One second. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you thought at one point the father become aware that the gun was missing? Is there any indication that he might have known the gun was missing before the shooting or during or before that meeting with the principal?

MCDONALD: Upon hearing that there was an active shooter on that day, Mr. Crumbley, drove straight to his home to look for his gun. I think that's all I need to say about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could the gun shop perhaps be liable if they can see that the weapon was being purchased for a 15-year-old, not really for the father?

MCDONALD: Based on what we've reviewed, the gun shop owner is not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know at any point during these meetings with the counselors and the parents, if there was any talks to reach out to the onsite SRO officer with these concerns?

MCDONALD: Whether they did or not, or?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there was talks to retraction why they did it if there was concerned enough to bring the parents in and to have these meetings?

MCDONALD: I don't know. I don't think we have the at this point full statements that that I've reviewed.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A lot of, you know, we've been here for now for a few days and talk to some law enforcement and sheriff's people and other, people are really angry at the school. I mean, obviously, there's issues with the parent, but there are -- there is a lot of anger with the school. I know it may not be your responsibility to address it. But since you're the first person in all these days to talk about this, what is your response to that?

MCDONALD: I'd be angry too. And I am. But that doesn't mean that there's a criminal culpability. But, yes, I'd be angry, I would be angry. I am angry. I'm angry as a mother. I'm angry as the prosecutor. I'm angry as a person that lives in this county. I'm angry.

There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent. And, yes, there was a perfectly executed response. And he was apprehended immediately, and we have great law enforcement and good training. But I said before four kids were murdered and then seven more injured.

So, yes, I think we should all be very angry, and we should take a very hard look at what is in place in terms of criminal responsibility, what gun owners are required to do. And again, I will say this every single hour on the hour, and I think that I have, I am not here to say that people shouldn't own guns. I know lot, a lot of people who own guns, but they do so responsibly.

And it's your responsibility. It's your duty to make sure that you don't give access to this deadly weapon to somebody that you have reason to believe is going to harm someone. And it is our position that on that morning, particularly that morning, but also the day before, but that morning, looking at that drawing, it's impossible not to conclude that there was a reason to believe he was going to hurt somebody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prosecutor, have you've been given any explanation as to why the school resource officer was not included in that meeting that morning at the school?

MCDONALD: I don't have any information. One more question. Yes?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Can you confirm the date that Ethan or the suspect was searching for ammo on his phone?

MCDONALD: It was the day before the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And can you confirm the name of the gun shop where they got it?

MCDONALD: It was Acme.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then one more question.

MCDONALD: You said, two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- questions on (INAUDIBLE) on the day setting up to Thanksgiving and is that related to the script?

MCDONALD: I can't speak to that. I know that there were in person classes on that day. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We've been listening to the Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald, Oakland County Michigan, laying out what she calls an egregious case against the parents of the alleged shooter who murdered four of his schoolmates earlier this week in Oakland, Pontiac County, excuse me, Oakland County, Michigan.

The prosecutor saying yes, she is trying to send a message that with gun rights comes great responsibilities. And she believes both of these parents knew that their son was a threat, and still did nothing even after a teacher found the child, the student, texting in school searching online for ammunition that his mother not only did not admonish him, but said texted him, you need to learn not to get caught.

Let's bring into the conversation, Elliot, let's start with Elliot Williams. Elliot, she's laying out a case four counts of involuntary manslaughter against each of the parents, the mother and the father. And she went through detail, laying out why she believes she has probable cause to do that.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Now remember, right before the press conference has said, you know, prosecutors probably know more than we think they do. And she laid it out right here.

Now look, in order to convict someone of involuntary manslaughter, she's going to have to prove that number one, they cause the death or some something caused the death and the person's actions were so grossly negligent as to have been unreasonable, right. And that sort of, they didn't take the normal steps that a reasonable person would or should have taken. That's the law.

Now what she did was she walked through a number of factors. Number one, she says it's a Christmas gift. So she knows that he has possession of a firearm somewhere, either at home or on this person. Number two, they go into the meeting at the school.

And she says they failed to ask after they see these drawings and all this indication that he wants that he's sort of at least fantasizing about killing people, she doesn't ask what's in his backpack, or whether he has his gun on him there.

Number three, he fails -- they failed, the parents failed to inspect his backpack when they're in the school with him looking at these drawings of kids with bullet holes in their heads or whatever. Number three, they know he has the intent to do it, she texts him don't do it. And apparently father and son they've gotten together to buy.

So they have every reason to believe he's got a gun, either on his person or in his possession or available to him, and that he has an intent to commit violent acts, a reasonable person would at least turn to their son in that school meeting and say, wait a second, let's put the brakes on this. Let's go home. Let's get you some emergency help or something like that.

KING: And where's the gun?

WILLIAMS: And where's the gun? And so it's all a matter of what is reasonable. That's what negligence is under the law in Michigan. So this was a way, this, you know, again, you and I were talking about this way stronger than I would have thought it was when we first started looking at this.

KING: And Juliette Kayyem is still with us. Well, Juliette, we talked beforehand, you're talking about this as a groundbreaking case, in some ways actually charging the parents and the prosecutor made clear of that. And she said no, I don't believe parents are in every case culpable if their child is involved in a mass shooting, but in this case, she said again that the facts were egregious. And she said, she said she's laying out the case as a prosecutor but also making clear she was speaking as a mother.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I thought it was a very powerful press conference because leading into this I was a little bit worried that she wanted to make a case and didn't have the facts. I don't -- I think she has more facts than the case needs.

I just texted to your producer I have to collect myself and I'm not naive that was shocking. It begins over Thanksgiving weekend. They get a gift for him. He is present at the purchase of the gun. And for 72 hours as this kid is showing more and more evidence as even showing more and more evidence of really disturbing behavior. They not only, they do three things, they ignore it.

They don't -- the mother does not get back to the school. They LoL it, the mother LoL's the son, right? And then they insist with the school that he get to stay and don't look to see where the gun is. And right before the press conference I said, where's the gun, right? Why aren't parents asking where the gun is?

As a prosecutor made clear Michigan doesn't not have a safe storage law it does not require safe storages even if you have minors in the home so what she's basically saying is we're now going to interpret rightfully so manslaughter or contributing involuntary manslaughter as some responsibility not a huge one but some responsibility to know where the gun is if a kid is exhibiting a behavior like Ethan was.


This is groundbreaking but it's also seems so obvious. This seems absolutely right in my mind, and I'm watching Twitter and I think there's just collective national jaws dropping good, right? It is about time that parents are held responsible and very negligent parents in this case, whose son killed other children.

KING: Right. And again, the prosecutor Karen McDonald, saying that with gun rights comes huge responsibilities.


KING: They should be serious and criminal consequences if those responsibilities are not kept. Let's get to our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz. He was in the room as this played out. And Shimon, look, you know, fact number one is that Ethan Crumbley is the accused shooter. Fact number two is his parents have now been charged in a groundbreaking case, four counts each in involuntary manslaughter.

But you raised another very important question there at the press conference about what about the school, how in the world was this young man allowed to go back into class after on the day before the shooting, he was searching for ammunition. On the day of the shooting, another teacher saw those dramatic drawings. His parents were summoned to the school.

And when they recklessly and irresponsibly said we want to leave him here, the school somehow let that stand. You asked that question about the anger in the community.

PROKUPECZ: And there is anger John in this community over this. My producer and I, Carolyn Sung, we've been here all week, we've talked to law enforcement officials, sheriff's officers, who ran into that school, saw the bloody bodies, saw the victims. And then as they started learning what the school knew, we were -- we had some information about it.

And the certainly the sources on the ground that we've been talking to have been apoplectic, mad, angry over this information and the fact that the school, which has an officer assigned to it, they could have easily gone to him and say, hey, we have concern. We have an issue here. We feel like the parents.

It's very clear that the parents here were not parents, they couldn't do their jobs. But the school could have. The school could have gone to that SRO officer, to that sheriff's deputy that's assigned to the school and say, he was searching for ammunition the day before.

Today, he's making these drawings, talking about death, blood, and no one went to the police. And the sheriff has held back. I've talked to him. He said I need to wait. But they're all angry over this because they are part of this community.

And I've been asking the prosecutor about this. And I've been asking people in the community officials, no one has wanted to talk about it. And finally, today, we get the answer. And it's chilling. And in some ways, when you think about it for these parents, who now have to live with this, the fact that the kids, the school that their kids went to could have prevented this, and did nothing is really chilling.

And, you know, you saw the emotion from this prosecutor to talk to her for several days. We've been here every day. And it's been tough. And let me tell you, I think it's about time. And you have to give her credit for coming out and saying this, because for so long. No one wanted to tell us for days now, what was going on here. And today we learned it. And it really is just chilling when you think about it, John.

KING: Right. I could hear the emotion in your voice. I could hear the emotion in the prosecutor's voice, again, speaking as a resident of the community, because some of these things are just numbing when you see that the flashing red lights were going off and the school still let this young man go back into the classroom, which is why it was a fantastic question. Juliette Kayyem come back. And we've had this conversation too many

times. We've had this conversation too many times. And the conversation always is what will be different next time. One of the things that a lot of people have promised after Parkland, after Columbine, is that, you know, you will try to try to look for the red flags.

Number one, are all of our children. I swear I'm speaking as a parent now more than as a journalist, all of our children have to go through these drills. But so how is it possible after the legacy of the last decade and more the last 25 years in the United States of America? How is it possible that a school has one teacher say he's searching for ammunition?

A second Teacher A day later say he's drawing these gory drawings, asking for help on the one hand and laying out deadly violence on the other hand. How is it possible that that student is allowed to go back into a classroom?

KAYYEM: Right. It seems shocking. And I was glad that the prosecutor just basically said I don't know if I have a legal case against them. I'm just angry but part of this. I mean, part of the frustration I think everyone is feeling is that it always is someone else's responsibility, right?

In other words, we and ultimately it's our kid's responsibility to hide or to run. I mean, we're basically telling them, we can't do anything about guns laws or about a negligent gun ownership that's what I would call it at this stage. And so therefore the last resort is we're going to train you.


Well, everything was done right as a prosecutor was saying, right in all the wrong ways, right? The kids are hiding, they lock up, there's a police presence at the school. There are teachers who are worried, there's lots of training that the police officers know what to do in terms of protecting those kids.

So our standard of success now is there's not 20 dead kids, right. That's our standard of success. Now, that's what we become. And so I do think the school will have responsibility. It's probably not criminal responsibility at this stage, though.

KING: Right to that point, Elliott, was we come back into the room, but the sheriff has complained publicly, why didn't somebody pick up the phone and call the cops.


KING: When you hear all this. The Superintendent of Schools put a video up essentially, you know, trying to wash his hands. Pontius Pilate, CYA, you might say, of this matter. But is there civil liability for the victims here?

WILLIAMS: Yes. They're going to be -- the school and school district are going to be sued for a lot of money by the families of the victims. It's just hard to see how the school can face criminal liability here, because look, they've seen the drawings and so on, which are alarming and concerning that maybe he should have been treated in some way gotten out of school or so on.

But they didn't. It's the information about the gun that the parents had, that the school didn't, that probably would get in the way of being able to charge them with the crime.

Now, look, were they negligent, irresponsible as a school district, of course. But often, as we've seen before, and you and I've talked about before often negligence doesn't rise to the level of criminal liability. And I'll just be really hard right now based on what we have. Now, again, who knows what evidence the prosecutors are sitting on that might suggest that the school knew more that he had a gun in school on that day or something like that, as of right now, it looks like just civil lawsuits.

KING: Right. And the prosecutor also saying there was more information about the state of mind of this young man that was available that she did not want to discuss today. So obviously, this is a continuing story. But dramatic news today, Jennifer and James Crumbley each charge four counts of involuntary manslaughter after their son allegedly killed four of his schoolmates in Oakland County, Michigan. We'll have more after a quick break.



KING: President Biden's hope for a giant year and legislative victory hinges on two centrist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. We hear from Manchin almost every day and he usually lays out quite specifically his objections like he opposes including paid family leave in the big Biden social safety net plan. Sinema prefers the inside approach.

She rarely stops for the cameras and she prefers to raise her policy points in private. But Senator Sinema did sit down exclusively with CNN's Lauren Fox and true to form, chose her words very carefully when pressed to say whether she is ready now to do what the President wants.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Schumer has said he wants to vote on Build Back Better, that broader social safety net bill before Christmas break. Are you prepared to vote yes, when that comes to the floor?

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): Well, I don't set the schedule for the Senate floor. And I'm always prepared to vote and to vote for what's right for the interests of Arizona. I personally believe that the best way to create legislation is to be thoughtful and careful so that we're crafting legislation that truly represents the interests that we want to achieve. And that creates a benefit and helps people all across Arizona in the country. So that's what I'm working on right now.

FOX: So it doesn't sound like you're quite a yes yet on the version that just passed the House of Representatives. What changes do you want to make?

SINEMA: Well, folks, know, I don't negotiate in the press. I'm not going to do that with you.


KING: Let's discuss with me to share their reporting and their insights. New York Times White House correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs, POLITICO congressional reporter, Heather Caygle, Olivier Knox national political correspondent, The Washington Post, and the woman who just saw there trying, trying CNN congressional correspondent, Lauren Fox.

She's very interesting in the sense that A, congratulations. It's very rare that she agrees to sit down and talk. Even when she does, she tries to hold her cards very close to the vest, which makes her rather unique in today's politics where most politicians seem to have the camera magnet in them.

FOX: Exactly. She's very different than Senator Joe Manchin, who we have an opportunity to talk to a lot in the hallways. He often will maybe try not to answer the question, but inevitably sort of ends up answering in some way. She's very strict about what she wants you to know, in any given moment.

She's straightforward with Biden, she's straightforward with Majority Leader Schumer, I'm told in her negotiation. She lets them know what she expects. But she is not going to wave a red flag early and say I'm a yes on the Build Back Better plan until she knows she has been able to squeeze every ounce of what she wants out of that negotiation.

KING: And so let's listen to a little bit more in the sense that just about every Democrat in 2018, campaigned on repealing the Trump tax cuts on the wealthy Joe Biden campaign on that as in all the other Democratic candidates for president in 2020. Well, Sinema is a no on that issue. And when Democrats get mad at her listen, she says not my fault.


FOX: Why do you think it is that your leadership sometimes over promises? Do you think that that's a problem for voters and for the Democratic Party?

SINEMA: I can only speak for myself. But what I can say is this, I would never promise something to the American people that I can't deliver. And I think it's not responsible for elected leaders to do that. The concern I have is that first, it's not very honest. So you should just be honest, that's something my parents taught me when I was very young and it stuck.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Yet you're supposed to promise things in campaigns, number one, to push back on her a little bit. Number two, and what a lot of the Democrats would say, especially progressives, if you're part of the Democratic family, every now and then you got to eat your peas. We're all taking less than we want it or something we don't want, what about you senator?


HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, I mean as Lauren can attest to there's definitely frustration on the Hill that this freshman has as much power as she does in a state that is not as divided as West Virginia is, for instance. There's a reason Joe Manchin does what he does.

But there's another freshman senator in Arizona, Mark Kelly, who cuts a much different profile and falls in line a lot more. And I think they look at her and they're like, why is she carving out all of the attention and taking it away from some of their priorities that we all agree on for the most part. There's definitely a frustration there.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And even some of the ambiguity in some of her answers specifically on the timing, also, of the wider social spending package that the White House has thrown so much weight into when it comes to trying to galvanize the base and trying to also give voters something to be excited about, that's also going to cause some anxiety here, especially given her vote is crucial here, especially as they tried to push that.

And it comes at a time where this administration is dealing with some anxiety among voters of inflation and the economy and what have you. They've really put their weight that being the White House and the administration and the President behind this package that relies on the support, and the choice of timing for also from Kyrsten Sinema.

KING: And so people in the party with whom she has disagreements, more progressives, for example, some of them say, well, she's beholden to this corporate interest, she takes all of this money, why won't she tell us? How can we negotiate a deal that she won't talk to us?

She argues to your point, she tells the President and other key players what she thinks. But so people say she's different. Some use the word, Lauren is going to use it right here, enigma, Senator Sinema says, no, this.


FOX: Some of your colleagues, some of them progressives think that you're kind of an enigma, that they're not sure where you stand on any one issue while you're in the middle of a negotiation. Do you think that that's a fair criticism of you?

SINEMA: I think I'm very direct. And I am very upfront, when I talk to folks about what I believe in, what I can support and what I can't support. So I think there's some people who just don't like what they're hearing. And maybe they use other terms to describe it. But folks in Arizona know that I've always been a straight shooter and always will be.


KING: That part there. They just don't like what they're hearing. And so they have to come up with some other label, then we just disagree.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, although she wasn't particularly straightforward when asked a basic question about the timing of the vote, right? That was a, you know, a master class and not answering your question, as you point out, sometimes declined to endorse is the news, right?

In this case, it is to. Yes, the progressive anger at her, though, is real. And one of the challenges the Biden White House is if you dig into the President's approval rating, one of the things you find is that a big, big part of the slide is among progressives, and among Democrats and among Democratic leaning independents.

So that's one of the reasons that they're sort of pushing the panic button on Build Back Better, because that actually is a big package of progressive priorities, you know, early childhood education, steps to battle, the climate crisis and things like that. That's one of the reasons that there's so much animosity towards her.

FOX: And the fact that the corporate tax rate was something that Democrats have been talking about since 2017. And she wouldn't agree to raise a single point, a single point.

KING: A single point. And part of it also is her evolution. And we watch this. I always say you study politicians. To me, I'm fascinated by how they grow as they change it to different roles. Joe Biden was a senator, now he's the President. He was vice president of course.

Barack Obama was a senator briefly. He was the president. Sinema was a House member first, but she also was a Green Party activist before that. This is somebody who used to work with Ralph Nader, who now is in a very different place ideologically. She says, that's life.


FOX: When you first got into politics, you were more progressive. What changed?

SINEMA: Well, one of the things that changed was I learned a lot. You know, I was serving over the years in the state legislature, and now in the United States Congress, and I had an opportunity to learn from so many people across my district, and then later now, that whole state of Arizona.


KING: Here's my read on that. Most people including Senator Kelly, her colleagues say, look, Joe Biden just won Arizona, Arizona by the day is trending more blue, we're good. I read that, as she says, I'm not so sure. I think it was a reaction to Trump. I'm not sure my state is moving that far to the left, if you will, and I'm going to stay in the middle, maybe even lean right sometimes just protect myself.

FOX: And she also, I think her history of trying to accomplish things required her in the Arizona State Legislature to work with Republicans, you might come in as a progressive, but then you realize, if I want to get something done, I might need to work across the aisle a little bit that maybe isn't true on Build Back Better, but on other areas like infrastructure that she negotiated with the Republicans, it was the case.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Meanwhile, it's causing frustration back home for a lot of people who supported her not just for maybe her initial support of what's sweeping policies on climate change, but also something like immigration, right?

And that goes to it was only a couple of weeks ago where we saw protesters approaching her following her into a bathroom as well. That goes specifically to some of the grassroots organizing that she initially supported back home for sweeping change when it came to immigration reform, some of those changes very scaled down, but some of those changes now in that Build Back Better bill.


KING: And her ringtone is really you don't have the votes from Hamilton.

FOX: It really is, although I was told since 2015 that has been her ringtone but still a pretty brilliant moment --

KING: So she was a Hamilton fan from the beginning. OK, it's a great scene if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Appreciate your time on Inside Politics today. Have a fantastic weekend. You can also listen to our podcast. Download INSIDE POLITICS wherever you get your podcast. Busy News Day, a lot of it's sad. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.