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Inside Politics

William Shatner on his Experience in Suborbital Space; Source: NY AG wants to Depose Trump in Civil Fraud Probe; Biden Makes Case for Global Democracy as U.S. Battles Unrest at Home; Biden Defends Democracy, As Putin Weighs Ukraine Invasion; FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine Booster for Ages 16 & 17. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 09, 2021 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Need more William Shatner if I can say that or if I could be again so bold to say?

SHATNER: But it is - it requires - victory.

BOLDUAN: Well, I have never been angrier that I do not have a second hour of television right now. I'm so thankful to have you come on. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

SHATNER: Thank you Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Thank you. "Inside Politics" with John King starts now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello everybody and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very busy news day with us.

Important Omicron news just last hour, the FDA says it is OK now for 16 and 17 year olds to get a vaccine booster shot and Omicron provides another giant COVID question will you soon need a fourth shot? Some new and breaking news this hour our source confirming to CNN the New York Attorney General wants to depose Former President Donald Trump and asked him if he lied about the value of his property?

Plus, a place of honor for a fallen son of the Senate the late Bob Dole lying in the Capitol Rotunda this hour; we begin though with this important news about the Former President Donald Trump. CNN has just learned the New York Attorney General wants Trump to sit for a deposition. It could happen as early as next month.

And it is part of a civil investigation into the Trump Organization for potential fraud according to a source familiar with the matter. Now "The Washington Post" was first to report news of this potential deposition. And it's important also to note the former president has not been charged. CNN's Kara Scannell tracking the breaking news for us Kara what do we know?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, John, so a source confirming to CNN that the New York Attorney General's Office wants to question Donald Trump under oath. And according to "The Washington Post" they want to do that by January 7th.

Now this is part of James Letitia James New York Attorney General's civil investigation into the Trump Organization. They're looking at whether they had lied about the value of many of their properties. These are some of these condos office towers golf courses.

This investigation has been going on for a long time, and they did depose Eric Trump, one of the top executives at the company. But the timing of this comes as the criminal investigation which James's office is also working along with is coming to a head because the Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is stepping down.

He didn't run for reelection at the end of the year. So big questions there of what the next steps will be in the criminal investigation. Our spokesman for Cyrus Vance's office has said in a public statement that this deposition that James is often seeking is separate and is not part of the criminal investigation. So these are two parallel investigations.

You know, we can expect that the former president will move to fight this deposition, he has moved to fight many of these depositions but particularly because it comes with the threat of a criminal investigation that is ongoing and involves some of the same leaders of the office is there with James being involved in both of those.

Now, the Trump Organization issued a statement, they said that this is again a political witch hunt. So stay tuned. I think we probably will see some additional developments in court John.

KING: Fascinating development. Kara Scannell I appreciate the hustle to bring that to us as we know you'll stay on top of it as well. Let's discuss now with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson Paul Kane of "The Washington Post" Tarini Parti of "The Wall Street Journal" and Former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu.

Let's start with you - what does it tell you? It's about the Trump Organization. He was the head of the Trump Organization before he was president. So it's logical. He will fight it. What does this tell you that the attorney general has decided I wanted to oppose Donald J. Trump?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think he's a very important person to oppose very logical that she would do that. I do think that for his team, this is bad news, because he's going to make a far worse witness than he used to make. After being president he's going to be really uncontrollable at this point.

They'll look to delay it as a last ditch effort. They might even consider raising a Fifth Amendment privilege, even though it's a civil deposition.

KING: Can you do that?

WU: Oh, yes, you can. Yes. KING: In each of the cases here and let's get to this, you already heard Kara Scannell relaying the statement from the Trump Organization, which hunt has been a very familiar refrain that the former president has used. One of the arguments you would also expect is that Letitia James is running for Governor.

But just moments ago, she tweeted this; I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as Attorney General. There are a number of important investigations in cases that are underway and I intend to finish the job. I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do.

Significant development for New York state politics but also takes away an argument for the public sector has nothing to do with the legal questions involved that Donald Trump would make.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. Listen, I'm sure they'll still make that argument anyway, even though she's not running for Governor. She was sort of barely running for Governor anyway, over these last few weeks.

Listen, she has been very effective at her job. If you think about the people who have gotten pushed aside fired had to resign because of investigations. She has launched if you are Donald Trump, this makes you nervous. And you see the big push back from him and his allies as well.

And we sort of know that Donald Trump who sits before folks he has a tendency to lie both in public and sometimes under oath as well. So we'll see what comes of this but it isn't, isn't a surprise as you said that they want to talk to the head of the Trump Organization.

KING: Alright, let's shift now to some another investigation to which Trump is central very different issue it's the January 6 investigation. And we have some new details about what Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows turned over to the committee.


KING: The materials we are told include texts from Meadows about exactly what the then president was doing during the deadly write up at the Capitol. Again, remember Meadows voluntarily turned over the records but suddenly doesn't want to answer questions. Yesterday, he filed a lawsuit challenging his subpoena.

Meadows central witness for the committee here, Paul, they want to get him I assume I saw what Adam Schiff and other members of the committee said they view this as just a stalling tactic.

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. I mean, that has been the Trump plan ever since this committee started its work. The idea being if they can stall this out, all the way until the end of December next year, they believe that Republicans will win the majority in the House, and then Kevin McCarthy, or whoever becomes speaker will simply let this committee disappear and vanish. I don't know if Meadows can stall that long. I mean, even in the case of Steve Bannon, where they're going to go to trial in July, the committee is upset that it's taking that long, but that still leaves them another four or five months after that trial is done to try and grind it out and get more information that could be bad for Trump.

KING: And it's fascinating. The investigations essentially start on Election Day and runs through the instruction. That's what the committee is trying to put together. But one of the big questions is what was the then President of the United States doing? Did he take it urgently? Or was he watching with joy, as his supporters stormed the Capitol?

Our Jamie Gangel fascinating reporting 6,000 documents Meadows turned over, including some from his personal cell phone and his emails, discussions from what Trump was doing during the riot? Liz Cheney, a member of the committee saying that non-privileged documents Meadows turned over include documents that are directly related to what President Trump should have been doing on January 6, during the attack?

She of course making the case that he was negligent in his duty. But again, this they have the document, document, document the documents, evidence, they want Meadows to talk about it.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's right. And he actually has talked about it to a certain extent in his book. And it is noteworthy that this sort of more aggressive action that he's taking against the committee and in support of the president is coming at a time when the president is sort of less than thrilled about what he's revealing in his book.

And we know how much the president, you know, likes to sue people or throw up former president likes to sue people or threaten to sue people. So this seems to be sort of a very Trumpy response from Mark Meadows at a time when, you know, the president is unhappy with him and questioning his loyalty.

KING: And if you listen to Mark Meadows, this is the argument he makes not in a court of law but in the court of Trump meeting on Fox News.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We received a subpoena that went to our telecommunications carrier that was so broad that you would have to do some type of legislative contortions to find a legislative reason for that subpoena.


KING: I see you smiling counselor. Look, he was voluntarily cooperating, then he figured out the committee was doing what it should be doing getting all the documentary evidence, again, meaning subpoena people cell phone records, which was common sense, and he has a very good attorney. They knew that and suddenly he decided, never mind, I'm not cooperating. What do you do? Is this lawsuit challenging? Is it how does he have a case?

WU: It's a completely frivolous lawsuit. I mean, the courts got to ask at what point you realized you were cooperating with an unconstitutional investigations. He's been giving documents saying real cooperating and now suddenly, there's some sort of panic setting in that says, oh, this is really wrong. We shouldn't even be doing this. He has already begun the process makes no sense.

KING: Is it the kind of thing though, that if he's just trying to round the clock that he can drag on a case for weeks and months or would a judge just look at it and toss it out?

WU: A judge should just look at it and toss it out. One liner dismisses it, but the reality is it may give him some extra time.

KING: Alright, well watch this plays out. Up next for us, President Biden talking to Ukraine's President in just moments, promising the United States is keeping close watch on the Russian military buildup.



KING: This hour President Biden holds an urgent call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. The president will ask for patience, persistence and trust, trust that he can rally the international community to back Vladimir Putin down from invading.

The call coincides with a headline summit today the American President making the case that democracy is worth it and that autocrats like Putin are not the answer. It is an argument, of course, made harder by the last year; you're in the United States by COVID frustration, by economic uncertainty, and by a direct attack by the Former President of the United States on the peaceful transfer of power.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is the defining challenge of our time, democracy, government of the people, by the people, for the people can at times be fragile, but it also is inherently resilient, is capable of self-correction and is capable of self-improvement. And yes, democracy is hard. We all know that. It's the best way to unleash human potential and defend human dignity and solve big problems and Trump just to prove that.


KING: Let's get straight to the White House and our Chief Correspondent Kaitlan Collins, Kaitlan, the president, talking globally there about democracy he has to have a very, in the moment real conversation in just moments.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. When he said democracy is hard we all know that it seemed to strike right at not only what he's been dealing with this week, John, but also dealing with his - since his presidency. You know, given the weeks before he took office, the fact that January six happened, it has been something that has loomed over his presidency, it's still a fight that is ongoing, given, of course, all the things that we've seen happening with the Former Chief of Staff.

And so the President Biden wanted to hold this summit John something he has talked about on the campaign trail and ever since he took office, because he's talking about the global conversation of saying that, yes, democracy is worth it.

This is the route that people should take because he says that essentially the world is at this inflection point when it comes to do you want to be a democracy? Or do you want to be a country like the other nations that we've seen that is ruled by an authoritarian? And you've seen some of those try to undercut this democracy today China and Russia.


COLLINS: China holding its own Democracy Summit, so called Democracy Summit. Of course, they are one of the least democratic nations in the world, but trying to undermine this by pointing to things that have been happening here inside the United States, not only talking about January 6, but also voting rights and all the things that you've seen happen and play out across the time that Joe Biden has been in office.

And so he's making this argument today talking with these 110 countries, as the White House does. This is really an evolving conversation. It's not saying, hey, world democracies look how great this is. It's really a reflection point, they say, but they are getting some criticism John, we should note for the invite list because there are some nations that on there that would make people a little bit skeptical about their claims to a democracy.

There are some nations that say that they should be on here, and they are not members of NATO members of the European Union. And so I think that is going to be looking at all of this, of course, as this is a two day summit going on here at the White House virtually, of course, John.

KING: Virtually, of course. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. With me here in studio to share her insights - great friend Jill Dougherty she's the Former Moscow Bureau Chief for CNN, Former White House Correspondent. It's great to see you.

So the President of United States is going to pick up the phone with President Zelensky in just a few minutes. What is President Zelensky need to hear he's got 100,000 or so Russian troops on his border? He's got Vladimir Putin saber rattling. What does he need to hear from the American president?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FORMER MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: I think he needs two things, at least from his point of view, he needs assurances by President Biden, U.S. is sticking with them will support them. He knows they're not a member of NATO. So there's no obligation and the President of the United States has made it clear, the U.S. is not going to send to no boots on the ground. But Zelensky really wants to hear we've got your back. And we're going to go to the mat. And we will help you as much as we can.

But I think also there's another side to this, John, which is that Biden really also has to encourage Zelensky to begin to work toward to put the Minsk agreements, which are, you know, which potentially could solve that conflict in Eastern Ukraine, that he has to begin to work on those two. So it's, there's a balance here.

KING: And part of the issue, from my perspective, anyway, tell me you're as for your experience, judging Putin, as you write the President of the United States made pretty clear yesterday. This is not a question of American troops. It's not a question of NATO troops.

They're trying to use diplomacy here. But we also are told by sources the White House believes for now you hold off on any energy sanctions against Russia, because of the impact it might have on global prices. If you won't punch Vladimir Putin in the mouth, or punch him in the wallet what is the incentive on Putin's side to back off?

DOUGHERTY: Well, he knows what's coming if he invades Ukraine. I mean, he knows that there will be, as I say, the nuclear option, which would be cutting off that one of the biggest cutting off Russia from the Swift Banking System, which means they wouldn't be able to convert rubles to dollars. That's really serious.

And he knows, you know, there'd be more arming of NATO allies in Eastern Europe, there'd be more arms going to Ukraine, but there are some very serious things that the U.S. President could do.

KING: Biden had the direct conversation with Putin the other day; the White House says he was tough. The White House says he made clear, you know, this will not stand in these ways that he's not Obama he is not Trump or Obama, that he will be tougher than Obama was back in 2014.

The president had Putin in mind; President Biden had Putin in mind today at the democracy summit when he said this.


BIDEN: They seek to advance their own power, export and expand their influence around the world and justify the repressive policies and practices as a more efficient way to address today's challenges. That's how it's sold by voices that seek to fan the flames of social division and political polarization.


KING: How much - how much does this play in? You were in Moscow, when Vladimir Putin all the time would question America's democracy and poke at it. We know he's interfered in our elections trying to undermine America's democracy.

Aaron David Miller, Veteran State Department Official, you know, quite well says there's also the politically inconvenient question where the United States is best positioned to lead this effort meaning to promote democracy right now, America has a glass house problem.

As you're trying to deal with Putin and with Xi, but let's focus on Putin at the moment. How much does it undermine the American President that there are some open wounds in our democracy?

DOUGHERTY: That's a real dilemma. Because, as you just heard him saying, you know, the, it's a fragile democracies of democracy in action, et cetera. But he has to say, we've got problems, but we can solve them. And that's what democracy is about.

I was watching Russian TV this morning. And was it for a mocking type of whom do they think they are talking about democracy? And by the way, we Russia and China are not invited. And then they described President Biden as kind of like a school teacher, you know, instructing people about democracy.

And then also their point is U.S. a setting itself up and up to the detriment of the United Nations so that's the Russian approach.


KING: Both in the here and now as in today next week next month in the bigger picture the conversation will continue. Jill thank you. It's great to see you. Thanks for coming. Up next for us, some giant news from the FDA the agency now, expanding the authorization of Pfizer booster doses to those who are 16 and 17 years old.


KING: Some big breaking COVID news, the FDA just last hour authorizing vaccine booster shots for those 16 and 17 year old.


KING: Adults already have the green light for boosters and the Biden COVID Team says a third shot is a smart defense against the new Omicron variant. We have a better picture today on that front. Omicron cases are now confirmed in 22 of the 50 states and the CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the cases are mostly mild three quarters, though, are in fully vaccinated individuals and a third of the cases are in individuals who had already received their boosters.

Let's bring in for his insights Dr. Jonathan Reiner in George Washington University, one of our Medical Advisors. Dr. Reiner, what does it tell you, number one, that they're expanding boosters to 16 and 17 year olds? And number two from Dr. Walensky they say these cases are mild but Omicron is breaking through the vaccine.

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MDEICAL ANALYST: Yes. So first, the good news is that the FDA is clear of the Pfizer vaccine for 16 and 17 year olds. But this is a three dose vaccine. And eventually, everyone who gets this vaccine will need to get three doses.

So it was important for the FDA to understand whether this was safe for adolescents, and basically clear whatever concerns any of their advisors had or myocarditis in the teenage group. I expect that the next group, they will evaluate a rapidly will be the 12 to 15 year old group.

And then, very quickly after that, understand whether the booster strategy is safe for five to 11 year old. This is a - this is a three dose vaccine. And what I want people to understand is that it's not just sort of a good idea for people to get a third dose.

This it should be mandatory, people need to understand that that they will not be fully vaccinated and fully protected unless they get a third dose a booster dose. As for the concerns about the cases in the United States, the initial report that the CDC Director referred to was 43 cases.

So there were about 30 of those cases had been vaccinated and some of those had been boosted. Still small numbers, some of the people had been boosted had been boosted within two weeks. So that's sort of for the booster can get full efficacy.

We know from Pfizer data that just broke this week, that now shows that or at least strongly suggests that a booster restores the ability of the Pfizer vaccine to neutralize Omicron. And so I think we're going to have the tools going forward to keep Omicron under control.

I'm heartened by the fact that it does appear from places like South Africa, that folks who are getting this virus seem to have a milder course with it, we'll have to verify that with in greater numbers. But the message going forward is you're protected if you're fully vaccinated. But the message also should be you're not fully vaccinated unless you get three doses.

KING: We're waiting to see if the government actually changes that official designation to the third dose. But as we do, we're talking about protection against Omicron at a time Delta is still while changing the map in ways that are quite disturbing.

We have 45 states right now trending in the wrong direction, orange and red means more new COVID infections this week, compared to last week, and you see 45 states, the deep red in those states, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and all these others, that's 50 percent more new infections this week, than last week.

Or we can look at it this way Dr. Reiner, which is this is if it's red, if you're a part of the country, your county is red, that means you have high COVID transmission right now, which is pretty much you know, a giant slice of the country.

And I want to do one other map and bring it up here. This is ICU intensive care units. In the state of New Hampshire, for example, the Governor - 46 percent of ICU beds are COVID patients. And the Governor says he's one of three states where they say we're going to need help from the National Guard. What does that tell you about Delta?

DR. REINER: Well, Delta is - Delta is our current enemy. And until and unless it's replaced by Omicron let's not worry too much about Omicron because Delta is killing on average, 1200 Americans every day. In about a week, we're going to pass a grim milestone of 800,000 deaths in the United States.

And we need to be on a wartime footing. Because we are at war with an enemy that's killing 1200 Americans a day and I just don't see it. You know, still 18 percent of American adults are unvaccinated. And that's who's going to die from this virus, whether it's Delta or Omicron.

The people who are going to die in the next several months are the unvaccinated. A couple of weeks ago, the German Health Minister stated something very starkly, what he said in Germany this winter you're really going to be - after the winter you're either going to be vaccinated recovering from COVID or dead. And I think that's true in the United States.