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Today: House to Vote on Holding Mark Meadows in Contempt; Texts Read by 1/6 Committee Undercut GOP Whitewashing of Jan 6; Jan 6 Rally Organizer Turns Over Texts, Emails to 1/6 Committee; Gottlieb: COVID will be a Long Fight like the Flu. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 14, 2021 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Simply stunning texts --


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Donald Trump Jr. texted again and again urging action by the president "We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand".


KING: We now have the messages Mark Meadows received back on January 6, that is the full House of Representatives votes today to hold President Trump's Former Chief of Staff in contempt plus, another COVID winter Omicron is transmissible, more transmissible, and now it is in 33 states but there's some new encouraging data on the pill that fights serious illness and death still, some experts remind us Coronavirus may never completely go away.

And new reporting on one of the Democratic Senators holding up a major piece the central piece of President Biden's agenda what is Joe Manchin's calculus when it comes to the Build Back Better Bill? And does it have to do perhaps with his own reelection?

We begin though, with a very important day in the January 6 investigation and the stunning new evidence that makes clear why getting the full truth is so important? Procedural votes starting any moment in the House of Representatives and this afternoon the Full House will take the final step to hold the Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt, in contempt for suddenly stonewalling the investigation after first providing blockbuster information about his central role back on January 6, some of that evidence was shared as the committee made its case for contempt.

Now remember today just about everyone on Team Trump plays down the insurrection. But text messages to Meadows shared yesterday, paint a very different real time picture. Members of Congress Fox News Hosts and Donald Trump's own son pleading that Meadows get Trump to do something as his supporters attack the Capitol from Donald Trump Jr." He's got to condemn this ASAP". Fox's, Laura Ingram this is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy and an unidentified lawmaker texting regret that Republicans failed to block the Electoral College count. "We tried everything we could in our objections to the six states. I'm sorry, nothing worked".

Now the committee says Meadows must be compelled to share the rest of his text and to testify about why President Trump stayed silent for more than three hours that day? Let's get straight up to CNN's Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill. Ryan blockbuster so far the question is what more?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, and, John, I don't think we should lose, you know, perspective here on how significant it is that the House Rules Committee has now voted out a contempt referral against not only a former member of Congress and Mark Meadows, but this was someone who was almost also the White House Chief of Staff.

This is something that you just do not see happen on a regular basis on Capitol Hill. The Rules Committee today hearing testimony from both Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, the Chair and Vice Chair of the January 6 Select Committee, and they talked about the importance of learning more about these communications that Meadows received not only on January 6, but in the days and weeks leading up to the interaction on Capitol Hill that it's not just enough for them to get not even a complete list of all of his communications on that day.

But to get all of those texts and emails and messages, and also ask him very specific questions about what he knew about the events of that day. Listen to what Cheney said about the importance of actually hearing from Mark Meadows as opposed to just getting cherry picked messages that he supplied to the committee voluntarily.


CHENEY: This brings up another point Mr. Meadows testimony will bear on a key question in front of this committee. Did Donald Trump through action or inaction corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress's official proceeding to count electoral votes?


NOBLES: So we expect the full House to vote on this measure later this afternoon, it will then go to the Department of Justice who will decide whether or not to prosecute Mark Meadows for criminal contempt of Congress?

Of course, John, the big question, though, is now that the committee has taken this step, will they have any shot at getting this information from Mark Meadows? It seems very unlikely because now this process will be played out in a courtroom.

He still has that opportunity here at the 11th hour to say that he'll come forward and sit and meet with a committee John that seems very unlikely at this point.

KING: Ryan Nobles grateful for you kicking us off live from the Hill. Let's bring it in the room now with me to share their reporting and their insights Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast" Zolan Kanno-Youngs of "The New York Times" Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post" and our CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams.

It is not insignificant as Ryan just noted. This is a White House Chief of Staff. This is a former member of Congress held in contempt, though, because the committee is saying that he cherry picked that he was going to try to cooperate he gave them some information.

But then they looked at other information to realize Mark Meadows did not share all of his text. It's interesting to listen to Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans on this committee; I get straight to the point. Let's listen to this. This is Liz Cheney reading a text from Donald Trump Jr. to Mark Meadows.



CHENEY: One of the president's sons texted Mr. Meadows "He's got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough". Donald Trump Jr. texted, Meadows responded, "I'm pushing it hard. I agree".


KING: So in this digital age, former prosecutor, what else did Donald Trump Jr. text? What did metal - what else did Meadows text in reply to him and then the testimony? What did the president say when Meadows says Meadows says I'm trying? I'm pushing? What did he say?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And also what communications did Donald Trump have with this father because of the fact that those communications wouldn't be protected by privilege because he's not the spouse.

He's not the lawyer. He's not a senior White House staff. If you notice what they did last night, and in their report was focused on places where Meadows would not have had a privilege claim, which is text messages he had with people outside of the White House.

And they were very, very careful here because if they'd gone after him with this hatchet as opposed to a scalpel, it would never have gotten past the Justice Department because he actually does have privilege claims with respect to conversations he wouldn't have.

KING: You made this point last week in the program, Daniel Goldman; you remember from the impeachment proceedings, he was an attorney for the Democrats in the 50s. He made it again, yesterday, Meadows was clearly on his way to full cooperation by turning over loads of documents. But then something happened before testimony.

One new fact the committee subpoenaed his cell phone metadata, which would show the date time his calls. He stopped cooperating what's in those phone records? And that's a key question as the committee goes forward. Number one, if they have those records, they can fill in some of the picture. So he says Donald Trump Jr. texted this. Meadows texted back, but are there additional text on that same exchange or with the same person that Meadows didn't provide. The pullback why did Meadows suddenly say never mind is fascinating?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is. And there also is another thing that happened and that's the rollout of Meadows book that actually does have some details about some of the conversations he had with the president.

That now he's saying, you know, everything is privileged? Well, you put some stuff in a book that clearly you deemed not. So he's really trying to have it both ways here. But you're right. It's the unknown. Yes, he turned over all these pages of documents.

But what else is there? And not to mention, there's the other argument that they did - he didn't turn over any of this to the archives. There's that missing piece? So it could just some of this might be lost to history? If he didn't - if he didn't, that which I'm pretty sure you could say better than I could. That's against the law.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Even in those 9000, you know, emails, documents that he did turn over before he stopped cooperating, just look at some of the things that raised concern for the committee already just in what was turned over.

Even before the news yesterday, you know, one message where he says, hey, don't worry, you know, I'm paraphrasing here, but the National Guard will be there indicating that they will be there to protect, you know, any rally anybody, anybody there the day before, that is a pro Trump that is there to engage in that in the pro Trump rally.

This also raises a question as well amid scrutiny of why the National Guard was not deployed for hours that day as well. They're going to continue to look at that. And he - and you saw just a group with that email about the National Guard being there to allegedly protect some of the people in a pro Trump rally.

Also, you saw that an unnamed lawmaker is messaging him on the day of January 6, saying we're under siege. It's important, I think, to remember - to remind everyone that especially like I was there as well, that this was in that time span, those couple of hours, it was roughly three hours, you add hundreds of people overrunning local law enforcement there.

And members of Congress at that point trapped inside that building, pleading even with members of the Defense Department members of the military calling Mark Milley at one point as well, saying, look, we need help at this point. It really does raise question from the person closest to the president about that delay of national.

KING: Which is critical? There are a lot of people out there saying why do you spend so much time on this? Why do you care so much about January 6th, why can't you move on? Number one, it was a coup attempt. It was a coup attempt. It was an attempt to block to subvert American democracy in a temple of American democracy on a critical day certifying the Electoral College in a central building to the democracy but you make a key point. Many of the key players are still active, are still active and still trying to undermine and trying to rewrite the history of that day.

Liz Cheney went through some of the tweets from Trump administration, cabinet officials; she didn't name them met Republican members of Congress she didn't name them all on that day saying this is horrible. This is a siege. Many of those same people now say forget about it was a little deal. Just a few people got violent, including Donald Trump's friends at Fox News.


CHENEY: Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy Laura Ingram wrote.

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: There was certainly a lot of violence that day, but it was not a terrorist attack. It wasn't 911 it wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to America. It wasn't an insurrection.


CHENEY: Please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished Brian Kilmeade texted.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump was not saying go take the Capitol, he was going to go protest at the Capitol. He wasn't saying take the bike racks and throws him.

CHENEY: Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol Sean Hannity urged?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Trump supporters everywhere are now getting blamed for what happened at the Capitol. The vast majority of people that protested did so peacefully.


KING: The hypocrisy of number one everything they did violated journalism ethics, reaching out to Mark Meadows, but number two, they're not journalist. And number two, just the hypocrisy that pretended it didn't happen. On that day it was urgent on that day, the president has to do something on that day, the president has to save his legacy, then by that night, on TV, not a big deal and to this day, not a big deal. It just tells you again, why it is so critical to get to the full truth of that day.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The hypocrisy and also just the creation of this false reality that they are spreading to their millions of viewers who don't believe that this was a violent act perpetrated by pro Trump supporters. And that's why it's so dangerous. But you do see even Republican lawmakers as time passes from that horrific day at the Capitol downplay or even or negate kind of what happened to their own workplace. I mean, we do remember, Kevin McCarthy was very critical in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection and the president or the former president's role in that, but not so anymore.

And you do see that dissipating. You do see, for example, also in public polling, the percentage of Republican voters who feel that Capitol rioters should be prosecuted, that has diminished significantly over the last several months.

So the - so we need this information out there for historical purposes for accuracy, but also just for accountability as well, which seems to be diminished by the day.

KING: And because they failed that day, or the effort now to rollback voting rights to infiltrate voting on Election officials. They failed that day. So they're working now to find ways OK, if we had to do it again, we need to - we different levers, because the levers we tried to pull that day, we should do this. We need to be fair, Mark Meadows last night saying not surprising.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Obviously, it's disappointing, but not surprising. And let's be clear about this Shan, this is not about me, holding me in contempt. It's not even about making the Capitol safer.

We see that by some of the selective leaks that are going on right now. This is about Donald Trump. They tried to weaponize text message selectively leaked them to put out an air of that quite frankly that the president did not and I can tell you this is the president did act.


KING: That's spin politely that spin it's worse in the sense that but if they selectively put up messages and they cherry picked then Mr. Meadows demand a public hearing and bring it all right?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And you know, fun law fact, if I can drop a little bit.

KING: Drop a little law?

WILLIAMS: Well, drop a little law - no in the law contemporaneous messages and statements are given more credibility than things after the fact saying, oh, my gosh, that car ran that red light and the red car and hit the blue car is very different than a statement you write a week later saying, I think I saw a car accident.

You know, we hear these statements today. But what really matters is those text messages that were sent that day. They're real time honest accounts of what happened? KING: Real time and hopefully we get them all. We're going to continue the conversation. Up next more on the insurrection investigation, including new video of Donald Trump on camera, talking about his own vice president on that horrific day.



KING: The Mark Meadows contempt vote isn't the only action today for the January 6 Committee. Today one of the organizers of the January 6 rally is meeting with the Committee. Dustin Stockton's lawyer says his client has text messages and emails with people "Very senior in the former president's orbit and text messages with members of Congress".


JOSH NASS, ATTORNEY FOR DUSTIN STOCKIN: There are people that are very senior in the former president's orbit. And they're also even lawmakers among them who I believe have good reason to be quivering in their boots today.


KING: It's interesting and we'll see what comes of this the lawyer saying they should be quivering in their boots, suggesting that the other members of Congress were talking repeatedly to this organizer. But it is an interesting thing.

We focus a lot on understandably, Meadows refusing to cooperate or at least pulling back. Steve Bannon, the contempt pulling back on the Former Acting Attorney General Deputy Attorney General pulling back, but there are a lot of people who are cooperating they say they're approaching what 250 or 300 witnesses now, that part's fascinating people who were deeply involved rally organizer saying here it is.

KUCINICH: Well, right. And so that's another unanswered question, right, to what extent members of Congress were involved in pre planning and, you know, potentially in the insurrection itself? And we don't know - what that particular witness turned over.

But it's something that I think the country really needs an answer to. So these people can be held accountable, whether that's also in the Meadows text, we don't know. But that's, I mean, potentially this could be huge.

KANNO-YOUNGS: It looks, it's also worth the reminder here, there was one text that was released yesterday, did have Mark Meadows exchanging text with an unnamed rally organizer as well, who at the time was saying, hey, this is getting out of hand, right?

Things are getting a little bit out of control here. So look, I don't mean to make the connection to the individual we just played. We don't know which organizer that is. But we do know that there was some communication. The question is to what extent right? And also, how far can it go from January 5th to January 6th, because we have to remind folks, you know, there were events going on that day. Some of those folks stayed on but what they're going to try and find out is that connected tissue between communication between the rally organizers on the fifth and then what with the violence that we saw happen on January 6th as well?


KANNO-YOUNGS: And from a legal standpoint again help us. So you have a private citizen rally organizer who says he has texts again, you have to see it, see it to believe it, but says he has text with the people close to president, members of Congress, turning them over? If he's got both sides of those exchanges, does the other people have any protection?

WILLIAMS: No. And people fixate a lot on the like you said, John, at the top of this people fixate on who's not testifying. But this is how you build an investigation. Often you don't have the big fish, that kingpin or whoever else it is in any organization coming and being the one to testify, you get the folks around and under him to be able to say, well, these are the messages I sent.

These are the times I met with them. And frankly, this all has far greater significance and residents today after those revelations yesterday. So even if you never hear another word from Mark Meadows, this could be explosive testimony from.

KING: And the question is when do we learn more of the context, right? The reading of those texts to Meadows yesterday was stunning. Again, we have a lot of context questions. This one is where they say Eric Swalwell says perhaps sometime early in the new year, which will also be the one year anniversary January 6, obviously will be the one year anniversary.

Eric Swalwell says sometime in the New Year the committee plans to go public with what it's learned so far.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): You're going to see probably after the New Year, public hearings where they animate exactly what happened - like much like what we did in the impeachment, the second impeachment of Donald Trump, they have a lot more evidence than we had.

We had very little - I think right now they're it's a submarine effort. And below the surface, they're collecting, you know, the documents, they're interviewing witnesses, and they're going to, you know, curate the ones that I think best tell the story. So the country knows just exactly who's responsible.


KING: That is A, important moment for history, but also it will become a giant political moment. KIM: Right. Right, which is why just keep going back to the you know, the Senate Republicans' decision not to support a bipartisan committee, because if the Republicans had input in this, there could have been a very limited time scope, they could have cut this off at the end of this calendar year, they could have limited kind of just the breadth of the investigation.

But they chose not to, even after it was negotiated by one of their leading Republicans, they chose not to go forward with a bipartisan commission investigate an attack on their own on their own workplace.

So this is what they're left with. Obviously, the Commission knows it is probably working on a on a truncated timetable, because Republicans are set to take back the House majority in 2022. But you do see how they are working with as much speed here as possible.

KING: And part of the evidence you're collecting and private and part of any public testimony will be the Vice President of the United States. At this time, Mike Pence life was at risk. Mike Pence in the end did the right thing. Mike Pence all the law, all the rules followed protocol, all the system and certified the election. For that the former president says this.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I think - I think Mike has been very badly hurt by what took place with respect to genuine. I think he's been - I think he's been mortally wounded, frankly, because I see the reaction he's getting from people.


KING: He tells you everything --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You normally wouldn't want to try.

KING: It tells you everything you need to know number one, you're right. The language is course Donald Trump is just he's just without parallel when it comes to of course language and not putting the things that cut it.

You made the point earlier about, you know, they're still here. They're still - these people are still there, mortally wounded. Kevin McCarthy ran back to Donald Trump, because Donald Trump proved he wasn't going away.

KUCINICH: Well, right, which is why you have - which is one of the reasons you had Mark Meadows, helpfully reminding everyone that Donald Trump is the victim in all this, you know, and the efforts that he had before January 6 of you know, trying to disenfranchise people.

I mean, that's still happening on the state level at a different form but changing voting laws. I mean, this is not over at all, by any stretch of the imagination, which makes this report even more important. KING: It's you make clear it's still his party, and in his party, Mike Pence is not welcome. Up next, for us the latest COVID numbers Delta case surge, a quick Omicron spread and a new pill that does deliver dramatic results.



KING: There's some good news in the COVID fight today. But that good news does come with some sobering context. The news is this new data from Pfizer indicates its new COVID pill is 89 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths if the pill is taken within a few days of the onset of COVID symptoms.

And the company says its tests show the pill works, it works against the new Omicron cases. Pfizer are now seeking emergency approval from the FDA. Let's get some important insider perspective from Dr. Carlos Del Rio. He's the Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Del Rio grateful to see.

I just want to put up for our viewers here what Pfizer says 89 percent lowers the risk of hospitalizations and death, 10 time decrease in viral load at day five. It is great to have a new COVID pill if you will. This is one year to the day after the first vaccination.

But I want you to listen to Dr. Scott Gottlieb. He says we need things like this pill because there's not we're not closing the chapter on COVID. We're opening a new one.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: And the bottom line is this is going to be an endemic virus. We're never going to be able to fully snip this virus out. It's going to be a long fight. It's going to be something like the flu, where we have to use therapeutics and vaccines on an annual basis to try to keep this at bay.


KING: Expand there on what Dr. Gottlieb says on what anybody watching understands how this is part of their life for a long time.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, CNN MEDICAL ANLYST: So John, the way I think about it, it's Dr. Gottlieb - I think about it the same way I think about the flu right the influenza virus mutates continuously so we need to be getting a new vaccine every year because the vaccine I got this year is not going to work for next year