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Dec 21: Cmte Plans To Announce Referrals, Release Report; Kari Lake Files Lawsuit Trying To Overturn Her Defeat; Bass Declares Homelessness "Emergency" In First Act As L.A. Mayor. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 12, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And Sara, I just want to be a little bit more from this reporting. An interviews with people in Trump's orbit over the past several months some of the DOJ focus has been on the timeline leading up to January 6th, Trump's involvement in knowledge of potential events that day. So it starts, it is centered around Trump. And then the other circles come from there.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think that that is certainly what we saw when they decided to institute a special counsel, you know, they knew Donald Trump is at the heart of both of these investigations. He's now a candidate for president. And look, part of that, and part of what investigators are digging into is what was his frame of mind, you know, what did he think was going to be happening on January 6th, you know, when he was telling people, you know, to go to the Capitol, that kind of thing, like, what was he expecting to happen? What did he maybe know was going to happen? I think that's what prosecutors want to get to the bottom.

KING: And so this is happening, the acceleration from the special counsel, again, whether it's just the new management, whether it's post-election, whether it's a combination of those things at the time, the January 6th Committee is trying to finish its work and it has a calendar too, because the Republicans take the House in just a few weeks, potential criminal referrals, including Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, John Eastman, one of Trump's lawyers, Jeffrey Clark, former top Justice Department officially tried to help Trump steal the election, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump's lawyers. In your sense, will the special counsel and the Justice team welcome new information from Congress? Or do they think we got this, we don't need your help?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we know that they got this because they were working on it even prior to Congress taking all these steps. So all these investigative actions the Justice Department was doing was happening independently of Congress. The job for Congress here is deciding not just do they think something wrong happened. But do they think that it's provable by the Justice Department, and they've just got to decide amongst themselves how much they want to provide. Because I'm sure that they uncovered a lot of conduct that might be illegal, but shady, and the Justice Department probably wouldn't take it up as a crime --

KING: But the committee, depending on where you're picking -- where your point of reference is has thought the Justice Department was moving too slowly, maybe some of them now would concede, OK, they were just doing it privately, and we see more of it. But the committee believes it has significant material that the Justice Department should take some time to look at.

MURRAY: The committee does believe it has significant material. And beyond that it also, you know, they don't know what the Justice Department is doing. They don't know what the Justice Department has. So they're saying, look, if we believe that we have uncovered evidence was -- that a crime was committed and the Committee does believe that, then we feel it is our duty to share it with the Justice Department also for the posterity of this Committee for symbolic for the work of this Committee to make these referrals.

Now, we know the Justice Department has powers that this Committee does not. It's a lot easier for them to get financial information. It's a lot easier for them to get phone records. So the odds are the Justice Department, in fact knows way more than the January 6th Committee does at this point. But again, January 6th Committee doesn't have the insight into everything the Justice Department knows. They want to make sure that anything they had that could be relevant is handed over.

KING: Do we have any sense of how that -- we knew how Merrick Garland said send me stuff, we'll look at it. He asked her some things, and the Committee told him no. Do we have any sense how the special counsel views this and any sense of does the special counsel have a timeline for any key decisions or are we still unclear?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, the timeline is really hard to say. And we really don't know if and when there will even be indictments out of this. They're going to look at all of these things. But what Sara was saying about these people being looked at and that the Justice Department is going to want to know anything that committee finds. I mean, that group of four names, some of those people we know are under investigation already. And so the Justice Department is just going to have open arms for whatever they can get.

KING: Interesting moments ahead. We shall follow. Appreciate everybody coming in.


Up next for us, Republican Kari Lake files a lawsuit asking that she be declared the winner in Arizona governor's race. And another election denier Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene says, get this, that if she had been in charge, the capital rioters would have been fully armed and would have prevented Congress from certifying Joe Biden's win.


KING: Here's a stat that stands out, the nonpartisan group, States United Action, says nine in 10 election deniers running for statewide office last and most of them that did the normal thing, meaning they conceded and they bowed out. Arizona Republican Kari Lake, however, not among them.


KARI LAKE (R), DEFEATED ARIZONA GOV. CANDIDATE: It was run like they run elections in the Banana Republic. And the people running it were their number one political goal was to make sure I didn't get elected.


KING: Lake, the former local news anchor, she lost the race for Arizona governor. She's now suing. Her 70-page lawsuit recycled some 2020 myths and alleges without any evidence that this year, thousands of votes were cast illegally, and that Republicans were uniquely disenfranchised by long lines. Our great reporters are back with us. She has been consistent about this. She's an acolyte of Donald Trump. She says he should still be president, that Arizona is one of the states that was stolen from Trump in 2020. She just here, if you read the lawsuit, she has every right to file it, every right to file it, but a lot of it is recycling 2020 stuff and there's no evidence to back up to this year stuff.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It's a different context, though, than Trump in 2020, 2019, while there is still a well-trodden kind of media circuit to run using these kinds of claims, no matter how many times they're rejected by a court, I think all of us are different. The media environment is different. And as you can see from the dominion voting machines lawsuit, the sort of patience some people have for this kind of behavior is worn really thin.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And look, there's also some, patience has been lost by among Republicans to members of Congress, people who have seen what happened to the election cycle. Last week, the number two Republican John Thune told me that independent voters were just not having all the election denialism happening in the GOP ranks and rejected voters who embrace that theory so among the least leadership types. I feel like this is the wrong way to go but how the rank and file voters in the GOP field, how do some of these candidates at the state level feel?


KING: In some way, forgive me for jumping in. But in some ways, this is a refreshing map I'm going to show you in the sense that after 2020, we had lawsuits and recount demands and protests in battleground state after battleground state after battleground state. This year, there's a recount going on abortion rights and voting rights measures that passed the Michigan election deniers are paying for a recount of some of the ballots there. That's their right. That's their right. There's no evidence about it. In Colorado, this is a recount in the congressional race that was very close, even though the Democrat has conceded, it's pretty routine. And here, you have now this is the Kari Lake suing to contest in Arizona. LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The thing about even though there are some Republicans in leadership who are saying that this clearly wasn't a winning strategy, none of them are saying that they won't support Trump if he's the nominee again in 2024. And, you know, the poll today out from CNN shows that the Republican base still very much believes what Kari Lake is peddling, which is that some 65 percent of Republicans say that they think that it's OK to accept an election denier.

KING: Let's show those numbers because it is striking, you could argue it's down some. But you could also argue that still a horrible, horrific number and that should Republicans accept a candidate who believe 2020 election was stolen, it was 72 percent, now it's 65 percent. So that's heading in the right direction, in the sense that there's zero evidence, but still two-thirds.

CORNISH: Well, we're all using the term just kind of election deniers very broadly. Remember, it wasn't just a rejection of these people and their personalities, it was also some of the policies that came, the policy suggestions that came along with this ideology, right, that you'd hear candidates saying, we're going to deregister every voter and everyone has to reregister. No one wants that.

You're hearing people say, no more early voting, no more this, no more that, tons of conveniences that the voters have come to embrace in big numbers. So they're asking for rolling back of things that the voters themselves are starting to approve of, and enjoy. And I think that's where it gets a little wobbly, in terms of backing this style of candidate going forward.

KING: Right. And you say getting a little wobbly, and yet, and yet in the New House Republican majority, there are still a number of election deniers and Trump acolytes, among them Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was once on the fringe. She is now helping very much Kevin McCarthy, who wants to be Speaker, helping him try to get the votes. I want you to listen to her over the weekend. Remember, January 6th, police officers were killed. The Vice President of the United States life was threatened. The Speaker of the House life was threatened. Everybody in that building, life was threatened. Marjorie Taylor Greene says if she and Steve Bannon had been in charge, listen.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I have to tell you something. If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mentioned, it would have been armed. See, that's the whole joke, isn't it? They say that whole thing was planned. And I'm like, are you kidding me? A bunch of conservative, the Second Amendment supporters went in the capitol without guns and they think that we organized that? I don't think so.


KING: We would have won, it would have been armed, my words, not hers. So more people likely would have been hurt or killed. And the election, the proceedings would have been stopped. By winning, she means, they would have stopped the certification of election. Marjorie Taylor Greene thinks that's a good thing. From House Republican leaders, we have heard what?

RAJU: Yes, nothing. And the reason why is because of the clout that she now has within the House Republican Conference. Kevin McCarthy needs Marjorie Taylor Greene right now to become elected speaker. Why? Because he has a problem on the far right of his conference of which she is apart. She is endorsing him. He only can afford to lose four Republican votes in order to become speaker. He already has about four or five who were saying, no. Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to get him elected speaker. And she in exchange, we've probably bet she's probably going to get some influential committee assignments as a result.

So when she says outlandish, controversial, things like this, you're not going to hear much pushback from Republican leadership, because at the end of the day they need her for their own political motive.

KING: We would have won, it would have been armed. Is there any job in America, any power worth needing that vote?

BARRON-LOPEZ: It's a good question for Kevin McCarthy. I mean, clearly, he and Mitch McConnell have said that they haven't drawn any red lines, really, with any of these election deniers. I mean, what Marjorie Taylor Greene is saying right there is that she would have been happy to carry out a treasonous attack on the government, that's treason what she's talking about. So I think that, you know, of course, the Republican leaders are going to be asked about it. I'm sure Manu is going to ask him about it when he goes up to the Hill, but I don't see them stepping away from her anytime soon.


KING: Up next for us, a controversial Los Angeles City Council member caught on camera fighting an activist, yes, that's a holiday party, the details, next.


KING: The newly minted mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, making good on a campaign pledge. Just moments ago, the new mayor declaring a state of emergency on homelessness.


MAYOR KAREN BASS (D), LOS ANGELES: I will not accept a homelessness crisis that afflicts more than 40,000 Angelenos and affects every one of us. It is a humanitarian crisis that takes the life of five people every day.



KING: CNN's Nick Watt joins us live from Los Angeles, a giant challenge for the new mayor, Nick. NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And, you know, she made that declaration she says before she even made her first visit to City Hall as mayor. This is an historic moment for Los Angeles. Karen Bass is the first woman to lead the city, the first woman of color to lead the city. And she has declared war on arguably the biggest problem facing this city.

Billions of dollars have been spent trying to solve this problem in Los Angeles. And it just keeps on getting worse. You mentioned during the campaign, homelessness was the main thing. Basically, Karen Bass and her opponent Rick Caruso, a billionaire property developer, we're just arguing over who could and would do more to try to end homelessness in this city.

Karen Bass says she's going to do this with a new strategic urgent approach. And hopefully she says leveraging her influence on federal and state politics to try to get this done. She is going to be judged on this, John, and it's going to be a very hard job.

KING: We'll watch as it plays out. Is it a giant challenge and every American city, we'll watch in L.A. Nick, there has been -- she becomes mayor at a time of dysfunction in local politics, the controversial city council member involved, get this, at a holiday party in an altercation with a community activist. What can you tell us?

WATT: Yes, well, that is Kevin De Leon wearing the Santa hat, got involved in an altercation with this man Jason Reedy who is a local activist. Now De Leon has been under pressure for a couple of months since some audio leaked of a meeting in which a number of council members made racist and unpleasant comments about one of their colleagues and his son.

The president of the council resigned but Kevin De Leon has expressed regrets but has refused to resign up until this point. So in this altercation both men say that the other one was the aggressor. The video is with the LAPD, so they will have to sort something out. But yes, it does not look good at a time in Los Angeles when we're dealing with an historic mayor, and an historic crisis. John?

KING: We'll see what the police department thinks of the video as it sorts through what happened. Nick Watt, grateful for the live report.

Back to a fascinating story here in Washington, it powers the sun and the stars. And now scientists for the first time ever have recreated it in a government lab in California. Sources telling CNN, researchers successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction with a net energy gain. What does that mean? Well, it means the discovery could eventually unlock unlimited, cheap, clean power for much of the world. CNN's Rene Marsh is here with more details. Wow, tell us more.

RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, big wow factor. This process that you just so greatly described as called nuclear fusion, it's so significant. Because as we deal with this climate crisis, it has dictated that we have to do this pivot from dirtier energy sources to cleaner energy sources. And scientists have been trying for a very long time, like since the 1930s, to replicate the power that we see, that gives the sun and the stars that glow. It's been incredibly difficult to do that here on Earth until now.

These scientists at this Department of Energy Lab in California, they've been able to produce more energy than they actually used in the process. And the reason why that's so significant is because that is so necessary to make this possible to use this sort of power on a wide scale, commercial sort of level. But, you know, just to put this all in context as to what this means and where we are today, one scientist said to me, it's like we have an embryo now and we're asking, when is it going to graduate from Harvard.

So clearly, there's more growth to go here. But this is such a critical and necessary step as we tried to get to that zero carbon footprint source of energy.

KING: Looking forward to the announcement tomorrow to learn more. It's always fascinating to learn. Rene, thanks so much for coming in.


Ahead for us, President Biden spreading holiday cheer, you see it right here. That's the annual Toys for Tots event.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says inflation will come down by the end of next year and she thinks a recession not needed to reset prices.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think we'll see a substantial reduction in inflation in the year ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But for families who are paying more at the grocery store when 2023 comes around, do they need to be worried about a recession?

YELLEN: There will always risk of a recession. The economy remains prone to shocks.


KING: The Fed meets Wednesday to decide whether to implement yet another interest rate hike.

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy telling G7 leaders what he needs to fight Russia, Zelenskyy addressing the group virtually this morning one day after speaking with President Biden. Zelenskyy thanking President Biden for another aid package from the United States.

Brittney Griner back on the basketball court shooting hoops for the first time in 10 months as she recovers at a medical facility in Texas. Her first move, a dunk. Plus new details from her journey home, the U.S. officials who lead the prisoner swap says Griner spent 12 hours of an 18 hour flight talking quote, about everything under the sun, and says she made a personal connection with every crew member on board.


Right now the President and the First Lady spreading some holiday spirit, inviting a special guest on stage to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas at a Toys for Tots event in Virginia. They were joined by families of service members to sort through donated toys. That's a great event.

Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.