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New Day Saturday

Parents of Alleged Michigan School Shooter Arrested in Detroit; Alec Baldwin on Fatal Shooting: "I Didn't Pull the Trigger"; School Shooting Suspect's Parents Charged with Four Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter; Omicron Variant Cases Confirmed in At Least 12 States; Mark Meadows Doubles Down on Election Fraud Claims in a New Book; Raptors Executive Fulfilling and Fueling Hoops Dreams in Africa. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 04, 2021 - 06:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY."

It is Saturday, December 4th.

I'm Boris Sanchez.


We begin with breaking news this morning.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of the Michigan high school shooting suspect, are in police custody right now. This was after the pair evaded authorities for hours after they were charged with involuntary manslaughter yesterday.

Police say they were found early this morning inside a building in Detroit, not far from where their vehicle was found. Listen to this.


CHIEF JAMES E. WHITE, DETROIT POLICE: We got a tip that they were here. That possibly the fugitives were at this location. The vehicle was spotted. Our officers responded in a matter of minutes. When they got here, they set up a perimeter, did surveillance. We notified and activated our Metro Division on Special Response Team. They came out. And they were able to take the fugitives into custody.


SANCHEZ: Now, attorneys representing the couple say they fled the area because they, quote, "feared for their safety." This is following Tuesday's shooting where four students were killed, and seven others were injured. And we should note, this is rare. The parents of school shooters rarely face charges. But here's the prosecutor in the case explaining why they have been filed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN PROSECUTOR: I couldn't even imagine not - not holding those two people responsible. They bought a weapon for their son and had every reason to believe, at least the day before and certainly the morning of that he was very likely going to commit a violent act. And they did nothing. They did nothing.

They allowed him to go back to class and walked out of that building and never once thought or cared enough to say to a school official or anyone else, our son has a gun.


SANCHEZ: Let's go out live to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He is in Pontiac, Michigan this morning. He stayed up almost the entire night following this saga.

Shimon, the parents' attorney initially said that they left town for safety reasons and that they were planning to return. But given some of the details from last night, it doesn't sound like they were about to turn themselves in.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No. They were heading in the wrong direction completely if they were going to turn themselves in.


PROKUPECZ: They were in Detroit, about 40 minutes away from here. It's really -- it was very interesting to me. Certainly, when we first got word that this search was going on, I couldn't figure out what they would be doing in Detroit. I mean, it is 40 minutes, but it's a busy place. So, if they wanted to hide, probably would be a little difficult to hide. But that's where they were.

The police realizing, they got a call, they got a tip that the car was seen at a location, and the police just swarmed in. We saw a heavily, heavily armed police officer SWAT team members all over the east side of Detroit looking for them.

We obtained a video, exclusive video to CNN of the arrest, the moments of the arrest of both parents inside a building that they fled to. They parked their car. And then they walked into this building. And inside this building, it was the U.S. Marshals, the Detroit police, and other law enforcement officials from across the area who had been spending the day searching for them. They went in that building and found them in an area of the building.

Now, what's really interesting is that the Detroit police chief said that someone helped them get inside. Take a listen to what he said.


WHITE: Yes. In fact, they were aided and we're looking into that portion of the investigation. That part of the reactive right now. Our metro division has information that they're sharing with the U.S. Marshals and will be sharing with the Oakland County sheriff's department.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you say aided, did someone let them in, so they didn't break in. Someone --

WHITE: They did not break in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, someone let them into this building?

WHITE: Yes, yes.


PROKUPECZ: And so, whoever that person was that let them in, the police say that they are now potentially facing charges as well. This building that they were found inside, clearly, there is some connection. Police would not say what that is because they didn't want to reveal what it is that they're investigating. But they have video of them also going into this building.

And that's one of the clues that they used when they - when they were looking for them and knowing that they were in this building. But this video from inside of this building just shows the massive response from the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement officials to try and find them.


They all swarmed this area in trying to find them. And they had success. They found them hiding in a first-floor area of this building, and they took them into custody without any kind of incident.

The police chief talked about how they sort of seemed distressed when they took them into custody. They're both now housed in the same jail, being held in the same jail as their son. We will see them later today. It is expected that they'll be arraigned. Boris, Christi?

SANCHEZ: And we know you're going to keep following that story for us.

Shimon Prokupecz from Pontiac, Michigan. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks Shimon.

So, let's bring in former acting Baltimore police commissioner and CNN law enforcement analyst Anthony Barksdale.

Thank you so much, Commissioner, for being with us.

We heard a lot this morning in this press conference that happened in the middle of the night for - for many people at 3:00 a.m. But this was an act of the community really paying attention and great work by law enforcement.

I want to know, first and foremost, when we talk about the fact that they were hiding out. They were in Detroit. They had ditched their car. They had turned their phones off. One of the first things that I think some of saw when they said Detroit was -- there is an international airport there. What is your first thought about Detroit being their place to go?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think that this shows that they weren't trying to turn themselves in. I feel that it shows they were on the run. And I think they're going to pay a penalty for that further down the road because of their actions.

PAUL: You had said -- I think it was you yesterday that said, it makes no sense, in terms of them being on the run, if you're trying to do the right thing. When we talk about the fact that these parents knew so much going into yesterday, essentially, or going into Tuesday, the day of the shooting, about what their son had -- had said, what he had written in these notes, about, you know, "help me" and pictures of a person who had been shot and bleeding and a smiling or laughing emoji attached to that. When you think about this -- gosh, I mean, what could possibly be made of these parents?

BARKSDALE: We -- I don't even have the words to explain what these parents have allowed to happen. I mean, this kid, what the teachers saw him drawing in school, what he wrote in school, he had problems, I believe. So, the parent obviously knew. Look at the text the mother sent him. It's -- they enabled this it appears. They didn't get this kid proper help. And it is a concern that they would let this happen.

PAUL: Let me ask you this. Let's be clear about the scenario that this kid is in right now. He's in custody. He's killed four people. His parents take out $4,000. And they leave. And leave him in jail, which looks as though they're abandoning him. Does this reaction give you any insight into their parenting of this child, and might there be some sort of consequence just in that regard?

BARKSDALE: They're horrible parents. Why don't we -- let's -- everybody stop playing. You know, not be nice about this. They are horrible parents.

They let the kid down, their son down, the community down. Everybody is going to suffer because of these two parents. So that's what it says to me, they're bad parents, and they must be held accountable with their son for their actions.

PAUL: There are conflicting reports about whether authorities were surveilling the Crumbleys yesterday and how they were able to get away. Why didn't the sheriffs arrest the couple when they had the chance? Do you have any insight into that?

BARKSDALE: I think it is a fumble by law enforcement. As a matter of fact, we see several misses throughout this entire tragedy. Several. But there is no way that law enforcement shouldn't have been on top of this couple if they were going to seek charges.

And this back and forth between the sheriff and the prosecutor, it all has to stop because they need to get it together because we need to prosecute the parents and the son.

[06:10:07] That's what we have to do. We have to focus on justice for the victims and their families. And we don't have time for the rest of the stuff. We have to focus on a prosecutable case at this point.

PAUL: Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, you have been up late with us as well last night. We so appreciate your insight and your taking time for us. Thank you, sir.

BARKSDALE: You're welcome.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, we're going to have much more on the Michigan school shooting and the parents' arraignment later this morning.

Plus, we're also following comments Alec Baldwin made this week about the fatal shooting on the set of his film "Rust." He now says, he never pulled the trigger that killed the beloved cinematographer.

Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.


PAUL: We're continuing to follow our breaking news out of Michigan.


The parents of the 15-year-old suspect accused of killing four students and injuring seven others at Oxford High School this week. The parents that you see there on your screen are now in custody. That's James and Jennifer Crumbley. They were found in a commercial building after authorities spent hours on an extensive manhunt.

Officials say they received a tip from someone who spotted their car in Detroit. The Crumbleys appear to be hiding with no indication they planned on turning themselves in. Both are declared fugitives after failing to show up for a court hearing on involuntary manslaughter charges. They are expected to be arraigned a little bit later this morning.

So, criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson with us now.

Joey, I want to break this down to some specifics. The fact that they ran from authorities, delineate for us what would have happened to them had they cooperated versus where they are now.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, Christi, good morning to you.

What happens is whenever you run from authorities, it's known as consciousness of guilt. So, in other words, in the event that you don't think you have any criminal culpability at all, you're not inclined to run. To the extent that you do, it goes to show that you believe that you are guilty. And so, that process, with respect to leaving the jurisdiction, particularly as we know, that they had an arraignment planned for Friday which they missed, will go towards demonstrating that they knew they were guilty. You add that to the specific facts of the case with respect to their conduct in purchasing the weapon, in otherwise, the text message from the mom saying, "lol, you just shouldn't get caught," as it relates to the ammunition. As it relates to them having knowledge of their son's activities in being brought to the school. In having knowledge of the note that he particularly put together showing, apparently, someone looked like they were shot, bleeding, et cetera. Adding to the fact that they're just simply careless with respect to giving him this firearm. And it all goes to show why the involuntary manslaughter charge is so compelling and so important. And that's really the nature of it.

And so, in the final analysis, whether they would have, you know -- if they would have stayed in the jurisdiction, it certainly would have demonstrated that they did not really, in their state of mind, believe themselves to be guilty. But this just makes the prosecution, Christi, much more compelling.

PAUL: So, let me ask you this. And I want to break this down so we can be very clear on this in terms of what these parents knew. On the day before the shooting, the teacher had observed Ethan searching for ammunition while in class. Reported it to the school. It was left on the mother's phone, voice mail as inappropriate Internet search. It was followed up with an e-mail they never got a reply.

And then, in the meeting with the school of the day of the shooting, the parents saw that note, Joey. They saw that note of a drawing of a bullet with blood everywhere written on it. Of the words, "My life is useless." "The world is dead."

They were told to get counseling for him within 48 hours. They didn't ask where the gun was. They didn't inspect the backpack. They didn't describe - they're described, I should say, as resisting the idea of taking him out of school.

I mean, they left him in school, and then they left. Do you see, Joey, any space here -- and you're the expert so I leave this to you because I'm not even sure where this would fall -- but an additional charge of some sort of parental negligence or neglect of their child?

JACKSON: So, the answer is yes. Let me first say, Christi, that you broke it down as compellingly as it will be broken down in a court of law. Make no mistake about it, in the event that this went to trial, exactly as you laid out with respect to the parents' conduct, that is exactly what a jury will hear.

And when you look at the issue of involuntary manslaughter, it speaks to what conduct did you engage in which created a risk of serious bodily injury or death? And if that conduct doesn't lay it out, then the prosecutor will say, "I don't know what does."

And so, yes, you could look to add additional charges, but these charges in and of themselves are significant. And then you'll add to the fact that they apparently -- how they got into the warehouse that they were hiding in, the fact that they left the jurisdiction. The fact that their conduct created this condition for their son, to really be enabled to create and do what he did, I think that leads to very much criminal culpability on their part.

And then the final analysis, Christi, we know that they'll be brought before a judge today for an arraignment, very briefly. What does that mean? It means they'll be informed of the charges that they're facing. They'll be permitted to answer a plea. And the bail status will be determined. And I do not believe the judge will set bail. I think there will be a remand in this case, meaning there is no condition upon which they will be released, particularly because they ran before.

PAUL: Yes. Joey, listen, stick around with us because I want to ask you about Alec Baldwin. He is speaking out in his first TV interview since the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set. That left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead, remember. Well, Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger. Authorities investigating the shooting are eyeing the late writer for any potential charging decisions as the actor and producer of the film says, he's not responsible.


Just to give them a background, here's CNN's Natasha Chen and then Joey is with us on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED 911 CALLER: Had two people accidentally shot.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of the movie "Rust," actor Alec Baldwin described exactly what he thought happened on October 21st.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger on the gun he was holding.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I let go of the hammer, bang, the gun goes off.

CHEN: He recounted the rehearsal just moments before the gun fired saying Hutchins was telling him how to position his hand, holding the gun just off camera.

BALDWIN: Now, in the scene, I'm going to cock the gun. I said, "Do you want to see that?" And she said yes.

So, I take the gun and I start to cock the gun. I'm not going to pull the trigger.

I said, "Do you see that?" She goes, "Well, just cheat it down and tilt it down a little bit like that." And I cock the gun, I go, "Can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that?"

And she says, and I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off.

CHEN: In the moments that followed, complete disbelief.

BALDWIN: Everyone is horrified. They're shocked. It's loud. They don't have their ear plugs in. The gun was supposed to be empty.

I was told I was handed an empty gun. I thought to myself, "Did she faint?"

The notion that there was a live round in that gun did not dawn on me until probably 45 minutes to an hour later.

CHEN: The attorney for assistant director Dave Halls says Halls maintains he did not see Baldwin pull the trigger and that Baldwin did not have his finger on the trigger.

Theatrical firearm safety expert Steve Wolf showed why he believes that's not likely.

STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARMS SAFETY EXPERT: Not plausible. On a single action revolver, when you pull the hammer back, which is an intentional act, click, click, click, click. Now the hammer is set. When you pull the hammer back and let go, as you can see, I'm not holding this. The hammer doesn't go anywhere.

CHEN: He says if Baldwin's finger was resting on the trigger when he let go of the hammer --

WOLF: He doesn't have to press the trigger again if he's already got pressure on it in order for the gun to fire.

CHEN: Baldwin became emotional as he described as his admiration for Hutchins but said he does not feel responsible or guilty for her death.

BALDWIN: I feel that -- that someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me. I mean, honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible. I don't say that lightly.


PAUL: Joey, your assessment of what - what he's defending there?

JACKSON: Yes. So, a couple of things, Christi.

The first thing is, is that it doesn't, in my view, turn on even the issue of him pressing the trigger. It turns on the issue of his mishandling of the firearm. That's number one.

Number two, when you make a statement like that, you expose yourself to a credibility assessment. We heard the firearm expert there indicate that there's no way, unless your hand is on that trigger, excuse me, your finger is on that trigger that the gun is going off.

But either way, I think in the event he was prosecuted, and it is not clear that he will be, I think prosecutors will make clear that focus on the issue of the mishandling of the gun, not the specifics as to whether his hand was there, or finger was there or not.

But in the final analysis, I just don't know that you help yourself when there's dual tracks. Let's just be clear, and I'll be brief.

You have a sheriff investigation really looking at assessing whether or not there should be criminal responsibility. And when you look at criminality, Christi, it's not only about what you intend to do. It is about what your careless conduct did do. What you, through your carelessness, caused. Not all criminality is predicated upon deliberation, premeditation, intention. It's really based upon your reckless or careless conduct because of how you handled that firearm. And then, not only do you have that, but you have the issues of the civil cases where he's being sued, right, a couple so far, there will be more to come, with regard to his conduct or lack thereof.

Final point. They're not only going to look at how he handled the gun, but they got to look at what if anything you did before that? It's not only the armor, but you've heard other people handling weapons say, hey, even though an armor hands it's me and I believe it is a cold gun, I do my independent assessment with respect to whether it is loaded or not. Did you do that, sir?

And so, I think he's not out of the woods yet with regard to his handling of the firearm and exactly the discharge of the weapon and, of course, the tragic result because of that.

PAUL: So, let me ask you this real quickly. If they cannot determine where the live round came from, what then?

JACKSON: I think you have to make an assessment as to, you know, how it got on the set. But I think that's also an independent and separate, really, issue. The issue is there was a live round in there, and what, if any, obligations you have in the handling of that weapon to ensure that the gun is safe.


Do you have an independent obligation to act reasonably, even though you rely upon other people to look at the gun?

And you've heard at least one other actor come out and say, hey, look, I handled many guns before, and I look. I check. I assess. I make sure. Did he?

And so, I think prosecutors will say, were you careless, and does that carelessness rise to the level of negligence, such that you should be prosecuted criminally? And I think that's very much, Christi, an open question.

PAUL: Before I let you go, you mentioned civil -- potential civil charges or civil suits. How strong do you think the potential is for that?

JACKSON: So that's very strong. As it relates to criminal, again, I've said it is an open question. Not sure yet whether the prosecutors have enough. From a civil perspective, there is no question. You have a duty to act responsibly, to protect others, to ensure everyone's safety, to make sure that if you're handling the gun. And also, to the extent that you're a producer, to make sure that things flow smoothly. If you violate a reasonable standard of care, different standard than criminal, then yes, there's civil liability which relates to money.

And so, I think, you know, civilly, there's exposure here in a very significant way. The issue is whether or not there is criminal exposure. And I think the sheriff will have their investigation wrapped up, and we'll see what happens.

Final point, Christi, if this - and there's a silver lining, if it leads to the industry taking precautions so that nobody else dies because there are protocols installed to ensure that guns are safe that are used on sets, then I think, of course, that here is not in vain.

PAUL: Joey Jackson, we always are so grateful for you and for your professionalism and your great walking us through all of this. Thank you so much, sir.

JACKSON: Thanks, Christi.

SANCHEZ: So, Omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus has been found in the United States, but cases of the Delta variant are rising, and the numbers are yet again headed in the wrong direction.

You'll hear from some experts coming up in just few minutes. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Right now, the U.S. is averaging more than a100,000 daily new COVID cases for the first time in two months. Hospitalizations and deaths also rising amid increasing concerns about the new Omicron variant.

PAUL: Cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in at least 12 states as of this morning, but officials say the Delta variant, that's the one that is the biggest concern still. CNN's Nadia Romero has more.


LAUREN MOON, SEQUENCING MANAGER: So, there are like millions upon millions of tiny, microscopic wells on here.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 30,000 COVID-19 positive samples tested per day by North Carolina Diagnostic Laboratory MAKO Medical, a key step in tracing the spread of the Omicron variant.

MATTHEW TUGWELL, DIRECTOR OF GENOMICS AT MAKO MEDICAL: And every time it transmits from a person to another person, it's another chance for the virus to mutate and change into something different. ROMERO: Last week, South Africa became the first to announce it had

identified the Omicron variant. But we now know that even then, the variant was already present in the United States. The day after Thanksgiving, the Biden administration announced travelers from eight countries in southern Africa would not be allowed into the U.S., sparking international criticism. But a week later, the administration making this announcement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Already, we have shipped for free with no strings attached, 291 million doses to 110 different countries. That's more vaccines donated and shipped by the United States than all other countries in the world combined.

ROMERO: A welcome move by the World Health Organization.

MARGARET HARRIS, SPOKESWOMAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: And that is great because it's -- I'm sorry that it took Omicron to make people understand how serious this is, because we have been saying and you have been saying that we need to vaccinate the whole world so that we don't give the virus a chance to turn itself into a more effective version.

ROMERO: To fight this variant, the makers of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines say they can modify their current vaccine formula, but it will take time.

UGUR SAHIN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BIONTECH: If we develop a vaccine, a new vaccine, we will most likely not be able to prevent the first wave of infections with a new vaccine because it will take about 100 days, yes, to develop a new and distribute a new vaccine or start to distribute a new vaccine.

ROMERO: While the Omicron variant is already here, the full extent of its potential to wreak havoc is still unknown.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: What we do know is that early data and even mutation data are telling us that this may well be a more transmissible variant than Delta. And so, this is going to take some time to sort out.

ROMERO: Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Nadia for that report. So, Mark Meadows is sticking by his old boss, Donald Trump, in his soon-to-be-released book. Meadows is doubling down on baseless claims about widespread election fraud in 2020. Why is he doing this, especially as the January 6th Committee tries to get information from him? We'll discuss this and more next.



SANCHEZ: Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff doubling down on baseless claims of election fraud, defending the former president and downplaying the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It's all contained in a new memoir by Mark Meadows that's due out next week. CNN has obtained a copy of it, and in it, Meadows denies that Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol. Let's discuss with Tyler Pager; he's a White House reporter for the "Washington Post". Tyler, good morning, and thanks for getting up early for us.

In the book, Meadows claims that violence at the Capitol was carried out by, quote, "a small group" -- "a small handful of fanatics". He's wanting to tell a story in this book, but it comes as the January 6th Committee is trying to get information from him, and he's not being forthcoming. I'm wondering how you think this book might impact his claims of executive privilege.


TYLER PAGER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, we're already hearing from Democrats that it's inconceivable that he could claim executive privilege while also detailing private conversations with President Trump in this tell-all book. And so, I think we're going to see Democrats continue to put the pressure on Meadows to be forthcoming with the January 6th Committee, as they continue to investigate what happened on that day.

And Democrats are growing frustrated that Trump officials are not engaging with them and being open about what happened as they try to investigate it. It should be no surprise that Trump officials are downplaying what happened on January 6th. They're taking their cues from the former president who, since that day, has been reluctant to condemn what happened at the a Capitol. And so, I think, you know, Democrats have already started to say Mark Meadows cannot both claim executive privilege and then write a tell-all book in which he details these conversations that they are seeking to get more information about.

SANCHEZ: Not to mention that Donald Trump is no longer president. He is no longer the executive, and these aren't really, you know, national secrets about missile silo locations. This is supposedly a campaign event that took place after the election.

So, notably, this week, there was reporting from CNN that Meadows not only encouraged national security officials to investigate bogus election fraud claims, but he also passed on conspiracy theories himself about Chinese thermostats and Italian satellites swaying the outcome of the 2020 election. All bogus stuff. But I'm wondering how you think the January 6th Committee could use that kind of information?

PAGER: Yes, I think this information continues to paint a more detailed portrait of how many people close to the president were involved in assisting him, in trying to spread false claims about the election and undermine its integrity. And at the base of what happened on January 6th, was a protest against -- or based on false claims spread by the president and his allies which resulted in the violence we saw on that day. So, I think this is further ammunition for the January 6th Committee

to do its work and investigate what happened on that day and the root causes of what contributed to that. And that's undoubtedly stemmed from those conversations in the Oval Office between Trump, his former aides and their efforts to try to spread these baseless claims about the election.

SANCHEZ: Tyler, I want to ask you about the current White House and some changes in the vice president's office. You have some new reporting in speaking to a number of officials that are aware of these changes. And one consultant who knows Vice President Kamala Harris actually told you of her management style, quote, "if she were a man, with her management style, she would have a TV show called "The Apprentice"".

Other people calling her a bully and saying that they wonder why they put up with some of her bullying. What are these sources telling you, and what are you hearing about these departures? At least, four staffers recently leaving the VP's office.

PAGER: Yes, so this reporting comes this week as Symone Sanders, one of the most high-profile aides to Kamala Harris announced her departure. And our reporting show that more aides are planning to leave in the coming weeks. And this comes amid weeks of headlines about some dysfunction in the vice president's office. And I think each of these aides that are leaving have different reasons for doing so. But it puts a renewed spotlight on the vice president's management style.

And throughout her career, she has struggled at times to keep staff around her. She entered the vice president's office with few aides that had worked with her before, many of the people around her were new to her orbit, which surprised some people given her long political career in California and then in the Senate. Many of her aides that worked on her presidential campaign are not with her in the vice president's office.

Though, as we note in this story, they're in the Biden administration, just not working for her. And I think, you know, many people around her downplay some of these incidents and say that some of these exits are just due to -- it's tough to work in the White House, and it's expected that people leave after a year.

But I think the larger questions are about as Kamala Harris looks toward the future in any sort of potential role she might have next, as people -- many Democrats see her as a potential heir to Joe Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history.

The lack of long-time, loyal staffers around her, a big contrast to President Joe Biden, who is surrounded by long-time aides. It's a question mark about her leadership style and management style.

SANCHEZ: Excellent reporting. Tyler Pager, we've got to leave the conversation there. Thanks so much for the time.

PAUL: So, there's more ahead on NEW DAY. First, though, the top ten CNN Heroes of 2021 have been announced, and one of whom will be named the CNN Hero of the year by you, our viewers here. So, today, we introduce you to a man who came up with a plan to help his community put food on the table by trading in plastic recycling for rice.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I keep going with this mission because people are empowered. Because people get excited. Because of the community that responds into this initiative. I see the smile on their face. I see the cleaner environments, and also, I see they can provide for their family. This initiative is so simple, and we can do this in every community. We clean the environment. We feed the people, and they're proud doing this.

My goal is to really spread this movement. I want to inspire people that everything is possible. There is no small dream. If you believe, and you do it with the community, and you will succeed.


PAUL: To learn more or to go vote for who you think should be hero of the year, please go to, and thank you for doing so.



PAUL: An NBA executive made his hoops dream come true by helping lead his team to its first championship.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and now, he's trying to fulfill another dream in his home continent of Africa. Andy Scholes joins us now with that story, good morning Andy. Tell us about Masai Ujiri.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning guys. So Raptors President and Vice Chairman Masai Ujiri, he's the architect of Toronto's NBA title team in 2019. And now, the Nigerian native is using his championship pedigree to become a difference maker by promoting and growing the game in Africa. Ujiri leading a campaign by the nonprofit organization Giants of Africa to build 100 basketball courts across the continent.


MASAI UJIRI, PRESIDENT, TORONTO RAPTORS: There's something about sports, yes, that brings people together, it brings comfort. There's something about it that makes us happy in some kind of way. And you knock on that door, and you come in the name of sports. There's some little gap it gives you to maybe get in a little bit with people of all ages, of all walks of life. We made a commitment to build some courts. Altogether, there's 11 of them.

Took about a year. It doesn't usually take that long, but you think about the times we've gone through, and then we decided when is the best time to come here and open them and do the clinics with the youth in the community?

This is here I was born, so this is here we're going to stay and here, we'll continue to do good, right?


The way I want to work on the continent, as we continue to grow, is when you go to these communities, you just -- you have to have some kind of relationship. It's not just come build, you know, like, I know, oh, I built this court and then you come and take pictures and you leave, you know? Like, we've been coming for years. Hi, are you guys doing OK? My obligation is the continent of Africa.

And we now have a little bit of credibility from winning a championship. It comes down to winning. And you win on the court, you win off the court. And as you do it, you bring people along. There's no other alternative in Africa. Africa must win. I'm proud of all the youth that have come through the program, you know, because they are the giants of Africa, right? They are the ones that are going to take this thing somewhere far and become bigger and better than any of us have ever done.


SCHOLES: Yes, and looking forward to the day, guys, that we can talk about a player that grew up on those courts that Ujiri helped build, making either the NBA or WNBA, bound to happen.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the NBA has done such a great job making in-roads in Africa. So many African players now in the league too --


SANCHEZ: Great story and great work by Ujiri. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.


PAUL: Thank you, Andy. So, our breaking news coverage out of Michigan this morning, we'll continue the next hour here of NEW DAY. James and Jennifer Crumbley, you're seeing the first pictures we are seeing of them this morning after they are taken into custody. They're, of course, the parents of the suspected school shooter there. Shocking details we're learning of their overnight arrest. Stay close.



PAUL: President Biden wrote to reassure Americans about the state of the economic recovery, I should say, economic recovery yesterday after the U.S. added just 210,000 new jobs in November. That's less than half the number of new jobs predicted by economists.

SANCHEZ: It was a disappointing report, and there was one bright spot. The unemployment rate slipped to 4.2 percent. That's a new pandemic- era low. Keep in mind, though --


Excuse me, the economy still down nearly 4 million jobs from its pre- pandemic levels. CNN's Christine Romans breaks this down for us.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christi, hiring slowed at America's businesses in November, faltering amid rising COVID infection rates in the northeast and Midwest. But the jobless rate told a more optimistic story. The jobless rate fell to 4.2 percent, that's the lowest since February 2020. Here are the numbers, 210,000 jobs added back to the economy, now, that's the smallest number in almost a year.

Still, jobs growth in October and September was revised higher, as has been the recent trend. The government initially undercounting jobs growth and then revising higher later, 6.1 million jobs have been added back this year, but the economy is still down 3.9 million since the pandemic began. Customer-facing sectors like retail lost jobs and hiring stalled in leisure and hospitality and in health care.