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Omicron Spreads To 20 Countries, U.S. Steps Up Hunt For Variant; Meadows Cooperating With 1/6 Committee As Trump Fights Panel In Court; Rep. Omar Responds To Islamophobic Remarks By Rep. Boebert; At Least Three Killed, Eight Injured In Michigan High School Shooting. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 30, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And the CDC is becoming more aggressive in trying to learn if the coronavirus strain has reached the United States.
Also tonight, after weeks of defiance, the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is now cooperating with the January 6th select committee, this as former President Trump's legal fight against the panel has met with skepticism by appeals court judges hearing his case today.
And there's breaking news on a deadly shooting at a high school in rural Michigan. We are learning more about the 15-year-old suspect who is now in custody this hour.
Welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The U.S. is now on high alert for the omicron variant. The CDC is expanding its surveillance to at least four big airports in the United States as the number of countries detecting the variant has climbed already to 20. CNN National Correspondent Nick Watt has more on the new urgency, the uncertainty and all of this unfolding in the coronavirus pandemic.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The question is when, not if the omicron variant reaches the United States, could already be here. Among the first to study omicron, this guy.
ALEX SIGAL, FACULTY MEMBER, AFRICA HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE: It looks like a problem, but we don't know to what extent it is going to be a problem. I wouldn't at this point say that this is hugely different from stuff we've seen before.
MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD, WHO: I think we'll get information on transmissibility and severity in the coming days, maybe a week or two. I do think it will take some time for us to get a better understanding of the impact on vaccines. Our estimate is between two and four weeks. WATT: Here's what we already know about omicron's mutations.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: These mutations have been associated with increased transmissibility and immune evasion.
WATT: So, will vaccines work as well as they did against the delta variant? There is no world the effectiveness is the same level, Moderna CEO told the Financial Times, if omicron does indeed diminish protection from vaccines --
ALBERTO BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: Boosters should reduce dramatically the gap.
WATT: This variant was first detected in Southern Africa, now dominant down there.
DR. ANGELIQUE COETZEE, CHAIR, SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: What we are presenting to primary health care practitioners are extremely mild cases, so it's mild to moderate, so these patients that don't need to be hospitalized for now.
WATT: Still, Dr. Fauci cautioning against such anecdotal accounts.
FAUCI: Most of those are younger individuals. We believe that it is too soon to tell of what the level of severity is.
WATT: And, remember, this will likely not be the last coronavirus variant.
DR. PETER SINGER, SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, WHO: It is a wakeup call, as if we need another wakeup call to evacuate the world. One of the best ways to keep Americans safe is actually to vaccinate the world.
WATT: Because The more the virus spreads, the more it mutates.
WATT (on camera): All right. This afternoon, FDA advisers voted to recommend what could be the first pill, antiviral pill, out there to treat COVID-19. Apparently, if you take it after you catch COVID, it can reduce the chances of severe disease or death by up to 30 percent.
Now, the FDA itself still needs to sign off on an emergency use authorization. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Nick watt reporting for us, Nick, thanks very much. We'll see what the CDC decides to do on the emergency use authorization.
Also tonight, President Biden is on the road touting his agenda in Minnesota as his administration confronts the omicron threat. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
So, Kaitlan, what is the administration doing now to track down the variant to see if it is already in the U.S.?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's an active search underway Wolf, to try to figure out if it is here. And so far, they have not detected it yet. That is the latest that we heard from the CDC director earlier today when she briefed reporters and said, even though they have ramped up surveillance, they are still very much trying to find this variant inside the United States.
They do not believe that they have found it yet. Though, of course, officials have said, if it is not here yet, it likely will be soon, given, of course, how fast it is spreading, the fact that you're seeing 20 countries and counting now identifying this variant in their nation.
And so the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said as part of that effort, Wolf, they are in daily contact with labs across the United States because likely it could be one of those that first find the variant and then, of course, alert the CDC after that.
And on top of that, they're also ramping up their surveillance when it comes to airports, because, of course, that is where a lot of the travelers from international communities are coming through, international travelers, of course, as well. So, four major airports across the United States, they're also ramping up surveillance there, at San Francisco, JFK, Newark and, of course, Atlanta as well, Wolf.
And in addition to that, they're also conducting samples, testing on these samples to see if they can find this variant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We have increased our genomic sequencing capability and we are now sequencing approximately 80,000 samples per week, about one in every seven PCR positive cases.
We are actively looking for the omicron variant right here in the United States. Right now, there's no evidence of omicron in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Wolf, you see there, they are affirming it is not here yet, they believe it will be soon. They have said that they will notify the public when the government has figured out that the variant has arrived in the United States.
But, of course, a big question, Wolf, is what they're doing in the meantime to try to blunt the effort of this, try to contain it if they do find it here. And, of course, that comes as they're intensifying the search to learn more about this variant and whether or not it causes more severe disease.
All of that is underway, Wolf, of course, as the president himself is getting ready to deliver a comprehensive speech on Thursday talking about his plan to combat COVID going into the winter, of course, something the White House very much wished they had already put behind them but is still very much not so.
BLITZER: All right. Kaitlan, thank you, Kaitlan Collins from the White House.
Let's break all of this down with our experts. Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he's the author of the new book entitled, World War C, Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One. Also with us, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, she is the author of a brand new book entitled Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Both books are excellent, by the way.
Sanjay, let's talk a little bit about what Dr. Fauci says. He says the omicron variant has already been found in at least 20 countries but has not yet been detected here in the U.S., at least not yet. Will the CDC's expanded surveillance in at least four major U.S. airports allow them to find cases and to eventually contain this new variant?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think a combination of all the surveillance will allow them to eventually find it, and there's a good chance that it's already here, they just haven't found it yet. So, no one should be surprised when we report that there's a first reported case of omicron here in the United States. That shouldn't be a surprise given global travel and how much has been happening.
I think there's a bunch of questions that are still going to need to be answered, how transmissible is it, how much disease does it cause, how well did the vaccines work. Let me show you something that I think is interesting when you look at what has been happening in South Africa overall throughout this pandemic. They have to have very low vaccination rates. Vaccinations didn't even start there until February of this year.
And look at these different waves that South Africa has gone through. This graph tells an important story, when you don't have a lot of vaccination, you get these gigantic surges, probably some natural immunity that seems to last three or four months, and then it sort of comes down again.
But before omicron, you can sort of see that it was sort of quiet period in South Africa. It's late spring there. So, there wasn't a lot of delta out there. Omicron was not necessarily outcompeting delta because delta wasn't very prevalent, either. So, that's an important point in countries around the world where there's a lot of delta, we'll see what omicron eventually does.
Also, we're going to hear a lot about disease and how severe disease it may cause, but one thing I did do, is I looked at the hospitalization rates in Gauteng Province where Johannesburg is located. And it's interesting. When you look at these hospital rates, they have gone up significantly over the last three weeks. They're a lot lower than they have been at other points during the pandemic, but, again, late spring, out of flu season, warmer weather, typically respiratory hospitalizations going down. Is this some indicator? We don't know, but that's the sort of data people are looking at right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: What some doctors have said to me is they're worried if it shows up in the United States, it is already cold in so many parts of the country, that could aggravate this new variant.
Dr. Wen, I understand it is weeks before we fully understand what we're dealing with in terms of the omicron variant, but what are we learning about its transmissibility and its potential severity?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, those are two out of the three key questions that we have to answer right now. The transmissibility, it does look like there's a surge in South Africa, but for all the reasons that Dr. Sanjay mentioned, we don't know whether when you have omicron head to head with delta, whether it's going to necessarily outcompete delta.
When it comes to severity, there are some reports in South Africa that individuals seem to have milder cases than previous variants. However, this is really early on in the course of the illness, and we're also talking about younger patients presenting mainly to outpatient settings. So, no one should be surprised that the initial cases are milder.
Then, of course, there's this question of immune escape, which is do the therapeutics that we have, the monoclonal antibodies, also very importantly, do the vaccines, do they hold up against the new variant. It will take time, it will take a couple weeks for laboratory studies to come back when scientists are looking at vaccine-induced antibodies, and can they fight the virus.
But also we'll get some observational data from South Africa as well. The doctors there are already looking at who is getting ill from COVID. Are these people infected with omicron, were they previously infected, were they vaccinated, if they were vaccinated, are they having less severe illness compared to the unvaccinated, that will also give us a very good indication of the protection of the vaccines that we already have against omicron.
BLITZER: One of the big questions is this one. Will current vaccines, the current vaccines, continue to be effective against the new variant? When will scientists, Sanjay, be able to answer that critically important question?
GUPTA: It will probably take a couple of weeks, Wolf. I mean, some of this is as simple as basically taking the virus, taking the serum from who have been people vaccinated and putting it together, and seeing if the antibodies in that actually serum neutralize the virus. So, those experiments are ongoing. And then they look at real world data to see are people getting sick, are hospitalizations going up in places omicron is actually spreading. So, they'll look at a combination of that data. The health ministry spokesperson in South Africa did make a comment, as an observational one, we got to look at the data, saying most of the people that they're seeing who are coming in with any kind of illness have been unvaccinated. Now, that might be a signal that, look, the vaccines are actually providing protection if most people that are getting sick are unvaccinated. But, again, as Leana said, it is early days. We're seeing the scientific process unfold here, as we have many times the last couple of years. Some of these answers just take some time to get.
BLITZER: Let me get your reaction, Dr. Wen, to the FDA advisers just voted just awhile ago 13-10, a pretty close vote, 13-10, to recommend what's called emergency use authorization for Merck's new pill to treat COVID-19. Why was this vote so close? How significant is this development?
WEN: Well, the idea of having an oral antiviral medication is really important because you want to be able to treat this, treat COVID outpatient. You don't want to wait until somebody is very ill. You also don't want somebody to go to infusion center to get monoclonal antibodies necessarily. You want to give somebody a pill that reduces the likelihood of them getting severely ill.
The problem with Merck's pill, number one, is that it is not that effective. In the studies, it looks like 30 percent effective. And also there is the concern of mutagenesis, meaning that it could induce new variants down the line. That's why the vote was so close.
BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
An important to note all of our viewers, be sure to join Sanjay and Anderson Cooper for a CNN exclusive town hall on the new omicron variant with special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci. It airs tomorrow 8:00 P.M. Eastern only here on CNN.
And just ahead, why is former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows now cooperating with the January 6th select committee. Stand by for details on the story that was first reported right here on CNN.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Tonight, a significant break for the January 6th select committee as it fights to get Trump loyalists to testify. After weeks of defiance, the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is now giving the committee at least some of what it wants.
Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has more on the story which was first reported on CNN.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with the House select committee investigating the deadly January 6th insurrection. Two months after being subpoenaed, CNN has learned he is now providing records and has agreed to appear soon for an initial interview, signaling a critical shift in the relationship between House investigators and one of Trump's top advisers.
In a statement, Chairman Bennie Thompson said the panel expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the select committee is lawfully entitled to receive.
The agreement staves off a criminal contempt referral against Meadows for now, but the deal could fall through if the two sides cannot agree on what is privileged. Meadow's attorney, George Terwilliger, said in a statement, we continue to work with the select committee and its staff to see if we can reach an accommodation that does not require Mr. Meadows to waive executive privilege or forfeit the longstanding position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.
This comes as Trump lawyers argued in front of federal appeals court in Washington that the former president should be able to block the committee from getting some of his White House records. The three- judge panel appeared skeptical about Trump's power to assert privilege over certain documents when the current president says they should be released.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, D.C. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: This all boils down to who decides. Who decides when it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records? Is it the current occupant of the White House or the former?
REID: Trump argues he should be able to protect records, like call logs and handwritten notes from his top advisers, but President Biden has declined to keep any January 6th documents confidential, citing the extraordinary nature of the insurrection.
REID (on camera): Today, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke with the House select committee for roughly four hours. Trump's efforts to pressure Raffensperger and Georgia officials to overturn the election have, of course, emerged as a very significant areas of interest to House investigators. Wolf?
BLITZER: They're moving quickly now, relatively speaking. Thanks for that, Paula, for that report, Paula Reid reporting for us.
Let's get some analysis. Joining us now, our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, he's the author of the book, True Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Investigation of Donald Trump. Also with us, CNN Senior Political Analyst Kirsten Powers, she is the author of a brand new book, an excellent book, by the way, I should say, Saving Grace, Speak Your Truth, Stay Centered and Learn to Coexist With People Who Drive You Nuts. Guys, thanks to both of you for joining us, thanks to both of you for your new books. Jeffrey, Meadows is now, as we heard, cooperating, but his lawyer says they hope we won't have to waive executive privilege. Does this potentially set up the committee for yet another potential showdown of what Meadows actually shares?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I would like to -- I think the announcement today is frankly pretty mysterious, because it is unclear what exactly he has agreed to testify about, what documents he agreed to testify about.
Now, the nightmare scenario for the committee is this just turns out to be more delay and they don't get anything meaningful out of Meadows. The theory may be, look, we don't want to have another long court fight, let's get what we can and move on, but Meadows is an extremely important person and they certainly want to get a substantive interview out of him.
The announcement today does not seem clear to me about whether there really will be a lot of meaningful information to come out of it.
BLITZER: Interesting. Kirsten, Meadows has remained a very close ally of former President Trump. So, what do you make of this development that unfolded today?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, if it meant that he was actually going to be cooperating in any kind of serious way, then I think it would be huge news because of his proximity to Trump. He is very much a big fish in that circle. And so it would be meaningful in that way. But as Jeffrey says, we don't really know what this means. Does this just mean that he saw what happened with Steve Bannon and he doesn't want to be found in contempt, he doesn't want to go to prison or to jail? That's the question, is that what this is about and he's just trying to delay this and drag it out as long as possible? It seems that that's probably what was the thing that pushed him to start to cooperate, and what will the cooperation look like. Will he claim that everything is privileged? That's something that still has to be obviously worked out. So, I think there are a lot of questions that still remain.
BLITZER: Jeffrey -- yes, go ahead.
TOOBIN: Just one thing in the committee's favor is that Steve Bannon is loving this. He loves to be a martyr. He's calling attention to himself. He wants all the documents released. Mark Meadows, I think, has a more normal reaction to being indicted, which is I don't want to be indicted. And that seems to have encouraged him at least to make some level of cooperation. How extensive, we just don't know.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point.
And, Jeffrey, how do you interpret another major development today, what we heard in this court hearing over the former president's executive privilege claims, and what happens if this goes beyond the appellate courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?
TOOBIN: Well, the three judges seem sympathetic to the committee's position and unsympathetic to the president's claim of broad executive privilege. However, they did see this as a tough case, and it is a tough case. I mean, there's not a lot of precedent on the question of what happens when a former president and a current president disagree about what's covered by executive privilege.
What did seem clear is that this panel is going to act quickly. This issue will go to the Supreme Court one way or the other with relative speed. Whether the justices agree to take it is a separate question and I don't know the answer to that.
BLITZER: Kirsten, you heard Paula report that the select committee also interviewed today the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger for about four hours. How significant do you think that is?
POWERS: Well, I mean, I think it is significant. It is always hard to know without knowing exactly what people are saying, but this is a person who is not going to be super sympathetic to President Trump. And so I think that to the extent that they can get people who are willing to be critical and be willing to talk about things, and I think that that can be very meaningful. But it is hard to know when things are behind the scenes exactly what's going to happen or how meaningful it ultimately will be.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, Kirsten Powers, Jeffrey Toobin, guys, thank you very much.
Coming up, we're going to get an update on the spread of the omicron variant around the world with reports from countries already feeling its impact.
And we're getting new information right now about the deadly school shooting, yes, another school shooting here in the United States, this one in Michigan, as the number of casualties rises.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Tonight, global health officials are closely monitoring the spread of the omicron variant, trying to determine its severity and its impact on the pandemic. CNN is covering the story from around the world. Let's start off with an update from South Africa where the variant was first reported.
CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg for us.
So, David, what's the latest?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the latest is that there's more evidence that there's community spread of this omicron variant in parts of the world outside of Southern Africa, which indicates that the criticism from South African officials that maybe these travel bans didn't have a big impact and are punitive to the region is possibly correct.
Now, I have been speaking to scientists and doctors throughout the day. They say there is some early evidence that this may not be associated with more severe disease, but it could take weeks to figure that out. They're also confident, quietly confident, that the current vaccines may be able to stop severe disease of this variant as the other ones did, though it also could take some time. There are a lot of questions still about this variant, questions that need to be answered.
In the meantime, officials here and across the world say that getting your vaccine or getting booster shot if it's available is the key. Wolf?
BLITZER: It certainly is. All right, David McKenzie in Johannesburg, thank you very much.
Let's go to Germany right now, another country where omicron is complicating the fight against COVID-19.
Our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, certainly a dire situation here in Germany. Right now, there's a lot of daily new infections and also the ICUs really are filling up.
At the same time, you also have the omicron variant, which does seem to be taking hold here as well. For the first time, Germany has now confirmed a case of the omicron variant in someone who had not recently returned from South Africa. The same time, Germany also, of course, about to get a new government, an outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, today spoke to the incoming designated chancellor, Olaf Scholz. And afterwards, Olaf Scholz had an interview with Germany's Build newspaper, said that he is in favor of mandatory vaccinations and also severe financial penalties for people who decide not to get vaccinated. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Fred, thank you very much, Fred Pleitgen reporting.
Let's go to Israel right now, where CNN's Hadas Gold is tracking the omicron outbreak.
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, two more cases of the omicron variant have been discovered in Israel in two doctors, including the first confirmed case of community spread. According to the hospital where they work, one of the doctors in his 50s tested positive for the omicron variant several days after returning from a conference in London.
The doctor had negative PCR tests before leaving England and on his arrival back in Israel, so he went back to work. That's where he infected a colleague, a doctor in his 70s. According to the hospital, both men have been vaccinated three times and have very mild symptoms. That means there are now four confirmed cases of omicron in Israel, which has completely shut its borders to foreign nationals for two weeks as a result of the new variant. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Hadas, thank you very much, Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.
Just ahead, we're going to get new insight into Mark Meadows' cooperation with the January 6th select committee. A key member of the committee, Congressman Pete Aguilar, is standing by live.
And we'll also breakdown video uncovered by CNN revealing more outrageous anti-Muslim comments by Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.
BLITZER: We are following some very significant new developments in the January 6th investigation, including new cooperation by the former Trump White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
We are joined by a key member of the House select committee, Congressman Pete Aguilar. Congressman, thanks for joining us. We have a lot to discuss.
But, first, can you share with us how much did your committee learn today from the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who is a Republican, during his four-hour interview?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I'm not going to get into the specifics of any investigative interviews that we're undertaking this week, Wolf, apologies. But let's just say that we continue to gather solid information that is helping the committee each and every day. Over 250 interviews that we've conducted, 25,000 documents, we're making progress each and every day.
BLITZER: Well, without specifics, Congressman, can you tell us at least what was significant?
AGUILAR: I'm not going to characterize it, but I will say that we are making significant progress, Wolf. And that's what we have committed to our colleagues. That's what we have committed to the public and today was no different.
BLITZER: The Trump White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is now cooperating, we're told, with the select committee, but his lawyers still pushing for Meadows not to waive what's called executive privilege. So, how robust, can you share with us, how robust is this cooperation?
AGUILAR: Well, we're pleased that Mr. Meadows, as Chairman Thompson mentioned, is engaging with the committee through his attorney. He's agreed to sit down with us. That is all a positive and helpful. We have not taken any topic off the table. We would expect anyone who receives, as I've said before, a subpoena to come before us. That's what the process means and that's what we expect.
So, we're going to ask questions that will help us gather that information to tell the full and complete story. And we are appreciative of this step. And then we'll assess after the interview what level of cooperation that Mr. Meadows provided.
BLITZER: A source does tell CNN, Congressman, that Meadows has already provided what are described as many documents to the committee. I know you can't go into specifics, not going to press you on that, but can you at least characterize the documents he's actually handed over so far?
AGUILAR: Part of the engagement is a production of documents as well as sitting for an interview. And so, yes, production of documents is part of what was asked. He, through his attorney, has complied in a significant way, and we're going to continue to hope for his cooperation through this process.
BLITZER: Do you know why those documents that have already been provided to the select committee were in his possession and not necessarily in National Archives?
AGUILAR: I can't speak to that. And, obviously, archives case is something that s being litigated and was argued today in part on our behalf, working with Department of Justice. All of this information to say, Wolf, is incredibly helpful. And that's why we're asking for so much of it.
BLITZER: I know you have got a lot going on. One of your fellow committee members, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a Republican, tells Politico that Meadows will actually sit down for a formal deposition next week. Is that the case? Can you confirm that? And what are the most critical areas of your investigation that Meadows potentially can shed some light on?
AGUILAR: Well, both the chair and vice chair have commented on this. I am not going to disagree with the vice chair on this. But what I can say is, again, production of documents and sitting for the interview is an integral part of what we've asked for Mr. Meadows and what the engagement with his attorney has yielded, and so both of those production of documents as well as the interview. But I won't get into the timing of that.
But it is important, all of this is going to important because there are things that we can ask him to glean into what happened January 5th and January 6th, even outside of conversations that he had directly with the president. The types of involvement that he had on the campaign side, all of that is incredibly helpful because, ultimately, there was clearly evidence to show that they were working to decertify the election and planning to delegitimize safe and fair election process. Those are all things that we want to delve into.
BLITZER: Yes. And Liz Cheney is vice chair of the committee, so she clearly knows what's going on. Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you for joining us. We'll certainly have you back.
AGUILAR: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, CNN uncovers new video of far right Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert calling two Muslim representatives, and I'm quoting now, black hearted and evil.
And we're getting new information about the suspect in a high school shooting here in the United States that has now left three students dead and more injured.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is responding to the very, very disturbing remarks by the far right Republican Representative Lauren Boebert who suggested that the Muslim Ilhan Omar is an actual terrorist.
Let's get more from CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox.
Lauren, I want you and our viewers to watch what Congresswoman Omar just had to say. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): So when a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague member of the jihad squad and falsely, falsifies a story to suggest that I will blow up the Capitol, it is not just attack on me but on millions of American Muslims across this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yes. So the question keeps coming up. Where is the Republican leadership. Why aren't they condemning Boebert?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is becoming a huge question on Capitol Hill. We may get more answers tonight as Republicans and Democrats return to the House of Representatives for votes. But making it very clear tonight, Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman from Minnesota, saying she's received hundreds of threats since 2019 and the kind of rhetoric that her Republican colleague, Lauren Boebert, is spewing now is only adding fuel to that fire and it is part of this toxic environment that's starting to overtake the House of Representatives. There are concerns about the fact that these aren't just comments that are vanishing into thin air, Wolf, these are comments that could potentially put lawmakers' lives in danger.
Obviously, January 6th is not that long distant a memory up here, and as I reported out, what this culture has done in the house of representatives, they say they're largely afraid, and you heard tonight from Representative Omar who are saying she gets these threats all the time. She played a voice mail from someone that looked forward to potentially taking her off the face of the Earth. I mean, those are the kind of threats that are regular part of her life. And she was asked pointedly what should happen to Representative
Boebert after the fact that she seems to not want to apologize, seems to double down. There are multiple videos that have surfaced of her comparing Congresswoman Omar to a terrorist, and she said that's up to leadership to decide. So, now, all eyes are on not just Republican leadership but also is there something that Democratic leadership thinks needs to happen next. Those are questions that we're going to be asking in the next minutes and hours tonight and of course, Wolf, we'll keep you posted whether or not Leader McCarthy, the Republican leader, actually has something to say here.
BLITZER: We'll see if he does.
Stand by, Lauren. I want to bring in Charlie Dent, a CNN political commentator and former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.
Boebert clearly refused to apologize and actually, Congressman, CNN has unearthed yet another disgusting remark she made back in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): You have Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. These are just black-hearted evil women who want to destroy our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What goes through your mind, Congressman, as you hear Boebert calling the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives black-hearted?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DENT: Well, just speaks to how coarsened the American political debate has become. But it's really incumbent upon leaders in Congress to try to set a better tone and tenor. There used to be a time when members would debate policies and ideas, and not lob insults at each other or smears, as in the case of Lauren Boebert on Representative Omar.
I mean, the lack of the maintenance of standards is a serious issue. You know, Kevin McCarthy did the right thing with Steve King a few years ago because of King's incendiary -- racially incendiary comments. But I think it's now important for Kevin McCarthy to stand up, and deal with these issues internally.
You know, I was chairman of the ethics committee, Wolf. I didn't volunteer for the job. Nobody likes to solve as head of internal affairs for the police department for Congress. That's not why you run but it's a job that somebody has to do.
I mean, members -- some members have to be taught, you know, how to engage civilly in a debate with their colleagues and when they are at home, not to go out there and say these kind of reckless, insulting, inflammatory comments. I mean, it's just really -- it's really out of control and beyond the pail.
BLITZER: It certainly is.
Charlie Dent, thank you very much. Lauren Fox, thanks to you as well.
There is more breaking news we are following here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We are learning new information right now about a deadly shooting at a Michigan high school. At least three people -- students -- are dead.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A shooting at a Michigan high school that's left at least three dead and eight people injured.
CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell is working the story for us.
Josh, what are you finding out?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Wolf, a nation plagued by gun violence is preparing to bury more of its own, this time teenagers. We are learning about this fatal shooting at a high school there in Oxford, Michigan. Three people were shot and killed. They include a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old, and 17-year-old believed to be students at this high school.
Now, eight others were also injure understand this shooting. Authorities have identified the suspect as a 15-year-old sophomore at that high school. He was taken into custody. Now, his parents met him at that police station, guise advised him not to speak to authorities, we are told by the sheriff he is not cooperating at this hour. This began about 12:51 p.m., when authorities received a call of an active shooter. In total, they would receive over 100 9-1-1 calls, 25 agencies responding to that location.
They say within five minutes of officers arriving, the suspect was taken into custody. In looking at some of the shell casings that were ejected from a handgun that was found, they believe there were 15 to 20 rounds that were fired. This obviously, Wolf, a community that is in mourning.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke a short time ago about this tragedy. Take a listen.
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GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I hope that we can all rise to the occasion, and wrap our arms around the families, the affected children and school personnel and this community. It is unimaginable tragedy. I think this is every parent's worst nightmare.
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CAMPBELL: Now, Wolf, authorities believe that this suspect acted alone. However, their investigation, very much in the early stages. They do not yet know the motive. We are told by authorities that they are scouring the suspect's social media. They are also executing a search warrant at his residence, again to try to gather any clues they can to help determine why he went to school today hoping fire on his fellow students.
Again, three people shot and killed. Eight people injured. Six of those in the hospital in stable condition. Two of them, at this hour, Wolf, remain in surgery.
BLITZER: All right. Our hearts go out to those families. Josh Campbell, thank you very much.
Let's get some more. Joining us now, CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. He's the author of the book "The Threat: The FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump".
Andrew, authorities say the suspect is not talking to police. You just heard Josh's report. What can law enforcement do to try to get some answers about why this suspect opened fire?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, the fact that he is not speaking to the police is not unique in Michigan and -- and in many places around the country, law enforcement is not allowed to question minors, unless the parents or the guardians consent to that apparently in this case, they didn't.
But what the investigators are doing now, we know they are executing a search warrant at his house. They will be seizing things like his computer, his electronics devices, any notes or writings that he may have left. They will want to look at the sort of things that he was viewing on the Internet, the communications that he was having with other people.
And all of that information might shed some light on what may have motivated this young man to do such a horrific thing today.
BLITZER: At this point, officials are clearly not aware of any warning signs. What role do local and federal law enforcement, for that matter, play in preventing these school shootings across the U.S.? We've seen 'em, sadly, all too often.
MCCABE: You know, it's -- it is a public health crisis in this country, Wolf, the fact that we have a -- a wave of gun violence that claims, in many cases like this, some of the most innocent victims we have, our own children. Information about leanings in this direction is probably the most important thing that school officials, that deputies on-site like you had at this high school can possibly do.
So, that's -- that is eat direction they are looking I'm sure.
BLITZER: Awful situation. Andrew McCabe, thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.