Return to Transcripts main page
GOP Turns on Trump as Impeachment Gathers Momentum; Justice Department Bringing Sedition and Conspiracy Charges; German Chancellor Warns of Difficult Weeks Ahead; U.S. Revamps Vaccine Plan; House Formally Urges Pence to Remove Trump from Office; 2021 Tokyo Olympics Move Forward amid COVID-19 Crisis. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 13, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, an unprecedented show of power by U.S. members of Congress. The call for impeaching Donald Trump gains momentum, even among his Republican allies.
Plus, FBI officials reveal details about those involved in the insurrection on Capitol Hill, warning it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Later, health officials lay out a revised plan for COVID vaccine distribution as the U.S. marks its deadliest day ever.
CHURCH: Good to have you with us.
The United States is just hours away from an unprecedented turning point. The House will vote on whether to impeach president Donald Trump for a second time, something that has never happened before in the United States history. Five House Republicans are on record supporting the impeachment.
Among them, the third ranking House Republican, Liz Cheney. She accused the president of summoning and assembling the mob last Wednesday, saying, "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."
And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has signaled his support. "The New York Times" is reporting McConnell believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses.
On Tuesday night, the House voted to formally request that vice president Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. But Pence had already rejected the call, saying, "I do not believe
that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution."
He also urged Congress to, quote, "lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-Elect Joe Biden."
Federal officials say the investigation of the Capitol violence that left five people dead is unprecedented in size and in scope. Nevertheless, President Trump is taking no responsibility for the riot. And he sounded an ominous warning about impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country. And it's causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Michael Gerhardt is a law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He testified for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment of Donald Trump back in 2019 and was the only joint witness during the Clinton impeachment hearing. He joins me now.
Thank you so much for being with us.
MICHAEL GERHARDT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
CHURCH: While Trump displays no remorse for his role in inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is apparently furious and told associates that the president did commit impeachable offenses. A few House Republicans now say they will vote to impeach Trump.
What might all this signal?
Is it a tipping point?
GERHARDT: It signals that we maybe -- may have the potential to reach a tipping point. Certainly, there has been a break in the ranks. Republicans, the last time the president was impeached, held together completely in the House and in the Senate. Only one Republican broke ranks.
So what we are seeing now is quite different. Of course, the misconduct was also different, it's even more egregious. Once the president has been shut down on Twitter, Republicans are, to some extent, may feel freer to break ranks.
And we have already seen a handful in the House. We might even see as many as 20, possibly more. I think once there is a breakage, you may begin to see even more go in that direction. It's possible in the Senate, there may be other Republicans who will break ranks, too.
CHURCH: As President Trump refuses to take responsibility for the attack last week, we are seeing plots and threats of armed protest in the lead-up to Joe Biden's inauguration and Trump is digging his heels in.
CHURCH: Is the president a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution, as the House impeachment resolution states?
Is he a clear and present danger right now?
GERHARDT: I think the answer is yes. I think that the president, as you just said, did not take any responsibility for what happened. In fact, if you look at the facts that are the basis for this impeachment article, he is a danger to national security.
He not only encouraged the mob to be strong and to fight when they marched towards Congress; when they were there, he seemed to enjoy their wreckage, their rampage. He didn't lift a finger to order the National Guard. In fact, he hesitated. He wanted the mayhem to occur. He wanted Congress to be intimidated to overturn the election.
That's a president who is attacking not just democracy but our national security. The article refers to all of that very eloquently. And I think the president, in not conceding any responsibility, has basically made himself vulnerable to this impeachment resolution.
CHURCH: And some Republicans actually fear impeaching Trump. They think it will cause more violence. But Trump's mob have already attacked the Capitol. Now they're threatening to do it again at all capital buildings across the country.
Is it time for Republicans to be more courageous?
How likely is it that Trump would be tried and convicted in the Senate?
GERHARDT: I think time has almost passed for Republicans to be more courageous. It boggles the mind to think what are they hesitating about. We all saw on television the wreckage, the rampage that was directed against the House, people looking for the Speaker, people looking and saying, "Hang Mike Pence."
That's about as clear an attempt as we have seen. I think, in the Senate, it's going to be hard to expect a lot of Republicans to break ranks. But you need 17 Republicans to break ranks in order to get the two-thirds for a conviction. I think that might be difficult.
However, Mitch McConnell, apparently, has said people are free to vote as they like. That opens the door. And I think what we will see is this will be a gut check for Republicans.
Are they willing to admit that the president committed an impeachable offense?
Or are they more scared of losing the possibility of support for their reelection?
Why are they hesitating?
What are they waiting for?
CHURCH: Michael Gerhardt, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
GERHARDT: Thank you.
CHURCH: Authorities in the nation's Capitol want to be ready for any additional violence leading up to Joe Biden's inauguration next week. New video shows National Guard troops deploying around Capitol Hill late Tuesday. The FBI has warned that armed protests are being planned in the U.S. Capitol and all 50 state capitals.
Meanwhile, America's most senior military leaders have taken the unprecedented step of condemning last week's sedition and insurrection.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff statement reads in part, "We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection."
And we are hearing from the acting U.S. attorney general for the first time since the Capitol riot. Jeffrey Rosen says those who took part in the siege will be held responsible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY ROSEN, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence or other criminal conduct, we will have no tolerance, whatsoever, for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power on January 20th that our Constitution calls for.
We will have no tolerance for any attempts to forcibly occupy government buildings. There will be no excuse for violence, vandalism or any other form of lawlessness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: An FBI office in Virginia says it warned last week that extremists were planning to descend on the U.S. Capitol to start a war. Authorities say it was a thread in an online message board and not attributable to a single person.
Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney says people will be shocked when they hear more of the witness accounts of what happened at the Capitol.
[02:10:00] CHURCH: Including open-handed combat with police officers and real working pipe bombs, in a truck parked nearby. They are considering putting some of the rioters on the no-fly list. Brian Todd has more on the investigation.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal law enforcement is quickly widening the scope of investigations into the violence at the Capitol. Hundreds of charges, officials say, are forthcoming.
MICHAEL SHERWIN, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: We're looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy.
We're looking at everything from simple trespass, to theft of mail, to theft of digital devices with inside the Capitol, to assault on local officers, federal officers both outside and inside the Capitol, to the theft of potential national security information or national defense information, to felony murder and even civil rights excessive force investigation.
So just the gamut of cases and criminal conduct we're looking at is really mind blowing.
TODD (voice-over): Law enforcement officials are seeking the public's help in finding suspects.
STEVEN D'ANTOUNO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE: We have received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media. The FBI has a long memory and a broad reach. Agents from all local field offices will be knocking on your door. If we find out that you are part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.
TODD (voice-over): The FBI says before Wednesday's riot, the bureau tried to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies.
D'ANTOUNO: We shared intelligence through the JTTF model and we also shared it through our command post structure. And then also through other means of -- they have access to our information readily available because they have access to our systems.
TODD (voice-over): Meanwhile, a chilling assessment from a congressman briefed by law enforcement on new threats to the U.S. Capitol.
REP. CONOR LAMB, (D-PA): They're talking about 4,000 armed patriots to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in and they have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don't. So this is -- this is an organized group that has a plan.
TODD (voice-over): Congressman Conor Lamb didn't name a specific group but did say, quote, they have to be stopped.
The perimeters around the Capitol, other government buildings and the monuments are being reinforced and expanded, ringed by high fences and thousands of National Guard troops. D.C. Metropolitan Police manning checkpoints at key intersections with huge dump trucks providing more barriers.
One of the most dangerous threats up to and on Inauguration Day:
PETER LICATA, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Primarily it's an active shooter, somebody with guns, that's going to just start shooting randomly into a crowd or overcrowd. And then you scale it up to snipers, with that being snipers and then the use of improvised explosive devices.
TODD (voice-over): Security at state capitals is ramping up significantly tonight.
Another lawmaker briefed by law enforcement spoke of how those making the threats are being tracked.
REP. TIM RYAN, (D-OH): There's a very aggressive response to this. A lot of the communication has dried up for a number of these people because they've been banned from some of the social media platforms like the president has.
TODD (voice-over): Meantime, manhunts continue for rioters who breached the Capitol last Wednesday. The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying a man seen in photos carrying a large confederate flag inside the Capitol during the riot.
On Tuesday, two men were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in Wednesday's riot. Including a man from Alabama alleged to have parked a truck filled with homemade bombs, guns and ammunition, two blocks from the Capitol. And officials say the investigation from this point will be unrelenting.
SHERWIN: We're looking at everything money, travel records, looking at disposition, movement, communication records, so no resource related to the FBI or the U.S. attorney's office will be unchecked.
TODD: And against the backdrop of the threat, there's new concern about possible leadership vacuums at key security agencies. The Department of Homeland Security is bringing in a new secretary after the acting secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned on Monday.
And the Capitol Hill police have just sworn in a brand-new chief after the resignation of their chief, Steven Sund -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Michael German is a former FBI special agent, specializing in domestic terrorism. He joins me now from Los Angeles.
Great to have you with us.
MICHAEL GERMAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Nice to be here. Thanks for having me. CHURCH: The U.S. Justice Department says people will be shocked when they hear witness accounts of the siege of the U.S. Capitol but an FBI report prewarned of war being planned at the U.S. Capitol.
So why did they fail to act on that?
GERMAN: I don't know what media they are following or the people they are talking to, because pretty much everything they've described -- the attacks on journalists, the attacks on police -- were broadcast over TV. And this is not the first time this has happened.
GERMAN: This has been happening, far-right militants engaging in public violence for the past four years and in cities all across this country. Just 2 weeks before the assault on the Capitol, far-right militants attacked the Oregon state house, breaching the doors and fighting with law enforcement.
There was a shooting with far-right militants in a Washington state house.
CHURCH: This appears to be less about an intelligence failure and more about a failure to act on the intelligence they actually have.
How confident are you that everything will be done to protect this country in the leadup to Joe Biden's inauguration?
Because we now know and the FBI knows, that armed protests are being planned in all 50 states and in D.C.
GERMAN: They have a lot of catching up to do. Again, this is the product of law enforcement at the state and local level, as well as the federal level, failing to police public violence by white supremacists and far-right militants groups that has been occurring across the country, in Portland; in Sacramento, California; in Charlottesville, Virginia.
These incidents did not come out of nowhere. They were organized groups of people who are traveling around the country, forecasting publicly through their social media, that they intended to commit violence, committing violence then using videos of that violence to promote themselves within the movement.
I don't follow Parler or 4chan or 8chan. I don't surf the Dark Web. They are doing this in public and the police have been ignoring it. So trying to catch up is going to be very difficult for them, particularly now, as the broadcast indicated, many of these people are now going underground and it will be much harder to track.
CHURCH: And they only have a matter of days to do this catch-up.
Do you think Joe Biden should be inaugurated in a safe, undisclosed location, to avoid the possibility of a worst-case scenario here?
GERMAN: Our federal and state and local law enforcement offices are perfectly capable of doing the job. It's just their leaders have not prioritized this threat. That's what needs to change.
What I am hearing from the FBI and these other agencies sounds really good. But it's similar to what they said after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville turned deadly. So it's time for them to actually focus on this threat. And they have a lot of work to do to catch up.
CHURCH: They have to have the will to do this. Michael German, thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it.
GERMAN: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH (voice-over): The five deadliest days of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic have all taking place this year, the latest records shattered just a short time ago. Details on that and the new strategy for distributing vaccines -- back in just a moment.
CHURCH: To the latest now on the global fight against COVID-19. The U.K. reported more than 1,200 fatalities on Tuesday, making it the second deadliest day since the pandemic started. That's only one example of how countries across Europe are struggling in their efforts to contain this virus. CNN's Melissa Bell has more from Paris.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Europe, several countries are continuing to fight a losing battle against the spread of COVID- 19. In Germany, the chancellor has been meeting with members of her own party according to German media reports. She is warning them about it she expects will be a difficult 8 to 10 weeks.
Angela Merkel, who only last week announced the extension and expansion of the current lockdown in place in Germany, warned of her fears about how fast the variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom might now be spreading in Germany.
That new variant is also at the heart of fears in the Netherlands, where one town has decided it will test all inhabitants to see just how fast it's spreading. The Netherlands have also announced an extension of their partial lockdown.
This Tuesday, also, Spain recording its highest number of infections since the pandemic began.
Portugal, the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths. Tuesday in France, nearly 20,000 new cases announced a single 24-hour
period. For the time being, French authorities say the curfew system in place in France should be enough. The French prime minister has refused to rule out a third partial lockdown.
On Wednesday, French government ministers will meet with the French president to take stock of the situation and decide whether more restrictions might be needed -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
CHURCH: Tuesday was the United States' deadliest day since the pandemic began. The coronavirus claimed more than 4,300 American lives. This is only the second time the death toll has topped 4,000.
After widespread criticism of the slow vaccine rollout, the U.S. government is trying to speed things up. It's releasing all available vaccines, instead of holding some back for second doses. The U.S. and Health and Human Services Secretary praised the new plan and blamed states for the slow rollout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: This next phase reflects the urgency of the situation we face. Every vaccine dose that's sitting in a warehouse, rather than going into an arm, could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied.
Some states' heavy-handed micromanagement of the process has stood in the way of vaccines reaching a broader swath of the vulnerable population more quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: He went on to say that the U.S. is on track to deliver 1 million vaccines a day in the near future.
CHURCH: Well, CNN medical analyst Dr. Esther Choo is with us now from Portland, Oregon.
Thank you, Doctor, for being with us and for all that you do.
DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So this country is in a very dark place right now, hitting a record number of COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. But now the federal government has changed policy on vaccines, calling on states to vaccinate adults 65 and older and committing to the release of all vaccine doses previously on hold.
Is that exactly what needs to be done here to turn the corner?
CHOO: There is a lot of divided opinion around that, because of course, the vaccines were designed to be a two dose regimen. Nothing has changed about that. That is still the plan. But the initial rollout was, of course, to hold back that second dose and make sure that people were able to do it.
I think deciding to distribute the vaccine widely to a larger swath of the population makes sense though for a couple of reasons.
First of all, production is ramping up very quickly. Today, Pfizer announced a more ambitious production goal of 2 billion, from 1.2 billion. Moderna has bumped up to 600 million, possibly as high as 1 billion and we will get another 100 million doses of Moderna by the end of March.
And so, it looks like we can ramp up production in parallel with this new plan and also the issue really has not been how much are we holding back and how much are we giving out. The distribution has been slow. So there is a lot simply sitting there.
So whether we are doing one dose for more people are two doses for a smaller number of people, we are not doing this very rapidly.
CHOO: So there is so much room to expand the population but really focus on simply getting it out.
And that, of course, in some ways, is a state issue but it's because they have been so under resourced and so not supported centrally for this process. And it's a tremendously expensive and time consuming process to distribute vaccine of course.
CHURCH: It did seem rich of U.S. health secretary Alex Azar to be blaming the states, as you point out.
They didn't get a lot of support from the feds, did they?
CHOO: Rich was exactly what I was thinking as I listened to that quote. I mean, to leave states dangling, with very little guidance, very little additional resources to do a massive effort for vaccine, when they have been doing a massive effort for testing, contact tracing, all the things that they have needed to do for pandemic control, is simply rich.
And you know, states right now are doing the best they can. Over the weekend, I spent an eight-hour shift doing vaccine distribution in my hometown. It really takes a lot of people volunteering on top of their regular jobs in order to do this.
And of course, it's very hard to ask health care workers to do this in this time but that's the kind of thing we are relying on because we don't have the dollars to mobilize the workforce around this.
CHURCH: And Alex Azar also instructed states to set up mass vaccinations. We know at this point that the National Guard is administering COVID-19 vaccines in 12 states.
Should that be happening in all states? And how do you make that happen, do it en masse like that?
CHOO: Yes, I mean, I think that is the kind of effort that we need and lots of creative solutions, mobilizing, kind of emergency workforces in order to do this. It doesn't take a lot of expertise.
I also think that you know, we have a huge unemployment problem and we have a huge need for a new workforce to administer vaccines. Perhaps those issues could be paired so that we can solve two problems at once. But again, that requires a lot of central coordination and an influx of emergency funds.
CHURCH: And two new polls are showing that there are an increasing number of Americans who now say that they are willing to get a COVID- 19 vaccine.
Does that give you some hope that sufficient number of people will get vaccinated and therefore create the herd immunity that this country needs?
CHOO: It's very reassuring to see those numbers. There was a dip in confidence and willingness to take vaccine in September and now it seems like reliably across the polls, the overall percentage of willingness is 60 percent or even higher.
Of course, the caveat is there is a lot of variability in some populations. We still see because of historical and ongoing racism in the health care field. There is a lot of mistrust among Black Americans.
So that is something we really need to address with good information. And by minimizing any access to vaccines.
But overall, numbers are going up. And I think another reassuring statistic is that among those who don't plan to get vaccines right now, about half of them say that they are watching. And if they see evidence of safety in the first rollout, they would be willing to get it at a later date. So that is a little silver lining to the slow rollout of vaccine.
CHURCH: Right. Indeed. Dr. Esther Choo, always a pleasure to chat with you and thank you again for all you do.
CHOO: My pleasure.
CHURCH: U.S. lawmakers are on the verge of impeaching President Trump for the second time. And with more Republicans turning on him, the president is warning against this new vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.
We are just hours away from an historic second impeachment vote against president Donald Trump. No other sitting president has been impeached twice. More Republicans are turning on the president after last week's riot at the Capitol, saying they support the impeachment.
That includes at least 5 House members and the third ranking House Republican.
Meanwhile, the FBI says there was chatter online before the riot about Trump supporters ready for war and that the information was shared with counter-terrorism partners before the attack. Authorities say their investigations have uncovered alarming new details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN D'ANTUONO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE: In six days, we have opened over 160 case files and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
There is a lot of misconceptions about what happened within the Capitol and it will come into laser focus, I think, over the last weeks and days. And I think people will be shocked with some of the egregious contact that happened within the Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A source close to Donald Trump tells CNN there is no consideration of the president resigning. As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, he is expressing no remorse over last week's events.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without an ounce of regret, President Trump took no responsibility for inciting a violent mob of his supporters who breached the Capitol, attacked police officers and threatened to kill the vice president.
TRUMP: It has been analyzed. And people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.
COLLINS (voice-over): As he left the White House today, Trump denounced violence, but insisted he didn't instigate it.
TRUMP: They've analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence. And everybody to the T thought it was totally appropriate.
We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. And we're going to the Capitol. We're going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don't need any of our help, we are going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.
COLLINS (voice-over): The president portrayed himself as the victim of a new effort by Democrats to impeach him a second time.
TRUMP: It's really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger.
COLLINS (voice-over): Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded by saying Trump shouldn't be in office for another day.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused, is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators.
COLLINS (voice-over): After he landed in Texas, Trump delivered scripted remarks on the attack.
TRUMP: Respect for law enforcement and the great people within law enforcement -- so many are here -- is the foundation of the MAGA agenda.
COLLINS (voice-over): Unlike Democrats wanted, it became less likely that Vice President Pence would galvanize the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from power after he finally spoke to Trump for the first time since Wednesday.
Trump and Pence pledged to serve the remainder of their term, as one member of Trump's cabinet didn't rule out conversations about the 25th Amendment.
ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The rhetoric last week was unacceptable. I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here. I'm committed -- I have wrestled with this -- I'm committed to see this through in my role as Health Secretary during a pandemic.
COLLINS: And while the president was in Texas, he said he was not worried about the 25th Amendment being a threat to him but warned, in some kind of veiled threat, that it could be one to Joe Biden when he takes office.
Of course, shortly after the president returned from Texas, we did finally get a definitive statement from the vice president; in a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying he said he will not be invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHURCH: We are seeing more corporate backlash against president Trump after the assault on the U.S. Capitol. He is now being cut off from a major source of loans. Meantime, the president is lashing out at the tech companies that are banning him. John Defterios is joining us live from Dubai with more.
Good to see you, John. Big tech companies applying more pressure on the president.
What has been the impact so far?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Rosemary, they are coming thick and fast from technology and finance. The latest from YouTube, owned by Google, says because a video posting inciting hatred, they will suspend the president for at least a week. They have a three strikes and you are out policy. So this is strike one.
We have had in five days, five major tech companies from Silicon Valley taking action, that would be Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter.
The president on his trip yesterday was saying this action by Silicon Valley is dividing the country. But as you know, Rosemary, people would turn that around completely and say to the president, you've done it for four years.
In fact, tech companies gave too much leeway because they were enjoying the traffic generated by the president and those alternative sites like Parler, which action was taken against since the weekend as well.
CHURCH: John, the banks are vowing not to do business with Donald Trump.
Have you ever seen such pressure applied to a President of the United States when it comes to pressure like this?
DEFTERIOS: It's impossible to find a case like this because of the intertwinings between the president and his operations before. They would not take action because they were fearing reprisals if he got reelected.
So the two that took action, one of them is the largest bank in Germany, Deutsche Bank, with huge exposure to the Trump Organization. We're talking about $2.5 billion, $340 million of those loans are due over the next they years. They said they will do no more business.
They've had executives resign that handled the Trump accounts over the last couple of weeks.
The other one, a very small bank in New York, the personal bank for the president, called Signature, saying it is starting to shut down the accounts for Trump. They went so far as to say they would like to see him resign. So the president not welcome back on many fronts in his home state -- now he's in Florida -- but in New York City for sure.
CHURCH: Yes, so many companies saying, enough is enough. Apparently there is a line. John Defterios, joining us live from Dubai, many thanks.
The verdict in the trial of a South Korean religious leader is out. He is accused of hiding information from authorities related to the country's coronavirus outbreak. We will have the details for you on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
CHURCH: As Japan struggles with spiking coronavirus infections, officials insist the Tokyo Olympics will go on as scheduled, starting in July. That is despite a state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding areas due to the pandemic.
A poll by broadcaster NHK finds more than three-quarters of people in Japan think the games should either be canceled or postponed for a second time. Only 16 percent say the Olympics should move forward as planned.
Not long ago, something of a mixed verdict in the trial of a religious leader at the center of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak. He was accused of hampering efforts to contact trace and investigate after his followers were suspected of spreading the virus last year.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is covering the verdict live for us from Seoul and joins us now.
What's the latest on this?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we have had a judgment from the court itself. They have found that Lee Man-hee, the leader of this religious group, Shincheonji, was not guilty of violating the antivirus laws but was partially guilty of obstruction of justice, also saying he's guilty of embezzlement, embezzling more than $5 million.
But what the sentence means is that he has been sentenced to three years suspended. So he won't actually be spending any time in prison. He is an 89-year-old man, so presumably, that was taken into consideration when the judgment came down.
What this refers to is almost a year ago now, back in February and March of last year, when the first wave of COVID infections really hit South Korea, they were based around this one religious group in Daegu, a city down in the south of the country.
Patient 31, who has become famous here in South Korea as being a member of this group, testing positive, unbeknownst at the time and then going to church services, where there were many more infections. Within two weeks, there were 4,000 infections.
So prosecutors had alleged that authorities, including Lee Man-hee, had actually been stonewalling the authorities and not allowing them to follow up and contact trace with their members.
But he has now been found not guilty of violating those antivirus laws. But of course, he is going to be guilty of the other charges and Shincheonji has already said they are going to appeal the guilty charges -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Many thanks to our Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date on the story from Seoul.
Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more news at the top of the hour. For now, "WORLD SPORT" is next.