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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
U.S. Hits Record Average Number Of New COVID Cases; Legendary NFL Coach And Broadcaster John Madden Dies At 85; January 6th Select Committee Eyes Interim Report By Summer 2022, Full Report By Fall 2022; Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Dies; Family Speaks Out After Tragic Death Of 14-Year-Old Girl Killed During LAPD Shooting; VA Time Capsule Opened, Revealing Newspapers, Books, Coins & Magazine Image Of Figure Weeping Over Lincoln's Grave. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 28, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Nearly two years into a pandemic, it is the last place anyone hoped to be, yet it is where we begin tonight.
Jim Acosta here, in for Anderson.
New cases of COVID are now averaging more than a quarter million a day. That's a record. The number of kids hospitalized with COVID is approaching the peak levels reached in September. There's late word from the F.D.A. that those home antigen tests which have been in such hot demand lately, might not be as sensitive to the new omicron variant as they are to older strains.
This, as hospitals, schools, transportation network, and other institutions are scrambling to cope with all of it. A lot to talk about tonight.
CNN's Tom Foreman starts us off.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nationwide hospitalizations of children with COVID are up. On average, nearly 50 percent in just one week.
New York City is seeing pediatric admissions jump to five times what they were. In Washington, D.C. half the kids coming to Children's National Hospital are testing positive. All told, an average of more than 300 children are being hospitalized each day. That's not because current variants are uniquely targeting them, but because --
DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: We see children who are hospitalized because of the COVID or are in the ICU because of COVID, they're all unvaccinated. They are unvaccinated, the parents are unvaccinated, the siblings are unvaccinated.
FOREMAN (voice over): Others fear the return to school next week could be even worse. DR. ALLISON MESSINA, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: I think that what we're going to see is once children go back to school within a week or two of schools opening is when we're going to see our highest numbers.
FOREMAN (voice over): Amid the winter weather, the pandemic is roaring across the country with over a quarter million new cases now diagnosed daily. That's a record.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: This omicron variant is such a game changer in terms of its high, high transmissibility, it's like this big virus blizzard.
FOREMAN (voice over): Hospitalization are only about half of what they were last winter. But some states are seeing peaks there, too, and more vaccinated medical workers are experiencing breakthrough cases and being sent home just when demand for their expertise is soaring.
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's still an impossible strain on an already strained healthcare system. So I understand the pressure to get workers back earlier.
FOREMAN (voice over): The virus is spreading so fast, the impact is now going far beyond the widely reported Holiday travel problems.
In New York City, Apple has closed all its stores to browsing shoppers. In Maryland, courts are cutting back their winter schedules. And everywhere, health officials are fretting over the long lines for testing.
DR. ALLISON MESSINA: So I think that that's going to be a significant challenge and if we can overcome that supply challenge and also the cost challenge, I think that will help us tremendously.
FOREMAN (on camera): Some health officials think the C.D.C.'s new recommendation of a five-day isolation period for some people who test positive might help with all these challenges because it'll put more people back on the job sooner. But others fear the pandemic right now is just so aggressive, short of a lot of people finally agreeing to get vaccinated, there is nothing we can do but watch the numbers rise for a while -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Tom Foreman, thanks so much. One other late note, tonight's Holiday Bowl between UCLA and North Carolina State has been cancelled. This after the Bruins announced that internal COVID protocols would keep the team from playing.
And joining us now is Andy Slavitt, President Biden's a former senior White House adviser for COVID response and author of "Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response."
Andy, what's your reaction to the record number of new cases in the U.S.? And do you think we're currently in the peak of this wave? Or do you think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better?
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: Well, Jim, I think we're probably a couple of weeks, maybe three weeks out from peak. But I suspect by the end of January things will peak, and there is no question that January will be filled with a lot of short-term challenges -- hospital beds, staffing, shortages of tests, shortages of almost everything -- it is tough for the system to handle this many cases at once.
But I think if there's a silver lining, when it comes out fast, it's likely to go down even more quickly and what we will see is hopefully not nearly as severe. We'll still see a lot of cases in hospitals, we'll see a lot of deaths. But hopefully, this will be much milder on a percentage basis than what we've seen with delta.
ACOSTA: Let's hope and as you know, President Biden is revoking travel restrictions on Southern African countries. When the restrictions were put in place late last month, as you know, the administration said at the time it was to buy time, but what do you think anyway -- was that time wasted to some extent as far as ramping up testing capabilities where -- I mean, we're almost two years into this pandemic, isn't in a major problem that people are scrambling at drugstores and whatnot to find these tests?
SLAVITT: Well look, I think, in a crisis like this where things are growing exponentially, sometimes everyday helps. It is problematic to maintain a travel ban against a country that is really doing its duty by reporting it, when you really should have are great protocols inside airports to check when people are coming in from those countries or any country.
So I'm glad that the travel ban is gone. As for rapid at-home tests, and quite frankly, we'll see shortages of other things before January is done. I don't think a few days would have mattered there, Jim. I think this has been a month-long process.
We've quadrupled the number of tests in the last couple of months, but we still need hundreds and hundreds of millions more. Given the demand, I think we've got a good thing in these tests, but there won't be enough of it in many places to get us through the most trying time, and particularly the Holidays.
ACOSTA: And how concerning is it that the F.D.A. is now saying that these antigen tests, these at-home antigen tests may be less sensitive to picking up the omicron variant. That's a major piece of the strategy to keep schools open, really to keep many of the -- you know, airports, all these other important parts of our infrastructure open.
SLAVITT: I need to see more before I get too nervous. And so I wouldn't just yet. It's a good reminder that almost every tool we have whether it's a vaccine, a booster, at-home test, respiratory mask isn't 100 percent perfect.
So it's always wise to use, you know, one or more of these things if you want to be doubly certain that most of them only dramatically reduce the risk, and I think what we'll probably find here is that, you know, there are periods of time when overcrowding is infectious at the beginning, where the antigen test isn't yet able to pick it up.
But I think the recommendation will very likely be that you get two antigen tests in a box, take one on a Monday, and then take a second one on a Tuesday. And that way, you can be much more certain of the results of the test.
ACOSTA: And let's talk about these new C.D.C. isolation guidelines. The nation's largest nurses' union is saying, and they said -- this is a quote here, "This is about what's good for business, not what's good for public health." The biggest flight attendants union is saying, quote, "We cannot allow pandemic fatigue to lead to decisions that extend the life of the pandemic or put policies on the backs of workers."
Do these organizations have a point?
SLAVITT: Well, look, I'd like for the five days to at least be amended with an after the fifth day, thou shalt take a test and show a negative test or two, before being released. So as long as you say, look, if you have no symptoms, and you test negative, then five days, according to most people I talk to feels like it's going to be sufficient.
There are people that are infectious after the seventh or eighth or ninth day, but generally speaking, they're going to test positive in an antigen test and/or they're going to be feeling symptoms.
So I think I wouldn't just take five days in a vacuum. But five days, there are a lot of people who have to five days, the vast majority of whom are no longer infectious. And so if you can get a confirming test, I think then you're probably okay.
ACOSTA: And the President said today that he'll make a decision on domestic travel vaccine requirements when he gets a recommendation from his medical team. You know, you were once an advisor. In that regard, you think it's time to think about vaccine mandates to fly domestically?
We heard Dr. Anthony Fauci hinting at that would be something he would support, and then he sort of walked that back. Where are you on this?
SLAVITT: Well, look, I think it should be on the table. And I think that the definition of vaccination now really needs to be a third dose because if we're talking about infectiousness, we know the third dose or we call it a booster does way better than just two.
So I think I'm all for tightening that up. And then look, I put this in front of the President, I think it's a complex question. I'm not sure which way I would advise him unless I was looking at all the data and all the facts. But certainly, it's an option that he has available to him. And I think he knows he's got it available to him.
And if we get into January, I hope that his advisers and I'm confident that his advisers are going to be pushing for a decision one way or the other.
ACOSTA: All right, Andy Slavitt, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it.
SLAVITT: Thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: And given the climbing pediatric hospitalization numbers, I want to focus more closely now on what parents need to know especially as back to school approaches.
Let's talk to Dr. Paul Offit who we saw him briefly in Tom Foreman's report a few moments ago. He is director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is all also a member of the F.D.A.'s Vaccine Advisory Committee.
Dr. Offit, this is concerning that we're seeing these pediatric hospitalizations on the rise in this country. They are now near their September peak in the U.S. how concerned are you about this?
OFFIT: Well, it's winter and this is a winter virus. So you would expect that there would be an increase, much as the same way that we see an increase in influenza respiratory syncytial virus or other winter respiratory viruses.
Omicron is definitely more contagious, and I can tell you that in our hospital, we are definitely seeing more cases of children with COVID. The good news is we're not seeing a dramatic increase at all really in children who have to be hospitalized, meaning we're seeing them in the Emergency Department, for example or as they come in for other reasons. We're seeing that there's an increased percentage of children who are positive.
But for children who come in because of the COVID for treatment of COVID, or go to the ICU for treatment of COVID, those numbers are dramatically up. So, what you're seeing is a dissociation then between cases and severe cases.
ACOSTA: And can you just tell us what you're seeing specifically in your hospital with pediatric cases and hospitalizations right now?
OFFIT: Right, so we're seeing pretty much what the national average is seeing. So we see, for the most part, it's mostly children over five and certainly a lot of children over 12. I would say two- thirds of them have a comorbidity. The comorbidity most commonly being obesity, but one-third of them don't, which means that any child therefore is at risk of being hospitalized.
And as I said earlier, I think in your little prelude there, you know, none of those children are vaccinated nor their parents, nor is their family. So, it is really frustrating and this was hard enough last year when we didn't have a vaccine. Now, we have a vaccine that can prevent all this suffering and hospitalization and ICU admissions. And so we should do it.
You know, the job of the parent is to put their children in the safest position possible. That's what these vaccines do.
ACOSTA: And when you talk to these parents or your staff, when they talk to these parents, do some of them talk about being regretful that they did not get their kids vaccinated? Are they just as stubborn that not getting them vaccinated was the right call?
OFFIT: No, most of them are regretful.
I mean, it is interesting. If you look at parent activist groups, like Families Fighting Flu, or Meningitis Angels, or the National Meningitis Association, all these parents always tell the same story, which is children who has suffered, you know, meningitis or suffered severe or fatal influenza disease, they all say, you know, I just can't believe this happened to me until it happens to them.
And then when it happens to them, they become vigorous activists, you know, to educate people about the disease, to educate people about the importance of vaccines, but you shouldn't wait for that to happen.
I mean, it is a game of Russian roulette in many ways, and although it's not five empty chambers, maybe it's 100,000 empty chambers, but it is nonetheless that game and it's not a game you want to play.
I mean, this is -- it's not a commonly severe disease in children, but it can be severe in children, and as long as you can prevent it safely, we should prevent it, and we can prevent it safely.
ACOSTA: And there are a lot of concerned parents around the country who are worried about sending their kids back to school safely after the Holiday break. I mean, what is the advice that you are getting? Some are wondering if it's better to keep kids home for a week or so to let the dust settle. A bit -- if the school district isn't doing mandatory testing ahead of time? What's your message to parents?
OFFIT: I think as Andy Slavitt said just a minute ago, I think it's going to be a rough six weeks, and then I do think things will settle down I think by no later than mid-February, but the next six weeks are going to be rough. So vaccinate your child before they go to school.
If they're over five, make sure that certainly all the teachers in school are vaccinated and the children were masked, at least for the next, you know, six weeks or so, during this period when this highly contagious virus is spreading, and then we'll get past this hump, but just hang in there for the next six weeks. Vaccinate, mask. We're going to get there.
ACOSTA: All right, we're going to try to hang in there. All right, Dr. Paul Offit, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
All right, next, breaking news, one of pro football's most recognizable and best loved figures of all time has died. A look at the life and impact of coach and truly legendary broadcaster, John Madden.
And later, after so much work behind closed doors, late word tonight on when and how the House Select Committee plans to go public in its investigation of the Capitol attack, and we'll be joined by two veterans of the Watergate hearings to talk about what we might see this time around.
ACOSTA: Whether you're a lifelong football fan, a video gamer or a lover of classic beer commercials or you just hate to fly, this next piece of breaking news will hit home.
Hall of fame coach and legendary broadcaster, John Madden, whose name was associated with all of the above and more has died.
He was 85.
And in addition to all of the above or perhaps because of it, he held a special place in the hearts of millions for the humanity he brought to all of it. More now from CNN's Andy Scholes.
JOHN MADDEN, HALL OF FAME COACH AND LEGENDARY BROADCASTER: I've never worked a day in my life. I went from player to coach to a broadcaster and I am the luckiest guy in the world.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Super Bowl winning coach, pioneering broadcaster, video game icon, a larger than life personality, John Madden was by any definition, a true original.
During his 30-year broadcasting career, Madden was widely considered the voice of the National Football League.
MADDEN: You have to attack them with the passion, you have to attack them deep with a passion.
SCHOLES: His passionate way of calling games with unique catch phrases --
MADDEN: Packers came out. They went boom and they got 10 points.
SCHOLES: And a love for using a Telestrator helped explain the game to hardcore and casual fans across America.
He called NFL games for all four major networks announcing 11 Super Bowls and earning 16 Sports Emmys during his time in the broadcast booth.
Madden's NFL playing career was short lived. He was drafted in 1958 by the Philadelphia Eagles, but a knee injury cut it all short. That's when he decided to try his hand at coaching, eventually becoming the youngest head coach in professional football history at the age of 33.
In 1977, he led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory and is still the franchise's all-time wins leader. Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his coaching career in 2006.
MADDEN: Boom. Fast acting Tinactin.
SCHOLES: Madden was a television advertisers dream becoming the pitch man for numerous brands.
MADDEN: Let me tell you, ACE is the place for me.
SCHOLES: In 1988, Madden entered the video game world lending his voice and name to what is now called Madden NFL.
MADDEN: You know anything that goes that far that fast, want to have dinner and an in-flight movie.
SCHOLES: His video game is still the most popular football video game ever selling more than 100 million copies worldwide.
Whether it was his video game, his broadcasting career or as a Hall of Fame coach, his passion for the game is what will always be remembered.
MADDEN: Some of us think maybe we will be immortal, that we will live forever. But when you really think about it, we're not going to be, but I say this through this bust with these guys in that hall, we will be forever.
ACOSTA: And that was Andy Scholes reporting and joining us now CNN sports analyst and "U.S.A. Today" columnist, Christine Brennan. Christine. So many fond memories of John Madden, I grew up watching him calling those Washington football team games, you know, against the Eagles and the Giants and the Cowboys, he and Pat Summerall. They were just legends in the broadcast booth.
But course, he had an amazing career in the NFL, as well as a coach. What do you think his legacy is going to be? I mean, I should also mention, I think I bought every one of those Madden NFL games for my kids, you know, over the years as well.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Sure. Well, what you just said I think is really illustrative, Jim, of the impact of John Madden. You asked what his legacy will be or is now even, it's the NFL where it is. This is, of course, our national pastime.
This is -- you know, Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday. Everyone watches the games. You turn it on, the TV ratings, you know, any other sport pales in comparison. And John Madden really was the epitome of the NFL and brought the NFL into everyone's home at the moment it was exploding in our consciousness.
Those Raider teams, those renegade Raider teams, at the Super Bowl, such a young coach, he retired at 42 with a Super Bowl victory with an incredible record as a coach. And then he goes on to a second act, Jim, and a third act.
And it's all happening exactly as the NFL is becoming our most popular league in sport and a part of our culture, not just sports, but really a way of life for so many American fans and so many people who just -- or casual sports fans who just love NFL football.
So Madden really personified, I think, everything that brought those fans to the game.
ACOSTA: Yes, he made the game so relatable. I mean, who can forget when you know, a running back would hit the hole, you know, he would go boom. He would, you know, he would talk about how the running back would hit the hole and go boom. And he would use that Telestrator to draw, you know, circles around the players on the screen to show you know which way they were going as the play was developing.
And so he would sometimes draw circles around the Gatorade, you know, containers on the sidelines and talk -- he would talk about just all the atmospherics and the color that you would see going on at NFL games.
He just had a knack for making it so relatable.
Some of his stats as coach, though, seven AFC title games and Super Bowl win with the Raiders is incredible. But he retired from coaching at the age of 42. I find that to be just an interesting, you know, part of his, I guess, his career and the history of his career. How big of a surprise was that at the time that he left coaching at that age.
BRENNAN: I remember being surprised. I wasn't yet in the business, but obviously as a fan, it was like you had this great team, you've got this great record. You're one of the best coaches to ever coach the game and you leave.
Well, there was so much more yet to come for John Madden and we're so lucky as sports fans, Jim that he did that, that he then went to the booth. He worked as Andy's piece said, for every network as an analyst and he brought the game to Americans and with a human touch.
I mean, this larger than life fellow literally, I knew him. I didn't know him well, but what a kind, gentle soul, a smart man, a lovely human being and so the perfect person to again be that personification of the league that he loves so much for millions of American sports fans and yes, a great coach.
But also there are so many people now born and raised in loving football, who didn't even know he was a coach, because it was the man- bust. It was the man in the booth, and then of course the video game and all those commercials, he carved out an incredible life for himself and deservedly so, as remembered so fondly tonight.
ACOSTA: Yes, he was football. No question about it. All right, Christine Brennan, we could talk all night about this. Maybe I'll give you a call later. We'll reminisce about John Madden.
Thanks so much. We appreciate it.
BRENNAN: You bet. Thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, next, with the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol approaching. What we're learning about the Select Committee's s timeline for going public with what it is learning these days. That's coming up.
ACOSTA: As the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Capitol approaches, we're learning more tonight about what to expect from the House Select Committee investigating it, most significantly, about when the accountability process might actually go public.
CNN has learned that the Committee plans to hold hearings to be followed by an interim report by summer and a full report by the fall, though the timeline is said to be flexible. Members have as you know already interviewed more than 300 witnesses and have issued dozens of subpoenas.
As for what we might get to see when we actually see it on TV, we are joined by David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and adviser to Democratic and Republican Presidents dating back to the Nixon administration. Also former congresswoman, Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate. More recently, she's the author of "The Case for Impeaching Trump."
David, let me start with you. What do you think the Committee is trying to achieve with this new timeline? And do you think this is going to be effective? I mean, a lot of people are wondering, you know, is this going to, you know, is this going to take too long, you know, to have this report, this full report come out in the fall right before the midterms?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Again, both sides are having an eye on the clock. In the Democrats' case, they really want to keep things speed up as much as they can, probably as they can because they know in November, they may lose the House of Representatives and the midterm votes, and they want to make their case before that midterm vote, so that they can keep their numbers in the House that's close to majority as possible, and also as a setup for the general election.
And so far, I think they have done better than I would have expected and that the hearings are very, very important, especially in Washington. They have not captured the imagination of the public as best I can tell.
The event itself, the assault on the Capitol, of course, my deep into public psyche, but since then, it's had a quality of being sort of a below the fold kind of story of the newspaper business.
ACOSTA: I think you're right and that should change. It should be above the fold, no question about it.
Congresswoman, with an interim report over the summer and a final report due in the fall, how likely is it that Republican allies of the President will try to run out the clock?
I mean, if they're looking at a report coming out in the fall, and it's being announced that it's going to come out in the fall? I mean, how likely is it that they're going to run out the clock? Is that likelihood any number below 100%?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, WATERGATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBER: Well, they're going to try and I'm reminded of a quote, I'm going to read or try to paraphrase from Richard Nixon, who told his aides, he said, just don't we'll take the fifth. Do whatever you can't cover up or anything else, if it'll keep the plan going.
So, I mean, that's what we see Stonewall, take the fifth, cover up, do whatever they can. But the fact of the matter is, is still will be many witnesses who can tell what happened. And we don't need the full report for the public to be persuaded about the basic narrative. Remember, in Watergate, what was key when the Senate started his hearings, was when John Dean testified, that blew the lid off everything, and that focusing American people's attention on the fact that the President himself could be guilty.
So, we didn't need the Senate report was issued in 1974. I don't know anybody read that. But they listened to John Dean. And they saw the testimony that came out. So that's the critical thing, the public hearings, who the witnesses are, what the documents are, how sincere they are, how well the members of the committee handle themselves. All of those things are going to be critical to persuading the public about the President's involvement and his guilt, whether it's criminal or otherwise, his role in this, which is awful, and horrific.
ACOSTA: And David, our learning in just the last several minutes that the former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has passed away. He's been battling illness for some time. I had a chance to interview him a couple of times this past year, he was 82 years old, but really just a legendary figure in the history of the United States Senate. You had multiple opportunities to work with him over the years, during his long career. How do you think he's going to be remembered as a Democratic leader in this town?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think I think he will be remembered as a small coming from small town America, and working his way up and becoming Senate Majority Leader. That in itself is a real feat. I think in terms of what he actually will be remembered for by historians. He will not be in sort of upper tier president, he will not be remembered or top leaders of the country. But he won't be new and he wants to be remembered for I think, as parts of chip. And I think the man, I think Harry Reid underneath was a better man than he was sometimes portrayed in the media. There was a lot about him, and at least in my conversations with him, and I came, I came over expecting him. But he wrote, he's got a bit of a rough ride on the media.
ACOSTA: And, Congresswoman, let me ask you about, you know, some of the Harry Reid told me just before his passing in interviews this year, he said that it's time to get rid of the filibuster. He did issue, you know, a cautionary warning about expanding the Supreme Court. So he was an institutionalist in many ways. But, you know, as somebody who you know, practice the art of the filibuster, and so on as a Senate leader, at the end of his life, he was warning the country that this is standing in the way of important progress.
HOLTZMAN: Well, he was right about that. And Harry Reid was a great strategist, actually brilliant tactician. He was very smart in that respect shrewd, and handled the Democratic majority when he had it in the Senate. Well, his warning about the Supreme Court, well, we'll see what happens with that. But the filibuster right now is standing in the way as he said, of something that's really vital, namely the right of every American to vote and have his or her vote counted. And nothing can be more basic than that. And if some rule of the Senate stands in the way of getting that, making sure that every American has the right to vote and the vote counted, then we got to change that rule.
ACOSTA: Yes, I remember over the summer, Senator Reid telling me that one of the things he enjoyed doing was giving former House Speaker John Boehner a hard time. But at the same time, he said they got a lot done and there was sort of an understanding back in those days and you know, it was combative back then as well, David Gergen, but, you know, you could get things done and be congenial behind the scenes even if you are duking it out fighting it out in the headlines, and it's just that is so sorely missed these days.
GERGEN: Well, that's true. You know, Reagan had this rule that a lot of others are followed (INAUDIBLE). Before five o'clock in the afternoon, you can knock the brains out of the other side. After five o'clock, have a great sit down and tell stories and that worked pretty well for Lyndon Johnson. It didn't work out too well for Harry Reid, but it's just a better way of doing things than what we have now. That's for damn sure.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. All right, well, David Gergen, Elizabeth Holtzman, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
The breaking news, the former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has passed away, and we'll continue that coverage as the night goes on.
In the meantime, an emotional day for the family of a 14-year-old girl who was shot in a dressing room during a police shooting right before Christmas. They spoke out for the first time today about the teen's legacy in her last moments with her mother. CNN's Kyung Lah has a tragic story that's coming up next.
ACOSTA: A gut wrenching scene in Los Angeles today the mother and father of the 14-year-old girl who was killed during a police shooting at a department store on December 23rd appeared before reporters for the first time. The victim's mother shared what those final seconds of her daughter's life were like as they huddled together in a dressing room holding one another.
Here's CNN's senior national correspondent Kyung Lah has the details. And will warn you some of the video you're about to watch is violent and maybe difficult to take in.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Searching for strength no parent should ever need, Soledad Peralta recounted the horror no mother should ever live.
LAH (voice-over): Something struck my daughter Valentina Peralta says it threw us to the ground and she died in my arms. That something was a bullet from a Los Angeles police officer. The LAPD was responding to multiple calls of an attacker in the Burlington clothing store in North Hollywood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a hostile customer in my store, attacking, attacking customers.
LAH (voice-over): In the chaos of 911 calls were reports of a shooter inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a guy with a gun.
LAH (voice-over): Police say the attacker did not have a gun. But this metal bike lock, which you use to strike random female shoppers hitting one so violently, she was bleeding on the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's bleeding, she's bleeding!
LAH (voice-over): The LAPD says as they shot the suspect, one of those bullets ricocheted off the floor and went through the wall, striking 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta in the chest. She was hugging her mother in a dressing room as they hid from that attacker. They were praying. You can hear the horror in the seconds after the bullet struck Valentina.
LAH (voice-over): Our sweet angel is gone forever, she says. Valentina, give us the strength to bring you justice. My daughter, I love you.
Her father held up a skateboard. The Christmas present Valentina never opened.
(FOREIGN LANGUAGE) LAH (voice-over): I'm going to leave it at her graves as her father so she can skate with the angels.
Valentina and her parents are immigrants from Chile. The 14-year-old wanted to stay in America say her parents believing it was safer here.
BEN CRUMP, FATHER'S ATTORNEY: They came to America from Chile to get away from violence and injustice. They can't believe this happened in America.
ACOSTA: And Kyung, what is the status of the LAPD investigation to this officer involved shooting?
LAH: Well, the LAPD is indicating that it is very early in its investigation that these are just days after the shooting Jim. This will be reviewed by the California Attorney General's office as well as the California Department of Justice. The officer who fired those shots, that officer has been placed unpaid administrative leave as per department policy. And as far as the parents, Jim, we are hearing that through a lawyer they're looking into a possible civil lawsuit. Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Kyung Lah, thank you very much for.
Joining us now is one of the attorneys representing the girl's mother and sister, Rahul Ravipudi.
Rahul, thanks for joining us. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. First, how are Valentino's parents holding up tonight? I can't imagine their heart, their hearts must be just so broken right now.
RAHUL RAVIPUDI, ATTORNEY FOR MOTHER AND SISTER OF VALENTINA ORELLANA- PERALTA: Yes, Jim, their hearts are broken. It's been broken since December 23rd. And there's not going to be any healing of those hearts. But they're exhausted. They are absolutely exhausted. They wanted to tell everybody how they were feeling. They appreciate all of the love and support that they've received. But it's just been hard.
ACOSTA: And looking at the response from the LAPD so far, it's obviously still early in the process, as Kyung was just saying a few moments ago. But based on what you've seen so far, what do you make of how this investigation is being handled?
RAVIPUDI: Well, I think there's two things going on here. One, the reason why the footage that they've chosen to release as quickly as they did happen, I think, is because of the public outcry. And so, they're responding to that, more so than, in my opinion, doing just the right thing.
And with respect to how they're delivering the information, if you saw the initial communications by the police chief more, were not consistent with what we saw on the videos. And the videos that we've received are not all of the videos. And so what we're really looking for is transparency with all of the evidence out there, and I just haven't seen it yet. And unfortunately, that's not surprising to me.
ACOSTA: And Valentina's father today said during the press conference that he quote, will not rest until justice for his daughter is served. What is that justice, that sense of justice in his mind, you think?
RAVIPUDI: Well, you know, the sense of justice, really, the ball is in the LAPDs court right now on that as to how they're going to respond and react. You know, hope springs eternal, but an ideal situation would be where the LAPD actually reaches out and they say, hey, look, we've looked at the video, any reasonable person would recognize that that was an unreasonable use of force, violation of LAPD policies, and it's our fault.
Now, the bigger question and the LAPD should be more introspective and be asking for our help in working hand in hand and trying to figure out, is this a systemic problem? Is this inadequate training? Is this inadequate supervision? Are the policies and procedures wrong? Is the culture wrong? And generate reform so that there are no other parents with children like Valentina that are lost needlessly. And if reform can be developed, that would be fantastic. And it could lead to the improvement of the culture of the LAPD and maybe of law enforcement all across the country.
And, you know, without speaking directly or on behalf of the parents, I know that's exactly what they want.
ACOSTA: All right, Rahul Ravipudi, our hearts go out to the family. Thank you so much for being with us tonight. We appreciate it.
RAVIPUDI: No, thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
Coming up, as the January 6 committee works to reveal their findings, the former president's allies appear to have a strategy to drag out the investigation. CNN's Sara Murray walks us through that next.
ACOSTA: As we mentioned earlier in the broadcast, the January 6 committee has set a goal of releasing an interim report with their initial findings by the summer, potentially complicating that timeline loyalists to the president. Many have defined Congress and evaded questions as they praise the former president of United States, it's a consistent strategy emerging among some of his most devoted allies when it comes to the investigation surrounding the Capitol riot.
CNN political correspondent Sara Murray breaks down their method and what it could mean for the committee.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Dan Scavino everybody, the famous Dan Scavino.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the House Select Committee struggled in October to serve former Trump aide Dan Scavino with a subpoena, Scavino took to Twitter, the dangerous and false narrative of me trying to avoid or evade a subpoena is a disgrace. Not one attempt was made to contact serve me when I was at Mar-a-Lago for six days.
Scavino, who was eventually served hired a lawyer quietly engaged with the committee and still has not testified. His status as a witness is in limbo. Scavino's allegiance to Trump is on full display.
In a December jaunt to Mar-a-Lago, a game four of the World Series in Atlanta, and an October rally in Iowa.
TRUMP: Hello Iowa and I'm thrilled to be back --
MURRAY (voice-over): Where Trump railed against the committee.
TRUMP: The left's new obsession is the unselect committee they have an unselect committee.
MURRAY (voice-over): As the committee seeks information about roles Trump allies played up to or during the events of January 6, some loyalists like Scavino are slow walking, stonewalling or snubbing the committee, all while doubling down on their allegiance to Trump as he ponders another run for office.
ALYSSA FARAH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is 100% of the calculation. What is the death grip on the Republican Party right now? Is the idea of Donald Trump running again in 2024. And people not wanting to risk losing their statue with them.
MURRAY (voice-over): Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally and sometimes political advisor, plead the fifth rather than answer the committee's questions.
ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: I did my civic duty and I responded as required by law.
MURRAY (voice-over): After Stone's last appearance before lawmakers in 2017 during the Russia probe.
STONE: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
MURRAY (voice-over): He was convicted on charges of lying to and obstructing Congress and witness tampering. Trump pardoned him. Recently Stone popped up at a Mar-a-Lago event and posted about chatting with Trump. Donald Trump is my first, second and third choice for 2024. For some would be witnesses their fealty to Trump comes at a higher price. The House recommended contempt charges for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who is now suing the committee.
MARK MEADOWS, FMR WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This is about Donald Trump and about actually going after him once again. MURRAY (voice-over): Despite Meadows work to curry favor with Trump, a source tells CNN their relationship has been strained, both from embarrassing revelations in Meadows book and the fallout from some documents he gave the select committee before he stopped cooperating.
STEVE BANNON, FMR TRUMP ADVISER: If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you're sadly mistaken.
MURRAY (voice-over): Right wing firebrand and Trump ally Steve Bannon was charged with criminal contempt of Congress. After defying a committee subpoena. He pleaded not guilty and appears to be wearing his resistance as a badge of honor.
BANNON: I have a previous engagement that I can't get out of. Peter, you're going to be talking about --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To a master the understatement.
BANNON: You're going to be talking about (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: WE got your wrist (INAUDIBLE).
MURRAY (voice-over): While Bannon's relationship with Trump often runs hot and cold, Bannon is still clear about his loyalty.
BANNON: We're going to hit the beach and he had the landing teams and the beachhead teams all that nomenclature they use when President Trump wins again in 2024 or before.
ACOSTA: And that was our Sara Murray reporting.
Still to come, an update to a story we brought to you last night a time capsule buried more than 130 years ago beneath a statue of Robert E. Lee finally found. But what would officials find inside of it? The details ahead.
ACOSTA: A lot of anticipation building for what was finally revealed today in Richmond, Virginia. Now as they say, the story can finally be told. We set the stage for it last night a time capsule once buried underneath the statue of Robert E. Lee that had finally been recovered today it was open, giving historians a first look at this message from more than 130 years ago.
CNN's Randi Kaye has the details.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't easy but conservators in Richmond Virginia meticulously drilled their way into this time capsule that's more than 100 years old. KATE RIDGWAY, VIRGINIA ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONSERVATOR: We're going to cut down one side of the box, where we can see that it probably won't hit anything, to help relieve some of this pressure.
KAYE (voice-over): The capsule was discovered Monday beneath the base of the Robert E. Lee statue months after this historic moment. The 134-year-old time capsule is made of copper, and according to the Richmond Dispatch newspaper from 1887 is supposed to contain at least 60 items. This x-ray taken after its discovery offered the first images. Items inside were said to include a battle flag, compass, 12 copper coins, Confederate buttons, even a picture of former President Lincoln lying in his coffin, only one photo of the casket still exists. And the conditions inside the capsule aren't exactly ideal.
RIDGWAY: Oh the water, there was I said a huge drop of water to squeeze out of it. Maybe a little more wet than we hoped for.
KAYE (voice-over): One of the first items pulled out a coin.
RIDGWAY: The coin says 1883. Here three silver United States.
KAYE (voice-over): As conservation experts dug deeper --
RIDGWAY: So what we're seeing is Richmond that guy 1881 by Daniel Murphy, constitution and bylaws of Virginia (INAUDIBLE) 1887.
KAYE (voice-over): Also a Masonic flag carved out of wood, and this 1884 commemorative ribbon featuring Robert E. Lee. Many of the items inside were stuck together, especially the books, making them difficult to identify and extract without ruining them.
RIDGWAY: Even though we've managed to clear out a section of this they're still stuck together.
KAYE (voice-over): When this capsule was found on Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proudly tweeted, they found it. Trouble is they thought they had found it a week and a half ago when construction crews pulled a different time capsule from the Lee monuments base. After hours of tedious work opening that one, they quickly realize that time capsule was not the one they'd been looking for. It was made of lead not copper, and only contained a handful of items, including a few books and envelopes and a coin.
In this latest capsule, there was at least one bullet, newspapers, books and --
RIDGWAY: Button has enabled symbol on it. This coin says 1853?
KAYE (voice-over): Conservators are still documenting the items and comparing them to the list published in that 1887 newspaper, but so far, no picture of Abraham Lincoln and his casket. They did find a photo from Harper's Weekly though, of someone weeping at Lincoln's grave.
SUE DONOVAN, CONSERVATOR FOR SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIV. OF VA LIBRAY: It was perhaps taken from a photograph but it is an engraving in a newspaper. So the newspaper was 1865 from what we can tell, unless it was a reprint which has happened.
So, there's really -- there was no photograph per se.
KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN.
ACOSTA: And who say history isn't cool. The news continues now. So let's hand over to Michael Smerconish in "CNN TONIGHT."