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At This Hour
McCarthy to Speak after Refusing to Cooperate with January 6 Probe; Biden Sending Military Medical Teams to Hospitals on the Brink, Orders Additional 500 Million Tests. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
Moving in on McCarthy: the House minority leader refusing to cooperate with the committee investigating the insurrection. What we're learning about what they want from him and why. Kevin McCarthy taking questions this hour.
President Biden deploying the U.S. military to help hospitals struggling with the crush of the Omicron surge.
It's official, yet still in question: Novak Djokovic scheduled to play next week at the Australian Open but still facing the threat of deportation.
BOLDUAN: We begin with Kevin McCarthy's refusal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. In just minutes, we'll hear from McCarthy at his weekly news conference. And you can be sure he'll face questions -- if he takes them -- about why he's going back on his promise to cooperate with the committee.
The panel wants to speak to him because of his repeated contacts and calls with Donald Trump on the day of the violent siege. Investigators believe McCarthy has valuable insight into Trump's state of mind in the lead-up on the day of and in the days after the attack.
But McCarthy now says he won't cooperate, calling the probe "illegitimate" and "an abuse of power." The committee's vice chairman, Republican Liz Cheney, she is now accusing McCarthy of trying to cover up what happened that day.
And that is exactly one year to the day the House of Representatives impeached Trump a second time for inciting the insurrection. McCarthy, well, he seems to have forgotten his own words from one year ago today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Evan Perez, what is McCarthy saying with his response to the committee?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, he believes that the committee is illegitimate simply because Nancy Pelosi declined to appoint members that he had chosen, including Jim Jordan, who, of course, is one of the people that the committee has asked for voluntary interviews from.
So he's a witness. And that's the reason why he was not appointed to this committee, which has two Republicans. McCarthy is using the argument that a lot of the Trump allies are using in court, which is that this committee doesn't have a legislative purpose, that there is no legitimacy to this committee. Listen to him on FOX News today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I had a conversation with the president that was minutes, that I went on national news, not one but many. There is nothing I can add to this committee going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Kate, what this committee wants from him is more detail about those conversations; as he pointed out, he had multiple conversations with the former president. He's talked about that.
One of the things the committee mentions in their letter to him is they'd like him to shed some light on the state of mind of the former president during those key days after the riot at the Capitol -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Evan, than you for that.
Joining me for more is CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju and former prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.
Manu, first off, do you have the sense that the committee had any expectation McCarthy would agree to speak to them voluntarily when they sent this letter?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they had very little expectation. Even though McCarthy indicated he had nothing to hide, I'd asked him last May if he'd be willing to go and testify about his conversations with Trump, he said sure. He'd been saying something similar to that in the weeks after that,
too, that he had nothing to hide here.
But in the aftermath of two of his other colleagues, congress man Scott Perry and congress man Jim Jordan, both of whom had been targeted by committee because they wanted them to cooperate voluntarily, those two congressmen made clear they will not cooperate voluntarily. They attacked the committee.
It appeared that would almost certainly be the direction of all House Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy.
Kate, it's also important to remember, McCarthy has battled an investigation here from the very beginning. He battled the creation of the outside commission, which would have been stacked evenly between Democratic and Republican appointees, who had even subpoena power. He battled the creation of the select committee.
RAJU: He put forward committee members who would serve on this committee, that were rejected by Nancy Pelosi, which was unprecedented for Pelosi to do. But then he said he was not going to name any of his own members here and now will not cooperate voluntarily.
He's been very clear he does not want investigation to go forward, no matter how it's conducted here.
BOLDUAN: Jennifer, dive into what then the committee is doing in this letter. They quote McCarthy extensively. They really lay out something of a case.
What case are they trying to make, is what I want to get at. They put in here public statements he made from January 6th, January 13th; then private statements that he made to House Republicans that have been reported on and quoted from other House members, from January 11th, just for an example.
They all put responsibility for the attack on Trump, like this statement. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
These facts required immediate action from president Trump: accept his share of responsibility, quell the growing unrest and ensure president-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Jennifer, what are they doing here in this letter?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're making a couple of cases, Kate, to your point. They are trying to say he has a lot of information that's really important for the committee to get, information where he spoke directly to the president during January 6th, after January 6th, even before January 6th.
And they're making the case that there was a time he wasn't reluctant to share that information for the good of the country. And now he is. Clearly, his loyalties are to Trump above country.
And that's what they're trying to emphasize here, that if he doesn't share what he knows, he's really going against the best interests of the people and against what he previously suggested he would do.
They also point out the meeting that he had down at Mar-a-lago and ask about any suggestion or persuasion that the president, the former president, may have given to him so that he changed course. That's kind of an interesting nod to a potential obstruction of justice case down the road.
BOLDUAN: They're interested in statements on the day of and in the lead-up to, right, Manu?
Also as Jennifer laid out, they want to know about after the fact. They're focused on some of those conversations, like they write this.
"Additionally, the committee would like to question you regarding your communication with president Trump, White House staff and others in the week after the January 6th attack, particularly regarding president Trump's state of mind at that time."
What is your sense of why the committee is focusing in?
It makes sense why before and on the day of the insurrection.
Why are they focusing in on conversations well after the attack took place?
RAJU: Clearly they're trying to build a case about whether or not Donald Trump tried to tamper with any of the witnesses who may have testified about what Donald Trump was saying, his mindset at the time, both during the attack as well as after the attack.
The question they have is what Jennifer is talking about: can they build a case to charge Donald Trump, anybody else in the Justice Department on criminal or obstruction charges and any evidence that suggests president Trump told Kevin McCarthy to shape his testimony in any way could give them some evidence.
We'll see whether that actually happened or not or if they even discussed this. McCarthy has said previously that he and Trump had not spoken about this and the aftermath of January 6th.
But there was, of course, that infamous meeting, just days after McCarthy went to the floor a year ago today and said that Donald Trump bore responsibility for this attack. They came out afterwards, smiling for the cameras and saying that they're on the same page politically.
We have not heard McCarthy really offer much criticism at all of Donald Trump in the months and the years since then.
So the committee wants to know, what did Trump say to Kevin McCarthy say afterwards?
And why did he change his tone so dramatically since last year?
BOLDUAN: Let me read that part of the letter.
They say, "Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump.
"At that meeting or at any other time did Donald Trump's representatives suggest what you should say publicly during the impeachment trial, if called as a witness, or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on January 6th?"
What specifically do you think they're getting at.
And what do they do with it now?
What do they do with this now that he's refusing to cooperate?
RODGERS: Well, right now they're just trying to apply public pressure to him. If they subpoena him and he refuses, then they have the option to refer a criminal contempt of Congress, as they did with Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows.
RODGERS: But what they're really trying to do is dig into the notion of whether former president Trump obstructed justice here, telling people to change their testimony.
The problem is the timing. This is at a time when the Select Committee hadn't been formed. There wasn't really discussion around investigating this.
So to me, it's going to come down to, even if they had a conversation around, Kevin, you should change your tune and come back on board and support me, the question is, is that a political calculation having to do with the 2020 midterms and president Trump's, you know, leadership of the party going forward?
Or is that about the possibility of a hypothetical investigation down the road?
The Select Committee, ultimately the DOJ, would have to prove it's latter in order to think about a prosecution based on that.
BOLDUAN: Jennifer, thank you.
Manu, thank you so much because I mentioned Kevin McCarthy will be taking questions from reporters.
Manu will be there, covering that later this hour. Also developing today, President Biden will head to Capitol Hill this afternoon to make another push for voting rights legislation. The president will be meeting face-to-face for lunch with Senate Democrats to try to convince them to change Senate rules and then pass the two voting bills that have been languishing in the Senate and really have no prospect for passage for months.
In a new interview this morning, Vice President Kamala Harris insists that there is still time to get all Democrats on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Vice President, how are you going to get it done?
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, when we have the discussion about who's responsible, I will not absolve the 50 Republicans in the United States Senate from responsibility for upholding one of the most basic and important tenets of our democracy, which is free and fair elections and access to the ballot for all eligible voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about senators Manchin and Sinema?
HARRIS: I don't think anyone should be absolved from their responsibility of preserving and protecting our democracy, especially when they took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why has the administration not been able to get Senate Democrats on board?
HARRIS: We don't give up and we will not give up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has set a Monday deadline to make a big move on this one way or the other. So we'll see.
Coming up, President Biden's big announcement to help hospitals that are on the brink as COVID-19 hospitalizations smash yet another record.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news: President Biden has just announced new steps to fight back against the Omicron surge, deploying the U.S. military to six states to help alleviate the crush that hospitals are facing right now, also making big announcements on masks and testing.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House with more details on this.
Jeremy, what are you learning here?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, amid this ongoing surge of coronavirus cases and record hospitalizations in this pandemic, President Biden announcing several new steps to show that he is on top of this issue and that he's doing everything he can.
A first wave of an additional 1,000 military medical personnel set to go out to six states beginning next week. That was one of the major announcements today. We also heard the president talk about those 500 million rapid at-home tests, set to go out to Americans later this month.
The president said that website is expected to go live next week, where Americans can begin to request those. He also announced plans to order an additional 500 million tests on top of that first chunk of 500 million tests.
But important to note there that those 500 million, that first wave of them, they are set to go out over the next 60 days. So it's not clear when that second purchase of 500 million would be purchased and begin to go out to Americans. The president also talked about masks. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know for some Americans the mask is not always affordable or convenient to get. So next week we'll announce how we are making high-quality masks available to American people for free.
You know, I know we all wish that we could finally be done with wearing masks. I get it. But they're a really important tool to stop the spread especially of a highly transmissible Omicron variant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: There's been discussions about KN95 and N95 masks. We're not sure if that's what the president is talking about. But it's clear, as the president is throwing all this at this surge, he acknowledged the frustration Americans are feeling right now, amid record cases.
It's clear that the president senses that frustration, understands how it's impacting his approval ratings. And he's really trying to do everything he can here to show he's on top of this issue and that he's addressing it, amid all of -- amid these coronavirus cases across the country -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Jeremy, thanks for that.
Specifically when it comes to the hospitals facing these surges and the help that the president says is on the way, how will these military medical teams help these overwhelmed hospitals?
Shimon Prokupecz is live at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, one of the hospitals getting this federal help. What are you learning there?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: We spoke to the CEO here of the hospital. This is such great news for them, such welcome news for them. They are inundated. They have been so busy working hard through the pandemic. And then, of course, this surge.
So the fact that they are going to get this help is certainly very welcome and they want it. They need the help. The nurses here, the staff here have been inundated; 10 percent of the staff, he says, has been out because of COVID, whether it's because they need to take care of their kids or whether it's because they themselves are getting sick.
So they are looking forward.
PROKUPECZ: They'll get about 23 or so members of the military of this surge in personnel. Here is the CEO, who we spoke to this morning, talking about how he reacted to getting the news that help was coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SHEREEF ELNAHAL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I was jumping for joy, to be honest with you. It is something that I've been telling my staff we've been trying to do for weeks. We put in their request last week. FEMA came on Monday, which gave me a lot of optimism.
But we didn't get confirmation until this morning. And I was frankly in the car on the way to work when I heard it and I wanted to jump for joy. It is just going to be so, so helpful to us at a critical time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: So he's going to be spending the day, letting the staff know -- he'll spend the day letting the staff know how this is going to work. Obviously very excited to get the help. They expect some of their reinforcements to start coming in next week, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Shimon, thank you so much. Great to hear from the hospital CEO on that.
Joining me for more is CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
That hospital CEO, Sanjay, says he was jumping for joy when he heard the announcement.
This deployment to get military medical personnel in hospitals, what do you see them doing?
How much help can it offer?
How long will they need it? How will this help fight the surge?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're dealing with two sort of situations at the same time. We have all- time, record high hospitalizations throughout this pandemic.
At the same time, there's a lot of critical shortages in terms of actual personnel. So these two things at the same time -- more patients, less staff -- simple things like triaging, you know, before patients are actually determining whether they'll go to a general care floor; basic care, you have patients coming in non-COVID-related as well, having a hard time accessing care because hospitals are so full.
We're seeing that in my own hospital. You're having up to 100 patients sometimes, in the ER, waiting to get a bed in the hospital. So it's taking care of those things. It's a real burden, I think, physically, mentally, everything, on these health care workers. This provides some relief in those places.
BOLDUAN: On masks, the vice president was asked this morning about masks, if Americans should be wearing N95s or KN95s. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The CDC is making their decisions. I don't make the CDC's decisions. You want to wear a tight-fitting mask. That is clear. We want to urge everybody to do that. In terms of the N95 masks, they are available. There is a stockpile of, I believe, over 700 million of those masks. So the supply is there as necessary and as needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And then the president just also said just a short time ago, next week, they're going to announce a plan to make high-quality masks available for free. We need more details on this.
But how important is this?
GUPTA: Well, I think it's very important. You know, we've been talk about this for a long time. People should wear masks. And if you're going to wear a mask, which you should, it should be the most protective mask that can you can. We've showed this before.
But if you look at in the context of Omicron now, given how transmissible this is, a cloth mask versus a surgical mask versus an N95 mask, it's clear. I don't think anyone disputes the fact that the N95 mask will be the most protective here, 1 percent to 10 percent from the N-95, escaping versus more from the cloth mask.
The vice president said there's a huge stockpile, 700 million. I'm not sure what the confusion still is in terms of the messaging here, because you're hearing, yes, N95 masks are the best masks.
We're in the middle of a storm of a very transmissible virus yet they're not coming right out and saying you should wear N95 masks and we're going to send them out to households or make them available for free. We'll sort of see what that means.
But it's very clear, from lots of viral dynamics experts, Kate, that if people wore these types of masks in public for even a few weeks, it would have a significant impact on bringing these numbers much lower.
BOLDUAN: And you make a good point, because one of the assumptions was maybe they're not recommending it because they're hard to come by and they're expensive, these higher quality masks.
They say there's a huge stockpile and they will be free. Where is the confusion in the messaging is a good question at this point as well.
The other news from the president is he is pushing the government to order an additional 500 million rapid antigen tests to distribute to Americans. That's to meet future demand. The first half billion still haven't gone out, though.
What do you think of the announcement?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know, as Jeremy Diamond was saying, you know, it's over 60 days, I think he said, for the first 500 million tests will go out.
GUPTA: I guess, Kate, it's one of these things. I feel like this is how I talk to my own kids sometimes. Yes, we're moving in the right direction but we're nowhere near where we need to be.
I mean, summer of last year, we sort of came to the realization, based on the virus, that we should be testing, you know, maybe a billion tests or even more a month, that people should be able to test themselves in their home a couple times a week. You're talking 600 million, 700 million tests a week should be done in this country.
That sounds crazy, right?
Fantastical, even. But that was the projection of where we needed to be headed. Now we're say 500 million tests roughly a month. It's much, much better. The thing is that, so many times throughout this pandemic, Kate, these things do come; testing, maybe we'll is about the masks.
But they may come at a time when the numbers are lower. They need to be there for the surges, not after the surges.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Sanjay. Thank you.
GUPTA: You, too, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Coming up, live pictures from Capitol Hill. Kevin McCarthy is going to be there, speaking in just a few minutes after refusing to comply with the House panel investigating the insurrection. He'll face some questions on that today for sure. We'll bring that to you live.