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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Testing Sites Experience In Demand As Omicron Spreads; Scientist Says Her Rapid Covid Test Detected More Than 80 Percent Of COVID Cases In This Trial But FDA Would Not Authorize; Jan. 6 CMTE Aims To Release Preliminary Report By Summer 2021; Biden Lifts Omicron-Related Travel Ban On 8 African Countries; Parents Of Slain 14-Year-Old Girl Demand Justice For Her Death; Westchester County District Atty. Declines To Charge Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Over Misconduct Allegations; Eighth Round Of Iran Nuclear Deal Negotiations Begin Amid Growing Concern About Its Weapon Capabilities. Aired 5-6pm ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Today, there is new pushback as well after the CDC shortened to the isolation period for some people who test positive from COVID from 10 days to just five as CNN's Alexandra Field reports for us now. Some health experts worry this could lead to even more coronavirus cases.



ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): as COVID cases surge, a balancing act from the CDC, new guidance cutting down the isolation period from 10 days to five days for infected people who are asymptomatic or with symptoms resolving could critically help keep the lights on, it aims to help put people back on the job.

HOTEZ: We're also now risking a big decline in essential services because our we need our first responders and so many others to keep the country going.

FIELD (voice-over): But it also comes with concerns from some health experts over whether there's a safety cost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The trouble is for the unvaccinated, the data doesn't really back up, that they become noninfectious at five days.

FIELD (voice-over): The isolation guidance doesn't differentiate between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. It does say, everyone should mask up for five days following isolation. And there's mounting pushback from union leaders from nurses --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is when you should be tightening your controls, not lessening them. FIELD (voice-over): -- to flight attendants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CDC should be loud and clear about implementation here because no worker should be forced to come to work when they are still sick. And that is, I believe, what we are going to see here. We're very concerned about that.

FIELD (voice-over): The wave of infections sweeping the country causing staffing shortages and forcing cancellations of 1000s of flights during the busy holiday travel period. Apple closing its New York City stores for browsing. Maryland, cutting back their federal court operations.

The CDC now says the fast moving Omicron variant likely accounts for fewer than 60 percent of COVID cases nationwide, down from a previous estimate of 73 percent. Both variants expected to fuel a post-holiday spike, the wait for tests still insufferably long in some areas while the shortage of at-home tests won't get fixed quickly enough.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I hope we fix it in January and February. But we're going to have to have a real effort to make sure there's plentiful cheap, ubiquitous testing everywhere in the country. That's where we should be in this pandemic right now.


FIELD: And Jake, the Biden administration is lifting travel restrictions on eight Southern African countries later this week. Those restrictions were implemented last month, the administration now noting the restrictions are no longer necessary, pointing to the fact that Omicron is now present in about 100 countries and prevalent right here in the U.S., Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Alexandra Field, thanks so much.

Let's go live to one of those testing sites now. CNN's Leyla Santiago is at one of the busiest locations in South Florida.

And Leyla, I understand officials there are seeing a massive increase in people wanting tests even bigger than from the peak of the Delta surge?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. You're talking about a 50 percent increase in the demand for testing compared to the peak of what we saw during that Delta wave.

So let's go over the numbers. Where we are right now, as you mentioned, the busiest testing site in South Florida. They administered nearly 9000 tests yesterday, 60,000 across all the sites that are run by the county here. And when I talked to workers today about this, they expect this level of demand to continue into the new year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YANETTE SHIPP, COVID-19 TESTING SITE WORKER IN MIAMI: It's almost like COVID started all over again, so with the influx of patients that are coming through. A lot of people aren't feeling well, so that's why they're coming to us. And then we also understand we have a lot of patients that are concerned, you know, just oh, I was exposed or I was next to somebody who was exposed, I just want to make sure that I'm OK.


SANTIAGO: So, how long will you wait if you come to this testing site? That will vary anywhere from three to five hours in the car line.

TAPPER: And Leyla, Miami Dade was giving out at home COVID tests at public libraries, but you tell us they've run out after only two days?

SANTIAGO: Right. They did two days of distribution at 27 public libraries. They distributed about 150 to 1000 at home test kits and they've run out. And so they have a new request now into the Department of Health for more of those test kits.

TAPPER: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss is Irene Bosch. She's a scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She's featured in a new article by ProPublica titled, "This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here's Why You Still Can't Get It," unquote.


Dr. Bosch, I want to ask you about your COVID test in a sec. But first, I want to start with where we are as a country right now. People across the nation struggling to find COVID tests, if they can find sites, some are forced to wait hours to even get tested. We're nearly two years into this pandemic. Surely, we should have figured this out by now, no?

IRENE BOSCH, SCIENTIST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Absolutely. We're really behind, for sure. We're really behind in comparison to Europe and Asia. So, yes, we are not doing well. But that that's not new, we know that.

TAPPER: So let's discuss the test that you came out with. When was your test finished? How quickly could you have had it mass produced?

BOSCH: Yes, so everything started around April of 2020. And by, let's say, August, we had made our first kinds of tests. And then we made by, let's say, October, September, this other kind of test that everybody knows, that shows the two bands when you have COVID. So, for sure, we're talking about a test that could have been in the public, in the hands of the public, very much early ending 2020, and now we are finalizing 2021 and there's not enough tests, as we all know. So, yes, it is a huge delay.

TAPPER: I assume you did trials with COVID patients to see how effective the test could have been in a real world situation. Tell us about that.

BOSCH: Yes, so we were lucky enough to work with three hospitals in Florida. And those hospitals report the data. We collected the data and sweat it out to the FDA. At the time, FDA was looking for a 90 percent corresponding positives of antigen test with PCR, which is kind of a hard thing to understand, but basically how many positives are in the test that also pop positive in PCR.

And today, a year later, they downgraded that 90 percent to 80 percent. So evidently, there were probably in the wrong track of asking too, too much for these tests to be accurate, and they are really accurate. As a matter of fact, they're very accurate if you do it more than one day. So 24 hours, you do the first test, that can reach the same accuracy as PCR. So that's super remarkable.

TAPPER: So obviously, to get this to market, you needed sign off from the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration. What happened when you tried to get them to offer -- to allow that for -- under emergency use authorization? Because obviously, there's a lot of bureaucracy that happens in the government, in general. But you know, when there's an emergency like this, they speed it up, they did that with the vaccines, what happened with your test?

BOSCH: So the main problem was to understand that in order to validate a test, depends on how much virus that person has, and that also depends on the day in the course of the disease. So, you start with little virus, the next day, you have huge amount of viruses and you steady that amount of virus for about six days, not five like we just heard today. Actually five is too short, it should be seven to be honest. So then, it starts tapering down.

So, what we wanted FDA to hear us is to show that we wanted to show FDA that depending on the viral load, the test was excellent. But if you go to the tails, that test does not perform. No test can perform in those details, either the beginning or the end of the disease. And they were not considering that, they were actually asking for just a number -- a bulk number of performance, regardless of where the amount of virus was.

TAPPER: So the FDA decline to --

Go ahead. I'm sorry.

BOSCH: No, no, that was basically a huge problem. And in order to do that, there is a new technique called PCR. And that PCR has actually a number called CT, it's like cycle numbers. And depending on those cycle numbers, you know how much virus you have.

In a test, like antigen test, is similar. You can see how much virus you have by looking at the intensity of a band. So if you look at like a band that comes up in here --

TAPPER: Right.

BOSCH: -- the more red (ph), more than -- so basically, they were not interested in that, they were interested in just like a bulk result, which by the way, you know, that's a problem because depending on where you are in your patient population, your performance will change.

TAPPER: So the FDA declined to specifically comment on your exact test to ProPublica. But they said in a statement quote, "Unfortunately, many submissions The FDA has received for home tests include incomplete or poor data, and it is the FDA responsibility to protect the public health by declining to authorized poorly performing tests or those without complete data. If the FDA received the home test that the data Science supported in early-to-mid 2020, we would have quickly authorized it," unquote.


So, they seem to be suggesting that there was something lacking with the data at the very least.

BOSCH: Yes, no, I mean, I'm saying that they were making the best they could, unfortunately, they did not have the experience that is necessary to tackle a pandemic. They're good at, like, diagnostic tests. But for pandemic mitigation, you also need tests that are not just diagnostic, but are for monitoring, for tracking for, you know, sending them home, they didn't have any of those.

So unfortunately, in that statement, what is missing is the fact that FDA did not acknowledge they did not look at pockets of viral load, they were just looking at a whole performance. They could have said, OK, how good is your test for this amount of virus? How good is your tests for this middle amount of virus? They didn't ask for that. They were lacking that knowledge of how to validate a test, really.

TAPPER: Irene Bosch, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

Coming up, a timeline that we might get -- for when we might get the answers to who was behind the insurrection. What we know now and when we will learn more.

Plus, tragedy caught on camera, the family responds to the new police body cam video showing how their daughter was killed in a department store dressing room, apparently by accident.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, the committee investigating the deadly January 6 insurrection plans to share its findings with the public around the middle of next year. A source tells CNN that a report with initial findings, an interim report, will be released this summer before the final report due in the fall.

Joining us now, CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, what should we expect to see in this interim initial report?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. This will be about the committee finally pulling back the curtain if you will, to showcase all the work it's been doing over the past several months because almost all of its work so far, has been behind closed doors. The committee as we know has conducted hundreds of private interviews with witnesses that includes former Trump aides, Stop the Steal rally organizers and election officials who are pressured by Trump allies to overturn the 2020 election results. But so far, the public has only been privy to one public hearing, that was back in July, and it featured that gripping testimony from officers who were defending the Capitol January 6.

So this initial report, it's expected by summer, a final report expected in the fall. And this will really flesh out more of what the committee has uncovered. And in addition, committee members are planning for public hearings next year. Members say that will help outline the real story of what unfolded January 6.

So really, Jake, 2022 will jumpstart a new phase for the committee where it really ramps up its investigation and focuses on laying out all that it's found out for the public.

TAPPER: And we're also learning that a federal judge, one appointed by former President Trump, has greenlit a case to move forward with prosecution against four leaders of the pro Trump extremist group, the Proud Boys. Tell us the significance of this ruling.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. So this is one of those marquee cases from January 6. Four leading members of the Proud Boys, they've been charged in this conspiracy case. And now the judge is telling prosecutors that the case can move forward, and he won't dismiss it despite arguments from the Proud Boys that they claim their actions were constitutionally protected.

You mentioned, this is a Trump appointed judge. He's rejected the Proud Boys claim that the riot was protected by the First Amendment. This is what Judge Timothy Kelly wrote. He said, "Defendants are not as they argue, charged with anything like burning flags, wearing black armbands or participating in mere sit-ins or protests. Moreover, even if the charge conduct had some expressive aspect, it lost whatever First Amendment protection it may have had."

Interestingly, Judge Kelly is now the fourth federal judge to side with prosecutors allowing case like this to move forward. And it really gives a win and some momentum for prosecutors as they gear up for the first trials about January 6. Jake, those are set to start up in February very soon.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman from Virginia, Abigail Spanberger.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. Let's start with the interaction investigation. You're not on the committee, but you are a former federal law enforcement officer. Do you expect that the committee, their interim report or the final report will offer an undeniable link between Trump's actions or inactions and an actual crime?

REP.ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): I think that what we will see come out of the committee, and as your reporter mentioned, there have been hundreds of interviews, 1000s of documents that have been subpoenaed. And so, laying that out for the public is going to be incredibly important for us, for the American public, to be able to understand what happened that day.

And certainly, I was in the House chamber when the attack began. I was there for the entirety of the insurrection until police were able to take control of the building. And I can tell you, it was an awful day.

And so, to have that information laid out publicly, to have public hearings will put forth video and documentation that hasn't previously been seen by the public and make a very clear argument and understanding of what happened on that day and leading up to it. So I am appreciative that the committee's work and I look forward to the public hearings that they'll be having in the spring for that purpose so that we as an American public can understand without equivocation what happened on that day.

TAPPER: Your Republican colleagues, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, have been called in to speak with the House committee investigating the insurrection. But both of them have essentially said they're not going to come, they're not going to testify. Should the committee, in your view, subpoena them if they keep refusing, or ultimately even vote to hold them in criminal contempt of Congress if they refuse to cooperate? What do you think?

SPANBERGER: I think that Congress -- this select committee was tasked with the duty of understanding what led up to January 6, what occurred on that day and they have put calls out to individuals who have knowledge, who have information and who may be connected with the events of that day or certainly the planning and the lead up to it. I would hope that any person, particularly an elected member of Congress who had any knowledge of or information that might be of use to the select committee would willingly come forward and provide it, particularly if that's information that might exonerate them. So I think it's deeply troubling that any member of Congress would not want to present themselves willingly and provide whatever information that they may have.


And I do think that it's appropriate that we members of Congress take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the duty of this select committee, that the subpoena power of this select committee is respected, and that anyone who wants to disobey the law is treated accordingly. It's as simple as that, frankly.

TAPPER: Are you worried at all about a precedent being set, given the fact that House Republicans are already anticipating that they will if, you know, history is any guide, recapture the House in November of 2022 and seek revenge. They've already been talking about kicking Democrats off committees the way that Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene has been kicked off committees by the House of Representatives under a Democratic majority.

SPANBERGER: In reality, the concerns that I have about precedents being set as the fact that we have people who are elected members of Congress who deny the events of January 6. That in and of itself is a dangerous precedent. The fact that we have elected members of Congress who deny that it was violent, that there were police officers who were beaten, who make outrageous claims against the brave men and women of law enforcement, Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers who were beaten with flagpoles, with fire extinguishers, more than 150 of them who required medical care, and some of whom have been unable to return to the job.

So I think we're already in a place where there's terrible precedent being set by the fact that there are colleagues on the other side of the aisle who deny that reality, deny the danger, and certainly do not respect, the constitutional duty that Congress had that day to certify the election, and continue to traffic and dangerous conspiracy theories that continue to propagate throughout our communities and make light of what was one of the most dangerous days for our American democracy.

TAPPER: Do your constituents still ask you about January 6 and the insurrection?

SPANBERGER: It depends on the environment, the place, the topic, that's coming up and where I'm visiting. Certainly I think in the early days, in the aftermath, when it was all over the news, it was a topic that was raised very frequently. Certainly with the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, the Delta variant, the Omicron variant, the challenges that people are facing with kids returning to school in the fall, and, you know, challenges across the board that Americans continue to face. I know most of my conversations really do impact and focus on the issues that impact, you know, the economy, the pocketbook (ph), the table, kitchen table issues for my constituents. But it is an issue that I hear about across the board, and particularly with veterans, particularly with those who have served, and particularly with those who know what it is to raise their hand and obligation, swearing an oath to a constitution, those who understand the danger that we faced on that day and the danger that continues to exist for our democracy, as long as there are elected members of Congress and a former president who deny that danger. I do hear about it across my district in that context.

TAPPER: I know there's redistricting going on in Virginia right now and your congressional seat and whether you're going to stay in the seventh district or be moved into the first is still something that you're looking into, it just came out a few minutes ago. But is it your intention, generally speaking, to run for reelection, whether you're in the seventh or the first or whatever congressional district you end up in?

SPANBERGER: Jake, you're right. The maps just came out just a few minutes ago. I'm definitely running for reelection. I intend to continue my service to our country, to my community, and to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

SPANBERGER: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: How the response to COVID could shape political power in Washington and define the Biden presidency. Stay right there.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, President Biden's political future is tied to getting the virus under control and to keeping the U.S. economy moving. So what does that mean, given the new CDC guidance and the quarantine times and employees and everything going on with Omicron?

Let's discuss. Kirsten, let me start with you. Back in January, the Biden administration vowed to shut down COVID. It appears that they underestimated the viruses staying power. What do you make of how they're handling it, these lastminute changes to travel restrictions, quarantine lengths, testing? How is this going to affect his reelection chances and the Democrats chances in 2022?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in terms of his reelection, I think it's too soon to be making predictions about that. We are only one year into his presidency. And I think in terms of the midterms, we'll have to see, because I have to say I don't think that it's been that stellar in terms of how they've handled things.


And, obviously, the biggest problem has been the testing. And this is something that the administration was really caught flat-footed on. And the President has admitted as much.

But it's still not entirely clear why that happened, when other countries were able to be prepared for this in a way the United States wasn't. And to have it, you know, it's -- it shouldn't be a shock to anybody that during the holidays, people will be traveling, right? And that's really when people do test the most when they're traveling, and they're going to be exposed to a lot of different people. And so I think that this does not reflect well in terms of the handling at least of that aspect of the situation.

TAPPER: And Ramesh, it appears the Biden administration thought that we could, as a country, vaccinate our way out of this crisis, which I understand why one might think that and certainly, Operation Warp Speed started under Trump. And then the expedited push of the vaccines by the Biden administration has been a great success. But there's been a lot of other things that have not gone as as well. What do you think?

RAMESH PONNURU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I agree with Kirsten. I think that the lack of cheap, rapid mass testing is looking like a worse and worse failure of U.S. policy. Under now, we've had a Republican and a Democratic administration running our COVID policy. And we've got this continuing problem. And it just shows up in area after area.

So, for example, we've got the CDC with its new guidelines say you only have to isolate for five days. And the big question mark there is why is there a requirement for a negative COVID test before you come out of isolation? And the answer is because we don't have the mass testing capacity. But that's a choice. It's not something that was -- we were fated to have to have.

TAPPER: Yes. And --

PONNURU: And something that Biden rightly criticized the last administration for, and then didn't come up with a better answer.

TAPPER: And Kirsten, we're less than a year away from the midterms. Do you think the Democrats will be affected one way or another by whether or not the virus can get under control and whether or not the economic recovery is hindered or continues at least in a bolder way?

POWERS: Yes. Well, definitely, it will be affected by what happens with the virus. And definitely it will be affected by the economy. The economy is always the biggest driver in elections. And I think, right now, the pandemic is one of the biggest drivers in the election.

And so it matters more, I think, where -- you know, what it's like when we start going into the New Year as we get closer to the election because memories are quite short. What -- you know, if there's a quick turnaround from this, and it sort of is in the rearview mirror, then I think it's something that will have less of an impact.

But if this is the trajectory and there continues to be problems like this, I mean, we don't know, you know, we keep hearing about new variants as they come up. Is there another variant? We don't know what's going to happen. So there's a lot of unknowns.

So I do think if he was able -- the President was able to get this under control, if we're able to have adequate testing, and all of these things, and people could have a somewhat normal life, and the economy is doing reasonably well, then he's in good shape. But those are a lot of ifs.

TAPPER: And Ramesh, there's this interesting dynamic going on on the Republican right after Donald Trump came out in favor of not just the vaccines in a bigger way than he had before, but also talked about how he had gotten the booster, and then he had a showdown with Candace Owens, et cetera, et cetera. And it does seem like he is almost being outflanked on the right if he -- if other people decide to run against him and assuming he does run for president by governors who are not as pro-vaccine.

PONNURU: Well, of course, there always going to be some nuances there because former President Trump continued to say he's not for any kind of vaccine mandate, which puts him in sync with a lot of those Republican governors. I really do think that one thing that we're seeing here, though, is a shift of COVID from being a pandemic to being endemic. And the politics of being -- facing a COVID pandemic, were in some ways, really hard for the Republican coalition to address. But I think that the shoe may be on the other foot now that that as you shift to endemic COVID, it may be the case that the Democratic coalition has a hard time abandoning sort of, you know, lockdown and masking and school shutdown policies that have now at the very least outlived their usefulness.

TAPPER: All right Ramesh and Kirsten, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. Happy New Year. Finally (ph) see you before then.


Coming up, a chaotic scene caught on camera. A new body camera video capturing the tragic killing of a 14-year-old girl. Hear her parents' response. That's next


TAPPER: In our national lead, the grief-stricken parents of the 14- year-old girl killed by what apparently was a stray police bullet in a department store dressing room spoke out today. In a press conference a short while ago, the family of Valentina Orellana-Peralta demanded justice as they describe the pain of losing their daughter under such circumstances.


Yesterday, Los Angeles police released edited body cam and surveillance footage of the events that led to this tragedy. The videos show a very difficult situation as officers responded to multiple calls about a possible shooting in progress and encountered a different victim, a woman on the floor covered in blood.

But as CNN's Josh Campbell reports, for Valentina's family, many questions remain about what exactly happened inside that department store. This morning, some of the video is disturbing.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta was shopping with her mother when she was killed last Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold up, hold up Jones. Hold up, hold up. I got you.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Shot in a dressing room where police say they couldn't see her behind a wall as LAPD officers pursued an assault suspect at a Los Angeles Department Store. The LAPD released these edited body cam and store surveillance videos late Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LAPD we're coming up.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Showing the deadly shooting of the suspect, the shot that police believe killed Valentina and the events leading up to the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow down, slow down, slow down.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Tuesday, Valentina's mother spoke at an emotional press conference.

SOLEDAD PERALTA, MOTHER OF VALENTINA (through translation): We heard screaming. We sat down and we hugged each other when something hit my daughter and it threw us to the ground. She died in my arms.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Police say they believe Valentina was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off the tile floor and enter the dressing room wall. Valentina's mother had been cropped. One of the family's attorneys read a statement on what she remembered that day.

BEN CRUMP, FATHER'S ATTORNEY: All of a sudden, we felt an explosion that threw us both to the ground. That's what I saw white powder coming out of Valentina's body as she started having convulsions. I had no idea she had been shot. Her body went limp.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Valentina died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Earlier surveillance video released by the LAPD shows the suspect Daniel Elena Lopez assaulting several women at a Burlington department store before police arrive. 911 and radio calls Thursday report the assault in progress. Then reports of a possible shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ADW shooting, Victory and Laurel Canyon. Suspect is still inside the location. PR advised there are customers and employees hiding inside the location.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Police body cam footage shows officers moving up an escalator guns drawn then finding a woman on the ground after she was hit repeatedly with a metal bike lock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, she's bleeding! She's bleeding!

CAMPBELL (voice-over): One officer fires three shots killing the suspect. Police say no gun was found near the body as officers searched the scene. Then police say they found Valentina in a dressing room.

CAPT. STACY SPELL, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Unbeknownst to the officers. A 14-year-old girl was in the changing room behind a wall that was behind the suspect and out of the officers' view.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Valentina's father breaking down talking Tuesday about Valentina's life and her dreams. Her father's attorney says Valentina's family wants justice.

(on-camera): What does justice mean to them?

CRUMP: Justice is trying to examine and investigate thoroughly. They want to see accountability.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CAMPBELL: Now, Jake, the attorney for the family says they're looking into a possible lawsuit against the LAPD. The department wouldn't comment on any pending litigation. But we are hearing from the Los Angeles Police Union today expressing their utter sorrow in their words. They're praying for the Valentina family. They also say they're praying for this officer who they described as completely devastated by what happened.

Jake, tragedy does not begin to describe what happened here in Los Angeles last week. Today looking in the eyes of the parents who had just lost their child, I got the sense of just unbelievable loss. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Josh Campbell in Los Angeles, thanks so much.

The district attorney in Westchester County, New York has decided to not press charges against former Governor Andrew Cuomo over alleged inappropriate conduct, we learned today. Two women came forward with accusations against Cuomo. One was a state trooper who worked on the Governor's detail when she says the Governor asked if he could kiss her. She said she was worried about the consequences of rejecting him and said sure.

She says Cuomo then kissed her on the cheek. She also accused him of other inappropriate touching. A second woman said in a separate incident, Cuomo grabbed her arm and kissed her on the cheek without asking for permission. The D.A.'s office says that it found credible evidence that both of those instances did happen. It called former Governor Cuomo's conduct concerning.

But the office said they cannot pursue criminal charges due to the, quote, statutory requirements of the criminal laws of New York. Multiple investigations into Cuomo's actions are still underway, including one by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. We have reached out to the former Governor for comment, we have not yet heard back.

But here to discuss is Richard Roth, he's an attorney and founding partner of the Roth Law Firm. Mr. Roth, thanks for joining us. Can you explain to us in simple terms the logic of the Westchester District Attorney's decision here?

RICHARD ROTH, ATTORNEY & FOUNDING PARTNER OF ROTH LAW FIRM: Sure, Jake, thanks for having me. The logic is very simple. He literally kissed two women on the cheek.


That is not enough to warrant criminal misconduct. Wasn't appropriate, wasn't a bit of advance, yes. But certainly, it's not -- wasn't forcible to the extent that it's outrageous. You know, you hear stories like the last, just so sad and it's just a shame that in Westchester (INAUDIBLE).

I remind you the last week Nassau County (INAUDIBLE) that Governor Cuomo's act (ph) was also not sufficient to warrant criminal conduct. The Albany County police officer actually filed a charge without the district attorney's knowledge.

There's a lot going on here which is unfortunate. It just -- he's a single guy. Maybe he was a little bit, if you will, forward, but criminal conduct for kissing woman on the cheek? I would think that the district attorney's office in Nassau, Westchester, New York anomaly have something better to do.

TAPPER: The state trooper alleged more inappropriate touching than just the kissing on the cheek. But I suppose what you're saying would apply to her other allegation as well.

ROTH: That's right. There's a state trooper who alleged a little more than kissing on the cheek. And then the second person is a woman in the White -- at the White Plains High School where apparently they said she alleges and apparently the women are both credible, which is it's great that they came out but then she alleges that he grabbed her arm, pulled her in and kissed her on the cheek.

And yes, the conduct is not criminal conduct. Isn't inappropriate? Did he make them feel uncomfortable? Absolutely. But I think the Westchester County got this. The District Attorney's Office got this right. And I think the Nassau County District Attorney's Office last week got it right.

Now what's left is essentially the two more jurisdiction both in New York County and then the federal courts, the Federal U.S. Attorney's Office will see if any misconduct is inappropriate. And this all stems again from Letitia James report, 168 page report that was issued in August of 2021. And these are all, if you will, ramifications of that report.

TAPPER: All right, Richard Roth, thank you so much. Appreciate your insights.

Still ahead, a warning that Iran is playing with fire as its nuclear capabilities begin to match its ambitions. An inside look at the high stakes talk to keep the peace. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead the threat from Iran is real and only growing more dire. That's the conclusion in a new deep dive in the New Yorker magazine revealing what's at stake in a new round of international talks aimed at halting Tehran's nuclear weapons ambitions. And the man at the center of it all for the U.S., Robert Malley.

Let's discuss this all with Robin Wright who wrote this piece for The New Yorker. Robin, great to see you, as always. So you just published this article. It's called "The Looming Threat of a Nuclear Crisis with Iran." So lay it out for our viewers, what's the real threat that Iran poses right now?

ROBIN WRIGHT, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORKER: Well, Iran has achieved enormous advances in its nuclear program. President Trump tried to use maximum pressure to get Iran to roll back but Iran, a paranoid revolution has instead accelerated not just its nuclear program, but also its missile program. And it now has the largest missile program in the Middle East.

And so, at a lot of different levels, Iran is a threat far more today than it was at the time of the nuclear deal in 2015, which was one of the most important non-proliferation pacts in the history of arms control.

TAPPER: The Iran nuclear deal that you're talking about that the Obama administration negotiated only survived for two years, Trump abandoned it in 2018. Since that time, how much has Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities caught up to its ambitions? What are they able to do right now if they wanted to?

WRIGHT: Well, at the time of the deal, Iran would have taken at least a year to produce enough fuel for nuclear weapon. That's one of the key steps to produce a bomb. Today, the breakout time as they call it is only three weeks. So the acceleration of Iran's capabilities is very alarming.

Iran also has cut off access to its -- to the monitoring, the international inspectors, who follow what Iran is producing at home, which is part of the deal. That's been cut off for the past year after one of the key nuclear scientists in Iran was assassinated allegedly by Israel. So it's achieved a lot in the last two years at a pace that in a matter of months, Iran, if it decides to cross the threshold, could gain nuclear status. It could be the 10th country in the world to have a nuclear capability.

TAPPER: In your article, you highlight Rob Malley whom President Biden appointed to be his special envoy for Iran. He's someone who has a lot of history in the region. He was on the team that negotiated the Iran deal during the Obama administration.

You write quoting Malley, in part, "We're not going to agree to a worse deal because Iran has built up its nuclear program', Malley added. At some point soon, trying to revive the deal would, 'be tantamount to trying to revive a dead corpse.' The U.S. and its allies might then have to address a runaway Iranian nuclear program. Without a return to the deal, a senior State Department official said, it is more plausible, possible and maybe even probable that Iran will try to become a threshold nuclear state."

So what does that say about the high stakes involved as these talks resumed? I mean, is there any hope?

WRIGHT: I think there's hope but I think it is fading very fast. Remember, this was Biden's first major foray into diplomacy after he became president. And the assumption was that they could get back to the point of the nuclear deal and rollback some of Iran's technological advances.

The problem is that Iran has so many advances that what nation if it is achieved breakthroughs, really wants to give it all up or even give up part of it. And building in the incentives, getting back to what the United States promised many years ago, there's no guarantee that the next president won't simply walk away from the deal again. And that's what what makes Iran very reluctant to, you know, give up what it's achieved.


And the -- I think the ultimate challenges, even if we get back to the deal, even if both sides comply, Iran still has the knowledge of how to move forward. And that's something that we can't undo.

TAPPER: Robin Wright, thanks. Another great story in The New Yorker about you.

Coming up, a shooting spree across a major city ends with several wounded and killed, that's ahead.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The U.S. just shattered a pandemic record for new COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant sweeps the nation. The number of children hospitalized is skyrocketing as well.

Also breaking, January 6 Committee is standing down on its request for some documents from the Trump White House.