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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, (D-DE), Is Interviewed About Election Reforms; Biden Calls For Changing Senate Rules To Pass Election Reforms; Hospitalizations Hit Record High: Vast Majority Are Unvaccinated; Biden Yet To Fix COVID Test Shortages After Year In Office; Jan. 6 Committee To Seek Information From Giuliani At Some Point; North Korea Launches Second Missile Test In A Week; NORAD: U.S. Grounded Some West Coast Planes As A Precaution After North Korea Missile Launch. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 11, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And come forward and work with Republicans to pass something, because ultimately, Martin Luther King, a great man, but he also could talk about compromise and legislation in order to get things done. Remember the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act --
REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE): Yes.
TAPPER: -- were two different --
TAPPER: -- pieces of legislation because he -- Lyndon Johnson didn't think he could pass them both at the same time.
ROCHESTER: Yes. I mean, it's my understanding that there are some conversations, but I don't want us to get distracted. And I mean, conversations about other pieces of legislation that are democracy legislation. But I don't want us to get distracted from this moment.
And I would just encourage people, it's interesting before I came here, I decided to listen, not just read, but listen to Martin Luther King's give us the ballot speech. And in that speech, he talks about the fact that yes there are good people in the north, in the south, but we have to do our job.
The White House, the President made it really clear today where he stands. The House of Representatives has already voted for HR 4, For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We need the Senate to do their jobs.
And it's not just about one of us, it's about all of us, and that's basically what the President said. If we want to make sure that we continue to have this democracy that we say we cherish, then we need to make sure that we pass these bills.
TAPPER: So, I'm from Philadelphia, which is in the same media market as your home state, Delaware. So, I --
TAPPER: -- I've read a lot about Delaware growing up. I don't think that Delaware has the easiest voting laws in the country, does it?
ROCHESTER: And you know what, Delaware, just like other states across the country have to step up. It's not just what we do on the federal level, it also happens on the state level.
And like you, I'm also from Philadelphia, moved to Delaware. And so, yes, we are doing some things. We've got individuals that are working on voting rights, even in our own state. And so, yes, this is a national issue.
You heard the Vice President talk about one in six Americans can be impacted by not making -- not -- by disenfranchising people. And the same is true across the country, seeing all of these laws that are trying to subvert and suppress the vote. And so, yes, Delaware too, we're the first state and we also have to be the first state to step up as well and make sure that everyone has the right to vote.
TAPPER: Yes, it's just -- look, I generally as an American feel that in addition to guarding against fraud, which is very little of in the United States --
TAPPER: -- it should be as easy as possible for Americans to vote because --
TAPPER: -- we are the best democratic republic when as many people as possible are represented no matter who wins, Democrats or Republicans. But going over a lot of these election laws I went in preparing for today and I saw, you know what, New Jersey doesn't allow ballot harvesting, and that's a Democratic state. Delaware doesn't allow the kind of early voting that a lot of other states do. How come -- but then, the journalist in me as well as the cynic says, well, how come Democrats only complain about the voting -- strict voting regulations in red states, in Texas and Georgia, and not in Democratic states like New York?
ROCHESTER: Well, I think if you listen to any of the voting rights advocates who are out here, if you go even in my own state, there are members of the General Assembly who are stepping up and working to ensure that people have the right to vote, you know?
I want to make sure that I get this one thing in as well. I want people to not just hear kind of like the buzzwords that we all talk about. I want them to think about why is it that people would try to subvert or to suppress your vote? It is because it is that important. It is because it is that powerful, that those votes connected to each other can do things like help us save the planet, can deal with issues such as criminal justice reform. And so, I want people to feel that this isn't just an issue about what Washington is doing or what the President is saying, it is about their ability to exercise their fundamental right that people lined up for during a pandemic. We don't want people to have to ever feel that way again.
We want to make sure that they can do it, they can exercise their right in a way that's safe, in a way that's secure, in a way that's fair. And that really looks really to help generations to come. That's why we're here. That's what this is about.
TAPPER: Eloquence as always, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester from the small wonder state of Delaware, thank you so much today. Really appreciate your thoughts.
ROCHESTER: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up or right now rather, this hour, breaking news, President Biden just moments ago laying out his push for election reform. But what's really in the bills he wants past? We're going to take an in depth look.
Plus, temporarily grounded new details about the North Korean missile launch that forced the FAA to stop flights from taking off?
And leading this hour, mask confusion. The CDC considering stronger masks to help fight the Omicron variants according to "The Washington Post" as we learn new details about efforts to get the youngest among us vaccinated. And to CNN's Alexandra Field reports, all this confusion on full display today on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing the highest number of hospitalizations during the pandemic, the FDA's acting commissioner appealing to keep the focus on essential services.
DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING FDA COMMISSIONER: Most people are going to get COVID, all right. And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function.
FIELD (voice-over): The most seriously ill are the unvaccinated. But there are no clear answers yet for how quickly we could see vaccines for children under five. Those clinical trials are still ongoing.
WOODCOCK: We are working very closely with the manufacturers, the vaccines, on accelerating and making sure that vaccines are available for the youngest children.
FIELD (voice-over): Hospitalizations for children are also at an all- time high. The CDC says the risk of hospitalization is now 17 times higher for unvaccinated people than for fully vaccinated people.
LINA HIDALGO, HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE: It's not only the fact that hospital beds are being taken up by COVID positive patients displacing the heart attacks and the strokes and the appendicitis cases, et cetera. But also, this virus is spreading so fast that we have a lot of medical stuff out.
FIELD (voice-over): Harris County, Texas going to its highest COVID threat level for the third time since the pandemic began while the state plans to deploy another 2700 medical workers to assist with the surge. The strain on hospital beds triggering a limited state of emergency in Virginia. The National Guard now pitching in in Kentucky.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Not only you distorting it --
FIELD (voice-over): Dr. Fauci calling out Kentucky Senator Rand Paul today for raising money by repeating false claims, emphasizing the danger in that.
FAUCI: -- that kindles the crazies out there, and I have life that threats upon my life, harassments of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.
FIELD (voice-over): And as the debate over vaccine mandates makes its way through the Supreme Court, United Airlines reports their mandate has been a success in the Omicron surge.
"Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one united employee on average per week was dying from COVID. But we've now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID related deaths among our vaccinated employees."
(END VIDEO TAPE)
FIELD: And Jake, in this latest surge, the Red Cross is now reporting the worst blood shortage crisis they have faced in a decade. They cite reasons for that as cases of COVID, staffing shortages, cancellations of blood collection clinics, even weather. All that combined, they say it means that doctors are being forced to make choices about which patients get critical transfusions and which patients will have to wait, Jake
TAPPER: Alexander Field, thank you so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Public Health Physician Dr. Chris Pernell, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Philadelphia, Dr. Paul Offit.
Dr. Offit, COVID hospitalizations among children are the highest they have ever been. What are you seeing at your hospital right now? How sick are the kids?
DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR OF THE VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Right. We're seeing in some ways a different kind of illness with Omicron, whereas, typically you would see more pneumonias. Now we're seeing more upper respiratory tract infections like croup, bronchiolitis. We are certainly seeing a lot of children coming into our hospital. And as we said earlier, they're unvaccinated, generally, they're -- not only are they unvaccinated, the parents are unvaccinated, their siblings are unvaccinated, and often that's where they get it from.
If you look actually at the largest group in this country that is unvaccinated, it's people less than 30 And if we're going to get on top of this pandemic, we're going to have to vaccinate the young.
TAPPER: Dr. Pernell, today Dr. Walensky said this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Hospitalization rates for people infected with Omicron are lower compared with prior variants.
Despite a potential decrease in severity, the substantial number of absolute cases is resulting in hospitalization increases across all age groups, including children aged zero to four.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So even ICU admissions are nearing the highest peak of the entire pandemic. So, is it really accurate to keep saying Omicron is, quote, "less severe?" How do you square that?
DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: No, Jake, I don't think it's accurate to say that Omicron is less severe. Look, we know that any COVID infection puts you at risk for developing long COVID. We know that as the COVID cases explode, it causes a surge on our healthcare systems. And we know that those who are unvaccinated still are having worse outcomes with this particular variant and as we saw with other variants. So, we really should change how we talk about Omicron. And just make sure that people understand that it's contagious, it's spreading rapidly. And that there are things that they can do to protect themselves, as well as things that systems need to be doing to ensure that the public is kept safe.
TAPPER: Dr. Offit, sometimes it feels like we're in two different worlds, not just politically, but in this pandemic. I mean, there are people in red states who are just living their lives. They've been vaccinated, maybe the parents, but they haven't gotten their kids vaccinated, the schools are open, no masking required. People in blue states living a very different existence where there's much more intense scrutiny over whether or not your mask, you're vaccinated, you need to show an I.D. card.
What is your message for a parent in a red state who is maybe like, look, I'm vaccinated, everything's fine, I don't need to get my kids vaccinated. Why should that person get his kids vaccinated?
OFFIT: When the virus first came into this country in January 2020, the mantra was that children get infected less frequently, and when they're infected, they're infected less severely. That's generally true in the past. However, what's happened now is that then we about 3percent of the infections were in children, now it's more than 25percent. Because this virus, Omicron especially, has sought out a susceptible group.
And you think it's going to be fine, right, that, you know, most children have mild illness or asymptomatic illness, and it'll be fine, but you know, about 1000 children, less than 18 years of age have died of this. I mean, other children who have been hospitalized or go to the intensive care unit or die, about a third of them have no comorbidity. So, therefore it could occur in anyone.
Also, this is not a virus to fool around with. This is not influenza or para influenza, or other typical respiratory viruses. This virus can cause you to make an immune response to your own blood vessels, which means that you can have heart disease, brain disease, kidney disease, a lung disease, as well as liver disease. This is a different virus. This is like no other respiratory virus, so avoid it.
And the way to avoid it is to vaccinate. I think it's just really hard to work in a hospital where you see so many children coming in who are unvaccinated knowing that this is all preventable. This was hard enough last year when we didn't have a vaccine. Now we can prevent all this suffering and hospitalization and occasional death.
TAPPER: Yes, it's infuriating, I would think.
Dr. Pernell, counties in New York, Michigan, Utah are giving out free KN95 masks to the community. Do you think the federal government should make N95 or KN95 masks free, just like free testing has become the norm?
PERNELL: Emphatically, yes, Jake. When we talk about pandemic preparedness, so we talk about what is an adequate and appropriate and equitable public health response, we need to talk about systems, federal government including getting into the hands of average Americans, those things that will keep them safe. We know that high quality masks are more important than any other time of the pandemic because of how Omicron spreads.
So, whether it's free testing or free mask or free vaccines or equitable access to therapeutics, we need to ensure that those things are reaching those are the hardest hit areas. And that everyone has access to the tools and the tool kit that will keep them safe and protected. Anything less is just really uncalled for. And I think it's quite sad in a nation of this level of standard and development that we still haven't quite gotten right.
TAPPER: Doctor Offit, today, Dr. Fauci said this about kids under five getting vaccinated, which they have not been able to do yet, because they haven't been cleared by the CDC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Just likely will be a three dose vaccination for children in that group. So the trials are being done now as quickly as possible to see if they can get that data to have a uniform dose and a uniform regimen.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: You're on the FDA vaccines advisory committee, so, it will go to you before it goes to the head of the FDA before it goes to the CDC advisory director before it goes to the CDC director. How confident are you that kids under five could get vaccinated, I don't know, before the end of March?
OFFIT: I don't know. We'll know when we see the data. I know that when we looked at the five to 11 year old, there was really no difference in the immune response at that 10 microgram dose given, you know, two doses three weeks apart in the five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, they all had pretty much the same immune response. Apparently, that's not true in the less than five year old where the dose, which is three micrograms apparently looked like it was would likely be effective in the youngest child, but maybe not in the oldest child. So I don't know. I mean, we're all guessing.
We'll see what whether or not this is going to be different doses for different ages or whether it's going to be more than more than two doses for different ages. Time will tell. We'll say. Right now, we're sort of in an age of science by press release, so it's a little confusing.
TAPPER: Dr. Pernell, Dr. Offit, thanks to both you and thanks to both you for what you do.
President Biden promised there would be COVID tests for everyone. That hasn't happened. Why not? We'll ask the health and human services secretary under President Obama, next.
TAPPER: In our health lead today, today, an explanation of sorts from the White House in why it is taking so long to roll out the free COVID tests that have been promised. A senior White House official told CNN there is finally enough global supply to start that process. President Biden said before Christmas his administration would start mailing half billion kits to home soon. Before taking office, of course, Biden promised to fix the testing problem, saying that anyone who wants a test can get one.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond takes a look now into this administration's failure to get that done almost a year into being in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Believe me, it's frustrating to me, but we're making improvements.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year after taking office, President Biden facing a stubborn problem he vowed to solve, long lines and empty shelves exposing a testing system failing once again to match demand in Biden's own rhetoric.
[17:20:10] BIDEN: Anyone who wants to test should be able to get one, period.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Biden came into office with a plan to expand testing, pouring billions of dollars to boost manufacturing and ramp up testing in schools and underserved communities. But his top priority was vaccines, which kept most people out of the hospital and even slashed the chances of getting and spreading the virus. And then, came Omicron.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, VICE PROVOST OF GLOBAL INITIATIVES, UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: The vaccines were really doing their job to decrease the number of cases. So there wasn't demand. But then, because of the variant, we've had this increase in cases and therefore increase in demand.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Biden has acknowledged coming up short on testing but resist calling it a failure.
BIDEN: Well, I don't think it's a failure. I think it's a -- you could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago.
DIAMOND (voice-over): But many public health experts have been sounding the alarm for months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody saw it coming. We knew we needed more tests. I think the administration had dropped the ball on this.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're still way behind on testing.
EMANUEL: Frankly, I think a big problem is right from the start, we didn't have a strategic plan about how testing was going to fit in with our response.
DIAMOND (voice-over): And then October, anticipating a winter surge, a group of experts including Dr. Michael Mina made an urgent plea to White House officials.
DR. MICHAEL MINA, CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, EMED: -- tried everything I could to advise our government on the need for these tools.
DIAMOND (voice-over): In a presentation obtained by CNN, the experts predicted the U.S. would need about 732 million rapid at home tests per month by March 2022. Even after factoring in expected production increases, the experts warned the U.S. would fall short by about a quarter of a billion tests.
White House officials say they didn't disagree with the goals, but by October, it was mission impossible. There were only a handful of authorized at-home tests and plummeting demand during the summer cause several test makers to downscale production.
Republicans have seized on the failure with two senators calling out a, quote, "fundamental lack of strategy and failure to anticipate future testing needs." In his first network interview, the White House's new testing coordinator responding.
DR. TOM INGLESBY, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR TESTING WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: This administration has been pursuing a strategy to expand testing since its earliest days and we'll continue to do that.
DIAMOND (voice-over): The White House did take steps to boost production in the late summer and fall, purchasing $3 billion in rapid tests and spending another $1 billion to secure key supplies for PCR testing. And with a new fast track to FDA authorization there are now nine at-home antigen tests on the market. The results, at-home testing capacity is up from 46 million tests produced in October to 300 million per month today. And the White House projects a supply of at least 350 to 400 million tests next month according to a memo obtained by CNN.
INGLESBY: We're not going to stop there, those numbers will keep going up in the months ahead.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
DIAMOND: And Jake, the White House is also finalizing plans to send those 500 million free at home test to Americans who request them. The first batch of those tests, we're told, will go out to Americans later this month, and the rest will go out over the next 60 days.
But Jake, well, those 500 million tests, that's enough for two tests for every American adult. Experts say that it points things in the right direction, but it's still a drop in the bucket and it will take months to get supply where it needs to be. Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much.
Let's bring in Kathleen Sebelius. You might remember her, she was the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama.
Madam Secretary, great to see you as always.
So, President Biden --
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HHS SECRETARY: Nice to see you.
TAPPER: -- came into office promising easy access to tests. Almost a year later, a COVID test can still be rather hard to get depending on where you are in the country. And they're certainly, the White House will even say, they don't have enough to get where they need to be. So what's the problem? Some people say that they think the Biden administration put all their eggs in the vaccine basket and ignored other ways to beat back the pandemic. What do you think?
SEBELIUS: Well, I think there's been tremendous progress made, no question about it. You heard some of the stats that Jeremy Diamond just rattled off. But we're at 300 million tests per month out and available. We've gone from 11 point -- we've gone up to 11 point 7 million tests a day from 1.7 million. We have testing available in about 20,000 pharmacies that used to be 2,500. Pharmacies, community health centers have tests.
So, there are two issues that I think the Biden administration has been working on and doubling down on those efforts with the Omicron wave. One is PCR tests need lab capacity, need a turnaround time and they have been free and are available. But in short supply, not necessarily because of the tests themselves but because of the lab turnaround. And that capacity is being built and ramped down.
There were no at-home tests available when Joe Biden took office last January. And now, there are many that have been authorized by the FDA. And as you heard, a lot of the private manufacturers turned their attention elsewhere this summer when nobody was interested in test when people thought that they were finished with this, so that we're ramping up capacity.
And the Biden administration also, as of last February, almost a year ago, invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up capacity. So, it's coming. It's not as fast as people would like, they're definitely are inline somewhere. But free tests are now going to be available for people who were insured. And for people who aren't insured, there'll be an ability to get --
SEBELIUS: -- test mailed directly to your home, to go to a community health center and get a test. So, access, affordability and capacity is really being built as we speak.
TAPPER: The administration says that insurance companies should start covering the costs of rapid tests by the end of the week, and that those 500 million test kits should start to be mailed to households later this month. But you know, this is January 2022, he's been president for a year. Are those big enough efforts to correct the previous year's failures on testing, not to mention the failures during the Trump administration?
SEBELIUS: Well, I don't think there was a year's failure on testing, I think that testing capacity has come under enormous strain with this wildly transmissible variant, with Omicron that just arrived. Up until then, people could get tests, they could get home tests that were available, for nursing homes that are available, for schools. What we're seeing is, this surge is hitting a ramping up testing capacity.
And I think they're doubling down now on the efforts to open new testing sites by the federal government to make sure as you said mailing tests home, getting them to community health centers, making sure that pharmacies have them available. So it's really the surge of Omicron that has created suddenly this crunch of testing demand. But I think we're up to the tasks that Biden administration absolutely knows that's true.
I think we also, Jake, have to make sure that those Americans who have started on their booster shots and don't have the second dose of vaccine, step up. There's no shortage of vaccine or boosters.
SEBELIUS: And what we know is that will take the demand down on tests. Make sure you get those shots that are available all throughout the country, get your kids vaccinated, and we can get through Omicron with very little death and very little serious illness if we take advantage of the tools we have.
TAPPER: Former Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, thank you so much. Good to see you again.
We're going to talk to progressive Congresswoman Cori Bush about President Biden's election reform pitch in Georgia, next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our politics lead. Just moments ago, President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke in Atlanta. They tried to make an urgent case for why the Senate must pass two pieces of election reform legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I've been having these quiet conversations with Members of Congress for the last two months. I'm tired to be quiet. Do you want to be the side -- in the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be in the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be in the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? This is the moment to decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President Biden pleading with his party to exempt these two election reform bills from normal Senate filibuster rules so that they will be able to pass on a simple Democratic majority vote, plus vice president Harris, instead of needing 60 votes which would require Republican support. But as CNN's Manu Raju reports for us now it's not clear there are 50 Democratic votes to change the filibuster rules.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As he makes a high profile pitch in Georgia for sweeping changes to voting laws --
BIDEN: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Yes!
RAJU (voice-over): President Biden is confronting this reality on Capitol Hill. The Senate is poised to hand him a stinging defeat on a pillar of his agenda. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a moment of truth here.
RAJU (voice-over): At issue are two bills that Biden is pushing, the Freedom to Vote Act, which would impose an array of changes to the electoral process to ease voter's access to the ballot, and legislation to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Democrats say the changes are necessary to combat Republican-led states that have fed off Donald Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and that since imposed voting restrictions.
(on-camera): So why go through this exercise, force your members that are vulnerable members to cast a vote to change the rules when you know it's not compatible (ph)?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is so important. Job of a senator is to vote. And the more important and pressing the issue is, the more that had plays. We are going to vote.
RAJU (voice-over): To advance the bills in the Senate, it would require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from Republicans.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): I think part of the message that we have to continue to share is that people can trust that those elections in those states are being run by people that have integrity.
RAJU (voice-over): So Democrats have been working to allow the bills to advance with just 51 votes. Under regular order, changing the rules would require the support of 67 senators. But lacking GOP support, Democratic leaders are instead trying to convince moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to change the rules along straight party lines, a process known as a nuclear option.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: So what would a post nuclear Senate look like? I assure you it would not be more efficient, or more productive. I personally guarantee it.
RAJU (voice-over): Manchin and Sinema are not bending to democratic demands, withstanding months of pressure to argue that deploying the nuclear option will have damaging ramifications for the country.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We need some good rule changes to make the place work better but getting rid of the filibuster doesn't make it work better.
RAJU (voice-over): Manchin's colleagues strongly disagree.
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): How is it that you would disenfranchise minority votes in the nation in order to protect minority positions in the Senate? That's a question I think it would be hard to answer and each member will have to look into their own soul to do that.
RAJU: Now, just as Democrats have their divisions, Republicans do too, namely over Donald Trump and his continued lies that the election in 2020 was stolen. Senator Mike Rounds over the weekend stated basic fact that Donald Trump lost the election, fair and square that prompted Donald Trump to come out and attack Rounds of calling him a jerk, calling him ineffective, calling him weak and say he would never endorse Rounds in a future election.
Now, I just caught up with the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who told me I think Senator Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election, and I agree with him. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
Joining us now live to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush of the great state of Missouri. Congresswoman, let me start by getting your reaction to President Biden's speech today. Do you feel like he made any progress pushing his agenda forward? Was it too little too late?
REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You know, I'm just glad that today, the President of the United States said that he wants to see this happen. He wants to see the -- eliminating the filibuster for voting rights. You know, so whatever happened yesterday, you know, today the President said it, he said it for all the American people so that the people could hear it, the Senate could hear it, you know.
And today, so now we need to take that and we need to run with it. But I feel like, you know, yes, we need -- we can -- we should expect more from our President. Absolutely. Absolutely. But our President is not the one who's going to vote. A president is not the one -- he does not have a vote. He does not -- he's not one of the 50 that we're hoping to have.
He's not even one of if it was 60. He's not one. And so we need to turn focus, even more focused to those that are standing in the way. And they're standing in the way of what's needed from people who look like me, especially, especially why is it 2022? You know, and we are fighting this fight still.
TAPPER: So to play devil's advocate, there are 50 votes, all the Democrats in the Senate support both of these election reform bills, Manchin, Sinema, Coons, all of them do. There are Democratic senators who are concerned that if the filibuster is eliminated for these bills, then the next time Republicans take control of the Senate, which will happen at some point, that Republicans will use that precedent set by Democrats, and pass sweeping bills to ban abortion nationwide to allow concealed carry, to curtail voting rights in certain states in the neighborhoods you're talking about.
Now, President Biden today said that Senators need to pick a side and he suggested anyone who prevents the bills from passing is akin to George Wallace or Bull Connor or Jefferson Davis, three of the worst people that ever lived in this country. Can you see how maybe, if I'm Senator Sinema, I might think, I'm just worried about a nationwide abortion ban. That's not fair to compare me to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. What do you say? BUSH: So how -- where is the, you know, how do we know that the Republicans won't do something anyway? Because when we -- I think that when we look at, hey, we can't do something as Democrats because what if the Republicans do this back to us? Well, Republicans have done, you know, things to us that, you know, we said, hey, we're not going to do something.
Look at how we ended up with the Supreme Court we have. You know, how did that happen? We can't keep saying, oh, well, what if something happens later? Right now, we're looking at facing 2022 elections. We're looking at what's going to happen.
Are we going to keep the House? Are we going to keep the Senate?
We have to make sure that those voting rights that people aren't be, that those voter purges aren't happening. We have to make sure if we could have an election holiday? You know, if we don't have people who are trying to figure out how to go to work and how to make it to the polls, if we can fix these issues for people right now, why not do it?
I don't -- like looking at what could happen, you know what? There's a lot that could happen. There's a lot that the Republicans can do. And you know what? We can't even imagine what they can do, actually, because I remember just a few days ago, what we did was we commemorated a day, we remember the day that we'd never thought would have happened.
BUSH: So when we look at, well, what could they do? Can they do this? They can do whatever they can do. They can do that and more regardless of if we push this forward or not.
So eliminate the filibuster for the voting right -- for voting rights, do it now. And let's make sure that the people who need the access have the access.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri, always great to have you on thank you so much for your time.
BUSH: Thank you.
TAPPER: The January 6 Committee reveals they want to talk to one of Donald Trump's favorite lawyers. Maybe they should set up a meeting at the Four Seasons?
TAPPER: In our politics lead, a new Trump ally targeted by the January 6 Committee. Today, Chairman Bennie Thompson telling CNN that the committee plans to seek information from former Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at some point. Let's get right to CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, did Chairman Thompson say what information they want from Giuliani?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he wasn't very specific about their interest in Rudy Giuliani. But the fact that they are interested really isn't a surprise. Giuliani was a Trump's personal lawyer in the days after the 2020 election and leading up to the January 6th insurrection.
He was one of the most prominent peddlers of the big lie and of course, he gave a speech during that Stop the Steal rally on the Ellipse outside the White House where he suggested that Trump supporters should engage in trial by combat. And that was, of course, just a few hours before the Capitol riot.
Now, Bennie Thompson said they are very interested in speaking to Giuliani that he's on a long list of people that they want to talk to. But he didn't provide a timeline when they would ask for his cooperation. And he also wouldn't say whether or not they would subpoena Giuliani. So it seems as though this is still a process of the committee trying to decide what their next step is, Jake.
TAPPER: And then there's Congressman Jim Jordan who has not completely ruled out talking with the committee, you tell us. You spoke with him last night, what did he have to say?
NOBLES: Well, he didn't really provide much insight beyond the lengthy letter that he sent to the committee which, as you point out, Jake, didn't specifically say that he wasn't going to cooperate, but instead said that he had no relevant information to offer the committee. Instead, it was basically just a bunch of accusations that the committee wasn't legitimate, and therefore he didn't need to cooperate with them.
I asked Jordan repeatedly whether or not he'd be open to something like a public hearing where he could answer questions where everyone would be able to see and hear from him. He said, just to refer back to the letter. I also specifically asked him if he had any communication with the former President Donald Trump or his legal team before sending the committee that letter, and he just refused to answer that question, Jake.
TAPPER: Tell us more about these pro Trump that sent fake election certifications to the National Archives falsely showing Trump winning Arizona and Michigan, the committee got their hands on them. What's all that about?
NOBLES: Yes. It's pretty peculiar and political was the first to report this. These are individuals and groups that describe themselves as what they call sovereign citizens. And they basically made these fake electoral certifications, even with the state seals in some places like Arizona and Michigan, and then sent them to the National Archives, if somehow that was going to mean that an archives would accept that as real and perhaps install a Trump as president.
Obviously, the archives were able to sniff it out quickly and just rejected them. But they did let the secretaries of state know about that in these different states. Many of these secretaries of states have talked with the committee. The committee does have access to this information. But it's just another example, Jake, of the weird and sometimes questionable practices that Trump supporters attempted to employ to keep him in office. Obviously, it didn't work.
TAPPER: Lunacy. All right, Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. Appreciate that.
North Korea launching a new missile and dozens of U.S. flights have been impacted. We'll explain next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, for the second time in a week, North Korea has launched a ballistic missile off its coast. Nearby South Korea says this morning's launch was more advanced reaching 10 times the speed of sound. The launch also prompted an unusual move here in the United States and FAA ground stop, with some pilots ordered to land and others prevented from taking off.
CNN's Oren Liebermann has more on this launch and response from the Pentagon.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly released images show North Korea's latest missile launch. The ballistic missile flew more than 400 miles, according to Japan's Ministry of Defense and crashed into the Sea of Japan. The missile went nearly 40 miles high and reached Mach 10, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
This test coming one week after North Korea tested this what it claimed was a hypersonic weapon. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it seems, is reminding the west of his relevance.
JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: North Korea has to make a decision. Do they go full provocation or do they wait a bit more? I think I really do believe they wanted to give President Biden an opportunity to engage North Korea on North Korea terms. But Washington has not done that.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): In early December, the U.S. and South Korea announced they would update their operational war plan, a classified strategy for how the countries and their allies would respond if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula. In the months before the announcement, there were four separate North Korean missile tests including cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The State Department says they condemn the latest tests two in the span of one week.
VICTORIA NULAND, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The United States has been saying since this administration came in that we are open to dialogue with North Korea that we are open to talking about COVID and humanitarian support, and instead they're firing off missiles.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory and yet this from Burbank Airport in California.
National Security assessment on and we are not aligned maneuver in the area at the moment. The White
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some sort of national security threat's going on, and we are not allowing aircraft to maneuver in the area at the moment.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The White House says the FAA temporarily paused departures at some West Coast airports because of the missile test, but it's still unclear why a launch thousands of miles away had any effect on flights in the U.S. When the military was able to quickly assess, the launch was no threat to the United States.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a 15-minute ground stop, and they did it out of an abundance of caution and they were going to be assessing their approach moving forward.
LIEBERMANN: The FAA statement made no mention of North Korea or the missile launch, that part came from the White House and other officials. The FAA says they often take precautionary measures. Now certainly, that part is true, but those measures normally aren't in response to a missile launch thousands of miles away. The FAA says the process of ordering the ground stop is under review. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks so much.
Coming up in The Situation Room, new questions about tennis star Novak Djokovic's visa applications. That's next with Wolf Blitzer. I'll see you tomorrow.