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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Consumer Prices Rise 7 Percent, Biggest Spike In Four Decades; Russia Says It Will Take Military Steps If Political Measures Fail; January 6th Committee Asks McCarthy To Voluntarily Cooperate; Expert Raise Alarm Crucial COVID Treatments Are In Short Supply; Feds Investigating Medical Chopper Crash Near A Church; No One Hurt; Judge Denies Prince Andrew's Request To Dismiss Lawsuit Tied To Jeffrey Epstein. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House mindful of the serious political and economic challenges at hand, tried to take the long view.

BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: This has been a unique year on a lot of accounts. And so, we find ourselves in a uniquely strong economic position on a number of counts and we've got price increases that we need to tackle.

ZELENY (voice-over): Omicron surge underscoring uncertainty in the nation's full economic rebound with high prices and limited supplies still eroding consumer confidence in the New Year. President Biden acknowledging the pocketbook pain, saying in a statement, "We are making progress in slowing the rate of price increases. At the same time, this report underscores that we still have more work to do, with price increases still too high and squeezing family budgets."

Nearly everything is more expensive with used cars up 37 percent, furniture up 14 percent and gas up more than 50 percent from a year ago. The cost of housing, food, clothes also spiking. The 7 percent increase in inflation over the last year is the highest jump in nearly four decades. While it's nowhere near historic highs of nearly 15 percent from 1980, it's one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers and the White House.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MEMBER, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We are working relentlessly. We are trying to make sure that competition is robust in industries, so cost savings get passed on to consumers.

ZELENY (voice-over): The White House says inflation is only part of the economic picture, which has other signs of strength, including a 3.9 percent unemployment rate and historic wage growth. Yet with inflation expected to remain high for much of the year, the Federal Reserve is signaling its intention to raise interest rates, saying the economy no longer needs emergency support.

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: If we see inflation persisting at high levels longer than expected, then then we will, you know, then we'll -- if we have to raise interest rates more over time, we will. We will use our tools to get inflation back.

ZELENY (voice-over): With a winter way but Omicron cases hitting restaurants, airlines and other sectors hard, the economic recovery from COVID is shaping up to be even more tedious. Inflation also threatening to further complicate the President's Build Back Better agenda with Senator Joe Manchin calling today's labor report, very, very troubling.


ZELENY: And President Biden will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow meeting with Senate Democrats. Jake, the meeting is about voting rights and the new push. But you can bet, inflation also a key concern. In fact, it's one of the biggest political worries that Democrats across this town have been talking about all day as they head into the midterm election races where they're trying to keep control of the House, and indeed, the Senate. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Let's dig on this. Let's bring in our panel.

Just listen to some of these numbers. The price of gas is up almost 50 percent, the biggest jumps ever in prices for new cars, fast food, restaurant meals, men's apparel, furniture and bedding up 13 percent, the highest spikes since 1951. Chicken up 10 percent, the biggest rise since 2004. Fish and seafood up 8 percent, the biggest since 2011.

Catherine, you track this kind of stuff daily, what's going on? Is there a single issue driving this inflation?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, "WASHINGTON POST" OPINION COLUMNIST: There are a couple of factors or more than a couple of factors. The main one or one of the main ones is supply chain issues, right? You have factories getting shut down in China, you have ports still congested, too few truckers, et cetera.

And then on the other side of the ledger is demand. Demand is way up, consumers have cash to spend and they're ready to spend it. And they have that cash available because they amassed a lot of savings while they were locked down early in the pandemic, not spending money on travel, on restaurants, et cetera. And because the government gave them cash, that was sort of the goal there, they're spending it now. And they're spending more of it on goods, exactly the same things that are having trouble getting through supply chains.

So what we see essentially, is that some of the very same policies that have given us really good unemployment numbers, really good GDP numbers, spending numbers, et cetera, are also contributing to higher prices. It's part of the consequence of running the economy hot.

TAPPER: Doug, last week, President Biden said that wages were at record highs for many workers. But the obviously the counter argument is that these higher paychecks don't mean much if the extra money is going straight to the higher cost of living. DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACTION FORUM: Yes, I think that's exactly on the mark. I mean, the labor market is incredibly hot. If you look at the combination of number of workers, the hours they work per week, and how much they get paid for each hour, payrolls are growing at a 10 percent annual rate in the most recent employment port, that's red hot. So there's a lot of demand for workers out there. It's generating a lot of wages.

But none of those numbers look like the 7 percent top line that we saw in the report today. And indeed, if you look at the core things, the food, energy and shelter that over 50 percent of the typical family's budget, that rose in an 8.2 percent last year. So, they've got record high wage growth and they're falling behind at the same time. And so that's a very troubling picture.

TAPPER: Abby, the White House is quick to say, hey, Biden's Build Back Better agenda will ease the pain. But the truth is, inflation is, and concerns about inflation is why Senator Joe Manchin opposes Build Back Better in its current form. He's worried all that money going into the economy is going to keep rising prices.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that this is not going to make the Biden agenda any easier, frankly, unless they can make an argument that there's a way to do this that won't further exacerbate the problems that we've been discussing. And, you know, I think that the coronavirus pandemic is also compounding some of these issues. I mean, on top of the rising cost of everything in terms of goods that people need in order to live, there's also this childcare squeeze that is just causing families to feel like they're getting hit from all sides here. So this is really an urgent issue for Biden to deal with.

And he -- I mean, you know, look, frankly, I think there's not a whole lot of hope that there's much legislation of significance that's going to get through in part because of the narrow majorities, but I think Manchin is going to be probably dug in on this issue after this kind of inflation report.

TAPPER: And Doug, take a listen to the type of thinking President Biden is hearing from his economic advisors. This is a voice that will be familiar to you.


BERNSTEIN: Every forecast shows that even with Fed rate hikes penciled in, the unemployment rate will continue to decline this year. And we should be back to full employment at the end of the year. So under this scenario, inflation comes down in the second half of the year.


TAPPER: That's Jared Bernstein, obviously. Might it be too soon to raise interest rates? Could that drastically raise the cost of loans on higher priced items such as new cars, mortgages, with home prices already at all-time highs?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Well, Jared of all people should know you should never take a forecast to the bank. It's the reality on the ground is going to matter to voters, and they do have a problem with inflation right now.

As I said, the labor markets red hot. And so, I think the outlook for continued growth employment is very good. I don't see reason to be pessimistic on that. But the Fed needs to move from stepping on the accelerator, which has been doing to tapping the brakes, and then needs to do that as quickly as possible.

So, they should not be lobbying against rate increases. Rate increases are necessary, justified and part of controlling inflation and continuing job growth. So, I think they have to be careful where they go when they start lobbying the Fed for not doing its job.

TAPPER: Catherine, what do you say to Republicans and others who say, oh, the federal stimulus and corporate greed have overheated the economy and created this surge?

RAMPELL: I do think probably federal stimulus has contributed to the higher demand. People got the stimulus payments, they got all sorts of other kinds of transfers. They were lifelines for much of the public, but they did enable people to spend more money. I think that's reasonable.

When it comes to something like Build Back Better, though, I'm just not persuaded given the way that that bill is structured that it will have any effect on inflation one way or the other. Biden says it'll bring down inflation, Republicans say it'll jack it up. I think it's probably going to have negligible impact. So I'm not terribly worried about that.

The corporate greed stuff, I just think this is nonsense. You know, it's political posturing, it's demagoguing. It's easy to claim that there's a villain out there and that's what's driving up these prices, but it's the fact that demand is up and supply is constrained.

Corporations are always greedy. It's not like all of a sudden in the last year. They remembered oh, gee, I'm supposed to be great now.

TAPPER: Abby, today, President Biden --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: So listen --

TAPPER: Go ahead, Doug.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Jake, I just really think you have to emphasize what Catherine just said on both fronts. Number one, it's not like before this year we're living in the era of corporate altruism.

TAPPER: Right.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: They do what they do. I mean, there's no question about that. And as far as the box the administration is in, the mistake was the American Rescue Plan, which was 2 trillion, was just way too big at that time, if they could just say that was too big, it was a mistake.

And 155 billion, which is what Build Back Better would be is not a threat, then they might have a chance in making that argument. They can't acknowledge the error. And they're instead pivoting to these corporate greed arguments. Doesn't make any sense.

TAPPER: Abby, today, President Biden said inflation is a global problem. And America has a fast growing economy. Last month, he did call inflation just a bump in the road. What people don't hear is what's he going to do about it? That's, an increasing problem for Biden, whose --


TAPPER: -- poll numbers are in the twilight (ph)?

PHILLIP: Yes. I was very interested in hearing, you know, Brian Deese at the White House today talking about this, because he acknowledged that they didn't -- they got it wrong, they didn't foresee this coming. And that's, I mean, you know, it's good when politicians acknowledge when they gotten things wrong.

But I mean, I think from the perspective of the American public, they're looking at the Biden administration, that they're asking, do you guys know what you're doing? Do you guys have a handle on these problems? And there's a perception now that they don't. And so, they've got to write that ship if they're going to regain the confidence of the American public, because Americans will weather inflation, they will weather some of this stuff if they feel like the leadership has it under control.


But right now it seems like the Biden ministration is just, you know, they're lurching from one extreme to another and saying that they are not anticipating things that people are telling them are coming their way. And that is, I think, you know, that's a perception problem that erodes confidence in the administration from a political perspective.

TAPPER: All right. My thanks to all of you.

Breaking news from the January 6 committee, the committee has sent a request for the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, to talk to them. And they just met with one of the most recognizable faces from the Trump administration, if not one of the most honest.

Then, closer to the brink and Russia refusing to blink, the warning from a top U.S. diplomat about Vladimir Putin.

Plus, a medical helicopter crashes in a crowded neighborhood and everyone survived including the baby being flown to the hospital. How did they do it? We'll tell you next.


TAPPER: Topping our world lead, a top Russian official says Moscow will resort to military measures if diplomatic efforts with NATO fail. This latest threat comes after yet another round of hours long talks today between Russia and NATO aimed at stopping Vladimir Putin's military from invading Ukraine again. And the talks again yielded no meaningful breakthrough.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live for us in Brussels with (INAUDIBLE).

And Alex, the Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told you that Russia is not backing down. Tell us more.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, the two sides appear no closer to a solution for defusing this crisis on the Ukrainian border than they were before these talks even started. Now we are hearing threats from the head of the Russian delegation who told reporters after that meeting at NATO today, quote, "We will take all necessary measures to fend off the threat by military means if it does not work out with political means."

Now, Jake, who's threatening whom here? It's not that Ukraine is poised on the border with Russia about to invade them, it's the other way around. Russia has 100,000 troops on the borders of Ukraine looking like they're about to invade Ukraine. And so, the head of the U.S. delegation, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, told me that there is no sign that after these talks Russia looks like it's going to deescalate. Take a listen.


WENDY SHERMAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: There was no commitment to deescalate, nor was there a statement that there would not be. What I think is very important, and which I think Russia heard loudly and clearly from all allies today is it's very hard to have dialogue, to have diplomacy that is conducive to success, when in fact, you have 100,000 troops live fire exercises, propaganda, disinformation, other efforts to subvert that environment.


MARQUARDT: Now remember, Russia came into these talks this week with two major demands that had already been rejected out of hand by the U.S. and NATO. And that is that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO and that NATO withdraw troops from Eastern Europe. That was never going to happen, according to U.S. and NATO leaders. And that's why Russia feels like it is being ignored.

Now, NATO wants more discussions. They hope to make more progress. But Deputy Secretary of State Sherman said they don't know what Russia is going to do next, that Russia themselves might not know what they're going to do next. A real indication that this really comes down to the decision of one man, Vladimir Putin, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thanks. Here to discuss, Susan Glasser. She's a staff writer for "The New Yorker", and CNN Global Affairs Analyst. She was stationed in Moscow for several years.

Susan, thanks for joining us.

This latest threat from the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister seems like a fairly significant escalation in the rhetoric coming from Russia. What does it suggest to you?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, look, I think, Jake, that was the worry about this intensive weeks of talks all along was that there was no possibility of an agreement because they were framed in such a vague way. Russia's demands are complete nonstarters. It's a pretext in the first place.

Remember, this is a completely manufactured crisis. And so I think the worry all along was that Russia had demanded these talks, not because it wanted serious negotiations, but because at the end of it, Russia would then be able to say, see, look, they didn't meet our unreasonable demands, and therefore we have no choice but to go forward. So, I fear that that's a potential scenario that we're looking at right now is Russia walking away at the end of this week and saying, you know, we have no choice but to proceed.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, I asked the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about that, do you think these are just bad faith efforts, the Russians are going into this with that pretext, exactly as you described, that he projected a more optimistic view, though, I suspect. Privately, he's a little more clear eyed.

Today's meeting is the second of three with Russia scheduled to take place this week. Is there any reason for optimism that some sort of breakthrough can be reached in some off ramp for Putin can be offered?

GLASSER: You know, that phrase off ramp, I have to say, Jake, it triggers me, you know --

TAPPER: Sorry.

GLASSER: -- because I remember for months during the 2014 Ukraine crisis, the exact same thing again and again, what's the off ramp for Putin? What's the off ramp? How can we, you know, get him to look at the cost of this?

And Putin has already factored in the exact costs that the American diplomats are now talking about publicly as a consequence of any further military action. He already understands that cutting off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Germany is very, almost certainly to be one of the costs. He understands that sanctions that would cut Russian banks off from the international banking system is cooked into the price at this point.

And so the fact that they're still willing to engage in this rhetoric, that they still have this enormous military footprint literally threatening Ukraine right now, I think it's very worrisome. And it seems like a much bigger force I should point out than the one that did begin a military incursion into Ukraine back in 2014. This is actually a bigger and more serious invasion force, even than we saw a number of years ago.


TAPPER: Today, the U.S. Senate has finalized the sanctions options you were just referring to in the event that Russia does ultimately invade Ukraine. Again, the State Department is warning Putin of severe consequences again. Are these threats -- I mean, how does Putin even hear these threats?

Does he -- I mean, as you said, he already calculated what he might lose, how the U.S., how the West would respond? Is he just playing a completely different game? He just doesn't care. He's going to do this?

GLASSER: Well, look, I think those who are saying, and many of the wisest Russia watchers, you know, believe that Putin himself likes to reserve all options until the final moment, that he's not somebody who necessarily knows, you know, a month or six weeks in advance exactly what he's going to do, but that he wants to put his pieces in position for him to be able to have the flexibility to make that decision to the end. And I do think it's important having observed Putin over these last two decades to underscore that he really is the decider in that system. That Russian Foreign Ministry was never super empowered in Soviet times, and it is not super empowered today.

So all those conversations that are taking place in Geneva, those are basically with pastors. Those are not people who have the position to decide or not to decide what happens next.

TAPPER: All right. Susan Glasser, thanks as always. Appreciate it.

Breaking news, the January 6 committee to send an invitation to top House Republican Kevin McCarthy. This, as we learned the committee met with Donald Trump's former press secretary. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our politics lead, a major development in the investigation into the deadly January 6 insurrection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been asked to provide information to the committee. Let's get right to CNN's Ryan Nobles who's on Capitol Hill.

And Ryan, this is, as of now, just a voluntary cooperation request. Is there any chance, however, that the committee, if he refuses to cooperate, could subpoena him?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's always that chance, Jake. In fact, the committee has said from the beginning that they wouldn't hesitate to subpoena anyone who they feel is not cooperating fully with their investigation. But it's pretty clear that they would prefer these members of Congress, including now the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to do so voluntarily. They believe that McCarthy has a lot of information, not only about the insurrection itself on January 6, but the events leading up to it that leads them to believe that there are many things that he can share with the committee that would help their investigation.

Now, in the past, McCarthy has said that he has nothing to hide. He even said sure, when asked by our Manu Raju if he'd be willing to testify in front of what was then planned for an independent commission. Since then, he has said about this select committee that he has nothing to hide, but he also has nothing to add. So we'll have to see how he responds to this voluntary request. And then, Jake, whether or not the committee will move forward with a subpoena.

TAPPER: And you have more breaking news about Trump's former press secretary, Kayliegh McEnany.

NOBLES: That's right. Kayleigh McEnany, who was the press secretary on January 6 now works for Fox News did testify in front of the committee today in a virtual hearing. We don't know exactly what she relayed to the committee, but she had been under subpoena for some time now. Her initial deposition appearance was delayed as she engaged with the committee. Now she has actually sat down with them virtually and answer questions.

Of course, McEnany, another one of these people very close to the former President Donald Trump who could have specific insight into that day specifically on January 6. At this point, we don't know what she told the committee, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan, one last other question. This is a fringe conspiracy theory, but I have to ask you, because it's showing up in congressional hearings raised by House and Senate Republicans. An Arizona man, Ray Epps, he's become a target of what appears to be a completely baseless right wing conspiracy that he was actually an undercover FBI agent or informant or operative at the Capitol on January 6 last year, that he that he was planted by the government, this is the conspiracy theory, planted by the government to encourage insurrection.

Now from his public profile and from reports I've seen about Epps, it appears that he's a Trump supporter and a former member of the Arizona branch of the far right wing group, the Oath Keepers. Has the January 6 committee looked into this accusation at all to see if there's any truth to it?

NOBLES: Yes, they have, Jake. In fact, the committee put out a statement yesterday saying that they have interviewed and talked with Ray Epps about his conduct around the Capitol on January 6, and that they specifically asked Epps if he's ever been employed by any federal government agency, specifically the FBI to which he told them no. They also specifically asked him if he was an informant. He also said that he has never, at any point in his life, been an FBI informant.

Now this -- part of this conspiracy, there's absolutely no evidence of which to back up is that at one point Epps was on a list of individuals that the FBI was looking for as it relates to activity related to the Capitol insurrection, and then he was eventually taken off that list. The conspiracy theorists have run wild with that. Many of them, members of Congress, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tommy Massie, even Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Of course, none of that has to do with his status as an FBI informant, because as the committee found out by asking him directly, he simply never was, and that's the facts of this matter not, Jake, it may matter to some of the folks peddling this conspiracy.

TAPPER: They thought that the FBI put an image of one of their undercover operatives online and said wanted and then took it off? That makes no sense at all.

NOBLES: That's the most specific piece of "evidence" that they've offered when it comes to this particular conspiracy theory, Jake. There's just nothing else that would lead you to believe that there's any facts finding.

TAPPER: Yes, not exactly a Mensa group there. Ryan Nobles, thanks so much. Joining us now, Republican congressman member of the January 6th Committee, Adam Kinzinger. Congressman, I want to get to Ray Epps in a second. But first, I want to talk about this breaking news. Your committee sending a letter to your leader, Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, have you heard from McCarthy? Do you think he'll cooperate?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), Yes, I haven't heard anything yet. I certainly hope he does. Do I think he will, we'll see. But holding a title in Congress doesn't make you exempt from having to be, you know, to bring information you may have related to such a serious investigation. It's obviously been reported that the President called him on January 6th and said, Kevin, obviously, these people care more about the election than you do. That's information we want to talk to him about.

So, certainly I hope he does voluntarily cooperate. After all, it's the body he serves in doing, the work that the body has been charged with doing. We'll see if see how it goes.

TAPPER: Let's assume the worst about Kevin McCarthy for a second, just I don't know why I would do that. But let me just play that game. Would the committee subpoena him if he if he opts to not voluntarily tell you the truth?

KINZINGER: Yes. I think as the Chairman said, it's on the table. You know, obviously, there's a number of members that would possibly face this. Again, you're not exempt from having to come and testify. That's an issue we're working through as a committee and figuring out what can these people provide that we can or can't get somewhere else, and they'll make a decision from there.

TAPPER: What do you want to ask him? The letter seemed to suggest that that he knew that there was a scheme to overturn the election by not counting the electoral votes.

KINZINGER: Well, there's a number of things I'm curious about, what did he know prior to January 6th. I mean, on a call with him on January 1st, I directly told him that there was going to be violence, I predicted violence, and it was very much dismissed it and just said next caller. It was a large conference call. He made the decision to object to the electors, all that led up to January 6th, that convinced people that in fact, January 6th was some patriotic duty to fight against the stolen election.

And, of course, he's very close with the former president. He had the conversation on that day and maybe more. And I think that's of interest to the committee as we get to the bottom of what happened on that day and what led up to that day.

TAPPER: Your committee also talked with former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Did she have anything to contribute that you didn't know before?

KINZINGER: I'm not going to, you know, talk about what was testified to or what wasn't. I'll just say that, as the subpoena required, she appeared and we'll go from there. I'm sure as information as folks put the pieces of this puzzle together, we'll find out the bigger picture.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Ray Epps conspiracy theory. Let's watch a clip of Epps. Well, there is this clip of Epps the night before the insurrection and then during the insurrection. The night before he says, tomorrow we need to go to the Capitol peacefully, peacefully. And then on January 6th, he says take a step back, we're holding ground. We don't want to get hurt. And the crowd is chanting, "fed, fed, fed!"

And you tweeted a rather colorful thread about this baseless conspiracy. You said, "He didn't enter the Capitol on January 6th and was removed for the most wanted list because apparently he broke no laws. I'm pretty sure the FBI wouldn't be dumb enough to put their own agent on a wanted list." What do you make of this and you have, you know, Republican colleagues of yours in the House, and Ted Cruz in the Senate, pushing out this nonsense, and I don't even understand why.

KINZINGER: So this is part of this whole like flood the zone with confusion, with conspiracy. In fact, now the reaction is, you know, I don't know why wasn't he arrested, because he did say go into the Capitol. And what happens is anytime you call them out on BS, there's a circular argument in one way or the other. The truth is the conspiracy said that Ray Epps was an FBI agent. Ray Epps is not an FBI agent. And that is the crux of this FBI conspiracy that somehow, maybe their own bases too stupid to be able to resist somehow an FBI inspired insurrection. That's the kind of garbage we're dealing with.

And this is new, his name is knew to a lot of people. But for about the last three months, it's been growing on right wing Twitter and conspiracy blogs, to the point where whatever percent of the American people actually take it as fact, that Ray Epps was an FBI agent. He was not. And this was mainstreamed yesterday when Ted Cruz asked specifically to the FBI Ray Epps. They can't comment as they don't about individual cases, and that was seen as even further away of a conspiracy.

This is why conspiracy theories can't be ignored anymore with this new kind of social media environment. They have to be nipped in their infancy.


TAPPER: Well, and also because you have people who you would think would know better like US senators and members of the House mainstreaming this stuff. Speaking of mainstreaming this stuff, I want to get your reaction to something I saw today that was kind of shocking. So the mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser put out a tweet about new regulations in DC. You have to show proof of vaccination if you go to a restaurant, and also there's a masking order.

Your Republican House colleague, Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio, responded to that with a picture of Nazi imagery, of a Nazi order. And he wrote this has been done before #donotcomply. He added a comment, let's recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them.

Congressman Dean Phillips, I should note, who's a Democrat and Jewish, he confronted Davidson on the floor of the House today. And he told me and he said, I could report this. I told him that the use of such imagery wasn't just repugnant and dangerous, and a false equivalency, but deeply offensive and painful for Jewish people. I said I would debate mandates and tyranny wherever he wishes but there's no debate on the offensiveness of this post. He could have cared less. What's your reaction?

KINZINGER: I mean, look, he's going to raise money on this. He's going to be known. This is the new politics. It's not about leading anymore. It's about how can we outrage the other person that just had the greatest outrage.

Look, you can disagree with vaccine mandates and restaurants, you know, there are some of it I disagree with. But to say that that's somehow equivalent to Adolf Hitler early stages, I would encourage Warren or anybody else, to go back and maybe take a history lesson of what happened in World War II, what happened to 6 million Jews. It is insane.

The government wants to keep you healthy. I'm going to tell you, the Nazis weren't interested in keeping the Jewish people healthy. That's a very basic start to all of this. And if we go down this level as a party, shame on us, as we go down this level as people, shame on us, and every Republican leader needs to be condemning that kind of BS right now, and saying that there's no place for that.

Instead, they're talking about debating whether or not Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger should be Republicans, and not somebody like Warren Davidson tweeting conspiracies and Nazi imagery.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.


TAPPER: It's considered a breakthrough in treating COVID but it is not easy to find. We're going to take a look at why antiviral treatments are so scarce, that's next.



TAPPER: Following your Health Lead, when the FDA authorized the first oral antiviral COVID treatment last month, it was welcomed as a game changer with the potential to vastly reduce hospitalizations. But that drug, and other COVID treatments, are rather scarce right now, forcing doctors to triage who gets the treatment and who does not. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates now why these treatments are not available to everyone when cases are higher than they've ever been.


CLAY BYINGTON, COVID-19 PATIENT: I could feel the mucus buildup in my lungs.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Like millions of other Americans, 26-year-old Clay Byington tested positive for COVID-19 after gathering with friends and family over the holidays.

BYINGTON: When the coughs came, they definitely sent the aches down the body.

GUPTA: Were you quite worried about how sick you were getting?

BYINGTON: I was pretty worried. I see a lot of stories about how people's health has declines very fast in a matter of days. I know that me being overweight, just kind of worried me.

GUPTA: Despite being boosted, Clay's BMI of 35 placed him at higher risk, so Clay's doctor prescribed him Paxlovid, an antiviral that has been shown to reduce hospitalizations by nearly 90% among those at highest risk for developing severe disease

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: They are game changer and have the potential to dramatically alter the impact of COVID-19.

GUPTA: Paxlovid is a combination of oral pills that work by interfering with the virus' ability to replicate. Based on Paxlovid's high efficacy, the 20 million courses bought by the Biden administration could eventually prevent more than a million hospitalizations based on CNN's calculations. But the problem is this, the majority of those doses won't arrived for months.

ERIC TOPOL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: There's hardly any of these pill packs around.

GUPTA: Dr. Eric Topol is executive vice president for Research at Scripps in San Diego. He believes the Biden administration should have invested in Paxlovid months ago.

TOPOL: Had we had hundreds of millions of blister packs, of packs of it right now, we'd be able so much better to fend against Omicron. GUPTA: Several months before the vaccines were authorized, there were at risk investments being made, many bets being made on various vaccines. And, you know, those gambles. Were those same sorts of gambles made on therapeutics?

TOPOL: The fact that this was the first medication that was designed specifically against this virus, that I think was worth a shot. It was worth an investment but there was none.

GUPTA: So far, just 160,000 courses have been delivered around the country, and with more people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, than at any other time during the pandemic, these pills will soon be in short supply. They will need to be rationed, leaving doctors like Shireesha Dhanireddy at the University of Washington's Harborview Medical Center with some tough decisions.

SHIREESHA DHANIREDDY, CLINICIAN EDUCATOR, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER: We're using these medications judiciously and really giving them to the people that would most benefit from these therapeutics. If we open it up to vaccinated individuals, we would not have enough therapy.

GUPTA: Should a vaccinated person get it versus an unvaccinated? Or should it only be for unvaccinated? I mean, it's going to raise all kinds of ethical and medical sort of questions.


TOPOL: The availability is so limited and more people who are unvaccinated are going to wind up in need.

GUPTA: The National Institutes of Health Guidance prioritizes treatment for those at highest risk, the immunocompromised, the elderly and, yes, the unvaccinated.

DHANIREDDY: Many of the people who are seeking this therapy may not need this therapy to recover from COVID-19, and is particularly if you're vaccinated boosted.

GUPTA: There are other treatments available, but Remdesivir, an antiviral and Sotrovimab, an monoclonal antibody, both require infusions. And Molnupiravir, another oral pill is the last line option being recommended, none of them as effective as Paxlovid.

BYINGTON: Yesterday, my cold isn't as worse and today I'm feeling a lot better.

GUPTA: Clay was one of the lucky few, getting both physical relief as well as mental relief from the drug.

BYINGTON: Once you're sick, and you're, you know, you're feeling the symptoms and you're kind of like, oh, my goodness, this going to get worse. So that kind of the medication helps alleviate that stress and anxiety.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: You know, Jake, there was so much enthusiasm, understandably around vaccines, but in order for them to actually have had the supply that they wanted, they made these at risk investments months earlier than the vaccines even had some of the trial data. Those same sort of at risk investments have not really been made in therapeutics. And I think it's why we're having the problem that we're having now.

Well, so don't have enough testing, enough masks, I think for the same reasons. People thought it was going to be the vaccines that everyone was relying on, and understandably but as a result other things suffered.

TAPPER: It's so difficult to watch your great piece there, Sanjay, not get exasperated. If a mere 160,000 courses of this new drug had been delivered out of the 10 million requested. Where exactly are the remaining 9,840,000?

GUPTA: I know. I share your frustration here. I mean, the issue is, first of all, this is a hard drug to make. So the manufacturing of this is not easy to be fair. But if they had been manufacturing at risk months ago, we would be having those millions of doses available now, right?

As things stand, what we're hearing is that the doses, the first 10 million, at least, should arrive by June, another 10 million by September. But we can pretty much be assured that the numbers of cases are going to go down certainly over the warmer months, and there won't be as much a demand. We need them now and they're not there. And that's part of the concern.

The White House says, look, they cut a lot of red tape. They've tried to increase manufacturing. They're speeding up the process as much as possible. But again, what is the obligation to make at risk investments in things besides vaccines like therapeutics.

TAPPER: Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much, great reporting. A medical chopper transporting a baby to the hospital crash lands in a busy neighborhood, and everyone on board survived. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In today's National Lead, federal investigators are back at the scene of what's being called a miracle landing. A medical helicopter with a baby on board no less, crashed just outside Philadelphia. The pilot maneuvered above a neighborhood missing homes, missing traffic. It came down next to a church. And miraculously nobody on the ground or in the helicopter was seriously hurt.

Let's bring in CNN's Pete Muntean. Pete, what are investigators saying about what went wrong to begin with?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, right now investigators say nothing really stands out to them so they just remove the helicopter from the scene. They say it is remarkably intact, and now the inspection will continue off site. We also have new images of the two-month old baby girl being pulled from the wreckage. She was being flown to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

This crash happened just a few miles short in that crowded Drexel Hill neighborhood. Nobody on the ground hurt as well. Police say the pilot did a heroic job of dodging buildings and traffic, and now the National Transportation Safety Board just held a press conference. The investigator in charge says he is still gathering data and there are witness reports of the helicopter flying erratically before crashing


JOSHUA JAMES, WITNESSED CRASH: The tail of it kind of like swinging like this. And so then it's coming to us, so I put my car reverse slam going on the gas, reverse backwards. And then it hits. Then, there was a lot of jet fuel coming out. And then we saw a little bit of fire inside of the actual thing but not a lot of fire. It was just mostly smoke like billowing out of the actual helicopter.


MUNTEAN: Now, the investigator in charge has he has spoken with the pilot, he's in the hospital with serious injuries. Investigators describe his state as medicated and uncomfortable. The two other crew members have been released from the hospital, Jake.

GUPTA: And, Pete, the safety of these kinds of medical helicopters has before come into question.

MUNTEAN: Well, medevac operators often fly in really unforgiving conditions, Jake. It's the nature of the job. Weather was quite good, in this case. This medevac was operated by a company called Air Methods. It operates about 400 air ambulances nationwide.

In a statement, the company says it will cooperate with the investigation. Air methods was the subject of another NTSB investigation in 2018, that's when one of its helicopters crashed in Wisconsin, and all three onboard were killed, Jake.

GUPTA: All right. A miraculous landing, Pete Muntean, thank you so much.


In our World Lead, a milestone in the slow legal frustrating fight involving the rich and powerful dead pedophile who allegedly participated, I'm sorry, the rich and powerful people who allegedly participated in dead pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein's sex crimes against underage girls. Today, a federal judge refused to throw out a sexual assault lawsuit against Britain's Prince Andrew by a woman named Virginia Giuffre.

We've told you her report before. She claims Epstein trafficked her and that she was forced to perform sex acts with Prince Andrew when she was only 17 years old. The prince denies this. His legal team asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. They argued that her lawsuit violated the terms of a confidential settlement between Giuffre and Epstein in 2009. Of course, Epstein died in jail in 2019.

Coming up, Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM," Australia could decide at any moment if the country will kick tennis star Novak Djokovic out of the country. That's ahead.