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Waukesha Mourning for Victims of Car Attack; Jury Deliberations Underway for Ahmaud Arbery Case; Trump Allies Compelled to Answer a Subpoena. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, why a driver plowed his car through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin. After five people are killed and more than 40 injured, what police are saying about the suspect's motives.

Another trial weighing vigilante justice versus self-defense. The jury in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial expected to get the case today.

Plus, January 6th fallout. Five new subpoenas to some major players in Donald Trump's orbit, including some high-profile names who were involved in the stop the steal rally.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us.

Well as Waukesha, Wisconsin, comes to terms with Sunday's Christmas parade tragedy, we are learning new details about the man accused of driving into the crowds and his criminal past. A vigil was held Monday night for the victims, and schools across the city remain closed.

Five people were killed and almost 50 injured in that incident. Authorities say there's no connection to terrorism. They say the suspect, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks was out on bail for unrelated charges in a domestic abuse case, and he was involved in another domestic disturbance right before the parade incident.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has the latest now from Waukesha.


UNKNOWN: Forty casualties down main street. Alert all the hospitals.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This horror at high speed --


BROADDUS: -- now revealed to be an intentional act.

DANIEL THOMPSON, POLICE CHIEF, WAUKESHA POLICE DEPARTMENT: A lone subject intentionally drove his maroon SUV through barricades into a crowd of people that was celebrating the Waukesha Christmas parade.

BROADDUS: Police say the driver of this vehicle seen racing through the Waukesha holiday parade Sunday will be charged with killing five people ages 52 to 81 as more victims continue to fight for their lives.

THOMPSON: The suspect involved in this tragic incident is identified as Darrell E. Brooks. A male 39 years of age who is a resident of Milwaukee. We are confident he acted alone. There's no evidence that this is a terrorist incident.

BROADDUS: Police say Darrell Brooks was driving away from the scene of a domestic disturbance when he plowed through the Christmas parade. It was not his first interaction with police this month. A criminal complaint from earlier in November shows a list of charges including recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, and battery.

The complaint also alleges Brooks, quote, "intentionally and without consent ran another person over with his vehicle while they were walking through the parking lot." He was out on $1,000 bail, a recommendation the D.A. says was, quote, "inappropriately low."

CNN reached out to Brooks' attorney regarding the incident earlier this month but has not yet received a response. In addition to those killed, nearly 50 people were injured Sunday, including several children.

UNKNOWN: Six of these patients were sent to the operating room last night, and two additional patients are undergoing surgeries today.

BROADDUS: Children's Hospital Milwaukee confirms it received 18 patients Sunday evening, ages 3 to 16, including three sets of siblings.

UNKNOWN: Injuries range from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries.

MELINDA STOFFLE, WITNESS: I could see kids just lying on the street, people putting blankets over them, trying to attend to them, kids screaming on the sidewalks.

BROADDUS: At least one witness says the driver continued to speed through the street even after hitting several people.

UNKNOWN: It hit at least two people right away, rolled over both of them, and then kept going. It didn't stop.


BROADDUS (on camera): And later today, the 39-year-old will appear before a judge for his initial court appearance. The chief of police here in Waukesha is recommending initially five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Waukesha.


CHURCH: Juliette Kayyem is a CNN national security analyst. She joins me now from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, five people are dead --


CHURCH: -- 48 injured because a suspect plowed into a Christmas parade with his car, and it turns out he has a long criminal history and was just released from jail two weeks ago on $1,000 bail in a domestic abuse case. Did the system fail the people in this instance, do you think?

KAYYEM: It certainly seems like it, Darrell Brooks, the suspect at this stage -- and we only know right now that it's five deaths. There's a lot of people still in the hospital. He's someone who has been in and out of jail his entire life, gets -- uses a car. In his most recent interaction with the criminal justice system, it was a car incident where he tried to run over a girlfriend or the mother of a child and is supposed to be -- have a high bail, and he's able to get out for about $1,000.

The district attorney in the area is reviewing that. But this is someone whose interactions with the police are almost always violent. He tries to resist arrest a lot, and someone whose temper was well- known to law enforcement. So, he is someone who the system should have captured earlier before this tragedy.

CHURCH: And, Juliette, do you think once investigators have checked through --


CHURCH: -- all the video of this Christmas parade and his car going into the crowd, just horrendous images there, how might that change the outcome?

KAYYEM: Right. So, they're going to be looking at a variety of things. One is this is just an investigation. They just want to know what happened. But, you know, in terms of his conduct while he's doing that, his defense, or if one assumes that he's going to have a defense, it is clearly going to be that this was not purposeful. It was a horrible, horrible accident.

That's hard to say when you make a turn going however many miles per hour into a crowded area. You are more likely than not to harm or kill someone, and so the videos will be utilized to counter that just any potential defense. He clearly knew what was happening. He did not stop. He did not try to help in any sort of way, and that's why all of these videos are so important.

This was a -- you know, this is the thing I can't understand. Assuming even that he had no intention to do it, once you know what's happening, that you are in a crowded area, generally you would stop. So, they're also going to look to drug abuse, alcohol abuse. He has had a history also of drug abuse.

CHURCH: And we do, of course, keep seeing incidents like this, don't we?


CHURCH: Where people get killed by vehicles either by accident or intentionally. So how do authorities make sure that parades like this, and certainly now we're in the holiday season --

KAYYEM: Right.

CHURCH: -- are safe?

KAYYEM: Yes. It's almost impossible to make a place totally safe. So what you want to do is just reduce the risk to large numbers of people. So what we've learned to do and what even small jurisdictions may now have to begin to do is you put trash trucks at the opening and closing of a parade just to make sure no one can ride down the parade lane. You put up other barriers.

There were some barriers at this parade, but they were minimal. They were mostly just to stop, you know, cars from trying to get through the streets, and they wouldn't succeed with someone who was going as quickly as he was. But fortunately, -- and this is why this is important given all the rumors -- there was no presumably political or racial animus involved in this, and that does matter for, you know, given where we are here in this country.

CHURCH: Yes, most definitely. And of course, in this particular situation, police didn't keep the media and the public updated. They didn't reveal what they knew because, of course, they were being cautious. But in the meantime, social media steps in, doesn't it --


CHURCH: -- fills that vacuum with all sorts of speculation. Is it time for police press conferences to be held earlier, --


CHURCH: -- to cancel out --

KAYYEM: Yes, yes.

CHURCH: -- that possibility of misinformation? KAYYEM: Yes. These are words that I have been saying as well. The old

model of we're going to make sure we know everything, cross T's, dot I's, and then come out and tell you what we believe to be true or what we know to be true at that moment just doesn't work. It's just not fast enough.

So what police departments are learning to do is to use Twitter and social media to at least get information out that they know at that stage, that they are aware of an incident that this is what's happening. And then also what you can do is you can stop misinformation.

So, if there starts to be things that are coming out, like this is terrorism, you know, they knew early on who the suspect was, so they would be able to at least, in that instance, say this is not international terrorism or anything related a terrorist threat.


So, we have to just get faster in terms of trying to counter those who would use a tragedy like this for a political agenda, which we clearly saw on social media. People starting -- trying to start a racial -- I don't know -- racial war or racial animus, or to allege that it was some kind of international terrorism, which also is, I think, meant for racial and ethnic divisions.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it as always.

KAYYEM: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: In the coming hours, jury deliberations are expected to begin in southern Georgia in the trial of three men charged in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man.

The defense has argued the men acted in self-defense and were trying to make a citizen's arrest for suspected burglary when Arbery was fatally shot last year. But prosecutors argue the defendant's motives were much more sinister.

CNN's Sara Sidner has our report.


LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Everybody in this case had a gun except Ahmaud Arbery.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The prosecution hammering the three men accused of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging down the street in February 2020 unarmed and unaware he was about to be killed. All three men face several felony charges, including murder. Arbery was shot at close range and still tried to fight back before dying.

DUNIKOSKI: You expect when you're committing felonies, people are going to fight back. How dare Mr. Arbery defend himself against their four felonies? Isn't that what they're saying to you?

SIDNER: The defense began their closing blaming Arbery for his own demise.

LAURA HOGUE, GREGORY MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He was a recurring nighttime intruder, and that is frightening and unsettling.

JASON SHEFFIELD, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What was Ahmaud Arbery doing in Satilla Shores from October 2019 to February 2020? There is no evidence that Ahmaud Arbery ever jogged or exercised in Satilla shores.

SIDNER: The white men, Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael and William Bryan were chasing Arbery in two vehicles. They claim they thought Arbery had committed a crime and they were going to perform a citizen's arrest. Travis McMichael's attorney says he had seen someone trespassing at an empty home construction site in the weeks before the day he shot Arbery.

SHEFFIELD: Travis believes he's committed the offense of burglary.

You do have the right to perform a citizen's arrest. You do have the right to have a firearm when you make an arrest. You do have the right to stop a person, and there is risk with that, and there are tragic consequences that can come from that.

SIDNER: Travis McMichael is the one who shot Arbery. During the trial, he was the only one who took the stand in his own defense.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't brandish any weapons?


DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any guns?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Didn't pull out any knife?

MCMICHAEL: No, ma'am.

DUNIKOSKI: Never reached for anything, did he?


DUNIKOSKI: He just ran?

MCMICHAEL: Yes, he was just running.

SIDNER: His defense attorney said once he came face to face, McMichael defended himself.

SHEFFIELD: He wanted to stop him for the police, to detain him. Don't be fooled by this word arrest. you don't have to announce, you're under arrest. He told you why he raised the gun, because he was afraid that he would be on him within seconds. SIDNER: The prosecution said the defendant's claim of self-defense is

moot since they were the initial aggressors. And when it comes to making a citizen's arrest, the law is clear.

DUNIKOSKI: A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence. So, what's the problem for the defendants? Well, we all know that Mr. Bryan is on his porch fixing it. Where's Travis McMichael? He's on the sofa inside the house. Where is Greg McMichael? This all started when I saw him running down the street.

SIDNER: The racially charged trial was inflamed by Kevin Gough, the attorney for William Bryan. Gough tried several times to get the black pastors showing up to support Arbery's mother kicked out of court.

KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM BRYAN'S ATTORNEY: We don't want any more black pastors coming in here.

SIDNER: As the attorneys broke for lunch during closing arguments today, some found themselves face to face with protesters, some armed to the hilt, prompting attorney Gough to call for a mistrial.

TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE, EASTERN CIRCUIT OF GEORGIA: I agree with the concern that is out there with regard to the jurors having exposure to anything that may be going on outside. I'm not -- would agree on our side -- I have it has not been brought to my attention on a security level.


SIDNER (on camera): The emotions outside court were high as were the emotions inside court, especially after a comment made by one of the defense attorneys concerning Ahmaud Arbery's appearance. She talked about him being in the neighborhood in khakis, in shoes with no socks, and having long, dirty toenails.


That caused gasps in the court as you might imagine. She is referencing a dead man, and Ahmaud Arbery's mother could not get out of court quick enough. She was filled with emotion.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.

CHURCH: And for more on all of this, we want to bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin. Thanks so much for joining us.


CHURCH: So jury deliberations begin in just a few hours from now in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. And just yesterday, we heard shocking closing arguments from one of the defense lawyers that prompted outrage when she talked about Arbery's toenails in an effort to portray the unarmed black man as a criminal. What was your reaction to what she said, and how should the judge have responded to that?

MARTIN: It was pretty galling, Rosemary, to say the least. To make it so personal. She tried to paint this picture of Ahmaud Arbery being some kind of nefarious character. Really laying into this theme that this was some kind of idyllic neighborhood and that he didn't belong in this neighborhood.

I think it was playing into tired, old, racist tropes. I think it brought up a lot of pain for the family and for many people that were watching, trying to suggest that somehow because he was a black man, it didn't fit the mold, didn't look like the other residents of this neighborhood, that somehow, he didn't belong there.

I think it's one of those arguments, blaming the victim can backfire on the defense. Not sure how it played with this jury. We know there are 11 white jurors in this town that has 25 percent African Americans. Perhaps she thought this may be a line of argument that would play with these white jurors, but it's always dangerous to blame the victim, particularly in this case when the victim was unarmed and did nothing threatening to the three defendants.

CHURCH: So how did the closing arguments of the prosecution compare to those of the defense, and how do you think the jury will likely respond to what was said as they start their deliberations?

MARTIN: I think the prosecution did an outstanding job. She laid out very clearly the facts and the evidence. She made it very simple for the jurors to understand this notion of citizen's arrest, gave lots of great examples of it.

The law basically says in order for you to use citizen's arrest, the crime must occur in your presence or you must have immediate knowledge of it. She gave the example of being in Walmart and the surveillance video in Walmart being able to watch what someone is doing, and said, this is an emergency procedure and not available to someone like the McMichaels, who had no immediate knowledge of what Ahmaud Arbery was doing on this day.

And, you know, really undermined this notion that they could look back to what Ahmaud may have done February 11th or back in 2019 and use that knowledge to somehow suggest that they were justified in trying to detain or arrest him on February 23rd.

I thought her arguments were brilliant. I thought they were powerful, and I think they landed with this jury.

CHURCH: And of course, it's important to note that this trial and these jury deliberations come on the heels of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, which acquitted him on all charges. This Georgia trial also deals with vigilante justice. How do you expect this trial to end?

MARTIN: I think -- and I'm hoping that there's a very different outcome, but, you know, as you pointed out, we just saw in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, a case that also was about self-defense, that the prosecution wasn't able to convince the jurors beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to its case.

These cases of self-defense are challenging because essentially you have vigilantes like the McMichaels, like Kyle Rittenhouse, that go into a situation. They provoke the aggression that happens, and then they're able to rely on self-defense.

That's what the prosecution did a really good job of too, trying to let the jurors know that you cannot bring a gun to a fistfight. You cannot provoke an individual, and those individual responds, and then you rely on self-defense law. So, we'll see what happens with respect to this case.

I think it's very different. I think the facts are different. The law in Georgia is slightly different as well from the law in Wisconsin. But, again, we're dealing in the deep south with a jury comprised of 11 whites and one black, and we have a black defendant. And historically, we know that has not been a situation where we've seen the kind of justice that we think is required based on the facts and the law.

CHURCH: Areva Martin, many thanks. I appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, they peddled lies about the U.S. presidential election being stolen, which then fueled the capitol riot. Now key allies of Donald Trump are facing subpoenas. Back in a moment.



CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. capitol has issued a new round of subpoenas to a handful of former President Donald Trump's allies.

They include Alex Jones, the far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone, who's already suggesting he won't cooperate. They and several others were directly involved in planning so-called stop the steal rallies as Ryan Nobles reports.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The January 6th select committee issuing five new subpoenas, five individuals who are closely associated with the planning and execution of the rallies leading up to January 6th, including that big stop the steal rally that took place in front of the White House.

Many of the people who participated in that rally ended up here on Capitol Hill in an attempt to interrupt the certification of the November election. There's two big names in this group, Alex Jones and Roger Stone, two major conservative provocateurs, people that have been longtime supporters of the former president, Donald Trump, and of course played a big role in peddling the lies about the election that Trump was the leader of.


They also helped to raise money and convince people to come to Washington on January 6th with the implicit goal of trying to interrupt the democratic process. But it's not just Jones and Stone. There are three other names.

Taylor Budowich currently the spokesperson for the former president in his capacity outside of the White House. And then two other individuals, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence. They are an engaged couple. They have been behind the scenes players in all of this, closely associated with Steve Bannon, also closely associated just on the outer ring of the Trump campaign and the Trump political effort.

They had a lot to do with the organization, the raising of funds, and the spending of funds as it relates to those rallies on January 6th. There is a big question, though, as just to how cooperative these witnesses will be, particularly Alex Jones and Roger Stone, who have a penchant for either ignoring congressional and legal requirements that are put on them or outright lying to panels like this.

This is what one of the committee members, Zoe Lofgren had to say about both of these individuals coming before the committee.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Mr. Stone raised money for security through his web sites, He reportedly had an affiliation with the Oath Keepers that led some of the assault on the capitol. He made remarks that he was planning to lead the march to the capitol from the ellipse that day.

Mr. Jones claims to have raised the majority of the funds for the staging of the rally. So, we want to find out what they know. We're following up with other leads that we have received about the funding.


NOBLES (on camera): This ultimately, though, is about connecting dots. There were obviously three layers to all this, right? There was the peddling of the election lie first. There was the effort to bring people here to Washington. And then the final step would be convincing people to come into the capitol on that day to try and interrupt the democratic process.

At this point the committee has not shown direct evidence that those three stages have a direct connection and that those connections lead back to someone like Donald Trump, but that's clearly the role or the goal that they have throughout this process, bringing process. Bringing together this group could be one piece of that big puzzle.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

CHURCH: Well, the former deputy director of the FBI predicts Roger Stone and Alex Jones will testify because they won't be able to resist the spotlight or the chance to publicly duel with the panel. Andrew McCabe also weighed in on the committee's strategy.


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The committee has kind of telegraphed what they're thinking with each round of subpoenas that we see coming out. And for my money, what seems clear is they are focused intently not on specifically the mayhem of the insurrection on January 6th but on the days leading up to January 6th.

They are trying to get to who was at the center of planning this activity. How was it funded? Where were those communication networks? Who was involved? Who was talking to who? And how does this potentially get back to the White House?

And of course, the ultimate question, was the violence part of the plan? And I think these subpoenas are a great way of closing down the loop on those questions and really getting to the center of it.


CHURCH (on camera): In the coming hours, President Biden will deliver remarks on the U.S. Economy and his plans for lowering prices for American consumers. With inflation on the rise and economic uncertainty, Mr. Biden opted to stay the course by reappointing Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve. He said Powell's independence during unprecedented political pressure from the Trump administration was one reason he was the right choice.

Well, still to come, as the U.S. prepares to enter its second pandemic holiday season, COVID cases are once again on the rise. We will break down the numbers next.

And new restrictions in Europe as the continent struggles through a wave of cases that one official warns won't end until everyone is, quote, "vaccinated, recovered, or dead."



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, COVID cases are once again rising here in the United States just as the country prepares to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. The U.S. is now averaging more than 95,000 new cases a day. That's about half of what we saw this time last year. But compared to last week, cases are up about 16 percent.

On top of that, hospitals are seeing more COVID patients. More than a third of states reported a significant jump in hospitalizations last week compared to the week before. Now, despite all of that, experts say it's still safe for people to gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving if everyone is fully vaccinated.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We are really enthusiastic for people to be able to gather again for this holiday season, and we would just encourage that people do so safely. So, of course that means to get vaccinated if you're not yet vaccinated and ideally to practice safe prevention measures before heading in to a gathering numerous households together. But just as you note, one extra layer of protection that you might take is to take a rapid test before you gather together.


CHURCH: Joining us now is Dr. Scott Miscovich, the president and CEO of Premier Medical Group USA. He is also a national consultant in the U.S. for COVID-19 testing. Always a pleasure to have you with us, doctor.


CHURCH: So what's your advice as Americans prepare to gather together for Thanksgiving? How do they do this safely with COVID cases again on the rise and still some resisting getting vaccinated?

MISCOVICH: Wow, yeah. Here we are again. I mean we were talking about this last year at this time. And so I think the first thing we have to remember is protect those at risk. Protect the elderly. Protect those that are immunosuppressed.


If you have family members that have any of those conditions or you, yourself, you know, I would be very careful with having a large gathering. And I would be very careful of having anybody there that's not vaccinated. So the other thing I've been encouraging is even though we're moving indoors and bad weather may be moving across the United States as it is in other parts of the world, think about your ventilation. Maybe have the windows cracked.

I have always advocated, which are very inexpensive, fans and to create your own ventilation in an indoor area. Separate your tables. Don't put everybody next to each other if possible. You can still talk. You can still have some candles on, but be very careful with where you place people who are at risk. That's my big concern.

CHURCH: Yeah. I mean, that's great advice. Always an awkward question, isn't it sometimes? When you do (inaudible) with friends and family, are you vaccinated? Some people don't want to answer that. So all adults 18 and over are now eligible to get their booster shot here in the United States.

But you've said it's time for the CDC, state and county health authorities, as well as the WHO to stop using the term booster. Why do you say that?

MISCOVICH: Yeah. I think we need to start not using the term booster and I have been publicly saying this in many areas and have reached out to the CDC. As we saw Dr. Fauci allude to yesterday, the Moderna and the Pfizer, the mRNA vaccines, they do not keep your immunity with two shots. It's a three-shot series. We need to start being honest to everyone, to let them know that you have day one, one month, and six months to gain immunity. There's a significant difference.

I think we're putting this unusual sense -- and you and I talked about this before, Rosemary, about what confusion the word booster places. So I think we need to start saying a fully immunized person is a person that receives three shots of those or two shots of the J&J.

And the other thing I'm very concerned about is let's start listing that across the country or a state where we say fully vaccinated percentage. It's probably about 10 percent in many areas right now. Partially vaccinated are those who have had two shots. And then those unvaccinated. Let's put those out. Let's be honest to the people.

CHURCH: Yeah. I mean, it's interesting about the booster when you mentioned that, because the WHO did push back, didn't it, when the U.S. was talking about boosters. So, I mean, I guess we are learning as we go, aren't we?

MISCOVICH: Yeah, that's the whole point. We are learning as we go, and you and I have talked about this before, you know. I do stand for vaccinating the world, and the WHO has put the stop sign on, saying, well, how about the rest of the people, the half of the world that never got one shot? Let's take some of those and pass them off.

But at this stage, it's fair to say the data is crystal clear that two shots, you're maybe about 50 percent immunity right now. And as a doctor, I want to look at my patients and be honest to let them know and not give them a false sense of security.

It's also backed up by the data we have now that as you stated in the United States and other areas, those that are vaccinated are starting to be hospitalized. Remember, death rates are still very, very, very low if you're vaccinated.

So I do want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. But we're seeing hospitalizations up to almost one out of four people who have only received two shots. That's because of the waning immunity.

CHURCH: Right. And I did want to ask you this. I wanted to ask how hopeful you are that the COVID pills that will soon offer treatment to early COVID infections could possibly turn the tide when it comes to the anti-vaxxers, particularly who reject the vaccine but appear open to a variety of treatments and, in some cases, when those treatments have not been approved for COVID.

Do you think that COVID pill could change it because we seem to be looking certainly in the U.S., about a third of the population pushing back?

MISCOVICH: Yeah. I really, really -- people say to me, well, don't be so gloomy. And I'm saying, I want reality, but I definitely feel. I see some light in the spring and early summer where I finally think we're going to stop seeing any of these big surges potentially. And the reason is especially Merck's new pill, which is 90 percent reduction of hospitalizations.

As a doctor, if I get a positive, we can call the patient in a prescription to a pharmacy. Five days. Twice a day, five days, 90 percent reduction in being hospitalized. That will take the strain off the world when you look at what's going on through Europe.

And you know, so I do believe we have a lot of light in the future. You combine that with something that needs to be used more, which is the monoclonal antibody, which can be given as an injection for the severe at-risk. There's something to be optimistic about in the future.


CHURCH: Good to end on a positive note there. Dr. Scott Miscovich, always a pleasure to chat with you. Many thanks.

MISCOVICH: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, soaring coronavirus cases across Western Europe are prompting new restrictions and, for some, a return to lockdown. Austria began a nationwide partial lockdown on Monday for at least the next 10 days.

The latest government data shows the COVID cases are skyrocketing with the seven-day incidence rate setting a new record. The delta variant is driving this latest COVID surge, and this map shows the increase just in the past week compared to the previous week. The darker the shade of red, the more severe the outbreak.

And CNN's Cyril Vanier joins me now from Paris. Good to see you, Cyril. So, I want to start with this because we are learning about the French Prime Minister, who has just tested positive for COVID. What can you tell us about that?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN SHOW HOST (on camera): Yeah, absolutely. Rosemary, great to be with you this morning. The French Prime Minister, we found out last night, was a contact case. It turns out that his 11-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID.

Now, my son's 11. They're the same age, and I can tell you that what happens is they go to school. They interact with dozens and dozens of people, and at some point during the year, there are going to be these pupils contact cases.

His daughter tested positive. The Prime Minister therefore decided to self-isolate yesterday evening as a measure of precaution. While he was doing a PCR COVID test. But that test came back positive. So the Prime Minister, who has been a contact case multiple times before, who is fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, now is positive for COVID.

That means he's going to self-isolate for 10 days. He will continue to work because for the moment he is asymptomatic and is feeling well. He is not feeling the effects of COVID at all. We are told by the Prime Minister's office.

Another thing to bear in mind, he was just on his way back from a work trip to Brussels where he had met the Belgian Prime Minister. So the Belgian Prime Minister now also self-isolating according to the Belgian public broadcaster along with four Belgian ministers, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Of course this is how it all works, right? So what is the latest on these rising COVID cases, the restrictions being put in place in response, and of course the resistance against them that we're seeing?

VANIER: You're right. Well, we're seeing everything rise, Rosemary, in short. We're seeing the cases rise. We're seeing the restrictions becomes stricter, a lot stricter. And we are seeing the opposition to these restrictions rise as well.

So as far as cases, yeah, several countries reporting record highs or near record highs. Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany. As far as restrictions, we know Austria is on lockdown. The Netherlands have been on a partial lockdown for a while now. Belgium is imposing four days of home working per week.

So all these countries are putting in place stricter and stricter restrictions. At first, they started by targeting for most of them the unvaccinated, limiting access to many parts of public life for the unvaccinated.

And then in some cases, Austria, the Netherlands, they have to widen these restrictions to the entire population. Austria even now mandating vaccine vaccines. As of February 1st, it will be mandatory to get -- to be vaccinated in Austria. Those who are not will have to pay a fine, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yeah. Well, yes, there is the reaction there. Cyril Vanier, many thanks as always for bringing us to date on that situation.

Well, Russia's military buildup near its border with Ukraine has the West worried about a possible invasion. Still to come, what steps the U.S. is considering to counter the threat.



CHURCH: At least 45 people have died, including 12 children in a bus fire in Bulgaria. Authorities say the bus was carrying mostly North Macedonian tourists when it crashed in flames in Western Bulgaria. Seven people are in stable condition in the hospital with burns. The cause of the accident is unclear, but the bus apparently hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire.

A Christmas parade in Brazil was interrupted on Monday after a sidewalk collapsed, injuring at least 33 people after they fell into a nearby river. Twenty-one adults and 12 children were sent to local hospitals with injuries though none of them were serious. The site is being investigated by local officials, and the city's mayor has already called a meeting for Tuesday to determine the next steps in the investigation.

Russia's foreign intelligence service is dismissing concerns about a possible invasion of Ukraine as absolutely false. But the U.S. and western allies are watching closely as Moscow masses troops on the border and in the region. CNN's Jim Sciutto has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With concerns growing

about a Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border, the Biden administration is now considering sending military trainers to the region and military equipment that could include javelin anti-tank missiles and mortars, as well as stinger air defense missiles, multiple officials tell CNN.

But the Biden administration is still weighing the consequences of such moves, with some administration officials concerned they could be seen by the Kremlin as a major escalation.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Javelin anti-tank missiles are quite effective against the T-80 tanks which the Russians are actually employing in these efforts against Ukraine right now.

SCIUTTO: The U.S. has been warning allies of a possible Russian invasion with just a short window to prevent Russia from taking action as top U.S. officials increasingly sound the alarm publicly.

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We have real concerns about Russia's unusual military activity on the border with Ukraine.

UNKNOWN: We're not sure exactly what Mr. Putin is up to.

SCIUTTO: A top Ukrainian intelligence official claims in an interview with the "Military Times" that Russia has more than 92,000 troops amassed near Ukraine's border that are preparing to attack in January or February.

These satellite images from earlier this month show those Russian T-80 tanks as well as armored personnel carriers and other equipment massed in the small town of Yelnya, a possible staging area for invading Ukraine from the north potentially through Russia's ally, Belarus.

BLINKEN: We don't know what President Putin's intentions are, but we do know what's happened in the past. We do know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then using that as an excuse to do what Russia is planning to do all along.


SCIUTTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin's response is to call existing U.S. support for Ukraine a provocation.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We need to consider that western partners worsen the situation by delivering to Kyiv modern lethal weapons and having provocative exercises in the Black Sea.

SCIUTTO: Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: They've been dancing together since the jazzercise days of the 1980s and have been swinging those shiny pompoms through dozens of parades a year. But over the weekend, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies suffered a major tragedy. The heartbreaking details just ahead.


CHURCH: Heart-wrenching new details are emerging about the victims of the Christmas parade tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. At least three of the five people killed were members of a Milwaukee group called The Dancing Grannies, who have been delighting crowds for decades and are now being mourned.

Gary Tuchman has their story.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are all part of a beloved institution in the state of Wisconsin, The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. And they've been performing for crowds around the state since 1984. Just yesterday, group members posted this message on their Facebook page, encouraging their fans to come out to the downtown Waukesha festivities. Grab your hot chocolate and head downtown tonight, they wrote. The grannies are kicking off their holiday parades.

They perform in about 25 parades a year, like this one in June 2019. Here they are practicing for a St. Patrick's Day parade. And here they are showing off their holiday moves at a Christmas parade two years ago. The grannies are anywhere from their 50s to their mid-70s according to their website. The only requirement for membership is to be a granny, and they say among them they have approximately 100 grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren.

They practice together once a week, and while they love the camaraderie, they say the smiles they see while performing is the reason why they do what they do. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies say those who died were extremely passionate, whose eyes gleamed with the joy of being a granny.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: A special group of women there. Thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Max Foster.