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Sanctions Needed to Deter Russia; Mayor Maria Rivera is Interviewed about Covid Tests; Two People Still Missing in Colorado. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 09:30   ET



SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump, but also not violate their oath of office in the process.

I mean you look at the governor of Florida, DeSantis. You look at Tim Scott of South Carolina. You look at Nikki Haley. You look at Ted Cruz. You -- I mean, look, go down the line. We have a number of highly qualified Republicans -- Mike Pence. We have a number of highly qualified Republicans who could fulfill the duties of this office, win a national election and not drag this January 6th baggage into another national election.

I actually believe Trump -- there's some small chance he could win a national election in 2024. But as a Republican Party, is that what's best for us? Is that what's best for the country? I argue, and I think many Republicans believe but maybe can't say out loud, there's a whole raft of people that could do this, win an election and fulfill the policy goals that we have without dragging all this baggage along.

GOLODRYGA: Goes back to Jim's question, though, who?


GOLODRYGA: I guess time will tell.

Scott Jennings, thank you, as always.

JENNINGS: I think -- I think -- well, I will just say --


JENNINGS: I will just say, I think -- I think many people are -- I think many people are going to run. I don't think he's going to get a pass.

Now, whether they beat him or not, I don't know, but I don't -- I think -- I think you're going to see people file who aren't, you know, sort of from the never Trump land, they're -- but people who legitimately can say, I voted for Trump, I support -- I support the policies, but we can't win with him.


JENNINGS: I think you're going to see candidates like that come forward. The question is, can they be successful.

SCIUTTO: We'll see, right, because one commonality among that list you mentioned, right, is that none of those have -- none of those potential candidates has said decisively, I will not stand for this, as you just said there.


SCIUTTO: That will be a big test as we get closer to 2024.

JENNINGS: Yes, sir.

GOLODRYGA: Scott, thanks. Thanks, as always.

JENNINGS: Yes, it -- thanks, guys.

GOLODRYGA: And still ahead, President Biden promises decisive action if Russia invades Ukraine, and some Democrats say there needs to be more sanctions right now.



GOLODRYGA: Next week, U.S. and Russian official will meet amid tensions on the Ukrainian border. And in advance of those talks, President Biden is telling the Ukrainian president that the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: Right now, as many as 100,000 Russian troops are amassed on the Ukraine border. They have been for some time. House Intelligence Committee Chair Representative Adam Schiff says the Biden administration should actually be putting more pressure on Vladimir Putin now.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think nothing other than a level of sanctions that Russia's never seen will deter him. And that's exactly what we need to do with our allies.


SCIUTTO: CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is on the North Lawn this morning.

And, Jeremy, there's bipartisan criticism here really to the administration approach because you have both Republicans and Democrats saying, you've got to act now, right? That threatening sanctions post invasion or further invasion isn't enough.

I mean is the White House hearing that criticism? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think they're hearing

it but I think that they've decided that this is the approach that they're going to take, which is to make very clear to the Russians, particularly behind closed doors even more so than they are publicly, what exactly those sanctions and those costs will be, if indeed they move forward with an invasion, rather than doing anything preemptively.

But what the president did now twice with Russian President Vladimir Putin is show him these two paths that exist. One path where, if he does choose to invade Ukraine, the U.S. will impose what Biden has called devastating economic sanctions, a heightened NATO presence in eastern Europe right on Russia's borders. On the other hand, there is this path of diplomacy, which can continue as the Russians are set to meet with American officials beginning January 10th, and there can be a diplomatic engagement on that front.

At the same time, President Biden has also shown that the U.S. isn't going to allow a wedge to be driven between itself and its allies. That's why yesterday we saw President Biden speak with Ukrainian President Zelensky and made clear that the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively if indeed Russia chooses to move forward with this invasion.

At the same time, there's no sense from U.S. officials as of yet as to whether or not this is working. They don't have a clear sense of whether or not the Russian president intends to move forward with an invasion. Instead, they said they are monitoring Russian actions, military movements, to see whether or not it's working in the weeks ahead.


GB: And, look, Jim and Jeremy, as you both know, it's not as if the U.S. hasn't leveled sanctions before. It's a matter of what sanctions would ultimately deter Vladimir Putin.

Jeremy Diamond, on a very snowy White House lawn, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it looks chilly out there.

Still ahead, this hour, a Rhode Island mayor is making sure that her constituents have access to Covid testing. We're going to speak to her next about what she's doing to help keep residents safe, also just how badly officials need more tests.



GOLODRYGA: Amid the rush to ramp up testing across the country, one mayor is on the front lines, trying to get at-home kits to her constituents and cut the long wait times at testing centers. Mayor Maria Rivera of Central Falls, Rhode Island, got fully decked out in PPE last week so she could personally hand out some 2,500 at-home Covid tests that the state sent to her city. And I'm joined now by Mayor Maria Rivera.

Mayor, thank you so much.

Listen, there are mayors that govern from city halls and mayors that governor from the streets, and that's exactly what you have been doing out there wearing your PPE and handing out these at-home tests.

But you've got a population of about 20,000. Twenty-five hundred tests doesn't seem to really be cutting it. Are you opening more facilities?

MAYOR MARIA RIVERA, CENTRAL FALLS, RHODE ISLAND: Bianna, thank you so much for this opportunity.

We have two testing sites in Central Falls. One testing site is a site that's run by the state. The other testing site is a pediatrician who took it upon herself to make sure that she takes care of the residents of the city of Central Falls. She had her practice for only one month before this pandemic. And after this pandemic, she has taken it upon herself to vaccinate and test people. So that testing site that she has was the testing site that I was at in PPE gear because she needed the support.


These testing kits that we got from the state, actually, when I was there, we didn't have these testing kits yet. I was just helping her with the line, just trying to reduce the line and having people register for the test or to get vaccinated and got tested.

We then got the testing kits and took it upon ourselves to be out in the streets speaking to the residents, giving them a testing kit so that we could reduce these lines at both testing sites. And it was important for us to educate them about why they should take a testing kit if they were not sick, if they did not have symptoms and they were only in close contact with someone because people really don't trust these testing kits. We have to educate them about it before actually them accepting to take this testing kit. So, we were able to give out 2,500.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and that is what you've been doing there, talking to the people on the streets. And we know the lines had been there. People had been waiting in lines for hours.

The video that we just showed was from last Wednesday. Have the lines gotten any smaller since then?

RIVERA: No, the lines have not gotten smaller. But I can tell you that we have, as of today, we have a bigger, new testing site in the city that hopefully is going to help with the testing issue. (INAUDIBLE) what we did was we gave her more resources so that she can test more people. And as soon as we're done with this call, I'll be heading over to the new testing site and see how that new testing site is rolling out.

GOLODRYGA: Well, I don't want to take up much more of your time, Mayor, but we know that about 70 percent, correct me if I'm wrong, of the residents there have been vaccinated. Has that helped at all with hospitals and making sure that they're not inundated with sick residents?

RIVERA: You know, I have to tell you, Central Falls is a unique city with the hardest hit community, we had the highest rate of hospitalizations in the state of Rhode Island, and that happens for different reasons. We have a housing crisis in Central Falls. We couldn't tell our residents to isolate because I have two and three families living in one apartment. So when I tell one person to isolate, it's very hard for them to isolate and for the rest of the people in that apartment to not get impacted by Covid.

We're still facing that challenge, which is why I'm so focused on making sure that we also focus on the housing needs here in the city of Central Falls. To have the hospitalization rates gone down, they have gone down but they're spiking right back up. We knew this was going to happen. We knew we were going to be in another crisis and this is why it's important for me to be hands on and have my team out there working with the residents of this city.

The testing, that's important because if not people are going to lose their jobs. Employers are not accepting their employees to go back to work without a negative test. The same thing with the schools.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, more testing is crucial and, as you've just mentioned, schools, children returning today to keep them open and keep them safely open requires a lot more tests as well.

Mayor Maria Rivera, thank you so much for your time and for doing everything you are to keep your residents safe.

RIVERA: Thank you for this opportunity.

SCIUTTO: Yes, they're working so hard there.

Well, still ahead, snow now complicating the search in Colorado for two people missing after just a devastating, fast-moving wildfire there, while authorities are narrowing in on what started that fire. We're going to go there live, next.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news. This just in to CNN. The FDA is now expanding the Pfizer booster recommendation to now include 12 to 15-year-old children. That is an amendment to the existing Emergency Use Authorization, as it's known. This is good news, more kids heading back to school, also amid the surging omicron variant. We're going to have much more on this, what it means for you and your children in just a moment.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, welcome news for millions of families across the country.

But now the search resumes today for two people still missing after those devastating Colorado wildfires.

SCIUTTO: Listen, you hear from eyewitnesses just how fast moving this fire was. It destroyed almost 1,000 homes, burned more than 6,000 acres. A heavy blanket of snow since fell on the area over the weekend.

CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen is live from Boulder, Colorado.

Natasha, I've spoken to people who witness this. It moved so fast. People getting, in some cases, just minutes warning. Now two people still missing. And an investigation into what started it. What have we learned?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, what we're hearing from people who had to evacuate is that lot of them felt such hurricane force winds that they were being knocked over. Adults being knocked over by that wind. And, of course, that's the wind that was carrying flames ripping through these neighborhoods that destroyed about 1,000 structures, most of them homes.

You talked about the search for missing people. Well, that's going to be really difficult. The officials say that that search through the burn zone, we're talking about homes reduced to ash. And now they're covered with about eight inches of snow in some places. So they're using cadaver dogs and hoping for a positive outcome, but it is quite difficult.

They also point out that two missing people out of 35,000 people who had to evacuate is quite extraordinary.

They're, at the same time, investigators looking into how this fire started on a day, Thursday, when it was extremely dry. Red flag notice with high wind warning.


Nothing should have been burning.

On Friday, a search warrant was executed on private property. And people asked the sheriff at a press conference yesterday about a viral video involving a shed on fire. Here's what he said in response to that.


SHERIFF JOE PELLE, BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO: We don't know that that shed or anything around it was the actual start of the fire, or whether it was secondary. And it's complicated. And it's all covered with a foot of snow.

So, we will sort it out. We -- it's an active, open deal. And I -- you know, the outcome of that investigation is vital. There's so much at stake.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHEN: And right now everybody is just focused on the people who are displaced. Where are they going to go? One family who lost everything told me that they had been in that house in Louisville for more than 20 years. And that is a very tight knit community because many generations have stayed there.

There are also really high tensions right now, people upset, the Louisville Police saying that one man was arrested on Friday for threatening firefighters with a rifle. Unclear whether he actually owned a home in that area, but just emotions are very high right now.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and these firefighters are under enough pressure as it is. These details are just harrowing.

CHEN: Exactly.

GOLODRYGA: Natasha Chen, thank you, as always.

Well, still ahead, more on the breaking news this hour. The FDA expanding booster shot authorization to 12 to 15-year-olds. What you can expect and how quickly, that's coming up next.