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Russian Businessman to be Arraigned Tomorrow; Kelly Gonez is Interviewed about L.A.'s Return to School Decisions; Homes Convicted of Four Out of 11 Charges. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department may have struck gold as it gathers information on Russia's 2016 election interference. A Russian businessman, Vladislav Klyushin, will be arraigned tomorrow on securities fraud charges. But former U.S. officials say Klyushin could be a valuable source of information more broadly on the 2016 election meddling.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Now, that's based on his cybersecurity work and his cybersecurity firm's work with the Russian government, and his relationship with an ex-Russian GRU military officer.


Joining us now, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, always great to have you on the program.

So, let's dig deeper into this because the DOJ hasn't publicly connected him yet to the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Do you expect them to?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you can count on the fact that they will make every effort to understand -- deeply understand the connection between Klyushin and his associate and now fellow indictee (ph), Ermakov. Ermakov is the individual you were speaking of that used to be, we believe, affiliated with the Russian military intelligence organization referred to as the GRU. Ermakov has been -- already been indicted in the United States by the special council team for his alleged involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails, and prior to that was indicted by the United States for his involvement in hacking anti-doping agencies and the scandal resulting (ph) from the Olympics.

SCIUTTO: Andrew, let me ask you this, and I don't mean to minimize certainly by any means Russia's interference in the 2016 election. I covered that a lot and know the depth and breadth of it and you and I have spoken about it a lot. But, since then, the primary sources of election disinformation in this country are now domestic, including a former president, in Trump, who continues to spout election disinformation about his loss in that election.

Has Russian interference become less of a priority as a result and should the focus be more on the domestic threat?

MCCABE: Well, I agree with you, Jim, that the significance here of Klyushin's potential -- and I should highlight potential cooperation and discussion with the United States -- it goes far beyond 2016. His true value to the intelligence community and to the Department of Justice is what he can reveal about the intentions, the direction, the plans, of not just the GRU, but also is the Russian presidency. .His company worked directly for them.

As far as election meddling and misinformation in the United States, absolutely, the Russians opened the door for what we're now seeing on a large scale operations here in the United States of disinformation involving politics, involving healthcare policy, all those things we talk about every day. That doesn't mean, however, that the Russians aren't still involved in that sort of activity. And that's the sort of information that Klyushin could potentially reveal to us.

GOLODRYGA: And you say potentially, many times, because at least his associates have said that both U.S. intelligence and U.K. intelligence approached Klyushin a few years back to work with him and he denied that request.

So what does that tell you about the likelihood that he will now cooperate?

MCCABE: Well, Bianna, cooperation is a very different thing when you're sitting in jail, right? So when you're out conducting your business, traveling around the world, and you're approached by an intelligence organization, the decision as to whether or not you're going to cooperate with them is very different than the one when you've been sitting in a Swiss jail for a year and are now on your way to the United States, possibly facing a sentence of upwards, you know, in the neighborhood of 20 years. Certainly the wire fraud and securities exchange -- securities fraud charges carry those sort of sentences.

So we don't know what decision he'll make. There is some speculation, there is some suspicion around the fact of how he was actually extradited to the United States. Allegedly his lawyer missed a deadline to file an additional appeal with the authorities in Switzerland that resulted in his quick extradition. So there's some questions of why that may have happened. But we'll have to see how this plays out.

The bottom line is, if he does cooperate and provide significant information, you will probably never hear about it because it's the sort of thing that the government keeps very quiet.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly, Andrew McCabe, given your background in the FBI, we just had Ruben Gallego, a Democratic lawmaker, on the air describing the current attorney general, Merrick Garland's failure to prosecute ring leaders in the January 6th insurrection. Called him feckless. Ruben Gallego's term. Do you agree that the attorney general has been too reluctant to go after those behind January 6th?

MCCABE: I'm not going to use the congressman's terms, but I will say that it is concerning the amount of time that it's taken for DOJ to move aggressively against the main organizers of what we all saw take place on January 6th. Many of -- and that's not just me, but many of my former colleagues and friends in the prosecution side would agree that cases are there, they're not -- they're not bulletproof cases, but cases are there to move forward with things like sedition, conspiracy charges against those higher up. And the question is, why is that not happening?

SCIUTTO: Andrew McCabe, always good to have you on. Thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, Los Angeles schools say that everyone now has to get a Covid test before returning to school, but how do we keep students safe once everyone is back? We're going to speak to the head of the school board -- the school board president, I should say, coming up.



GOLODRYGA: The omicron variant has complicated the return to school for millions of students across the country. In Los Angeles, classes start again a week from today. And all students and teachers will have to show proof of a negative test to come back.

I want to bring in Kelly Gonez, president of the board of education of the Los Angeles Unified School District. That is the nation's second largest school district.

Welcome to the program.

Walk us through the decision to not only have both students and teachers come back with a negative test, but also to begin next week.


Is it just to make sure everyone has access to tests?

KELLY GONEZ, BOAR PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES UNITED SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, we were still planning to begin last week. That was always the plan. The change that we made was to make Monday a pupil-free day, so to give us an opportunity to really ensure especially staff all have the opportunity to be tested before the start of school. And then the decision to require a negative test is really about adding to our safety protocols here in L.A. We have among the most robust and strongest safety protocols in the country, but with the rise in cases, with this latest surge, we decided that it was important that everyone tested negative before they're allowed back on campus next Tuesday, January 11th. GOLODRYGA: And, of course, safety is the top priority for both parents

and educators there, no doubt. But this has also been a school district, like the state itself, that has, I believe, only had one full semester of in-person learning since the pandemic began. And you can understand the concern from some parents that once you start next week, and we continue to see cases spike in the country as many say we will probably see for the next few weeks, that classes will be further delayed.

What is your response to that?

GONEZ: I think we're all committed to maintaining in-person learning here in Los Angeles for our students. And that's why we have all of the different safety protocols, multilayered mitigation strategy to really ensure that our schools are the safest place possible for students. So, while it's true we have the -- just had the fall semester back in person, we also are in a much stronger position than many other districts because we already require universal masking of students and staff. We have a vaccination requirement for all staff. We have a regular and robust Covid testing program here in our school district, and the highest quality air filters in our schools.

So, all of those safety protocols that we have put in place over the last 21 months will make sure that we are the safest possible places, even in the midst of this latest surge.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and really important given how transmissible omicron is to have all of those mitigation factors in place, including classroom filtration.

You look at a city like New York, the largest school district in the country, and really the epicenter of cases right now, where they're not mandating tests, right? They're encouraging them, but they aren't mandating it, and yet the mayor is insistent that schools are the safest place to be.

What gives you assurances that testing and getting parents to be on board with that is going to be the standard going forward? Are parents OK with it?

GONEZ: Well, our testing program here in Los Angeles has been a part of our Covid safety approach since the beginning of the pandemic, and since we reopened schools last spring. So I think that we are all really behind testing as a key protocol for keeping our schools safe. And, in fact, we heard from many parents and many educators who wanted to see that baseline testing before we return next week.

And so I think we are all supportive of that. And then we're going to resume our weekly testing program as soon as kids are back in school. So, we'll get those baseline tests to get a sense of where we are before next Tuesday, and then we will continue testing throughout this next month to ensure that we're monitoring those cases and mitigating spread.

GOLODRYGA: And what are you doing to make sure that teachers, not only are, a, healthy, but on board with this? Because we continue to see across the country that there are districts where teachers are either having walkouts or really expressing concern about infections even if they are vaccinated.

GONEZ: So, we work closely with our labor partners and we've been consulting with our teachers and our administrators even before we made the decision yesterday to require that baseline testing. We're also developing contingency plans as we speak to ensure that our schools have sufficient teachers, staff and administrators next week.

One important piece of context is that all of our employees are fully vaccinated here in L.A., which helps protect them and others. But with the rise in cases, we do certainly expect that some will be exposed, some will test positive. And so that's actually why this baseline testing is so important. It will allow us to identify any gaps we might -- we might -- sorry, that's my toddler. That's why we're testing every (INAUDIBLE) ahead of next week so that we can insure that we know what those gaps are and that we can prepare for those and we can send additional staff to help support those schools and keep them open.

GOLODRYGA: Listen, one of the benefits of having sort of at home technology is meeting -- meeting our guest's families and hearing them in the background. So, happy to hear your child there. Very early for them, but hopefully they will be back in school for good next week and you'll keep it that way and students there in the district will be safe, along with their teachers.

Kelly Gonez, thank you so much. Great to have you on.

GONEZ: Thank you so much. Bye.

GOLODRYGA: Bye. Bye. Bye to your child!

In the next hour, we will speak with the superintendent of schools in Clayton County, Georgia, about that decision.

SCIUTTO: That was one cute toddler.

Still ahead, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes guilty of defrauding investors, not guilty on the counts dealing with patients, however. Hear how the overall result could impact her sentence.



SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO and founder of failed blood testing start-up (ph) Theranos could now spend up to two decades as a maximum in prison.

GOLODRYGA: A jury found her guilty on four charges of defrauding investors, but acquitted her of defrauding patients, and deadlocked on three other counts. She faces a hearing on what will happen with those charges next week.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now. And, Jean, what were these remaining charges?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very interesting, the ones that she was found not guilty of.


You just mentioned about patients. And the patients, one of them, just to let you know the facts of the testimony was that one patient took this blood test from this revolutionary blood testing machine that Theranos became famous for, and it denoted that she had prostate antigens in her.

Well, the fact is, it's very rare. She didn't have prostate antigens. So that was one of the counts. The other one involved HIV antibodies, that there was a patient that was told he had HIV antibodies but he actually did not. And the jury determined that they could not show beyond a reasonable doubt.

Remember, when it came to the investors, she spoke with them. She had meetings with them. And if we look, she was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. That she entered into an agreement for an illegal interaction, that she willfully participated in it, that she had a plan extremely serious charge that she was convicted of.

And as far as the investors that she was convicted of, Lakeshore Capital Management. Well, who was that? It's the DeVos family, Betsy DeVos, the former secretary of education. Her family invested, according to the verdict form, almost $99 million. A state attorney, Daniel Mosley. Who is that? He represents former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who recommended that he invest and he invested almost $6 million. These were people that are respected in this country, that look to see what is real, what is not, and Elizabeth Holmes, through talking with them, they believed her. And now she's convicted of fraud.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a remarkable case.

Jean Casarez, thanks very much.

Still ahead, drivers, if you can believe it, still stuck on a 48-mile stretch of highway in Virginia, though you can see a little bit of traffic moving there in live pictures. Some of those drivers spent 19 hours in the cold on the road. How soon there could be relief in northern Virginia, that's coming up.