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Drivers Trapped for Hours on Virginia Highway by Winter Storm; CDC Backs FDA Decision to Give Pfizer Booster After Five Months; Trump Supporters Blame January 6 Insurrection on Everyone But Trump. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


We begin this morning with breaking news. Right now, drivers have been stranded for hours on a major interstate in Eastern Virginia. Take a look at these pictures. Many have been trapped in their cars overnight due to a severe winter storm that dropped several inches of snow and knocked trees on to the road. Plus, an estimated 20 to 30 disabled trucks are blocking traffic.

SCIUTTO: Transportation crews are working now to tow cars out of the way, also plow the interstate to prevent more crashes and clear the roads. And just in the last few minutes in some sections, we have seen the cars begin to move, though slowly.

Jennifer Travis, her husband and 12-year-old daughter rented a car yesterday to get home from Orlando after their flights back to D.C. were canceled twice, they are among those who got stuck on I-95. They've been there since around 2:30 this morning.

Jennifer, good to have you on. We understand you might have a little good news. You were just able to get off the exit ramp.

JENNIFER TRAVIS, SPENT HOURS STUCK ON I-95 IN VIRGINIA (voice over): Slightly good news. We were able to get off Exit 1236 just before Stafford Airport. However, we're now driving down American Legion Road in Virginia, where things haven't been plowed. Trees are down. Cars are just -- like it's a mess. It's hard to get by. We actually just skidded right before I jumped on. So, it's treacherous. It's treacherous out here, to say the least.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Well, Jennifer --

SCIUTTO (voice over): Sorry, go ahead.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): No, I was just going to say, we definitely want you to stay safe there as you are luckily being able to drive at least a little bit and get some movement in. But what a double-whammy you were dealt with, first, having your flights canceled and now this. How much ahead time did you have knowing that there would be a storm that you'd hit right on your way home?

TRAVIS (voice over): So, we knew there was a snowstorm and we kept kind of watching the details. But everything that we had seen said that it was going to hit south, Southern Virginia. We're like, okay, you know, we have got 12, 24 hours, you know, hopefully things will be melted and handled. We never experienced a lack of preparedness from a snowstorm like this.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Yes.

TRAVIS (voice over): So, like this is bad. Like roads haven't been pretreated. Just seeing everything at an utter standstill, it's just -- if we knew from Florida, how come Virginia didn't know? How come the people with access to address this, to prepare as best we could, didn't do more?

SCIUTTO (voice over): How was it, Jennifer, just staying warm overnight? How did you manage?

TRAVIS (voice over): Thankfully, before we had gotten on to the 95, we had filled up our gas tank. Otherwise, we had kept the car running. But we have cracked the windows, so that way we weren't breathing in carbon monoxide or anything. But it was still cool. We don't have winter jackets with us. We have light jackets because we were in Florida.


So, just doing the best we can but also trying to conserve our gas because we didn't know when we were going to get home.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Yes.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): A big concern for so many drivers out there. I think your daughter said it best when you described it as just being over this. I would imagine that speaks for countless drivers that we're seeing out there stuck on the road.

Jennifer Travis, stay safe, hope you get home soon. We appreciate you taking the time to call in.

TRAVIS (voice over): No problem. Thank you so much and thank you for all that you do.

GOLODRYGA (voice over): Thank you. Stay safe.

I want to bring in Pete Muntean, who is following the latest. Pete, what's the biggest issue out there right now? Have we heard from officials, like the transportation secretary?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, Jennifer Travis there is one of the lucky ones because we have seen so many people now running out of gas because they have been stuck in I-95 near Fredericksburg for 16, 17, 18, 19 hours. And now crews are trying to get to them using some of the HOV and express lanes.

Although the real issue here on I-95 is that there really aren't that many exits in this area. There's a lot of guardrails. It's making it hard for people to just get there on foot. So, the problem is now they have to get these cars to exit ramps, to interchanges. There are only about a half dozen to a dozen in the area. And the state says it's using every available interchange to try and get people moving.

The issue here is that the snow fell so fast. About 12 to 14 inches there in Fredericksburg and Stafford, Virginia, in a pretty quick period of time, so this really outpaced the plows, then the temperature dropped overnight and the roads refroze. So, folks are just stuck on really slick and icy roads.

Among them, which is so interesting, Senator Tim Kaine, who is trying to make his way, about a two-hour drive to D.C., he said. And he just tweeted this. Things got so desperate that folks went car to car, another family from Florida, handed him an orange. They were trying to get to Connecticut. Folks are stuck in their cars. It's a really cold and dangerous situation and people want to get out. Governor Ralph Northam says there are warming shelters opening up. They've sent an emergency message to drivers. They're trying to do everything that they can but people should still avoid I-95.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, Pete, because did see a couple of live pictures there of some movement in certain places. Are you hearing of any significant progress in terms of emptying those roads?

MUNTEAN: The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia State Police still say that I-95 is closed, northbound and southbound for that 48-mile stretch. No big change there. They want people off the road, away as far as possible so that it doesn't interfere with these rescue operations right now to try and get people moving again.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, I certainly feel for them, typically those with young children. Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, we are also following breaking news on the pandemic, the CDC now recommending a Pfizer booster shot at five months for anyone 12 and older.

CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen us with more. And, Elizabeth, what more are you learning about this now from the CDC? We heard from the FDA yesterday.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, the CDC is saying a booster at five months instead of after six months after your second shots. They were always saying six months after the second shot. Now, they're saying five. Now, the FDA yesterday, they said, hey, listen, children ages 12 to 15 should get boosters. There's millions of them that are more than six months past their second shot. CDC advisers will be picking that up tomorrow to discuss it. So, this is an important change. For Moderna and for Johnson & Johnson that doesn't change. It's just Pfizer that's going to five months.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Gosh, constantly updating, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for keeping us on top of things.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you, Elizabeth.

Well, joining me now to discuss is Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez. She is a primary care pediatrician at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Doctor, thank you for joining us.

And this news couldn't come sooner given that we are seeing an influx of children now being admitted into hospitals there for treatment for COVID. How big of a development, in your opinion, is this now from the CDC after the FDA sort of recommended the same yesterday?

DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IRVING MEDICAL CENTER: Bianna, good morning, it's great to be with you. I think this is great news. I think parents were anxiously awaiting this news, to tell you the truth, for the past couple of months, and wondering when is it my kid's turn. I think it's important for people at home to know that this happened after extensive safety data has shown that a third shot of the vaccine does not lead to an increase in side effects. So this is a safe thing to do. And the benefits here are potentially huge. We're in the middle of a horrible wave, as you were just reporting, and the benefits have clearly outweighed the risk when you look at the data. So, I think this is great news overall.

GOLODRYGA: You, like other doctors, have warned that perhaps it is too soon to say that omicron is a milder variant when it comes to how it impacts children. Many children and the majority of them that have been admitted to hospitals have not been vaccinated and, of course, children have yet to receive a booster shot. So, they don't have that added protection. Are you seeing a difference over the past few weeks?

It appeared earlier that we were seeing more children, but they were admitted for other reasons and they just happened to be testing positive for COVID.


Are you seeing more severe cases as of late?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: Bianna, I think there are so many nuances here. So, the first thing I would say is the vast majority of children who are being hospitalized right now are too young to be vaccinated or are eligible for a vaccine and their parents have chosen not to vaccinate them. So, that is huge, right, and it's important that we all protect those kids who can't get vaccinated yet, and if they are eligible, that we go ahead and get them vaccinated because the situation is dire right now.

I think the point that you're making about whether the kids we're seeing in the hospital who are COVID positive showed up to the hospital because of COVID itself or because of something else and happened to be tested for COVID, I think we still need a little bit more data. However, I will tell you that we have been regularly testing children and the rate of the positive tests has come back now is much higher, right? So, it's not that we all of a sudden started testing everyone. We have been doing this. And that rate, that percentage of tests that is coming back positive has gone up, so there's no doubt that there is more COVID in our community, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: I want to ask you about sort of a debate we're seeing in the U.S. and in Europe about the process in testing. In the U.S., the FDA has approved the nasal swabs, right? That's what we're used to doing, our children are doing this now as well. And in Europe, there are some that are suggesting that throat swabs could be more effective, and that hasn't been approved by the at-home testing that we've received here in the U.S. But do you think that's something that we should be looking into now? Are they more effective?

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: I do think it's something we should be looking into, but we don't have the data yet. I think what you're mentioning about the FDA and the way that these tests were tested and approved in this country, I think it's hugely important. These tests were developed for nasal swabbing. They were not developed for throat swabbing. And, yes, we are seeing reports on social media and reports from abroad that perhaps when you swab the throats, the test might be able to pick up more cases of COVID than they would otherwise if you only swabbed the nose.

But these are so far anecdotes. There is so far preliminary data. I think we need more data and I think it's hugely important that we do get that data, especially if this administration is not preparing to send more tests out throughout the country. It is going to continue to be those rapid antigen tests, so we need to learn how to best swab ourselves when it comes to omicron, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, very important advice there from your. Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: It would be remarkable if we're swabbing in the wrong place.

Coming up, disturbing denials about the insurrection one year later.


LISA, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It was the Democrats were behind it all. They're the ones that caused it all.


LISA: I know it.


GOLODRYGA: And later, why Prince Andrew's lawyers say a court should toss out a civil lawsuit from a woman who said she was forced to have sex with him when she was underage. They're in court arguing their point right now.



GOLODRYGA: Well, the nation is preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, and whether it's due to disinformation by right-wing media or just plain denialism, a large chunk of Trump voters are placing the blame for January 6th on everyone but the former president.

SCIUTTO: It denies reality. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now. Donie, you have been speaking to these folks for months now. It's a minority but it's one that truly believes this falsehood. I wonder, as you speak to them, why? Who do they believe? You know, why don't the facts penetrate the bubble?

O'DONNELL: Well, there's a concerted and sophisticated effort ever since the attack here in Washington a year ago to warp Americans' understanding of what happened on that day. And in many cases, that disinformation campaign is working. Have a look.


LISA: The January 6 attack was not the Republicans nor Trump. It was the Democrats who were behind it all. They're the ones that caused it all.

O'DONNELL: Do you really believe that?

LISA: I know it. And there is no way that a Republican would act that way and there is no way that Trump had anything to do with what happened on January 6th.

O'DONNELL: But what about all of the Trump supporters that have been charged and indicted?

LISA: Because it's all Democratic judges and people that were on the take from the Democrats.

O'DONNELL: It's been a year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol. And because of disinformation, denial and diversion, Americans don't have a shared history, a shared understanding of what happened here on that day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the whole reporting of it is a giant hoax.

MARGE MATHIEU: We are very peaceful people. So, it was a total set-up to me. It was the FBI who had set it up. I don't believe that they were Trump supporters that did that.

O'DONNELL: You said the whole thing was a set-up. You don't really believe that, do you?

JEANIE JOHNSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I do, I do, because Trump won the election. They have proven it over and over again.

LARRY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I really don't think Trump had much to do with it and people that were supporters for him, some were involved but I think they were enticed by the FBI and by, you know, undercover agents.


O'DONNELL: When I spoke to Trump supporters here in Washington on January 6th, most were in denial about the results of the 2020 election.

Do you accept that Biden won the election?

LUCIA, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Absolutely not. Biden did not win this election.

O'DONNELL: On January 6th, we walked with Trump supporters who marched from the White House where Trump was doing his speech, here, to the U.S. Capitol. And as we arrived here, that is when the first security barrier was breached.

At the time, some Trump supporters told me they were happy with what happened here at the Capitol.

Are you proud of what happened here today?

PENNY ALLISON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Absolutely. I think we should have gone on in and yanked the -- our senators out by the hair of the head and drag them out and said, no more.

TODD POSSETT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'm absolutely stand behind 100 percent what happened here today, 1,000 percent. It's terrible how this election was stolen.

O'DONNELL: Federal prosecutors have charged more than 700 people in connection with the Capitol riot and repeatedly documented rioters' support for President Trump. But some people in right-wing media have pushed the dangerous idea that it was all an FBI plot.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol.

O'DONNELL: There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this was some kind of false flag event staged by the Democrats or the FBI.

What would you say to people who say that January 6th was the biggest attack on American democracy since the civil war?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolute rubbish.

O'DONNELL: But amid all of the denial and deflection, I met one Trump supporter who said it was important to be real about what happened on that day.

What do you think of the Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol?

ROZ LESSER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: You talk about mis-found feelings. Seeing the folks from my side of the state that were there, and they're not the part of the campaign that we would like to have. O'DONNELL: Do you think some Trump supporters that's say it's Antifa, it's Black Lives Matter, that they know that that's bullshit but they just don't want to admit, it's easier to blame someone else?

LESSER: Everyone is afraid to, you know, take the blame. It's that simple.


O'DONNELL: Yes, a rare voice of reason there.

Look, I mean, it is quite stunning when you see that we're only a year out from the attack on the Capitol, and it has been -- the understanding of it has been deliberately warped to such a way. And, look, you know, when people don't learn from the past and when people don't even acknowledge that something like that happened and you pair that up with where we're seeing election deniers, election conspiracy theorists running to become election officials and oversee elections in states, it doesn't paint a pretty picture of what might -- what possibly could be to come as we go into the midterms and, of course, the 2024 elections.

GOLODRYGA: It makes you realize how easy it is to revise history, right? This was one year ago, we were all watching it on television. Not something we read in books from hundreds of years ago, just months ago. And yet so many people don't believe their own eyes.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Let's speak about the broader issue here with former Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich. Governor, good to have you back on.


SCIUTTO: More proof disinformation exists, right? People live in their bubbles, those bubbles impenetrable by facts, video and even their own comments a year ago. I wonder, do you believe what's been missed here is real accountability for the ring leaders behind this, right? You have had more than 700 participants charged but not the leaders who encouraged them to assault the Capitol. I had Ruben Gallego on last hour. He said the attorney general has been feckless on this. Do you think that's the route to raise some accountability here?

KASICH: Well, Jim, first of all, just being in this chair, listening to the sound, it breaks my heart. And, you know, some of the people who were speaking I'm sure could be our next door neighbors, and, you know, people that would help you in a difficult period. And to hear them talk like this is frightening. So, coolly and calmly saying, yes, those senators should be yanked out of there and let's get on with it, it's a break from reality with these people, and any of the facts don't matter. So, you could indict everybody in America and they're not going to believe it. It's cult-like. It's cult-like.

And if you notice what the lady said at the very end there, if any of you who are part of this cult-like movement, if you decide that you need to take responsibility and criticize somebody, you get thrown out, Jim. And for a lot of people, this is where they live.


They live in this world of politics and they live in this world of intrigue and conspiracies and all of this other garbage that's out there.

And I've got to tell you, things -- we talk about history -- Bianna mentioned history a hundred years ago. This is now -- look at history throughout time when there is such a thirst for power, and such a movement as we see these people who, as I say, have taken a break from reality, it threatens our country. I hate to even say this, but I think it is a -- people got to wake up. This is not -- this is not some joke or some political business. This is about our country, our foundations, our shared values.

GOLODRYGA: Well, governor, what else stood out to me from that interview with Congressman Gallego was when he said the next attack would not come from these same perpetrators who we saw stormed the Capitol last year but perhaps from elected officials. And it reminded me of an interview that Peter Navarro just did with RollingStone where he says there were, quote, over 100 congressmen, both the House of Representatives, and Senators that were lined up to execute a plan to overturn the election.

So, let's just say perhaps he's embellishing there, right, and maybe it was even 50 or 30, what does that say to you about the state of our country, democracy and what our elected officials may or may not do the next time?

KASICH: Well, the thirst for power, Bianna, the thirst for power overwhelms everything else. And the idea that everything that I think is right and anything that anybody else thinks is wrong has led to hatred. And we have seen hatred on both sides. And, you know, the longer this goes on, the more it begins to erode the very fabric of our country.

The transition of power in a presidential election is part of America. We saw Al Gore concede the election to George Bush. We saw Richard Nixon concede the election to Kennedy, where there were many questions, because they put the country first. It seems like now we live in an environment where it's all about me and anybody else who doesn't think the way that I do, well, they're terrible.

And it's not just I'm going to disagree with them but I'm going to get about hating them, and that is where we have got a real problem. SCIUTTO: Yes.

KASICH: So, all of us who are the majority of people in this country have got to patiently explain, we cannot lose our country by this kind of -- this kind of nonsense. It's beyond nonsense. It's terrible situation.

SCIUTTO: And, by the way, the night of January 6th, more than a hundred members of Congress did vote to decertify the election. They stood up hours after that assault.

Governor, I want to as you this, because Republican Party is heading in a direction now where the few willing to speak out publicly, the ten, for instance, who voted to impeach the president and others, are basically forced out of the party, right, or they're being primaried. Many are walking away. You're headed towards the point where this is the litmus test, right, it's a test for membership in the Republican Party. Where do we stand at that point?

KASICH: Well, you know, look, Jim, I fought the guy the whole time he was president and I've been very clear on everything. And guess what? I'm happy. The fact that now I can go to Republican meetings and they wouldn't like me, that's okay, because I think things will turn. They better turn. They better turn towards rationalism and an ability to get along with the other side.

And, look, we know there are people on the left who are just as intolerant as some of the people on the right. So, the middle has to come together because America -- you know, our military strength, our economic strength and the fundamental goodness of our people can allow us to survive this period of time. But we don't have a lot of time to keep fooling around with this. We have got to get our act together.

And it's up to Bianna, it's up to you, it's up to me, it's up to us, because the change comes from the bottom up and we have got to be patient with these women and say to them, hey, look at the facts here. Maybe we'll win some of them back, Jim. I don't know. It's depressing.

SCIUTTO: Well, you're right. It's on all of us. Let's hope folks take your call there. Governor John Kasich, thanks so much.

KASICH: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, the superintendent of one Atlanta area school district will join us live, why he made the call to go back to remote learning once again this week.