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Key Jobs Report out for December; Some Rioters Show Remorse While Others Defection their Actions; Terrance Gainer is Interviewed about the Capitol Police; Winter Storm Strands Drivers and Train Passengers. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired January 05, 2022 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, looking for some good news, here it is. New this morning, the ADP employment report, widely seen as a bellwether for how the labor market is doing more broadly, just found a whopping 807,000 private sector jobs added last month.

CNN reporter Matt Egan is following all this.

Matt, this was double what the expectations were. What does it mean for the job market in general? What's it telling us?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, it's telling us that this red hot jobs market ended 2021 with a bang. As you mentioned, 807,000 private sector jobs added in December, twice as much as economists had expected. This is also the second strongest growth of the year. And it's really just the latest evidence of a lot of strength in the jobs market. First time jobless claims are hovering near the lowest level in half a century. The unemployment rate is down to 4.2 percent.

Remember, back in the spring of 2020, when the economy shut down, the unemployment rate skyrocketed to nearly 15 percent. Today, it's almost at 4 percent.

Not only is firing very low, but demand for workers is really, really strong. Yesterday we learned that 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, likely for better jobs, with more generous benefits. That is the highest number of quits that we've seen in a single month, since records began in the year 2000. Workers clearly have all the leverage right now.

And all of this is fueling some optimism ahead of Friday's much more closely watched government jobs report. Now, the ADP report is not always a reliable indicator for that government jobs report, but still this blockbuster report is very encouraging.


One caveat, of course, is Covid, because the omicron wave really hit the United States towards the end of December. So, it's not necessarily captured by this report. And there's a lot of questions about what omicron means for the jobs market in early 2022.

But, Jim, the good news is that the economy, and the jobs market specifically, clearly entered this latest Covid wave with some serious momentum.

SCIUTTO: Yes, for sure. And, by the way, there was all that concern that delta would completely kill that. Recovered from that, at least in December. We'll see how omicron fares.

Matt Egan, thanks very much.

EGAN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, what would happen if there were another insurrection at the Capitol today? We're going to take a look at how security has evolved. Has it improved? I'm going to speak to the former Capitol Police chief to find out.



SCIUTTO: One year after the January 6th insurrection, CNN spoke with some of the people who violently assaulted the Capitol that day.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joins us now.

And, Jessica, I wonder, in these 364 days since January 6th, and more than 700 people charged criminally, did anything change for the people you spoke with? Have their views of this changed?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It did and it didn't, Jim. It's really a range of reactions. You know, at this point, we've seen 70 people sentenced, and some of them have actually expressed great remorse in court.

For example, there was one Maryland man, Robert Reeder, he really told all to a judge when he was being sentenced. He said that his participation in the Capitol attack has up-ended his life, that he feels great shame.

But then on the flip-side there's Jenna Ryan. She notably flew in that private jet to the riot. She actually received a 60-day sentence even though she didn't commit any violence. The judge, in some sense, saying he wanted to make an example of her. And she has repeatedly said that she believes that she's a scapegoat and was unfairly prosecuted.

And then there's former Proud Boy Josh Pruett. I actually spoke to him at length. And he tells me he's actually conflicted. He's facing eight federal charges. And he says while he doesn't believe he did anything wrong that day, saying he was just protesting at the Capitol, he does admit that this past year has been an emotional roller coaster for him.

Here's what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSHUA PRUITT, ACCUSED CAPITOL RIOTER: I don't feel like I did anything wrong, but knowing the consequences that came out of it would be the part that would make me question it.

They would like me to come forward and say that it was planned. And I'm, like, no, it wasn't.


SCHNEIDER: So what Josh Pruett is talking about there, he tells me he's been talking to prosecutors. There's no plea deal on the table yet. But Pruett says that prosecutors want him to say that the Proud Boys, which Josh Pruett was affiliated with at the time, that they planned to attack the Capitol and Pruett claims, in his view, it was completely spontaneous. Because of that, because he says he's not giving prosecutors what they want, he expects this case will go to trial, since he says he has nothing to offer prosecutors.

And, Jim, interestingly, Pruitt also tells me, he still wrongly believes the election was stolen. And, it turns out, he's not the only one. I talked to several accused rioters on the phone, hey wouldn't go on camera for a variety of reasons, some because of their court cases that are pending, some they just want to stay out of the spotlight, but they, too, say that they believe the election was rigged. So, a year later, this false belief has not gone away, Jim, it still exists with many of these rioters.

SCIUTTO: No. And the former president still spreads it.


SCIUTTO: Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

Law enforcement and federal authorities in the Washington area have stepped up security in anticipation of tomorrow's anniversary. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said yesterday the department is not aware of any credible, specific threats related to the anniversary for January 6th. It adds, it is operating, however, at a heightened level of vigilance due to the continuing threat overall from violent domestic extremists.

This comes as the U.S. Capitol Police chief says the force is stronger and better prepared to carry out its mission today than it was a year ago.


CHIEF THOMAS MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: The department began significant work immediately after the 6th to fix the failures that occurred. Intelligence failures, operational planning failures, leadership failures.

QUESTION: If January 6th happened today, is the Capitol strong enough to withstand? MANGER: I believe it is, yes.


SCIUTTO: Joining me now to test out that statement, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer.

Chief, good to have you to on this morning.


SCIUTTO: So you heard Captain Manger there saying stronger, better prepared than it was a year ago. Is that true?

GAINER: Jim, I think it is because they've really focused on some very critical areas, and that is the intelligence gathering and sharing amongst leadership and the different agencies, but to make sure the officers and the people on the ground understand that. There's been additional training for the civil disturbance units, more equipment for them, there have been top (ph) exercises. So I think they're in a much better position while they continue to build the force back up to a full speed.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this more broadly about the threat from violent domestic extremist groups. Because one thing January 6th offered a vision into was that you do have folks in this country, many of them armed, many of them organized, that are willing to carry out political violence. Where is that threat today? Is it greater or lesser than it was a year ago? Is the country safer or less safe than it was a year ago from domestic violent extremism?


GAINER: Well, I think the problem with today is, that because of all the scrutiny, especially after January 6th, these organizations have gone more dark, which makes it a bit harder for all of us to follow what they're doing. And it also means, as Jessica reported, people do not believe they have a problem or they have done anything wrong, even when they've been caught. So the Capitol Police and other agencies have to be on their game, day in and --


We lost the signal there from Chief Terrance Gainer.

Thanks very much.

If we can get him back, we'll get him back.

Apologies for the technical difficulties there.

We do have other news we're following this morning.

Coming up next, Amtrak passengers say that they ran out of food and water while stuck on a train for 30 hours. We're going to have new details on their harrowing experience and why it all happened. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SCIUTTO: Right now the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police is testifying in front of a Senate committee on safety issues.

Before the break, I was speaking with a man who used to hold that post, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrence Gainer. Technical problems fixed. He's back with us.

Chief, I do want to ask you one more question before I let you go.

Former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, he raised this issue yesterday. And he said that there should have been leadership consequences in the wake of January 6th, leadership among the U.S. Capitol Police ranks, for failing to prepare sufficiently. And I wonder if you agree with that.

GAINER: Jim, there was consequences. The chief was forced to resign, as was the Senate and House sergeant of arms. And I know that's been brought up before.

Chief Manger, who I know very well, said that he would evaluate all the people that are there instead of just cutting heads off, see where their strengths are, where they ought to be and what the consequences are. I think they're aware of the strengths and weaknesses, and those are the things they've focused on and tried to fix.

SCIUTTO: Have they been fixed?

GAINER: But I understand how it's irritating to the other officers.

SCIUTTO: Have those issues been fixed in the leadership, in your view?

GAINER: I think he has a lot of great people in the right position with strong direction from him and all the recommendations that we made through the General Honore report and the inspector general's report. So everybody is performing to a different standard right now.

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching closer tomorrow.

Terrence Gainer, always good to have you on.

GAINER: Thank you, sir.

SCIUTTO: Well, it was a commuting nightmare, and it's finally ended for hundreds of travelers in Virginia. I-95, it reopened last night after a winter storm, you'll remember, left people trapped on the interstate in their cars in the cold for as many as 36 hours.

But it wasn't just drivers stranded by the weather. More than 100 people traveling through Virginia on an Amtrak train were stuck for 30 hours. This after trees had fallen on the tracks.

CNN correspondent Pete Muntean, he's by I-95 in Virginia today where, thank the Lord, we can see cars moving behind you.

But what is the latest we're hearing from officials both on I-95, but also those passengers on that Amtrak train?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jim, at one point the backup on I-95 stretched to where we are. This is 22 miles away from the center of that incident. I-95 open in both directions now, north and south, after it became this snowy, icy mess. You know, some passengers, some travelers, were stuck on I-95 for some 18 or 19 hours. The state still doesn't have an official count, a full handle on exactly how many people were stranded on the highway.

You know, a really big issue here, because VDOT is vowing a full review, it also says that it simply could not possibly keep up with the amount of snow that fell in such a short period of time. Twelve inches of snow in about six hours of time. The state saying it will try and make sure that this does not possibly happen again. It's also apologizing to folks, saying that the number of people stuck was simply unacceptable.

But it's that clip of that system that caused not only problems on the roads, but also on the rails. This Amtrak Crescent Line train got stuck near Lynchburg, Virginia. That's about 150 miles south of here. The train was on its way from New Orleans to -- from New Orleans to New York. And it got stuck there, Amtrak says, because trees fell on the tracks. Passengers said it quickly became an issue because they started to run low on food, also the toilets started to back up and they said there really wasn't all that much communication from Amtrak and there really wasn't all that much in the way of cell service.

Here's what they told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't get in touch with my family on the phone, nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no water on the trains. A big problem for the families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't know where my mother was. She couldn't even tell me where the train was. She told me it was north of Lynchburg. That could be anywhere on this train track. Is it accessible? Will I be able to get my mother off? I had no clear understanding. And that is my gripe with Amtrak.


MUNTEAN: One of these 120 passengers on board tells us that this trip was supposed to last about ten hours. Instead, they were stuck on the train about 30 hours.

I just checked, Amtrack still having problems today. Some trains that were supposed to depart yesterday are now departing today, some 11 and 12 hours late, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Pete Muntean, thanks so much for covering.

We are following other breaking news, this out of Philadelphia, where a source is now confirming to CNN, sadly, that 13 people have been killed in a fire there. A news conference is moments away. We'll bring you details shortly after this break.



SCIUTTO: A very good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

There are several stories developing this hour.

Law enforcement and federal authorities are ramping up security in Washington as the nation prepares to mark one year since the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. The January 6th committee is now asking former Vice President Mike Pence to speak with the panel voluntarily about what he witnessed that day and conversations he had or was privy to in the days leading up to it, including with the former president.