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Former Governor Cuomo To Be Arraigned On Misdemeanor Sex Charge; Djokovic Family Says Australia Treating Him Like A Prisoner; Actor, Activist Sidney Poitier Dead At 94; Kazakhstan's President Orders Security Forces To Open Fire Without Warning Amid Protests. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: At this hour, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo schedule to be arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of touching. Cuomo has denied all allegations.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is joining us now and following this.

The arraignment goes forward despite the fact that the D.A. said he's not prosecuting the case. So what actually happens today at this remote hearing?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Erica. Right now, we're -- the hearing has actually started. Just waiting for the judge to come to the bench.

And we fully intend the judge to drop the single misdemeanor charge of forcible touching against the former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

This, as you mentioned, the Albany County district attorney earlier this week filed a notice saying he didn't intend to pursue the charges.

Basically saying that the accuser in this case was credible and also cooperative. However, he did not feel like he had enough evidence to fulfill the burden of proof needed to win this case in an actual trial if it ever went to that.


So that is what we expect to hear from the district attorney appearing in this virtual arraignment. And, of course, the judge then will make a decision based on that.

We did get a filing later this week, in fact yesterday, from the Cuomo's attorney essentially asking for the same request.

However, this is a big win, of course, for former Governor Andrew Cuomo. We know that also two district attorneys in other counties of New York

have decided not to pursue any charges with different allegations against him.

And we know the Manhattan district attorney decided that it wasn't going to move forward with any allegations dealing with the nursing home scandal of the former governor.

So, again, that is big win, and one of many that we've seen in recent weeks.

This was the only charge that the governor was going to face really in the aftermath of the scathing attorney general's report when many women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.

We'll continue to monitor this arrangement, Erica, as we move forward.

But, again, this is something that the governor is going to escape and it's possible we'll see some action in civil court instead -- Erica?

HILL: Brynn, has he reacted at all to these decisions throughout the week?

GINGRAS: We're waiting to get reaction just for this hearing.

But I can tell that you she has given a statement to us in response from her attorney that basically said the only thing she has any power over right now is her resolution to continue to speak the truth.

And suggested an appropriate civil action, which she will do in due course. That's what we intend to do in the future.

Remember, this complaint was filed without her knowledge, without the district attorney's knowledge, so civil court is likely where she will likely land.

HILL: Brynn Gingras, appreciate the update. Thank you.


HILL: The family of Novak Djokovic said Australia is treating the multi-millionaire tennis star like a prisoner over his vaccination status. The latest in this dramatic saga just ahead of the Australian Open. That's next.



HILL: The family of the world's top-ranked tennis player says he's being treated like a prisoner. Australian authorities say, no, Djokovic is free to leave the country at any time.

CNN sports anchor and correspondent, Patrick Snell, joining us now with details.

There's no shortage of drama here, Patrick. Where do we stand today?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Erica, yes, you are spot on. No shortage of drama, indeed.

Big question for me and so many others is, what did Novak Djokovic know when he was on the flight heading down to Australia? What did he believe in terms of the special exemption he thought he had?

Much now centering on a letter reportedly sent to players in early December obtained by Australia's "Herald Sun" newspaper. Really significant, this.

Erica, it appears to show Tennis Australia, the tennis organizers, may have, may have wrongly informed unvaccinated players they could enter the country to take part in the Aussie Open, the first grand slam on the tennis calendar, which, you'll point out, is very important.

CNN can't independently verify the authenticity of the letter.

What did the letter advise? It advised that a confirmed COVID-19 infection within the last six months, along with an accompanying letter from a doctor or public health authority, would be considered as valid documentation for a medical exemption.

That is really, really, really tangible because that guidance appears to contradict advice in a widely reported letter sent by the country's health minister to tournament organizers well before Christmas, back in November.

Stressing that a COVID-19 infection within the last six months did not meet the requirements of quarantine-free entry.

There are plot twists every step of the way with this, I'm telling you. We are waiting to hear a lot more from tennis Australia on this?

Meantime, Erica, reaction come in thick and fast. For the first time, we heard from the man himself, Djokovic, right at the center of all of this.

He took to social media by his Instagram, writing in English.

Djokovic saying, "Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it, and it is greatly appreciated."

And his wife, Elana Djokovic, as well, -- if we can get that up -- because she took to social media speaking yesterday via her platforms.

"It's Christmas today for us. My wishes are for everyone to be happy, safe and together as families. We wish we're all together and my consolation is at least we are healthy and we will grow from this experience."

It's a story we're following every step of the way. You can be sure of that, Erica.

Back for you. HILL: Yes, that's for sure. I look forward to that update from tennis

Australia as you mentioned.

Patrick, thank you.

He was Hollywood's first black movie star, the first black man to win an Academy Award. Legendary actor and activist, Sidney Poitier, has died at age of 94.

Many of his films dealt with racial issues and social changes stemming from the civil right movement.

CNN's Sara Sidner has a look at Porier's life both on and off the screen.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sidney Poitier was so much more than a film legend. He's revered not just because of what he did on screen but also because of his tremendous impact off screen as a champion of civil rights.

SIDNEY POITIER, ACTOR & ACTIVIST: We believe in the essential dignity of every human being.


SIDNER: The son of a Bahamian tomato farmer, Poitier lived a life of firsts, the first black man to win an Oscar for best actor, and one of the first black people to become a true Hollywood star, among the greatest of all time.

POITIER: We have lots and lots and lots of African-American actors. Now, when we didn't have any, I appeared, not because I brought so much, but because the time was right.

SIDNER: But his career almost ended before it ever began.

As a teenager, Poitier auditioned for the American Negro Theater, but he was quickly thrown out because he couldn't read, he was tone deaf, and he had a thick Bahamian accent.

POITIER: He says, "You're no actor." We got next to the door, he opened it, pushed me out and slammed it.

SIDNER: A determined Poitier would spend months perfecting his acting skills and modifying his speaking voice. His hard work would pay off in a big way.

POITIER: I was right. I know I was right.

SIDNER: In the 1950s, he appeared in more than a dozen films beginning with "No Way Out," and including an Oscar-nominated performance in "The Defiant Ones."

However, it was his portrayal of a former G.I. in the 1953 movie, "Lilies of the Field," that broke Hollywood's color barrier, earning him the coveted Oscar for best actor.


SIDNER: Poitier never overcame his tone deafness, lip-syncing the song "Amen" in the famous Lilies scene. The songwriter, Jester Hairston, actually did the singing.


SIDNER: Poitier was considered a bankable star in 1967, starring in a landmark film, "To Sir with Love."

POITIER: Those kids are devils incarnate. I tried everything.

SIDNER: Playing characters that would force audiences to confront racial prejudices.

POITER: They call me Mr. Tibbs.

SIDNER: But he would also challenge the Hollywood establishment, forcing a change in his iconic role as Detective Virgil Tibbs in the 1967 Academy Award-winning "In the Heat of the Night," because of a scene that would require him to acquiesce to a racist character.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm going to take you over to Brownsville and put you on the bus myself.

POITIER: You aren't taking me anywhere, you dig? You're holding the wrong man.

SIDNER: That same year, he would star in the watershed film, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," alongside Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.


SIDNER: The film not only depicted a successful interracial relationship, it also foreshadowed future progress in America.

SPENCER TRACY, ACTOR: Have you given any thought to the problems your children are going to have?

POITIER: Yes. And they'll have some. And we'll have the children. Otherwise I don't know what you would call it, but you couldn't call it a marriage.

TRACY: Is that the way Joy feels?

POITIER: She feels that every single one of our children will be president of the United States and they'll all have colorful administrations.

SIDNER: It is only fitting, in 2009, Sidney Poitier would be presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Poitier once called his driving purpose to make himself a better person. He did. And he made us all a little bit better along the way.




HILL: The eyes of world are on Kazakhstan where the country's president has authorized security forces to shoot to kill protesters without warning in an attempt to crush violent anti-government protests triggered by rising fuel prices.

CNN correspondent, Scott McLean, joining us now.

So, Scott, the rising prices and protests, everything is escalating. Why is it happening? And what is the broader impact? Because we know there's one, even for the U.S. here.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Erica. Look, this started out about fuel prices but it seems that was just the catalyst for this public anger about economic inequality and inflation and about government corruption as well.

These protests, especially in the largest city in Kazakhstan, Almaty, have turned violent. Government buildings being torched. Looting and even gunfire being exchanged with police.

And most outside governments, from the United States to the Taliban, are calling for calm, calling for de-escalation but the Kazakh president has other ideas.



KASSYM-MOMART TOKAYEV, KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT: I gave the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to open fire, to kill without warning.

Abroad, there are appeals from parties to negotiate for a peaceful of solutions of problems. What nonsense. What kind ever negotiations can there be with criminals, with murderers.

We have to deal with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign, mainly with bandits and terrorists. Therefore, they need to be destroyed. And this will be done shortly.


MCLEAN: Now that is the president's message about who these protesters are.

And for most of the country, that is the only message they are hearing. Because the Internet is shut down and , for most people, state media is their only source of information right now.

We have managed to hear, get a dispatch from a journalist inside of Almaty, which tells us they saw four bodies with gunshot wounds.

There are checkpoints set up outside of government buildings. And if you get too close, security forces will fire warning shots.


Last night, in Almaty, the journalists also heard sounds of heavy, heavy gunfire. That is what the government is describing as anti- terror operations. But the opposition would probably describe it much differently.

But either way, there are two signs of protests inside of Almaty today.

But what you are seeing, though, is people leaving their homes to try and to get their hands on essentials.

That's difficult, though, because ATM machines are not working and card machines and stores are not working either because, of course, the Internet has been cut -- Erica?

HILL: It is really something.

Scott, appreciate it. Thank you.

That is going to do it for us this hour on a Friday. I'm Erica Hill. Thanks for joining me.

Stay tuned. The news continues with Victor Blackwell right after this.