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More Than 60 Million People Under Winter Alerts Across U.S.; Government Memo: Threat From Domestic Extremism Remains High; U.S. President Honors Sacrifices of Capitol Police Officers; Djokovic Won't Know Until Monday If He Can Defend Title; In-Person Learning Hits Snag as Outbreaks Impact Schools. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Delays and disruption. Millions across the United States are bracing for a winter storm to move into the northeast. We have you covered with the very latest.

Plus, President Biden slams Donald Trump's web of lies as the country remembers the attack on the Capitol. We'll look at how Republicans across the country are harnessing Trump's playbook to run for higher office.

And its tennis champs Rafael Nadal versus Novak Djokovic, only this match is not about tennis but vaccinations. We'll have a live report for you from Sydney.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It is Friday, January, the 7th. We have the heavy snow, brutely cold temperatures and gusty winds. Like seeing here live pictures here, live pictures we can bring it to you from the U.S. Capitol this hour. Really causing delays and disruption right across the United States. It's from coast to coast.

More than 60 million people are being impacted, a storm moving into the northeast is wreaking havoc on really travel schedules. Tracking site FlightAware reports more than 2,000 U.S. flights Friday have already been canceled. And federal government offices in Washington, D.C. and the district's public schools are closed because, of course, the storm.

Kids in Boston are also getting a snow day. Part of the city could see up to a foot of snow starting early Friday morning and ending just afternoon. Meanwhile, Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee have announced changes to COVID-19 testing as well as vaccination sites. All three states are either shutting down locations for the day or delaying opening hours. And, of course, wintry conditions are already causing problems.

Thursday in Kentucky -- look at this -- pictures of about 20 cars you see there, ending up colliding because of ice and snow on the roads in this town. Luckily only minor injuries were reported.

Let's put all this into perspective for you. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is keeping a close track of it all at the CNN Weather Center. Good morning to you Derek. I suspect these storms will perhaps get worse over the weekend. Paint a picture for us at what we can expect.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you're right. And you're looking at a live shot coming out of Times Square in New York City as well. We have seen just within the past hour or so some of the snow starting to accumulate on the roadways there right within this popular very tourist destination. People milling about, taking photos. Because we just have not seen this amount of snow in New York City in quite some time. And here it is on the latest radar.

There have been reports of 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour, and that is pretty significant considering you've got one of the busiest corridors here, I-95, stretching from D.C. through Philadelphia to New York City all the way to Boston, and that is where the heaviest of snowfall is setting up as we speak.

Let's zoom right into New York City, take you in, and you can see, of course, the shades of blue indicating our heaviest snow bands moving through. That is impacting portions of western Long Island into the coastal areas of New Jersey, stretching towards Connecticut and into Rhode Island and eventually into Massachusetts as well. That's where we anticipate the heaviest snowfall. Because in and around Boston that's where the snow will hang around longest.

The limiting factor to the snowfall totals today will be the quick- moving nature of this particular storm. It is going to exit off the East Coast just as quickly as it arrived this morning. Over 60 million Americans feeling the brunt of this winter storm as we speak. Let's time it out through this morning. Unfortunately, the worst of the storm coinciding with the morning rush hour commute. People advised to stay off the roads today.

And then, of course, just by 8:00 this morning we'll start to see that snow come to an end from D.C. to Philadelphia, New York and eventually moving towards the East Coast. And by this evening, I believe we'll see clearing skies overhead and the skies will also -- the roadways will also clear quite nicely for the evening commute home back to -- back home from your office.

Now you can see additional snowfall on top of what's already taken place, perhaps another 3 to 6 inches of snow, locally higher amounts in and around Boston. New York you'll see about 5 inches of snow when it's all said and done -- Isa.

SOARES: And I'm glad you corrected me, Derek, it's going to come in quickly, but it's going to go very swiftly as well. Derek Van Dam for us. Thank you, Derek, great to see you.

Now, the U.S. is marking one year since the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that left several people dead.


And shook really the foundations of American democracy. A candle light vigil was held Thursday night on the Capitol steps mostly attended by Democratic members of Congress. On January 6 of last year, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building hoping to stop certification, of course, of Joe Biden's victory. All of it based on false claims from Trump that the election was stolen. President Biden condemned his predecessor but predicted better days ahead. Have a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know how difficult democracy is. I'm crystal clear about the threats America faces. Of But I also know that our darkest days can lead to light and hope, so now let's step up, write the next chapter in American history. Where January 6 marks not the end of democracy, but the beginning of a renaissance of liberty and fair play.


SOARES: Well, despite those words, experts warn the threats posed by domestic extremism is as high as ever. CNN's Brian Todd has the story for you.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the 48 hours leading up to the January 6th anniversary, there was an increase in online extremist content, according to a new D.H.S. memo obtained by CNN. It warns that potential violence could be directed against political and other government officials, including members of Congress, or the president, and not limited to Washington, D.C.

One recent online video flagged by the FBI and D.H.S. lists 93 members of Congress who voted to certify the 2020 election and calls for them to be hanged in front of the White House. The memo says, quote, no indication of a specific and credible plot, but security in Washington has been stepped up amid particular concern about the potential for lone actors.


TODD (voice-over): Administration officials in part blaming today's divisiveness and misinformation.

MAYORKAS: Ideologies of hate, false information, false narratives are primary sources of the threat landscape that we confront in the United States today.

TODD (voice-over): Experts on extremism say the threat has not diminished.

OREN SEGAL, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: The extremists are not done now that we're a year out of January 6th. They have not been swayed as a group or a movement from stopping their activity.

TODD (voice-over): U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger says he expects his force to be tested again. To protect the Capitol, he says they have improved intelligence gathering and sharing, streamlined procedures for calling National Guard back-up, conducted joint exercises, are improving equipment and training, and plan to hire 280 officers a year for the next three years. But former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was dragged out into the mob and beaten during the riot, says the work is not yet done.

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They also have to address the security posture, the training, the equipment that's provided to their officers, and also the physical security of the Capitol complex.

TODD (voice-over): A former Capitol police chief said one vulnerability that has to addressed, the fact that there are still so many entrances the Capitol building.

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We still don't have a safe way to get into the Capitol complex. The Capitol Police have to be everywhere at once and keep a lot of doors open that are done for convenience.

TODD (voice-over): Over the last year, threats to lawmakers hit a disturbing high with the U.S. Capitol Police reporting 9,600 instances, about 26 a day.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: The ones that concern us the most are the ones where we have had previous contact with the individual who is making the threat and we're concerned about their actions.

TODD: A full year after the attack, more than 700 defendants have been arrested in the Justice Department's investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowing they'll hold all the perpetrators accountable at any level. But the FBI is still asking for the public's help in identifying more than 350 other people who the bureau believes engaged in violence that day who they still haven't caught.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: So, here we are 430 days after the election. According to a new ABC News poll, 71 percent of Republicans still believe Trump won.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe we are cheated, so for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do you still believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump won the election. They've proven it over and over again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Biden won the election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Trump won, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think it was -- the machines were rigged.


SOARES: Some opinions there. Well, we're learning more about the former president's mind-set on the day of the riot. Now, at 2:38 in the afternoon, he tweeted this. You can see it in your screen.

Please support our Capitol Police and law enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful!

But a source tells CNN he didn't want to include the words stay peaceful.


According to the official Trump was letting the violence, quote, play out. His former press secretary tells CNN Trump was, quote, gleefully watching the riot unfold on TV and hit rewind to watch it again.

Well, during an interview with CNN U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wishes the Republicans would take back their party, and she accused some of her Republican colleagues of helping perpetrate the attack. Here's what she said.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: We have to pursue the common good because some them are perpetrators. Some of them were aware and they're in denial. It doesn't mean that we have to meet them halfway, no. We are upholding our oath of office to protect and defend.


SOARES: Well, so far there's been no evidence presented that proves House or Senate Republicans participated in the riot or helped the rioters.

Now, you may remember police found pipe bombs at the Democratic and Republican national committee headquarters on the day of the insurrection. Now, surveillance video shows the man who allegedly planted it -- as you can see there. Although no one has been arrested. We now know then vice president elect Kamala Harris was evacuated from the DNC building after police discovered the bomb nearby. Rioters breached the U.S. Capitol gates about an hour later

Well, the classes at the Capitol ultimately claimed the lives of five police officers with four of them dying by suicide. President Biden and others honoring the sacrifices made that day, but all of the offices including Brian Sicknick. Earlier his long-time partner lashed out at the Republicans trying to rewrite history and dismissed the deadly attack.


SANDRA GARZA, PARTNER OF FALLEN CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: I hear Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and other scum bags within the Republican Party that make terrible insensitive comments and downplay the horrific things that happened on January 6. And I, you know, it just makes me incredibly angry. And I believe, if I'm not mistaken -- and you can correct me here -- Marjorie Taylor Greene and Louie Gohmert and others actually went into the jail to visit some of the rioters which, you know, they haven't visited me. They haven't visited any of the families of the officers who were injured or any of the families of the officers who committed suicide. It's just disgusting.


SOARES: Well, Sandra Garza went on to praise the law enforcement and intelligence agencies hunting down the rioters. She says she really hopes the most sadistic ones are held accountable.

Now, the professional Tennis Players Association says it has been in contact with Novak Djokovic and identified his well-being. He has reportedly been confined to an immigration facility after being denied entry to Australia for the upcoming tennis championship. Allegedly and not meeting the country's vaccine requirements.

The world's number one men's single player is a national hero in his native Serbia. Hundreds of his fans turned out in Belgrade -- as you can see there -- on Thursday to protest the situation. A court hearing has been set for Monday. Australian officials say Djokovic is not being detained and can leave the country at any time.

Well, Djokovic's family is furious that he was denied entry into Australia. Accusing authorities in Melbourne of treating him like a prisoner. Here's what his mother said at a news conference on Thursday. Have a listen.


DIJANA DJOKOVIC, NOVAK DJOKOVIC'S MOTHER: As a mother, what can I say? If you're a mother, you can just imagine how can I feel? I feel terrible since yesterday, last 24 hours. They are keeping him as a prisoner. It's just not fair. It's not human. I just tell him to be strong as we are trying also to be very strong, to give him some energy to keep on going. I hope that he will win.


SOARES: Meanwhile, Djokovic's wife -- as you can see there -- Jelena expressed her anguish on social media, thanking fans for their support and saying, I'm taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude and understanding in this moment for all that is happening. Let's get more on this developing story. CNN's Angus Watson is

following this story for us in Sydney. Good to see you, Angus. Let's talk about these comments from Djokovic's mother accusing the Australian government, I think it's fair to say, of holding her son captive. Clearly tensions are continuing to escalate. Give us a sense of the mood there.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: That's absolutely right. There's almost been a diplomatic stance now between Serbia and Australia over Australia's alleged mistreatment of Novak Djokovic. You heard it there from his mother. We've heard from his father and his wife as well.


We've heard from the leader of Serbia saying that Novak, their country's star tennis player, has been mistreated where Novak is in an immigration detention facility in central Melbourne. It was a hotel that was being used for overseas arrivals into Australia serving a 14- day quarantine period during the heights of the coronavirus outbreaks in Melbourne in 2020 and 2021. Now it is being used as this immigration detention facility where he could remain for days. Because, Isa, it's only on Monday that Novak Djokovic's lawyers will have another day in court to seek an injunction against his deportation from Australia.

A deportation which came up on Wednesday night when he was held in the airport. His papers poured over to see if his immigration status, his visa, matched up with his medical exemption to enter the country unvaccinated.

Now, we heard earlier from Rafael Nadal, his great rival in tennis saying, you know what, if Novak Djokovic wanted to play in the Australian open, he could have just got vaccinated. And we've heard from the Australian government today saying he has another option. If he wants to just leave, he can. Here's what the minister in charge of the borders had to say.


KAREN ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER: Mr. Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia. He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so, and Border Force will actually facilitate that


WATSON: Now, the people that Novak Djokovic is sharing this immigration detention with don't be have so many choices. Some of them have been caught up in Australia immigration detention scheme for years now as refugees wanting to seek asylum in Australia. They can't do so because they arrived by boat. So, Australia's harsh border policies go way beyond this era of COVID-19 -- Isa.

SOARES: I know you'll stay on top of this story for us. Angus Watson there for us in Sydney. Thanks very much, Angus.

Now earlier you heard Djokovic's mother complained that he was being treated like a captive really in Melbourne. Ben Rothenberg of "Racquet Magazine" says that's not an accurate description of Djokovic's situation. Have a listen.


BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, RACQUET MAGAZINE: He has volitionally chose to extend his stay in Australia after not getting his visa approved. He got an injunction against his deportation order. He would have had a flight out of here last night. Instead, he's getting a hearing on Monday and so he has to sit and wait. And I'm sure in conditions that aren't comfortable for him. And certainly not ideal preparation for potentially playing in a tennis tournament if he's successful.

But he's in Australia still because he has chosen to be. He could have withdrawn from the country. He could have left the country. He could've left the tournament. But obviously, his goals and ambitions are professionally. And also, I'm sure at this point his stubbornness about feeling like he's in the right in this situation, are not going to make it easy for him to leave as it technically is on paper.


SOARES: Ben Rothenberg of Racquet Magazine speaking to us earlier.

Coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, soaring new COVID infections are disrupting work and school schedules right across the United States. Why experts are saying, things could even get worse.

Plus, Chicago says its public schools will close for a third day over COVID safety concerns, but then some say schools might be open after all.



SOARES: Now, school systems across the U.S. are increasingly putting in-person learning on hold as the Omicron variant continues to cause COVID cases to spike and teachers unions to worry over safety. New infections are now averaging more than 600,000 a day, an all-time high -- as you can see there on your screen. Health experts are warning that the highly transmissible variant will continue to drive up both cases as well as hospitalizations.

Now, they say numbers are likely to get worse before they get better and that it's critical for Americans to continue mitigation efforts to help prevent infections.

But there is some hope on the horizon. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended boosters for children as young as 12. Really widening the pool of Americans eligible to receive the additional dose. The CDC will hold an independent briefing today to give updates on the pandemic. The agency has faced criticism in recent weeks over confusion -- if you remember -- surrounding the isolation guidelines. Now, health officials and hospitals in the U.S. are preparing for a

surge in COVID-19 patients over the next four weeks as cases as we pointed out continue to climb. CNN's Athena Jones has the story for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next month is going to be awful.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: COVID-19 is taking more than 832,000 lives in the United States. That's one out of every 400 people. And with the near vertical increase in cases and hospitalizations, the CDC now forecasts another 84,000 people will die in the next month. An average of more than 3,500 COVID deaths a day.

DR. ROBERT WACHTER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE: People should try to do everything they can to be careful and thoughtful about their activities and their masking. I don't buy the idea that we're all going to get Omicron and, therefore, just give up trying. I think that's wrong.

JONES (voice-over): The surge prompting the NFL to explore contingency plans for the Super Bowl as new cases and reimposed restrictions mount. Doctors warning the dramatic jump in new infections threatens to overwhelm some hospitals, even as data emerges suggesting the Omicron variant causes less severe disease than previous variants. Unvaccinated children at particular risk.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The sheer volume of infections, because of its profound transmissibility, mean that many more children will get infected, and as many more children will get infected, a certain proportion of them, usually children that have underlying comorbidities are going to wind up in the hospital.

JONES (voice-over): Schools in Chicago closed for a second day today, amid a showdown between the city and the teachers union over in-person learning. The mayor arguing some 100,000 mostly black and brown students were hit hard by learning losses when schools went virtual.

LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO MAYOR: We are standing firm, and we are going to fight to get our kids back in in-person learning, period, full stop.


We owe that to our children who suffered learning losses.

JONES (voice-over): The union wants students to be tested before returning to class.

MICHAEL SMITH, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION FIELD REP: We're just wanting basic things. Testing, that's what we're asking for. Can we test every student before they come into the building? Our district, for some reason, has been unable to do that.

JONES: In Washington --

MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON, D.C. MAYOR: I'm very happy about is that D.C. public schools are open today.

JONES (voice-over): While returning students and faculty were required to show proof of a negative COVID test. Just 5 percent tested positive. Only one school forced to close.

BOWSER: We have a few classrooms affected, but most importantly we'll have about 50,000 kids in D.C. public schools, and another 50,000 in our public charter schools.

JONES (voice-over): And in New York City, surveillance testing in some 250 schools found a COVID positivity rate among students of just over 1 percent.

JONES: In an editorial in "Science," Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health, says quote, a hyper partisan and divisive atmosphere and skepticism of science have taken a toll. He writes that, quote, objective truth is under attack. During the pandemic, he says, this has led to unsubstantiated claims about the origins of the virus. Rejection of evidence-based information on preventive measures like masks, and the embrace of, quote, highly questionable, potentially harmful treatments.

Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


SOARES: Well, as Athena just mentioned there, Chicago public schools said most public schools will remain closed today as negotiations continue with the teachers union. But then they greatly confuse the situation by saying a few places might resume in-person classes and activities. School principals say they were blindsided by that announcement because they had been told all schools would be closed. The school district cautioned parents not to send their children to school without hearing first from the principal.

Well, teachers, meanwhile, in the San Francisco area collectively calling in sick to push for stronger COVID protocols in schools. Their unions asking for new safety measures including giving high quality respiratory masks to everyone on campus and conducting weekly testing. More than 600 teachers in San Francisco, pardon me, called out on Thursday, while another wave of sick calls is expected in the nearby Oakland today. Schools are using substitute teachers and administrators to keep the classes going.

And public-school students in Boston will get a snow day today. We mentioned that as top story. The district decided to close all schools due to inclement weather. The announcement comes after more than a thousand staff members called out on Wednesday. It is unclear, though, how many absences were COVID related. Boston is under a winter storm warning. It could get more than 6 inches of snow throughout the day.

And still ahead right here on the show, Kazakhstan is reeling from deadly anti-government rallies across the nation. It's president now says security forces are gaining the upper hand over protesters.

Plus, the big lie behind the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack, how Donald Trump and his supporters are keeping the false narrative of a stolen election alive. We'll bring you both those stories after a short break. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.