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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) Discusses McConnell Blasting Biden's Voting Rights Speech, Calling It A Rant; Jan. 6th Committee Weighs Options To Make Congressmen Comply; NC Voter Group Claims 14th Amendment Disqualifies Rep. Cawthorn From Running Again; "Surprising Capabilities" From North Korean Launch; Walensky: Clip On Mortality/Comorbidities Taken Out Of Context. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 14:30   ET



SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): And, in fact, we've taken a lot of my Republicans colleagues concerns. Many want, for example, a voter I.D. card. So we've included that in several different proposals, especially the one Joe Manchin is heading up.

They've made it clear -- Mitch McConnell has made it clear to Republicans in the Senate, this is a red line for him. This is going to be something that is going to take 50 Democrats to pass.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I mean, that's going to -- of course, that brings in the filibuster.

It's interesting because Senator Manchin has tried to lobby some Republicans to get on board and those efforts didn't go anywhere.

But he also is quite firm, thus far, on not wanting to get rid of the filibuster, as is Sinema. So where does that leave you?

DUCKWORTH: We're not proposing getting rid of the filibuster. We're just proposing restoring it to what it was pre-Jim Crow era. Instead of requiring 60 votes to move ahead, we should have 40-plus votes to stop a bill.

It's about allowing Congress to move forward and returning the filibuster back to where it used to be.

It used to be you only had one filibuster a year. Now it's a matter where you can have a single Senator stop any piece of legislation from moving forward.

So I do --


CAMEROTA: Do you have any indication that Senator Manchin or Sinema would be open to those types of measures? The talking filibuster, et cetera?

DUCKWORTH: I do think so. Joe has mentioned, I believe this week, he supposed to said to the press and said he would consider reforming filibuster. That's all I'm asking for.

Let's just get it back to where our founders imagined it to be. Wasn't meant to be somebody that allowed a single Senator to stop everything from moving forward.

CAMEROTA: Senator Tammy Duckworth, thank you for your time. Obviously, we'll be watching closely.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Some prominent right wingers are using an already bad edit of an interview with the CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, and making it much worse. We'll fact-check them in a moment.



BLACKWELL: The January 6th Select Committee is expected to meet privately today. And one of the issues they'll consider is how to get two sitting members of Congress, who may have critical information about the insurrection. to cooperate.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio have already shot down requests for voluntary cooperation.

Let's go to CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.

Ryan, what are the options now to compel them to cooperate?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Alisyn, the most obvious would be to subpoena both of these individuals and perhaps other members of Congress before the committee to force them to sit and answer questions and hand over documents.

But there are some legal questions about whether a subpoena is even possible for one member or committee of Congress to another.

It would certainly be unprecedented. And even if it is legal under the institution, which there are some different legal opinions as that relates to a subpoena, there's also the question of enforcement.

The committee's already found some difficulty in enforcing their subpoenas with just average, everyday people that don't have a position like being a member of Congress.

They've been forced to go down the criminal content route with two people, Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows.

But there's a whole host of other Trump allies who are cooperating on some level, but not as forthcoming as the committee would like them to be.

What the committee is trying to decide to do is what step should they take. That's more important than anything else? It didn't matter if they issue a subpoena, if they don't provide the information. One option, hold a public hearing and daring them not to show. That's

a possibility.

They could also go through the Ethics Committee and see if the Ethics Committee could find a way to compel them to come forward.

These are all options on the table right now.

The chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, telling me yesterday that they're going to meet with their counsel to discuss a path forward.

It's clear they haven't made a decision yet. But the one thing we know for sure, Victor and Alisyn, they want this information. It's just a matter of figuring out how to get it.

CAMEROTA: All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you for the update.

A group of North Carolina voters claims the U.S. Constitution disqualifies Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn from running again.

They have filed their challenge with the State Board of Elections claiming that Cawthorn failed to comply with the 14th Amendment.

Which states: No one can serve in Congress who, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same."

BLACKWELL: The challenge says Cawthorn's action create belief that he helped facilitate the insurrection, including a speech supporting Trump at the rally, other comments in published reports.

Cawthorn's office told the Associated Press, activists are twisting the 14th Amendment for political gain.

Here to discuss is Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, and election and campaign finance reform group that's backing this challenge against Cawthorn.

Ron, thank you so much for being with us.

Let's start with what your case is here.

The speech that day and other information, explain that other information you believe supports the engagement in insurrection or rebellion that you say Cawthorn engaged in.


RON FEIN, LEGAL DIRECTOR, FREE SPEECH FOR PEOPLE: Thanks for having me on and giving me an opportunity to explain that issue.

The definition of engaging in an insurrection is more than just the people who stormed in the capitol building and attacked the police and tried to physically disrupt the vote.

Engaging in an insurrection can include broader participation.

And what the evidence points to, in the case of Representative Cawthorn, it's not just that he told his supporters to threaten their congressmen and say, I'm coming after you.

It's not just that he spoke at that demonstration that led directly into the attack on the capitol.

But the information indicates that he was involved in helping to plan the events of January 6th and knew that violence was substantially likely to result.

When you put that all together, that creates the reasonable suspicion, which is the legal standard in North Carolina. And it shifts the burden to him to prove that he is qualified for office.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's different. What you're suggesting is different.

And the House Select Committee that's investigating this I don't think has reached its findings on that yet in terms of who was involved in the planning.

Though we have heard from time to time that there were other congressmen who they're also looking at. For instance, Congressman Paul Gosar, who may have had some contact with the mob, the leaders of the mob before the insurrection.

Are you looking at other people as well?

FEIN: We are definitely planning to file a series of these challenges. I don't want to talk about specific members just yet. But Representative Cawthorn is the first, but he will not be the last.

BLACKWELL: Let me pull that thread that you left at the end of your last answer about shifting the burden.

And something our legal analyst, Harry Litman, put us on to in North Carolina law.

If I think I've got the right one. Chapter 163, Article 127, Section 5, Subsection A, which reads:

"The burden of proof shall be upon the candidate who must show by a preponderance of the evidence of the record as a whole, that he or she is qualified to be a candidate for the office."

Which means you can bring the accusation, the allegation to the lawsuit, but it's now on him to say that, no, I was not part of an insurrection.

Do I have that right?

FEIN: That is how the burden shifting works in North Carolina. The evidence we've put forth is enough that, unless he wants to

comment and try and present his case, which he's entitled to do, the State Board of Elections will be compelled to rule that he is disqualified.

CAMEROTA: Let me pull that other thread you left dangling out there. What other evidence have you seen that he was involved in the planning of the event?

FEIN: Well, the initial evidence includes the fact that he has -- was reported by a group of organizers, who were involved in organizing the events of the pre-attack demonstration that led to the mark on the Capitol, which, of course, led to the violent attack.

That he and his team were among a fairly small group of members of Congress who are in close communication with the planners of the events that day.

That was reported in "Rolling Stone," of course.

And the Select Committee has listed Cawthorn as among a small group of congressmen for whom they've sent orders to social media and telephone companies to preserve records of communications.

I think, in this case, our action may get ahead of where the January 6th Select Committee is.

But Cawthorn seems to be, based on the publicly available evidence and public reports, in that smaller group that was involved. Not just in speaking at the demonstration, but in helping to plan it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ron Fein, thank you so much.

And I should say we reached out to Congressman Cawthorn's office for a response but did not receive a supply.

Thank you, Ron.

CAMEROTA: Thanks a lot.

FEIN: Thank you.


CAMEROTA: All right, this just in. Multiple sources tell us the latest North Korean missile launch demonstrated surprising capabilities. We have the details ahead.


BLACKWELL: The sources familiar with the latest North Korean missile launch tell CNN it demonstrated, quote, "surprising capabilities." On Monday, Pyongyang said it successfully launched a new hypersonic missile.

The Biden administration is slapping sanctions on five North Koreans for their work in developing weapons of mass destruction.

CAMEROTA: CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us live from the State Department.

Kylie, what have you learned?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, listen, guys, U.S. officials familiar with this launch, this North Korea launch of a missile this week says it demonstrates some surprising capabilities, that they were sort of surprised by what they saw.

And that is, of course, amid the fact that the United States is still doing its full assessment, right, of what exactly happened, what exactly North Korea accomplished in this launch.

And you talked to other U.S. officials who weren't all that surprised because they say that North Korea said that they launched their first hypersonic missile last year.


They say that North Korea has, as recently as just a few weeks ago, said that they're working on new missile developments for war fighting. This is the trajectory that North Korea was headed in.

The context here is also important. The Biden administration has not had any diplomatic contact substantively with the North Koreans. They have made overtures. They haven't been responded to.

And I'm told that U.S. officials don't plan to reach out to North Korea anytime between now and March. That's because, in March, there's South Korean elections.

U.S. and South Korean officials don't think they can get anything done diplomatically with North Korea between now and then.

Now, of course, this comes as North Korea continues to develop its program.

We will wait to learn more from U.S. officials about what they have found in terms of this new missile launch that North Korea is claiming was a hypersonic missile launch.

But the United States today ruling out sanctions, as you said earlier, on five North Korean individuals, one North Korean entity, for supporting their weapons of mass destruction and their missile development programs.

The Biden administration sending a signal that they are not holding back on sanctions, the main thing that North Korea wants lifted -- Alisyn, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Kylie Atwood, thank you so much.

Former President Donald Trump takes a thinly veiled shot at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for not outright saying whether he has had the COVID-19 booster. We have more on that story ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLACKWELL: ABC News cut out 22 seconds of comments, made by CDC chief, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, about the role of comorbidities in COVID-19 deaths. Turns out, though, those were crucially important seconds in terms of context.

Let's listen to the Walensky sound, first, the edited version.


UNIDENTIFIED NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This new study showing just how well vaccines are working to prevent severe illness.

Given that, is it time to start rethinking how we're living with this virus, that it's potentially here to stay.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So really, these were people who were unwell to begin with.

And, yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron, this means not only just to get your primary series but to get your booster series.

And, yes, we're really encouraged by these results.


CAMEROTA: OK. So that poorly edited clip created this tidal wave of misinformation.

CNN reporter and resident fact-checker, Daniel Dale, did a deep dive on this.

Daniel, how did this happen, and how was it seized upon?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: So there were two separate problems here that resulted in a lot of people getting a false impression of what the CDC director said.

Number one, as Victor pointed out, ABC's "Good Morning, America" deleted some key sentences from Walensky, just did not air them.

ABC said it did this for time reasons. But, regardless, that edit made her meaning much less clear.

Number two, some right-wing commentators cut down her comments to eleven out-of-context seconds and described her comments falsely.

One false tweet came from radio and TV host, Clay Travis.

Travis wrote, "The CDC director just said over 75 percent of COVID deaths occurred in people with at least four comorbidities."

But this is not what Walensky said, as we'll hear in a moment.

When she talked about more than 75 percent of people having four comorbidities, she was not discussing all 800,000-plus COVID deaths.

Rather, she was talking about a particular small group of deaths that were described in a new study.

That study looked at 1.2 million fully vaccinated people. Of those 1.2 million fully vaccinated people, 36 of them had a death associated with COVID-19.

And of those 36 people who died, 28 of them -- or about 78 percent or over 75 percent, had four or more risk factors for having a severe COVID outcome.

Those risk factor include being older than 65, having a variety of significant chronic illnesses.

The CDC has been very clear since 2020 that people with health conditions are at higher COVID risk than people without them. Contrary to Travis's conspiratorial suggestion, this hasn't been hidden until now.

Walensky was not saying that 75 percent of all U.S. COVID deaths were among people with four or more comorbidities.

After this controversy erupted on Monday, ABC released Walensky's full comments online, adding back the key sentences they left out of the TV segment on "Good Morning, America" on Friday.

Listen to her comment.


WALENSKY: An important study, if I may summarize it, a study of 1.2 million people, who were vaccinated between September and October, and demonstrated that severe disease occurred in about 0.015 percent of the people who were receiving a primary series and death in .003 percent of those people.

The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So really these were people who were unwell to begin with.

And, yes, really encouraging news in the context of omicron, this means not only just to get your primary series, but to get your booster series.


And, yes, we're really encouraged by these results.


DALE: So once again, Alisyn and Victor, the full comments show Walensky did not say what a bunch of people on the right are claiming.