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House GOP Leader McCarthy Will Not Cooperate with January 6 Probe; Trump Allies Submitted Fake Electoral College Certificates; Djokovic Draws Number 1 Seed in Australian Open Amid Visa Saga; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Apologizes for Attending Party During Lockdown; No Breakthrough in Talks Between Russia and NATO. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 13, 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.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the third Republican member to be asked for voluntary cooperation by this committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCarthy has led the charge against the committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holding a title in Congress doesn't make you exempt.


SOARES: The refusal from the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy puts pressure on the January 6th committee investigating the Capitol riots to subpoena him.

Novak Djokovic is included in the Australian Open draw. But there's still no decision on whether he should stay or go. We are live in Melbourne this hour.

In the cost-of-living in the United States hits its highest level in four decades. Could it cost President Biden politically?

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

SOARES: Morning, everyone. Welcome to the show, it is Thursday, January 13th. And one of the top Republicans in Washington says he will not cooperate with the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riots. The less than 24 hours after the panel asked to speak with him, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the probe illegitimate and an abuse of power. In an exclusive interview with CNN committee Vice Chair Republican Liz Cheney refused to allow a subpoena for McCarthy. Here's more of what she had to say. Have a listen.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We know that Leader Kevin McCarthy was pleading with the president to tell people to go home when police officers and others were being beaten here at the Capitol. So, you know, I wish that he were a brave and honorable man. He's clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we'll get to the truth.


SOARES: Well, the House committee says it wants to ask Kevin McCarthy about his phone conversations with Trump on January 6th. As well as how the former president's plans for that day came together. McCarthy meanwhile says as a representative and leader of the minority party that it is with neither regret or satisfaction that I have not concluded to not participate with the select committee's abuse of power, that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward. I have more now for you from CNN's John Harwood.


JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's a major development overnight in the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol insurrection. The committee requested voluntary testimony from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy who plainly has information to provide because he spoke to President Trump by telephone during the January 6th insurrection.

Now, Kevin McCarthy said a few months ago he was willing to testify before the committee. Now tonight, after getting that request, he changed his mind, said the committee was engaged in an abuse of power and he would not cooperate. The question now is, of course, whether they can compel him through a subpoena.

His reversal is not a surprise, because he condemned President Trump's actions the evening of the insurrection, when it appeared that the Republican Party needed to distance itself from Trump. Then later when McCarthy realized he needed Trump's support to become House Speaker, and that Trump's influence over the Republican base was maintained, he's turned tail and is now trying to make common cause with Trump and not provide testimony.

It's going to be interesting to see whether or not they can force him to, but there's not much time left for the November elections and if the Republicans win the House of Representatives, win control back which they're favored to now, they will surely shut this committee down. So, the window is narrowing for the committee to get all the relative testimony that it is seeking.

John Harwood, CNN, Washington.



SOARES: Now Kevin McCarthy told CNN's Manu Raju in May of last year that he would be willing to testify about his conversations with President Trump on January 6th, but his reversal comes as no surprise especially in light of his comments since then. Have a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is a political select committee that Pelosi did something that no Speaker has ever done. Denied the Republicans the right to appoint people to it. Their own selective. No one has ever done that. It's purely political. And look at this, I have nothing to hide, but I have nothing to add.


SOARES: Well, McCarthy had originally chosen five Republicans to serve on the committee but he withdrew their names after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them. McCarthy said Republicans will not be party to a sham investigation.


MCCARTHY: This isn't about threats, but it's about holding people accountable. I think the majority is going to have to approve any of those members on the committees which they could serve. So, yes, we hold our members to a high standard. It's interesting to me how the Democrats want rules for thee, but not for me. That's not right. And we'll change that when we're in the majority.


SOARES: Well, CNN spoke with two members of the House Select Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riots and asked them specifically what they want to hear from Kevin McCarthy.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): What did he know prior to January 6th? I mean, on a call with him on January 1st, I directly told him that there was going to be violence. I predicted violence, and it was very much dismissed it and just said next caller. You know, it was a large conference call. He made the decision to object to the electors. All that led up to January 6th. They convinced people that, in fact, January 6th was some patriotic duty to fight against a stolen election. And, of course, he's, you know, very close with the former president. He had the conversation on that day and maybe more. And I think that's of interest to the committee as we get to the bottom of what happened on that day.

REP PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): I would expect anyone who takes the same oath to the Constitution that I took in order to serve here would be willing to talk about January 6th and would be willing to talk about what happened that day. But this is someone who clearly has information. He talked to the White House and to the president leading up to January 6th on their efforts to overturn the election results. He talked with the president by public reporting on January 6th. And he was concerned about the safety of the Capitol after January 6th. All of those can key bits of information that we feel are important. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: Well, the committee has been very busy speaking with other Trump allies, including former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Sources say she met virtually with the panel on Wednesday. The committee has subpoenaed McEnany's talking point on alleged voter fraud and election security. McEnany is now the co-host of a daily show on Fox News.

And the January 6th committee is taking a closer look at the various way Donald Trump and his allies tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election. One failed attempt involved faking Electoral College certificates for multiple states. Our Sara Murray explains.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump allies in seven states that Donald Trump lost, places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona who decided they were just going to come up with fake certificates and they were going to submit those to the National Archives and those fake certificates say that Donald Trump was actually the winner of those states that he lost.

Now the watchdog group American Oversight found these documents and essentially what these folks were doing is they were trying to mimic an official process that's part of the Electoral College. You know, what happens is the governor signs a letter, essentially saying, Joe Biden won our state. They submit that letter to the National Archives. The National Archives later submits that letter to Congress so they have it for the official counting of the electoral votes on January 6th. Apparently, the Trump allies thought they could just submit their own certificates and that would be fine.


SOARES: And to be clear, those fake certificates were not backed by election officials in any state and they had no impact on the final tally of electoral votes that declared Joe Biden the winner.

Now, top ranked tennis player, Novak Djokovic is officially the number one seed in the Australian Open for the men's single after the draw was held just in fact hours ago. But uncertainty still hangs over his participation. Australian's Immigration Minister is still considering whether to revoke Djokovic's visa and remove him from the country.

Even as the decision looms Djokovic was out on the court today -- as you can see there -- practicing just days before the grand slam tournament kicks off. His scheduled first round match against a fellow Serbian player.

Let's get all the developments on this very moving -- fast-moving story. CNN's World Sport Alex Thomas is here in London. But first we head to Melbourne and Ben Rothenberg is senior editor for "Racquet Magazine" and host of the No Challenge is Remaining podcast. We've been speaking to you throughout the whole week.


And Ben, so the draw has gone ahead. He's listed as the number one seed. But of course, we're still waiting on this decision on whether he can compete. Are we being given any guidance as to how long this may take here?

BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, RACQUET MAGAZINE: We're not. I mean, we assume it's been close. We thought there was a chance it would happen today, especially when the draw was postponed for almost 90 minutes, a very, very short notice delay. People thought maybe some decision was imminent but nothing came. And so, Djokovic was put into the draw as normal, as the top seed. And he'll play fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round is it is slated here.

What we don't know yet is what the timetable will be for the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who has not given too much detail or hint about when he's going to come to a conclusion. He's getting new information. There are reviewing different as aspects of the case all the time. But at the same time, there's growing impatience both at the Australian Open and in the wider Australian public for some sort of resolution to finally be reached for this saga.

SOARES: And Ben, do stay with us. I want to go to Alex. I mean, if we put politics aside for just a moment, Alex, what can we expect from this tournament now that we have a draw? I mean, how much of a cloud is hanging over this tournament because of this?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: I think the tournament itself, the reputation of it has taken a massive hit. Already struggling because of the pandemic, they're not alone in terms of sporting contests for that. But because Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world. Clearly, we had controversy in this event last year when tennis players did come over at a time when even Australian citizens couldn't get back into their own country. And of course, they started playing matches without any spectators at all to start with for the first five days or so of that tournament.

And now here we are a year later with no Serena Williams, no Roger Federer, not traveling for different reasons. And you got Rafa Nadal in the draw but Novak Djokovic was clearly the biggest headline act until all this saga blew up. As Ben was saying, he's been drawn against a fellow Serb, who's 22 years old, also from Belgrade in Serbia. And one of that generation that really idolizes Djokovic. He sees him as a hero and a role model for what he achieved in the sport. Particularly someone from Serbia where he is a national icon. So, it's not someone that's going to get in Djokovic's face, use the controversy to try and antagonize him. Certainly, someone that's probably not going to upset him in the first round, they played once before last year, and Djokovic won easily in straight sets.

And the draw has been kind to him. He's really not got a difficult match until the latter stages when he might face someone like Matteo Berrettini, the number seven seed here. I think has lost all four matches he's played against Djokovic in the past.

So, we know that Djokovic, Isa, is very strong mentally, despite all this fuss. I expect if he does go through to start the tournament on Monday to play very well on the court, despite what is raging around him off the court.

SOARES: We'll be fighting it off in the court. Let me go back to Ben if I could. And Ben, I mean, this has been dragging on for some time, give us a sense of the mood and what kind of reception he could receive -- Djokovic could receive once it does kickoff?

ROTHENBERG: No, it's a sense it could get really heated atmosphere for sure in Rod Laver Arena with a lot of Australians pretty strongly against Djokovic, having not a lot of patience for him trying to come, without fulfilling the vaccination rules that the other players did upon arrival, ones that are competing in this tournament.

And so, it really will be fraught. I think maybe him playing a fellow Serb might dim the heat on this match a bit. There will be a lot -- there's a big Serbian community in Melbourne. And maybe they will be less vocal when the opponent is a fellow Serb, and they might be able to say an Australian, where it might be really heated there.

So, in that way I think there's actually a fairly calming news of the draw who his first opponent would be. But it still very much a live, fraught, weighty situation that has just a lot of bad feeling, a lot of bad vibes from the tournament that used to nickname itself very proudly, the happy slam. It's certainly has not been that so far in the lead up this year.

SOARES: Well, I know you'll stay on top of all the developments for us there, Ben Rothenberg in Melbourne and Alex Thomas for us here in London. Thanks very much, Alex.

Now in the coming day, the U.S. president will meet with Senate Democrats to discuss changing the rules to pass landmark legislation on voting rights. Joe Biden is getting support from a key ally, former President Barack Obama, who is calling on the Senate to do the right thing. Right now, Democrats don't have enough votes to pass election reforms without changing the filibuster rules. Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer is outlining the steps of that process and the goal is to get the Senate to skip the 60-vote threshold normally required to break a Republican filibuster and go with a simple majority vote instead. But it doesn't look like the Democrats have enough support to pull that off either.

Now, President Joe Biden will give an update on his administration's response to the latest COVID-19 surge later this morning and it comes as the U.S. reports a 40 percent increase in coronavirus deaths from the week before. Now, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the rise is likely still due to the Delta variant and not the Omicron.


And experts say the number of fatalities will continue steadily to climb over the next four weeks. The CDC predicts that during that time 62,000 people would die from COVID. And that is about 2,600 deaths a day. Hospitalizations are also expected to spike with forecasts predicting as many as 48,000 new hospitalizations a day.

And President Biden admits the latest report on inflation shows more work has to be done to lower consumer prices. Now, the Consumer Price Index rose 7 percent over the past year. It is the steepest climb in prices since June of 1982. And the president's economic adviser said the administration is working to restore supply chains and noted the pace of slowed inflation. Have a listen.


JARED BERNSTEIN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: It's really important to get under the hood of these monthly inflation reports. And if you look at the change from November to December, inflation is up half a percent. That's considerably down from October and November when inflation was up .8 and .9 percent respectively. One reason why inflation came down in December, why the rate of inflation was slower in December, is because energy prices actually fell after growing 6 percent in October and November, they actually fell half a percent in December.


SOARES: And of course, we'll have much more on this report ahead including crucially how it's impacting Americans at the grocery store. So, stay with us for that.

Still to come right here on the show, Boris Johnson is apologizing for a bring your own booze party during lockdown. Just ahead, why some British lawmakers say well past last call for the scandal plagued Prime Minister.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The public has already drawn their own conclusions. He can rule, but he can't hide.


SOARES: And another round of talks aimed at de-escalating the Ukraine crisis gets underway soon. The latest on the diplomatic efforts to stop a potential Russian invasion.




BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize. I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18 months. I know the rage they feel with me over the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself, the rules are not being properly followed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: Now, Boris Johnson's apology is doing little to silence the calls for his resignation. The British Prime Minister admitting there he attended a Downing Street garden party in 2020 while the rest of the country was under lockdown. He says he was there about 25 minutes and believed it was a work event. Even before this latest controversy there -- as we brought you on the show -- polling shows only 20 percent of the British public had a favorable view of the Prime Minister. How much of a hit is he taking?

Let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz here in London for more. And Selma, clearly, sorry wasn't enough because now members of his own party are calling for him to resign. So, how big is the revolt here?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: You're looking at a Prime Minister right now, Isa, who's trying to defend the indefensible. Somehow trying to make it OK that multiple gatherings, parties, work meetings, whatever the final wording is, took place at a time when people were making great sacrifices in this country. May of 2020.

You remember that period, Isa. If you showed up in a local park, a lot of the picnic tables were cordoned off. There were people on loudspeakers telling you, you must move on. There is no gathering here. And apparently, at the 10 Downing Street garden that's exactly what was happening with the Prime Minister in attendance. And yes, he's apologized, but kind of, sort of. He said he is sorry, but he still did not admit to actually violating any COVID restrictions. He did not acknowledge that any rules were broken. He left all that up to an independent investigation.

So, in some ways, this was buying himself just a bit more time, Isa. We know the results of that investigation should be published in about a week or so, but already as you said, a rebellion within his own party. His own members of the Conservative Party, asking for him to resign. Asking for him to step down.

And then, of course, there's the public fallout. Now with the lowest approval ratings he has had since he took office. So, we're looking at a Prime Minister right now who is vulnerable, who is cornered and who many people in the public believe simply apologized because he was caught -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, this Prime Minister has been known to hold on for far worse scandals. Hasn't he? So, let's see what happens in the coming days, or whether the rest of the Tories stand behind him. Salma Abdelaziz there for us. Thanks very much, Salma.

Now this hour, the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is meeting in Vienna. It will host the third round of talks this week aimed at solving the Ukraine crisis. It follows talks, of course, on Wednesday between Russia and NATO that ended in deadlock. You are looking at the moment at live pictures out of Vienna.

Meantime, the U.S. says it has finalized sanctions options should Russia decide to invade Ukraine. One senior U.S. official saying they are ready to be issued as soon as tanks cross that border. Let's get more on the story. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from

Brussels. And Nic, when you and I spoke at this time roughly yesterday when the NATO Russian meeting was ongoing, I remember you saying that the expectations for any sort of breakthrough were pretty low. Did these meetings -- have these meetings until now, I mean, have they moved the needle in any way?



And a lot of that has to do with the fact that, you know, the Russian negotiators really are going to have to defer back to President Putin over what to do next. So, you know, it's very hard to see if the needle has moved until President Putin responds to the talks that have been had so far. The Russian position was very clearly entrenched again, that they absolutely demand as a complete sort of bottom hard, bottom line that NATO doesn't allow Ukraine to join and that NATO rolls its presence back to pre-1997 levels.

And NATO has said that's a non-starter. I sat down with Jen Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General and asked him then, well, what compromise is available to President Putin, knowing that President Putin's going to be in power for a long time to come. Where is the compromise that he can take back to his own people to say, I've got some level of success? This is how Mr. Stoltenberg responded.


JEN STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: So, NATO allies have made it clear on what situations we are ready to sit down and discuss, make compromises, talk to the Russians on arms control and other areas. But we also made it very clear, we were not willing to compromise, for instance, on the right of every nation to decide its own path.

ROBERTSON: Right now, the ball is firmly in the Kremlin's court now.

STOLTENBERG: Yes, we are waiting for the answer to our proposal to convene a meeting to address widely important issues for European security.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And I put that point to the Russian -- head of the Russian delegation, the Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, what is the Kremlin's position I said that Mr. Stoltenberg has said the ball is in your court. He said absolutely not, it's in NATO's court. We said we haven't come here to compromise. Our lines are firm, our lines are then such that if NATO doesn't de-escalate, there is a possibility of a legal military response.

This is very tough language. So, in answer to your fundamental question, have things really changed? Probably not. The common ground just isn't being taken up by the Russian side. That would be, you know, arms controls agreements. SOARES: Both sides still very much entrenched. Nic Robertson for us in

Brussels this hour. Thanks very much, Nic.

Now, Russian-led forces are set to begin withdrawing from Kazakhstan in a process that's expected to last up to ten days. They came, if you remember, at the Kazakh president's request during the violent protests last week. At least 164 people were killed and thousands have been detained. The president said it will take at least eight months to restore the city of Almaty. He said 21 state-owned properties along with 145 businesses needed major repairs as well as maintenance.

Now, U.S. consumers are feeling the pinch. Getting groceries and buying gas is costing more. Coming up, coping with rising inflation.

Plus, Germany hit a record level of daily COVID-19 infections as the Omicron variant surges in Europe. We'll have those alarming numbers next.