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Oath Keepers Founder in Court; President Biden Delivers Address on Infrastructure Bill; Novak Djokovic's Australian Visa Canceled. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 13:00   ET



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Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a great weekend.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Friday, I'm Ana Cabrera. Thank you so much for joining us.

We are live at the White House waiting for the president to provide new details on what may be his single biggest legislative victory, the infrastructure law that passed Congress back in November. We will take you there live just as soon as he begins.

But, first, another major developing story today.

In just a few hours, the world's top-ranked tennis player, Novak Djokovic, will be detained by immigration officials again, this after the Australian government canceled his visa again, and all this over COVID-19 protocol discrepancies.

A new hearing is now pending. But the Australian Open starts Monday. And, as of now, Djokovic is scheduled to play.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Melbourne, where Djokovic will soon be detained. And Scott McLean is in Djokovic's home country of Serbia.

First to you, Paula.

There have been more rallies in this story than most tennis matches. Why did Djokovic's visa get revoked again? And walk us through what we expect to happen in the coming hours?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, in about three hours' time, we are expecting Novak Djokovic to go to an undisclosed location and to be interviewed once again by immigration officials. Now, we know that, at that point, he will also be detained. He will

then be accompanied by two Australian border force officials to go to his lawyer's office. This is all what we have learned from the Friday night emergency hearing.

And then, at about 10:15:00 a.m. So that's just about seven, eight hours away from now, will be the initial hearing from the federal court of Australia. It has been referred to a higher court. And that hearing will start in just a matter of hours.

Now, of course, Djokovic is due to play on Monday. And his lawyers have also pointed out at this emergency hearing that time is of the essence, that, if it is going to go in his favor, they would like it to happen as soon as possible, given he is playing on Monday.

What they would obviously hope for at this point is some kind of a bridging visa, which means an individual while their case is pending and being drawn through the courts, they can actually work during that time. Of course, for Djokovic, work is being on the court.

So this is the best-case scenario for lawyers at this point. But what we have heard from the minister himself in this statement was that they canceled the visa on grounds of health and good order, also pointing out it was in the public necessity that they -- and the public interest that they decided it needed to be canceled -- Ana.

CABRERA: Let's dive in just a little bit deeper here, because, Scott, Australian immigration officials have been investigating a series of errors, discrepancies in his test, that PCR test, as well as travel documents. Walk us through all of that.


Yes, there are undoubtedly a lot of questions for Novak Djokovic right now, not only in Australia, but back here in Serbia as well. Let me just remind you of the timeline here.

So, December 14 is the day that he attended the basketball game where he believes that he got infected with the coronavirus. Two days later, December 16, he took a PCR test. He also attended several public events that day. December 17, he went to another public event, this one maskless with children.

And that is the day that he says he got the result, that he received the result of that test, but not until after that event. He also broke quarantine the next day, but that is a separate issue.

The point is that, today, public health officials and the prime minister's office say that there is simply no way on earth that he was not notified of that positive test on the day that the result came back, on December 16.

The time stamp on his certificate shows 8:19 p.m. They say that the system is automated, that the result would have come back a few minutes after that, certainly not the next day. The question is whether Novak Djokovic checked his phone, the text

message that he would have got or the e-mail that he would have got. Only he knows the answer to that.

There are also questions about, as you mentioned, that PCR test on the 16th of December that we know that Australian Border Force has been investigating as well. And, today, the prime minister's office said that they believe that public health officials in this country, the Public Health Institute, the bureaucrats, have been contacted to try to clarify that.

One of the discrepancies or the oddities is on the I.D. number on that December 16 positive test. It is a higher number than the negative test that he got on December 22. Why is that important?


Well, those numbers appear to be chronological. And so it doesn't make sense to have a higher number on December 16. That number appears as if the test was taken on December 26. Well, today, officials say that, look, it's a pretty simple thing to explain. The tests were done at different labs. There's nothing to see here.

However, there were also some questions around the Q.R. code that was published in court documents that they say about 100,000 people scanned. Well, because of that Web traffic that led you to a page showing the test result, they actually had to switch over the servers.

And so, for a time, that positive test result on the 16th was actually showing negative. They say it was simply because of the server, nothing else.

CABRERA: Wow. That is so complicated.

MCLEAN: Here that in Serbia, the government has managed to explain all -- yes.

I mean, the government has managed to explain a lot of things here, Ana, on behalf of Novak Djokovic. They just wish that he would return the favor and actually get vaccinated, because they say that the numbers here would be a heck of a lot higher if he was a role model and if he actually got vaccinated himself.

CABRERA: So, assuming that he knew about this positive test when he at the very least went to this interview on the 18th, will Djokovic face a fine or any legal trouble for breaking isolation?

MCLEAN: I asked that question today at a press conference. And the short answer, Ana, is no, which is surprising because Serbia has prosecuted people in the past. They have given hefty fines in the tens of thousands of dollars to some high-profile people.

They have also given some other people jail time, several years of jail time for breaking quarantine at the height of the pandemic. And so the reason why Novak Djokovic will not face prosecution is because this was not during a state of emergency. They say that there is no legal mechanism to actually prosecute him

retrospectively, in the absence of...

CABRERA: Scott, I'm going to interrupt you to go to the White House and President Biden's speaking about infrastructure today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... we haven't gotten done. We're going to get a lot of them done, I might add.

But this is something we did get done. And it's of enormous consequence to the country.

One of the reasons I put Mitch Landrieu in charge of implementing the infrastructure bill is because he gets it. He's a former mayor who knows that the real measure of success is not, did we score some partisan points? It's, did we fix the problem? Did we fix the problem? It's all about fixing the problem.

I ran for president to unite the country. This bipartisan saw I signed a few months ago unites us around things we all depend on. Whether you're in rural Kentucky or downtown Philadelphia, you should be able to turn on a faucet and drink clean water. Students should be able to get the Internet if they need it to do their homework at home, instead of having to drive to a fast food parking lot.

People need good jobs. Mitch just told me about the man he met in Jackson, Mississippi, who told him -- quote -- "I don't mind working three jobs. I just don't want one paycheck across all three jobs."

We have heard it said talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. When we invest in infrastructure, we're really investing in opportunity. These are investments that will build a better America.

It sounds like hyperbole, but it's real. So, today, I want to talk about the progress we have made in two months since I signed the bill into law, and to make a big announcement.

Well, here's some of what we have done so far. The Department of Transportation has released nearly $53 billion dollars, billion dollars, to states to modernize highways. So, you have to leave 30 minutes earlier to get to work just because of a traffic jam, that's going to be fixed.

We have announced more than $240 million in grants to improve ports in 19 states to speed up and strengthen our supply chains, lower costs and get you the things you need more quickly. We have announced $3 billion for over 3,000 airports around the country to make them more modern, safe and sustainable.

And we're kicking off the largest investment in affordable, reliable high-speed in our nation's history, $65 billion to get to every corner of our country connected, urban, rural and suburban.

Our infrastructure work also protects health, cleans up the environment and helps us fight climate change. Across this country, people have been struck and -- they have been struck by all the changes that are needed. There are stuck. They're angry. They're sickened by the broken water and sewer systems, polluted water from the faucets, raw sewage in their backyards.


I want you to know, I see you, I hear you. We understand. And I have seen and we understand the damage done in places like Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi.

So, we have already announced over $7 billion in clean water funding to states, so they can fix and upgrade their aging water systems and sewer systems. It's going to take some time, but the money's there, and they're getting the money.

Our children deserve no less. We have also released an action plan to replace all of our nation's lead pipes in the next decade. This is the United States of America, for God's sake. Everyone in this country should be able to turn on the faucet and drink clean water.

And it's time to get back to the business of cleaning up the hazardous waste sites that poison our land and water and have stricken entire communities, and getting back to holding polluters accountable to keep that pollution from happening in the first place.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced $1 billion to clean up 49 Superfund sites in 24 states. We're talking about cleaning up rivers in Ohio, chemical plants and sites in Florida, polluted lakes in Michigan, and many more.

This is long overdue, and we have to stick with it. The Department of Interior is launching a program to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells that are spewing methane into the air and are dangerous. Many of these wells are in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.

But there are hundreds of thousands of them all across the nation. Capping them is going to create quality jobs, just as it took to dig the well, union jobs, union jobs to close the well, to keep it safe.

One of the ways you're going to reach my goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 is with wind energy. I a one of renewable energy labs in Colorado about a month ago, and saw technologies being developed there. And just this week, the Department of Interior also announced the largest ever offshore wind lease sale, which could generate enough clean energy to power nearly two million homes and create thousands of jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance.

It's just the beginning, jobs that can't be outsourced. We have also seen the impact of extreme weather, taking down transmission lines, leaving cities and communities dark for weeks. So, the Department of Energy launched a new initiative to speed up our efforts to strengthen our energy grid with new and upgraded transmission lines and towers, keeping the power flowing for Americans with cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy. And that's going to happen. It's going to make a big difference. I

also want to be clear, we're in this to win. And there's a lot of work under way. And it's going to create a whole lot of jobs.

And that brings me to the announcement I want to make today. It's just part of the infrastructure bill. My bipartisan infrastructure law includes the largest investment in our nation's bridges since the creation of the Interstate Highway System, bridges to connect us, bridges to make America work.

Across our country right now, there are 45,000 bridges, 45,000, that are in poor condition. We're seeing photos of some of them behind me in all 50 states. And I have had a chance to see some of them myself as I have traveled the country.

I was up in New Hampshire, visited a bridge where, if it's not upgraded, weight restrictions could mean that school buses and fire trucks would have to travel an additional 10 miles out of the way to get to the other side of the river to deal with getting to school and/or putting out a fire.

In New Jersey, I just visited the busiest rail bridge in the Western Hemisphere. But because it's not tall enough for ship traffic, it needs to swing open to let barges through. And sometimes, when it closes, the rails need to be manually sledgehammered back into place.

This slows commerce, increases costs. I went down in Louisiana and saw the I-10 Bridge. I stood with the mayor and looked at that bridge. It is 20 years past its planned life. It's handling more than double the number of crossings it was designed to handle. And it's two lanes narrower than the interstate that feeds into it, causing backups and accidents.

Today, the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, is in Philadelphia at the Martin Luther King Bridge which crosses the Schuylkill River. The bridge is no longer safe for vehicles, even though it used to carry 25,000 vehicles a day.

As we prepare to celebrate Dr. King's birthday, we're also reminded that too often bridges and highways were built through the heart of historic communities, particularly black communities, cutting off families, churches and businesses. We're going to use our infrastructure investments to reconnect communities.


One thing I'm certain of, everyone out there knows what I'm talking about. People have written me about bridges they depend on. One man told me that the bridge he traveled on every day is a tragedy waiting to happen.

One woman wrote that a bridge near the center of her town had to be closed. And now she drives -- now drivers and tourists bypass downtown, consequently, devastating local businesses.

And one person wrote to me to say -- quote -- "This is your chance to show the people in my area that they matter to you" -- end of quote.

I hear you. I hear you. You do matter to me. And we are going to get it done.

My infrastructure law includes a total of $40 billion in funding from bridge improvements; $12.5 billion of that is going to replace the most economically significant bridges in the country. These are bridges like -- and I have seen them -- the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky, the I-5 Columbia River Crossing connecting Washington and Oregon, the Blatnik Bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But about two-thirds, the bridges in need of repair in this country are considered what they call off-system, because they're not directly connected the Interstate Highway System.

These are the bridges are often overlooked when decisions are being made, but they are essential for small towns, rural towns, farmers to get their products to market, small businesses to be able to serve customers.

These are the bridges that, when they're closed, shut off deliveries and routes to school, work and home. They create longer delays for first-responders, when every second counts.

So we have included $27.5 billion for smaller bridges, including dedicated funding for those off-system bridges I just described. And because maintaining these bridges is often the responsibility of counties or towns, whose budgets are stretched thin already, we decided to get rid of the requirement that counties or towns share in the cost.

The federal government is going to pay for 100 percent of the cost for repairing these small bridges. Today, we're releasing the first year of that program, which is $5.5 billion, $5.5 billion to states and tribes to repair and rebuild bridges to make them safer and more usable.

This is an investment that is going to help connect entire towns and regions to new opportunities. With this investment, we're sending the message to those communities and the people who call them home, you matter. We're building back and building back better with you. We're making sure you're not left behind or left out.

I will end with this. These investments are consequential. We're just getting started. We're building back better than ever before. Clean water for every American, we have never done that before. Now we're going to do it. High-speed Internet for every American. We have never done that before. Now we are.

Connecting forgotten communities, capping wells that are dangerous, strengthening our power grid to make it more resilient to extreme weather changes, these are investments -- these are investments our country has never fully made.

Now we are. And we have arrived at this by a bipartisan agreement. There's nothing beyond our capacity when we work together. When we get this done, we will get back to beating the world again. We will once again be number one in the world, instead of where we sit now at number 13 in terms of the quality of our infrastructure.

And that's going to mean more jobs, good-paying jobs, safer communities, and lower costs. We can do this. This is what a better America is going to look like.

I want to thank you all for listening. And we got a lot of work to do.

And the reason I asked Mitch to do this is because he knows how to get things done. I want every penny watched, how this is spent, just like when I did the Recovery Act in our -- the last administration. It matters. It matters.

So thank you all very much. Appreciate it.



QUESTION: Do you have a message for Vladimir Putin?

CABRERA: The president updating all of us on how the administration plans to implement the bipartisan infrastructure law and specifically plans for rebuilding or replacing the nation's bridges.

I want to bring in CNN's chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip, and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He's a historian and professor at Princeton University.

Kaitlan, it has been a challenging week for the president. Was this meant to be a reset of sorts?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and notice the first thing, Ana, that he said when he came out of the gate was talking about disappointment and things that they, meaning the Biden administration, has not gotten done.

But he was pointing to this infrastructure bill as something that they have gotten done that he said is of enormous consequence to the contrary, and, of course, laying out there what exactly this bill looks like, what it's going to do.

Mitch Landrieu is the one who is overseeing the implementation of this bill. But that quote coming right out of the gate for the president does show what a week it's been and how challenging this week has been for the Biden administration, because he said there, talking about disappointment and things they haven't gotten done, he said, "We are going to get a lot of them done, I might add."

But there are big questions about how they are going to get those things done, because when it comes to the rest of the president's legislative agenda on Capitol Hill, it's either stalled or pretty much all but doomed. And I'm talking about that expansive economic and climate bill known as the Build Back Better agenda here in Washington.

That, of course, was stalled after Senator Manchin said in December that he could not support it as it stood right then. This week, of course, we saw what happened with that forceful call by President Biden to get voting rights legislation passed by creating an exception to the filibuster.

That is something both Senator Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said they would not be supporting, changing that 60-vote threshold in order to get that passed with just Democrats. And so it has been a very challenging week for the White House. And I think part of this was President Biden highlighting something that they have gotten passed through Congress.

Of course, that that was that bipartisan infrastructure plan.


And so, Abby, this was one of the big wins for this administration. It was a bipartisan win. But, as Kaitlan points out, since then, his Build Back Better plan was basically squashed, voting rights legislation facing a dead end right now, the Supreme Court ruling just yesterday against his employer vaccine and testing requirements, COVID still raging. Inflation is hitting record highs.

Do you think he will be successful in turning the conversation, turning the focus back to infrastructure?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I don't really think so, frankly.

I mean, by its very nature, infrastructure is one of those things that it's almost like a slow crawl. You can get that money into the states, these projects begin, but people might not feel it for quite some time.

You add to that the fact that we are in an election year. This is a midterm election cycle. And virtually every president sees their agenda come to a screeching halt at the top of a midterm election cycle and increasingly as you get toward November.

So President Biden is in some ways, not in a different position than a lot of his predecessors have been in. But he's facing a really -- some of these things are headwinds that he can control. Some of them are not. But he is facing a really tough way forward, especially given how narrow his majorities are in both the House and the Senate.

There's really just -- outside of a huge change of mind from Manchin and Sinema, there's really not a whole lot of hope for bipartisanship or for progress on major legislation.

CABRERA: But, Julian, you say don't count Biden out. Past presidents have had lows like this and their administrations, still have gone on to win second terms. You point to Reagan, to Clinton, among others. What is it going to take for President Biden to turn things around?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm not clear he can turn it around in the next year.

I think, going into the midterms, it's going to be difficult. It's really a question of, can he and how does he turn it around going into the reelection period? Part of it is circumstance.

Look, if the pandemic finally starts to calm, if the policies are able to contain this, I think many people in this country will be feeling a lot better about the state of the union come 2023 and 2024. Containing inflation is also something that is manageable.

And I think that's another area where some administrative presidential muscle can help make the country or at least those parts of the country that are open to liking the president feel more enthused.

CABRERA: Julian Zelizer, Kaitlan Collins, Abby Philip, thank you all so much for joining us.

We're also following a massive development in the January 6 investigation, shattering the notion that the attacks were a normal tourist visit. Soon, the leader of the far right extremist group the Oath Keepers will face a federal judge, as he and 10 others now face seditious conspiracy charges.

Plus: What does the House minority leader have to hide? Kevin McCarthy still refusing to cooperate, despite previously saying Trump told him he was at least partially responsible for the attacks. We have got the sound, and we will bring you exactly what McCarthy said next.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay right there.



CABRERA: In just a couple of hours now, the leader of the far right extremist group the Oath Keepers will be in court facing seditious conspiracy charges.

They're the most consequential charges yet relating to the January 6 capital attack. And the indictment lays out some disturbing evidence of the alleged plotting by Stewart Rhodes, this man, and 10 others. The allegations include a scouting trip and a stash of weapons for a quick-reaction force, members breaching the Capitol in a military formation on January 6, fighting police, and searching for Nancy Pelosi, and a continued plot to use force to stop the transfer of power after the Capitol attack failed.

Let's break this down with CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.

First, what can you tell us about today's arraignment?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we expect that this is going to be a procedural step here, before Stewart Rhodes is transferred to Washington, where he is going to face these charges.