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Australia Immigration Minister Cancels Novak Djokovic's Visa; U.S. Capitol Rioters Charged with Seditious Conspiracy; White House to Distribute Free Tests, Masks; White House: The Treat of Russian Invasion is High; Prince Andrew Stripped of Military Titles and Charities. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: And hello and welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton live at CNN Center in Atlanta and we begin with breaking news.

The Australian government is trying to deport the world's top-ranked tennis player for the second time. The Australian Prime Minister weighing in just minutes ago saying the decision to revoke the visa of Novak Djokovic protects Australians, quote, sacrifices. The country's immigration minister lowered the boom two hours ago, saying it's in the public's best interest for him to just go home.

The unvaccinated Serb is the number one seed in the Australian Open and is on the cusp of becoming the so-called G.O.A.T., greatest of all time. Now, if a court once again reinstates his visa, Djokovic could become the first man to win 21 grand slam titles -- to give you a sense of what's on the line here. And all signs indicate he won't leave the country without a fight.

His visa battle is a big deal in Australia as you can imagine, where people have been really suffering through some of the toughest COVID restrictions anywhere in the world.

Now, for an update on all of this, we want to go straight to Melbourne now and our Paula Hancocks. And really good to have you there on the ground, Paula. I mean, look, people were wondering will he or won't he. In the end, the immigration minister I guess must have felt to do anything but deport him would have been untenable.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, what we're hearing from Alex Hawke in that statement is that they believe that they had to do it on the basis, it was in the public interest to do so. Pointing out that it was on health and good order grounds as well.

Now, it did take him a little while to come to this decision. We know that there were more documents provided by Djokovic's team on Wednesday. So, trying to make the case that he should stay. So, clearly, they had a lot to look at and they would have wanted to make this as watertight as possible, having lost in court on Monday when a judge reinstated Djokovic's visa.

So, now, of course, the question is what happens next? Now, I have spoken to a number of immigration lawyers about this to understand the situation here. The cancellation notice, they say, would have been issued to Djokovic at this point. And usually there is a mandatory detention once your visa is canceled. Now, we don't know if that will happen in this case. We have no indication of Djokovic's whereabouts at this point and we haven't yet heard from his lawyers.

But then the lawyers will likely seek a judicial review from the courts to try and overturn this. They'll question the legality, the fairness and the reasonableness of the decision of the immigration minister has made. And then also what they'll try and do is try and employ a bridging visa. It will allow Novak Djokovic to stay in the country. It will allow him to be out of detention and it would allow him to work, which, of course, for him would be playing in the Australian Open. Now, we don't know exactly what is going to happen at this point. We're waiting to hear from Djokovic's lawyers as well. We can only assume that he will try and fight this as he fought it before -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, and Paula, look, the Prime Minister weighed in with a statement saying Australians made many sacrifices during the pandemic and they rightly expect that the result of those sacrifices to be protected.

Can you give us some insight, Paula, just in terms of how Australians are reacting to this in the moment? I know it only just happened, but given all that has transpired in nearly two years and as the Prime Minister rightly characterizes it, sacrifices, do you think they will be satisfied with this decision?

HANCOCKS: Well, just briefly talking to family and friends about this, Paula, there is no surprise that this has happened, that they have said this is what they expected to happen. No Australian I've spoken to is actually happy about the situation because nobody comes out of this looking good. Not tennis Australia, not the government, not Novak Djokovic.

But they do, many believe, that this was what needed to happen. As you say, the border controls in this country were among the toughest in the world. You had Australian citizens unable to get home over the past couple of years, unable to see loved ones. You had Australian citizens here unable to leave the country to go and see loved ones. So, there has been, and we have heard it repeatedly over the past week, many people and politicians saying there shouldn't be one rule for the Australian citizens and then another rule for someone who happens to be a celebrity or has money for lawyers.

So, there does seem to be that sense of fairness for many Australians.


Obviously, there is still a Serbian community here in Melbourne who will be extremely vocal this Friday evening I should imagine. They will not be happy with this situation. But I mean, to put it into context, to put it bluntly, we heard from the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday, and he was saying it doesn't matter whether you are a tennis player, the King of Spain, the Queen of England. Australians don't want to know that you are following different rules to them.

NEWTON: Yes, and that seems to be the principle that the government is sticking to. Paula Hancocks, really appreciate the update. And as I just say again, really good to have you there on the ground for us in Melbourne. Appreciate it.

Now, earlier we spoke Justin Quill, a partner with the major Australian law firm Thomson Geer. He weighed in on what could happen next. Listen.


JUSTIN QUILL, PARTNER, THOMSON GEER LAW FIRM: Djokovic needs to show two things. The first thing is, as you mentioned, an arguable case. Can he do that or not? Hard to say. We need see the minister's grounds, and then Djokovic's grounds attacking those grounds first.

But if he can show that he has an arguable case, then he needs to show -- he needs a temporary injunction because he can't win the Australian Open in March. But the government can still deport him in March. So, he will be worse off if his rights are unjustly denied then the government would be worse off if their rights are unjustly denied. And if he can prove those two things, he gets a temporary injunction, and then the next question. Does that temporary injunction just mean he stays in Australia, but in detention? And I think that's unlikely.


NEWTON: Yes, so remember what could happen here. He could still appeal this, but still play in this grand slam tournament. Now, all those legal aspects aside, another big question here is how could this case affect Djokovic's sports legacy? One tennis expert told us earlier it will certainly take a hit.


BEN ROTHENBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, RACQUET MAGAZINE: Well, there's still some time left in Novak Djokovic's story for sure. If he wins, you know, more grand slams, he will have the record and that will be a big part of his thing. Assuming, obviously, one of the other players and Roger Federer doesn't really pass him.

But this is obviously been massively damaging for him to be seen as someone who risked so much in terms of his ability to compete as one of the all-time greats to win this grand slam, to lose the opportunity potentially over something like not being vaccinated when that was the rules. To try to be above the rules is the perception in the sport certainly within many of his peers. There's a lot of resentment is seeing Djokovic as being handed a different rule book from the left of them. And they're probably be some satisfaction in the locker room for sure that this has been quashed This is now over. That he wasn't able to be bigger than the sport, bigger than the rest of the games, bigger than the Australian laws.


NEWTON: OK, and I want to point out it is just after 8:00 there. And we will continue to bring you breaking news from Australia.

But now, going to the 11 people who are facing the most serious charges yet in the U.S. Capitol riot, and two of them are scheduled to appear in court today. Among them, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes arrested in Texas and accused along with the others of seditious conspiracy. Prosecutors say the far-right group played a role in planning the attack, recruited members and stockpiled weapons ahead of January 6th. And you can see them there in the Capitol rotunda.

Other video shows members and military-style uniforms marching into the Capitol in formation. You can see it just in the video there. The new indictments say even after January 6th, they continued to plot, to oppose by force, the unlawful transfer of presidential power. Now, Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell claimed he took a reconnaissance trip to Washington before January 6th.


THOMAS CALDWELL, OATH KEEPER: Every single (BLEEP) in there is a traitor. Every single one.


NEWTON: OK, so what exactly is seditious conspiracy? Because it's important, and why has it taken so long to bring charges this serious against the Capitol rioters? CNN's Paula Reid has our answers.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department escalating its efforts to prosecute those responsible for January 6th, charging Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes along with ten others with seditious conspiracy related to the attack on the Capitol. It's the first-time federal prosecutors have used the sedition charge after bringing more than 700 cases related to the insurrection.

But prosecutors have long signaled that they were considering using the rarely applied section of federal law. Rhodes is the most high- profile individual charged in the investigation so far. Court documents filed today lay out a wide-ranging plot to storm the capitol and disrupt the certification of the election.

Two days after election day, Rhodes allegedly urged his followers to refuse to accept the election results, writing in a signal message, we aren't getting through this without a civil war


According to federal prosecutors, on his way to D.C. on January 3rd, Rhodes allegedly bought an AR platform rifle and other firearms equipment including sites, mounts, triggers, slings, and other firearm attachments in Texas. The next day, he allegedly bought more firearms equipment in Mississippi.

Rhodes, a former army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree from Yale did not enter the Capitol on January 6th, but video captures Oath Keepers wearing military gear, forcing their way into the building in a military stack formation. In this clip you can a group of Oath Keepers very close to the Capitol doors, breeching the building. And here, members inside the Capitol Rotunda. Including Jessica Watkins, who was among those charged with seditious conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're inside the Capitol.

REID (voice-over): The new indictment also reveals the group allegedly had quick reaction forces from three states. Arizona, North Carolina and Florida to rush into D.C. if needed. According to court documents, Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell arrested in January, claimed that he took a reconnaissance trip to D.C. prior to the insurrection.

And prosecutors say Rhodes was planning for violence well beyond January 6. Allegedly referring to the Capitol attack as nothing compared to what is coming. In the weeks after the attack on the Capitol, he allegedly spent more than $17,000 on weapons, equipment and ammunition. Then around Inauguration Day, Rhodes told his associates to organize local militias to oppose the Biden administration, and another member allegedly said, after this, if nothing happens, it's war. Civil war 2.0.

REID: Rhodes was arrested at his home in Texas Thursday. He is expected to make his initial court appearance in federal court in Plano on Friday. Now if convicted, seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: More on the story now with the House committee investigating January 6 says it's not getting the answers it wants from social media companies. So, it's issued subpoenas. The parent companies of Facebook and Google along with Twitter and Reddit have refused to supply key documents requested by the committee. Chairman Bennie Thompson says the panel wants to know how misinformation and extremism contributed to the attack and what the companies did to keep their platforms from radicalizing people.

Now, after rejecting an effort to change Senate filibuster rules in order to pass voting legislation, Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema met with President Joe Biden Thursday evening at the White House to discuss voting rights. Mr. Biden says it's the single most important issue currently facing the nation. He said earlier that he remains hopeful but is unsure whether the bill will pass. Now, on the Senate floor Thursday, Sinema said she supports strengthening voter protections, but insisted she's not backing down on changes to the filibuster. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the Senate 60-vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges. When one party need only negotiate with itself, policy will inextricably be pushed from the middle towards the extremes.


NEWTON: Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the White House COVID vaccine policy. On Thursday it struck down mandating vaccinations for large corporations, saying the measure was just too broad, but allowed the mandate for some healthcare workers. Now, the ruling drew both praise and criticism from various industries across the United States. The Secretary of Labor called it a major setback to the health and safety of workers right across the country.


MARTY WALSH, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: It's disappointing the court ruled against workers to keep them protected in America now. What we have to do is try another way to make sure that we keep Americans safe.


NEWTON: Now, this is something we've been hearing for a while, right. The record number of Omicron-driven COVID cases in the United States is putting unfortunately a real strain on hospitals. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 19 states now have less than 15 percent of their intensive care bed space left. And because of those health concerns, Bank of America is telling its employees to work from home until they are notified to return, and it's not the only company. Goldman Sachs is doing the same with its employees until at least February. CNN's Nick Watt has more.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you need something done, call on the military.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military medical teams now heading to six states to help in hospitals and --

BIDEN: Next week, we'll announce how we are making high quality masks available to American people for free.


WATT (voice-over): The president also just pledged another half a billion free tests, but the administration still hasn't distributed the half billion announced before Christmas.

BIDEN: We're on track to roll out a website next week where you can order free tests, shipped to your home.


CRAIG MELVIN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Should we have done that sooner?

HARRIS: We are doing it.

MELVIN: But should we have done it sooner?

HARRIS: We are doing it.

WATT (voice-over): Average new confirmed COVID-19 infections now nearing 800,000 a day. That number has more than doubled in just the past two weeks.

Average daily death toll also rising but that could be the lagging impact of the delta surge says the CDC director, who points to a preprint California study showing hospitalization and death rates are indeed much lower with the Omicron variant.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The data in this study remain consistent with what we are seeing from Omicron in other countries, including South Africa and the U.K. And provides some understanding of what we can expect over the coming weeks as cases are predicted to peak in this country.

WATT (voice-over): There are already signs of a plateau in parts of the Northeast.

DR. PAUL SAX, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Here in Boston for example for the first time in quite -- in several weeks, we have actually no increase in the number of hospitalizations from COVID from yesterday to today.

WATT (voice-over): But hospitals still stretched in Massachusetts and elsewhere. In all these states remaining, ICU capacity is less than 15 percent. And schools?

TIM WALZ, (D) MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: I'm deeply concerned about schools over the next two weeks. I am deeply concerned because of staff outage on this.

WATT (voice-over): Minneapolis public schools move to online only for at least a couple of weeks.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


NEWTON: Still ahead right here on CNN, diplomacy gives way to the drum beat of war. We'll have the stark assessments from three days of failed talks to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Plus, a further fall from grace for Britain's Prince Andrew. Why Buckingham Palace is stripping him of his roles.



NEWTON: U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains high. Now, that bleak assessment comes after a week of disappointing talks across three European countries. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister said negotiators have hit a dead end and he saw no reason to restart the same discussions. And the U.S. envoy went even further. Listen.


MICHAEL CARPENTER, U.S. OSCE AMBASSADOR: At the present time, we're facing a crisis in European security. The drum beat of war is sounding loud and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill. We have seen a massive and unprecedented buildup of Russian forces. Tens of thousands, now close to 100,000 combat-ready forces on the international border with Ukraine. We have seen all of the advanced weaponry, artillery systems, electronic warfare systems, ammunition, et cetera. That leaves a lot of question.


NEWTON: OK, CNN's Sam Kiley is standing by for us live from Ukraine. Listen, there were very sobering assessments of what happened this week and none of it good for Ukraine. I'm wondering what the reaction is there on the ground. After there were some hopes that perhaps more compromise, more talks would take place, now they're saying there's no point in even talking.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There wasn't a great deal of faith among the Ukrainians, Paula, that these talks would really lead anywhere. But they have done two things, they say. They've reinforced their sense of security in that NATO has not countenanced any of the demands being made by the Russians, firstly.

And secondly, in large part, have actually revealed to NATO Vladimir Putin's hand in that he now has absolutely clear lines, and may even accelerate the process of Ukraine being able to join NATO. That was the analysis of the Deputy Prime Minister when I spoke to her just a few hours ago.

I understand we're not going to be playing that, Paula. But when we were speaking with the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the lead to NATO and to the European Union's accession process, she was very hard over on the need for the Europeans in general to aid Ukraine at this dangerous time for them militarily. Not with troops, but with weaponry to help them defend themselves. She says that Ukrainian military has come a very long way since it was trying to fight off Russian-backed rebels in the Donbas in 2014. The illegal annexation of Crimea by Russian special forces. And the continued, albeit low level conflict that is going on in the eastern country.

There are 200,000 Ukrainians capable of being mobilized here in the regular army. There is a fairly fronting efforts going on to try to train citizen army. There is also reports of preparation for insurgency and guerrilla war behind Russian lines if the Russians do try to invade. And the whole attitude here is that we in Ukraine, they say, have been

fighting Russians and Russian-backed rebels for the last eight years, and they're not that fast at really about an increase in tensions because they couldn't be higher than they are now -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, it is an interesting, as I say, sobering perspective. Sam Kiley, good to have you in Kiev. Appreciate it.

We want to bring in our Matthew Chance now who is standing by for us in Moscow. Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister making comments that I'm sure will come as no surprise to you. It does follow a familiar script, and yet, Matthew, I kind of want to know after this week of failed talks, I mean, what do you think Russia's posture will be in the next few days?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the question, isn't it? We're all trying to sort of workout.


And I think there's only one person that really knows what the Russian response is going to be after the week of negotiations both -- well, in Geneva in Brussels and in Vienna that have yielded no results from a Russian point of view in terms of their core demands being met. Their demands, of course, that NATO stop expanding eastward towards Russia's borders and that military forces inside countries that join NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union be sort of rolled back.

And it's Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin is going to assess the situation and decide what strategy to move forward. Now, there's been a lot of compromises that have been talked about by western officials. Talks about reviving a nuclear missile -- nuclear missile treaty inside Europe. Talks about putting curbs on NATO exercises close to Russia's borders. Other things as well bilaterally between the United States and Russia that could potentially be yielded by this very forceful round of negotiations that the Russians have been conducted -- conducting with NATO and with the United States.

But it's whether they will, you know, decide that those compromises are sufficient to continue the talks. And, yes, there's no indication yet which way Russia is prepared to go. They've got those tens of thousands of troops massed on the border of Ukraine. We've just been listening to Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. He's giving a press conference right now as we speak. And he said this. He said, we're waiting for basically written guarantees from the United States and NATO on their core proposals that I've just mentioned. Of course, that was the position of the Russians when they went into these negotiations, and they've had nothing but a set of categorical rejection from the Western officials on those points -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, certainly more to come on that in the coming days. Matthew Chance for us live in Moscow. Appreciate it.

Now, South Korea is reporting another suspected missile launch by its northern neighbor. Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff says Pyongyang fired an unidentified projectile toward the country's east. Japanese officials called it a possible ballistic missile. It comes after the North claims it successfully test fired a hypersonic missile on Tuesday. A launch that initially had the U.S. preparing for the worst. Sources say that early warning system suggested the missile could reach as far as the California coast, but it was soon understood that there was no direct threat to the U.S. mainland.

So, the British Royal Family is further distancing itself from Prince Andrew as he faces a civil sex abuse case in the United States. The allegations had already sidelined him from public duties, and now he's losing all of his military titles and charities.

Anna Stewart joins us now from London. And Anna, you know, as you aptly put it, the Royal Family essentially fired Prince Andrew here. He's lost his job, and the tabloids are really making a appoint of it this morning.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: That is how the news is running here. He got pretty much on every front page, driven out from the "Daily Mail." Thrown out, great pun from "The Sun" as usual. And the "Daily Telegraph." Queen freezes out Prince Andrew.

And it just goes to show how people are viewing this. This is a decision that clearly came right from the top. Was it jumping the gun given that Prince Andrew denies any of the sexual abuse allegations, and obviously hasn't yet been found guilty, or was this decision taken rather late, given how damaging the story has been now for years?

The allegations, Prince Andrew's conduct through the investigation, not cooperating. The disastrous interview with the BBC's news night a couple years ago. Where he talks about that he didn't sweat. The trip to pizza express and so, on and so on. And this is going to get more damaging still.

Because the case has not been thrown out, which was the primary plan for Prince Andrew's legal team. That was ruled out on Wednesday. This case will go further. That means the discovery process goes underway. That will be damaging in terms of all the documents that we revealed. Phone logs, emails, diary entries, the deposition, of course, of Prince Andrew and possibly other members of the Royal Family.

So, little surprise, I think, that Her Royal Majesty is wanting to distance herself slightly from all of this and distance the Royal Family for what comes next. He has essentially been fired from the firm while remaining, of course, a member of the Royal Family.

I can show you a list of the military titles he's losing. There are quite a few. That impacts many regiments both in the U.K. but also in the commonwealth. The most significant you see there is Colonel of the Grenadine Guards. Which is a role he took over from the late Prince Philip in 2017. And this one that will be very visible quite soon in June for Trooping the Colour. One of the regiments in the Household Division. It's where the colonel would traditionally wear a uniform and be on a horse and march around.

So, it's quite interesting that this is being taken, this decision, months ahead of the big jubilee celebrations. It feels permanent, Paula. We were told by a Royal source that these

roles will not be returned to the Duke of York which suggests even if this case goes to trial. Even if Prince Andrew were to win, lots of ifs, this is permanent. He will not be making a return as a working member of the Royal Family.