Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Winter Storms And Ice Warnings; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Is Interviewed About The January 6th Committee Hearings; Texas Synagogue Hostage Taking; Jordan Klepper Inside The Vigil For Jailed Insurrectionist; Elie Honig Answers Legal Questions; Rising Consumer Prices Fastest Rate In Nearly 40 Years; Brigadier General Charles McGee Dies At 102. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 16, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: More than 80 million Americans are under winter weather alerts. The power is out for nearly 300,000 customers and states including Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia which have all declared a state of emergency.

A travel nightmare is also unfolding on the roads and in the skies. More than 2,800 flights canceled today and there's more snow and ice still on the way as the storm barrels up the east coast. Let's begin with meteorologist Tom Sater in the CNN Weather Center who's tracking this very strong storm system.

Tom, how are things looking right now? I mean, we talk about the big cities and you go out to like, the Shenandoah Valley down to North Carolina Appalachia.


ACOSTA: The big, big snow totals and there's the capital right now. We're looking at right now. You can't even see it because the snow is coming down so hard here in Washington.

SATER: You know, just to your west, Jim, I mean, not only is it going to be coming down. They're going to have strong winds. So we're looking at blizzard conditions through the night tonight. In the last hour, you know, besides showing us the pictures, we were talking about D.C. so I thought I'd just start off with a radar for you.

Interesting, take a look at the color white. There's your snow. But now the little bit of blue, light blue in that area of white as it moves into the district really from the eastern shore back to Manassas down to Charlottesville, that is a representative on radar of snowfall one to two inches an hour.

But also look at the colors of green and blue, the rainfall. And this is what we talked about in the last hour. If these temperatures warm up, major cities along I-95 will start to snow but see it switch over to rain. The tricky part about forecasting in this part of the country, which is extremely difficult, is that I-95 corridor, sometimes it wants to hang onto that cold air and you're locked into the snow.

But again, if it is locked into the snow, that color of pink is ice. And if it moves up here, we could see significant icing up and down the entire corridor. We're going to go with that forecast though. We're going to call for it to change over to rain, therefore, when you look at the big picture here, even showing Florida, the severe weather more on that in a minute, we do have Philadelphia which has been added to the advisory. So, they're looking at how tricky this is as well.

All right, good news. Back in areas of Nashville, the snow is coming to an end. Back into Tupelo picking up another inch ending there. Models have a tough time grabbing on to snow in the south when its wrap-around snow and it throws a lot of dry air in there. So it's very patchy, but again, few inches of snow in the Deep South, the kids are enjoying and obviously no one's on the roads.

But then you get into this icy mess when areas of the Piedmont, good news in Raleigh. They've warmed up now. The ice is over with. They're into that rainfall and we're hoping to see that rain continue northward. Warnings are in effect not for the bigger cities. Again, we'll be watching New York, watching Philadelphia, Baltimore, but look at the interior sections.

Concerns really for areas of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, eastern Ohio, parts of western New York, significant problems, critical problems with not only power outages and the heavy snow, but it's this icing, Jim. We could see well over a million, 1.5 million without power, and if you lose power without ice, it's not just out for a day or two.

Then down to Florida quickly. An EF-2 tornado at 7:35 in the morning in the Fort Myers area; 108 homes damaged, 30 completely destroyed, three injuries. Some of these homes even lost -- moved it right off their foundation. It's very rare to have these kind of strong tornados in Florida, but it does happen.

Winds will be the big story again as that will aid in the development of more power outages with this significant ice. So, another day to go. It'll be over tomorrow night.

ACOSTA: All right, a busy night for Tom Sater. Thank you very much. Last night, Donald Trump's alternate reality road show set up shop in Arizona. The disgraced former president continued his obsession with crowd size and spewed more stale lies about the capitol attack.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They never talk about that crowd. They talk about the people that walked down to the capitol. They don't talk about the size of that crowd. I believe it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before. How many of those present at the capitol complex on January 6th were FBI confidential informants, agents or otherwise working directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government? People want to hear this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: And just a reminder, last January 6th when Trump finally took a break from excitedly watching the attack play out on TV, he used that address to tell the rioters, "We love you, you're very special."

Here to talk about the January 6th investigation, the status of that in the new book that he has coming out, Democratic congressman on the January 6th Select Committee, Jamie Raskin. He's also the best-selling author of "Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy."

Congressman, great book. Thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it especially on this snowy night here in the nation's capital. You've said that when the committee holds hearings later this year that they're going to blow the roof off of Congress. What do you mean by that? Are there some bombshells we should be looking for?


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, what we saw on January 6th was an attempted political coup in America, and it was surrounded by a violent insurrection. Charges were just brought related to that insurrection and the Oath Keepers. And surrounding that insurrection was a mob riot. And none of this happened spontaneously. It was not some kind of dramatic improvisation.

This was a carefully planned and staged assault on American democracy, and, you know, overwhelmingly people have been cooperating with the committee. So we've got lots of information about what took place. And we're going to expose each and every level of it. Of course, there are still some people who are holed out to the closer you get to Donald Trump. But, in general, the picture's becoming clear to us.

ACOSTA: And it's clear to you and the rest of the committee right now than it is to the public. Fair to say?

RASKIN: Yes. Well, I mean, remember January 6th at 1:00 p.m. was not some kind of coincidental date. This was the moment when the Constitution calls for Congress to meet in joint session to count Electoral College votes. And the whole plot at this point, Donald Trump having failed to coerce Republican legislatures to overturn election results and having failed to convince election officials like Brad Raffensperger in Georgia to fabricate election results, now was focused on Mike Pence.

And what they wanted to do was to get Pence to declare unilaterally powers that he doesn't enjoy to simply reject and repudiate Electoral College votes. But they thought if they could just get him to take Joe Biden from 306 in the Electoral College to below 270.

At that point it would kick the entire contest into the House of Representatives under the 12th Amendment for a so-called contingent election and in that election we would be voting not one member one vote but one state one vote.

And they had 27 states to 22 for the Democrats and won Pennsylvania split down the middle. I don't think that the large rep from Wyoming would've gone for that fraud, but that still would've left them with 26 votes in the Trump camp.

And at that point of course, Michael Flynn had been urging Donald Trump, once installed into office, having ceased the presidency for another four years to invoke the Insurrection Act and to proclaim something like martial law, calling the National Guard to put down the chaos and the violence and the insurrectionary activity that he had unleashed against us.

ACOSTA: And, you know, there's a radio interview that surfaced -- I'm sure you've seen this -- of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaking just a few days after the capitol attack. He talks about conversation that he had with Trump. Let's listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I say he has responsibility. He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do.


ACOSTA: What do you make of that?

RASKIN: Well, Lindsey Graham really put it best on January 6th of 2021. He said all of us could've died that day. All of us could've been killed. They could have had a bomb. I mean, we had 900 people enter the U.S. Capitol not going through metal detectors, alluding any kind of security screening. And people did die that day, but everybody could've died.

So, the Republicans were mad, too. It wasn't just the Democrats and the staffers who were incensed about what Donald Trump had unleashed against us. So was Kevin McCarthy and so was Lindsey Graham and so was Mitch McConnell. And they've all backtracked because rather than going out and educating the public about what had taken place, they let Donald Trump go and fill the right-wing air waves with lies.

And at that point they all got scared that he had remobilized his base behind him and they all went scurrying to cover up that they had reacted like normal human beings, essentially saying, call the dogs off, what in the hell have you done to us? So, we're reconstructing that history because we have a Republican leader and member and senator after another getting up and saying Donald Trump is the one responsible.

And, of course, Mitch McConnell said that. He was practically and morally responsible for the whole thing. He said that after the Senate impeachment trial but then hung his hat on the very shaky hook that the Senate didn't have jurisdiction to hear the case. A point that we had resolved in the very first day of trial when the Senate voted 54- 46 to dismiss that rather absurd argument.

ACOSTA: And let's talk about your memoir in this quick succession of trauma that you went through on New Year's Eve 2020, your son Tommy died by suicide, an unimaginable loss. A week later the capitol was attacked, and you had your family inside the building with you. [17:10:02]

After a week like that, you know, a lot of people would just be consumed with sadness. And there's one part in the book that I want to call attention to where you write, "despite being a man of science and reason, one not easily given to mystical thinking, I was suddenly seized with the thought and flooded with the feeling, and immersed in the overwhelming physical sensation that everything is going to be all right. Tommy is going to take care of us." Can you talk about that?

RASKIN: Well, I've felt Tommy with me every step along the way. I was, of course, shell shocked and traumatized, along with my wife Sarah and our daughters Hannah and Tabitha and the rest of our family and our friends. But I recorded in the book how on January 6th when I went down to participate in the debate defending the election and the Electoral College result, I recorded that I felt no fear even when the Capitol was invaded and people were chanting "Hang Mike Pence," and it was total chaos because I felt that my son was with me.

And we'd already lost the most important and precious thing, you know, to us in our lives. And what more were these fascists going to take from me? So, I felt Tommy with me and I said I'm going to stay and fight, and I'm going to hang tough for our democracy. There's just too much at stake.

And, you know, there's too many people in our country who have suffered through this period -- 800,000 families lost people in COVID- 19, comparable numbers lost people from their families in the opioid crisis, the mental and emotional health crisis, gun violence, you name it. So the country has been reeling under all of the chaos and all of the violence.

And we've got to hang tough and fortify democratic institutions and democratic values to be strong, both to honor the people in the past who have fought for America, but also to honor our children and our grandchildren and future generations so there's a society and a civilization worth inheriting.

Because we've got big problems ahead like climate change and all of the cataclysmic weather emergencies and, you know, the rising oceans, and you name it. We've got to deal with these things and, you know, we can't be constantly pulled down into the vortex of racism and fascism. We've got to defeat these forces in our society.

ACOSTA: Speaking of that vortex, I mean, we heard Trump do another rally last night. He's going to do another one in a couple of weeks, apparently. It looks like he's going to run for president. When you have so many millions of Americans out there who are still invested in him and still invested in these lies. You have a Republican Party that is fearful of him, won't do anything about him. How worried are you about our democracy right now?

RASKIN: Well, we're in the fight of our lives. And he continues to propound his big lie, and everything flows from his big lie. It's shocking that one of America's major political parties, the one founded by Abraham Lincoln has now wrapped itself around lies, propaganda, conspiracy theory, and disinformation.

They're now outside of our constitutional order. They attack our constitutional system. They attack the outcome of our election. So they fail the basic responsibility of a political party, which is to accept the constitutional structure as it exists. So, we're down to one party here that is a pro-democracy party.

We invite everybody all along the political spectrum from whatever point of view to join us in defending the democracy. There could be no more important work that we have. And we've got to defend all of our institutions. The courts, we've got to defend, the press we've got to defend, the Congress we've got to defend, the rule of law itself against what Donald Trump is proposing.

They no longer act like a modern political party. They act like a religious and political cult of personality and it's a very dangerous thing that has evolved over there. And we're asking for people to stand strong. And I salute patriots from the Republican Party like Liz Cheney, like Adam Kinzinger, like the seven senators who voted to convict, the 10 representatives who voted to impeach, all of those who were standing up for truth because that's what's at stake right now.

ACOSTA: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, we'd love to talk to you further about all of this, especially your very important new book. Thanks for your time this evening. The new book is called "Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy." Very poignant, very powerful, very timely. Congressman, thanks very much for your time, and our best to your family.

RASKIN: And thank you for having me.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Congressman. Appreciate it.


Coming up, all four people who were held captive in a Texas synagogue for hours yesterday are safe. What are we learning now about the suspect and his motives? That's next. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: All four people who were taken hostage yesterday at a Colleyville, Texas synagogue are now safe thanks to law enforcement and an elite FBI rescue team. But during that 11-hour standoff, nothing was certain. We now know the suspect was likely armed according to crime scene investigators who acquired a gun.

An audio from inside the congregation, Beth Israel, reveals a terrifying situation as the suspect can be heard speaking on this Facebook live stream from the Sabbath morning service.


(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNKNOWN: (Inaudible) I've got these four guys with me, yes? So I don't want to hurt them, yes? Okay, are you listening? I don't want you to cry. Listen! I'm going to release these four guys (inaudible). But then I'm going to go in the yard, yes (inaudible) and they're going to take me, alright? I'm going to die at the end of this, alright? Are you listening? I am going to die! Okay? So don't cry over me. Okay? Don't cry, we cannot (inaudible) --


ACOSTA: Now, the suspect is now dead. The FBI has identified him as a British citizen. Let's go now to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London. Nick, what more are you learning about the suspect?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATION SECURITY EDITOR: Malik Faisal Akram from Blackburn in the north of England, according to Greater Manchester Police, local police force in that area. A statement on a Black Muslim Facebook page, it seems by his brother, stating how the family are absolutely devastated by his loss, but wholeheartedly apologized to the victims of that particular hostage crisis.

They also say that they believe he had mental health issues and that they were in contact with police during this hostage crisis. We also heard from the U.K. foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who condemned this act of terror, what she referred to it as an act of anti-Semitism. But we've known from pretty early on, Jim, that U.K. authorities had been asked for assistance by the U.S. here.

They clearly will be assisting the U.S. in looking at travel history communications of Faisal Akram to workout perhaps if he was working entirely alone or part of some wider plot. I have to tell you, listening to him there, he doesn't always sound that coherent. He doesn't seem that sophisticated a plotter.

Frankly, that's not going to reduce the terror of those he held hostage, but that may lean more towards what his family is suggesting, mental health issues here. But all certainly a focus a here of the U.K.'s authorities to assist their U.S. counterpart. Hearing from my colleague, Josh Campbell, he may not have been on U.S. or U.K. radar before this but still, nonetheless, that will not depreciate from the horror of those held by him for those 10 to 11 hours, Jim.

ACOSTA: No question about that. All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much. And Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is crediting security courses for saving his life and the lives of the three other hostages in that synagogue.

He released a statement saying in part, "Over the years, my congregation and I have participated in multiple security courses from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and Secure Community Network. We are alive today because of that education."

And he adds, "In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening. And without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself."

Also just in, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says officials are monitoring social media in the wake of the Texas synagogue attack and that right now there are no credible specific threats to other institutions.

And joining us now is Rabbi Joshua Stanton. You remember him from our coverage yesterday. Senior fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbi Stanton, great to see you again. I appreciate all your help yesterday. Fear and beefed-up security measures are sadly a standard part of life for practicing Jewish- Americans, and it's gotten worse over the years, over recent years, hasn't it?

JOSHUA STANTON, SENIOR FELLOW, THE NATIONAL JEWISH CENTER FOR LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP: It is absolutely heartbreaking that to go to a sanctuary that I associate with peace, I have to walk through security. I have to get my bag checked. I have to be stopped. Jews are reminded every single time they enter a communal space of their insecurity in community.

At the same time, I want to reflect on a couple of elements yesterday that do give me hope. First of all, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is a hero on multiple levels and also a remarkable bridge builder. Yesterday was the Tora portion that we read about the exodus from Egypt into freedom. And we read that the Israelites did not just depart alone, but departed with others who sought liberation.

It is really a day of mutual liberation. And Rabbi Cytron-Walker embodies that at its finest. He believes not only in the liberation of the Jewish community, but its liberation in collaboration with the Muslim community, the Christian community, and so many others. And I think we should heed his example and recognize that this moment of fear, this terrible reality for Jews, this terrible reality for many others can be overcome when we stand together, we work together, and we cross into freedom together.

ACOSTA: And, Rabbi, are you hopeful that in our lifetime the need for security measures like the ones you're talking about in houses of worship will no longer be necessary? And what is it going to take to bring that day about?

STANTON: I am very hopeful that it will be the case in our lifetime. In the meantime, I do think it is increasingly the obligation of our government to provide for security for Jewish facilities.


It used to be if I went to France or I went to Turkey, I would see government-provided security. I would have to pass my passport through a bomb-proof window so that someone could do a background check. Imagine devoting your community's resources just to security. How is that the fulfillment of a higher mission or a higher purpose?

We need help. We need assurances from government. We need action, we need resources. We need direct support so that our communities can continue to thrive before we reach the day when such security measures are no longer necessary, god willing.

ACOSTA: All right. I hope you're right. We desperately need that. All right. Rabbi Joshua Stanton, thanks. As always, we appreciate your insights, your analysis, always spot on. Thanks so much.

STANTON: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. Take care. Up next, "The Daily Show's" Jordan Klepper doing some more shoe leather satire when he goes to a vigil for jailed insurrectionists.



UNKNOWN: A wonderful, glorious event. People were excited that day.

UNKNOWN: January 6th was the greatest day of my entire life.



ACOSTA: Oh, boy. Jordan Klepper joins us live in the CNN NEWSROOM, next.



ACOSTA: One year after he watched an armed mob storm the capitol, "The Daily Show's" Jordan Klepper returned to D.C. and while the scene was different, the misinformation was the same. Here's what happened when he attended the so-called vigil for jailed insurrectionists.


KLEPPER: What would you call the events of January 6th?

UNKNOWN: A wonderful, glorious event. People were excited that day.

UNKNOWN: January 6th was the greatest day of my entire life.

KLEPPER: Okay. You're obviously not a police officer.

UNKNOWN: There was no insurrection that day. If there was any intention on our part, we would have been actually freaking armed.

KLEPPER: If there was intention people would come with --

UNKNOWN: We would have been.

KLEPPER: -- with zip ties or bear spray or a pitchfork.

UNKNOWN: Belt fence. KLEPPER: What about the people who did come with zip ties, bear spray and pitch forks?

UNKNOWN: Well, those weren't arms. Those were just minimal defensive measures.

KLEPPER: Who is the candlelight vigil for?

UNKNOWN: All of the patriots.

KLEPPER: All of the 140 patriots, the police officers who were injured that day?


KLEPPER: So it's for the police officers --

UNKNOWN: No, it's not for them. This is for the patriots that are in prison.

KLEPPER: The people arrested for injuring the police officers that day?

UNKNOWN: There were some people standing up to say, you know, stop the steal.

UNKNOWN: We're here at the site of where the January 6th protesters are being detained. This is a vigil for them. Their rights have been taken away.

KLEPPER: So criminal justice is obviously a big issue for you?

UNKNOWN: I'm interested in protecting everyone's rights.

KLEPPER: Are you going to Rikers Island to protest the 15 people who died last year?

UNKNOWN: I am not.


ACOSTA: Joining us now is the great Jordan Klepper, contributor for "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" which airs week nights at 11:00 p.m. on Comedy Central. Jordan, I'm going to start calling this effect that you give me a Klepper because my head hurts every time I watch one of your segments. But, you know, lay this out for us. I mean, it looks like you got an ear full. Does anything surprise you when you talk to these folks?

KLEPPER: Well, again, I think at this one in particular, you know, you could hear the rewriting and the scribbling of history everywhere you went that day. And, so, when I went to that rally, I think I've always known that the narrative has been shifting. I think this seemed to be a new stunt in that narrative, as opposed to confronting this idea of what happened on that day. Many people were putting focus on the folks who were arrested on that day, and it became more of a prison rights conversation, which seemed to be an odd conversation coming from a group that seemed to have no interest in that kind of reform before that. I will say the one that stood out to me was this idea that the arms that were there weren't arms to attack, they were defensive measures --

ACOSTA: Right.

KLEPPER: -- which is a difficult case to make when somebody shows up with a noose. It's not the most defensive of armaments.

ACOSTA: No. And I also appreciate it when you say, oh, you are here for the police officers who were hurt that day. And the guy sort of does a double-take and, you know, he has to think about what you just said. You also had a run-in with Congressman Matt Gaetz, the Republican from Florida. And for those who didn't see it, let's show then what happened.


KLEPPER: Hey, Matt Gaetz, if you're going to re-enact the event so of January 6th, who is going to take a (BLEEP) in the rotunda. And also, who's going to make the gallows? Isn't this a little bit childish Matt? Or is that what attracts you to this?


ACOSTA: It's a choice comment there. I can't understand why he didn't stop to talk to you, Jordan.

KLEPPER: You know, I'm shocked. The guy usually likes cameras, and in fact, I was catching up to him after a stunt he pulled just outside of the capitol. And usually he wants those cameras around. You'd expect there to be some follow-up questions. Sadly, he didn't get a chance to hear all my other thoughtful, well-researched inquiries.

But he was more interested in talking about the CIA and the FBI and the issues they had with January 6th, but I don't know. I think the world has any justice. Perhaps Matt Gaetz will get his one-on-one time with the FBI sometime soon.

ACOSTA: Yes, that may -- that day may come, no question about it. You know, in the political rhetoric, as you know, it's out of control these days.


I have to play this other exchange you had in which you challenge a man on the way he chooses to, let's say, voice his discontent with Joe Biden, you know, this is how people are describing it these days. It's not terribly poetic, but let's watch.


UNKNOWN: I want to try and get across to people in the world, man. I watch CNN. I watch Fox News every day, Chris Tucker, Hannity.

KLEPPER: You watch Chris Tucker? I love that guy.

UNKNOWN: Yes. I watch all of you guys. You know, it's like --

KLEPPER: "Money Talks," "Rush Hour."

UNKNOWN: I wore this shirt. It says F Biden. I say (BLEEP) Joe Biden. I respect our president.

KLEPPER: It's important to have respect for the office of the president.

UNKNOWN: Exactly. Exactly.

KLEPPER: And at the same time wear a shirt that says (BLEEP) Biden.

UNKNOWN: I mean, for me, yes.

KLEPPER: Do you understand the inherent contradiction in that?

UNKNOWN: Yes. I do. I do.


ACOSTA: I mean, did you actually get through to this guy? Or, you know, he's just a guy in an F-Biden t-shirt?

KLEPPER: Well, I mean, I think what is interesting about that conversation is we're reaching a new frontier in some sense. There is inherent irony in a lot of the conversations we have. I think what was fascinating here was he understood that contradiction. He was well aware of the contradiction. He talked about not wanting to do this in front of his children. His children were there. He was very well aware of it.

So there's not -- there's not a moment where I'm trying to get through to him or able to get through to him. He's already gotten through to himself. And so, I think the larger question that puts us into a place where if we're aware of our inherent contradictions, then what are the values that we hold? And, at that point, it's just all politics and that becomes abundantly clear.

ACOSTA: Yes. And he was wearing a Patriots attire which, you know, things have been a little bit rough for those folks lately. But, in the last couple of --

KLEPPER: He's had a tough time. It's been a tough year.

ACOSTA: Maybe that's why he's got the shirt. Who knows? But in the last couple of weeks, people have been reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the January 6th attack. I know you were there that day. And just so folks understand, you were literally talking to a man with a pitchfork. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)) UNKNOWN: We are going to clean this place out one way or another! You look down there, I have 1 million plus people (BLEEP) angry! Very, very angry people.

KLEPPER: Can I ask why you're carrying a pitchfork?

UNKNOWN: Well, a pitchfork is -- it's just iconic representation of how -- of what people over time have done in this country.

KLEPPER: It feels more like a weapon, to be quite honest.

UNKNOWN: No, it's not. Its farm equipment and it's legal in this city.

KLEPPER: Yes. Are you farming today?


ACOSTA: I would not call that farming. You know, you said recently that laughter should not hide the danger and the urgency of what we're going through right now. Why do you present, I guess, this alternate reality the way you do? What motivates you to go out there to do it? I know that you're there for laughs, and some of this is funny obviously. A lot of it is funny, I should say. But there's a purpose behind it.

KLEPPER: Well, I do think there's lunacy out there and what I saw on the 6th was tragic and it was also absurd. And so we don't shy away from either one of them. I think laughter cuts to the quick in many ways. Humor is the fastest way to the truth as the great George Saunders has once said.

And so, I do think comedy often has a place in this conversation. It cuts through some of the B.S. and I have the luxury of being a comedian who shows up and can ask the questions that are on my mind and try to find some of that absurdity.

But it doesn't hide the fact, and it shouldn't hide the fact that the things that happened on a day like January 6th are terrifying. They're dangerous. And sometimes it feels like laughter is the last repose of people who are scared. But at least it is an action that you can take that shows camaraderie because if you're laughing at something and laughing with somebody else, you're on the same page about something.

So, I do think in looking back at those days, I don't want to obfuscate the terror there, and I think there's a lot that needs to happen, a lot that's broken in this country. But hopefully if we can laugh at the absurdity, we can take action to try to better the things that we saw go wrong.

ACOSTA: No question about it. And it's just revealing everything. I mean, it's just putting a giant, you know, search light on the truth and sometimes that truth is absurd and you've captured it perfectly. Jordan Klepper, thanks as always for being with us. We appreciate it. Thanks for the service that you do. Next time you're watching, give us a holler.

KLEPPER: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, thanks. And make sure to tune in and see more of Jordan on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." As we said earlier, it airs weeknights at 11:00 p.m. on Comedy Central. That was the great Jordan Klepper there. Thanks as always for his stuff. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: New today, convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell will no longer fight to keep the identities of eight so-called John Does secret in a defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought by a woman named Virginia Giuffre who claims Maxwell aided Jeffrey Epstein in abusing her when she was a minor. Now, it is up to the court to decide if the names will be made public.

CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal state prosecutor Elie Honig joins me now to answer legal questions. Elie, why would Maxwell be changing her position now? And, I guess, why does she have a choice in the matter?


ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim. So Maxwell's position had been that she wanted to keep those names of the John Does secret because she was facing criminal charges in a criminal trial and her fear was that if these names came out, they could draw negative attention and harm her criminal defense presumably because there are some notoriety in those names.

Now that her criminal trial is over, however, her position is essentially I don't care anymore, my trial is over. So now the judge is going to have to decide, and this judge has already said potential embarrassment or humiliation to these John Does is not enough to keep their names secret. So the judge is going to decide soon and we may find out who those John Does are.

ACOSTA: And on the Oath Keepers, there was a huge development last week. The leader of the Oath Keepers is behind bars after pleading not guilty to seditious conspiracy. Elie, as you know, this is a rare charge from the post-civil war era. And one viewer wants to know at what point does contact relating to January 6th constitute sedition under federal criminal law?

HONIG: It's a great question, Jim. And you know, in the prior segment, Jordan Klepper said something that really resonated with me. He said it matters what we call these things. It matters what we label these things. And to that end, Jim, you and I have been talking about -- I've been saying for months, this is sedition. DOJ needs to charge sedition.

Well, they finally did it this week for the first time in this indictments against these 11 Oath Keepers. If you look at the indictment, the evidence is really well-supported to meet the legal definition of sedition, which is not that complex. It just means, to use force or to plan to use force to hinder, prevent or delay execution of the laws, here, the counting of the Electoral Votes by Congress.

I think it fits that conduct and much more. And the big question, Jim, is will DOJ be able to climb that ladder to apply these charges to other people who may have stormed the capitol or even to other people perhaps who didn't physically go into the capitol but could be held liable for them.

ACOSTA: And this week the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he will not cooperate with a request from the January 6th committee. And one viewer asks, what steps could the committee take to force McCarthy to testify, and would he have any defense? That's a good question.

HONIG: Well, it's a tale of two kelvins I think here, right? The original one said Donald Trump bears responsibility, even admitted to Kevin McCarthy he had some responsibility. And when asked if he would testify by Manu Raju, he said "sure." Well, now it's the second Kevin McCarthy. He's completely reversed course.

Now, he has declined the committee's voluntary invitation. The committee now has the option of serving him a formal subpoena. And if he defies that, holding him in contempt. I've not heard him articulate any sort of legal defense. He has all sorts of political bluster. But there is this thing called the speech and debate clause which could make it more complicated to take a member of Congress and force him to testify.

ACOSTA: All right, that will be fascinating to watch. Elie Honig, great to see you. Thanks so much.

HONIG: All right, Jim, thank you.

ACOSTA: All right, thank you. And President Biden concedes his administration has more work to do after a new consumer report shows that consumer prices are up 7 percent from a year ago. Here's Alison Kosik with your "Before the Bell" report.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. You're paying more for pretty much everything. Consumer prices hit a fresh 39-year high in December. Used cars and trucks and gasoline saw some of the biggest year-over-year increases. This week, the focus shifts to companies as earnings season kicks into high gear. Remember, corporate America is also facing higher prices for raw materials and workers.

But often companies are passing those costs onto you. That's one reason Wall Street expects solid corporate profits. Analysts predict earnings grew nearly 22 percent for the S&P 500 in the fourth quarter. That would mark the fourth straight quarter of earnings growth above 20 percent.

Keep in mind, it's a short week on Wall Street. Financial markets are closed tomorrow for Martin Luther King Day. In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.



ACOSTA: We have lost one of the last surviving legendary Tuskegee airmen. Brigadier General Charles McGee died in his sleep this morning according to a family spokesman. Over the course of his historic career, McGee successfully completed 409 air combat missions during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam serving a total of 30 years of active service.

He also received numerous accolades during his career including being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. Brigadier General Charles McGee was 102 years old. A remarkable life.

Movie star Marilyn Monroe was the original blond bombshell, famous and adored by millions. And now, the new CNN Original Series "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe," looks at the ways the sex symbol was also a trailblazer. Here's a preview.


UNKNOWN: Before leaving New York, Marilyn finds time to meet with an old friend, photographer Andre De Dienes. Marilyn and Andre happened to be in the same place at the same time. So they went to the beach. Then they just took photographs in the surf. Since their road trip four years earlier, Marilyn has transformed. She's no longer a naive young model. She is a rising star.


NANCY LEE ANDREWS, PHOTOGRAPHER: I see pure joy. You can just sort of see the comet. A little light up there in the sky is starting to twinkle.

UNKNOWN: This is something unique. Something in the way she and the camera related to each other. The camera was her lover, truly.


ACOSTA: And the all new CNN Original Series "Reframed: Marilyn Monroe" premieres with back-to-back episodes tonight at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Poppy Harlow takes over the CNN NEWSROOM live after a quick break. Good night, everybody.