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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Under Pressure To Quit Over Lockdown Violations; Australian Court Denies Novak Djokovic Visa Appeal; U.K. Officials Monitored Texas Synagogue Attack, Contacted Local Authorities; U.S. Residents Can Now Bill For COVID-19 Home Tests; Tsunami Made "Significant Impact" On Tonga; Millions In U.S. In Path Of Severe Winter Weather. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired January 16, 2022 - 04:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And a warm welcome to our viewers. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, Novak Djokovic loses his visa appeal and won't compete in the Australian Open. We are live in Melbourne and Belgrade with details.

And all hostages are safe after an hours-long standoff at a Texas synagogue. We'll bring you the latest.

Plus a growing number of British voters say Prime minister Boris Johnson has to go. We are live in London with the backlash he faces for breaking his own COVID restrictions.


NEWTON: And we begin with the breaking news. Tennis star Novak Djokovic has lost his bid to stay in Australia and defend his title in the Australian Open tennis tournament. He now faces deportation. We want to go straight to our Paula Hancocks, who's been watching all of this unfold from Melbourne.

Paula, obviously dramatic moments there and yet the judges were categorical, saying, look, we're not here to decide the merits of the government's case; that's not for us to decide.

But they looked at what the government had put forward and found that, in fact, it was reasonable. And that means that right now at this hour, right, Paula, Novak Djokovic isn't exactly a free man. He needs to be deported.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula. The very fact there were three judges hearing this case and it was a unanimous decision, as you say, it wasn't up to them to decide the merits of the argument. They were just there to look at the legalities.

This is what we heard beforehand, that the best chance for Djokovic's lawyers were going to be looking for a legal error, which they simply didn't find. So Djokovic, at this time, it's not clear whether he will go back to detention, back to the Park Hotel to wait for deportation or whether he will go straight to the airport.

The rules are, with deportation in these cases, you have to leave the country as soon as is reasonably possible. So what they will be doing is putting his affairs in order, getting ready in order to be able to leave the country.

Now Djokovic himself said he was disappointed, said he was extremely disappointed but does respect the court's ruling and said that he will cooperate.

Now we heard very quickly a response from the immigration minister and also from the prime minister, Scott Morrison.

He said, "I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe. As I said on Friday, Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic and they rightly expect the results of those sacrifices to be protected."

This was really the crux of the government all along. There should not be one rule for the Australians and then another rule for those trying to come in. From Novak Djokovic's point of view, he will now no longer play in the Australian Open. He will need to leave the country as soon as is reasonably possible.

Will he not be able to return for three years?

Or will that be in discussion?

NEWTON: I'm glad you brought that up because that has been absolutely in question, whether or not he'd be able to compete in the next three years. Paula Hancocks, appreciate the update there.





NEWTON: We are tracking another major story this hour, a hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue is over. All hostages are safe and the attacker is dead. The assailant stormed the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville Saturday. It was a small service and four people were taken hostage.

Local people surrounded the synagogue as night fell an elite FBI team moved in. The Colleyville police chief described what happened. Listen.


CHIEF MICHAEL MILLER, COLLEYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The FBI called out the hostage rescue team, which is an elite hostage rescue force, out of Quantico, Virginia. They immediately, when the SAC called, they got on a plane and flew out here. I think they brought 60 or 70 people from Washington, D.C., to come and help with this situation.

Some time around 9:00 pm today, this evening, the HR team, the hostage rescue team breached the synagogue. They rescued the three hostages and the subject is deceased.


NEWTON: CNN's Ed Lavandera was standing half a kilometer away when this happened.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 11 hours after a suspect entered the Beth Israel synagogue here in Colleyville, Texas, we have learned that the suspect is dead and that all four of the hostages are alive and well.

One of the hostages had been released earlier in the day around 5 o'clock Central time. But law enforcement officials say they have identified the suspect but they are not ready to announce who that person is, as they continue their investigation into the motives behind this attack on this synagogue.

It was a frightening and harrowing day for members of this synagogue, which is a small synagogue here in Colleyville, about 150 members. They were watching desperately and frantically throughout the day, waiting for and praying for this outcome that they saw unfold here this evening.

Many members of the congregation that we spoke with say that members had not been attending the services here at this synagogue because of COVID pandemic restrictions, that it was -- most people were at home, watching on the livestream.

And that is where they began to see all of this unfold just before 11 o'clock in the morning. And they heard what was described as the ranting and raving and harrowing screaming coming from the suspect inside the synagogue. But tonight, all of them celebrating the fact that four of their synagogue members are now alive and well -- back to you.


NEWTON: Our Ed Lavandera there.

We have a reaction from one synagogue member, who saw part of the standoff while the video was streamed online. She told us it was, in fact, hard to watch.


STACEY SILVERMAN, MEMBER, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: My mother called and told me there was a hostage situation going on in our synagogue, which is almost unbelievable.

So I dialed into the live stream and I heard the perpetrator speaking, alternating between English and his native tongue and very, you know, just hateful, hateful rhetoric; he hates the Jews. He talked about Israel and Palestine. He blamed the Jews, you know, for everything going on in the world.


NEWTON: And we'll have much more to come on the attack as well as tennis star Novak Djokovic facing deportation at this hour from Australia. We're also monitoring other developing news this hour.


NEWTON: Plus public backlash is reaching a fever pitch over alleged 10 Downing Street parties during COVID lockdowns. Now new polls have a painful message in store for British prime minister Boris Johnson.




NEWTON: British prime minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to quit as allegations pile up at 10 Downing Street held office parties while the rest of the country was on lockdown.

A new poll shows 63 percent, nearly two of every three Britons, want Johnson out while the opposition Labour Party smells, of course, political opportunities. Salma Abdelaziz is in London.

You do get the sense that the political ground underneath Boris Johnson is shifting quickly.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. He is losing faith within his own party, within members of the Conservative Party, those that he needs, to hold that seat of power. I think it's just the handling of this that has triggered not just outrage and heartbreak but a sort of laughing stock prime minister.


ABDELAZIZ: The party boy of the U.K., a person, at least these now multiple parties, paints an image of a government that simply does not hold the authority of leadership seriously, that does not take the responsibility of running government during a pandemic seriously.

The opposition Labour leader has been very quick to call that out.


KEIR STARMER, U.K. LABOUR LEADER: Boris Johnson is too preoccupied defending his rule breaking. And as day follows night, when it comes to the National Health Service, you could never trust the Tories. We're witnessing every day the broken spectacle of a prime minister, mired in deceit and deception and unable to lead.


ABDELAZIZ: Now several Conservative MPs have also called for prime minister Boris Johnson to resign. And here's the fear, is that this escalates, that more members of the Conservative Party turn against prime minister Boris Johnson and would call for a no confidence vote.

We are nowhere near that. It would require 54 MPs from prime minister Johnson's own party to submit letters to trigger that no confidence vote. We're nowhere, again, near that threshold.

But that momentum is growing, especially when every single day it appears we're getting yet another allegation. It's drip, drip, drip. Yesterday it was wine; Friday, now we're looking into an investigation. We're waiting for the results of that but this is not over for the prime minister, Paula.

NEWTON: Salma, thanks for bringing us up to date.

We are joined by Peter Kallner, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. His research includes Brexit and populism and he speaks with us now from London.

Brexit, remember that?

This has just been so devastating. And I think not just to Boris Johnson and his party but to all of those, you know, people in Britain, who've made sacrifices during the pandemic. Hard to believe, right, this was a man who said he feared for his life, who had COVID, was in intensive care.

And yet you saw this attitude toward what was going on in 10 Downing Street. I would say that -- most people would say this would seal his fate. And yet we've learned over and over not to count this man out.

What do you think?

PETER KALLNER, VISITING SCHOLAR, CARNEGIE EUROPE: That's right, Paula. Boris Johnson is a classic example of a leopard who doesn't change his spots. Thirty years ago he was sacked in his first job in journalism for making up quotes.

Ten or 15 years later he was sacked when the Conservatives were in opposition from the Conservative leadership team for lying about an affair. This guy has form. You're right.

But you're right, one should never count him out. The way I see it, Paula, there are three trip wires in the next -- in the coming while that Johnson's got to survive.

The first is this weekend, members of Parliament who've been getting emails from angry constituents. They've been going back to their districts this weekend. And if they return to Westminster tomorrow, with the news that really the electorate has turned strongly against Johnson in their own local areas, then he's potentially a goner this week.

Secondly, in a week or 10 days' time, there is this report by a senior civil servant into all these parties and other shenanigans. That's not going to say Johnson should go or Johnson's a wrong 'un, it will just lay out facts. The question is whether those facts lead MPs to conclude that he knew he was breaking rules.

The third, if he survives these two, then come May -- we have every spring in Britain, we have nationwide or local elections. And that is a great barometer of how the parties are faring, how the Conservatives feel. If he survives until May, he may be gone after those May elections.

NEWTON: Which at this point, would already seem like a lifetime away. I know that in media interviews, even the Tory Party chair is saying Boris Johnson has to take a hard look at the culture within his office 10 Downing Street and his leadership to see why this happened. His agency has always been his electability.

Do you think that's vanished now?

KALLNER: Curiously, I don't think his electability was ever as great as people said. Sure the Conservatives won the last election by a big margin because Labour was led back by an unelectable leader, Jeremy Corbyn. It was not much to do with Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson, compared with other prime ministers over 40 or 50 years, doesn't have a great record. And he's now more unpopular than any previous prime minister who's gone to surviving to win the following election. Other prime ministers have had worse ratings but they've gone to be thrashed at the following election.


KALLNER: So I think it's a bit of a myth that Johnson has some unique election-winning, voter-attracting capacity. I just don't think that's right.

NEWTON: And if Tory MPs agree with you, Boris Johnson could be out of a job sooner rather than later. I have to leave it there. But thanks very much. Appreciate it.


NEWTON: Tennis star Novak Djokovic has lost his last-ditch legal effort to stay in Australia. We're following all of this reaction to the breaking news and we'll bring it all to you next, right here on CNN.

Plus, as U.S. coronavirus case numbers soar, it's creating, of course, demand for more testing. We'll find out what officials are doing to keep up. Stay with us.



NEWTON: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States. I'm Paula Newton. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic faces deportation from Australia. Now the decision also ends Djokovic's hopes of defending his Australian Open title and winning a record 21st grand slam.






NEWTON: A hostage standoff in Texas is over with all hostages rescued. The assailant stormed the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday. It was during a small service and four people were taken hostage.

This is the thing, though, the event was being live streamed, some people watching in horror from home. Law enforcement would eventually end the crisis with an elite FBI team breaching the building.

Even with everyone safe, this is a painful reminder for Jewish Americans -- in fact, Jews all over the world -- of anti-Semitism. One congregation member spoke to Poppy Harlow.


ELLEN SMITH, MEMBER, CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL: I think the shocking part was that it was my community. It was not shocking that it was a Jewish community.

It's awful but the cases of anti-Semitism have risen lately. But since Jews were first walking the Earth, like we have been persecuted. And it -- it's -- it feels almost hopeless, being that -- knowing that it's my community.

I can see that it would feel like just another attack on the Jewish community. And everyone hurt but, in every single attack, it's painful. But it is almost inevitable that it will happen again.


NEWTON: Now there is still a lot we don't know about the attacker but we are learning there may have been a connection to the U.K. For more, Nick Paton Walsh joins me now.

Nick, police and the FBI said they determined they could identify the suspect but didn't want to give us any more details.

What are you learning?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It's clear the investigation is at full pelt at this stage. Yes, while we know there is some link to the United Kingdom, quite what has not been specified, even though the FBI said they know who the gunman was.

We're hearing from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office here in the United Kingdom, that they are monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities.

That would possibly relate to a statement made by the FBI earlier, in which they suggested that their legal attaches, in both London and Tel Aviv, are coordinating exchanges, possibly of information there as well.

So there does appear to be a global effort in determining more about the identity of this gunman and also possibly to, as President Biden suggested, more about motivation. The president's statement said there is more we will learn in the days ahead about motivations of this hostage takeover.

So possibly some connection to the United Kingdom now, that is being probed urgently but also to a reference to Tel Aviv in Israel as well. So a lot more to be established here.

I have to say, from listening, Paula, to part of the live stream, this doesn't appear to have been a particularly well planned attack. It doesn't reduce, of course, the horrifying impact of the attack on the Jewish community.

But we do appear to hear a man who changes in his demands, very clear that he seeks the release of a lady known as Aafia Siddiqui. She is currently held in Texas on an 86-year sentence for attempted murder and seven counts in total.


WALSH: She was initially detained in 2008 in Ghazni in Afghanistan, thought to have on her documents that suggested some sort of a mass casualty attack and seems to have turned a weapon in the interrogation room on U.S. personnel there, resulting in the charges of attempted murder and others.

Her release and her position has often been raised by ISIS and even the Taliban as something they would seek to see reversed. But this gunman brings up this specific case during the live stream, which some law enforcement officials have heard here.

So an interesting possible clue but the way this attack occurred, the nature and the condition of the gunman as he talks, does give the impression this is not a particularly well-planned attack and possibly an indication of the state of mind of the attacker during this.

NEWTON: As you point out, a lot we don't know yet. Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate it.

Despite the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, pandemic weary Europeans hit the streets over COVID-19 restrictions.

Plus parts of the U.S. being pelted with heavy winter weather. It's a bit of bad news unless you like snow. We'll have the details coming up.




NEWTON: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. crossed 65 million total coronavirus cases on Saturday. That number has been fueled in recent days by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. As you can see here, places like Arkansas, California, Oklahoma and Oregon have been especially hard hit.


NEWTON: This comes as the U.S. crosses a new threshold, 850,000 total deaths so far during this pandemic in the United States alone. Officials are hoping to combat the rise of infections by making testing more available. As of Saturday, Americans are able to get reimbursed for home tests.

Now Beijing has reported its first case of the Omicron variant less than three weeks before that city hosts the Winter Olympics. Authorities have sealed off the neighborhood where the case was found and have begun mass testing in the area.

The infected person has not traveled recently outside of Beijing. Cases on Thursday have been confirmed of Omicron. Seven cities are fighting the highly transmissible variant.

This weekend saw protests across Europe. For more, I'm joined from Paris by Jim Bittermann.

There is pandemic fatigue and a lot of it spills over into the streets. Yet it is juxtaposed by the government having some success, in France, at least, and, elsewhere, passing more mandates, whether it's vaccines or other things.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Paula. The fact is streets are not quite as crowded with protesters as they were over the last few weeks. In fact, there was a protester yesterday; the numbers of protesters was down considerably from previous weeks there.

There have been protests all over Europe. We've seen protests in Italy. There's going to be a protest later today in the Netherlands. In Germany, there was protests against the anti-vaxers; that is for vaccination.

What's successful in France is this idea of a vaccination pass. They hope to get it in by the end of the week. Basically if you want to do any kind of public activity, going to a restaurant, bar, a cafe, a cinema, that sort of thing, you have to show proof you've been vaccinated.

The government expects that will go through and be approved later on this week. The vaccine pass will affect 5.5 million people, a little less than 10 percent of the population.

NEWTON: And at this point, do you think that there is any protest to that mandate in Paris?

I wanted to ask you, we've seen that.

BITTERMANN: In Paris that overturned yesterday, so people were seen taking off their masks. It was a short-lived mandate. So I don't know where that's going to go. The government could still challenge it, challenge the court's ruling. So, Paula, we're still in a state of flux here.

NEWTON: Yes. Jim Bittermann, thanks for that. We appreciate it.

Heavy snow, ice, rain targeting much of the eastern United States. Everything you want to know about the storm, you'll want to see this weather report coming up.





NEWTON: New Zealand's prime minister says tsunami waves have an underwater volcanic eruption made a significant impact on Tonga. Waves crashed ashore Saturday. You see some of it there, flooding coastal areas, damaging shops, even reaching the grounds of Tonga's royal palace.

Authorities are trying to assess the damage. Fortunately so far there's been no reports of injuries or deaths. The enormous eruption spewed ash and smoke more than 12 miles into the atmosphere and triggered tsunami waves into Japan and Hawaii. Waves were over 1 meter, Japan got waves more than 2 meters high.

But all advisories have been lifted. The waves reached all the way to the West Coast of North America. Advisories were just lifted in California.

At the same time we're attracting a winter storm moving through the southern United States at this hour. That's bringing dangerous levels of snow, ice and rain. Energy providers in North Carolina expect about 750,000 consumers to lose power over the next two days.

The governor is deploying more than 200 National Guard soldiers to try to assist.



NEWTON: I'm Paula Newton. I want to thank you for your company. Don't go anywhere. I will be back in a few more moments as we follow our top stories now as Novak Djokovic is deported from Australia.