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Erin Burnett Outfront
U.S. Reports All Time High Of 345,000 Plus Daily COVID Cases; Breaking Pandemic Record For Third Day In A Row; U.S. Breaks COVID Cases Record For Third Day In A Row; Pediatric Hospitalizations For COVID Reach All-Time High; WH: Biden Urged Putin To De-Escalate Tensions With Ukraine; Jan 6 Committee Asks SCOTUS To Deny Trump's Request, Cites "Overwhelming Need" For His White House Records; Biden Prepares For Spending Bill Fight In New Year; Man Accused Of Killing 5 People In Colorado Named 2 Of His Victims In Violent Writings Before Shooting Spree; Parents Seek Justice After Their Baby Dies And The D.A. Drops Murder & Assault Charges Against Nanny. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 30, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's the one who got away in that sense in terms of criminal liability. But listen, she was the number two. You really can't do this without a woman to be honest because she had to groom and find and entice them, so she was really a big fish here.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Fascinating. All right. Jennifer Rodgers, Paul Callan, thanks so much. I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the new record-high for COVID and we may be a month away from the peak as staffing shortages are already pushing more cities across the country to the brink.
Plus, breaking news, we're learning new details about President Biden's phone call with Vladimir Putin today and the warning that Biden gave the Russian president.
And will the Supreme Court take up Trump's case against the January 6 Committee, new filings tonight from the Committee and the Biden ministration asking the court to reject Trump's request to keep hundreds of documents secret. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Poppy Harlow in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, overwhelmed by Omicron. For the third day in a row, the United States breaking its own record for its daily average of new COVID cases and hitting a very grim milestone more children now hospitalized with COVID than at any other point in this pandemic. Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, acknowledging it is a troubling development.
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XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We thought for the longest time our kids were safe because they didn't seem to be catching the infection the same way. Today, I think you're hearing the news, more and more of our children are not only contracting COVID, but they're actually being hospitalized. This stuff is real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Hospitals across the country are being pushed to the brink. Maryland and Washington, D.C. now topping their previous peaks of COVID hospitalizations just days after four other states also reported record-high hospitalizations this month. And Ohio is now close to its previous record level in December of 2020, Connecticut, Indiana, Missouri and Delaware all approaching their record-highs from last winter. And now the defense department is sending medical personnel to eight states to help health care workers there, but there's hope Dr. Fauci predicting Omicron cases may soon peak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I would imagine given the size of our country and the diversity of vaccination versus not vaccination that it likely will be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January.
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HARLOW: Alexandra Field is OUTFRONT. Alex, the end of January feels like a really long time for a lot of folks right now.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Poppy, it's a long way to go and there are some really big challenges ahead, industries are already feeling the effects of staffing shortages, cities now feeling them too. Here in New York, more than 20 percent of the NYPD out sick but the city is saying they have contingency plans and they say they will have the force they need in order to put on a safe and secure New Year celebration.
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DR. LEE SAVIO BEERS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Probably not the time to have the New Year celebrations, really dial things back.
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FIELD (voice over): A new year bringing in new COVID records. As for the big party in New York's Times Square ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We're in the public health crisis of our lifetimes. Frankly, it should have been canceled.
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FIELD (voice over): But this ball will drop despite the highest numbers of new daily cases the city has ever seen and without LL Cool J who called off his performance after testing positive for COVID.
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MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D) NEW YORK: It's going to be outdoors vaccination only, masks required, socially distance, but we want to show that we're moving forward and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD (voice over): The city insisting you can party safely even while now we're getting staffing shortages affecting EMS, the Fire Department and the subway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYRA MADAD, SR. DIRECTOR, SYSTEM-WIDE SPECIAL PATHOGENS PROGRAM, NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS: Because that's what it is, it's a real issue, both from a pre-hospital standpoint, so from EMS bringing patients into the healthcare system as well as with healthcare worker shortages and not just in New York, but around the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD (voice over): Atlanta is canceling its annual New Year's celebration, the peach drop. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian temporarily shutting down five of its museums. Another thousand flights canceled today with airlines still crippled by staffing shortages and JetBlue announcing they're canceling nearly 1,300 flights through the middle of January.
Testing lines are still stunningly long. The pressure only rising for hospitals across the country, 10 states and Washington, D.C. are seeing some of the highest hospitalization numbers of the pandemic. In Georgia, six major health systems report collectively seeing 100 percent to 200 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Unvaccinated adults remain the most likely to be hospitalized, but pediatric hospital admissions for COVID are now at a record-high.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEERS: The vast majority of the children who are being admitted are unvaccinated. There's small numbers who are vaccinated, but the vast majority are unvaccinated and so being unvaccinated increases your risk for hospitalization significantly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD (voice over): Twelve to 15-year-olds could become eligible for a booster shot as soon as next week if the FDA signs off according to a person familiar with the agency's plan. That's the same time many students will be heading back to the classroom after the holidays and amid a surge the likes of which we've never seen. Princeton University already announcing they're pushing back the return to campus by one week.
FIELD (on camera): And Poppy, as we talked about all these delays and cancellations, here's another one to consider, the CDC is now advising people not to take cruises regardless of their vaccination status. They are raising the risk level of cruises up to level four, that's the highest level. They're citing more cases aboard ships since the initial detection of the Omicron variant, Poppy.
HARLOW: Alexandra Field for us in New York, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT now Professor Michael Osterholm, the Director of University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, he also served on President Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board and Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Children's National Hospital in West Virginia. Thank you so much.
And Professor Osterholm, let me start with you. When you see numbers like this, when you see hospitalizations like this, sick outs and critical workers, how worried are you that the country could be days or weeks away from not having essential services like health care or law enforcement staffed and operating properly?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY: Well, it's going to happen. It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of how bad it gets. We know that over the next five to six weeks, we're going to continue to see transmission of this virus throughout this country, much like a viral blizzard.
And with that, we are going to see a perfect storm in our healthcare settings where even if 10 percent to 20 percent of the healthcare providers are sick with the virus, whether it's a mild or a non-mild illness, it means they're still not there. And there's 9.8 million doctors, nurses and technicians in this country work in our hospitals if we lose 10 percent of those, 90,000, or if we lose even 150,000, we could see major challenges trying to, at the same time, provide care to this increasing hospitalization population.
HARLOW: Dr. DeBiasi, just 14 percent of children ages five to 11 in your State are vaccinated. You just heard more children than ever are in the hospital right now with COVID. What is happening in your hospital?
DR. ROBERTA DEBIASI, CHIEF, INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL HOSPITAL: Well here, as you know, in Washington, D.C. where Children's National is located, we're in the top zone of cases per 100,000 right now. So it's really swarming our population, there are many, many cases. If we look at our rates of positivity in D.C., our personal lab, we're getting 41 percent, 42 percent positive of all of our tests and that is four times higher than we had in any of our prior three waves where we would peak out at around 12 percent or 13 percent.
So this is a much, much more contagious virus. I know everyone's heard that. But we're talking a significant difference. We've been taking care of these children now for almost two years and this is palpably different. We also see that reflected in the number of children that are admitted to our hospital.
That means they come in for care and have to stay because they need support. We used to have in our prior waves up to about 20 kids in the hospital on any given day. Today, we had 48, which is a new high and each day it's gone up. So we have not hit a point where it's slowing down.
And we've had already a thousand children that have been admitted to Children's National here in D.C. over the period of this pandemic. And about a third of them have needed intensive care. So it's really important for people to know that this has always affected children throughout the pandemic, but what we're seeing now, is that because it's so much more contagious and because young children are not vaccinated, they are disproportionately being affected by this surge.
HARLOW: Right. And let me just follow up with you on that, because I'm a mother of a five-year-old who's fully vaccinated and a three- year-old who can't be vaccinated yet and waiting, and waiting and waiting like so many parents. And it sounds like it's not going to be until at the earliest the second quarter of 2022 until a vaccine is approved for those under five, is that right?
DEBIASI: Well, the kids that are five to 11, as you know, were approved in November and we still only have 14 percent of them. So we've got 85 percent of a very large part of the problem that could be vaccinated. So that's the first point I think I'd make.
DEBIASI: The second is that in this vaccine studies, which our center has been part of along with many other children's hospitals, the dose that was chosen, of course, is to try to find a dose that is very efficacious but also minimizes this side effects and that smaller dose worked fine in the children that were under two.
But it's the two to five group that we think may need an additional dose and that's being studied and that's the reason for the delay. There's not a delay because the study hasn't been done or that there's any problems with the vaccine.
So I think that the CDC and the FDA will be looking at all the data that's accumulating now about the rate of hospitalization in these younger kids and making decisions about the timelines for these additional studies.
HARLOW: Professor, Israel just approved a fourth dose of the vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. Ontario, Canada offering a fourth dose. What do you think about the United States?
OSTERHOLM: Oh, sure, looking at the data here ...
DEBIASI: Again, I think ...
OSTERHOLM: I'm sorry, go ahead.
DEBIASI: Go ahead, Mike. No, go ahead, Mike.
OSTERHOLM: I'll just say, we're surely looking at the data here and we are basically at this point in a situation where I suspect that it will be considered in the very near term. And I think just as the third dose, which was called a booster, which I believe is a three dose prime vaccine is now standard. I think it's possible for at least immune compromised and older individuals, the same could happen with dose four.
HARLOW: We'll be watching very closely. Thank you both for being on and we'll be right back.
HARLOW: Breaking news, President Biden just wrapping up a 50-minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House says that Biden made it clear the U.S. and its allies would quote respond decisively if Russia further invaded Ukraine. This is the second time the two leaders have spoken in just over three weeks. Let's go to Jeremy Diamond for more. What do we know about the call?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Poppy, senior administration officials have made clear that the tone of this conversation between these two leaders was 'serious and substantive'. And they also said that the President urged Vladimir Putin to de- escalate the situation in Ukraine.
Ultimately, what President Biden was aiming to do today was to once again make clear to Vladimir Putin what the consequences will be if indeed he decides to move forward with an invasion of Ukraine. Making clear that on one side of the equation, if he moves to invade, there are severe economic consequences. There will be a stepped up NATO presence at Russia's doorstep in some of those Eastern European former Soviet countries.
And on the other side if the Russian President chooses diplomacy, there will be a meaningful diplomatic engagement from the United States beginning on January 10th with those conversations scheduled between U.S. and Russian officials.
One thing that a senior administration official said they did not come away with after this call was a clearer sense of Vladimir Putin's intentions. And instead of focusing on his words, this official told us that the U.S. is focused on actions by the Russian government and on continuing to monitor those deployments of Russian troops and the movements of those troops.
That is why we've seen the U.S. step up those U.S. surveillance missions over the last few days, flying to spy planes in just a matter of several days over eastern Ukraine to get a better sense of Russia's intentions. Poppy?
HARLOW: Okay. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.
Let's talk more about these developments. I want to bring in Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia during the Obama administration. Steve Hall is also here, former CIA Chief of Russia operations and our CNN National Security Analyst. Thank you both.
I mean two calls in a month between these two leaders. Evelyn, Putin requested this call. What does it tell you?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: Yes, Poppy. I'm a little unsettled by the fact that Putin requested this call. I mean, obviously, President Biden had to accept. It's the right thing to do. He said he's putting diplomacy first and if the Russian president wants to talk, it's better than the alternative.
But I feel that Putin was probably, at the minimum, taking a measure of President Biden and U.S. resolve to counter Putin to provide assistance to the Ukrainian military, should Ukraine be re-invaded and invaded again. And also, of course, take measure of our resolve on sanctions. At a minimum, I said.
In addition to that Putin could have had other tricks up his sleeve. We don't know whether he made additional demands, which could have been like ultimatums at the United States or if he can use something out of the call as a pretext for an invasion.
HARLOW: Steve, how do you think Biden is handling Putin so far?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Poppy, I think pretty well so far and that's actually an important thing, because there's a lot of presidents and it doesn't really matter what party they're associated with who come in and say I'm the new guy and I understand better than anybody else and so I can pull this off.
But I think Biden understands better perhaps because of his previous experience. But I think it's worth remembering how ironic this all is. In the not too distant past, Russia, led by Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed a big chunk of it. Took it away and made it part of Russia and now you got Vladimir Putin coming to the west or coming to the President of the United States and saying, hey, wait, I'm really concerned that you guys are building up troops and NATO is expanding eastward.
HALL: I mean, it's just stunning that they're doing that when they're really the basis of the problem here.
HARLOW: When the shoe is on the other foot, right?
HARLOW: Evelyn, you know and I think so importantly this is bigger than Russia.
HARLOW: This is about a threat to the international order.
FARKAS: Exactly, Poppy. So Americans watching on TV tonight thinking why should I care whether Russia invades Ukraine again, it's not really our business. But it is because we set up a whole system after World War II, an international order that said you can't change boundaries with military force and that countries have the right to choose their own government.
And it hasn't been a perfect system, but it's worked to make sure that you don't have large countries, large powers like the United States and Russia fighting each other. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will try to have his way in other parts of the former Soviet Union and other parts include three NATO countries, the Baltic countries. In addition to that, he'll also try to extend his influence over Poland in the former kind of Eastern Bloc.
And that will be very dangerous, because we have an alliance obligation to defend those countries.
FARKAS: And again, Vladimir Putin won't stop with that either, because he sees the United States as a threat. He doesn't want democracy as an alternative for the Russian people.
HARLOW: Steve, according to the Kremlin, Putin told Biden sanctions against Russia would be a 'colossal mistake'. Is this a threat the U.S. shouldn't be wary of?
HALL: No, not at all. I mean, it's a good thing that Vladimir Putin says something that sanctions or more sanctions would be terrible, because it's a sign that they are having some effect. Now, there's a lot of debate as to how much effect they're actually having and whether or not Putin just foist that on the Russian people, which he absolutely does. But nevertheless, I'm sure he would be happy to get rid of them.
But Evelyn's got it exactly right. This is a big deal. There's a lot of people that think would we actually go to war with the Western NATO, go to the war with Russia over Ukraine, which is difficult for many people to find on a map.
It's not a central place and yet it's critically important because if Russia does get away with this it's going to continue and that is a serious problem, yes.
HARLOW: Evelyn, you make another really interesting point that you think Biden has to and the whole team, frankly, have to think hard about what the administration can offer Putin as a face saving way out, what's an example of what that could be?
FARKAS: Yes. I mean, I think it takes a lot of creativity. I mean, first on arms control, the Russians have a proud history in this area, going back to the Soviet times and they continue to be helpful in cases like the Iran nuclear deal. So there might be ways that we can kind of go back to where we were before or improve on arms control, nuclear or conventional.
But the other thing is to think maybe outside the box. Maybe there's something we can offer Russia in exchange for standing down in the area of kind of climate cooperation. Some cleanup or something that would actually help the globe, where we wouldn't be forfeiting our values and our interests, but we could give Russia something.
HARLOW: Evelyn Farkas, thank you. Steve Hall, great to have both of your minds on a day like this. Thanks very much and Happy New Year to you both.
OUTFRONT next tonight, a new filing from the January 6 Committee telling the Supreme Court that they need Trump's White House documents. How will the court respond?
And in just over 24 hours the expanded Child Tax Credit expires and Democrats are still at odds over a key piece of legislation that can bring it back.
HARLOW: Tonight, the Biden administration and the House January 6 Committee asking the Supreme Court to block former President Donald Trump's attempts to shield his White House records from the Committee. The committee arguing that it is 'overwhelmingly needed' for the Trump's records and that that need should outweigh the former President's interest in confidentiality.
And the Biden administration's lawyers arguing, "Allowing a former president to override the decisions of an incumbent President would be an extraordinary intrusion into the latter's ability to discharge his constitutional responsibilities."
Well, some of the documents in dispute are from the day of the insurrection, White House visitors logs, call logs as well as handwritten notes from former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
I want to bring in our CNN Legal Analyst, Elie Honig. Elie, good evening. You've gone through these new filings. How strong are the arguments?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Poppy, the stakes here are enormous. That said, that doesn't mean this is a close case. And when you look at this case, it's really a legal blowout in favor of the Committee and against Donald Trump. We've already had rulings in favor of the Committee from the federal district court and from a unanimous three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals.
The arguments that got made in today's brief are really the same ones that one below. First of all, on executive privilege, the argument from the Committee is we have Congress and the current president who agree no executive privilege here. The former president has no basis in this case to overturn that.
And then the second big issue is this question of legitimate legislative purpose. The Committee says, well, look, we're Congress, we know whether we have a legitimate legislative purpose. We're looking at changing various laws, including the Electoral Reform Act. And Trump really doesn't have any come back to that other than we don't believe them, we think they have bad motives. But that's not going to carry the day, legally, Poppy.
A couple other interesting points about the new brief, the Committee confirmed that they will be holding public hearings this year. They confirm that they will be issuing a report and they showed clearly that they understand they're on the clock, they only have a year to get this done.
HARLOW: Right. Yes. That was an interesting part of it, I thought as well. Trump's lawyers filed this new brief just yesterday, citing an interview that the Chair of the January 6 Committee, Bennie Thompson, Congressman Bennie Thompson gave to The Washington Post where he said, "That dereliction of duty causes us real concern. And one of those concerns is that whether or not it was intentional and whether or not that lack of attention for the longer period of time, would warrant a referral."
He's talking about a referral, a criminal referral to the Department of Justice, which is what Trump's lawyers are saying, oh, they're just trying to do that. They have no legislative purpose to do that, but doesn't that ignore the fact that you can find something that may be criminal referred to DOJ while also doing legislative business?
HONIG: Exactly. So Donald Trump's argument here is they have bad motives. They're not really looking to examine legislation or pass new laws. What they're really trying to do is sort of quasi prosecute me, investigate me and then send it over to the Justice Department. The problem is those two things are not mutually exclusive, it's not necessarily one or the other. It could be that they're looking at changing laws and revising laws that need to be revisited if in the course of that Congress discovers evidence of a potential crime, they shouldn't send that over to the Justice Department.
So it's not necessarily quite as simple as this either or argument that Trump's making. It's really much more of a political argument than a legal or logical one.
HARLOW: I'm really interested, Elie, in what you think. Do you think that this court is going to grant cert and take up the president's case because they would be exploring and creating precedent in a place where they haven't yet for an ex-president and how much executive power do they have - privilege do they have or not? At the same time, the appellate court was unanimous and really clear in their decision to say no to Trump, you've got to give the documents.
HONIG: It's such a difficult and interesting decision coming up for the Supreme Court. If I had to guess, I would guess that they will not take it and here's why. On the one hand, the reason they should take it and Poppy you're learning this, I know now in your law classes, is this is a unprecedented constitutional issue. That's what the Supreme Court is there for.
On the other hand, let's look at it practically. We don't have what we call a circuit split. We don't have different areas of the country deciding this issue differently from one another. And these opinions are really not controversial. They're pretty airtight.
I don't think the Supreme Court is going to look at what the Court of Appeals did and say we have to step in and fix that. So if I had to guess, I'd say the Supreme Court leaves it alone.
HARLOW: So interesting. Elie, thank you very much.
HONIG: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: Out next -- OUTFRONT next, the chilling words of a gunman accused of killing five people. The books he wrote about murdering people with the same names as some of his real life victims.
And President Biden's agenda still hanging in the balance as the year comes to a close. One senator says January is make or brake. He is my guest next.
Plus, this weekend, do not miss an incredible new CNN film about James Taylor and Carole King's reunion concert tour.
ANNOUNCER: Friends, collaborators, legends, the music shaped a generation. They came together for the tour of a lifetime.
ANNOUNCER: James Taylor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His songs were amazing, his voice was amazing and his demeanor.
JAMES TAYLOR, SINGER: Hee-haw.
ANNOUNCER: And Carole King.
TAYLOR: Carole King, one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I asked her to be a part of my band.
Forty years have passed since the first time we played.
CAROLE KING, SINGER: I loved every experience we have had together. (SINGING)
ANNOUNCER: "Just Call Out My Name", Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.
HARLOW: Tonight, the expanded child tax credit, a major Democratic Party priority, expires tomorrow morning, because Democrats are still at a standstill, former President Biden's roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better legislation.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen in Maryland.
Senator, good evening. Happy New Year. Thanks for joining me.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Poppy, great to be with you.
HARLOW: You said recently January is, quote, make or break for Build Back Better's passage in Congress. Do you think the bill is going anywhere as it is or do you think it needs to be broken up as some of your colleagues suggested?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think major pieces of it are going to get enacted into law. It is not going to look exactly like the bill that came out of the House, but will include really important provisions to cut the cost of prescription drugs, cut the cost on child care, help relieve the squeeze on family budgets, and something many of us have been fighting for for a very long time, which is to expand opportunities through universal early education. And then President Biden's efforts on climate, fighting climate and dealing with the climate crisis. And there will be other provisions as well.
So it won't be identical to the House bill but it will include those major provisions
HARLOW: I am hearing you say it is going to be broken up and is going to be a little smaller at least.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it's going to be somewhat smaller than the House bill. I don't know what you mean by broken up. But there will be some things that drop out.
HARLOW: Yeah. Taken out.
VAN HOLLEN: Major initiatives. Some -- a lot of the key initiatives will continue. I think we'll get those over the finish line.
HARLOW: Speaking to my colleague Phil Mattingly, you made it seem or indicated that holdout Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is maybe more open to changing his position to supporting the bill noting his support for many of the big pieces. Have you personally spoken with Senator Joe Manchin and gotten that indication? VAN HOLLEN: Well, only Joe Manchin can speak for himself, as you
HARLOW: But I said, have you spoken to him.
VAN HOLLEN: He has been part of our caucus conversations and the last time on a caucus conversation my understanding is he is willing to move forward on some big pieces. He has also indicated his opposition to some of the pieces that came out of the house.
But I did sense that there is agreement that we should move forward. And adopt as much as we can that we should not make the perfect be the enemy of the good.
HARLOW: As a member of the foreign relations committee I want to turn topics and ask you about the phone call that just happened today between President Biden and Vladimir Putin. You've been very supportive of sanctions and increased sanctions against Russia to deter its behavior. Putin is warning now his words that any new sanctions against Russia would be, quote, a colossal mistake that could lead to a complete breakdown in relations with the United States.
What do you think when you hear that?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think it is an indication that Putin is worried that we're going to apply very punishing sanctions as we should if Putin takes any further action against Ukraine. I think President Biden has handled this exactly right. As soon as we saw Russia was amassing more forces near the Ukrainian border President Biden reached out to our allies and came up with a plan where we said to Putin in advance if you take further actions against Ukraine, you are going to face very punishing sanctions.
Not pin prick sanctions but very serious sanctions on your economy and you have to de-escalate. In today's phone call it was clear that President Biden, you know, indicated there were two paths. One is de- escalation and then diplomacy in early January. The other path is, you know, would be serious punishing sanctions placed on Russia.
HARLOW: CNN recently reported that Maryland's two-term Governor Republican Larry Hogan is now actually entertaining stepped up Republican efforts to consider running for your Senate seat if he were to win the primary. One Democratic state senator telling CNN that race, quote, would be pretty competitive.
You have reportedly told people privately, quote, I'm running as if he's in. Is that true?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Poppy, I'm very focused on all the issues we've been talking about. I will be prepared for whoever Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Washington recruit to run for the Senate seat. But in the meantime, I'm continuing to focus on things like trying to cut the cost of prescription drugs, cut the cost of child care, deal with these other pressing issues.
HARLOW: I hear you but you can do a lot of things at once. I'm smiling because what I asked you is are you running as if he is in?
VAN HOLLEN: I'm running against -- I'm assuming they'll throw everything they can at me, Poppy.
HARLOW: All right.
VAN HOLLEN: Mitch McConnell as you know well spends 24 hours a day thinking about how he is going to win that one extra seat in the United States Senate so he can win back the gavel. I expect Mitch McConnell to throw everything they can at this Maryland seat and I will be fully prepared.
HARLOW: Boy, haven't we seen how powerful one seat is.
Senator Van Hollen, thanks very much. Again, best wishes for the New Year.
VAN HOLLEN: And you, too. Happy New Year to you.
HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, a suspected gunman wrote under a fake name about killing people in chilling detail, even using the real names of some of the people that he went on target. Were those warning signs just missed?
And a baby dies days after her first birthday party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is this child abuse?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is child abuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: But other experts don't agree. What really happened to this little girl? Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the report.
HARLOW: Tonight, chilling new details in a Colorado shooting rampage, a suspect killing five people in five different locations on Monday. He foreshadowed it all.
Natasha Chen is OUTFRONT.
ALFREDO CARDENAS, FATHER OF VICTIM: Just a shock to everybody.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alfredo Cardenas lost his daughter in a Denver area shooting rampage that left five people dead across four locations on Monday night. It was a shock to families of victims. But clues were left out in the open for anyone who might have seen a series of books the suspect Lyndon McLeod had self- published under a pseudonym.
His books, websites, and social media accounts contained extreme views about guns, violence. What he saw as a decline of masculinity, the role of women, and living off the grid. One book even mentioned a character killing a woman by the same name as Cardenas' daughter Alicia.
CARDENAS: She had friends all over the world. She literally has gone all over the world.
CHEN: Alicia Cardenas owned the Denver tattoo shop where the shooting began Monday evening. She was killed. A friend and former colleague Alyssa Gunn Maldonado was also killed. Her husband was shot but survived. Police said the suspect continued to a condo building east of downtown where he shot and killed a man named Michael Swinyard.
This location and name also came up in the suspect's writings. In one book a character by the same name as the suspect Lyndon McLeod dressed in police clothing and went to the same location to, quote, execute Michael for his betrayal and take everyone's cash according to a building memo sent to condo residents. The shooter arrived at the building impersonating a police officer. Police say they tried to pull him over.
COMMANDER MATT CLARK, DENVER POLICE MAJOR CRIMES DIVISION: The officers stopped their vehicle and the offender tried around and began firing at the officers.
CHEN: A different agency in the nearby suburb of Lakewood was then called to another tattoo parlor where they say the suspect shot and killed Danny Schofield. He went to a hotel in a shopping district where police say he shot and killed a clerk Sarah Steck all before a shootout with Lakewood agent Ashley Ferris who killed the suspect despite being injured herself.
JOHN ROMERO, LAKEWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: She was able to not only save others from this terrible tragedy but also neutralize the threat. And I can't say enough about the courage and bravery shown.
CHEN: It's not clear if police had known about McLeod's writings but the suspect was on their radar.
CHIEF PAUL PAZEN, DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT: There was two investigations, one taking place in mid 2021, in early 2021. That's all part of this ongoing investigation and it would not be responsible for us to share those details.
CHEN (on camera): We're told no charges were ever filed related to those investigations. What we do know about McLeod's background is he was registered with a business called Flat Black Ink Corps now delinquent whose former location was one of the places he went to on Monday night. Police say he didn't injure anyone there but did set a van on fire in an alley near the spot, Poppy.
HARLOW: Natasha Chen, thank you very much for the reporting. Just tragic all around.
OUTFRONT next, a grieving father caught in the middle of a controversial strategy over shaken baby syndrome. Was his little girl's death a homicide or not?
HARLOW: Tonight, a CNN exclusive: a baby girl dies four days after her first birthday party. Her nanny charged with murder after a pediatrician found signs of shaken baby syndrome. But the charges were dropped after defense witnesses challenged mainstream science.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has this story and spoke with Erin about his years' long investigation into a strategy invading courtrooms across America.
GUPTA (voice-over): Relatives from around the world gathered in Boston to celebrate Rehma Sabir's first year of life.
SAMEER SABIR, REHMA'S FATHER: Both of our parents were here. Siblings were here. Everything seemed right with the world.
GUPTA: Yet two days later, after her parents left for work, a cascading nightmare for Rehma began unfolding at home, discovered just as her mother returned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember walking into the doorway of our apartment building and looking up and hearing Ais say, something's wrong. We can't wake Remma up. And you know, her eyes were closed and she was jerking. And she was breathing, but she was struggling.
Then it was just a rush of memories. There were just policemen in the room and there were crouching by her, and someone --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paramedics, fire department. Someone said it's her birthday. Someone said oh, my god.
DR. ALICE NEWTON, CHILD ABUSE PEDIATRICIAN: This was done shortly after she arrived in the hospital.
GUPTA: In a normal brain, there are hills and valleys. In Rehma's scans, you can see they are lost, so much swelling, so much damage. Right away, her doctor suspected abusive head trauma. You've probably heard it called shaken baby syndrome.
Here's what doctors think happens. It may be hard to watch. Weak necks and large heads make infants especially vulnerable when violently shaken. Veins on top of the brain tear. Nerves deep in the brain sever. And destruction to the brain stem can stop breathing, leading to irreversible damage, even death, often without any external signs of trauma.
NEWTON: Although Rehma did have quite a terrible bruise --
GUPTA: Child abuse pediatrician Dr. Alice Newton handled Rehma's case. She showed me Rehma's CAT scan and MRI.
NEWTON: Brain was herniating or swelling so much that was coming out of --
GUPTA: No room in the skull, it's gotten so big, yeah.
Rehma never woke up. She died two days later.
Is this child abuse?
NEWTON: This is child abuse.
GUPTA: Boston medical examiner, Dr. Catherine Lindstrom, agreed. She found Rehma died of complications of blunt force head injuries. She said it was quite simply a homicide.
Remma's Irish nanny, Aisling Brady McCarthy, who said she had been with Remma all day, was arrested and charged with murder and assault and battery on a child. She pled not guilty to all. The tragic tale made international headlines, with the media frenzy not seen since British nanny Louise Woodward's case catapulted Boston and shaken baby syndrome into had spotlight over 20 years ago.
But just before the trial was to begin, the medical examiner suddenly changed her mind. Remma's death was no longer a homicide. Charges against McCarthy were dropped, proclaiming her innocence, she immediately left for Ireland.
We reached out to her through lawyers, her family, even her priest, with no response.
And just like that, Rehma Sabir became the touch point of an emotional and controversial debate that pits doctor against doctor.
NEWTON: There were nine different medical defense experts who wrote varying opinions about why this child didn't die of abuse. When I heard that those were shared with the medical examiner, I felt as if she was being asked to play the role of the judge and the jury.
GUPTA: CNN obtained the documents given to the medical examiner, including the nine defense reports that at the time, she said, helped change her mind. Specifically Lindstrom said she was presented with enough evidence that the bleeding in Rehma's brain could have been related to an accidental injury in a child with a bleeding risk.
We came over here to the medical examiner's office to try to better understand why they changed baby Rehma's diagnosis from homicide to undetermined. But they refused our request for an interview. But in an email statement, they said that if examiners get additional
information that is relevant, they factor it into their analysis, which in some cases results in a change in their original opinion.
Dr. Michael Yogman was Rehma's pediatrician.
DR. MICHAEL YOGMAN, REHMA'S PEDIATRICIAN: This baby did not have a bleeding disorder.
GUPTA: Did not.
YOGMAN: Did not.
GUPTA: So, there was no reason to be suspicious in terms of her health?
YOGMAN: Absolutely not.
GUPTA: It wasn't just bleeding. The defense witnesses had listed dozens of unusual diseases as possible explanations for what happened to Rehma.
I'm going to read you a few of these things that's came up from the defense. If these don't apply, say no.
Hyper IGE syndrome?
GUPTA: Vitamin D deficiencies?
GUPTA: Adoral thrombosis that could have been related to middle ear infection?
GUPTA: An inflammatory disease that looked like ANE which is acute necrotizing encephalopathy?
GUPTA: These are all theories that were --
GUPTA: By doctors, by specialists who did not actually care for Rehma.
NEWTON: Not only by doctors who did not care for her, but by doctors who routinely testify for defense attorneys who routinely provide these alternate explanations in many different settings.
GUPTA: One of those was British neuropathologist, Dr. Waney Squier. She doesn't believe shaken baby syndrome even exists. DR. WANEY SQUIER, PEDIATRIC NEUROPATHOLOGIST: when I started to read
into it and to read the literature, I was appalled. It has no scientific basis at all.
GUPTA: To investigate whether that claim was true, CNN gathered leaders in the field of child abuse who spent years examining and researching abusive head trauma.
Has there been a backlash at all towards mainstream thinking on this?
DR. SABINE MCGUIRE, CHILD ABUSE PEDIATRICIAN: The scientific literature has become increasingly clear in helping us to distinguish which infants may have been abused and those that may not.
GUPTA: Yet, this small group of defense witnesses have had an outsized impact on shaken baby cases across the country. Even the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg referenced their stance in a 2011 dissenting opinion on a shaken baby case in which she wrote, doubt has increased in the medical community over whether infants can be fatally injured through shaking alone.
DR. ALEX LEVY, CHIEF, PEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGY, WILLS EYE HOSPITAL: Our courtrooms are being hijacked. That's a big story. A story I think people need to know.
SABIR: Rehma's buried right over here.
GUPTA: It's a story that Sameer and Neda, Rehma's parents, want the world to know, before another child falls victim.
SABIR: You get caught up in the science and the legal system and all of these other things, but people need to realize that this is what happened. This is the result of shaking a child.
Rehma did not have her day in court. She didn't have her chance at justice.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And Sanjay joins me now.
Sanjay, it's incredibly powerful reporting, really upsetting. I'm seeing that beautiful child. What has happened in this case since McCarthy, the nanny, left for Ireland?
GUPTA: Well, you know, Sameer and Nada, the parents of Rehma, they won a wrongful death lawsuit against McCarthy back in 2016. And they told me that the reason they filed that lawsuit was they did not want McCarthy, the nanny, to profit off of Rehma's story, to do a book or movie or something like that. McCarthy defaulted on the case by not responding, but she has said to the media in the past that she maintains her innocence. She still grieved for Rehma.
The nine defense witnesses you met there, who were responsible in part for sort of reversing what had happened with the case, they told CNN they continue to stand behind their opinions. They don't change their opinions at all. And Rehma, she would have been 10, Erin, this past January. BURNETT: Yeah, as I said, really hard to watch her parents talking
about that story. So you know, when you became aware of this, how often is this happening that you're seeing this happen in the court system?
GUPTA: Well, the way that I became aware of it was because child abuse experts and people in the world of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery were coming to me saying this was happening more and more.
And judges all over the country, they are asking -- they're being asked to review cases even from the past over and over again. They're saying, should we go ahead and put these through another trial again, if you can imagine that, Erin. Just the emotional impact of that cases that have been decided, families that have moved on and judges then asked to review the evidence once again.
BURNETT: Wow. All right. Well, Sanjay, thank you so much.
GUPTA: Thank you. Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: So important, of course, for everyone and for all of us parents.
And I encourage all of you, please, go to CNN.com, also to watch Sanjay's report and to read the powerful three-part series called Justice for Rehma.
HARLOW: "AC360" starts now.