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Erin Burnett Outfront

340,000 Chicago Students Out Of School For 4th Day; District: "We Remain In Negotiations" With Union; U.S. Averages 730K Plus New COVID Cases Per Day, Disrupting Essential Services Nationwide; NYT: Pence Grows Disillusioned About Voluntarily Cooperating With January 6th Committee Probe; Fed Judge Questions Trump's Claim Of Immunity In January 6 Cases; U.S. Urges Russia To Deescalate In "Frank & Forthright" Meeting; Judge Rules Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Can Stay In Australia After Fight Over Vaccine Exemption For Australian Open. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: She's the first black woman ever to appear on the 25 cent coin. Other quarters that featuring prominent women in history we're told will be rolling out later this year.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, face off. The City of Chicago and the powerful teachers union in a stare down tonight over allowing 340,000 kids to return to classrooms. Where do things stand at this moment? The CEO of Chicago Public Schools is my guest tonight.

Plus, Trump's potential legal responsibility for the deadly insurrection facing a major test in court, so what happened today?

And Biden, giving Putin an ultimatum, a path of escalation or diplomacy. What exactly does that mean? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, failing America's children; 340,000 students right now are waiting for word on whether they'll be able to go back to class in the nation's third largest school district. Chicago City officials say they're still negotiating at this hour with the city's powerful teachers union about reopening classrooms. And with the standoff stretching into a second week, anger is boiling over and the attacks are incredibly personal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Mayor has been relentless, but she's been relentlessly stupid. She's being relentlessly stubborn.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D) CHICAGO: They abandon their posts and they abandon kids and their families.


BURNETT: Okay. This is raw emotion and anger. You don't usually see this even when they may feel that way. The standoff is in part because of confusing parameters coming from the federal government. Yes. The Biden administration's been clear that they want schools open.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been very clear publicly and privately that we want to see schools open.


BURNETT: And they have but making - saying you want schools open isn't the same thing as making a clear list of what is and is not necessary to keep schools open and that is what is giving oxygen to these sorts of disputes that we're seeing. And in that void, cities and towns across the nation are doing their own thing, not because they're reveling in federalism and the fact that they can do it, a lot of them would just love to be told some more clarity.

In Chicago, you've got this stalemate. In New York City, the largest school district in the nation schools are open, but the city is disregarding the CDC's latest guidance for five day isolations. There if your kid tests positive, they have to isolate for 10 days, no ifs, ands or buts.

A few weeks ago, if your kid was vaccinated, that made a difference, now they don't even mention vaccination. They don't even ask you if your kid is vaccinated. The Mayor of New York tell CNN he doesn't want universal testing, which is the opposite. Now the second largest school district in the country, Los Angeles, which required every single student be tested to return to school. At least the 60,000 positive students and staff will only miss five days if they can then show a negative test not the 10 like New York, 50,000.

Schools are a checkerboard of open, remote all navigating on their own. But as we mentioned last week into this void, one of the nation's most prominent children's hospitals is trying to lead. This is the guidance from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. They say keep schools open even in times of significant community transmission. They suggest discontinuing weekly testing of asymptomatic students, teachers and school staff. And they say we should be allowing COVID- exposed, but asymptomatic staff and students, to continue attending school in-person.

These may be radical ideas to many, but agree or not, now is the time for seemingly radical thinking. Because remote learning is taking a terrible learning as a whole. And by the way, Chicago they're not getting any learning right now, but remote learning is not a solution here, okay? And the education research group, NWEA found math and reading levels for kids in grades three through eight were lower than normal this fall.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg for many kids. I'm not even touching on all of the terrible mental health tolls that we've seen. Adrienne Broaddus is OUTFRONT live in Chicago tonight.

Adrienne, what is the latest in this fight between the teachers union in the city of Chicago as we are, of course, now, the night before another day of who knows what for kids in school?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, tonight, the battle continues. About an hour ago, the district published a tweet saying in part no decision has been made yet. Regarding school tomorrow, the district saying it continues negotiations at this hour and they will update parents as soon as possible. Here's what we do know. Let's go back to what we saw over the weekend.

That's when the district issued a news release saying the union had 11 proposals on the table. There has been some agreement. Let's start with the good news, in the win column for both sides. CPS will provide KN95 masks for staff and its students.


CPS will also reinstate health screeners on a school by school basis and CPS will continue to offer weekly COVID-19 testing to all students and staff. But the city has fully rejected five proposals, including district wide remote learning, and an opt out screening test program.

The district also says teachers who haven't shown up will not be paid. Despite the union's requests to make up these missed days, the district is saying no, not budging on that. And here we are the fourth day, not sure about what will happen tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a fifth day where students aren't in the classroom, Erin.

BURNETT: Adrienne, thank you very much.

So I want to go now to Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez, right in the middle of all of this. And I really appreciate your time, sir. And I know this is, obviously, minute by minute, we're awaiting a decision on tomorrow. Where do things stand right now and do you have an answer to what tomorrow is going to look like for kids in Chicago?

PEDRO MARTINEZ, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: So Erin, we've been working at this all weekend. All through today, I feel cautiously optimistic that we'll come to an agreement on most things, including school-based metrics.

It's never been an argument for us about investing more in PP and E. We've always wanted to enhance more testing, so I'm going to be cautiously optimistic. So there's discussions going on right now that are - both sides want to make a deal, so I'm hoping that we have news for parents very soon.

BURNETT: And so I know you're giving me this update now. An hour ago, the Chicago Public Schools tweeted no decision's been made yet regarding school tomorrow. So when will parents know whether they can go to work or have to arrange for child care or what they're doing in 12 hours?

MARTINEZ: So, Erin, I'm hoping that we'll know whether there's a resolution or not tonight very soon, hopefully within a couple of hours at the very latest. One of the things that has made me very sad, three months in the job is how parents have been really held hostage through all of this.

And so, we're going to continue to advocate because we know, and you said it very clearly, Erin, we know the negative consequences of remote learning. We know what has happened to our children with their social and mental health. We know that, frankly, when we opened our schools in-person, we saw children that had not been engaged all of last year just come - I mean, they came to school every single day. We saw immediately how different their attitudes were, how much stronger their academics were.

So that's the fight for us, but I'm going to be cautiously optimistic that I'm hoping we're going to have some resolution very soon.

BURNETT: All right. So you go through some of the positives, things agreed to and not, and Adrienne was reporting on that as well. But I just want to understand at the heart of this, because we are in a situation here where you have vaccines available to everyone in those schools, everyone's eligible. And the vaccines are incredibly effective at keeping people from getting very sick.

I understand the vaccination rate among students, as teachers, I'm sorry, in Chicago Public Schools is 91 percent. Students may be lower and I know you're probably not allowed to ask by law whether they're vaccinated or not yet. If not, please correct me. But what's the impasse here with a vaccination rate of 91 percent among teachers?

MARTINEZ: Yes. And actually, Erin, it's actually even higher for teachers. Ninety-one percent is our vaccination rate district-wide.


MARTINEZ: We have challenges with support personnel, so it's actually higher for teachers. And you know what it is, Erin, and that's what the challenge. There's a lot of anxiety. There's a lot of fear for both staff and parents. I understand that because cases are high, but we have shown clearly. The evidence has been clear, our schools have been saved, cases have been very low, very little evidence of transmission.

So I think it's always the fear of the unknown because we're in this surge, but even the head of our Department of Health has said very clearly, this Omicron is actually much milder, especially with vaccinated adults and even with unvaccinated children.

BURNETT: So the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia brings me to this point, because one of the challenges seems to be is that there's a lot of confusion about who's giving guidance and who to follow. In New York, before the holidays, if a child was vaccinated and asymptomatic, even if exposed in the classroom, they could go in. That's not the case anymore and now vaccinations sort of even been taken off as if it's not relevant. I think there is a lot of confusion.

So the Children's Hospital Philadelphia, they obviously want to keep schools open. They go further than the CDC, Pedro. They want to allow expose, but asymptomatic children and staff to return to school and they recommend ending any required weekly testing of asymptomatic students and teachers.

Anyone who wanted to opt in could but they would end required testing of asymptomatic people. Is that something that makes sense to you? I would imagine that would not make sense to the Union.

MARTINEZ: Yes, Erin.


But I think you're hitting the heart of the problem. We can find, for example, these recommendations. We can find recommendations that are the opposite. The extremes that you're hearing in New York and even in some parts of - other parts of the country. And I think here's the crux of it and you said it, this should have been decided at the federal level, whether there's a vaccine mandate, the actual guidelines for schools.

Because what's frustrating for me, Erin, is the fact that everything else is opened. Everything, all the restaurants, all the sporting events, everything is open and yet there's this argument about schools, whether school should be open or not. And we know that school should be the last institution to be closed, and they should be the first ones to be open if there was a full lockdown.

And so we know that vaccines are working. Yes. Is there a fear? Absolutely. And that's why we say we're committed to investing in PP and E. We're committed to strengthening safety procedures. But again, we should be handling things at a community level, at a school level.

Because what's happening, Erin, in Chicago is that vaccination rates vary significantly across our city. They vary across, again, across my schools. So what I have asked our union is let me deal with it at the school level. I can deploy resources at a school level, vaccination events, more testing, but to do it at the district level, it's just unfair.

I have over a hundred thousand children, Erin, that are fully vaccinated, over a hundred thousand and more, because that is the late. And so, those families did everything right and some of them even went and got negative COVID tests before we came back from break.

BURNETT: Yes. And they should be in school and fully vaccinated children are in classrooms with fully vaccinated teachers. Yes. All right. Pedro, thank you very much. I hope that there will be good news coming out of Chicago tonight.

I want to go now to Laurie Skurow, the parent of a second grader to Chicago Public School. I know you're hoping to hear good news. Laurie. I can imagine, as a parent, how incredibly frustrating this is for you, four days of no school for your child and you still don't know what it's going to be tomorrow morning. What's your reaction to all of this? LAURIE SKUROW, PARENT OF 2ND GRADER AT CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Hi,

Erin. Thanks for having me. Day-to-day I feel pretty angry and pretty frustrated. The uncertainty of not knowing how to plan day-to-day is so hard and on top of that, I don't know what to tell my son. Every day he says, "Am I going to be in school tomorrow?" I don't have an answer for him and then I have to give him an answer why.

So I have to explain to him the reasons that he's not in school and I personally don't have a good answer, because we have done everything right. Really echoing what CEO Martinez said, my son is fully vaccinated, he wears a mask every day, I got him tested when he went back from the holidays.

His school has, I believe, over 75 percent vaccination rate for the students and a hundred percent for teachers. So we have done everything right and I don't have those answers as to why my son can't be at school.

BURNETT: It's got to be incredibly frustrating. And I know, Laurie, the context for you. Your mom was a school teacher for 40 years. You obviously support teachers.


BURNETT: Everyone does.

SKUROW: Absolutely.

BURNETT: But how do you feel about the union's demands right now?

SKUROW: I think the union is not listening to science. So the union, the CTU is not the CDC. They don't get to decide what the thresholds are. We have the CDC and the department, the Chicago Department of Public Health, they're both saying it is safe for students to go back to school.

In fact, it is arguably the safest place for students to be. So it is extremely frustrating when you hear this, that the union is not listening to science, they're not listening to the experts and then the rhetoric that's coming out of them toward the city and toward CPS for Jesse Sharkey to be name calling the Mayor, there's - that's pretty difficult. We're all adults here, so it just - it feels like the union has their own agenda and it's not reflective of the whole city.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Laurie, I really appreciate your time and I feel for you. Thank you so much.

SKUROW: Thank you.

BURNETT: The next, trash piling up. EMTs forced to turn down calls for help. Tonight, a look at the devastating effect the record number of COVID cases and quarantine requirements are having on essential services in the United States.

Plus, can trump be sued by House Democrats and police officers for inciting the deadly insurrection or not? This is what a judge is at this moment deciding.

And tennis star Novak Djokovic wins in court, tonight insists he will compete in Australia's open despite not being vaccinated, but there is a person who can still stand in his way. What will he decide?




BURNETT: Tonight, sanitation workers testing positive for COVID causing delays in garbage removal. Staffing shortages are forcing cancellations and slowdowns in public transit. Airport security checkpoints are shutting down over a lack of manpower as coronavirus cases explode across the United States and the quarantine periods remain multiday, 10 to 14 days in many cases. The essential services Americans rely on are breaking down. Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In New York City, trash lies uncollected, three subway lines are closed, so many city staff are out sick. Across Colorado, so many EMTs are out. They're now turning away some non urgent callers. Upwards of 5 million Americans will be stuck at home over the coming days, says one economist, all down to the Omicron tsunami.

Nearly a quarter of American hospitals are now reporting a critical staff shortage with nearly 140,000 patients in those hospitals fighting COVID-19.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROF. & DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Much of our hospital workforce is getting knocked out at home with symptomatic COVID.


WATT (voice over): Here in California. COVID positive health workers can now go to work, if they're asymptomatic.


ZENEI TRIUNFO-CORTEZ, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION: I think it's very callous and it's putting our patients and ourselves in grave danger.



WATT (voice over): Some overwhelmed testing labs now forced to prioritize results just for the symptomatic.


HOTEZ: Diagnostic testing is in shambles. And so when you add up all of that together, we've got a very serious situation facing our nation this month.


WATT (voice over): This country is now averaging a stunning 700,000 plus new COVID-19 infections every day, an all time high and still rising. Thousands of schools didn't open last week after winter break due to COVID.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a staff shortage that led to the closure.


WATT (voice over): One North Carolina district now telling some high schoolers to ride city buses because they're out of drivers for the yellow ones.

Meantime, city bus services slashed in the likes of Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon. Cruises also being canceled and more than 25,000 flights canceled since Christmas due to weather and Omicron. How long might all this last? Well, Alaska Airlines has cut 10 percent of its flights through the end of January.


WATT (on camera): Now, some experts think that the Omicron surge may have peaked in certain parts of the contrary, the northeast, for example. But that is far from a consensus opinion. It's going to be a few more weeks, at least, before it peaks nationally.

And of course, we only really know through testing and the testing is in shambles because it's overwhelmed by Omicron. Here in Los Angeles, they're talking about opening new testing centers in libraries and activating what they call disaster service workers. Erin?

BURNETT: Interesting to see what that actually means. All right. Nick Watt, thank you very much. And for more on this, I want to go straight to Diane Swonk, labor market expert and Chief Economist at Grant Thornton.

So Diane, how much of a threat are these labor shortages that we're seeing right now to the U.S. economy?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Well, it's really fairly large. What we're seeing is a mimicked sort of mandated lockdown. It's mimicking that because we have such a cute labor shortages and so many people out sick at the same time that it's basically locking down the economy. We've seen restaurants shut down. We've seen theater shut down. You noted all of the disruptions you saw. But what's so different about the original lockdowns is, of course,

these aren't as targeted and they're really hitting into essential services in a way that we have not seen before. The shortages of hospital staff coming in on the back of already record high rates in the health care sector, burnout is really high. And then you add on top of it as much as 15 percent at some hospitals that are out sick.

This really is something that is disruptive to the entire economy and could even give us a negative quarter in the first quarter, because of the disruptions that we see.

BURNETT: So Diane, as an economist and you have covered so many different stories and cycles through your career, nobody would have thought that a year into having access to vaccines that prevent people from getting really sick, that we would be in a place where the economy is shutting down due to the virus spreading rapidly, because we have vaccines that work and everybody from five up is eligible to have them.

So it was psychology that has come into play here. How can you gauge at this point what the impact of this will be, that psychology is seems to be much more significant than science or economics right now?

SWONK: Well, that's really been something we - if you study all pandemics, this is nothing new. And I guess one of the things that strikes me even demonizing of the experts that happened in the 14th century in Venice, when they had the first quarantine, a 40-day shutdown to try to stop the plague back then. The person who did that was blamed much like Dr. Fauci is blamed today and demonized.

So I think this is - what bothers me the most is that we haven't seen our public health professionals really collaborate with psychologists, sociologists, historians, behavioral economists to incent people and prepare for this pandemic in a better way. And that all the way into it, we still seem surprised by this. We shouldn't be surprised by it and that's one of the most humbling things as an economist is because we'd like to predict that we'd maybe be out of this in an endemic and we hope that it gets us there.

But at the end of the day, this is sort of like forecasting in quicksand, every time you think you got to tether out, you get another wave that pulls you back in.

BURNETT: All right. Diane, thank you so much. I always have appreciated your analysis. Thanks.

SWONK: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, tough questions from a judge who is now deciding whether Trump can be sued for the siege on the Capitol.

Plus, Biden giving Putin an ultimatum, back down from Ukraine or risk what the White House is calling an escalation. Okay. So what is an escalation and what path will Putin choose?



BURNETT: All right. We've got breaking news, former Vice President Mike Pence, who was considering cooperating voluntarily with the January 6 Select Committee is now unsure. This is according to a new report tonight in The New York Times, which is reporting that this now issue with Pence of whether he may not cooperate or not is in part because he believes the Committee is becoming more partisan, specifically more partisan and designed to hurt Republican chances of winning control of Congress.

So this new report comes as a federal judge is asking tough questions about why former President Trump didn't do more to stop a violent mob from storming the Capitol on January 6th. The comments came during a hearing today on three lawsuits from House Democrats and Capitol police officers, which are looking to hold Trump himself along with Donald Trump, Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Republican Congressman Mo Brooks liable for inciting insurrection. Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.

So Jessica, specifically on this issue of the hearing, Trump's lawyer tried to argue today that anything that Trump did as president is protected from lawsuits.


The judge though did not seem to buy that.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He didn't, Erin. Really, I mean, the judge pushed back considerably on this idea that Trump is somehow shielded from these lawsuits. So, this was, you know, a nearly-five-hour hearing.

And in this hearing, lawyers for Trump and those other defendants -- they are urging this judge to toss out these lawsuits on multiple grounds but specifically when it came to Trump, the judge here repeatedly pointed out that while Trump asked the crowd to march to the Capitol, he didn't bother speaking out as the violence was unfolding.

So this is what Judge Amit Mehta told Trump's lawyers this afternoon. He said the words are hard to walk back. You have an almost two-hour window where the president does not say stop, get out of the Capitol, this is not what I wanted you to do.

What do I do about the fact the president didn't denounce the conduct immediately and sent a tweet that arguably exacerbated things? Isn't that, from a plausibility standpoint that the plausibly president agreed with the conduct of the people inside the Capitol that day.

So, part of the question, Erin, these judges grappling with is whether Trump as president should be shielded from a lawsuit that accuses him of inciting these rioters. If the judge does decide that Trump should not be shielded because he was acting outside the scope of his presidential duties, that would be significant. Trump would be deposed. He would finally have to answer questions about what he was doing on and before January 6th.

But, you know, Erin, Judge Mehta did say this is not an easy case. He grappled with this over five hours. Surely, he will grapple with it for the coming days and then when he does issue that decision, Erin, it will probably be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. So it could take a while here for this full issue to be resolved.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.

So, I want to go now to Dana Bash, co-anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION" and Norm Eisen, who served as counsel to House Democrats during Trump's first impeachment trial. And I know, Norm, you are also part of a team working with the D.C. attorney general in a separate January 6th case before this judge.

So, let me start with you, Norm, because we have got the -- this -- this -- this issue with the judge. And of course, this news from "The New York Times." I -- I want to ask you about that, first.

"The New York Times'" reporting that the former-vice president -- you know, the committee sort of presented was likely to cooperate may now be -- is unsure about doing so and that he believes, according to "The New York Times," he has told aides that the committee has taken a sharp partisan turn by openly considering the potential for criminal referrals to the Justice Department about Mr. Trump and others.

What do you think about this, Norm? This is pretty significant and could put the committee of having to make a decision about a subpoena for the former vice president.

NORMAN EISEN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Erin, thanks for having me back. I think the committee has been cautious about predicting who will and will not cooperate. But there is nothing partisan about a congressional committee making criminal referrals. It is a common practice.

And, Erin, if the evidence indicates that crimes were committed, it's vitally important that the 1/6 committee send that evidence and its legal analysis to the Justice Department and we heard from the attorney general last week. He was care -- careful and he was measured that, he will not play any favorites, that he will do justice in this case.

So, he's ready to receive. I think that it's Mike Pence who may be playing a little bit of politics here, getting a little bit of cold feet. But let's remember, we have seen this dance back-and-forth before. We need to see how it plays out. But the committee must make those referrals.

BURNETT: And, Dana, you know, it's interesting, of course, the vice president has been negotiating, right, his team with the committee since last summer, right? So, this isn't new. But, you know, this coming out now, you know, they do say Mr. Pence, in his view, these -- these criminal referrals that Norm is referring to appear designed to hurt Republican' chances of winning control of Congress in November, right? That -- that team pence is put out that they see the committee

becoming partisan.

Is he playing politics here? Or do you think he's made up his mind, already?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's so much politics going on here. I know that's shocking, but because there are -- the word dance is one that Norm used and I think that's a very important one. There is a lot of posturing happening. And there's a posturing happening on all sides.

And when it comes to Mike Pence and his world, there are multiple dynamics within that world, right? You have the former-vice president. What he may want to do when it comes to his legal and historical obligation. And then, you have the reality of the fact that he is, you know, 60, 61 years old and wants a political future in the Republican Party that is still totally dominated by his former boss, Donald Trump.


So, there is a lot of posturing going on right now within and even among Pence staffers and Pence confidants. And also, Erin, among members of the committee. I mean, how many times did we hear in and around the January 6th anniversary last week, senior members of the committee falling all over themselves to say how much of a hero and a patriot and -- and -- and a constitutional -- maybe not scholar but somebody who was -- who was following the constitution on January 6th, 2021. That was not an accident.

So, there is a lot going on there, and -- and the public, in order to try to influence what's going on in private, and also, never mind, the former-president himself.

BURNETT: And so, Norm, let's talk about the former president and today's hearing because as I mentioned, you know the judge in this case. And, you know, you heard Jessica talk about he is grappling over this, right? Whether Trump can be held liable for what he did not do on January 6th, right, in terms of calling his -- that crowd back, his supporters back.

So, what do you think this judge ultimately does? Does he allow the lawsuits to proceed against Trump and his allies? Or not?

EISEN: Well, Erin, 30 years at the bar has taught me that predictions of what judges will do even when I know them are perilous.

But my takeaway from those five hours of very careful, argument and questioning and tough questioning from both sides from Judge Mehta was that this case against the former president is going to make it past this stage of the litigation -- the motion to dismiss stage. You know, the -- among the legal issues, there is the question of were these duties within the president's official-job description? Or is inciting an insurrection outside of the president's job description? I mean, come on. Attacking your own government is not part of the job

description. There are questions about whether or not a conspiracy was formed. But as you heard, the judge said well for -- at least for purposes of this stage, the -- the ex-president's words could be construed as constituting an agreement.

And then, there is the failure to act that is so important to the committee's decision of whether or not to take a criminal referral that we were just talking about.


EISEN: Those now-infamous 187 minutes. So, I think they are going to make it through on the case against Trump at this stage.

BURNETT: So, Dana, final question is why we believe the GOP will shut down the committee if it regains control of the House in November? Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is now being very public about his intent to go even further, and to remove key Democrats from important committees. Here he is today.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The Democrats created a new thing where they are picking and choosing who can with on committee. Never in the history have you had the majority tell the minority who could be on committee but this new standard, which these Democrats have voted for. You look at Adam Schiff. He should not be serving on Intel when he has openly, knowingly now used a fake dossier, lied to the American public in the process, and doesn't have any ill will.


BURNETT: He also said he would kick off Ilhan Omar and Eric Swalwell from their communities.

Is he right the Democrats opened the door to this with Marjorie Taylor Greene and others?

BASH: He -- he is right, to a certain extent, except for a really important caveat here, Erin. And that is, the reason Democrats did what they did is because, historically speaking, each party handles its own when it comes to the committees. They reprimand and punish their own, when need be.

And in this case, Kevin McCarthy didn't do it. You go back in time, he did it with Steve King when Steve King made series of racial -- racially-insensitive remarks. But he didn't do it for this crowd, and that is the reason Democrats say they -- they acted. And it's not as if they did it in a vacuum.

BURNETT: Thank you, both, very much.

And next, the stakes could not be higher, as Biden pressures Putin to step back from what could turn into a potential war. Ad a court rules tennis star Novak Djokovic can compete in Australia's

open but that does not mean that he is actually going to compete. We will see. I will explain why.



BURNETT: New tonight, the White House issuing an ultimatum to Russia, amid high-stakes talks in Geneva to thwart a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are two paths for Russia to take at this point, for President Putin to take. He can take the path to diplomacy. Or there is a path of escalation. We are certainly hopeful that the path to diplomacy is the path that they will take.


BURNETT: This comes, as CNN learns that the Biden administration quietly authorized another $200 million in aid for Ukraine amid growing fears about the Russian troop buildup on the border -- hundreds of thousands of troops.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Russia's leverage in crucial negotiations with the United States and its allies. More than 100,000 troops massed near the Ukrainian border, poised to invade if the Kremlin doesn't get what it wants. But after seven and a half hours of difficult and straightforward talks with U.S. officials and Geneva, there is still key differences on Ukraine and its future.

SERGE RYABKOV, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION: For us, it's absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes member of NATO.


CHANCE: Privately, diplomats admit there is little chance of that, anyway. But U.S. officials insist formally ruling out NATO membership under Russian pressure will not happen.

WENDY SHERMAN, UNITED STATES DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We were firm, however, in pushing back on security proposals that are simply nonstarters for the United States. We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO's open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance.

CHANCE: There have also been clear warnings from the U.S. of tough new sanctions if Russia launches another invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials say the unspecified sanctions would go much further than previous ones imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and would have an overwhelming impact on the Russian economy. But there are areas of possible U.S. compromise, like, reviving a treaty on missile deployments in Europe -- abandoned in 2019 amid signs of Russian violations.

U.S. officials have also suggested there is room to scale down NATO exercises in Eastern Europe if Russia starts to withdrawal the forces it's been building up for months near Ukraine. But as ever, it may come down to how President Putin of Russia wants to proceed. On the one hand, he's been undeterred by sanctions in the past and may decide to press ahead in Ukraine.

On the other, he likes to be seen as the leader of a global power, on an equal footing with his U.S. counterpart. The fact Russia and the U.S. are now holding "direct talk" is, for his Kremlin, already a diplomatic win.


CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, those talks will be continuing and broadening out throughout the course of this week. Russian -- Russian officials are meeting NATO officials in Brussels on Wednesday. The day after, there will be meetings with the European Security Organization, OSCE. Only after that, by the end of the week, are we going to get a clearer picture of whether Russia is determined to press ahead on Ukraine, or whether it can be convinced to step back from the brink.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew, thank you very much. Reporting from the ground in Moscow tonight.

I want to go now to John Sipher, former CIA deputy chief of Russian operations.

So, John, I really appreciate your time. So the proposed sanctions that the Biden administration is put out there they say are, quote, star high and stay high, very different than what they did in 2014. They targeted, you know, small banks and low-level military. Now, they say big oligarchs, top military, and Russian consumers -- everybody.

Is Putin going to cave to this threat?

JOHN SIPHER, FORMER CIA DEPUTY CHIEF OF RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: No, Putin's not going to cave to the threat. When you -- when you think about Vladimir Putin, you have to think about someone who is essentially operates with the mentality of an autocrat, a former-KGB officer, and an organized crime boss.

And, you know, we have now seen for the last ten years he's been engaged in sort of an ongoing political warfare campaign against the west. And every time that he has taken action that we've been uncomfortable with and we have tried to sanction him or, in some way, push back, we -- we have never really pushed back hard.

We have always tried to leave a little bit of room so that, you know, he could change course or that -- or accommodate him, maybe things will get better.

Listen, now we have 20 years with this man. I think we understand how he operates. It just doesn't work that way. We assume that he wants a stable and predictable situation -- security situation -- like we do and he doesn't. He wants to overturn the entire applecart.

BURNETT: So, you know, 2014, Biden, of course, was vice president when those much weaker sanctions went in place. Biden pushed for stronger ones -- I think that's important to note.

But Putin did not do this -- right, Putin invaded then and -- and now, he is massing on the border. Didn't happen during the Trump administration. And I am wondering why you think Putin is choosing to do this now, to test now?

SIPHER: Well, a couple reasons. One is, you know, he is essentially losing in Ukraine. In 2014, he -- you know, people there wanted a democratic future. He pushed back, he invaded, he took Crimea. He took the eastern part of the country.

And since that time, he has tried to undermine their politics. He has tried subversion, he is tried cyberattacks, a number of all sorts of things and none of them seem to be working. Ukraine is more Western than it was at the beginning of the process.

And for him, a problem with -- if you have a Democratic successful Ukraine on your border, it is a symbol to people, perhaps inside Russia, of what a Democratic country could be like and that's -- that's a danger to him.

BURNETT: John, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SIPHER: Sure. Glad to see you.

BURNETT: Right. You, too.

And Novak Djokovic, next, back on the court after a victory in court, one step closer to competing in Australia's grand slam.


However, he is not vaccinated and there is one man who could stop him.

Plus, the "Full House" cast members remember the patriarch of the Tanner family.


BURNETT: New tonight, the Association of Tennis Professionals calling the visa flop surrounding tennis star Novak Djokovic, quote, damaging on all fronts. It comes after a judge in Australia allowed him to stay in the country ahead of the Australian Open, despite being unvaccinated in violation of Australian law.

Phil Black is OUTFRONT.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A big win for tennis star Novak Djokovic, this time in a court of law, tweeting Monday he's pleased and grateful that a judge overturned the Australian government's decision to cancel his visa and he still wants to compete in the upcoming open.

His supporters celebrating the judge's decision. Some blocking traffic in Melbourne. Others scuffling with police who used pepper spray on overzealous fans.

Djokovic's Australian drama started fueling strong emotions last week when the unvaccinated player announced he'd been granted an exemption to play in the tournament. But when he arrived in Australia Wednesday, officials said his visa had been canceled for failing to meet entry requirements.

Authorities moved him to his Melbourne hotel turned temporary immigration detention center where he waited for days, while his lawyers went to work.

Finally, Monday, a Melbourne judge ordered Djokovic's release and overturned his visa cancellation ruling border officials hadn't treated him fairly.

Djokovic's father hailed the ruling.

SARJDJNA DJOKOVIC, NOVAK DJOKOVIC'S FATHER (through translator): They waited for him at the airport. They had no right. They just took away all of his rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This press conference is adjourned.

BLACK: His brother dodged questions about Djokovic's public appearances after testing positive for COVID in December.


Social media photos from the day and day after show him at three events, maskless, and surrounded by people. A court affidavit reveals Djokovic knew he was infected when he attended.

It's that positive test result, his lawyers say, is the basis for a medical exemption he was granted to play in Australia. But the Australian government maintains a previous COVID infection isn't grounds for any exemption from its entry vaccine requirements.

Now, the saga may continue. Australia's immigration minister still has the power to cancel Djokovic's visa. As Serbia's tennis star fights to play for a record 21st grand slam, his legacy on and off the court hangs in the balance.


BLACK (on camera): So, Erin, Novak Djokovic is free. Free to prepare for next week's Australian open. But he still can't be sure he is going to make it onto the court, not until the Australian government confirms that it accepts this court decision because until then, it is possible, at any moment, the country's immigration minister could choose to use his personal power and cancel the visa again.

He says he is considering it and if that happens, it will come with an extra penalty. He will not just be deported, he will also be banned from entering and, therefore, playing in Australia for the next three years -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's pretty stunning. And the whole decision-making process is pretty stunning. I guess, one thing is sure, nobody, other than him, would be even getting this kind of treatment -- you know, being allowed to come in.

All right. Thanks so much, Phil.

And OUTFRONT next, we remember one of the most familiar faces on television, Bob Saget.


BURNETT: The heartfelt tributes pouring in after the sudden death of beloved TV dad Bob Saget. He is best known for his role as Danny Tanner in "Full House" and the 1980s and 1990s. His career, though, spanned four decades, also included hosting "America's Funniest Home Videos".

Saget was most at home doing stand-up on stage. Now, his cause of death tonight is still unknown but the cast of "Full House" released a statement.

It reads in part: Bob made us laugh until we tried. Now, our tears flow in sadness but also with gratitude for all the beautiful memories of our sweet, kind, hilarious, cherished Bob. He was a brother to us, guys. A father to us, girls, and a friend to all of us.

Bob, we love you dearly.

We ask, in Bob's honor, that you hug the people you love. No one gave better hugs than Bob.

"AC360" starts now.