Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Appeals Court Rejects Trump Plea to Keep Jan 6 Documents Secret; 16- and 17-Year-Olds Now Eligible for Pfizer COVID Booster Shot; Jussie Smollett Found Guilty of Falsely Reporting Hate Crime; Biden Seeks United Front with Ukraine and NATO Allies. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 10, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday, December 10th. Happy Friday, everybody. Five a.m. in New York.

Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We begin with former President Trump losing a major legal battle in his effort to block the January 6 committee from obtaining key White House records. Now, Trump wanted notes, memos and other documents kept secret. But a federal appeals court rejected that plea, writing in part, quote, the events of January 6 exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted.

ROMANS: House committee members applauded the ruling. Vice Chair Liz Cheney tweeting, the investigation is firing on all cylinders and the truth will come out.

The case is likely now destined for the Supreme Court. CNN's Jessica Schneider in Washington starts us off this morning with more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, a second loss for Trump to keep his White House records out of the hands of the January 6th Committee. The D.C. Federal Appeals Court refusing to agree with Trump's claims that his assertion of executive privilege over those documents should prevail when the current President Joe Biden has waived the privilege. The three judges saying that Trump just hasn't advanced any arguments that would warrant the documents being held back when the current president has said they should be given over to the committee.

And this decision means the committee is one step closer to obtaining hundreds of pages of records from Trump's White House stemming from those days surrounding January 6th. That includes White House call logs, visitor logs, even handwritten notes and drafts of presidential speeches on January 6th.

So, the next hurdle here could be the Supreme Court. The appeals court has said the documents will be held back for 14 days while Trump's legal team asks the Supreme Court to take the case up. The Trump spokesperson saying that is exactly what they will do, tweeting this. Saying, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court. President Trump's duty to defend the Constitution and the office of the presidency continues.

But the Supreme Court doesn't necessarily have to take up this case. And if they don't, this ruling would stand, and Trump's lords would -- records would ultimately be -- records would ultimately be released to the committee. It will be several weeks before we know exactly what the Supreme Court would do here -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Jessica, thank you so much for that.

Important health news this morning. Older teens are eligible now for COVID booster shots and federal health officials are recommending they get them right now. Get them right away.

The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine booster in teens age 16 and 17. A short time later, the CDC made it an official recommendation.

JARRETT: An FDA official noted new evidence that vaccine effectiveness is waning after the second dose for adults and older teens. And that a booster helps provide continued protection. With more holiday gatherings coming up now, officials are strongly recommending boosters for everyone, even using poetry to make the point.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NIH DIRECTOR: We have a pretty bad time happening right now with the delta variant. Once again, cases going up, hospitalizations going up, deaths going up. So if you haven't yet got that booster and you are six months away from Pfizer or Moderna or two months away for J&J, don't wait.

This is the moment. Christmas is coming. The geese are getting fat. Don't wait for your booster. Go and get that.


JARRETT: More now from senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Pfizer booster for people ages 16 and 17. So 16 and 17-year-olds who got the Pfizer vaccine to begin with, six months after their second shot, they would then be eligible to get a booster with Pfizer. Let's take a look at some numbers. Once this goes through, 2.6 million U.S. teens will be eligible for a

booster. Already, 141 million adults are eligible. Now, for adults, they can do a mix and match approach to boosters, get a different booster shot than the shots that they got initially.

But for 16 and 17-year-olds who got Pfizer, they do need to get Pfizer as their booster -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: All right. Elizabeth, thank you for that.

It is time for three questions in three minutes. So let's bring in Dr. Ali Raja, professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School and executive vice chair of department of emergency medicine at Mass General.

Doctor, good morning. So nice to have you.

So, the FDA and CDC both now endorsing booster shots for teens 16 to 17. I wonder, though, how do you view this sort of 180-degree turn, I feel, we have seen now on boosters?


We went from saying, if you're healthy, especially younger and healthy, you don't have to rush out to get a booster. To now everyone needs to rush out to get a booster including these teenagers. What happened to the whole concern about myocarditis, which I had understood was the reason there was that hesitation on boosters for young kids?

DR. ALI RAJA, EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, MASS. GENERAL HOSPITAL: You know, that's actually a really good question. Now, the fact is we've learned a lot about myocarditis over the past many months since we had the vaccines out. And what we have seen is that the vast majority of cases of myocarditis, and there's only been a few, have been mild and self-limiting.

But what's happened is we have seen that myocarditis is actually a much bigger risk when you actually get COVID itself. So it's a really easy choice between the two.

JARRETT: It just seems like the time, though, for kids to get the boosters was before thanksgiving, before they were going to see grandma, and now we're heading into Christmas. I mean, I hope they get them now, but the data on parents not getting these boosters is not great.

ROMANS: Yeah, with the hesitancy among parents still.


ROMANS: Based on the data you've seen thus far this week, how confident should people feel their booster shot will stand up to Omicron, Doctor? RAJA: You know, the booster shots have actually shown pretty good

data. They just came out over the past couple of days. What was concerning is that the initial two-shot doses of Moderna and Pfizer really showed a lot of decreased effectiveness against Omicron, like 25 times less than with the original variant.

But the boosters bring that level of protection right back up to where we were months ago with just the two shots and the original variant. They should feel confident with the boosters.

JARRETT: Doctor, as we see more people heading indoors, more people eating in indoor restaurants, the holidays are here, cases are already up and we are not even at Christmas and New Year's Eve yet. But cases are up across the country.

How do we prepare for this type of winter surge?

RAJA: I completely agree. I'm worried that we'll see a surge, and actually I start today see it during my shift in the ER this week. I've seen a lot more cases of COVID and other respiratory illnesses than I have seen during my shift in the past, especially more than last year, exactly because of the reason you said.

People are indoors, we're not wearing masks, we're gathering. We have this need to get together especially for the holidays. But especially during the holidays, we need to stay safe. So if you're not boosted, get and make sure you wear your masks.

Get rapid tests for gatherings. Please try to stay as safe as possible. Hospitals are already overcrowded right now.

ROMANS: I feel like that message is it getting through. We know the daily vaccination, 457,000 daily initiating vaccines. That's up 39 percent from last month. So people, people I think are hearing the message.

JARRETT: Slowly but surely.

ROMANS: All right. Dr. Ali Raja, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

All right. To this story now, a wave of brazen store robberies has CEOs pleading with the Congress for help. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago among the cities that have seen these smash-and-grab mob attacks, targeting upscale retailers like Nordstrom and Louis Vuitton, big box stores and drugstores.

Best Buy, Home Depot and CVS are among more than 20 retail leaders sent a letter to Congress yesterday urging lawmakers to take action. They're calling for passage of the INFORM act, that stands for Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Market places. That measure would make it easier for consumers to identify exactly who they are buying from. Makes it harder for criminals to hide behind fake identities as they try to sell that stolen merchandise online, right? So, choke off the market for the stuff that the criminals are

stealing. After several Best Buy outlets in Minnesota were looted on Black Friday, the company is implementing added security measures to safeguard employees and shoppers.

The retail industry is struggling to handle this escalation in organized -- it's very organized theft here. The National Retail Federation says robberies has jumped nearly 60 percent from 2015. Costs stores $719,000 per $1 billion in sales.

JARRETT: All right. Coming up for you, Jussie Smollett found guilty of lying to police about staging that hate crime. We're going to walk you through the sentencing he's facing next.

ROMANS: And gripping eyewitness testimony from the girlfriend of Daunte Wright.


ALAYNA ALBRECHT-PAYTON, GIRLFRIEND OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: It was a video to see what happened. I was delirious. I was just screaming, they just shot him. They shot him.


ROMANS: More from the witness stand, next.



ROMANS: Actor Jussie Smollett now facing felony sentencing after a jury found him guilty Thursday of staging a hate crime against himself and lying to police about it.

Meantime, the city of Chicago is seeking back pay from Smollett, pushing ahead with his lawsuit to recoup the cost of the police investigation.

We get more now on the verdict and what's next from CNN's Omar Jimenez.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, Laura, the jury deliberated for more than nine hours and convicted Jussie Smollett on five counts of disorderly conduct for making a false police report that he was the victim of a hate crime and the victim of a battery.


Now, the prosecution wanted jurors to believe the Osundairo brothers who testified that Jussie Smollett recruited them to help stage a fake hate crime. And special prosecutor Dan Webb said this verdict sent a resounding message that he did what we said he did. And not only that, they said he lied under oath in this, and that's something they are going to explore when it comes to sentencing.

The defense wanted the jury to believe Jussie Smollett, who said the Osundairo brothers were lying, and that he had nothing to do with any of this. And Smollett has maintained his innocence for the nearly three years since January 2019, and still maintains his innocence even after this verdict was read. But the jury, at least in this case, disagreed.

A motions hearing is set for January to begin the sentencing process at this point, but his defense team has said they will 100 percent appeal this decision.

On the civil side, the city of Chicago says they plan to continue pursuing the litigation on that front to give the city back the money they spent to investigate this alleged crime.

Back to you.


JARRETT: Omar, thank you for that.

Emotional testimony in another trial from Daunte Wright's girlfriend. It's the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in his killing. The girlfriend was in the car when Wright was shot by this officer who claims that she mistook her gun for a Taser during a traffic stop.


ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I was the only one out of everybody there who was trying to help him.

JARRETT: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is covering the trial in Minneapolis.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura.

Painful testimony inside of the courtroom on Thursday. We heard from the woman Daunte Wright was dating at the time of the shooting. Her name, Alayna Albrecht-Payton. She took us inside the white vehicle Wright was driving, the video scene we've seen played over and over again during the course of the trial on the body cam.

She tells us what happened through her lens, what she saw and how she responded after Wright was shot. Listen in.

ALBRECHT-PAYTON: I was trying to push on his chest and call his name. And he wasn't answering me. He was just gasping, like, just taking breaths of air. So --

BROADDUS: Albrecht-Payton also sustained several injuries, including a broken jaw that required surgery. The majority of Thursday's testimony focused on the aftermath of the

shooting and the end of Daunte Wright's life. According to the new body camera video that was introduced, at least ten minutes past after Wright was shot before anyone tried to render medical aid.

Also, at the end of the day, outside the presence of the jury, defense attorney requested a mistrial saying, quote, I didn't see any evidence directed at the proof of guilt today. By contrast, the prosecution saying all of the evidence was admissible, and the evidence is needed to refute the defense's claim that Wright caused his own death. The judge in this case denying that request for a mistrial -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Adrienne, thank you so much.

Rapper Travis Scott says he's been on an emotional roller coaster since the Astroworld Festival disaster where 10 people died in the crowd crush during his concert. In a new interview, Scott denies hearing the panicked cries of fans.


INTERVIEWER: People said they collectively, they collectively heard folks screaming, help, every time you stopped a song to get your attention. Did you hear any of those screams?

TRAVIS SCOTT, RAPPER: No, man. You know, it's so crazy because I'm that artist, too. Like, you know, any time you can't hear something like that, you want to stop the show. I stopped like a couple times to make sure everybody was okay. And I just really just go off the fans' energy as a collective, call and response. And I just -- I just didn't hear that.


ROMANS: Scott addressed the raging culture his concerts have been known for. Some are blamed for the deaths and injuries. He says raging is about letting go and having fun.

More than 140 lawsuits have been filed since the Astroworld tragedy.

My question is why did he stop the show a couple times? What was happening that caused him to stop, and then what was the signal --

JARRETT: Maybe the ambulance on the scene was a clue.

Still ahead for you, a tragedy in Mexico as a tractor-trailer crashed leaves more than 50 migrants dead and hundreds injured.

And the assurances President Biden gave Ukraine's president as Zelensky tries to fend of a potential Russian invasion. We have the latest on all of that coming up next.


JARRETT: A tragic reminder this morning of the dangers migrants face on their uncertain journey to the United States. At least 54 people were killed and more than 100 injured Thursday when a tractor-trailer packed with migrants crashed in southern Mexico.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, just a horrific tragedy on Thursday afternoon in southern Mexico in the border state of Chiapas which borders the country of Guatemala. A state authority saying that a trailer that was carrying dozens of migrants who were on a journey north overturned as a result of a traffic accident.


Because of that, we know that dozens of migrants have lost their lives. Dozens more were injured as a result of this. Some of them seriously injured, taken to local hospitals.

The president of Mexico, the foreign minister of Mexico, both extending their condolences late on Thursday evening, with the foreign minister saying that citizens of several countries were involved in this crash. We know that some of the migrants who died were Guatemalan. According to the president of Guatemala saying the country will assist in repatriating the bodies involved in all of this.

This accident certainly stands out because of the number of injuries and deaths. But what I can tell you is that it is an example of how dangerous this journey north can be for so many migrants as they make their way, oftentimes, to the United States. Migrants dying in traffic accidents while trying to take rides going north, it is not something that is all that uncommon unfortunately here in Mexico.

This accident comes not long after a report released by the International Organization for Migration which said that at least 650 migrants crossing the southern border from Mexico to the United States died in the last year. That's the largest such number since 2014. This accident in southern Mexico just a stark reminder of how dangerous the journey can be just getting to that southern border -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right, Matt, thank you for that.

A busy day of working the phones for President Biden. The president reassured Ukraine's President Zelensky that the U.S. has his back as Ukraine tries to fend off a Russian invasion.

Mr. Biden also held a separate call Thursday with the Bucharest Nine, a group of NATO members on Europe's eastern edge near Russia. Let's go live to Kiev and bring in CNN's Matthew Chance.

Matthew, good morning.

Did President Zelensky hear everything he needed to hear from President Biden?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, publicly the Ukrainians are thanking the United States and President Biden in particular for his continued support of Ukrainian sovereignty, and Ukraine's territorial integrity. But behind the scenes you get a sense talking to officials in Ukrainian government there is a little bit of frustration that's creeping in. For instance, on the call yesterday, last night here local time, President Biden briefing President Zelensky about the content of his video conference with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president a few days before.

He set out the kind of tough sanctions that we heard so much about that the United States and others would impose on Russia if Russia were to take the step of invading again Ukraine. But officials who are familiar with the telephone conversation told me that President Zelensky wanted more than that. He didn't just want prospective sanctions, as he called them. He wanted sanction to be implemented now with a delayed implementation and with the ability to lift them if Russia, in his words, behaves well.

And so, a little bit of frustration about that. A little bit of frustration that Ukraine has not got the weapons yet despite tens of thousands of Russians, Russian troops building up near his borders -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much for that in Kiev.

All right. Ted Cruz doing everything they can to keep Biden-appointed ambassadors out of their posts. What is Cruz's motive?