Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Recovery Efforts In Boulder County, Colorado Hampered By Snow; Biden: U.S. And Allies Will Respond Decisively If Russia Invades Ukraine; Largest Remaining Independent News Outlet Shuts Down In Hong Kong. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: -- select committee has firsthand information now that Ivanka Trump urged her father to intervene that day as his supporters attacked the Capitol.

Chairman Bennie Thompson also suggested members of Congress assisted the rioters that day, though to varying degrees.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Snow on the way for the south, mid- Atlantic, and the northeast today. Fourteen million people under winter storm watches and warnings.

JARRETT: Two people are still missing from that Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado. President Biden has now issued a major disaster declaration for the area devastated by wildfires last week and now covered with snow. A report from Colorado just moments away.

ROMANS: NASCAR is reviewing a new sponsorship deal after Xfinity driver Brandon Brown announced an agreement with cryptocurrency meme LGBcoin -- the acronym reference to the anti-Biden chant "Let's Go, Brandon." Brown's team said NASCAR already gave written approval for the deal.

JARRETT: And no longer a Buccaneer. Tampa Bay is cutting wide receiver Antonio Brown, who took off his jersey and stormed off the field Sunday. What led up to this? And what does his quarterback, Tom Brady, have to say? We've got your Bleacher Report coming up next.

ROMANS: Yes, that is a big story there.

All right. It may be a new year but the questions on COVID remain the same -- how can we go about our daily lives in the face of this surging virus? Millions of Americans are set to return to classrooms and the workplaces now that the holidays are over, but tests are still difficult to come by and case counts are breaking records every day.

JARRETT: So, it's time for three questions in maybe three minutes. Let's bring in Dr. Ali Raja, executive vice-chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Raja is also a professor at Harvard Medical School. Doctor Raja, so nice to have you.

ROMANS: Happy new year.

JARRETT: Happy new year. Good to see you back.


JARRETT: So, kids --

RAJA: Happy new year.

JARRETT: -- headed back to classrooms today. It's on the minds of Christine --


JARRETT: -- and myself, and every other parent who has a child going back to school today.

What should schools do to brace themselves for what they know is going to be a potential surge in cases?

RAJA: Oh, you're so right, Laura. I'm really excited about our kids going back to school today --


RAJA: -- too.

You know, first of all, I just wanted to thank the teachers and staff. They've been working so hard to make this safe for our kids.

But what I've been telling my friends who are all parents as well, if you have tests, please test your kids before sending them back this morning. And if they have symptoms and you can't get tested, please keep them home. But also, make some contingency plans.

I'm really worried about schools having to go remote not necessarily because the students are getting sick, but just like in the hospital where our doctors and nurses and other staff are getting sick, I'm worried about teachers and all the other people --


RAJA: -- in the schools getting sick and having to close things down temporarily.

ROMANS: Yes. We've already seen in my school some teacher shortages. I mean, one little friend of one of my sons had three lunch periods in a row because there weren't enough teachers, actually, to teach the class --

RAJA: Oh, gosh.

ROMANS: -- which has those parents wondering -- right -- well, maybe I should keep my kid home. We have a virtual option that's going to begin -- an optional virtual option that will begin starting Wednesday but then, what do you do Monday and Tuesday?

So, parents all over the country are sort of grappling this.

If you're one of the lucky travelers, by the way, who made it home with no issues this weekend, what should you be doing now that you're back? Should you go into the office this morning? Do you stay home for safekeeping? It seems like some companies are telling everybody just stay home, at least for the next couple of weeks.

RAJA: Well, Christine, it's a good question. It depends a lot on your risk of exposure and why you went on the trip, quite honestly. If you don't have any symptoms and were taking all the necessary precautions during your trip you should feel comfortable going back to work. There's no -- there's no guidance or guidelines that says you shouldn't go back.

But honestly, if you were traveling for a big New Year's Eve blowout and there was lots of unmasked people around and you may have had an exposure and just not know it yet, you should stay home and make sure you get tested before you get back.

JARRETT: Well, I, for one, am glad that Christine Romans made it back from Chicago. I don't think she was out partying until midnight, but who knows?

Some people --

ROMANS: I can't stay up till midnight. You -- I don't think any of us -- sorry, maybe you can, Doctor, but I can't stay up till midnight.

RAJA: I was asleep by 10:00.

JARRETT: Nine thirty, out.

OK, so some people, Doctor -- I find this interesting. Some people still test positive for COVID weeks after they've had it. So how can you actually tell if you're still infectious? If you're one of the people who you keep taking the test and it's showing positive, but maybe you don't even have any symptoms anymore. You had it months ago?

RAJA: Yes, Laura, this is tough. You know, the data on this is constantly evolving.

For the most part, like the CDC is saying, if you don't have symptoms, five days out you should be clear. Although, hopefully, that will be with a negative test.

Now, like you said, you might keep testing positive. If you do, wait a full solid 10 days. And if you're asymptomatic at that point, you should be good to go. But the problem, as you said, is that very rarely, some people are going to keep test positive -- keep testing positive weeks and months later. In that case, talk to your doctor. But I can tell you, at 10 days out, if you are feeling like you don't

have symptoms, you shouldn't be infectious and contagious to other people.

ROMANS: That's good advice.

You know, one of our friends -- Laura and I have a friend who is home right now with a sick baby and her baby has the flu. That's flu season complicating everything. We're all worried about COVID. We're testing for COVID. You know, she's testing for COVID and then it's just the old -- good old-fashioned flu, and it really knocked him out.


RAJA: It absolutely does. You know, the fact of that matter is that COVID and the flu are both really big deals, and the flu has always been a big deal. And because of the fact that right now, we are in the middle of flu season, if you do get COVID your body's immune system is going to be weakened and your lungs are already going to be affected, and it's going to make you more likely to get the flu and vice-versa.

So, if you can get vaccinated for either or both -- and that's just about everybody except for kids younger than five -- you should.


JARRETT: Get your flu shots.

All right, Dr. Ali Raja. So nice to see you on this new year.

ROMANS: Thank you.

JARRETT: Thank you.

RAJA: Thank you. Happy new year.

ROMANS: You, too.

All right, a new year and the fact is the economy roared back to life in the old year, 2021.

Record new job creation. More than six million jobs added back through November. Take a look. That's the best first-year performance, by far, of any first-time president since 1970.

And economic growth overall -- it's likely to shape up to be the best since the 80s -- since the Reagan administration. The stock market broke records. The S&P 500 broke something like 68 record highs. Retirement accounts now have all-time high balances. Home prices also record highs and record home equity.

All this totally at odds with public polling that shows Americans pessimistic and questioning the economy. Why? Well, COVID exhaustion is a big factor.

And this president doesn't cheerlead the way his predecessor did. Remember every time Donald Trump took credit for stock market highs? You don't hear that from this president.

So, what are the challenges ahead for 2022? That's what's important here looking forward.

Number one, the virus. Number two, putting the brakes on inflation if it doesn't slow on its own. We're starting the year with inflation at a level we haven't seen in decades. Two of the most-watched inflation measures both climbed to 39-year highs in November.

There are several factors at work here. One is the supply chain crunch. Even though some bottlenecks have eased, some issues remain. And as long as it's more expensive and time-consuming to move goods, those higher costs will likely be passed on to consumers.

Rising rents also a concern. Housing represents a big portion of what people spend money on. If rent eats up a bigger piece of your pie, you may just spend less on non-essentials.

The White House says there is one way to ease this supply -- this whole crunch, right -- Build Back Better.


JARED BERNSTEIN, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Food, housing -- rental housing. The kind of things that can often be pressure on a family budget. Building back better relieves those costs. It eases those price pressures by helping families pay for childcare, pay for education, lower prescription drug costs. So it actually pushes the other way and helps to ease inflationary pressures in some key areas to family budgets.


ROMANS: Now, what the White House can't control is COVID -- specifically, Omicron. If the new variant triggers new restrictions it could, once again, change the way consumers spend.

And help from Uncle Sam to buffer those changes is running dry. After providing nearly $6 trillion in COVID relief during the first two years of the pandemic, all these programs are winding down. They've either finished or they're ending soon.

Other possible economic factors in the year ahead: labor shortages that slow the recovery. What is the Federal Reserve blows it -- overcorrects, cooling the economy and risks a recession? And there's always the possibility of an unpredictable geopolitical event threatening global stability. Think Russia, China, Iran, which could jack up oil prices and tank the stock market.

All these things to worry about. But look, last year was a very big year in the economic recovery. And in just -- I find it so -- such a contradiction -- a COVID contradiction in the Biden economy that so many Americans just don't believe it.

JARRETT: But you're so right in terms of sort of the messaging and the bragging rights if you will. This president just doesn't engage in that.

ROMANS: Just a different style. And it wouldn't be -- I mean, it wouldn't be to his -- just --


ROMANS: It wouldn't fit, either.


ROMANS: So that complicates the messaging, I think.

JARRETT: All right.

We head out west now as recovery efforts continue in Colorado. One of three people missing from that Marshall Fire has now been accounted for. Residents are slowly coming to grips with their new reality after hurricane-force winds pushed those devastating wildfires across the Boulder area. About half a foot of snow covers homes, complicating recovery efforts. Look at that.

CNN's Natasha Chen is on the ground in Superior, Colorado.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine and Laura, two people are still missing -- one woman from Superior, and one man from the Marshall area. The Boulder County sheriff says the process to look for them in the burn zone is a difficult task, especially given the extensive debris and destruction -- houses reduced to ashes now covered in about eight inches of snow in some places. Officials also point out that two missing people out of 35,000 evacuees is quite extraordinary.

At the same time, investigators are working with experts and partners, including the FBI, to look into how this fire started. A search warrant was executed on Friday on private property, but the sheriff would not go into details about the ongoing investigation.


The winds reached over 100 miles per hour, carrying flames through neighborhoods so fast. About 1,000 structures, mostly homes, were destroyed.

We talked to people who lost everything they owned. One family told us they had just minutes to grab their cellphones, dogs, and medication.

A Boulder County commissioner told us he had to make a similar escape. Luckily, his House is OK. But he described being at a lookout point with winds so strong, nearly knocking him over, and realizing it was time to go.

MATT JONES, COMMISSIONER, BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO: I went back to the car and started driving home. I got a message from my wife that we had an evacuation order. In the meantime, I'm being told by staff that I need to do an emergency declaration. So, as I was trying to think and collect the papers that I would need to get out -- the legal papers and all the things -- the pictures, the heirlooms -- I had to sign the emergency declaration, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like -- I don't even know how to say it. I don't know how to get it out. It just felt like a punch to the stomach and this can't be real.

CHEN (on camera): Many streets are still closed with hotspots still being managed, so reopening subdivisions allowing people to go back and look at their homes has been a slow process.

Christine and Laura, back to you.


ROMANS: Natasha Chen, thank you so much for that. Such a beautiful part of the state there.

All right, dozens of inmates and workers at a Baltimore jail were treated for smoke inhalation after officials claim that fellow inmates intentionally set fires inside the facility. A Baltimore fire spokesperson said an immense amount of smoke then spread due to poor ventilation. Not clear how the inmates lit the fires or what charges they could potentially face.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: With thousands of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, President Biden trying to reassure the Ukrainian president. In a phone call, President Biden told President Zelensky the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively should Russia invade Ukraine.

CNN's Nic Robertson live in Moscow with more here. This telephone call incredibly important. Do we know what President Biden is suggesting the U.S. and its allies would do? You know, could isolate Russia out of international banking system. There could be more sanctions -- energy industry sanctions. What -- are they -- are there any specifics?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They're not saying any specifics publicly because that's the idea of these sanctions, I guess, to keep President Putin guessing to a degree.

But there's also a military component to what would happen as well if Russia invaded Ukraine, and that is to ramp up NATO troops on the eastern borders of Europe. And that is exactly what President Putin wants to avoid. He wants NATO to roll back its presence in Eastern Europe, which he considers his western border.

You know, I think we've begun to see an element of how these U.S.- Russian talks could go when they -- when the representatives sit down a week from now in Geneva. And that came in the White House's readout from the call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. The Ukrainian president, of course, grateful for that strong support from the United States, saying that it was important to de-escalate working with European and U.S. partners to keep Europe safe were his words.

But what the White House is saying, it appears to Ukraine, is you need to do some sort of confidence-building measures -- specifically, engage in active diplomacy to implement the Minsk II agreement. And that is going to be something difficult for Ukraine to do.

This is the agreement that was designed to bring peace to the east of Ukraine following the Russian-backed separatists rising and continuing confrontation with the Ukrainian government and try to secede from Ukraine as a whole. And that is going to be a point of pressure from the United States on Ukraine, but an area where President Putin might be looking to make some long-term gains.

ROMANS: Any response from the Russians on this telephone call and the U.S. vowing that the U.S. and its allies would do something?

ROBERTSON: So far, nothing specific on that. We do know that the Russians are saying that they're not going to allow these talks in Geneva to drag on. That they want rapid results. That seems to be a -- you know, not about to happen.

ROMANS: Right.

ROBERTSON: But -- as yet. But, you know, the Russian position is they're not about to invade Ukraine, so it's the --


ROBERTSON: -- U.S. and NATO that's in the wrong here, not the Russians.

ROMANS: Yes, the aggressor, the U.S. and NATO. That's from their perspective.

All right, Nic Robertson. So nice to see you this morning. Happy new year.

JARRETT: Now to this. Another major news outlet in Hong Kong is announcing it's shutting down.

Let's get right to CNN's Ivan Watson live for us in Hong Kong this morning. Ivan, there's been this aggressive crackdown on news outlets that we've seen. So is this shutdown a preemptive strike of sorts to avoid the kind of raids we saw last week?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, the Facebook post that this outlet, Citizens News, put out says "THANK YOU AND SO LONG" in big letters. But then it goes on to explain -- hey, five years after this news site launched with some veteran Hong Kong journalists, it is closing down out of the safety of its team.

Take a listen to what, further, one of the news organization's writers had to say.


CHRIS YEUNG, CHIEF WRITER, CITIZENS NEWS: Overall, the media is facing an increasingly tough environment. And for those who are being seen as critical or troublemakers, they are more -- they are more vulnerable. So, this is what we are facing and that's why we made the decision.


WATSON: So, the difficult environment he's talking about -- this is the third news organization to shut down in Hong Kong in six months.

Apple Daily was this big tabloid newspaper that challenged and criticized the government and it was raided by police. Its publisher and top editors arrested and sentenced on different charges. Millions of dollars in its assets frozen. I watched the printing presses go dark for the very last time there.


And then, just last week, police raided another independent online pro-democracy news outlet, Stand News. Arrested at least seven people, seized its assets.

And what we're seeing here is one of the last remaining voices, saying we don't want to take that risk. We're going to close down.

The government insists its raids are simply following through on police work when it accuses journalists of sedition and national security threats. But I think the writing's on the wall --


WATSON: -- for what's really happening here, Christine.

JARRETT: All right, Ivan Watson. Thank you so much for your reporting, as usual.

Back here at home, at least one less headache when it comes to your healthcare. The days of surprise medical bills are supposed to be over. The no surprise medical bill law protects patients who receive emergency care or treatment from doctors and hospitals that they did not choose and, importantly here, that are not in their insurance networks. There are roughly 10 million claims of surprise bills every year, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, looking at markets around the world on the first trading day of 2022, Asian shares mixed. Europe has opened mixed. But look, Paris is up and so is Frankfurt. And on Wall Street, stock index futures to start 2022 are leaning higher here.

Look, stocks ended slightly lower Friday but the year 2021 a banner year for Wall Street. Double-digit gains for the year. The S&P 500 alone rose 27 percent -- 70 different record highs. That's the second- most new highs ever, Laura.

JARRETT: All right.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown's days as a Buccaneer are over after he left the field in the middle of a game.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, this is crazy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (via Webex by Cisco): It is, Laura, and I don't think we've ever seen a really good player quit on his team mid-game and leave the field, and likely end his career in the process. But that's what Antonio Brown did yesterday.

It happened in the third quarter against the Jets. Mike Evans was pleading with Brown to try to calm him down but Brown pulled off his jersey and pads, then threw his shirt and gloves in the crowd before waving to the crowd on his way to the tunnel.

And Bucs head coach Bruce Arians told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer he was trying to get Brown to go into the game but Brown refused twice. So, Arians told him to, quote, "get out." Now, after the game, Arians said Brown has been dismissed from the team.


BRUCE ARIANS, HEAD COACH, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: He is no longer a Buc, all right? That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys who went out there and won the game.

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: But we all love him. We care about him deeply. You know, we want to see him be at his best and unfortunately, it won't be with our team.

I think the most important thing about football are the relationships with your friends and your teammates, and they go beyond the field. And, you know, I think everyone should be very compassionate and empathic toward some very difficult things that are happening.


SCHOLES: Now, Brown did not fly home with the team. But he did post on Instagram multiple times -- one of the posts saying "Thanks for the opportunity."

Now, this was Brown's second game back from this three-game suspension for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status.

And despite all the drama with Brown, the Bucs ended up not needing him to come back from a 14-point deficit. Tom Brady engineering a 93- yard drive in the final minutes, connecting with Cyril Grayson, who was elevated from the practice squad. A 33-yard touchdown there with 15 seconds left in the game.

It was good enough to get the win. That was Brady's third touchdown in the game and 40th of the season. Bucs -- a nice comeback there. Twenty-four to 20 was -- 28 to 24 was the final. All right, the Packers, meanwhile, going to have home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. Green Bay wrapping up the number-one seed with a 37-10 win over the Vikings at a frigid Lambeau Field last night. The temperature, 11 degrees with a windchill of one just before kickoff.

Aaron Rodgers making his case that he should be the MVP for a second- straight season. He drew two more touchdown passes over the last six games. Rodgers scored 18 touchdown passes without an interception.

All right. Finally, we had a scary scene after the Eagles beat Washington at FedEx Field in D.C. yesterday. Watch the left side of the screen. Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts walking off the field. Fans trying to get a high-five when the railing gives way. Several fans falling to the ground. It appears no one was injured. Many of them popped right up to try to get a picture with Hurts, and Hurts helped them up and was all smiles taking some pictures.


JALEN HURTS, QUARTERBACK, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Well, I'm just happy everybody's safe. I'm happy everybody's safe from it. It was crazy. It was crazy stuff right there. That was a real dangerous situation and I'm just so happy everybody bounced back from it, it seemed like. Passionate Eagles fans. I love you.


SCHOLES: Yes. And, Laura, FedEx Field started this season with pipe bursting and water falling all over the fans. And now, it ends this season with a railing falling. And, you know, it could have been a bad situation.



SCHOLES: Luckily, everyone was OK. A lot of those fans there in Washington -- they want a new stadium and it looks like they need it.

JARRETT: Yes, they need it badly. How scary.


JARRETT: All right -- glad everyone's OK. Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right, more, sort of, sports this morning. This morning, a sharp-eyed hockey fan saves a man's life. Nadia Popovici was sitting at a Vancouver Canucks game when she noticed an oddly-shaped mole on the back of a man's neck. So she banged on the Plexiglas and held up a note on her phone to catch his attention, warning the mole could be cancerous.

Canucks' assistant equipment manager, Red Hamilton, says he initially brushed it off. But later he had the team doctor check it out and discovered it was a malignant melanoma.


BRIAN "RED" HAMILTON, CANUCKS ASSISTANT EQUIPMENT MANAGER: She needs to know her efforts were valid and bang on. And I'm happy that story is there -- but not for me, but for her because the world needs to know that she's a -- like, this woman exists. She's a hero and we need to celebrate her and people like her.


ROMANS: The Canucks are also awarding Popovici a $10,000 scholarship. She starts medical school next year.

JARRETT: That is just incredible.

ROMANS: I know.

JARRETT: Like, one, how did she spot it? And that she was even paying attention to some random mole on somebody's neck, I think that's amazing.

ROMANS: She certainly has a bright future in medicine, so that's awesome.

JARRETT: Yes, yes.

ROMANS: We need people like her.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this first trading day, but first -- our first day back here for 2022. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: All right, I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar back with John Berman on Monday, January third, 2022. And so happy, Berman, to be back, I will tell you.