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Capitol Insurrection Anniversary to be Commemorated Today; CDC Recommends Booster for Kids as Young as 12; Australia Cancels Tennis Champ Djokovic's Aussie Open Visa. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 06, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York. It is Thursday, January 6.

And this morning marks exactly one year since a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

One year later, the threat to democracy remains. One year later, a steady drum beat of lies about a stolen election continue. Lies then used as pretext for new laws to make it harder to vote next time around.

ROMANS: Just yesterday, officials in Phoenix, Arizona, presented a 93-page rebuttal to those bogus Republican audit attempts there. The chairman of the Maricopa County board of Republicans saying simply, we're done. This is the end of the 2020 election.

But much of the Republican Party refuses to be done with former President Trump. Much of the GOP spent the past year rewriting history about what really happened January 6. And still to this day, too many push his big lie for their own political survival.

JARRETT: Yes, the attempt one year ago to overturn the will of the people failed thankfully. But the lies of the 2020 election, the lies that fueled that violent mob in the beginning of 2021, remain a lasting threat in 2022. A point President Biden will make when he speaks in just about four hours on the Capitol this morning.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live for us this morning. Daniella, you were there that day, forced to hide like so many others. What is the mood one year later?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Laura, today is a day of remembrance. I was here when one year ago Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. And as a result -- they stormed the Capitol as a result of Trump's repeated big lie that the election was stolen from him.

And because of that, he faced, of course, his second impeachment trial, and the FBI had launched -- has launched, continues to investigate the largest investigation in FBI history with 700 people arrested, and more than 100 more -- hundreds of more offenders still that they are looking for.

But, really, the biggest thing here, Laura, is that house select committee, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched to investigate the January 6 insurrection, which will probably be concluded by this fall ahead of the 2022 midterms, this House Select Committee they are investigating what led to the insurrection and what happened that day. Of course, as I mentioned, they are planning to have an interim report over the summer, and then a final report by the fall.

And Chairman Bennie Thompson of the House Select Committee, a Democrat from Mississippi, said that they are going to have a lot of public hearings this year so that Americans can hear directly about what happened that day -- testimonials from people who experienced the January 6 insurrection.

So this being such a stain on democracy, and I do want to mention, Laura, there are not going to be that many Republicans attending the events of today because, of course, of the late senator John Isakson's funeral happening in Georgia. A lot of senators and House members, Republicans will be attending that funeral. But still today will be a day of remembrance.

Now take a listen to what Attorney General Merrick Garland said yesterday about how the department of justice is still searching for the truth of that day, and they're still trying to investigate the events of the January 6 insurrection.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level, accountable under law. Whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.


DIAZ: Laura, it is as you said, in about four hours we will hear directly from President Joe Biden. He plans to give remarks here at the capitol about now with the -- marking one year of the January 6 insurrection, where he will place singular responsibility on former President Donald Trump for the events of that day. And as I said, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to host many events here at the Capitol, including a moment of silence on the House floor, and we will hear directly from lawmakers who experienced that day.


But I do want to emphasize, Laura, a lot of us that experienced the January 6 insurrection will never forget what happened and, of course, today is going to be a tough day for a lot of us.

JARRETT: Yeah, a tough day indeed.

Daniella, thank you for being there for us. Thank you for your reporting.

ROMANS: Yeah, take care, Daniella. It's going to be a tough day for a lot of folks on the Hill today.

More than 700 people, meanwhile, have been charged for their role on January 6. Yesterday two friends who entered the Capitol together were sentenced to 30 days in jail each. The judge saying this wasn't Bill and Ted's excellent adventure. They came to Washington knowing full well the events of January 6. Their actions were an assault on the American people.

JARRETT: CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us live from Washington now.

Katelyn, this one year anniversary of January 6 I think offers us a chance to step back and take stock of the Justice Department's investigation, one of the biggest investigation for DOJ of all time. You followed it from the very beginning.

Tell us just who are these people that were there that day? What are sort of the trends you've noticed, and are they owning up to their role? Or are they continuing to blame former President Trump?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So, Laura, we are seeing really a very broad cross-section of Trump supporters from nearly all 50 states that are coming in through the court system and facing justice for what they did on January 6th, lots of people are still saying they're not guilty. They want to go to trial.

But we have had more than 100 people plead guilty, and we are seeing charges in basically four different types of people so far. Everybody general who was on-site that day, either on the grounds around the Capitol or went into the building, there are people who just walked in, took selfies, and then left pretty quickly, five minutes, 30 minutes, like the Bill and Ted's excellent adventure pair.

There were people who went further into the building, people who have admitted to or are accused of ransacking congressional offices, going into the Senate, chanting, saying they were looking for lawmakers. Then there are people, hundreds of people who were charged with being violent towards police. Those are very serious charges.

We also know the Justice Department is looking to identify maybe 250 more people who were also violent towards police that they have evidence of, that they haven't arrested yet. And then there are also a group of people that are charged with conspiracy. So those are the really complicated cases. Those are the cases that the Justice Department is accusing people of doing some sort of planning beforehand, gathering together, maybe assembling guns, getting radios, figuring outweighs to talk to one another and then going to the Capitol together.

So far in court, we have had people be sentenced. There are people getting probation. There are people who are going to jail. And what we have seen so far is that the people who are being sentenced are the least serious cases at this time. That's because the Justice Department wants everyone to know, and the way that this works is that this is just the beginning.

Yesterday, Merrick Garland did give the speech as Daniella was talking about, and he talked about how this sort of thing works even a year in. Hears here's what he said.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: In circumstances like those of January 6, a full accounting does not suddenly materialize. To ensure that all those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence. We follow the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money.

But most important, we follow the facts. Not an agenda or an assumption. The facts tell us where to go next.


POLANTZ: So, Laura, this really is the sort of investigation that Garland is trying to say it takes time. There are people that they are getting to cooperate. There are people who are confessing, who are saying, I regret what I did. I'm ready to help the Justice Department. I'm ready to help if you need more information, if you need to go to trial and need witnesses. There are people that are signing up to do that, especially in these conspiracy cases.

And the thing that we can take away from this is we're one year in. There have been a lot of people charged. It's the largest, most complex, most resource-intensive investigation in the FBI's history, and it is nowhere near from being over.

JARRETT: It's amazing to me. You said there are 250 people they are still looking for as of today. It's just incredible a year later.

Katelyn, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have been in contact with FBI and Capitol Police ahead of the January 6 anniversary. The spokesperson for Meta tells CNN the company is active -- continuing to actively monitor threats on its platform and says it will respond accordingly. Facebook, of course, has faced intense scrutiny for failing to do enough to curb all of those threats of violence in the days leading up to the Capitol insurrection.

JARRETT: Still ahead for you, there is more news this morning on the COVID front.

[05: 10:01]

All teenagers in the U.S. now eligible for their boosters, a timely move by the CDC with kids trying to stay in school during another COVID winter.


ROMANS: All right. Chicago public schools cancelling classes again today after the district and teachers failed to reach an agreement on in-person learning. Teachers in the nation's third largest school system voted Tuesday to refuse to show up for in-person work. The union insisting on better testing and other COVID safety measures.

But with more than 340,000 students caught in the middle, city officials and parents are fed up.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: A hundred thousand children were disconnected and disengaged when we were fully remote, 100,000, mostly black and brown and poor kids who weren't learning, and who we have to make up a lot of ground with them.


And just when we're starting to do that, CTU pulls the rug right out from under them. Is that right? Is that fair?

RYAN GRIFFIN, PARENT OF CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS: The concept of keeping kids at school above all else is there from every public health expert. And instead of being surgical and quarantining certain classes in certain schools were spread in the community as high, they are closing down 550 schools, serving 340,000 students. That is not the right approach.

The teachers union doesn't acknowledge over 90 percent of their staff is fully vaccinated and they were the first in line to get them. And we are doing our part, getting our kids vaccinated. I'm vaxxed and boosted. That is the answer. This is way different than February of 2021.

DR. ALLISON ARWADY, COMMISSIONER, : If this is a pattern and we keep on going with it where we just don't see children and fully vaccinated adults often getting sick with COVID, not seriously ill, on some level we have to do the things that are essential. For me, school is first to open, last to close. In a city where bars are open, why would schools be closed?


JARRETT: It's a great question.

Meantime, in Washington, D.C., in-person classes resumed today. Students will have to provide a negative COVID test to attend there. And the superintendent of Boston public schools, look at this, she stepped up Wednesday to teach a roomful of students herself after hundreds of teachers there called out sick.


BRENDA CASSELLIUS, SUPERINTENDENT, BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS: They are brilliant, amazing, eager learners. They were incredibly ready to learn, and I just had so much joy being here today.


ROMANS: Good for her.

Atlanta public schools are offering voluntary testing for students and employees at nine sites today and tomorrow as the district prepares to reopen in-person classes on Monday. Detroit, which had been set to switch to in-person today, has now extended virtual learning through next week.

JARRETT: As for the broader state of the pandemic, coronavirus hospitalizations had been ticking up to about 120,000 nationwide, with the vast majority of people in the hospital being unvaccinated. That's the most in almost a year.

And a context here is key. On average now, about one in six people reported with coronavirus are in the hospital. A year ago, it was about one in two.

ROMANS: Yeah, really important, I think, the point you make, Laura. The vast majority of the people in the hospital are unvaccinated people. And we've heard interest doctors every single day so many of the patients are surprised that they found themselves in the hospital. They got misinformation somewhere. They thought that the vaccine was unsafe when, in fact, the virus is unsafe.

All right. Important news for parents here, COVID-19 booster shots are recognized and recommended for all teenagers. Last night, the director of the CDC gave her seal of approval for boosters for kids age 12. The timing crucial with schools trying to keep up with in-person learning. The pace of booster shots ticked up in the early days of COVID trailed off.

More this morning from senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, the CDC is now recommending that children 12 to 15 years old get a booster shot. Let's take a look at the specifics.

The recommendation is for a Pfizer booster. That's the only vaccine authorized for children this age. And it should happen five months after the second shot, and it begins immediately.

While it is important for children this age to get boosters, here's what's even more important: 39 percent of children ages 12 to 15 haven't even had a single shot of COVID-19. So it is important as boosters are, it's even more important that children who haven't been vaccinated get vaccinated. Parents really need to hear this message, especially with the highly transmissible omicron variant -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: Elizabeth, thank you.

And new data out of Israel drives home the importance of those vaccine booster shots. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says researchers found a third dose can cut the chances of dying from COVID by 90 percent. That is compared to a two-dose vaccine series. The booster also decreased infection.

So it is not only death, but infection, infection by ten times. Walensky said the study was conducted when the delta variant was the dominant one in Israel, but that she would expect the similar trend when it comes to omicron.

ROMANS: All right, rules are rules even for the top tennis player. The Novak Djokovic controversy that has Australian Open organizers pitted against their own government.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Drama Down Under for tennis champ Novak Djokovic, the nine-time Australian open winner who is not vaccinated, had been granted a medical exemption to play an up coming grand slam. But now his visa has been canceled, essentially he's told he's not welcome in the country.

CNN's Angus Watson joins us live on this story.

Angus, he plans to appeal the cancellation today. What more can you tell us?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN NEWSDESK PRODUCER: Laura, in the midst of this extraordinary story, the world's number one men's tennis player in an immigration detention facility here in Australia in Melbourne, where the Australian Open is set to be played later this month.


He could remain there for days more. His next court date is on Monday. That's for an appeal against the deportation order, that federal officers slapped on him at Melbourne airport hours after he arrived late last night local time.

So, in the situation where tennis Australia did what they could to try to get an exemption for their champion, Novak Djokovic, the winner of the 2021 edition of the Australian Open grand slam, they wanted him back badly. They tried to get him that exemption that would allow him to enter the country unvaccinated, which is against the rules if you don't have an exemption.

Here in Australia, you need two shots of a recognized COVID-19 vaccine to get in. What happened when Novak Djokovic turned up in good faith at the airport with these papers, furnished to him by tennis Australia? Federal authorities said that they weren't good enough. Now he finds himself in immigration detention.

A very confused situation. Who is to blame for this situation? Is it the federal government, is it tennis Australia for not dotting the I's and dotting the T's? Or is it Novak Djokovic who could have got vaccinated and played the tournament, Laura?

JARRETT: Just incredible. Number one in tennis now in a detention facility.

Angus, thank you for your reporting.

ROMANS: Yeah, rules are rules even for the world's sports elite, right?

JARRETT: Sometimes.

ROMANS: Sometimes, well, sometimes, right.

Just in CNN, what the president will say marking the January 6 anniversary. Tonight, join Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper for an unprecedented gathering inside the Capitol with the police, lawmakers and leaders live from the Capitol. "January 6: One Year Later" begins tonight at 8:00 p.m.