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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Takes the Fight to Trump After A Year of Ignoring Him; Over 60 Million People Facing Winter Alerts in Northeast; Advisers Urge Biden to Strengthen Public Health Infrastructure; Djokovic's Parents Claim Tennis Star is Being Held Captive. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here we go. It's Friday, January 7th. Happy Friday, everybody, 5:00 a.m. exactly here in snowy New York City. Thanks for getting up with us. I'm Christine Romans.


Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We begin this morning with President Biden confronting the danger of to use his word, a defeated former president, an extraordinary speech from a sitting president, casting his predecessor, who he has tried to ignore for the better part of the year now as an existential threat to democracy.

ROMANS: Speaking from the very place rioters stormed the Capitol one year earlier, President Biden cast Donald Trump as holding a dagger at the throat of America, spreading lies that undermine core Democratic values. A remarkable speech on a remark remarkable day.

CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us live from Washington.

Jasmine, good morning.

We under that president Biden wrote some of that speech himself. What do we know?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Look, that's right, Christine, and I think that we can think of it as a political reset of sorts, really from President Biden over the last two months has had a lot of high highs but also some lows. And so, really at the start of this year, it was one of, if not the strongest speeches that he's given since being in office for about a year and it did something, as you said, that he has been reluctant to do. It took on former Donald Trump directly and even though he did say him by name, about 16 times he made references to the former president. The former defeated president, and I think it really is a strong look at President Biden because he did spend a lot of time writing a lot of parts of this speech. His advisers told CNN.

I think it really reflects the moment in time that the president stands in, where he sees both the former president and that big lie that the election was stolen, again, a very big lie. He sees it as a threat to democracy itself and he made that point over and over and over again yesterday. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country's interests. You can't love your country only when you win.

I will stand in this breech. I will defend this nation. I will not allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.

So now let's step up, write the next chapter in American history, where January 6th marks not the end of democracy, but the beginning of a renaissance of liberty and fair play.


WRIGHT: So there you have it really, strong words from the president. Of course, accused Donald Trump of putting power over the presidency but also look forward, pitching forward, trying to se what comes next. It will be interesting to really see what the president does next and his efforts to shore up democracy.

Of course, we know that the White House announced that both and he vice president Kamala Harris will be giving a speech in Atlanta, where for them a lot of the things started to come together. So we will obviously be looking for that.

All in the president's attack to attack these hits on democracy head on -- Laura, Christine.

JARRETT: And, Jasmine, while we had, you know, one of the biggest mysteries of January 6th is who planted those pipe bombs at the RNC and the DNC. That person is still at large, and still no information about them. We've now learned the Vice President Kamala Harris was evacuated while all this was going on? What more do you know about that that?

WRIGHT: That's right, Laura. Look, White House official confirmed to me yesterday that the vice president -- then vice president elect and sitting senator of California, she was actually the protectee named in this internal Capitol Hill police timeline, where she was evacuated from the DNC headquarters in D.C. at 1:14 p.m. that's just minutes after the capitol police began investigate investigating the pipe bomb that was placed nearby of the DNC headquarters at 1:07.

So, obviously, that puts her in the building just really when they found that bomb, and now really it speaks to the kind of fluidity and the uncertainty of that day and it calls into question the vice president elect's safety in that moment and now still, of course, as you said, the person who put that pipe bomb there, the officials don't know who that is, and no one has actually been charged for that action.


But listen, this was a question because I remember reporting on the vice president elect that day and asking her office where she was because it was clear that she was not in the Capitol. And her office would not say where she was, but they said that she was safe. Now, yesterday, the vice president said in her speech that she had left the Capitol but here we have a kind a clear idea of where she went and more on the timeline, thanks to this document obtained by CNN.

JARRETT: Very disturbing. I'm sure more to come on that. Jasmine, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. To the weather, a fast- fast-moving winter storm expected to cause widespread disruptions today and tomorrow across the Northeast. More than 60 million people, 60 million, are under winter weather alerts, up to a foot of snow in some areas. Boston has already shut down its schools, and New York has act activated its winter weather plan.

JARRETT: The storm already hammered parts of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Look at that, a 20-car pile-up left motorists stranded for hours.

Derek Van Dam is live in the CNN Weather Center.

Derek, good morning. So, just how much snow should we expect?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Laura, we've been watching the snow accumulate in New York City. This is Times Square over the past couple of hours and they've been seeing anywhere of one to two inches this hour. This narrow band of snowfall lined up across portions of the five boroughs of New York City. I mean, this is just incredible.

But just as quickly as the system enter the East Coast, it's going to exit through the course of the day today. Look at the snow already coming to an end near Washington, D.C. as well as Baltimore, the back side of this system already moving through. But still hefty snowfall from the next one to two hours along the Jersey coastline into the Del Marva Peninsula, nearing into the Big Apple, this is where we have our snowfall rates from one to two inches per hour. That will last for the next three hours or so.

And then we will hang on to the snowfall the longest, where we'll see the heaviest snowfall totals. It will certainly be in and around Boston, all the way into Connecticut and northern section sections of Rhode Island. That's where we have our winter storm warnings. You said it over 60 million Americans impacted by this particular storm. Let's time it out for you so you can get a better handle on what to expect this morning.

Still, a very difficult commute on I-95, that busy corridor that is going to continue, unfortunately, this heavier snow band coinciding with your morning rush-hour. Avoid the roads if you can. That's what they're suggesting.

But this storm will quickly exit off the East Coast this evening. We'll see clearing skies and clearing road conditions as well if you do happen to go to work, you should have a better time getting home later this evening -- Christine, Laura.

JARRETT: All right. That is good news, Derek. Thank you.

ROMANS: So the severe weather is a mess again, still for air travel travelers. About 2,200 flights have already been canceled in the U.S. today. That's the same number as yesterday. Get this. Since Christmas Eve, more than 26,000 flights have been ground grounded, driven mostly by COVID sick calls but also because of some weather.

JARRETT: Sure. And Alaska airlines announcing it is proactively slash is its January scheduled by 10 percent. Southwest is offering its flight attendants double pay for extra trips. And United going a step further, offering pilots triple pay for extra trips. The hope is things will, fore, get better when travel numbers come down a bit.

ROMANS: All right. They call it a new normal. Former pandemic advisers to President Biden say COVID will never go away, and it's time to change plans.



ROMANS: COVID-19 is here to stay. That's the message from six of President Biden's former health advisers, urging him to change his COVID strategy. In three opinion articles, they called for Biden to adopt an entirely new domestic strategy geared to living with the virus indefinitely, not to wiping it out.

Dr. Luciana Borio says this: From a macroperspective, it feels like we're always fighting yesterday's crisis and not necessarily thinking about what needs to be done today to prepare us for what comes next.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen with more on the story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, some words of warning and some words of advice from President Joe Biden's former COVID-19 advisers in 2020 when he was elected. He named a board of advisers to help him through the transition to presidency. Now six of them have written essays that's were published in JAMA, a leading medical journal.

Let's take a look at what they had to say. Three of the advisers wrote, without a strategic plan for the new normal with endemic COVID- 19, more people in the U.S. will unnecessarily experience morbidity and mortality, health inequities will widen and trillions will be lost from the U.S. economy.

The advisers had several suggestions. Here are a few of them. Modernize data infrastructure so that we can more easily keep track of deaths and cases and hospitalizations, accessible and low-cost testing, vaccine mandates, and a universal coronavirus vaccine that would work with any variant.

The former advisers also urged President Biden to strengthen the public health infrastructure. It was having problems even before COVID-19, and many people in public health have since left the field during the pandemic -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you for that.

There have been some signs that America's fact, trying to move forward toward living with this virus, including the push to keep schools open in person, but not in Chicago. Today, day three of no school in the Windy City, the country's third largest school district, I should say.


The teachers union wants more resource like COVID testing sites and better masks.

On Tuesday, the last day of in-person classes more COVID cases were reported ford students and staff that at any earlier point in the school year. But Chicago school and health officials say students are at even higher risk outside of school.


DR. ALLISON ARWADY, COMMISSIONER, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: We're all looking at the data to see that schools are not the major source of spread, but I just -- you know, recognizing that remote is not likely to be something that we can keep returning to over and over again. I'm hopeful that with all of these ongoing conversation and additional safety measures in place, that teachers will comfortable, that we will get to an agreement here and we will be back in person soon.


ROMANS: All right. In San Francisco, nearly 900 teachers and staff staged a sick-out Thursday. Many say they feel unsafe and t the school district isn't doing enough. The union is asking for N-95 masks, consistent testing for everybody and guaranteed sick leave.


KATRINA CUBILO-SICAIROS, TEACHER, RAOUL WALLENBERG TRADITIONAL HIGH SCHOOL: Some people just want to be safe. I mean, it is a surge that we're concerned about.


ROMANS: Now some teachers chose not to participate.


OLIVIA UDOVIC, TEACHER IN OAKLAND: Elementary schools have chosen to participate because we know how hard that is on parents.


ROMANS: In Oakland, a group of teach teachers is planning a one day sickout for today.

JARRETT: Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have cancelled several sailings after facing COVID outbreaks. Some passengers disembarking the Norwegian Escape in Florida this week -- well, they're not going home. They're headed to quarantine.

ROMANS: Yeah. Well, one woman said although her family was vaccinated and boosted, one of her teenage son had a 105-degree fever and she says the ship's crew was unhelpful.


HEATHER SILVIS, PASSENGER ON NORWEGIAN ESCAPE: I'm not mad that I got COVID. I'm not mad that my son's got COVID. I'm not mad that my mom got COVID. We knew the risk of traveling abroad. What I'm mad is I demanded tests for my family and they refused to test my family.

MARK LUXFOD, PASSENGER ON NORWEGIAN ESCAPE: I'm in another country and there was no help whatsoever from Norwegian. In five days, and I'm negative. What happens if I get positive in a few days because I'm in the same room? That means I'll have to stay here longer again.


ROMANS: The CDC is monitoring all 92 cruise ships now in U.S. waters for COVID cases aboard.

JARRETT: And more COVID trouble for late night comedy. James Corden, the host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS cancelled shows for the rest of the week after testing positive for COVID.

NBC late night also hit hard. Seth Meyers had to cancel show this week. And Jimmy Fallon tested positive before the holidays. And "SNL's" Christmas show canceled its live audience because of this latest COVID surge. No word yet on when that show plans to return.

ROMANS: All right. To money now, mortgage rates are spiking to start the New Year, moving higher than at any point of all of last year. The 30-year mixed rate mortgage averaged 3.22 percent in the week ending January 6th. That's up from an average 3.11 percent, the previous week.

A year ago, the 30-year rate was 2.65. That's a record low. And mortgage rates are expected to rise as the economy improves and inflation looms. The trend could make home affordability a greater challenge, especially for lower income buyers. Higher mortgage rates could mean fewer homebuyers and a less competitive housing market overall. A lot of you have been refinance refinancing so these are historically

very low rates. But you can see them ticking up. I think that will be the trend for this year for sure, Laura.

JARRETT: Something to watch.

ROMANS: All right. Supporters of Novak Djokovic trying to rally support for the tennis star. But officials in Australia say he's acting above the law. CNN is live in Sydney, next.




RAFAEL NADAL, SPANISH TENNIS PLAYER: He makes his own decision and everybody is free to take their own decisions but then there are some consequences.


JARRETT: Consequences indeed. Some frank words there from tennis star Rafael Nadal, weighing in on the controversy surrounding his longtime rival Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was hoping to defend his Australian Open title and set the all-time grand slam record.

But the number one tennis player had his visa canceled and is facing deportation all because he has chosen to be unvaccinated. The sentiment in Australia not on his side by the way.

CNN's Angus Watson joins us live from Sydney on the story.

Angus, good morning.

Djokovic's parents saying he held captive essentially in this immigration detention facility, which is really just a hotel. But Australians say he can leave any time he wants.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Laura.

Novak Djokovic has options. First of all as you said, he would have could have just gotten himself vaccinated if he wanted to compete in the Australian Open grand slam, like everybody else. That was his first option.

Secondly, if he wants to leave Australia immigration detention, he can. He can get on the next flight out. The government said that they will facilitate him doing that.

But Novak Djokovic wants to stay. He wants to obviously give himself a chance of competing in the Australian Open, and I think he wants to prove a point. He's made lots of statements in the past in support of kind of anti-vax sentiment and I think that this is somewhat his stubbornness as well that's coming through. He does have options. He is staying there in this immigration

detention facility with 33 people who are refugees, and they've been caught up in the immigration detention system for years now.


They don't have the same options. They're staying there indefinitely. So, Rafael -- so, sorry, Novak Djokovic is in there with a group of people, including a translator from Afghanistan, who worked with U.S. service men. He is a refugee, a refugee from Myanmar, from Pakistan, Iran.

It's a very interesting situation where you have this number one tennis player in the same detention center as these refugees, and their plight has really been put into focus by their famous neighbor, Laura.

JARRETT: That's fascinating. I guess he considers himself some sort of martyr in this case, but when you're in there with real refugees, it's hard to make that case. Angus, thank you.

ROMANS: Yeah, Laura, that's a very good point. That really puts his plight in perspective, doesn't it, when you look at the other people who are there as well.

All right. You know her face. But do you know her whole story? A new CNN original series "Reframed Marlin Monroe" premiers Sunday, January 16th, 9:00 p.m., only on CNN.