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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden And January 6 Committee Take The Fight To Trump; Kazakhstan President Tells Law Enforcement "Open Fire To Kill Without Warning"; Tampa Bay Buccaneers Officially Release Antonio Brown. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Friday. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Friday -- you can say that again. I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes past the hour. Time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

A fast-moving winter storm is expected to cause widespread disruptions today and tomorrow across the northeast. More than 60 million people under winter weather alerts. Up to a foot of snow in some areas. Boston has already shut down its schools. New York has activated its winter weather plan.

JARRETT: A sentencing hearing today for three men convicted for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their Georgia neighborhood. Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and their neighbor, Roddie Bryan were found guilty back in November. All three face the possibility of life in prison without parole.

ROMANS: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in two challenges to the Biden administration's vaccine mandates for large businesses and healthcare workers. A group of Republican-led states, businesses, and religious organizations argue Biden's mandates weren't approved by Congress and will lead to mass worker shortages.

JARRETT: A small child playing with a lighter may have started Wednesday's tragic row House fire that killed 12 people in Philadelphia, including eight kids. Officials are investigating whether the child accidentally set a Christmas tree on fire.

ROMANS: A fire that destroyed a Planned Parenthood facility in Tennessee on New Year's Eve -- it was a case of arson. The building was being renovated at the time of the fire so it was closed, and no injuries were reported.

JARRETT: The Super Bowl is expected to go ahead as planned in Los Angeles next month despite a record number of COVID cases there. L.A. County reported over 37,000 new cases on Thursday. Super Bowl LVI is scheduled for February 13th.

ROMANS: All right. One year after the attack on the Capitol, President Biden condemned Donald Trump and his lies in a searing speech, saying it put American democracy on the brink. Now the focus shifts to the work of the House Select Committee.

JARRETT: And last night, members of that panel, Chairman Bennie Thompson and Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, told CNN that they're not ruling out the conclusion that Trump's actions constituted a crime.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live in Washington for us this morning. Daniella, House Speaker Pelosi told CNN she believes some of her GOP colleagues, to use her words, are perpetrators of the attack and that the committee isn't shying away from looking at Trump either, clearly.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Clearly, Laura. And this really underscores this one-year anniversary of the January sixth insurrection -- underscores the work that remains for the House Select Committee.

You know, Chairman Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on this committee -- they made news yesterday and said, as you just pointed out, that the panel is not ruling out that possibility that the actions of former President Donald Trump and his allies and associates could have constituted a crime around the January sixth insurrection.

Take a listen to what Cheney said last night during our special.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): And the President of the United States is responsible for ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed. He's responsible for the security of the branches. So for a president to -- through either his action or his inaction, for example -- attempt to impede or obstruct the counting of electoral votes, which is an official proceeding of Congress, is -- you now, we -- the committee is looking at that. Looking at whether what he did constitutes that kind of a crime.


DIAZ: Laura, Chairman Bennie Thompson also said yesterday that Trump's attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 election are a key part of this panel's probe. And when he was asked whether he believed officials in Trump's inner circle had conspired to undermine the election results he responded, quote, "no question."

You know, this is huge news Laura because we're learning more about the scope of the probe of this committee -- what they're looking into. There's a lot of questions that still surround what happened on January sixth last year and former President Donald Trump's involvement in what happened. And now, we're learning more and more about what this committee is looking into and who they're talking to. So this is huge news about what they're looking into when it comes to former President Donald Trump.


Now, as we've said again and again, the committee announced over the congressional recess that they're planning to have an interim report of their findings released over the summer -- that's very soon -- and a final report in the fall that will really have a definitive narrative of what they believed happened in their -- what their investigation concluded what happened around the January sixth insurrection and what led up to it.

And Chairman Bennie Thompson has said that there is going to be a series of public hearings this year. Really, their goal here being that they want to get to the bottom of what happened before the 2022 midterms and Americans cast their votes in that -- those elections.

But the bottom line here being we're really learning more about what this committee is looking into, Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, they keep dropping its breadcrumbs. More to come.

All right, Daniella, thank you.

ROMANS: So, it's time for three questions in three minutes. For that, let's bring in CNN Politics senior writer Zach Wolf. Good Friday morning, Zach.

You know, we're kind of doing the -- you know, the day after looking at this President Biden speech -- the most direct pointed speech yet explaining the dangers of Trumpism. Let's listen to a bit of it.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's not just the former president; he's a defeated former president. Former presidential supporters are trying to rewrite history. They want you to see Election Day as the day of insurrection and the riot that took place here on January sixth as a true expression of the will of the people. Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country -- to look at America? I cannot.


ROMANS: So, Zach, our White House team reports that the president is deeply concerned about some recent polling that suggests a majority of Republicans have bought into Trump's election lies. Do you think this is the tone you're going to hear more of going forward?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER (via Webex by Cisco): Well, I mean, they need to do something because what they have been doing hasn't really been working. Biden came into office promising bipartisanship -- promising this pivot to kind of a new future.

But clearly, that hasn't worked because you have a majority of Republicans who still think that he's not the legitimate president, which is a pretty distressing number. And how do you kind pierce that alternate reality? Do you just let it fester or do you try to get inside there and marginalize Trump?

This is clearly a new Biden we're seeing and it seems like it has to continue because what they have been doing hasn't gotten them anywhere.

JARRETT: Zach, former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham revealed on "NEW DAY" yesterday, actually, that there's a group of about 15 former Trump staffers that are determined, in her words, to stop him. Now, the timing of these things is always fascinating. Why they choose now, it's interesting.

But she also talked on CNN about the work of the January 6 Committee and what she hopes will be its impact. Listen to that part.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I do believe it will move the needle. I think people are going to see just exactly what happened that day minute-by-minute. And not only him not doing anything for two hours and some change but just all of the people who were involved.


JARRETT: She hopes it will move the needle, Zach. Is that the point of the committee's work? Is the point of the committee to move hearts and minds or is the -- is the point of this to set out a historical record of what happened and then let the people decide what to do with that?

WOLF: Well, I think both things can be true. You have to create this historical record so that there are facts that are -- that are hopefully indisputable about what happened and who did what, and who is instigating the insurrection against the democracy of the country.

That has to happen in order to change minds. Because right now, with the -- with the alternate reality that people -- you know, that Republicans are hearing on Fox News, they're hearing in social media, it's impossible to get everybody on the same page. If people believe two separate things they're never going to agree.

JARRETT: But what is the committee possibly going to do to persuade the people who are in an echo chamber listening only to propaganda on Fox News?


WOLF: I think that the image of Dick Cheney, who Democrats used to refer to as Darth Vader, is a powerful thing in Capitol Hill. Him roaming Congress, meeting with Democrats sort of giving his imprimatur to this -- to this hearing shows the divide in the Republican Party and how complete it is.

And I think that all of those things have to happen. I don't know if overnight there's going to be a light switch where suddenly, people -- you know, Republicans or people who don't believe in the -- in the facts that happened suddenly say aha.

But there are persuadable people out there. There are people on the fence. There are people who might not be thinking about this when they vote. And maybe incrementally, this will have an effect.

ROMANS: Zach, those images yesterday of Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi greeting them. And this is what Dick Cheney said -- listen.



DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.


ROMAN: That's his stark assessment of his own party.

You've written about Americans failing to hear the 'democracy in danger' alarm -- explain.

WOLF: Yes. I was thinking yesterday about what Biden said. But if you look at the movement in this country on the front of democracy -- right now, at least, because of how Republicans control the state legislatures -- the movement is to restrict voting. The movement is to -- is to partisan gerrymander congressional maps and we can fight over that word. It's to -- it's to make congressional maps more advantageous in a way that will change the way -- you know, that will give Republicans more of an advantage on Capitol Hill.

So, while we have this call that democracy is in threat and that people need to rise up, the actual movement seems to be going in the opposite direction. And I -- you know, it -- there is that divide that we need to acknowledge.

JARRETT: Yes, it's so interesting. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney -- all of these characters from a different time who were vilified by the left now sort of having a come to Jesus moment if you will about what is happening in this country. Very interesting.

Zach Wolf, CNN Politics senior writer. Thank you, Zach.

WOLF: Thanks.

JARRETT: We'll be right back.




KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, PRESIDENT OF KAZAKHSTAN (through translator): I gave the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to open fire. To kill without warning. Abroad, there are appeals to the parties to negotiate for a peaceful solution of problems. What nonsense. What kind of negotiations can there be with criminals, with murderers? They need to be destroyed and this will be done shortly.


ROMANS: All right, a deadly situation unfolding this morning in Kazakhstan. A volatile uprising with potentially crucial implications. That country is a major oil producer. It shares long borders with both Russia and China.

What started as a small protest movement with high energy prices really at its core here has grown into what seems to be a national revolt. And now, a military alliance led by Russia is getting involved. Russian troops on the ground.

CNN's Nic Robertson live in Moscow. Nic, explain to us what's happening here in Kazakhstan.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, very scary words coming from the president of Kazakhstan there.

The reports at the moment still don't add up properly. What we're hearing from officials, 18 police officers killed and more than 700 injured. The official police line is that 26 protesters, as they call them -- you know, bandits and terrorists, without offering any evidence -- 26 of them killed and saying that just 14 were injured.

Those numbers don't add up at all -- so many dead and so few injured -- when we've seen all the gunfire on the streets. The police are saying they've arrested 3,000 people.

It is incredibly difficult to get a clear picture of what's happening in Kazakhstan at the moment, principally because the internet is being throttled back by the government, and the president admitted to that in his address today.

This isn't just the bad oil. It began about prices of fuel being hiked at the beginning of the new year. But this is everything about the way so many people in Kazakhstan feel that they're being treated and economically downtrodden by a very, very authoritarian leadership.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): On Almaty's streets in a hard to verify social media post, an ugly overnight crackdown. People scream and scurry for cover. Panic, as well as bullets, in the air.

"They're dead, they're dead," the man says. A motionless body just out of safe reach, stretched out on the freezing ground.

In the same city, the country's biggest, protesters pitch battles with uniformed forces. Casualties accumulating on both sides.

Law enforcement appearing to gain the upper hand with arrests and killings. Police claim they took deadly action overnight describing an as-yet unverified shadowy shoot first, ask questions later crackdown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, extremist forces attempted to storm the administrative buildings and police department in the city of Almaty. Dozens of attackers were eliminated and their identities are still being verified.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The mayor's burnt-out office in Almaty apparent testimony to the veracity of the battles fought without offering proof. The Kazakh president claiming protesters are foreign- backed terrorists, an often used trope to deflect blame that the Russian government is also repeating -- a characterization rejected by protesters.

"We are neither thugs nor terrorists," this woman says. "The only thing flourishing here is corruption."

"We want this truth," this protester says. "The government is rich, but all of these people here have loans to pay. We have our pain and we want to share it."

But truth and facts here are in short supply. The internet down for a second day. Residents reporting a scary quiet, braving government warnings to stay indoors -- to go out and search for open shops to buy essentials.

Russian state media reporting heavily on allegedly rampant looting by some protesters, as well as highlighting violence against Kazakh law enforcement.


As part of a regional security agreement, Russian paratroopers began deploying to guard state and military facilities.

The fourth consecutive day of protests, gunfire, and explosions still rocking Almaty.


ROBERTSON: And the picture on the ground there is still far from clear. We know now that about 2 1/2 thousand of these regional security forces led by Russian forces are going into the country. It's raising concerns not just in China but in many other countries as well that these forces may be deployed far longer than the -- than the limited period that's being described. They -- rules of engagement allow them to shoot what are being called armed gangs.

They say that they're going to defend these government buildings, but they're also there as part of crowd control. That's been made clear.

So this deployment of forces is raising a multitude of concerns. The United States and human rights organizations very worried about what's going to play out next.

ROMANS: All right. The eyes of the world are on Kazakhstan and we know you'll continue to watch it for us. Thank you so much, Nic Robertson -- Laura.

JARRETT: Back here in the U.S., federal prosecutors want the Boston Marathon bomber's stimulus check to go towards the millions of dollars he owes his victims. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was ordered to pay more than $101 million in restitution. So far, he's only paid about $2,200. And he has nearly $4,000 sitting in an inmate trust account, including that stimulus money.

ROMANS: All right, looking at markets around the world this Friday morning. And you can see Asian shares closed barely mixed. Hong Kong up almost two percent, though. European shares have opened slightly mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour are up just a little tiny bit.

Stocks closed lower Thursday. The realization is sinking in that the Fed plans to raise interest rates this year. High-value stocks like tech are worth less as rates rise.

The main event today, in just hours, December's jobs report. Economists forecast the U.S. added 400,000 jobs -- nearly double November's gain. I want to give you a word of warning here about these estimates. They have been off, sometimes by a lot. It's just the magnitude of what the labor market has gone through.

I'll be more closely watching the unemployment rate. The forecast there is that it fell to 4.1 percent. That is a new pandemic-era low, Laura.

JARRETT: Well, the rocky relationship between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Antonio Brown is officially over.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. All right, Coy, all these text messages Brown is now releasing -- this is getting interesting.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, and Brown was just like a handful of catches and yards away from a couple of million dollars of incentives. Four days after head coach Bruce Arians said that Antonio Brown was no longer a Buc, the team made it official, terminating his contract effective immediately.

Well, on Sunday, you might remember, the veteran wide receiver took off his pads, shirtless on the sideline, jogging to the locker room in the middle of the game against the Jets in New York. And Brown accused the Bucs of pressuring him to play through an ankle injury in a statement released Wednesday.

The team disputes that claim, saying in a statement, quote, "He was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play."

Arians explained that yesterday.


BRUCE ARIANS, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS HEAD COACH: He refused to go in the game. That's when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. I ain't playing. What's going on? I ain't getting the ball.

That's when I said you're done. Get the "f" outta here.


WIRE: Now, football fans, still have that popcorn ready. Brown has been releasing screenshots of text messages supporting his injury claim. They appear to be with Coach Bruce Arians and with personal trainer Alex Guerrero, who is also Tom Brady's trainer and business partner.

To the NBA. A wild finish for the Celtics and Knicks at the Garden. New York down 25 at one point but Evan Fournier came to play. A career-high 41 points, including 10 3-pointers, tying the Knicks' record. That game-tying shot there with four minutes to go sent the crowd wild. But with seconds to go, Knicks had the lead and Boston's Jayson Tatum step back, give me that -- ah, he ties up the game.

One and a half seconds to go now. It looks like it's going to go to overtime but the Knicks' R.J. Barrett says you can take this one to the bank, Laura and Christine. He sinks the Celtics with a three at the buzzer. That's when the celebration began.

One hundred eight to 105 the final, the Knicks' biggest comeback since 2004.

The Winter Olympics is 28 days away with hopefuls making their case in Music City at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, like 25-year-old Mariah Bell going for her first Olympics after taking silver at Nationals last year. She came out strong in the women's short program last night.

Karen Chen, who was a member of the 2018 Olympic team, is in second with the two-time national champ, and 16-year-old Alysa Liu sitting in third.


But, Brandon Frazier and Alexa Knierim, the highest-ranked American duo in pairs skating, forced to pull out last-minute on Wednesday after Frazier tested positive for COVID, meaning they have to petition a committee to be able to compete for Team USA in Beijing. Final selections loom this Sunday.

Finally, former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch just offered a college kid a million bucks to transfer to his alma mater.

Former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams entered the transfer portal earlier this week and the former Steelers and Lions quarterback Batch tweeted him, "Have you considered Eastern Michigan? If not, you should. GameAbove Capital is prepared to pay you one million dollars for one year. Are you ready to be an Eagle?"

Batch earned a degree in a criminal justice from Eastern Michigan. No response from Williams yet. He has said though, Christine and Laura, that he's not ruling out returning to the Sooners. These new name, image, and likeness deals a lot of opportunities --


WIRE: -- for a lot of athletes.

JARRETT: How are these deals happening via Twitter? Is this where we are?

WIRE: (Singing) a whole new world. I mean, it's just unreal.

ROMANS: And he sings. Oh my God, it's perfect.

JARRETT: All right, getting you to sing on a Friday morning, I think our job here is done, Coy Wire.

WIRE: Oh, you're welcome -- or you're sorry.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. Nice to see you, Coy. I'm Christine Romans.

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