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Winter Storm Hitting Millions Up & Down East Coast; 1,700+ Flights Canceled so Far Today as Chaos Escalates; Schools Grapple with Omicron Surge as Kids Return; Cheney: New Testimony Proves Trump's 'Dereliction of Duty' on January 6th. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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 3, 2022.

[06:00:07]

And so happy, Berman, to be back, I will tell you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is great to see you looking healthy and happy. Happy new year.

KEILAR: Happy new year.

BERMAN: I'm sure this is just how you expected it would be.

KEILAR: Well, 2021 sure ended on an interesting note. I will tell you that.

So we're beginning now with some breaking news. More than 25 million people are under winter storm warning and advisories this morning. Parts of the eastern U.S. could see snowfall totals up to eight inches amid the first major winter storm of the season.

A snow emergency is in effect here in Washington, D.C. This has forced the federal government to remain closed today. And D.C. public schools are now closed until Thursday because of the storm, as well as coronavirus.

BERMAN: And with case numbers skyrocketing, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says there will be bumps in the road as schools attempt to reopen.

More than 30 colleges and universities have already announced changes to the start of the semester. Forty-five states have had a more than 50 percent rise in cases over the last week. Look at all the red in that map in terms of the rise in cases.

This is the hospitalization look, which is actually what most people consider to be the more accurate way to look at the pandemic. Twenty- eight states are seeing rising hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is considering once again changing the guidance on those who test positive. The new guidance, which has been in effect for only a few days at this point, advises that people can return to work and school five days after testing positive with no requirement for a negative test.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci says the agency, the CDC, could soon issue an update on that. We'll have much more on that in just a moment.

Let's begin, though, with the weather. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers in the weather center, which I guess is powered this morning. I understand there are hundreds of thousands of power outages in Georgia where you are.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Yes, and still tornado watches in parts of the coastal Carolinas from those same storms that brought wind to Georgia, now bringing wind to the North Carolina, South Carolina area.

But the big story today is going to be the snow. The first significant snow for the Blue Ridge, for D.C., Annapolis, into southern New Jersey, a lot of snow.

And I know you said up to eight inches. But I'm seeing models this morning that are saying much more than that. Maybe even double that in some spots.

We're seeing a lot of heavy snow right now. One to two inches of snow per hour. And it may snow for four or five hours. So you can do the easy math there.

This is what the radar looks like down to the south. The rain changed over to some light sleet and snow across south Georgia. Doing the same through the Blue Ridge right now. The roads are a mess.

With this much snow, wet roads getting colder now. Temperatures down into the upper 20s. The roads are not going to be slush. They are going to be freezing, especially the bridges first.

This is what the radar is going to look like today. We move you ahead until about 9 a.m. Snow coming down all across the Delmarva, all across D.C., Annapolis, all the way out to the East Coast. This is where the snow is going to be the heaviest.

By noon, still snowing. But then later on today, it does move away. So this is a one-day event.

But some places will be piling up some snow. In this purple area, eight to 12, for sure. And there may be areas that are in that pocket that could see more than 12 inches of snow.

Look at the windchills out west, though. Thirteen degrees below zero is what it feels like right now in Des Moines. John.

BERMAN: Well, Chad Myers, we'll be watching this closely all day. Again, the mid-Atlantic states, more than 12 inches of snow the next few hours.

Thanks so much for that, Chad. KEILAR: U.S. airlines canceling more than 2,700 flights yesterday and

more than 1,700 already today. This marks the eighth day in a row of at least 1,000 cancellations during a holiday travel season hit hard by the pandemic and the bad weather here.

CNN's Pete Muntean is live for us at Reagan National Airport with more. Pete, give us the latest here.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a quarter of all flights have been canceled here at Reagan National Airport. The most of any airport nationwide. You can see the snow coming down pretty good right now, combined with those compounding COVID call-outs. No doubt another huge day for flight cancellations across the country.

Just look at the numbers: 1,700 flights canceled today nationwide. About 10 percent of all flights at Southwest Airlines. Another 10 percent at SkyWest. That's one of those smaller regional airlines that operates flights for Delta, American, and United. But 13 percent of all flights at JetBlue.

We have seen long lines at airports across the country, in Atlanta, in Chicago. In Atlanta, we know that some passengers had to stay overnight in the airport.

I just want you to listen to this one Atlanta passenger who's been trying to get home since Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to leave on Thursday. And then they canceled it. And then we tried to reschedule for Saturday night, and they rescheduled it again and canceled it. And then today they canceled it on the way to the airport. And then now we're rescheduled for tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have they given you guys any kind of lodging or anything at all?

[06:05:05]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not yet. So -- yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's -- that's got to be frustrating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. But it's -- as long as we can get back West, we'll be good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MUNTEAN: Now, American Airlines says in its latest statement that COVID callouts have been consistent with what it has seen in the last few days; says that snow is impacting its Chicago O'Hare hub the most right now.

It's also trying to proactively rebook passengers so they do not hit these snarls once they get to the airport. Although it seems like passengers can't catch a break, Brianna.

Fifteen thousand flight cancellations in total since Christmas Eve. And the TSA anticipated today will be one of the busiest days for air travel, with everyone coming home all at once. We'll see how busy it really is with all of these cancellations.

KEILAR: Yes. Really bad timing. Pete, thank you for that report.

BERMAN: You know, Brianna Keilar, we were headed to Florida for vacation and our flight got canceled, so we drove.

KEILAR: Really? That woman who was talking, Berman, I mean, Thursday to Monday, she could have driven across the country in that time.

BERMAN: That's what we did. We decided to drive. It turns out Florida is far from New York.

KEILAR: It is.

BERMAN: But it was worth it.

KEILAR: All right. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is requiring all students to show proof of a negative test, negative COVID test before returning to school on Thursday.

We just noted that school is delayed until Thursday because of the snow and COVID as the district deals with a skyrocketing surge of cases.

CNN's Gabe Cohen live in Washington with a look at what schools across the country are dealing with -- Gabe.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, John, as you mentioned, D.C.'s mayor has said without that negative COVID test, students and staff will likely get turned away if they try to come back to the classroom this week.

Look, so many districts right now are grappling with this as the CDC is urging them to keep classrooms open, especially given the mental health crises that so many students are facing right now.

And this morning, coming off the holidays, we're hearing from health experts about the steps parents can take to keep kids safe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL BERNAL, MOTHER OF INFANT DAUGHTER WHO TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID: She's a little fighter.

COHEN (voice-over): Rachel Bernal spent the day after Christmas debating a trip to the E.R. after her daughter, who has a chromosomal disorder and congenital heart disease, tested positive for COVID and developed a frightening fever.

BERNAL: We're terrified. She's been through a lot. We've tried so hard to keep this from happening. COHEN: With Omicron surging, the number of kids hospitalized for COVID

has hit record highs. The vast majority are unvaccinated.

(on camera): How concerned should parents be?

SARAH ASH COMBS, COVID SPECIALIST: I think parents need to take a deep breath, first of all.

DR. GIGI GRONVALL, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY:

COHEN: Dr. Gigi Gronvall and Sarah Ash Combs are both COVID specialists and mothers.

COMBS: I know it's really, really hard.

COHEN: Coming off holiday gatherings, the COVID case load may keep surging. So experts want parents to keep kids 2 and older masked, in public and in school, limit indoor group activities, and look for rapid tests to keep at home.

Gronvall even built this air filter for her living room with furnace filters and a box fan.

COHEN: You need to think about the air that you breathe.

MUNTEAN: But experts say the best defense is vaccination. Kids 5 and olde are eligible. But CDC data shows as of last week, only 23 percent of children 5 to 11 and 62 percent of kids 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, compared to 86 percent of adults.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So I appeal to parents that, if your child is 5 and over, get that child vaccinated.

COHEN: Some schools are starting January with virtual learning, though the CDC wants districts to keep classrooms open. The U.S. Education Department put out a guide for schools, advising them to host vaccination clinics and test students after an exposure, rather than quarantining an entire class.

ROBIN JACKSON, MOTHER: It's scary that he's going back to school.

COHEN: Robin Jackson, a COVID long hauler herself, says her 16-year- old son is battling brutal anxiety from the pandemic and needs to be in class.

JACKSON: There's a big concern. But it would be more detrimental to him to be home than to be at school.

COHEN: If a parent tests positive, the CDC considers their child a close contact, and they say families should follow local health recommendations, based on their kids' vaccination status and their school's rules.

(on camera): If you tested positive on a Sunday, would you send your kid kid to school on Monday? COMBS: I would keep him out for two days or so, do my very best to get

a test and monitor for symptoms.

COHEN (voice-over): If the child shows any signs they're sick, the CDC says keep them out of class and activities and get them tested.

GRONVALL: If you test negative, I would test again the next day.

COHEN (on camera): You think still hold them out for a day and get them tested again?

GRONVALL: I would. Especially if they have a sore throat.

COHEN: What if they can't get a test?

COMBS: The safest thing is probably to either isolate or quarantine in the home.

COHEN (voice-over): Last week, the CDC shortened the isolation period for those who test positive from 10 days to 5, which applies to children, too, though schools may have their own policies.

[06:10:06]

Districts in major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are distributing millions of free tests to students. And the Biden administration is about to start sending a half billion rapid tests to homes for free.

JACKSON: I'm having my son PCR tested today simply because he has a cold.

COHEN: Robin Jackson is still struggling with this question for her son.

JACKSON: What can I do to ease his anxiety about going back?

COHEN (on camera): What would you say to her?

COMBS: Look, it's scary. It's out there. At the same time, it's an infectious disease that we have some treatments against. We have some vaccines against. So try and live your life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: And the U.S. education secretary says that, as schools reopen, there will most likely be some bumps in the road. Some of them will probably be short staffed due to infections.

And, remember, so much of the local health guidance, it is -- so much of the health guidance, I should say, is still local. So experts are urging parents if you have a positive case or if you have a unique health situation, you should be making two phone calls: one to your child's pediatrician, the other to their school -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Gabe Cohen for us Washington, where there is no school today. Thanks, Gabe.

KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in Dr. Adrian Burrowes. He is a family medicine physician who is based in Florida.

First, Dr. Burrowes, I want to get your opinion on the CDC guidance that has been shortened. We also have to say it looks like it is about to change. So let's play what Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend about possibly adding a test to this controversial guidance,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: People are getting concerned about why not test people at that time? I myself feel that that's a reasonable thing to do. I believe the CDC soon will be coming out with more clarification of that since it obviously has generated a number of questions about, at that five- day period, should you or should you not be testing people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: What do you think about where this guidance stands, Dr. Burrows?

DR. ADRIAN BURROWES, FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Well, I thought the guidance was flawed when it came out. You know, I understand why the CDC is doing this. They are trying to get people back to work. They're trying to make sure that we have, you know -- not having the financial aspects of COVID.

But it certainly is, you know, confusing to both the providers and to the patients when you're telling people they can go back after five days. So I do think that they will amend that, and I think that that's the right thing to do.

BERMAN: What about the testing issue, Dr. Burrowes?

BURROWES: Yes, I think it's very reasonable to, if someone is testing positive for COVID, and five days later you're saying you can go back to work. They should be retested, in my opinion.

You know, I've been telling my patients, even with the CDC guidance, that they should quarantine for 10 days still.

KEILAR: So, why weren't there tests from the get-go when you had so many doctors saying this really should be an element of this?

BURROWES: Yes. I think that they're looking at the supply chain. We have been having issues. Like, at my office, we have so many positive cases of coronavirus. Just last week, we ran out of tests. We didn't have the ability to test our patients with a rapid test, because we were having issues just obtaining them.

So I think they were taking that into account. That being said, they should be doing what's best for public health. And this current policy is certainly not in the public's interest.

VAUSE: So Dr. Burrowes, one question I have as we move into January with these very high case numbers, but hospitalizations which aren't breaking the bank just yet, as it were in many places, is how can we move forward?

How can we live with this safely going forward? Look, I mean, the rule for schools, the unspoken rule for schools always was don't send your kids to school if they're sick. Don't go to work if you're sick. Is that enough?

BURROWES: No, it's not enough. You know, first of all, the way forward is the vaccination. We have -- we have the tools to move forward. We're just not utilizing them.

So we have a vaccine. We have several vaccines. And you can pick one, right?

You know, we have -- we have local governments that are doing the right thing. I live in Florida. In Florida we're not doing the right thing. In Florida, our governor, DeSantis, is fighting schools that are trying to make students wear masks to school. He's saying that it's a personal choice, and he's trying to protect people's freedoms by not making mask mandates for schools.

Now, you can't get on an airplane without wearing a mask. Why should you be able to attend school without one? And so what we have people like that, that are kind of muddying the waters, this is why we're having an issue moving forward.

KEILAR: You know, here in D.C., Dr. Burrowes, when my kids go back to school this week, they will be taking a test, and they're going to have to test negative in order to get back into school.

How should schools be doing testing? How often do they really need to be doing testing to keep kids safe?

[06:15:05]

BURROWES: Great question. So you know, I'm going to use New York as the example.

In New York, they're saying that if you come into contact with COVID, that you need to go home, take a test that day to see if you're positive or negative, and take you another one in five days.

And they're actually giving the students two -- two kits. The initial kit and the five-day kit.

While that's great for this particular outbreak. But what happens next week? What happens the week after that?

The reality is to make it safe, we have to increase our testing. But the problem with that is that we don't have the supplies. So until we get everything coordinated and have enough tests to make sure we're testing our students at least, you know, three times a week, if not every day, this will not work.

KEILAR: All right. Dr. Burrowes, thank you so much for your insight as we're awaiting what sounds like changes in the CDC guidance. We do appreciate it.

Next, some first-hand testimony about former President Trump's actions during the insurrection and what his daughter Ivanka was telling him to do. Pardon me.

Plus, Marjorie Taylor Greene's personal Twitter account permanently banned from the platform. What she posted that finally took it too far.

BERMAN: And no longer a Buc. What was easily the -- just the -- well, he's wearing a Patriots jersey there. He's played one game on the Patriots.

Tampa Bay's Antonio Brown's bizarre exit in the middle of a game. I mean, I've never seen anything like this. Took his shirt off, walked off the field shirtless. What his teammates are saying this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:20:51]

KEILAR: New revelations by the January 6th committee that they have firsthand testimony about former President Trump's actions and communications on the day of the attack. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office, watching the attack on television as -- as the assault on the Capitol occurred.

It's hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty than that.

Members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television, to tell people to stop. We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know members of his family -- we know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter, Ivanka, went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild is with us now. You know, Whitney, it sounds like they're getting a more clear picture about the input that the former president was getting on the day of the insurrection.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, right, and that's really critical. Because what they need to zero in is on why the former president waited so long to call it all off.

And what we understand is that -- and has been detailed in -- in several books by these outstanding journalists here in Washington, is that the former president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, made several pleas to him to just call this off, to let it go. And it still took about 187 minutes for him to finally put out that

video in which he finally told rioters, while being very special, that they should go home.

And so this is a critical time line for them, because what they really need here are the records from the Trump White House, as well as firsthand testimony to piece this all together.

And that's more difficult to get than some of this other forensic analysis they can get from the lengthy list, more than 300 people they've spoken with, as well as the people who have already voluntarily put -- put forth records.

That's, again, going to be one of the key lines of questioning here.

Further, Brianna, what we learned from the chairman of that committee, Bennie Thompson, on Sunday in an interview with Dana Bash, is that they are also zeroing in on the funding.

And we're getting a little bit more clarity about what their main concerns are regarding the flow of just a ton of money surrounding the Stop the Steal rally and the events around January 5th and 6th.

Here's what the chairman told Dana Bash this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have some concerns, but we have not made those concerns public at this point. But we do think it's highly concerning on our part that people raised money for one activity, and we can't find the money being spent for that particular activity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILD: Watching this interview, I actually thought that that was one of the most revelatory comments he made throughout this entire interview. Where did the money go?

Again, so we've got these two lines of questioning. What was going on in the White House? What was going on with the money.

And then finally, Brianna, we also know that the committee is really zeroing in on what was going on at the Willard. And what we know now is that former police commissioner Bernie Kerik has made public emails where he basically said, look, he's going to stop funding these suites at the Willard and wanted former New York City Mayor Giuliani to pick up the tab.

So there's all of these questions about who was paying for what, what was the intention, and what was happening. And then another crucial question, Brianna, is what was going on inside those war rooms at the Willard?

KEILAR: Yes. Very important questions. Whitney, thank you for the report.

BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and former Republican congressman from Florida, Francis Rooney.

Jeffrey, I'm going to start with you. Sort of a two-part question here. The 187 minutes that Liz Cheney and others now say they have direct testimony that the president was told and did nothing.

Liz Cheney called it a dereliction of duty, which is very specific language there. Before we get to the legal implications of that, Jeffrey, I just want to talk about the moral significance of direct testimony that the president didn't step in for that long.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's -- it's tremendously important to that part of the story of January 6th, which is the whole White House/Donald Trump part of the story.

[06:25:05]

What did the president know and when did he know it? The great question that's always asked in congressional hearings. And the real question for the committee now is, how are they going to tell that story? Who is the witness? What are the documents they're going to show?

Because, you know, the committee has got to move to a new stage now. You know, we have a lot of congressmen, congresswomen talking about what the evidence is. Now, the public is going to have to see that evidence. And how are they going to present that evidence to the public? That's a really hard question, especially around Donald Trump since there's been so much lack of cooperation.

That's really the heart of what this committee is looking at. But we don't know yet how they're going to tell that story.

BERMAN: And Jeffrey, Liz Cheney -- Congresswoman Cheney uses the phrase "dereliction of duty," I think for specific legal reasons. Why does she keep harping on that?

TOOBIN: Well, because the -- the issue of whether there was any criminal conduct by the president or anyone around the president is a critical one.

And, you know, two Washington federal judges have held that obstruction of the counting of the electoral votes is a crime. That -- that several of the people inside the -- the Capitol can be charged with obstruction of Congress, as well as some other offenses.

And that raises the question of whether anybody else in connection with this riot can be charged. People who encouraged it, inspired to make it happen. And I think what Congresswoman Cheney is suggesting is that the president may be one of those people.

KEILAR: I wonder, Congressman, how significant it is learning officially here, right, the committee has officially learned that former President Trump was getting this input? Ivanka Trump, two times at least, imploring him to do something about the situation at the Capitol. How big of a deal is that? FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think it says

something good about Ivanka Trump -- excuse me -- that she tried to do that. And I think, probably, the committee will find some other people tried to do the same thing, which will put them in conflict with the grand master himself.

And that will be important for the American people to know, who was at least trying to stop the -- the damage.

You know, this guy has a history of defying laws. And what Liz said, dereliction of duty, you know, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. So Jeffrey would have to weigh in about whether it's illegal or not. Illegal or not.

But certainly, from a practical point of view, he has a history of defying law and running roughshod over people. And so if you contextualize this, it's not surprising that he did it here, too.

BERMAN: Congressman, how --

TOOBIN: Well, let's --

BERMAN: Go ahead. Go ahead, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: If I could just add, you know, when he finally made a statement, what did he say about the rioters? He said, We love you. We love you.

So that was hardly a condemnation of the people who were engaged in this insurrection against the laws of the United States. So, you know, it's all -- all that story has to come out together.

BERMAN: And meanwhile, Congressman, on Thursday, which is the anniversary, the former president is giving a speech at Mar-a-Lago. How nervous are you about that day itself and what he might say?

ROONEY: You know, I really don't care what he says. I'm a lot more concerned that the committee act with great haste and get the facts out before the American people.

You know, these big lies that have been told throughout history by autocratic leaders have generally led to some seriously adverse consequences for the people of those countries. And this was pretty close to that.

When you add all things that happened -- 1/6, defying the election, efforts to stop the vote counts in different states, efforts to make Pence refuse to certify the election -- put it all together, it's a pretty scary threat to our American institution of democracy.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, Francis Rooney. Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us this morning.

ROONEY: Thank you.

BERMAN: The mayor of New York City, the new mayor, having quite a first couple days in office, from witnessing an assault to defying the teachers' union.

KEILAR: Plus, Israel rolling out a fourth vaccine shot to combat the worldwide COVID surge. What is the data behind this decision?

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