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NYC Mayor's First 48 Hours: Witnessing Assault To Defying Union; Colorado Faces Snowstorm After Devastating Wildfires; Ocasio- Cortez: GOP Projecting "Sexual Frustrations" On Me. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 03, 2022 - 07:30   ET



ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This, as he tries to hit the ground running with a focus on battling COVID, jumpstarting New York City's economic recovery from the pandemic, and improving public safety.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: Far too long, policymakers have not understood the urgency of the moment. I do.

JONES (voice-over): New York City's Eric Adams beginning his third day as mayor and wasting no time getting started.

ADAMS: The theme of my first 100 days is GSD -- get stuff done.

JONES (voice-over): Sworn in just after the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year's Eve --

ADAMS: The mayor of the city of New York.

JONES (voice-over): -- the new mayor has vowed largescale reforms, from public safety to government spending, and his message on COVID is clear.

ADAMS: We will not be controlled by crises.

JONES (voice-over): And COVID is still a crisis in New York City. The mayor promised to keep the city and the economy open and thriving.

ADAMS: If we close down our city it is as dangerous as COVID. Our lives can't be based on what's the new variant.

JONES (voice-over): In the face of Omicron, Adams signed an executive order continuing vaccine mandates for municipal workers and private- sector employees, as well as for entrance to many indoor venues. Adams is considering extending that requirement to include booster shoots.

ADAMS: We're going to examine the numbers. If we feel we have to get to the place of making that mandatory we're going to do that.

JONES (voice-over): The vaccine mandates are a big piece of what has allowed public transit in the city to see only partial shutdowns. ADAMS: Subway lines have closed; not the subway system. I took the train in on Saturday.

JONES (voice-over): Adams often uses public transit.

ADAMS: Good morning.


ADAMS: How you doing this morning?

JONES (voice-over): He hopped on a Citi Bike to get to work Sunday.

ADAMS: This is an amazing city, you know. Riding a Citi Bike here and taking the train in, interacting with New Yorkers. Generals don't lead their troops from the back.

JONES (voice-over): On his first trip to City Hall as mayor, his subway commute was sidelined by a street fight, which he reported to 911.

ADAMS: Assault in progress -- three males.

JONES (voice-over): The city's second Black mayor, Adams is also a former NYPD captain who is committed to improving the city's relations with police.

ADAMS: I was arrested as a teenager. I was beaten by police. And later today, I will go back to that same precinct house and I will address the officers there as their mayor.

JONES (voice-over): Adams spoke to police on the same day one of their off-duty officers was hit by a bullet while sleeping in his car.

ADAMS: This is not going to be a city of disorder. This is not going to be a city of violence.

JONES (voice-over): New York has seen a spike in crime in recent months. In November, the NYPD reported the crime rate increased by more than 21 percent from the same period last year.

ADAMS: You will not bring violence to this city. That is not going to continue to happen in the city of New York.


JONES: Now, one of Adams' favorite slogans is public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity. And he has made clear he wants to provide the police with the resources they need while also holding police accountable to the community and ensuring both safety and justice -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Athena. Thank you for that report.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joining us now, CNN political commentator and political anchor at Spectrum News, Errol Louis.

Errol, this has been a heck of a 48 hours. I mean, Mayor Adams begins his third day in office and you've had all these events, from calling 911 to riding the subway, to riding Citi Bike -- so you have all that. Plus, you have a really significant decision by the mayor, which is to say schools are going to be open. We are keeping schools open in New York City no matter what.

Your take?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS (via Webex by Cisco): Yes, that's the job. It's going to be like this for the next four years. Eric Adams, I think, is aware of that. But that's kind of a day in the life of a New York City mayor.

There are going to be lots of people on any given day, including tomorrow when kids are going back to school, when a lot of people are going to be upset -- not a few people; a lot of people. A lot of angry, noisy people are going to be unhappy about what it is they are being asked to do -- not just because of COVID but because we've got some pretty tough public health measures that this city already was undergoing, and this mayor has vowed to continue them, and he's not going to back down from it.

So, yes, he's in for -- he's in for quite a time. And don't let the smile fool you. I think he realizes that.

KEILAR: Presumably, though, there are a lot of people who are going to be right there backing him with these decisions he's making, Errol.

LOUIS: Well, kind of yes, kind of no. I mean, he did win after all and it was a very crowded and competitive race to become the mayor. But New Yorkers, as you know, are very cranky and can get very ornery when stuff doesn't go your way, and that's every day. You know, it's a tough -- it is a tough place to live. There's no question about it.

You can be the mayor of New York, as he was on his very first day in office, taking the train to work. And you look -- you look up and there's three people scuffling on the sidewalk. That same train ride, by the way, included a homeless man -- or apparently homeless -- sprawled out on the seats on one train, and a person ranting and raving, screaming on the same train as the brand-new mayor. So, you know, this is -- this is what it's like.


Now, he has promised to get these things under control. We'll see if he can do it.

BERMAN: He seems to invite the circus a little bit, Errol. Is that going on? And what does he get out of it?

LOUIS: Yes. I mean, look, he enjoys it just like everybody else. I mean, there's a certain exhilaration. It's very hard to explain to outsiders. That's why we love to have tourists come and see it for themselves. But there's something kind of cool about all of this stuff. There's

all of this mayhem going on but there are a lot of people who are pursuing a lot of different dreams, you know? There's poets and artists, and singers who are just as ambitious as the Wall Street brokers and the other people who are trying to make it here in the city. And if we can all do it together in a reasonably civil fashion, we all get ahead together. That's the whole point.

And the mayor does get that, and that's why he is the mayor. We'll see, though.

He's going to have to make some adjustments, I have to say. I mean, he was traveling on that train where he saw the scuffle happen without a security detail, you know? He says he's going to just kind of go to work. He doesn't need the NYPD to protect him. I don't know how long that's going to last.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, there is just security issues there that probably need to be taken into account for more than just him. It's for the good of the city.

Like I said, all of this -- all the circus -- the decision that may have the biggest impact on people is his commitment to keep schools open, which he is reiterating every chance he gets.

Errol, it's great to see you. Happy new year.

LOUIS: Happy new year to you.

BERMAN: The search and rescue effort has narrowed to just two people in the huge devastation from last week's wind-driven wildfires, which burned through hundreds of homes north of Denver. Much of the smoldering wreckage is now covered in snow. This, as FEMA prepares to open its disaster assistance center.

CNN's Natasha Chen live in Boulder with the latest there -- Natasha.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, FEMA has about 100 people on the ground with more people coming in the days ahead.

Now, when you think about two missing people out of the 35,000 who had to evacuate, officials say that is quite extraordinary. But the search for them in the burn zone is very difficult. We're talking about houses reduced to ash and that debris is now covered in about eight inches of snow in some cases.

I talked to some families who lost everything they have, including the Delaware family who shared video with us of what it was like going back to their neighborhood and finding nothing left. They described to me on Thursday -- what it was like on Thursday with those hurricane- force winds coming and having just minutes to grab their cellphone, dogs, and medicine.


TAYLER SUSTELLO, COLORADO RESIDENT: It was a red sky -- orange. Quickly, it was turning into black smoke. Things were moving so quickly. White suddenly started appearing and just the sound of the wind. It just honestly sounded like a hurricane of smoke and fire.

JUDY DELAWARE, COLORADO RESIDENT, LOST HER HOME: It felt like, like, 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. It's just so surreal to be able to even fathom everything you owned is just gone.


CHEN: Judy Delaware told me that house was filled with love. They lived there for more than 20 years and she hopes to rebuild right there.

There was a search warrant executed on Friday on private property as investigators continue to look into how this fire may have started Thursday with extremely dry conditions. In fact, a red flag notice, so nothing should have been burning because of those high winds. And they have the help of experts and partners like the FBI to look into that -- John and Brianna.

BERMAN: All right, tragedy there unfolding in Colorado. Natasha Chen, thank you so much for that.

So, Congresswoman Liz Cheney says new testimony proves Donald Trump's dereliction of duty during the insurrection. New information on the exact nature of this testimony. And, Bob Woodward joins us live.

KEILAR: And no longer a Buc. Tampa Bay's Antonio Brown's bizarre exit in the middle of the game. What his teammates are now saying.

And a live look as well at Washington, where the winter storm is just starting to hit.



KEILAR: Creepy weirdos. That is how Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio- Cortez is describing Republicans who are attacking her for taking a New Year's trip to Florida with her boyfriend. She responded to one critic, saying, quote, "If Republicans are mad they can't date me they can just say that instead of projecting their sexual frustrations onto my boyfriend's feet. Ya creepy weirdos."

Joining us now to discuss is CNN political commentator and conservative blogger, Mary Katharine Ham. You know, Mary Katharine, happy new year to you.


KEILAR: We were wondering -- we were thinking how do we wish her a happy new year and we thought let's wake her up early and talk about feet with her. So, you know -- HAM: I'm fine with it.

KEILAR: -- what do you make of all this?

HAM: Well, first of all, I woke up like this so I think you an authority on people being sexually frustrated by my mere existence. It happens all the time. And I'm glad to be able to discuss this important issue with you.

The plight of the super-hot in America has long been ignored and AOC has started a national conversation about this. And, you know, I know we've all dealt with it -- and by that, I mean AOC and you, Brianna, and myself, and John -- well, the point is --


HAM: -- we could start an organization or something.


And just the other day, I noticed the IRS keeps sending me notices even though I've never expressed any interest in them. And it's like why are you so obsessed with me?

But one day you wake up and you think to yourself is there more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking? You know, I did it and now I'm here.

AOC did it and how she's a congresswoman, and in that capacity you have to answer questions. And, like, I'm goofing on this because it's goofy, but to question the motives of every questioner you come across I don't think behooves you. And she can answer the questions about being in Florida without going here.

And by the way, I know because I'm talking about this, there are weirdos who will get weird in my comment section right now. Hi, how's it going? You can't date me.

This is the plight -- the real plight of actually being a woman in the public eye and there is some of that out there but we also have to answer fair questions. And a fair question to AOC is hey, is your trip with your partner to Florida dangerous to yourself and others? And if not, why not? Because if it's not, it suggests that people can use their personal freedom to make decisions about their risk profiles and go forward in the world of COVID.

BERMAN: I don't know what to say, exactly, right now -- no. But one thing I will say is you note there is a Venn diagram here -- I mean, right? There are creepy weirdos out there.

HAM: Yes.

BERMAN: You're not denying the existence of creepy weirdos; just that not everyone who asks a legitimate question is a creepy weirdo.

And I know Brianna had a question along those lines about sandals -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. Man sandals, yay or nay, Mary Katharine?

HAM: Look, I'm a no but I'm not judging. I don't think that -- the interesting thing is this took a turn toward the sexual after the sandals were mentioned. And AOC said OK, that's the source of it.

And look, I don't think man sandals have ever led to a sexual thought, except for maybe in "Gladiator" that one time. But that's my position. Thank you for asking me. No one's ever asked me that before.

KEILAR: There you go.

BERMAN: I'm going to turn this discussion now. I'm going to --

HAM: You can try, John.

BERMAN: I'm going to try. I'm going to try.

I want to ask about the Republican Party because Congressman Peter Meijer who was a yes, I believe, on impeaching the former President of the United States --

HAM: Right.

BERMAN: -- he was asked about where he thinks the current Republican Party is. There were no sandals harmed in this question. Listen to what he said.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): There is no alternative. There is no other path. And given how President Biden, when he was elected into office, said he would be moderate and look for bipartisan solutions.

But then after -- and frankly, I blame the former president for this -- after we lost the two Senate seats in Georgia and the Senate flipped, it became an exercise in trying to be an LBJ or FDR-style presidency and enact transformational change in the absence of any compelling mandate from the American people to do so.

So, that gave the rallying signal. That created a very steep divide. And at the end of the day, there is no other option right now in the Republican Party and that's a sad testament.


BERMAN: So, the congressman, Mary Katharine, says that there is no other option for most Republicans, he says, than Donald Trump. Fair?

HAM: I think if you look at the polling, many of them favor him, correct? But I think there's also a first place-second place option in some of those polls. And I think there are people who appeal to both the sort of Trump-critical wing of the party and the Trump-loving wing of the party, which is what you need in the end. But he's exactly right about Donald Trump and his crusade about the election, taking blame for those two Senate seats. Georgia's blue, y'all. Georgia's blue and there's a reason for that and it's partly because the president told a bunch of people who supported him and would've supported Republican candidates that their vote didn't matter. And if that continues to happen then you will not have wins for Republicans like you did in Virginia; you will have losses for Republicans.

And there's one sort of brewing right now, which is there is a primary fight on the right for the governorship in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is running for the Democratic Party and this is sort of caused by that Trump issue where Republicans could easily overtake her, probably, in this state for the governorship.

But there's going to be a primary to weaken their candidate and this is sort of the cost of doing business in this way. And this is -- by the way, that's the cost you should pay for doing business in this way. You mess with elections, you lose elections.

KEILAR: Mary Katharine Ham, I just want to say thank you so much for being with us this morning. I'm just going to take the pro-man sandal approach just -- you know, just for the underdog here.

HAM: I love it.

KEILAR: I also just -- look, if you're for freedom you've got to be for man sandals. You've got to free the feet even if they're white and pale.

HAM: You know, I don't -- I don't -- either mandate nor ban them. They -- have at it, people.

KEILAR: It's a good point. It's just a personal preference, as you stated.

Mary Katharine, happy new year. Thank you for being with us.

HAM: Thank you so much. Have a good one.


BERMAN: All right. As you can see, it is time for the five things to know for your new day.

The first major winter storm of the season placing more than 25 million people under warnings and advisories this morning. A snow emergency in Washington, D.C. has forced the federal government to remain closed today as parts of the eastern U.S. could see significant snowfall.

KEILAR: And the vacation is officially over as tens of millions of Americans return to work and in-person learning across the country. This includes the one million-plus students in the country's largest school system in New York City. Washington, D.C. is requiring proof of vaccination before its classrooms reopen on Thursday. BERMAN: President Biden trying to offer assurance to his Ukrainian counterpart as tensions with Russia intensify. In a phone call with the president of Ukraine, Biden said the U.S. and its allies will respond decisively should Russia invade Ukraine.

KEILAR: And Twitter permanently bans the personal account of Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene because of, quote, "repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy." Her congressional account, though, is still online.

BERMAN: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts sprang into action as he witnessed a rail collapse on his way to the locker room at FedExField. That's the home field of the Washington Football team. Hurts then helped several Eagles fans who fell to the ground. No one was seriously injured. The NFL is investigating what caused the railing to give way.

KEILAR: We need a new stadium, right? That's the lesson there.

All right, so those are the five things to know for your new day. We'll have more on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Just go to

BERMAN: All right, the other huge story in the NFL -- Antonio Brown's bizarre, shirtless outburst. Serious questions this morning that go beyond football.

KEILAR: And next, the Joe Biden economy. How it started and how it's going.



BERMAN: The U.S. economy starts 2022 with serious momentum, but the recovery does face some risks in 2022.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us. Romans, most people mark the beginning of the new year like at midnight on, you know --


BERMAN: -- December 31st. But for you, it's the first trading day, which is today.

ROMANS: And --

BERMAN: So, happy new year to you.

ROMANS: -- that is today and futures are higher, actually, this morning, FYI. But happy new year to you, too.

You know, the 2021 economy roared back from that COVID deep freeze of 2020, John.

In the labor market, I want you to look at this chart. More than six million jobs added back from January to November. That's the first best year of any president in the past 50 years. And new businesses created new -- created a breakneck pace of more than 50 percent from 2019.

Now, the economy is back to pre-pandemic size and experts predict GDP growth, 5.6 percent for the full year, 2021. That would be the strongest year since Ronald Reagan was president in 1984.

In the stock market, record highs again and again. The S&P 500 up 27 percent last year. John, it notched 70 record highs. That's the second-most new highs ever. That means retirement accounts have record balances. At the same time, home prices are also record highs.

All this totally at odds with public polling showing Americans pessimistic about the economy. So, why? Well, COVID exhaustion is a big factor.

And, John, this president doesn't cheerlead the way his predecessor did, right? President Trump claimed personal credit for the stock market, personal credit for the economy. That's just not Biden's style. And by the way, it's politically risky when inflation is the downside of this strong economy.

So what are the challenges for 2022? Well, number one, of course, the virus, still not under control.

Number two, labor shortages. Could they slow the recovery? Number three, inflation at a level not seen in decades. And experts don't expect that to cool down until the second half of the year.

Leading to number four, the Federal Reserve. What if they blow it, overreacting as they try to cool the economy? That would risk a recession.

And finally, the ever-present possibility of an unpredictable global political event threatening global stability. Think Russia, China, Iran. Anything like that could jack up oil prices and/or take stock markets.

That's my job to worry about --


ROMANS: -- the big way out there. The exogenous shock, the black swan. But the economy on a very solid ground here heading into the new year, John.

BERMAN: Well, like I needed more to worry about.

ROMANS: (Laughing).

BERMAN: Like, what's up with that? ROMANS: Well, 27 percent in the S&P 500 -- you're probably not worrying about your 401k over the past couple of years, even if the health crisis has really, really been a problem. You know, corporate profit margins are at a record high. That means companies are making money. Stock markets, based on how much money companies are making -- that has been a bright spot the whole last two years.

BERMAN: As I like to say, corporate profits at a record high just like me.

Christine Romans, happy new year. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: You, too. Bye, John.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, January third, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

And we're beginning with breaking news this morning. More than 25 million people are under winter storm warnings and advisories this morning. Parts of the eastern U.S. could see significant snowfall amid the first major winter storm of the season.

A snow emergency is in effect for Washington, D.C., forcing 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: Yes, and with those coronavirus case numbers skyrocketing, Education Sec. 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 more than 50 percent rises in cases over the past week. Just look at all the deep red there. Look at this, though, It's a different story when you talk about hospitalizations.