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Winter Weather and Sick Callouts from Staff Causing Significant Delays and Flight Cancelations at Airports across U.S.; New York City Mayor Eric Adams Denies Teachers Union Request to Implement Remote Learning; January 6th Select Committee Says It Has Firsthand Testimony of Behavior on Former President Trump During Insurrection. Aired 8- 8:30a ET
Aired January 03, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look at this, though. It's a different story when you talk about hospitalizations -- 28 states at this point seeing rising hospitalizations. The Biden administration may now change the guidance issued just days ago that advises people can return to work and school five days after testing positive with no requirement for a negative test. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the agency could soon issue an update on that.
Let's begin, though, with the winter storm, which is making an even bigger mess for air travel across the country. CNN's Pete Muntean, the mayor of Reagan National Airport, who also apparently controls the weather, is there with all of this. Pete, what are you seeing?
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wish. John, a quarter of all flights have been canceled here at Reagan National Airport, the most of any airport nationwide. Really a double whammy for the airlines and for travelers with all of these COVID cancellations because of flight crew sick-outs and the snow really coming down good here now. We will see these numbers go up. About 1,800 cancelations nationwide according to FlightAware, 10 percent at Southwest Airlines, another 10 percent at SkyWest, those regional airlines for Delta, American, and United, about 13 percent of all flights at JetBlue.
Just the beginning of what we have seen, the long lines at airports across the country over the weekend, about 5,000 cancellations in total nationwide. Long lines at Chicago and Atlanta, passengers actually staying overnight in Atlanta in some cases. I just want you to listen now to one of those passengers who has 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.
MUNTEAN: Have they given you guys any kind of lodging or anything at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not yet. So yes.
MUNTEAN: That's got to be frustrating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is, but as long as we can get back, it will be good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MUNTEAN: The latest statement from American Airlines that this big snowstorm hit its hub in Chicago at O'Hare the hardest. Now it's saying that COVID cancellations because of flight crew sick-outs have really been consistent with what it's seen over the last few days and it's trying to proactively cancel these flights before passengers show up to the airport so they're not disappointed when they get here. But 17,000 cancellations in total, John, since Christmas Eve, a huge number, and we have not seen the end of it just yet. Really starting to stick here at Reagan National Airport, but the airport says they're trying to clear the runway quickly to make sure that still flights can get out if they have to, John.
BERMAN: It really is a cascading problem in this busy travel period. Pete Muntean thank you so much for that report.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You see that dedication there, Berman. Pete's hair is a national treasure, and there he is breathing the elements for us.
KEILAR: Almost as good as yours.
BERMAN: I appreciate that. Thank you for that.
KEILAR: Not quite, but I will say, just to be clear.
OK, so students in the nation's largest school district, New York City, are returning from winter break as coronavirus cases are surging across the state. The city's teachers' union has asked the new mayor, Eric Adams to temporarily revert to remote learning, but Adams says, and he feels strongly about this, schools will remain open.
CNN's Erica Hill is with us now on this. They're certainly I think at a little bit of loggerheads, are in disagreement over this, but Adams being pretty clear here, Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He absolutely has been. In fact, he is really focused on this additional testing that has been brought into the schools, they're trying to double the number of students that they're randomly testing. It used to be just unvaccinated students. Now it's vaccinated and unvaccinated. And the assistant principal at this school where I'm at here in the Bronx in elementary school, pre-k through fifth graders, she says that additional testing will definitely make a difference, and as you heard, as we heard, rather, from the mayor over the weekend, that's a major focus of the strategy to keep kids in school. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY: The stats are clear, the safest place for children is inside a school. We're going to create a safe environment with testing. We're going to identify the children that are exposed. We're going to remove them from that environment. The numbers show the mere fact that a child is exposed in a classroom does not mean that entire classroom is exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: So again, testing is key, a number, 2 million rapid tests have been made available from the state. The assistant principal at this school told me, she said they have those rapid tests here at the school ready to go so if they need to send them home with staff or with students who may have been exposed, they can do that as part of an additional new testing regimen.
As for the president of the teachers' union, as you mention, he did advise that the city return temporarily to remote learning. The mayor said we're sticking with our course. The mayor expected to be here at this school in just a matter of minutes to talk about the return to school today.
We're also expected to hear this hour from that union president, so we'll let you know what he says moving forward. I did ask specifically about teachers and staff at this school. I was told by the assistant principal they've had two teachers who tested positive, no concerns from other teachers, she told me, about coming back to school today. She said their kids actually do really well, and she said she's been really impressed this year, Brianna, with how well the three-year-olds in their three-K program are actually doing, keeping their masks on, saying I guess for these kids it's just part of life now.
KEILAR: Oh, yes, it's amazing. They're really used to it and it's no big deal at all. Erica, thank you.
BERMAN: With more on all of this, let's bring in preventative medicine physician Dr. James Hamblin. He's a lecturer at Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Hamblin, great to see you this morning. I think what Mayor Adams is doing is interest. He's basically starting by saying we're going to keep schools open. That's the decision that we've made. So let's then talk about how to do it safely. So if the schools are going to be open, which he has decided is important, what do you do?
DR. JAMES HAMBLIN, LECTURER, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: I think the key is ventilation, and we're not talking enough before that. Masks help, but keeping kids in a well-ventilated space is critical. And that's something that would require a lot of investment from the city, upgrading all the schools and making -- not all of them, but many parts of the schools. And that should have started two years ago, because closing schools is the last thing that we want to have to do. There are so many other things that could be closed or shortened before closing schools. It's important that they stay open. But that the more you can do to test, and to allow people to have hybrid options when they do become sick so kids don't fall behind, the better off you'll be. It's a very difficult situation.
BERMAN: What about the rest of us? If we take the attitude with the rest of us, which is not to say we're not going to get sick, because people are going to get sick, but how do we keep moving forward given the situation we're in now this very high caseload?
HAMBLIN: Right. This is where we need to build sustainable systems in the world so our schools should have the capacity to deal with this surge and future surges and new respiratory viruses without having to have a big debate every single time whether we need to cancel everything and send everyone home. We are in the process of risk mitigation to try to make sure as few people suffer unnecessarily as possible. And we do our best, but it is going to be important to have systems that are resilient to have people have sick leave, have paid sick leave, have access to affordable health care and testing and well-ventilated spaces, and see this as a longer term problem, because this is going to be with us indefinitely.
BERMAN: What's your opinion of when this current surge may abate?
HAMBLIN: This virus has pretty much gotten me out of the business of prediction. It's been very surprising. I think we may see another variant right on the heels of this one, and I think we should plan for that. And I would hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I don't see any benefit in people making predictions about next month being significantly better. We should plan for it not to be, and if it is, wonderful.
BERMAN: Well, along those lines, though, if there is going to be just another variant, or if this surge lasts a longer time, it does get back to that central issue, which is that as a country, and I understand it's a global issue, but as a country we have got to figure out a way to keep going, and not just survive but continue to thrive.
HAMBLIN: Yes, exactly. And I think that's what you're seeing with recommendations like shortening the period of quarantining to five days. There is a balance between, and this is something you constantly dealing with in public health, what would be the ideal, what would make people 100 percent certain of their safety and health, and what will people actually do, what is consistent with our culture, with people's levels of fatigue. And those are critical debates worth having, and we are really thrown off when we treat it as though this is a short term problem, because when you have short term problems, like the big snowstorm, you can tell people, OK, we're going to cancel school today. But when you have a snowstorm that is going to keep happening, you have to think about longer term plans, and that might mean restructuring systems like school to be resilient and prepared.
BERMAN: Yes, and in some ways having it be a long-term issue and long-term problem makes some of the decisions easier, not easier to implement, but it makes the choices easier. These are important discussions to have, Dr. Hamblin. There is no perfect answer. There are just different degrees of good and bad here. I do appreciate you being part of the discussion, though.
HAMBLIN: Thank you for having me.
BERMAN: The January 6th Committee says it has firsthand testimony of what Donald Trump was doing as the Capitol was under siege. We have new CNN reporting next.
KEILAR: Also, we'll hear from a mom who had a change of heart after COVID put her in a coma for two months. And the football star who lost his shirt, his job, and a whole lot of money in an epic on field display.
KEILAR: The House Select Committee has now firsthand testimony about what then president Donald Trump was up to as his supporters turned insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on January 6th last year. Here's Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is the vice chair of the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony that President Trump was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching on television as the Capitol was assaulted, as the violence occurred. We know that that is clearly a supreme dereliction of duty.
One of the things that the Committee is looking at from the perspective of our legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty. But we've certainly never seen anything like that as a nation before.
Imagine a man who, while the violent assault was underway, while he was watching television, watching it unfold, not telling his supporters to stop and go home instead was sending out a tweet saying that Mike Pence was a coward.
This is a man who is simply too dangerous ever to play a role again in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's talk about what we heard there with CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel. And Jamie, you know, just underscoring there Liz Cheney, who is the Vice Chair of that Committee, saying firsthand knowledge that is notable, and I know that you've learned more about that.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. There is no accident that she said "firsthand." So here's what we've learned -- in addition to what Congresswoman Cheney said, a person with knowledge of the investigation has told me that the January 6th Committee has information, this is firsthand information from multiple sources that describe what President Trump was saying, doing and not doing during the riot.
The source told me quote, "There is a collection of people with relevant information." So this isn't just from one source. So just -- let's translate it firsthand indicates someone with direct contact or knowledge. It could be someone who was in the room, someone on the phone, but this is firsthand.
Bottom line, the Committee has broken through Trump's wall.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Who might some of these people be, Jamie?
GANGEL: Right. So what do we know publicly? One witness who has given a deposition to the Committee is Keith Kellogg. He is a retired General. He was former Vice President Mike Pence's National Security adviser.
But on January 6th, he was actually with Trump in the White House when the riot was going on. National Security adviser Robert O'Brien was away, so Kellogg was with him all that day.
Our colleague, Alex Marquardt, reached out to Kellogg, who told us that he testified under oath to the Committee, but he declined to comment about the substance of his deposition, but he was certainly someone who was in the room.
BERMAN: So Jamie, you said it was no accident that Liz Cheney used the words that she used.
BERMAN: I think she is very careful in her language. Why is she saying this now?
GANGEL: So my understanding is this is part of the Committee's strategy to let Trump know that people who were in the room, possibly inner circle, certainly, Keith Kellogg was in the room are cooperating with the Committee.
This is a warning to Trump that while he may get people like Steve Bannon to delay or defy the Committee, the Committee is still getting critical, firsthand evidence, and I think John, it also sends a message to others in Trump world that key witnesses are cooperating, that they should cooperate, too.
KEILAR: Yes, maybe if they are on the fence and they're watching this.
KEILAR: So what's the significance of what the Committee is learning about what Trump was doing as the Capitol riot was unfolding?
GANGEL: So, look, we will know much more when the Committee has its hearings. But right now, let's think about the questions the Committee may be getting answers to. We know Ivanka Trump, his daughter came at least twice to try to get him to do something.
What did he say to Ivanka? What did he say to others like Mark Meadows, his Chief of Staff? What did he say to people who we know called him -- Jim Jordan -- Congressman Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy. And also there is an interesting example, what did he say to Senator Tuberville? We know in the middle of the riot, he calls Senator Tuberville actually on Mike Lee's phone, he gets the phones confused and he is trying to convince Tuberville to -- he tells him, delay it even more. Tuberville says, look, they just took Mike Pence out. I've got to get off the phone.
But all of this evidence speaks to, as you quoted, Liz Cheney saying was, quote, "A supreme dereliction of duty" for those 187 minutes. It's not that they don't want -- let me be clear -- for the documents from the National Archives. But the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.
BERMAN: One last question, Jamie.
BERMAN: POLITICO noted that there are some Republicans close to Kevin McCarthy who think he made a tactical mistake by not putting other Republicans besides Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on to the Committee after Speaker Pelosi said no, you couldn't have Jim Jordan and Jim Banks who may be witnesses here, because Republicans don't have visibility as to what's happening inside here.
BERMAN: How much of an impact is that having?
GANGEL: I think it is having a huge impact. Look, Liz Cheney is a Republican. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican. The argument that there isn't -- there are Republican staff members on the Committee. So there is bipartisan input.
If Kevin McCarthy had had other Republican members on the Committee, he would know what was going on. He does not know that now.
BERMAN: Jamie Gangel, it is interesting to think about what that might mean in the coming weeks and months. Thank you so much for your reporting.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BERMAN: So legendary journalist, Bob Woodward, who revealed so much of what happened inside the White House that day joins us next to react to all these revelations.
KEILAR: Plus, have the NBA and the NFL surrendered to their vaccine refusers?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:25:00]
BERMAN: 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, really more likely his inaction on the day of the attack.
Joining us now is Bob Woodward, associate editor of "The Washington Post." He traced Trump's actions that day in his book "Peril" along with Robert Costa. This firsthand testimony, the Committee now has which is sworn and we presume, under oath, Bob, what's the significance of having that?
BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Very, very significant. Keith Kellogg, the retired Lieutenant General is somebody who actually is a Trump loyalist, and also an institutionalist.
He used to say within the White House that Trump and Pence, the Vice President were fire and ice. You can guess who was fire, Trump; and Pence was ice and Kellogg, as we found from multiple firsthand witnesses, which was with Trump on January 6th in the office with Trump and begging to tweet out to stop the violence.
And he said memorably, he said, Mr. President, not everyone is carrying a television on their shoulder, please go out and tweet, and this is a mob and when you have a mob, you have lost it. Trump would not respond. And so Kellogg, went to find Ivanka Trump, Trump's daughter, and she went to see, Trump, her father, in the Oval Office in the dining room there three times, we had from multiple witnesses.
And one of the things she said to President Trump is, let this thing go. And eventually, he did tweet, but it was delayed. So in a sense, from the point of view of an investigation, having somebody like Keith Kellogg there, who was a participant, who is now under oath, you know, you couldn't get a better witness.
It is somebody that Republicans would have to look at and say, wait a minute. This is a credible, strong person, somebody who served in the military for decades.
KEILAR: Do you think that other Trump loyalists, Bob, may look at this, may look at Keith Kellogg, who by the way confirmed to CNN that he testified under oath, that they will look at this testimony and they might be swayed to participate as well?
WOODWARD: Well, I think there's kind of almost an avalanche of movement where people want to not necessarily cooperate and support the Committee, but they want to protect themselves and any lawyer will tell somebody in that position, if you don't have some sort of involvement that's criminal, or something that you want to conceal, the best course of action is to go ahead.
Interestingly enough, after January 6th, Keith Kellogg went to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and said, let's bring things together. Let's smooth this over and propose that Trump give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pence. His Vice President wouldn't be hard. Of course, Ivanka and Jared said, well, we'll weigh down. That's not going to work at this point. So big movement.
BERMAN: Hey, Bob, a lot of what we're hearing from the Committee now seems to be laying the groundwork for what will ultimately be the public hearings here. What do you think the story is that the Committee will ultimately tell to the country and what will the significance of that be?
WOODWARD: Well, obviously if they have witnesses, if they have documents, do they have some sort of tape recordings? Of course, Watergate was broken with the Nixon's secret taping system. What that revealed, we haven't seen something like that.
I still think there's a big looming question. Maybe the Committee has answered that, maybe reporters have. I know it is being worked on.
Who was the operational commander of what happened?