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Chicago Closes Schools After Teachers Refuse to Appear; CDC Changes Guidance, Posts Rationale for Shorter Isolation; January 6th Panel Wants to Speak with Mike Pence, Sean Hannity; Medical Ethicist: Should Vaccinated Go to Great Lengths to Protect Unvaccinated? Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 05, 2022 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Wednesday, January 5, and I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman here in Washington, D.C., where we are live for our special coverage.


One year ago today, lawmakers, an outgoing president, and right-wing media, they sold lies to the American public, lies that would eventually bring us to one of America's darkest days, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol.

We're going to get to that in a moment, including some new text messages that have the January 6th Committee asking a FOX host to reveal President Trump's state of mind leading up to the riot.

First, though, we are beginning with some breaking news overnight, which is that parents who are waking up in Chicago, well, your kids aren't going to school today, because in-person classes, after-school programs, athletic events, all of them are canceled.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union, these are teachers in the third largest district in the country, refusing to return to work until January 18th or whenever the latest coronavirus surge subsides.

And this has left thousands of students caught in the crosshairs here. So this morning, no classes until teachers and city leaders resolve their differences.

Seventy three percent of the teachers in the union, they voted in favor of this decision, in defiance of Chicago public schools and the mayor, who wanted in-person classes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, and it goes against what other districts, including the country's largest district in New York City, have decided to do. Listen to what New York City Mayor Eric Adams told Brianna in this deeply revealing interview.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: We cannot feed into hysteria. This is traumatizing our children. The way adults are responding to COVID is having a negative impact on our children.

The safest place for children right now is in a school building. That's the safest place for them.


BERMAN: So you have New York City's mayor saying we can't close the schools. You have teachers in Chicago saying we have to. This is a big deal.

The union members there deeming the conditions in the classrooms unsafe. The Chicago mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said reverting to online classes was unacceptable and unnecessary.

So what's going to happen? In a couple of hours, the Chicago Teachers Union will hold a news conference. Will they come to some kind of resolution? What will happen to these tens of thousands of children?

We're going to take you live there when it happens.

In the meantime, the CDC has tweaked its guidance for people with COVID, but it stopped short of advising a test before ending the isolation period.

The new guidance does not recommend a rapid test after five days. But if, if you decide to take a test, and it's positive, the CDC says you should isolate for another five days.

The recommendations also advise people who are isolating to avoid places where they can't wear a mask, like restaurants and gyms, and to wait to travel for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

Meanwhile, the virus does rage on. Maryland's governor has declared a state of emergency over the crush of cases and deployed the National Guard to help relieve pressure on healthcare workers.

Let's get right to CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, I want to start with this new guidance, although I'm not sure it's much of a guide from the CDC here. What's going on?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. There -- there are still so many questions. My team and I have read this guidance over -- over and over, and we still have so many questions. They still have failed to put out guidance that people can really, really understand.

But here are the basics of it. If you have COVID-19, you should stay home for at least five days. Isolation can end. You can get out of isolation if you're getting better. But if you do choose to do that, you say, I'm getting better, I'm getting out of isolation, the CDC says wear a mask around others for five more days.

And here's the new part. They say if you want to, if you feel like it, if you can find one, go ahead and take an antigen test, also known as a rapid test, around day five. But you don't have to. You can if you want to. And, if it's positive, you should isolate for a full 10 days rather

than just those five days.

Now, let's talk a little bit about the science behind why they would let people out after five days, especially if they never take a test. This graph says it all.

On the left-hand side, it shows the percent of people who are contagious when symptoms -- at symptom onset. When you start feeling symptoms, you are super contagious. That's that high bar there.

As the days go by, you are less and less contagious. So you see, after day five, the chances you're going to get someone else sick are really quite small. Is it possible? Yes. But it's quite small.

So there are many voices saying, since that chance is so small, let's just, you know, why are we keeping people at home, especially if they're essential workers and their services are so badly needed -- John, Brianna.


BERMAN: I mean, if the CDC could say that as clearly as you did, Elizabeth, I think it would be helpful. But they haven't yet. I do appreciate you analyzing it and giving us the decoder ring. Thank you, Elizabeth.

KEILAR: Decoder ring.

"We need to land the plane. I'm very worried about the next 48 hours." For the second time, FOX-TV host Sean Hannity's texts have reveled him pleading, begging and desperately strategizing and advising the White House before and around the time of the January 6th riot.

In a letter to Hannity, the panel reviewed five communications sent by the FOX host that they argue show he was aware of former President Trump's plans to contest President Biden's election victory on January 6th and the possible fallout from that. The committee is now asking Hannity to voluntarily cooperate.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): He is a fact witness. We have in our possession dozens of texts that he sent to Mark Meadows and others in his role as an apparent political operative; indications of his communications with the president and others on strategy. And it's that that we would like to talk to him about.


BERMAN: Former Vice President Mike Pence also has the decision to make about cooperating. Pence was there as the election results were read out loud, the 2020 presidential election, the Electoral College, despite a Trump White House pressure campaign against it.

Now committee chair Bennie Thompson is calling on Pence to voluntarily speak to the panel regarding what he knew about attempts by former President Trump and his allies to halt the process.

KEILAR: Let's get now to CNN's Whitney Wild with more on this. Whitney, tell us where we are in all this and with these new developments.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now what we know is that the committee has not formally asked former Vice President Mike Pence to come forward. But Bennie Thompson has made very clear that they would really like to speak with him.

Meanwhile, we know that this is a formal outreach to FOX News host Sean Hannity. And here's what they're trying to do.

They are collapsing in on the Trump inner circle. For two reasons, Brianna. And it's -- one of them is because the details about what was going on in the White House in this really critical time on January 6th remain very elusive at this point.

And the reality is the committee needs to establish the mind-set of the former president. That is why they are reaching out to the people they think may know it best.


WILD (voice-over): The House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection now wants to talk to former Vice President Mike Pence and FOX News host Sean Hannity.

The chairman of the Select Committee told CNN he wants Pence to voluntarily speak with the panel about what he witnessed one year ago tomorrow and the conversations leading up to that day.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): I would hope that he would do the right thing and come forward and voluntarily talk to the committee.

WILD: Rep. Bennie Thompson said Pence certified the election despite the extreme risk from rioters on January 6th, rioters who had heard for days then-President Donald Trump's pressure campaign on his VP to halt the process.

THOMPSON: His life was at risk. The vice president could not leave the Capitol of the United States because of the riot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

WILD: Thompson said the risk to Pence's life did not seem to motivate Trump to act while the Capitol was under attack.

THOMPSON: To take 187 minutes to say the rioters, you need to stop and go home, because my vice president is in the building and his life is in danger, is an absolute shame.

WILD: A spokesman for Pence declined to comment on Thompson's remarks.

The committee also wants to speak with FOX News host Sean Hannity, saying he texted with Trump, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others in the days surrounding January 6th.

LOFGREN: We have so many of these texts and pieces of evidence indicating that he was outside of his role as a press person, acting as a political operative.

WILD: Publicly, Hannity was saying this ahead of January 6th.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: A big day tomorrow. Big crowds apparently showed up to the point where the West Wing could hear the music and the chanting of the people that were there already.

WILD: But privately, Hannity sent a message to Meadows the night before the insurrection, reading, "I'm very worried about the next 48 hours."

The committee wants to know why Hannity was worried and what, if any, prior knowledge he may have had before the Capitol riots.

LOFGREN: I want to make sure that everyone knows this isn't a subpoena. We've asked him to cooperate with us as a fact witness out of his sense of patriotism.

WILD: Its members also believe the FOX News host has detailed knowledge regarding Trump's state of mind in the days following the January 6th attack.


Hannity texted Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan about a conversation he had four days after the insurrection. The text reads, "Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in nine days. He can't mention the election again, ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I'm not sure what is left to do or say, and I don't like not knowing if it's truly understood. Ideas?"


WILD: This effort to try to talk to former Vice President Mike Pence shows that the committee is working in this aggressive way. But what it also shows is that they think that he can provide really critical information about what was going on leading up to January 6th, even though he was not in the same place as the president in those 187 minutes when the president did nothing.

And the reality is, Brianna, if they do speak with Vice President Mike Pence, they will have an informed interview, and here's why. We know that key allies of the former vice president have already cooperated with the committee, John and Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, look, it would be -- I don't know if I expect Mike Pence to talk to this committee. That would be quite the get. We will see if it happens. Whitney, thank you so much for that report. BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, former Republican city commissioner

of Philadelphia Al Schmidt, who defended the results of the election as he faced harassment and threats from the former president and his allies. And CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

Al, I want to start with you with these texts from Sean Hannity about what they mean for the investigation. Because to me, they are revelatory, and I think for the committee, as well.

You have Hannity writing, quote, "I'm very worried about the next 48 hours," on January 5th. "I'm very worried about the next 48 hours," which begs the question, Al, why? Why would you be worried? So, what does this tell you about the discussions that were taking place and what was going on?

AL SCHMIDT (R), FORMER CITY COMMISSIONER OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, perhaps they're worried, because they were participants in all of this leading up to it.

On the one hand, they have their foot on the gas, pushing lies about the 2020 general election. And then, as we're finding out now, on the other hand, they're trying to pump the brakes, I guess, to keep things from perhaps going too far. And that going too far is the sort of physical manifestation of all those lies, and acts of violence on Capitol Hill.

KEILAR: Andrew, what do you think?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think that's exactly right. I think the committee's letter lays it out completely in the very first paragraph.

There are three things that are important here. They say that it's clear from the text that Hannity had advanced knowledge of what was going to happen. It's clear that he had concerns about what was going to happen. And it's undeniable that he had direct contact with not just the president but with many members of his staff, to include his chief of staff and the White House counsel's office.

There is no doubt that Sean Hannity has essential knowledge and information that this committee needs to get to. No question.

BERMAN: And -- and Andy, just the idea that Hannity was aware that something was going to happen indicates that this wasn't spontaneous, that there was something that was known that was about to happen. And that's key to all of this.

MCCABE: It was planned. It was being discussed. And people, including the president's lawyers -- I should say the lawyers for the presidency, because of course, they're not his personal lawyers, the White House counsel -- had clearly indicated to Hannity they had such concerns about where this was going that they were at least communicating that they were considering leaving if Mike -- if the pressure was continuously applied to Mike Pence. I mean, this is like an investigator's dream, to see these texts, to

have a witness like this made -- made clear to you. I mean, you get this information -- I don't -- it doesn't matter that Hannity is a member of the media. These are fact issues. They have nothing to do with his news-gathering activity. This is fair game.

KEILAR: Because, Al, you might have folks around the president who were saying, you know, Oh, well, we didn't know. We couldn't foresee this was going to happen. And yet, clearly, they could, right?

Sean Hannity, who knows what his viewers are thinking, is telling Mark Meadows, Hey, I'm worried. And what is he worried about? Clearly, he's worried about violence.

SCHMIDT: That's right. And perhaps it's an indication that, even in that close circle of people who are pushing and spreading lies about the election, that they are realizing that things are going too far, and they're jeopardizing themselves. They're obviously supporters of the former president's administration and worried that they're going to throw it all away.


BERMAN: And Al, I just want to read one more of these texts here. This is from Sean Hannity on December 31, so a week before. "We can't lose the entire White House counsel's office. I do not see January 6th happening the way he is being told. After the 6th, he should announce he'll lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity, go to Florida and watch Joe mess up daily."

To me the most important and most telling word in all of that is the very first one: "We." "We." Sean Hannity, who works for a television company that sometimes calls itself --

KEILAR: That purports to be news but is not.

BERMAN: Says "We." I mean, who is the "we" here, Al? And what does that tell you? And you spoke to this before, about how many people were involved in creating this lie.

SCHMIDT: Really, I think that's -- I think that's a very telling pronoun that's being used there. Because it is a whole network of people, no pun intended, engaging in all of this.

And it's important, at the end of the day, that we know as much as we can and that people be held accountable. Whether they be held accountable for making threats to election officials across the country or being held accountable for this attack on our greatest symbol of democracy on the -- one of the most sacred days in our democracy, which is the peaceful transition of power.

KEILAR: I want to listen now to something that the Nevada secretary of state [SIC] said. This is someone who supports Donald Trump. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIM MARCHANT (R), CANDIDATE FOR NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE: As a coalition of "America First" secretary of state candidates around the country, we're getting the word out that people are excited that there's somebody doing something behind the scenes to try to fix 2020, like President Trump said.


KEILAR: Candidate there for Nevada secretary of state. And let's be clear. This is present day.


KEILAR: As you're speaking about this, Al, what concerns does that raise for you?

SCHMIDT: Well, especially as a candidate for secretary of state, I think we are going to see in 2022, where we have our first primaries of this nature, where election administrators who are elected or appointed are either replaced by -- by people who don't know what they're doing or replaced by people who are going to actively seek to undermine confidence in the very elections that they themselves are responsible for running.

BERMAN: It really is remarkable to see.

And Al, just very last question. You know, a year later, just what does it feel like to be here a year later? You left your job. You've held that job for 10 years. I mean, did you ever think you'd be in this position today?

SCHMIDT: Well, I feel like we're in the roughly 400th day of the 2020 presidential election day. There's still obviously a lot of questions that we still have to have answered and a lot of people who need to be held accountable.

BERMAN: Al Schmidt, we appreciate the work you've done and the bravery you've always really displayed to the world.

Andy McCabe, we always appreciate you and your insight. Thank you so much.

SCHMIDT: Thank you.

BERMAN So this morning, are the vaccinated carrying the burden, really, of the unvaccinated? The debate on whether we should stop going to great lengths for those who refuse to get the shot.

KEILAR: Plus, tomorrow marks one year since the January 6th insurrection. But did the rioters learn anything? We have that report ahead.

And 16 hours and counting until the next drawing. Have you bought a -- your Powerball ticket? A lot up for grabs tonight, ahead.

BERMAN: You're not going to win. KEILAR: I might.

BERMAN: You're not going to win.

KEILAR: It's worth it.



BERMAN: So two years into the deadly pandemic, and just 62 percent of Americans are vaccinated. And the number of the newly infected is shooting up yet again, shattering even more records as the Omicron variant grips the nation.

So how much should the vaccinated keep changing their lives, turning their lives upside-down to protect those who have decided to forego the vaccine?

Let's bring in Professor Arthur Caplan. He's the director of medical ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Professor, it's always an education to speak to you.

Look, those of us who have been vaccinated and boosted and everything else, why should we keep making sacrifices when we keep being told the vast majority of people hospitalized now with COVID are the unvaccinated?


So, look, first, we've got to get the ethical ground back on the side of people doing the right thing, that praise them, that acknowledge that they're doing the right thing.

When I hear people say our first value is autonomy, and liberty, and I don't want to get vaxed, and I don't want to do anything to help my neighbor, or help people who are weak or vulnerable, one of the important things we can do is shift the moral ground. We've got to start praising people who do the right thing. Not saying, well, there's a tradeoff of values. Some people are going to help their neighbor orient toward the community, try to protect one another. And then there are going to be jerks who aren't going to do that.

Let's get the equation straight. And people may be thinking, Well, so what? What difference does it make where we put a moral emphasis? It makes a lot of difference.

Shame, guilt, calling people out when they're not doing the right thing. I don't see moral equivalency if you're not doing the right thing by getting vaccinated, by trying to get tested when you can find the tests, by trying to take precautions when you're around the weak and the vulnerable.

That's not -- I think about Antonio Brown, the football player who you may remember, John, stripped off his uniform and left in the middle of a game recently. You don't think of him as a hero. His teammates thought of him as a morally obtuse idiot, because he wasn't participating -- he did the worst thing. He abandoned his team.


And that's what the unvaccinated, that's what the people who won't take precautions. That's what the unmasked are causing to happen. They're leaving the team in the middle of the fight for our lives, in the middle of a pandemic. So that's preliminary.

And then I'll just add quickly, I think you've got to then say we're going to make life easier for those who vaccinate and tougher for those who won't do it. More rewards, more freedom, more ability to go to restaurants, go to social events, go to athletic events.

Why we continue to say, well, you know, you vaccinate, you don't vaccinate, it's up to you if you want to come to this game. That isn't the right stance.

BERMAN: Yes, again, I get the idea of creating a moral standard here and really judging, being willing to judge and say things out loud.

The question is -- and I also get protecting the vulnerable. Kids under 5 can't get vaccinated. People who are older and maybe have medical conditions even if they are vaccinated, are vulnerable. And I get acting in ways that make their lives safer.

But by and large, if you're vaccinated and boosted, even if you get in infected, you're going to be fine. You're going to be fine here. It's the unvaccinated who are going to be hurt.

So -- so why should anyone who is boosted bother at this point to do anything that makes the unvaccinated more safe?

CAPLAN: Well, look, I want us to act as a community. I want us to act as a team. When you're fighting a war, you need all hands on deck.

I don't want to reject those who still haven't done the right thing. I'll condemn them. I'll shame them. I'm blame them. But I don't want to exclude them. They've got to come around.

We can't win this war. We're going to be talking about COVID this time next year if we don't get more people to do the right thing.

So we can't write them off. We can penalize them more. We can say, you're going to pay more on your hospital bill if you aren't vaccinated. You can't get life insurance or disability insurance at affordable rates if you aren't vaccinated. Those companies should not treat us as equals in terms of what the financial burdens are that that disease imposes.

So I can think of a number of ways in which we should say, Here's the stick, get on board.

At the same time, we do need everyone. It's a war. You've got to have all your troops unified if we're ever going to win it.

BERMAN: Yes. But still, by and large, it's the unvaccinated who aren't wearing masks. It's the unvaccinated who aren't social distancing. It's the unvaccinated going to crowded indoor events there. And so there's this bizarre irony here that the ones who are behaving are being told to behave 10 times more so.

Professor Arthur Caplan, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you very much.

CAPLAN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: So one year after the attack on the Capitol, some rioters have showed no remorse while others do have regrets. We're going to take a look at the lessons learned, or in some cases, not learned.

KEILAR: And ahead, the FBI conducted more than 900 interviews. They combed through 39,000 videos, and that was just for the D.C. pipe bomber. Where that search stands now.

BERMAN: That's such a good question.

KEILAR: It really is.