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Some Capitol Rioters Show Remorse and Others Don't; Covid Update from Around the World; Alex Schiffer is Interviewed About Irvin's Return to the Court; Cuomo Not Prosecuted in Groping Case. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired January 05, 2022 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Almost a year after the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, and America remains deeply divided. I mean it might even be more divided, I think, than a year ago. Supporters of former President Trump led the January 6th attack on the seat of government, Congress. And as hundreds of them are charged, convicted and sentenced, some accused rioters still show no remorse, while others do. They show that they are regretful of that day.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has this story.
JOSHUA PRUITT, ACCUSED CAPITOL RIOTER: So, if you ask me if I'd do it again, I want to say yes, but then I question in the back of my head, would I?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Proud Boy Josh Pruitt describes his past year as an emotional train wreck.
PRUITT: I don't feel like I did anything wrong. But knowing the consequences that came out of it, would be the part that would make me question it.
SCHNEIDER: Prosecutors have laid out an array of video as evidence against him. Pruitt can be seen confronting Capitol Police officers after walking in through the shattered front doors. And inside the Capitol crypt, Pruitt is caught smashing a sign.
All of it leading to eight federal charges against him, including counts for destruction of government property and acts of physical violence.
But Pruitt defends his action that day, clinging to the big lie that former President Donald Trump continues to spread, and saying he has no plans to plead guilty.
PRUITT: I was just a patriot out there, you know, protesting against some -- I -- what I think is a stolen election. Trying to send me to prison for a few years over this I think is a
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Are you concerned that you could be, in fact, sent to prison?
PRUITT: I am concerned.
SCHNEIDER (voice over): Pruitt is among the more than 700 people now charged in connection with the Capitol attack. Seventy plus defendants have been sentenced so far. About 30 getting jail time.
JENNA RYAN, CAPITOL RIOTER SENTENCED TO PRISON: The first week in January I have to report to prison.
SCHNEIDER: Jenna Ryan flew a private jet to Washington and notably boasted that storming the Capitol was one of the best days of her life. Her lack of remorse in part prompted a judge to impose a 60-day sentence after she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The judge saying he wanted to make an example of her after she shamelessly tweeted that she wouldn't get jail time since she has blonde hair, white skin and did nothing wrong.
RYAN: All those 600 people that have been arrested are now wondering what's going to happen to them. And prison is -- can happen.
SCHNEIDER: Several of those sentenced are expressing remorse.
Erik Rau got 45 days in jail after pleading guilty to just one count of disorderly conduct. Federal Judge James Boasberg admonished Rau for trying to undermine the peaceful transfer of presidential power, what he called one of the country's bedrock acts. Rau struggled to speak at sentencing, telling the judge, there is no excuse for my actions on January 6th. I can't tell you how much this has just twisted my stomach every day since it happened.
Another rioter, Robert Reeder, got three months in jail. During his sentencing, he pleaded with the judge, saying he lost his family, his job and his place within his church community after January 6th. I am embarrassed. I am in shame, Reeder said. The hurt that I have caused to other people, not just to myself, has left a permanent stain on me, society, the country, and I don't want to be ever remember for being part of that crowd.
Josh Pruitt, though, still isn't willing to admit guilt or cooperate with prosecutors. Video of Pruitt pledging to become a member of the Proud Boys in November 2020 went viral. Pruitt says prosecutors are asking him to help make the case against other Proud Boys facing conspiracy charges, but he claims he no longer associates with the extremist group.
PRUITT: I don't have anybody to throw under the bus, nor would I anyway. And I just -- what I'm saying doesn't fit their narrative because they would like me to come forward and say that it was planned. And I'm like, no, it wasn't.
Everybody thinks that people had all these plans of going in the building. And not to my knowledge. I was in touch with some pretty right-wing people and we never heard anything about that.
SCHNEIDER: While Pruitt waits out his next court date, he spends most of his days inside his Nashville apartment wearing an ankle bracelet and abiding by a 9:00 p.m. curfew, except when he's working as a bartender, something that is approved by the court. Pruitt expects his case to go to trial and say he still stands by the big lie.
PRUITT: I do believe (INAUDIBLE), for sure.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): And do you still believe that?
PRUITT: I still believe it.
SCHNEIDER: And Pruitt isn't the only one. I actually spoke with several accused rioters on the phone. All of them declined to talk on camera. They cited their ongoing cases or their desire to step back from the public glare. But the handful that I spoke with told me they still believe the election was stolen. Some even dispute that it was just pro-Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol Building on January 6th. They falsely told me that members of Antifa were also involved.
Now, meanwhile, the FBI is still trying to identify more than 350 people who committed violent attacks on the Capitol ground. So, still, a lot of the investigation still left.
Brianna and John.
KEILAR: Really fascinating report. Thank you so much for that.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was going to say, lies upon lies all this time, all this time later.
KEILAR: And they're being fertilized, right?
KEILAR: That lie about the false flag operation, we've been talking a lot about Sean Hannity today. He fertilized that. He was one of many people who did.
BERMAN: All right, pardon my French, but French President Emanuel Macron has a new Covid strategy for the unvaccinated, piss them off.
KEILAR: How do you say that in French?
BERMAN: Wish -- I got a D in French.
KEILAR: I don't know.
Plus, unvaccinated basketball player Kyrie Irving is set to return to the court tonight. Why is the NBA allowing this?
And ahead, a loyal dog just lending a helping paw. How he rescued his owner from this horrific crash site. And it really brings us to the question, what would a cat do?
BERMAN: Exactly. Exactly.
KEILAR: As Covid cases and hospitalizations are surging across the globe, France's president wants to infuriate the unvaccinated by tightening restrictions further.
In Israel, a fourth vaccine shot is introduced.
And in Australia, backlash over a medical exemption for a tennis star has some folks there saying, bugger off.
CNN has this covered coast to coast.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Bittermann in Paris, where president Macron caused a stir last night with Covid comments. In an interview with a widely circulated newspaper, he expressed his frustration with people who are still not vaccinated and said his strategy is to piss them off with his proposed health pass changes. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) was the verb he used in French.
The president has been trying to get lawmakers to approve changes in the nation's health pass which would make it next to impossible for nonvaccinated French to engage in all kinds o public activities, including going to bars, restaurants and travel. On hearing his comments, the session of parliament debating the changes were suspended until today.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elliott Gotkine in Tel Aviv, where a study has found that a fourth shot of the Pizer BioNTech vaccine increases a person's antibodies five-fold in a space of a week. The findings, which are preliminary and not yet peer reviewed, appear to support the country's decision to roll out a second booster for people aged over 60, health care workers and those with suppressed immune systems. With Covid-19 cases soaring, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the findings as good news, saying that the fourth dose is safe. The fourth dose works.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Blake Essig in Tokyo.
As Covid-19 hospitalizations in Australia continue to break records, Australians have responded with anger and skepticism. But it's not because of the surging number of cases. Instead, it's because men's tennis world number one, Novak Djokovic, was granted a medical exemption to compete in this year's Australia Open in Melbourne despite his opposition to vaccines, which are a requirement to compete in the tournament.
Now, Melbourne was one of the most locked down cities in 2021. And now fans have taken to social media calling the decision a disgrace and calling for a boycott of the Australian Open.
BERMAN: Yes, a lot of people upset in Australia, asking, why him? Why him? They've been locked down for so long. They have been behaving. So why does Djokovic get to bend the rules?
Along the same lines, a wildly controversial debut tonight. Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will finally suit up again after his refusal to get vaccinated kept him off the roster this season. But there is a catch here. He's still not vaccinated, which means he will have to sit out every home game because of New York City's vaccine mandate.
Joining us now is Alex Schiffer. He's the Brooklyn Nets beat writer at "The Athletic.
Alex, riddle me this, all right. For months, including when the case count was low, hospitalizations low in New York City, the pandemic subsiding, the Nets say Kyrie Irving can't play. But now, now that cases are exploding everywhere, they say, OK unvaccinated Kyrie Irving, now is the time we want to you to play.
ALEX SCHIFFER, BROOKLYN NETS BEAT WRITER, "THE ATHLETIC": Yes, this was very player driven on the Nets ends. This wasn't something -- you know, management kept their stance on this really until they didn't. But it wasn't an idea on their end. You know, the players kind of realized they needed Kyrie back in some capacity. Some Kyrie was better than no Kyrie. And the Nets ultimately, you know, bent to his will, and now he's suiting up tonight.
So, he's only available for 22 remaining games. You know, you mentioned only road games, but he's not eligible in Madison Square Garden or in Toronto right now. And we'll see how this goes. This is going to be very interesting.
BERMAN: It is interesting. You say it's just a basketball decision. It's just simply about getting a better player on the floor?
SCHIFFER: The Nets -- the Nets have said that, you know, they had a large -- you know, they had a large Covid outbreak. They sidelined him initially because of continuity issues, because of Covid. Now we've seen dozens of players in this recent spike go into health and safety protocols. You know, teams have had eight or more replacement players on their roster as a result. And, you know, the phrase the Nets used a lot to justify this was, continuity is out the window now.
So, even though, you know, these outbreaks are mostly over for most teams, that's what -- that's their story that they're going with. And the Nets player seem to be the ones on board, even though, you know, he's going to be in and out really the rest of the regular season.
BERMAN: Yes, to be clear, Kyrie Irving won here, yes?
IRVING: Yes, he got his way.
BERMAN: That really is interesting. So an unvaccinated Kyrie Irving will suit up for the Brooklyn Nets for at least 22 games when they're away.
Alex Schiffer, thank you so much for being with us. Love reading your reporting at "The athletic."
SCHIFFER: Thank you guys for having me.
BERMAN: All right, a forcible touching charge against former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been dropped. What the district attorney failed to prove.
KEILAR: And the entertainment world, like to many others, rocked by Covid, from late night hosts, to Broadway stars. We'll have that story ahead.
KEILAR: The district attorney in Albany County, New York, will not pursue a misdemeanor charge of forceable touching against former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Despite finding Cuomo's accuser cooperative and credible, the DA says he could not prove the charge in a courtroom to the criminal standard of proof.
CNN's Brynn Gingras is live for us in New York with more on this.
I know this is going to be disappointing for a number of accusers. Tell us what happened here.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really, because, Brianna, because this was the first and only charge that the -- you know, the former governor has faced. And he was soon ready to appear before a judge on this forcible touching charge. But this decision did come down from Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who simply put said he didn't think he'd be able to satisfy the burden of proof needed to win this case. So, he's decline to prosecute this.
Part of the statement saying this, while we found the complainant, as Brianna said in this case, cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence, we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial.
Now, again, remember, this criminal charge was filed without Soares -- his knowledge last fall. It was a complaint that was filed by the Albany County Sheriff without the accuser even knowing about it as well. So it was a bit risky in the beginning. It is the only charge to have been filed against Cuomo in the wake of a number of allegations of sexual harassment and investigations into those claims, which led to the former governor's resignation in August. Now, Cuomo, of course, has always denied those accusations.
This was, though, the more serious one that was laid out in that attorney general's report involving Cuomo former aide Brittany Commisso. And in response to the DA's decision, her attorney said this in a statement. In this case, my client had no control over the filing or prosecution of criminal charges. She had no authority or voice in those decisions. The only thing she has any power over is her resolution to continue to speak the truth and seek justice in an appropriate civil action, which she will do in due course.
Now, the moves comes after DA's in two other New York counties also declined to pursue charges on different allegations against Cuomo. One investigation does still seen ongoing, though, and that's the eastern district of New York's inquiry into the Cuomo administration's handling of nursing home death data. But, for now, Brianna and John, the former governor escaping any criminal prosecution at this point does seem that most things will be taken up in civil court.
KEILAR: All right, we'll stay tuned for that.
KEILAR: Brynn, thanks for the report.
Next, an impeachment manager respond to Sean Hannity's texts that show he was deceiving his audience in the runup to January 6th.
BERMAN: And we are following the breaking news out of Chicago. The teachers' union refusing to go to the classroom.
That means no in-person schooling for tens of thousands of children this morning. That's all breaking right now.
Stay with us.
BERMAN: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, January 5th. I'm John Berman, with Brianna Keilar this morning in Washington, D.C., for our special CNN coverage. One year ago today, Republican lawmakers, a coup-hungry president, and right-wing media were busy selling lies to the American people. Lies that would bring thousands of angry people to the Capitol for one of America's darkest days. One year ago we were waking up to this from Republican Senator Josh Hawley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: I'm going to pin you down on -- on what you're trying to do. You know, are you trying to say that as of January 20th that President Trump will be president?
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Well, Bret, that -- that depends on what happens on Wednesday. I mean this is why we have the debate.