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Probe Heats Up into January 6th; Democrats Struggle to Reconcile with GOP; Roger Rasheed is Interviewed about the Australia Open; NYC Will Stop Prosecuting Non-Violent Crimes; Biden Nominates Record Number of Judges. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 06, 2022 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: From rioters, the people behind the planning, intelligence failures and dismantling the big lie, they faced many hurdles before the Justice Department even gets involved.

CNN's Ryan Nobles looks at what a pivotal year it could be ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is the most sweeping investigation yet into January 6th. But one year since the deadly insurrection that came dangerously close to preventing the peaceful transfer of power in America, the House Select Committee is still figuring out what went wrong and who is responsible.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): There are a lot of things that should have occurred in a more orderly and streamlined fashion that didn't. And I'm convinced that that was, in my opinion, by design.

NOBLES: On paper, the committee's mission is straightforward, they want to write the definitive narrative as to what led to January 6th and what happened on that day. They plan to offer up a series of recommendations to prevent it from happening again. And if they discover criminal activity in the course of their investigation, they plan to refer that to the Department of Justice.

It's that potential for finding criminal activity and holding certain individuals accountable, like former President Donald Trump, that is getting the most attention.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think that there are a number of, as the chairman said, potential criminal statutes at issue here.

NOBLES: But finding hard evidence of wrongdoing that would rise to the level of the Department of Justice filing charges is no easy task. The committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, facing a number of obstacles, from fighting legal challenges, including Trump asking the Supreme Court to block them from accessing his White House records, to putting to rest the big lie of a stolen election and accusations yet again of a political witch-hunt.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It's very clear to the American public, this is a sham.

NOBLES: Many of the committee's targets are either current or former Republican elected leaders tied to Trump. As a result, the GOP has questioned the committee's work from the start. For committee members like Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat who represents a swing district in Virginia, that means investigating people she works with every day.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): No one in this investigation is going to be treated differently because of their current position or their former position.

NOBLES: With a staff of more than 40 people, the committee has conducted more than 300 interviews, they've collected more than 35,000 documents and issued more than 50 subpoenas, seeking phone records and even bank records as they follow the money behind the insurrectionists.

Their work, done largely behind closed doors in office buildings off the beaten path.

LURIA: The goal of this is not to go after a person or a group of people, but rather to understand all of the contributing factors that led to the events and provide recommendations moving forward.

NOBLES: And they claim that they are constantly uncovering new evidence, including a timeline of Trump's contact on that day, a body of evidence they say will show Trump willfully chose not to quell the violence despite pleas from his allies and his own children.

CHENEY: 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.

NOBLES: By late winter, the group hopes to hold primetime public hearings. They could issue an interim report by summer, with the goal of wrapping up their work with a final report in the fall just before the midterm elections. A necessary deadline because if Republicans take back the House, as expected, this committee will likely be shut down.

But the committee believes their work rises above partisan politics. They hope that their investigation will provide a clear and silver view on what happened on January 6th.

THOMPSON: And in this great country of ours, I'm convinced that sunlight and truth is the best disinfectant when you're dealing with a lie. Hopefully we will provide the proper disinfectant for what's happened on January 6th so that people will understand it.

NOBLES: With the goal of ensuring an attempted coup never happens again.

LURIA: Like, if someone tried to do this in the future, are there ways they could still succeed? And we need to safeguard against that.

NOBLES: Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And new this morning, Democrats are opening up about the trust that they had been struggling to find with some of their colleagues across the aisle. The proverbial January 6th hangover is particularly acute with those Republican colleagues who supported the insurrection or the efforts led by former President Trump to overturn the election that led to the insurrection.

We have CNN's Lauren Fox live for us here outside the Capitol.

You know, it's really a tale of two parties when you look at the reaction that they're having to this day.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly. And, you know, the recovery for these members has been yearlong.

[06:35:01]

And it's not just members. Obviously, staff and custodial workers, cafeteria workers, people who may have nothing to do with politics recovering.

But for members that I talked to, and specifically Democrats, part of that recovery has also been about, do you have relationships with these Republicans who voted not to certify the election? Remember what they all lived through. Sara Jacobs, who was a freshman member, she was trapped in the House gallery up above the House floor on January 6th for nearly an hour. And when she came out of there, she thought there might be a moment where her Republican colleagues realized what they had all gone through and might change their minds about the idea of overturning the election. That was her first week of Congress.

Then she watches as 139 Republicans vote not to certify the election. At least one state. And she argues that it was really difficult to make a decision about whether or not she was going to reach across the aisle and continue working with those colleagues. She said eventually she got to a point where she needed to at least work with some of them. And her line became, do you recognize that Joe Biden is the rightfully elected president, or are you still arguing that the election was rigged? She said that vote became something she couldn't use as a barometer because of the sheer number of Republicans.

And Dan Kildee, another Democrat who was trapped up in the gallery, said that he worked with a therapist the entire year to try to come to a place where he could work with Republicans. He said at first he couldn't even look at those 139 Republicans.

And, you know, Senate Democrats feel the same way. Not all of them. But I talked to Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and he said, this is a harsher and colder place, in part because some Republicans are still rewriting the history. And if you're overcoming trauma to try to deal with the fact that some people don't see your trauma as legitimate is pretty painful and pretty hard every single day.

KEILAR: Yes, there's a -- there's a moral injury to having reality denied. And I think the Democrats are certainly feeling that. I was talking to one Democrat who has friends on the other side of the

aisle, go figure, it does happen, and there's even a moral injury, I think, to a Republican saying to some Democrats, but I have to do this. You know, knowing that publicly and privately they're saying different things as well, as some of them are, is also very difficult for a number of people.

FOX: Sara Jacobs said that she had conversations with some of her Republican colleagues, who she got to know in freshman orientation, and she said some of them were scared not to vote the way they did because of fear of what Trump supporters could do to them or their families.

KEILAR: Yes.

Lauren, thank you so much for pulling back the veil on that. Appreciate it.

And also stick around because former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is going to be joining us following her meeting with the January 6th committee. She was talking with them just last night. So we'll discuss with her what she told them.

And, next, a huge backlash over a vaccine exemption. Why Australia just turned away the world's top tennis star.

BERMAN: Resisting arrest, trespassing, prostitution. Why the new Manhattan D.A. won't pursue just some of these low-level offenses and who he's upsetting along the way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:42:38]

BERMAN: So, if the Australian government gets its way, Novak Djokovic won't be defending his Australian Open title this month. The number one men's player in the world flew to Australia before being ordered to leave after his visa was canceled. There were questions about the legitimacy of his medical exemption to Covid vaccination.

Australian's prime minister stated clearly, quote, rules are rules, and there are no special cases. Djokovic was heavily favored to win his 10th Australian Open title. He was favored to win because he, frankly, always wins. It would give him 21 major titles, which would break the tie with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Joining me now, former professional tennis player Roger Rasheed. He coached Australian former world number one Lleyton Hewitt.

Thank you so much for being with us.

Look, there's the tennis side of this and then there's the Australia side of this. And it seems from where we're sitting here, albeit very far away, that the nation of Australia was outraged that Djokovic was going to be able to be allowed in when everyone else has been abiding by the rules. What do you see?

ROGER RASHEED, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Yes, John, good morning and -- to everyone over there.

Look, absolutely, it's -- it's been interesting. There are two sides to it. The -- the -- you've got to remember firstly, from an Australian point of view, especially from Victoria, the state of Victoria, there was a heavy lockdown not long ago. They went through some pretty grueling times. And so they're very -- you know, they're -- it's quite temperamental. It's quite a touchy point. And, obviously, emotions are attached to, obviously, the Covid situation that's not only here in Australia but globally.

So, these things that took place over there, to watch -- for them, Australians, to see someone not be vaccinated, as you -- as we now know (INAUDIBLE) vaccinated, to be (INAUDIBLE) play a sport, that doesn't sit too well with the Australian public and they -- and they made their -- their (INAUDIBLE) about that.

BERMAN: It looks like it's a little bit of a mess. I mean how is it in your mind that the Australian Open, that the tournament basically said, OK, you can play without, I guess, checking with the government?

RASHEED: Well, I think, Tennis Australia (ph), first of all, I think they've done a great job last year and also this year about hosting an international event and moving so many internationals into the country. So, with that gone only by the criteria of the government, of the state government. And so that's where the medical (INAUDIBLE) remains. So that was out of -- so that was out of the Victorian government.

And then they -- then you've got the visas that -- that are all about border control.

[06:45:05]

So that's when you actually get to the shores, your visa allows you either to enter the shores or not, regardless of a medical exemption, which allows you to complete at the forum. So, there are two different things there. And (INAUDIBLE) didn't quite have some things in there as (INAUDIBLE) -- as we hear from the Australian border control, that were -- suffice.

So -- so he was held up. He's now in a hotel. He's taken it to the courts. And we will know now only on Monday of that decision. So that's actually being placed on the quarantine situation. And right now there are a lot of Serbians (ph) outside of the hotel, they 're dancing, they're singing. They're -- Novak's actually waved to them and, you know, acknowledged their presence.

But I will say it's -- look, it's not a great scene, to be perfectly honest. It's disappointing. But it's one that's going to (INAUDIBLE) put some eyeballs on Australia but also the Australian Open coming up.

BERMAN: Yes, what a mess, I have to say. At this point he's sort of in limbo right now, a type of confinement at the hotel.

Roger Rasheed, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate seeing you.

RASHEED: No problem.

BERMAN: All right, fair evasion, prostitution, resisting arrest. Why the new Manhattan district attorney is making changes to the rimes that will be prosecuted

KEILAR: And, ahead, NFL player Antonio Brown breaking his silence and now accusing the Buccaneers of a coverup. What he alleges the team knew before Sunday's game.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:49]

KEILAR: Just days after taking office, the new Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, says he won't go after lesser offenses, things like prostitution and resisting arrest for certain crimes. He says he believes that the decision will make the city safer and the criminal justice system more fair.

However, he has been met by major backlash as naysayers from the police union to Manhattan shop keepers argue that the new policy is actually going to invite more crime.

Let's talk about this now with CNN correspondent Laura Jarrett.

Laura, just walk us through specifically the crimes that we're talking about that he's not going to be going after.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes, guys, so it's interesting. Alvin Bragg, you might dismiss him as just another progressive prosecutor trying to make big changes in a city. He's come in, This was the progressive platform that he wanted. But he's backing up his ideas with data, and essentially trying to strike this balance between fairness in the criminal justice system on the one hand and this need this real concern about public safety. And he's essentially telling his prosecutors in his office, do not get bagged down with low-level, petty crimes, because if you do, then we cannot focus on the realm serious violent crime that everybody really cares about.

So, Let's take a look at what exactly he's telling his staff you do not prosecute anymore. Things like marijuana misdemeanor offenses, failing to pay fines for traffic violations, most trespassing crimes, not talking about stalking but lower level trespassing, resisting arrest, that's an interesting one getting some pushback, and prostitution.

And I should also mention, he's taking on the bail system, telling his staff again, do not try to get pre-trial detention for people for low- level crimes. That's not where the focus should be.

The police union, as you mentioned, a lot of pushback on this, essentially saying, why should we arrest people if they're just going to be back on the street. But Bragg is backing it up with data again saying the vast majority of people who are out on bail do not go on to reoffend, do not actually committee violent crimes where they are -- while they are out on bail. And if they are in jail for even three days, it has life-altering repercussions.

Now, you might wonder how the mayor fells about all of this given his platform, given all the talk about tamping down on crime in the city, but Eric Adams seems to be backing Bragg here. He says he's going to meet with him in the coming days. He says he respects his position as a prosecutor. And he, too, says we should not be sending people to Rikers Island for petty crimes.

BERMAN: How does that actually work, though? I mean what happens to someone -- you can still get arrested. Then what happens to you?

JARRETT: Well, the prosecutor on the case will essentially just defer prosecution or find some other means, like community service. But, again, you kind of point out, John, will they even be arrested is one of the questions. And, you know, some of these cases, how this all plays out on the ground remains to be seen.

KEILAR: Yes, think, practically speaking, we're going to have to see what happens here.

So, Laura, part of the point that DA Bragg is making is that Rikers Island shouldn't be a mental health facility, right? I mean we saw a lot of deaths there in 2021 as people awaited trail.

JARRETT: Yes, Rikers is seen as a sort of a scourge on the criminal justice system. Covid hasn't helped that at all. De Blasio promised to take it on, but, still, it remains sort of an embarrassment of the system. And Bragg and Mayor Adams saying they want to do something about it.

KEILAR: All right, Laura, thank you so much for that report.

JARRETT: Sure.

KEILAR: We are going to continue our special coverage of the January 6th assault on the Capitol. We'll hear from two police officers, Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn, who were attacked by the rioters. What they went through and how they're feeling today.

BERMAN: And President Biden confirming more judges to the federal bench, surpassing Trump in his first year. We go behind Biden's plans to reshape the courts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:58:41]

KEILAR: President Biden capping his first year in the Oval Office with a record number of federal judges confirmed. He and the Democrat-led Senate are working very quickly to appoint justices from a broad range of backgrounds as they counter Republican efforts to reshape the bench over the previous four years.

CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us live on this.

Tom, give us a sense of what we're looking at here.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we're looking at that the Republicans really wanted a lot of conservative judges. They got them. And now the Democrats really want to counteract that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: With hot-button issues roaring into federal courts, the White House is setting a blistering pace. President Biden nominating more federal judges in his first year than the record number put up by former President Trump in his, with more than twice as many confirmed in the Senate. Like Trump, he is trying to shape American justice for decades.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: In many ways, Joe Biden stole from Trump's playbook. Trump went in, even before he was president, and said he wanted to change the face of the courts. And after four years, he did it.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need it from top to bottom.

FOREMAN: To turn back the Trump tide, Biden's picks have been far more diverse and less likely to come from the ranks of prosecutors. Trump picked mainly white men. Biden's list of new judges is filled with women and people of color.

[07:00:02]

BIDEN: And more former public defenders to the bench than any administration in American history.