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Biden Assails 'Defeated Former President' in Blistering Speech; Chicago Schools Stay Closed for Third Day Over Impasse; Winter Blast Rocking Northeast; Ex-Biden Advisers Tell Him to Change Strategy for Fighting COVID. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 06:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Friday, January 7. And I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

[06:00:18]

And this morning, the great American experiment known as democracy is at a crossroads. President Biden calling it an inflection point in history.

The president addressed the nation on the first anniversary of the January 6th insurrection and delivered what could be one of the most important and deeply personal speeches of his presidency. His scathing and fiery remarks laying out the stakes for democracy, while strongly condemning the violence and Donald Trump's lies that have weighed on Biden's first year in office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest.

You can't love your country only when you win.

I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: President Biden never actually said Trump's name, but obviously, very clear who he was talking about. And Trump fired back at the speech, calling it political theater.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And new this morning, CNN has learned about what could have been a terrifying close call one year ago. Then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was inside the Democratic National Committee headquarters when a pipe bomb was discovered outside. That was on January 6th.

This is the image of the pipe bomber, who is still at large this morning.

Now, Harris was evacuated that day, but it does raise questions this morning about her security. This as the Department of Homeland Security is now warning about increased online threats on extremist platforms over just the past 48 hours, including some against lawmakers.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator and attorney Bakari Sellers and children's book author, something we'll talk about next week. And Ethan Demme. He was a Republican official in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County who announced he was leaving the GOP after the January 6th attack. Ethan is now the Pennsylvania state chair of the Serve America Movement.

Bakari, first to you. As a Democrat, to hear Joe Biden say, I didn't create this breach, but I will stand in the breach, how important was that for Democrats to hear?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was huge. He was forceful. He was clear. It was a good moment and a good speech. It was sobering.

And it's what Joe Biden does best when he's talking about the soul of our nation, when he's talking about the value of democracy.

What has to happen next, though, is what a lot of Democrats are thirsting for. It's the accountability for those individuals who financed this insurrection. It's those -- it's accountability for those members of Congress who helped foster this environment, who helped participate in this insurrection.

So I know Merrick Garland is doing his job. He's doing it with deliberate speed is probably the best way to describe it. But while Joe Biden's speech yesterday hit all the right notes, a lot of Democrats, a lot of people throughout the country, Democrats, independents and Republicans alike, are still waiting to make sure we have that accountability so this doesn't happen again.

Oh, and, John, one last thing. Who planted the pipe bombs? Like, that is the wildest thing on earth. We have to figure out who put the vice president's life in danger and who planted these pipe bombs throughout D.C.

KEILAR: Yes. No, certainly. We're keeping our eye on that story.

Ethan, to the speech, what did you think of it?

ETHAN DEMME, PENNSYLVANIA STATE CHAIR, SERVE AMERICA MOVEMENT: I thought it was a good speech. I mean, on January 6th, Americans used violence to stop -- to try to stop a free and fair election. And that's the truth that President Biden spoke to. And unfortunately, most Republicans are unwilling to accept.

BERMAN: Ethan, I want to play one thing that stuck out to me. Because Biden's rhetoric was strident yesterday. We haven't heard him speak like that before. I mean, really, not at all. And I want you to listen and watch his body language when he talks

about how he refers to the former president. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: He's not just the former president. He's a defeated former president. Defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Ethan, not just a defeated -- not just a former president but a defeated former president. He literally leaned into that as if to say, "loser." You know, why do you think he did that? Why do you think that message needs to be sent to some in your former party?

DEMME: I think it needs to be clear that he was beaten. We have elections. They're free. They're fair in this country. But at the end of the day, someone wins, someone loses.

[06:05:08]

And historically, when you lose, you go home in defeat and you work together after that to try to govern.

What we have here is a former president who is unwilling to accept defeat and a party that's also unwilling to accept defeat. And instead of trying to work together and govern, they're trying to relitigate the last election.

KEILAR: Bakari, I wonder, was this speech -- I mean, just how mad the president was, was this speech also an acknowledgment that perhaps their -- that perhaps the president can't actually reach across the aisle and reach some Republicans?

SELLERS: Well, I think -- I think January 6th every year this is a reminder of what the Trump party is and what the party of Republicans during the Trump era actually looks like.

And I think that, you know, some people believe Joe Biden to be naive after his 40-some-odd years in Congress. But there are others who believe that this is why Joe Biden was elected president: to use his forceful rhetoric, to use his relationships, and to reach across the aisle for moments like this.

You have individuals who, I think the best way to describe it, look lost. You have people like Dick Cheney, for example, who will never become a Democrat by any stretch of the imagination. But they're not really at home in Donald Trump's party.

And so there is an opportunity to gain some support for certain initiatives. There is an opportunity to gain some support for certain candidates. And that's what Joe Biden, I think, is trying to do.

BERMAN: We see pictures now of Dick Cheney there, who was with his daughter. He's a former member of the House of Representatives, Dick Cheney was. He was a Republican whip. So he has rights to walk on the floor whenever he wants, and he was there. He chose to be there, clearly to send a message yesterday.

And we have -- we have this. I can give you a sense, Ethan, of what the former vice president said.

He said, "I am deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of my party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6th attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation." That's from former vice president, Dick Cheney.

So I guess to Ethan, my question to you is what happens now? What happens now? It's January 7, 2022. What happens now?

DEMME: I think the big thing is how do we build that governing coalition? Unfortunately, we really only have one major party that's pro-democracy.

But there's also a lot of folks like myself who are now independents. There's are country-loving Republicans.

The Democrats really need to find a way to integrate us into that pro- democracy message moving forward, because we need to make sure that there are -- there are wins in Congress so that we can keep that coalition moving forward.

Unfortunately, that's not what I'm seeing out of the Biden administration. He wants to be a unifier, but I'm not seeing a whole lot of compromise on actually passing legislation. It's still very much a far-left agenda that he's trying to push through. And I think we need to recognize that the pro-democracy coalition is country- loving Republicans; it's independents; it's third parties, as well as the Democratic Party.

BERMAN: Well, Ethan Demme and children's book author Bakari Sellers, thank you both for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

DEMME: Thank you.

SELLERS: Thank you.

BERMAN: And one programming note, Fareed Zakaria as he investigates the fight to save American democracy. This new special begins Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

KEILAR: Thousands of children sitting in limbo as Chicago schools stay closed. Classes now canceled for the third straight day amid an ongoing standoff with the teachers union and the city over coronavirus policies.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live for us in Chicago with more.

I think the question is how long is this going to go on, Adrienne? When will they get back to school?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question, Brianna. Members of the teachers' union said their target date to return to the classroom is January 18, if not sooner.

All of this on top of the district reporting a record number of new cases.

I want you and our viewers to take a look at this number. Since the break, CPS is reporting more than 422 new cases among its students and more than 270 cases amongst staff.

As you know, this is the third straight day school has been canceled for students in the Chicago public schools.

It all started on Tuesday. That's when members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted, refusing to show up to work in person, requesting to switch to remote learning, citing COVID concerns.

In response, the district canceled. Now, the city's public health commissioner says she is in favor of more testing. That's one thing members of the union are requesting.

But despite that request, she says schools are not leading to a significant spread of COVID. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:10:02]

ALLISON ANWADY, COMMISSIONER, CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: They're worried that the schools are not safe. I get that we are in a COVID surge and that there is a lot of worry in Chicago overall.

But when I look at risk/benefit in Chicago, more than 90 percent of our staff fully vaccinated, much higher vaccination rates among children than the national average, and we're not seeing schools be the source of spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: Meanwhile, on Thursday, the district tweeted in-person learning in some activities may be available for students today. But telling parents, do not send your child to school unless they receive a call from the principal.

The city's mayor and the president of the district said the conversations between the union and the city and district were, quote, "productive" -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. Look, we know that spread in schools is lower than it is in the community. But I also wonder about those tests. Because just looking at Washington, D.C., here, Adrienne, they've tested more people, I think, and they've seen a lot more cases. I mean, there really aren't that many positive cases. But it makes you wonder in Chicago if it's because they need more testing.

Adrienne, thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right. Happening right now, right outside. More than 60 million Americans under winter weather alerts across the country for heavy snow that's falling very quickly. Frigid temperatures and icy conditions from coast to coast.

Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad, I had snow in my hair when I walked in this morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I bet you did. You didn't walk to work, did you? Just getting out of the car, I imagine.

It is going to be a slow and dangerous drive to work today, a slow and dangerous commute anywhere from Nashville through West Virginia. Even Lexington picked up an awful lot of snow. And it's still on the ground in many spots here in the colored areas. These are the areas that are still going to be snowing for a while.

Here's what the radar looks like now. We're seeing now the purple color here from Boston all the way down to about the pine barrens of New Jersey. That is two to three inches an hour in that purple area.

This is the area here we're talking. We see the white. And that's lighter snow. But in these areas here that you see kind of blueish purple, that's where the heaviest snow is falling right now and where the travel is the most dangerous.

And we're going to continue to have this dangerous travel throughout the day.

This is what it looks like right now. I'm going to move you ahead to about 8 or 9 a.m. Things are going to begin to slow down for New York City. That heavy snow you're seeing right now will eventually stop in just a couple of hours. But not for you, Boston. It's going to continue to snow all the way through about the 2 p.m. hour.

So that heavy snow you're seeing now, add that for four more hours before it finally does pull away later on this afternoon and things do get better.

Windchills behind this storm are in the single digits, and the low below -- in some spots below 10 below zero for a wind chill. There's still more snow to come. Not much more for you, New York City. Just another hour or so.

But here you go. Look at the windchill in Chicago right now. Fifteen degrees below zero.

BERMAN: Wear a hat. I have to say, after what happened in Virginia, everyone along the East Coast is taking these warnings much more seriously. You've got to think twice before you get in your car this morning.

Chad Myers, thank you very much.

MYERS: You bet.

BERMAN: Six of the president's former health advisers are telling him you need a new coronavirus approach to fight this. They call it the new normal. They have a really striking critique. That's next.

Plus, Novak Djokovic being treated like a prisoner. That comes from his mom. This is amid the vaccine dispute still happening this morning in Australia. And now other tennis stars weighing in.

BERMAN: And if you thought Senator Ted Cruz going to Cancun was pathetic, watch him backtrack on his January 6th comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy, and it was frankly dumb. I wasn't saying that the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are somehow terrorists.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Wait a second. But even -- now hold on. What you just said doesn't make sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:22]

BERMAN: Six former Biden health advisers have proposed a series of measures they say will help the U.S. get to a new normal when it comes to the coronavirus.

Published by "The Journal of the American Medical Association," one of the articles says, quote, "The U.S. needs a strategy for a 'new normal' of living that includes COVID-19. This 'new normal' will occur when total respiratory viral infections, hospitalizations, and deaths inclusive of those from COVID-19 are no higher than what typically occurred in the most severe influenza years before the current pandemic."

Joining us now is Rick Bright. He is one of the authors of this series of articles. He's also a vaccine expert who was the former director of the federal agency which was involved in helping to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Rick, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us, because I think everyone wants to know what this new normal will look like.

RICK BRIGHT, VACCINE EXPERT: Brianna, thanks for having me on this morning. There's a lot to unpack in these preview points, so I encourage people to read them very, very carefully.

We're entering year three of this pandemic, and we're becoming increasingly convinced that this virus, the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID, is going to be with us for a very, very long time, very similar to what we have seen with influenza.

After the 1918 pandemic and 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, we're still living with influenza. We have learned to live with it with the tools we have to control it. That's what we anticipate is going to happen with SARS-COV-2. So our

new normal will look like a feature where we have SARS-COV-2. But it's a panic; it's not a crisis, not devastating our -- our public health infrastructure and our economy the way we see it today.

[06:20:06]

We have amazingly sharp tools brought to us for the last couple years of scientific research. If we use them appropriately, as we lay out in these viewpoints, we can control this virus and control it like we do influenza.

KEILAR: What does the Biden administration need to do on vaccines?

BRIGHT: It's really important to acknowledge the last two years of work and science in the public health arena, in the private sector arena in making vaccines. These are remarkable tools.

However, we're continuing to use a vaccine that is over two years old, and the virus has continually changed. So we need to harness the full power of those tools to make the Johnson & Johnson, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, we need to sharpen those tools as it changes.

Right now, we're seeing one arm of our immunity become weakened because the virus has changed. If we update our vaccines to match the Omicron variant, not only can we reestablish both arms of powerful immunity, but we can also be better prepared for the next change of the virus. That's what we do with influenza, and that's what we should be doing with SARS-COV-2.

KEILAR: Why hasn't that happened? I mean, you wouldn't have the same flu shot in 2022 that you had in 2021.

BRIGHT: Largely, Brianna, because we're learning as we go. I mean, I don't think many people anticipated the virus would change as rapidly and as much as it has. So it's a new virus, and we're learning about it.

But it has shown us that capability now when it changed from the original strain to Alpha, to Beta, to Delta, and now to Omicron. So now we need to, with humility, respect this virus and understand this capability and use what we know about vaccines and stop the virus.

KEILAR: You kind of saw this. Let's be clear: a year ago as -- at the beginning of the Biden administration, you had said, "Our vaccines are going to get weaker and fail. We must now prepare for variants."

So has the Biden administration's response here when it comes to vaccines been insufficient?

BRIGHT: I think the Biden administration has been solely focused on making sure that we get people vaccinated. They've been supportive of developing other tools, but the priority has been on just vaccinating as many people as possible. And that's a really important goal, to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible. I do think that they have been overwhelmed, and they've been caught

off-guard by the virus as it changes. I think there's a lot for the administration to tackle in handling a pandemic, and they need to acknowledge that there are other things that need to happen in parallel.

They need to broaden their approach, use all the tools that we have together. And together we can stop this virus.

KEILAR: Well, look, a lot of people who would be considered friends of the Biden administration joining you in these articles. They're so worth the read. Rick, thank you.

BRIGHT: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Up next, Novak Djokovic getting some heat from his competitors over the vaccine drama playing out in Australia. Why Rafael Nadal has little sympathy for the world's No. 1 tennis star.

BERMAN: Oh, wow, I hadn't heard that. I can't wait to hear that.

And we know the 2020 election was not stolen, obviously. But many Republicans still push Trump's election lies, and so many are running for office. That story ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:27:50]

BERMAN: Novak Djokovic is being treated like a prisoner by Australian authorities. That claim coming from the tennis star's mom. Mom is getting involved.

It is believed that Djokovic has been transferred to the park hotel in Melbourne after having his visa to enter the country blocked ahead of the Australian Open.

Anna Coren with the very latest on what's happening there -- Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's interesting, John, to say the least. Look, we are yet to hear from Novak Djokovic or his legal team. Nor are we expected to hear from them until his lawyers front that court hearing Monday morning, 10 a.m. local time in Melbourne.

And that is when Djokovic is expected to learn whether or not he will be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the Australian Open.

But this experience has no doubt come as a rude shock to a world champion who has never quite been treated quite this way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COREN (voice-over): Behind tinted windows of this four-story hotel in the heart of Melbourne is where the world's No. 1 men's tennis star is staying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Novak! Novak! Novak!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Novak! Novak! Novak!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Novak! Novak! Novak!

COREN: It's a world away from what Novak Djokovic is accustomed to from his previous trips Down Under. As the defending Australian Open champion arrived to claim his 10th title and break the all-time record for 21 Grand Slam wins.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, DEFENDING AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPION: Thank you so much.

COREN: Instead, the 34-year-old unvaccinated Serbian, who has been very outspoken about his anti-vaccine views, was given a serious dose of reality by the Australian Border Force when he attempted to enter the country on Wednesday night.

They canceled his visa, despite Djokovic receiving an exemption from two panels of medical experts and ordered for the tennis star to be deported.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Rules are rules. And there are no special cases.

COREN: But rather than getting on a plane home to Belgrade, Djokovic's lawyers are fighting for him to stay in the country and compete.

And while they wait for Monday's hearing, this is where Djokovic must stay: an immigration detention facility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I don't see why it's fair, and I don't see why he should be struck in a detention center. And everyone has their own freedom of choice, vaccinated or not.

COREN: The Serbian government is demanding he be moved to a nicer.