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VP Harris Was Inside DNC When Elusive Pipe Bomber Acted; President Biden Criticizes Former President Trump for Lying about 2020 Election During Speech on Anniversary of January 6th, 2021, Capitol Hill Insurrection; Health Experts Say U.S. Should Transition to Living with Endemic COVID-19. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

KATIE MCGRADY, HOST, THE CATHOLIC CHANNEL ON SIRIUS XM: We want to nurture. We want to care. There are children who need homes. He talked about adoption during this entire lecture. There are children who need loving homes, who need foster care. Are discerning doing that in our life these days? The Pope is really trying to invite a much larger conversation. We shouldn't just soundbite him in this modern world where we can clip things and it goes viral on Internet.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Katie McGrady, love talking to you this morning. Please come back.

MCGRADY: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

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

And this morning, the great American experiment known as democracy is at a crossroads. President Biden calls it an inflexion point in history. The president addressing the nation on the first anniversary of the January 6th insurrection and delivering what really could be one of the most important and forceful speeches of his presidency. Biden condemned the violence and Donald Trump's lies that have weighed on his first year in office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) 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 interests as more important than his country's interests. You can't love your country only when you win.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So President Biden never mentioned Trump by name, although he did use the phrase "former president" more than a dozen times. Trump did fire back, calling it all political theater. This as the Department of Homeland Security is now warning about increased online threats on extremist platforms over just the last 48 hours, including against some lawmakers.

KEILAR: Joining us now, CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN senior political commentator and host of "The Axe Files," David Axelrod. And Kaitlan, you do have some really interesting reporting that I want to discuss this morning, which is a little bit about how this speech came to be, obviously a speech of note just for the emotion that Biden brought to it.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and there was a level of calculus to it, of just how far do you go after the former president? Because that's kind of been something that President Biden has stayed away from since he's taken office. He came into office, of course, with that speech on Inauguration Day, talking about healing the nation, talking about unifying the nation.

And so at times when he's been asked about Trump over the last several months that I've been covering him, he said I don't really think about the former president all that much. But, of course, yesterday it was a phrase that he uttered 16 times during this speech, and that was a calculus made by the president and by the White House.

And I was told that it was never really in question whether to go after Trump in this speech because they felt like they couldn't not do so given the role that they believe he played in what happened on January 6th. But the question privately was, how scathing should the attack be, and how sustained should it be? And, of course, it was an overarching part of this speech, the first time I think that we have seen a current president label the former president a liar in the way that President Biden did yesterday.

But the White House said that that was completely intentional. Though, I should note they said that this isn't going to be some new strategy going forward. They're not going to just go after Trump at every turn, at the voting rights speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, for example. But it was definitely a calculated choice that President Biden was making yesterday.

BERMAN: If the question was how scathing, the answer seemed to be pretty, right? There was this moment where he tried to reframe how people refer to Donald Trump. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's not just a 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: He literally leaned in, David, to the words, "defeated former president." This was a shift from Joe Biden. I wonder whether you think it was the right shift, David.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it was an unavoidable shift given the fact that there would have been no insurrection at the Capitol but for this lie that is -- the 2020 election has been the most audited election in the history of this country. It is -- it was a certifiably honest election. And even when forces were deployed by Republican legislatures such as in Arizona to try and find evidence of fraud, it turned out that Biden did better in the state than the original count by a few hundred votes.

[08:05:03]

So this was the most honest election in history, and yet this president has told this lie and it has taken root. Those people at the Capitol, John, they thought they were patriots. They thought they were defending democracy because of a president they trusted told them that the election was stolen.

So how do you tell the story of that day without telling the story of how it happened and how it took root and what caused them to be there? And so, yes, I'm sure, I know that there were deep discussions about how far to go. But I'll tell you something, it was the most forceful speech of his presidency. I think he passionately believes that democracy has a dagger at its throat because the president -- President Trump keeps telling these lies, and now large numbers of Republicans have come to believe it as an article of faith.

Let me just make one last point, because I'm worked up about this myself. How is it that something as catastrophic as what happened a year ago at the Capitol could be commemorated, and no Republicans other than Liz Cheney show up to mark the occasion and to remember what happened? That's how thoroughly the big lie has taken root.

KEILAR: I think Adam Kinzinger would have been there if he was not expecting a child, as I believe, right.

AXELROD: Yes, he gets dispensation.

KEILAR: He does. He's got some priorities there. But Kaitlan, when I hear what Biden said there, it's like him saying, hey, loser. And I wonder how Trump picks this up, and what, whether you care about that or not, what that's going to mean for the discourse moving forward.

COLLINS: Well, it's safe to say not well. Some of those lines seemed written by design to trigger the former president, because he kept saying the words "loser," "lying," "defeated," "failed." He said he failed to make his case when it came, as David was noting there, those election fraud claims that he's been boasting about for a year now.

And so there were lines, very simple, very short, very blunt, that seemed designed to infuriate the former president, to go after exactly what he has been saying time and time again, and plans to say in rallies continuing going forward. And the way that I view it also was something that former president,

or that President Biden said over the holiday break, right before he went on his holiday break, in an interview that he did where he was asked about running for reelection and the prospect of, of course, facing Trump again at the polls. And he was saying that it almost gives him more incentive to run for reelection if former president Trump does also try to run for reelection. And I really think that was solidified in his speech yesterday. I think, of course, that's too far down the road. We have a lot of time before the -- before any of those decisions will be made. But I do think the way that he laid out his viewpoint yesterday of where the United States stands, kind of teetering on this turning point, is something that is going to heavily factor into that mindset going forward.

BERMAN: David, part of Kaitlan's reporting is that President Biden has been looking at his poll numbers and doesn't like them. There is not a lot to like. Let's be fair there. And there were Democrats who saw this speech yesterday and saw this was a different Joe Biden, and some felt this was a better Joe Biden. So why not lean into this more over the next year?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, I do think that when Joe Biden is passionate and forceful, it helps him. And I think that the demeanor that he brought to that speech yesterday was helpful to him.

I also think the country is focused on the virus, it's focused on inflation, it's focused on the issues that are affecting people's day to day lives, and they want the president to be there. And they don't want the -- one of the reasons Republicans didn't want Donald Trump out yesterday is they don't think it is helpful to them to have him constantly prosecuting his grievances about the 2020 election as they're running for office in 2022. And then the same way I don't think the country wants the president to be constantly prosecuting this case when they want him focused on other things.

But there is one question I have, which is, how do you go down on Tuesday to Atlanta and talk about voting rights without talking about this? Because all of these changes in these voting laws around the country are predicated on this big lie. They're predicated on the premise that somehow there was something wrong with the last election, therefore we have to restrict voting, therefore we have to give legislatures new authority to override the judgments of local election officials.

It's all part of the same fabric, and the fabric has been totally woven by Donald Trump. So I don't know how he makes this speech on Tuesday without continuing in some form or fashion the case that he was making yesterday.

[08:10:03]

BERMAN: Maybe he's watching, and he'll listen to you. David Axelrod, thanks so much for being with us. Kaitlan Collins, as always, thank you.

This morning, schools still out for more than 340,000 students in Chicago. This is the third day in a row after the district and Chicago teachers' union failed to reach an agreement. The union says it wants more resources, including COVID testing sites and better masks. But Chicago school and health officials say students are at an even higher risk outside of school.

A striking new critique from a group of former Biden health advisers on the administration's COVID response, writing in "The Journal of the American Medical Association," quote, "Without a strategic plan for the, quote, new normal, with endemic COVID-19, more people in the U.S. will unnecessarily experience morbidity and mortality, health inequities will widen, and trillions will be lost from the U.S. economy."

Joining us now, one of the authors of that article, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. He's a former member of Joe Biden's transition COVID advisory board and the vice provost of Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the book "Which Country has the World's Best Health Care." Dr. Emanuel, thanks so much for being with us. There is so much in these essays in JAMA, we're not going to be able to cover it all. But I just want to hit on the major points here, which are fascinating. Number one, this new normal you describe is what?

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, VICE PROVOST OF GLOBAL INITIATIVES, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, COVID is going to be around us, just like the flu is around us, and we're going to have to live with that, and we're going to have to bring the mortality rates down to make it so we can go back to our normal, everyday lives. And the idea is we're not getting rid of the virus. We are going to have to live with it.

BERMAN: So I would like to know what that means in terms of the numbers. And you do put some meat on the bones there in your piece. First of all, you say we've got to consider COVID as part of a larger group of respiratory illnesses that put people in the hospital and kill us. But you say we should be somewhere around, what, 3,000 deaths a week, and 50,000 hospitalizations, and as of a few weeks ago we were at 7,000 and, you know, 70,000 hospital -- how far away are we from where you think we need to be in terms of the numbers?

EMANUEL: We're far. That 3,000 a week was in the peak week, not in an average week. But if you think about all the viral respiratory illnesses, we have around 60,000, 70,000 per year before COVID struck. That's probably the rate in which we're not in emergency conditions, and we're in sort of normal conditions. That's 100 to 200 a day. That's our range. And that's where we -- that's 200 a day is probably our maximum amount, which is about 1,400 a week. That's the goal we need to do, to have.

And we need to communicate to the public when we get much higher than that, restrictions have to be in place. When we're lower than that, because of vaccinations, because of better indoor ventilation, we can actually ease up.

BERMAN: In other words, talk about this in advance so you're not panicking and reacting when there is a wave or something like this. Again, more meat on the bones here, you obviously, you're all critical of the testing situation in the United States, a half-billion tests the Biden administration wants to make available. You all say that's not nearly enough. How many tests should there be? How much testing should we be doing?

EMANUEL: That really depends upon the circumstances. Again, as the virus evolves, our policies have to evolve, and there has to be quite clear where we're at in the course of the event. I'd say more importantly than just the numbers of testing is the importance of connecting people who have been tested and turn out to be positive with treatments, if they're not eligible for treatments with the research study, so they can help improve our knowledge and get other treatments, and information about what they need to do for isolation and quarantine and masking.

And that test to treat connection needs to be very, very firm. We can't rely on the healthcare system, which I think is, frankly, too fragmented and not able to respond quickly enough. And that infrastructure needs to be put in place.

BERMAN: I do understand on the testing, it depends where the society is, but how about right now? How often do you think we should all be testing right now?

EMANUEL: Well, we probably need billions of tests per week. We were building up a reasonably good test infrastructure last summer, and then the vaccines came -- got widely distributed, people thought we had turned the corner, and unfortunately, I think, undid that infrastructure. And we need to build it back up. That's not going to happen overnight. And I think we need -- but the administration should give us a sort of schedule that looks out three months.

BERMAN: I will say this, the implication in these essays that you don't think the administration is doing it right, right now.

[08:15:02]

EMANUEL: Well, look, I think the administration had an outstanding strategic plan, coming in in January 2021, and they executed it extremely well on it, all the way through June, and then delta came, and when the virus changes, the strategic plan has to change. And we're suggesting the change in the strategic plan, and areas that need to be focused on.

BERMAN: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel --

EMANUEL: I think what we're trying to do is be helpful and suggest what kind of changes are needed in going forward over the next 3 to 12 months.

BERMAN: It seems to me you probably have their ear.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, thank you for being with us this morning.

EMANUEL: Thank you. My pleasure.

BERMAN: So, then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was evacuated from the Democratic National Committee headquarters minutes after a pipe bomb was discovered. She was there when they discovered a pipe bomb. So why are we just learning about it a year later?

And how did the economy stand up to the omicron surge? We're about to get some crucial numbers. The highly anticipated monthly jobs report out moments from now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery are about to be sentenced. Arbery's mother is going to join us on this consequential day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:03]

KEILAR: CNN has learned that Kamala Harris, then the vice president- elect, was evacuated from the Democratic National Committee building on January 6th of last year, seven minutes after a pipe bomb was discovered nearby. No one has been charged with planting the bomb, and the FBI is still searching for the suspect that you've seen in this video among others.

Joining us now is Pam Brown. She's CNN's senior Washington correspondent and anchor of "CNN NEWSROOM."

OK. Pamela, first, tell us is there any possibility here that Harris was actually a target or was this a coincidence?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She could have been a target, but let's just remember, this bomb was placed at the DNC and the RNC the night before, according to law enforcement officials. And it was not publicly available -- publicly available information that the vice president-elect would be at the DNC on January 6th.

So it is unlikely that Kamala Harris was actually the target of this person we see in this video right here, laying the pipe bomb. That, the FBI says was viable and included explosive powder, but it raises troubling questions about security lapses here.

I just spoke to one law enforcement source who said, look, the fact that the bomb was placed here in the first place is a security lapse, the fact it was placed in this highly secured, highly surveilled area is a security lapse, and now we're finding out that the vice president-elect was inside the building. She came there the next day, was able to get into the building, while this pipe bomb was outside, and she was evacuated minutes after the pipe bomb was discovered. It is really troubling.

BERMAN: What about, Pamela, the overall timing of when the bombs were planted and also just where are we in this investigation a year later?

BROWN: Yeah, so the overall timing has certainly raised questions among law enforcement officials because, of course, it was the night before January 6th and the riot there at the Capitol. So law enforcement officials have certainly wondered whether this was a strategy to perhaps distract and create chaos and divert resources from the Capitol riot or was this person just a lone actor. They really don't know.

And they have interviewed, I'm told, several people, they have looked at people who made threats against the DNC and the RNC, interviewed several people after following leads, and so far it hasn't panned out yet, which is really frustrating a year later that they haven't been able to do that, given all the surveillance there in the area, given the fact they have that video.

But they do believe that this was someone that was from out of town, that was in the area.

KEILAR: Whoever did it knew they could be putting certainly elected officials and others at risk. And in a separate but somewhat related story here, the Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by CNN that shows an increase in online extremist content here in the past 48 hours and that includes threats to lawmakers and the president. How is law enforcement dealing with this?

BROWN: Well, law enforcement has sent out a bulletin to local, state law enforcement across the country because the concern is that this extremist rhetoric online targeting elected officials, it could spark violence in Washington, D.C., and beyond. So they're really increasing resources right now at a time where they have seen an uptick in violent rhetoric and threats against members of Congress, against government officials, against, you know, politicians.

It really is concerning and included in these threats is a video that has been circulating online. I think it has gotten 60,000 views if I recall correctly, that is targeting members of Congress who voted to certify the election, and calling for them to be hung right outside of the White House. That gives you an example of some of what is circulating online that people are actually viewing.

And it also -- I must note, you know, just -- it highlights the danger of political rhetoric, of this hyperpartisan environment we're in, saying continuing to say the election was stolen when, of course, it wasn't. Donald Trump, the former president, released a statement yesterday on January 6th, repeating that deranged lie and people -- there are people who believe that, and law enforcement is concerned that they will act out and engage in violence and so that is why there is increased security right now.

KEILAR: Yeah, look, we have seen it happen, right?

Pamela, thank you so much for being with us. It is great to see you this morning and, of course, we'll be watching you this weekend, tomorrow night and Sunday night as well.

BROWN: Thanks so much.

KEILAR: Here's what else to watch today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:25:12]

KEILAR: Coming up, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the man who was chased down and murdered in broad daylight, she will join us just hours before her son's killers are set to be sentenced.

BERMAN: Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic denied special treatment from Australia. Some of the shade now being thrown by some of his opponents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Deadly violence is escalating in Kazakhstan as anti- government protests over a fuel price hike paralyzed the central Asian nation. The president telling law enforcement to, quote, open fire to kill without warning.

CNN's Nic Robertson live for us in Moscow.

That is, I mean, to read that, to hear that, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is astounding to have the president say that. The numbers that the authorities in Kazakhstan are giving at the moment for the number of casualties killed just don't add up. Government saying 26 protesters have been killed. They call them armed bandits.

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