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Trump's Potential Liability Faces Major Test In Court Today; Apartment Fire Kills 19, Including 9 Children In New York City; Mayors Of Athens And Tuscaloosa Trash Talk Ahead Of Big Game. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, is he going to play in the Australian Open? What the star revealed about his actions after he tested positive.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And next, the brother of a police officer who died after defending the U.S. Capitol on January sixth speaks out for the first time on national T.V. as a court hears the case of whether Donald Trump can be held liable.


BERMAN: Just hours from now, a federal judge will consider, for the first time, whether former President Trump is immune from legal liability related to the January sixth attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick bravely fought to protect the Capitol that day and later died. The New Jersey native, a military veteran, was only 42.


Joining me now is one of Brian's older brothers, Ken Sicknick. Ken, thank you so much for being with us today.

We are so sorry for your loss. I know this was the one-year anniversary of your brother's death. How are you holding up?

KEN SICKNICK, BROTHER OF FALLEN CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: OK. I mean, the best way for me to handle it -- and everybody handles those things differently -- was to avoid social media and avoid media in general for at least those two days.

BERMAN: You're talking about the anniversary itself. Overall, obviously, January sixth has cast a shadow over the entire nation. What does that day mean to you?

SICKNICK: It changed my view of a lot of things. It changed my view of -- I mean, I'm going to be pejorative here -- the monster that created the situation, to begin with. It changed my view of how people react to media events. It's become quite tribal, whether you're on one side or the other.

It's opened my eyes to the community that's out there that is supportive of law enforcement. It's opened my eyes to my brothers and sisters in law enforcement and what they do every day on a daily basis, and it gives me a much greater appreciation for who they are and what they do every day.

BERMAN: It's also opened your eyes, I understand, to how to deal with a loss like this. What have you learned?

SICKNICK: I don't think -- you can read all the books you want. You can see all the advice columns you want. Everybody, I think, deals with loss their own way. I still don't -- to this day, I'm still not comfortable dealing with it.

I am comfortable talking about it. I'm comfortable talking about my brother. A lot of people say I'm sorry, I didn't bring that up. I'm like no, I want to talk about him every minute of the day if I can. So, maybe that's how I deal with it.

I'm not -- I still haven't really decided or figured out the best way to deal with that. And supporting my -- having my other -- my older brother Craig -- you know, we're supporting each other and supporting my parents and other family members. And it's just -- you know, you have to -- sometimes you're more worried about the others than you are about yourself and you kind of disappear.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, you need to check in on yourself through these things because it is a struggle -- a constant struggle.

I do want to ask, you referred to -- and these were your words -- the monster responsible for all of this. I think you're talking about the former president, Donald Trump. And this is the way he talks about that day -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They never show helicopter pictures of that incredible crowd because it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before. I've never had a crowd -- I've never seen a crowd that big.

CHRISTINA BOBB, OAN HOST: It was -- it was massive.

TRUMP: It was -- the real number, I won't say it because it'll be a headline -- oh, he exaggerated the number.


BERMAN: He's talking about the rally that was held before the riot at the Capitol.

But what's it like for you to hear him bragging about the crowd size?

SICKNICK: He's a narcissist. He -- not once, at least not that I heard, has he ever mentioned the five police officers that died because of the events of that day. Not just my brother, but Liebengood, Smith, Hashida, and DeFreytag. They, shortly afterwards, committed suicide and it was directly related to what happened that day. You can't tell me any different.

He's so blinded by his own -- by himself that he can't see what he caused -- the pain. I mean, just the damage to the Capitol building alone. And all he can't think about is how many people were at his rally. The guy's -- that's -- I can't say any more because then we'll probably have to censor it.

BERMAN: What are your expectations and hopes for the January 6 Committee in the House?

SICKNICK: I'm fully supportive of it and of everybody on that committee and the commission -- in particular, the two Republicans because they are standing up for what's right. They're not worried about their political careers. They're not -- they're doing what I believe and what my family believes are the right things to do.

BERMAN: Ken, I've got to ask you --

SICKNICK: So hopefully, something --

BERMAN: I've got to ask you -- sorry -- about what you're wearing. It looks like a pretty sweet outfit there -- that hockey jersey and the hat. What's going on here?

SICKNICK: So, shortly after he died I was trying to figure out a way to thank all the people that helped my family -- all the police officers. The New Jersey State Police that escorted us down to his memorial service in February. A friend of mine from high school who's a -- who's a lieutenant with the Howell, New Jersey police department. And all the United States Capitol Police officers, and friends, and the people that helped me out.


So, I decided to make up some custom jerseys to help remember my brother. So, it has his badge number on it and it has -- the symbol on the front is a plaque that was made that's in the Capitol Police Department. And also, at the McGuire Air Force Base that Brian was in the 108th Wing with -- so, it was -- it was one of the ways that I thought I can probably -- it's a small token of my appreciation. I can never thank them enough.

BERMAN: Well, I can see you wearing it with pride.

Ken, thank you for being with us this morning. Please, take care of yourself, too. Appreciate it.

SICKNICK: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BERMAN: So, 19 people killed in a New York tower tragedy. What happened inside the building. New York's mayor is standing by to speak with us, next.

KEILAR: And Novak Djokovic with a big win a court of law. Can he now defend his title on the tennis court?



KEILAR: It is the deadliest fire in New York City in decades. Nineteen people, and that includes nine children, killed in an apartment building fire in the Bronx. There are so many questions that are still unanswered here about how this happened.

And joining us now is New York City's mayor, Eric Adams. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.

I think we've all watched in horror as we've heard the stories from folks coming out of this building and we've looked at the death toll. Are you expecting that death toll to climb?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: We're unsure right now but we believe, unfortunately, it may. Now, we have 19 dead, as you mentioned. Ten of them are adults and nine of them are children. I think every parent, right now, is holding their babies -- their children a little closer because it impacts us all as a parent. I felt it when I saw the number of children that we lost in this fire.

KEILAR: There's so many people still, right, in the hospital with life-threatening -- in life-threatening condition.

ADAMS: Yes. We have several people that are in critical conditions right now. We pray to God that they're able to pull through. But we know that this has impacted the lives of so many and we may have the possibility of increasing the loss of life.

KEILAR: So, we understand here this was really a smoke issue that killed so many people. The smoke spread quickly because doors were left open, as we understand it. Should those doors have closed automatically?

ADAMS: Yes, they should have. We have a law here in New York City that requires doors to close automatically. We are looking at it through the investigation with the fire marshals who will be extremely thorough in their investigation. We're looking to determine if there was some form of malfunctioning of the doors.

But we also want to double-down on a PSA that I recall as a child of close the doors. We will be partnering with the FDNY, putting out PSAs. I've communicated with the chancellor. We're going to have instructions inside our schools. Such a powerful message can save so many lives.

And I say that not to put additional pressure on that family because muscle memory during traumatic periods we sent -- you know, we leave the doors open. And it's just we need to make sure as government that we give people the right instruction to save lives, and I am going to do that.

KEILAR: So, the property management company here told "The Washington Post" that there were self-closing doors. Is that your understanding? Do you have any information about whether they were working properly?

ADAMS: Yes. We were told and instructed that there were self-closing doors. We just need to look at the door to that apartment to see if there was any form of malfunction. We can't make that determination until the fire marshals conduct their thorough investigation. But the doors in the building did have a self-closing mechanism. We're just looking at that specific door.

KEILAR: There was one tenant who said that actually, the smoke alarms went off frequently in this building so it was normal to assume that it was nothing because it so often was nothing. What concerns does that raise for you?

ADAMS: And that's part of the investigation. We're going to look at that system and ensure that the alarm system didn't repeatedly malfunction. And this is a wake-up call for all of our buildings. Do proper testing. Make sure the complaints of repeated smoke alarms going off without any real smoke or fire -- we need to make sure these systems operate because they save lives, and that is something we want to focus on.

Remember, in 1989, we had the Happy Land fire. We learned from that. We made modifications in our laws and in our building codes. We're going to learn from this moment as well. And the only way we can get it right and prevent a tragedy of this proportion is to continue to make sure we rectify and correct any problems that we see.

KEILAR: We spoke earlier on the show with a tenant there who said that on the exit stairwells there were no lights, at least where she was. Have you heard that? Should there have been lights on those stairwells?

ADAMS: We're looking at those -- all of those requirements. And remember, the building was filled with dark smoke.


ADAMS: When I spoke with the firefighters and the commissioner, they said it was thick, dark smoke. That you are really unable to see in front of you. And that could have distorted some of the views. But when you go into the building with the fire marshals and other building inspectors, we're going to determine exactly what happened here and make modifications accordingly.


KEILAR: Do you have reason to believe that this building did not conform to fire code?

ADAMS: No, I do not. I believe that based on preliminary reports of -- that it was up to the current standard. These buildings were built prior to many of our new fire codes that were put in place. And once we have the report from the fire marshal we will be able to make a thorough evaluation of what needs to be done and how we move forward.

KEILAR: So, they were built before some of those fire codes were put in place. Had they been updated to reflect the current fire code?

ADAMS: Well, it depends on what the actual code is. How the ventilation systems are laid out. So there's a series of things that you can make those corrections immediately, and there's some things where buildings receive waivers. And all of that will come out during the report that the fire marshals will put in place.

KEILAR: Mayor, I'm so incredibly sorry. I'm so incredibly sorry for your city and for the Bronx. It is really just -- it is devastating to watch what has happened there and we'll be looking for more answers in the days to come. Mayor, thank you.

ADAMS: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just ahead, the stunning loss of Bob Saget at the age of just 65. The one and only Gilbert Gottfried will help us remember him.

BERMAN: And Alabama, Georgia tonight for the College Football Championship. We're going to hear from the two mayors of the cities where those colleges are and I've got to tell you, they're already talking trash.



BERMAN: Tonight, the biggest prize in all of college football up for grabs. Alabama looking to defend its title against Georgia. If Alabama wins, it will be their second championship in a row and head coach Nick Saban's eighth title as a college football coach. If Georgia wins, it will be the Bulldogs' first title since 1980.

Joining us now, Kelly Girtz, mayor of Athens, Georgia, home of the Georgia Bulldogs. And, Walt Maddox, mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Mayor Girtz, I want to start with you, a Georgia fan. You posted on Twitter last night, "What's the most right-up-to-the-line thing I could say about Alabama on cable T.V. without getting banned from CNN?"

So, Mayor, what did you come up with -- and don't worry about crossing the line.

MAYOR KELLY GIRTZ, ATHENS, GEORGIA (via Skype): Well, I appreciate that very much. I have high hopes for tonight. You know, in the same way that it took Luke Skywalker a little while to vanquish Darth Vader, I think we'll be able to do the same. I mean, we've all got our burdens to bear, you know. I mean, we're licking our wounds from recent challenges.

Mayor Maddox has to live in Alabama. We both worked in public education. You have to worry about your middle school students getting married there and dropping out. I mean, challenges abound.

KEILAR: I was going to say that's pretty milk toast, but then you sort of snuck one in at the end there.

Mayor Maddox, to you. You actually wrote, "If we win, Alabama football will go to the White House and Kaitlin Collins will definitely be there. To Coach Saban's credit, we have been there so much in the last 15 years. We would be happy to give you a tour."

Ow! I mean, here's the thing. I mean, you better deliver on that, right, or else you're kind of -- you're doing sort of a victory dance before you've won.

MAYOR WALT MADDOX, TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA (via Webex by Cisco): Well, truth be known is that none of us could really have much control over this -- Coach Saban and the players and Coach Smart and the Georgia players. But we take great pride in the fact that we're home of college football's best team year in, year out and the program and its results speak for itself. And really proud.

This year was not supposed to be the year and for us to be in the position to take on Georgia and have a chance to win a national championship is really gratifying. And so, for all of us in Tuscaloosa, we just -- we'll let the winning speak for itself. Those that talk -- but in the end, it's the championships that matter.

BERMAN: Mayor Girtz, you say it took a while for Luke Skywalker to defeat Darth Vader and you hope to do the same. But in doing that -- in saying that, Mayor, are you saying Alabama's your daddy?


GIRTZ: I think all of us have family trees that are not happy places. I think we know that.

Now, I'd like to ask Mayor Maddox is he willing to put something on the line? Because I have successfully found with the mayors of Clemson and with Florida that if I laid a wager, that we came out successful. So, I want to say, Mayor Maddox, are you willing to put anything on the line here?

MADDOX: Oh, absolutely. I'm still waiting for the last mayor of Athens to send over our bet. So, absolutely.


KEILAR: So what is -- what is the wager, then? All right, let's -- OK, obviously, this has to be something where you're kind of eating crow if your team does not win.

So, let's start with you, Mayor Girtz. What would you be willing to do, or Mayor Maddox, what would you challenge Mayor Girtz to do?

MADDOX: Well, what we've done --

GIRTZ: I certainly --

MADDOX: -- with the city of Auburn -- Mayor Anders down in Auburn -- is we do actually -- we try to do something really as positive for the community. We either do if Auburn wins, I make a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of East Alabama. And if Alabama wins, he makes a donation to the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative.

We have a lot of fun in doing these bets, but we serve great communities, and helping these communities has been kind of the way that we've done it in Tuscaloosa.

GIRTZ: That's sounds great. I will deliver a check to the charity of your choice in an Alabama hat if we lose, and I would challenge you to do the same.

MADDOX: Absolutely. I would love to come over to Athens -- not if we lose, by the way -- but I would be happy to do so. I think that would be a great thing for the charity of our choice and our two great cities.

BERMAN: Well, Mayor Girtz --

GIRTZ: Fabulous.

MADDOX: -- Mayor Maddox, thank you for both being with us.