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Man Storms Cockpit on American Airlines Flight, Breaks Controls; Djokovic Admits Falsehoods on Form, Broke COVID Protocols; Biden Health Officials to Americans: Expect to Get COVID; Biden Health Officials on Defense Over Testing Shortage, Guidance; Schumer Admits 'Uphill Climb' on Voting Rights. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman with chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Brianna is off today.


On this NEW DAY, a frightening scene as a man storms the cockpit just moments before takeoff.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic now admitting lies in his papers and that he broke COVID protocols after testing positive. The swirling controversy growing this morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Meanwhile, President Biden is calling out Congress for not passing voting rights legislation. But do critics from his side of the aisle think that the public shaming is enough?

And this reporter, who's been waiting to talk with Donald Trump for six years. Why the former president finally answered the call and ended up hanging up on him.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, January 12.

And then breaking overnight, a cockpit breach just before takeoff. A stunning case of a passenger behaving badly. Very badly.

The latest incident took place on an American Airlines flight in Honduras. While passengers were boarding for a trip to Miami, a man stormed the cockpit, caused damage to the aircraft, and then apparently tried to climb out a window.

So let's get right to CNN's Pete Muntean, live at Reagan National Airport with what went on in his episode -- Pete.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I've been covering this unruly passenger trend, this issue, for months. This has to be one of the most egregious cases.

American Airlines Flight 488 on the ramp in Honduras last night when American says this passenger, who was during boarding, charged the jetway, then got into the open cockpit door. Remember, the flight crew tried to stop him, American says, but he

still damaged some of the equipment inside the flight deck. More on that in a second.

You can see in the video here the man hanging out of the flight deck window. That window can be opened by the flight crew in a 737 in case of an emergency to ventilate the cockpit. In an emergency, they would get down to the ground, typically using a rope. So it's a pretty long fall down. This man did not jump.

We do know that police ultimately apprehended the suspect but the plane damaged so badly, according to American, that they had to bring in another 737 to complete this flight.

According to Flight Aware, this flight ultimately departed about eight hours late, 121 passengers onboard. You know, a huge issue here, John and Kaitlan. Fifty-nine hundred and eighty-one issues of unruly passengers reported by flight crews to the FAA in 2021, and that rate did go up a bit at the end of the year.

COLLINS: I can't even imagine the frustration of an eight-hour delay because of that happening on your flight.


COLLINS: Because flying is already tough enough as it is.

But Pete, this does come as United Airlines is also having some issues with staffing shortages. So what's going on?

MUNTEAN: Well, this issue is happening at United but also at airlines industry-wide.

United put out a memo yesterday from CEO Scott Kirby, in which is says that 3,000 of United's workers in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID, but thankfully, because of United's vaccine mandate, none are hospitalized.

Even still, United says it is drawing down its near-term schedule because of staffing shortages. United will not say by how much it is drawing down its schedule. We do know from FlightAware that it has canceled about 120 flights today.

You know, this issue has gone down a little bit, but airlines experts tell us this is really hard to predict. It's not like a weather system coming through. The Omicron variant spread so quickly that so many workers are calling out sick at the airlines, and they're struggling to keep up.

COLLINS: Yes, and this is what the acting FDA commissioner was saying yesterday, warning about these disruptions that we are going to continue to see, given the spread of the Omicron variant.

Pete Muntean, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Also breaking overnight, tennis star Novak Djokovic opening all kinds of new questions about his behavior and his honesty.

He now admits to not immediately isolating after testing positive for coronavirus last month, and also he admits to a false travel declaration. This as the Australian government is considering another move to deport him.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Melbourne with the latest here. And Djokovic just opened this all up again, like, wide open.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, so much happened overnight. Let me catch you up.

First of all, when it comes to the timeline of when he tested positive, he has given more details about that. Now, Novak Djokovic says that on December 14th, he attended a basketball game in Serbia's capital, Belgrade. He said that many people tested positive after that, so he took a PCR test on December 16th.

Then December 17th, he took a rapid antigen test but still carried out a number of public events where we saw him without socially distancing and maskless. And then after that, he said he found out that he was positive.

But he does point out that on December 18th, he then carried out a media interview and a photo shoot, saying he didn't want to let the journalists down. He did say, on reflection, this was an error of judgment.

Now, when it comes to that travel declaration, he does admit another error there. He says it was not him. It was filled out by his support team.

But when they were asked whether he would be traveling within 14 days of his arrival, the "no" box was ticked, and in fact, he was in Spain and Serbia, as we understand.

Now, he also said to that, quote, "It was human error and certainly not deliberate."

But on top of this, the Australian board are forced now, saying that they are expanding the investigation they have into the situation, looking at possible inconsistencies in documents related to the December PCR test.

This according to a source involved, or close to the investigation, saying they're also looking at movements in the days after testing positive.

And remember, we are still waiting for the immigration minister to see if he will personally step in and revoke that visa for Djokovic. Presumably he'll wait until that Australian board investigation is finished -- John.

BERMAN: New twist in this saga. Again, what he now admits to raises all kinds of questions. False documents, even if he didn't do it, and breaking COVID protocols. [06:05:08]

Paula Hancocks, please keep us posted. Thank you.

COLLINS: Top Biden health officials were grilled by lawmakers for hours on Capitol Hill yesterday over the frustrating state of the pandemic. In one very blunt assessment, the acting head of the FDA said most people are going to get the virus.


DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING FDA DIRECTOR: Most people are going to get COVID. All right? And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody. Unfortunately, those who are still unvaccinated are going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this.


COLLINS: This is the first time that these health officials have testified in front of lawmakers since the emergence of the Omicron variant and, of course, the concerns over this nationwide shortage of rapid testing.

So for more on this I want to bring in Dr. Abdul Al-Saeb, joining us this morning on all of these hours of testimony that happened yesterday.

And Doctor, first, I just want get to your reaction to hearing the acting commissioner at the FDA say, most people are going to get COVID, because I think that is something everyone has kind of recognized since the Omicron variant came out and as contagious as it is, but to hear it in a testimony from a top federal health official is still pretty stunning.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was quite stunning. I was actually a bit perplexed about what she said it based on, and frankly, why she said it.

Because in the end, I've been struggling since she said it to look for empirical modeling that backs that claim. And even if there was an empirical model, you would expect a rollout, saying, Look, here's what we found based on so and so modeling. That's how science communication works.

But to say it off the cuff like that was a bit defeating.

The second thing is that the second thing she ended up saying was that we need to figure out how to maintain our -- our structural systems, our institutions, our society, while this happens. But the best way to do that is that people take steps to protect themselves from Omicron. But if they think that it's an inevitability that most people are

going to get it, then in some respects, it -- it sort of destroys the incentive to do what you can to protect yourself.

So it was stunning and also somewhat perplexing as -- as a means of science communication here.

BERMAN: Look, she said it and then Dr. Fauci sort of backed it up, saying Omicron is going to find just about everyone. And if that is the feeling within the administration, then I think, as you say, Doctor Sayed, you have to present a different outline for how the country will respond. Correct?

EL-SAYED: That's right. I mean, and there was a bit of a difference between what -- what Dr. Woodcock said and what Dr. Fauci said.

You know, finding someone to me means you're going to get exposed. And our lived experience is justifying that. Everywhere you turn, there's someone who's popping positive, but doesn't mean you're going to get it.

In fact, the evidence from the U.K. shows that people who have been recently boosted are about 75 percent protected from -- from being infected.

And so, yes, there are things that you can do to protect yourself. This is not an inevitability. And so I was a little bit just confused. And, yes, we do need an outline about exactly what's going on here to protect ourselves. Things like N-95s. Things like rapid antigen testing, tools to use, yes, to protect themselves from this thing. It is not just an inevitability.

COLLINS: Well, and I guess that testing is also such a big part of this. And they were grilled by lawmakers on this yesterday, Republicans and Democrats alike, who -- who were lamenting the fact that it is still so difficult on this day to get a rapid test.

There are still these shortages, and, yes, they are making efforts to distribute about half a billion for free to people who sign up for them online, but one health official testifying yesterday said so far they've gotten about 50 million of those tests, and they plan to be able to send out that number that Biden has promised over the next 60 days.

Which -- I just wonder what you make of that timeline, given it is right now and right here that schools need to be able to test students, if they want to plan to stay open, based on what we've seen from the guidance so far. Businesses want to be able to test their employees.

And so I'm wondering what you made of what officials were saying is a defense for why the testing is still so bad in this country.

EL-SAYED: I'll be honest, it's too little, too late. We know that, in public health, the fundamentals of public health are about anticipating and preventing. And, you know, if we're going to have 50 million tests, that's a drop

in the bucket. And it's going to come, likely, after what a lot of folks anticipate is going to be the top of the surge in late January, potentially early February.

But this -- they're just not coming fast enough. And so the capacity to use them to do the very things that you talk about, Kaitlan, well, that's going to be limited.

BERMAN: And Doctor, I want to get your take on, obviously, the emotion we saw at this hearing yesterday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, he came with receipts to Rand Paul. He knew that Senator Paul was going to come after him. And Dr. Anthony Fauci produced Rand Paul's fundraising memos which target Anthony Fauci.


And then there was this hot-mic moment after Senator Roger Marshall was questioning Fauci about his financial disclosures. Listen to what Fauci said.


FAUCI: My financial disclosures are public knowledge and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information.

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): So I cannot find them. Our office cannot find them. Where would they be if they're public knowledge? Where?


FAUCI: It is totally accessible to you, if you want it.

MARSHALL: For the public. Is it accessible to the public?

FAUCI: To the public. To the public.

MARSHALL: Great. We look forward --


FAUCI: You are totally incorrect.

MARSHALL: Well, we look forward to reviewing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Marshall, Dr. Fauci has answered you. It is public information, and he's happy to give it to you if you would ask.

Senator Moran.

FAUCI: What a moron.


BERMAN: "What a moron," Doctor El-Sayed. What do you think of that?

EL-SAYED: I mean, it is Government Accountability 101 that, if you work for the federal government, you have to -- you have to disclose your investments.

Every single one of Congressman Marshall's staffers has had to do the same. In fact, the congressman has had to do the same. It is absurd to me that this person has been elected to Congress and does not know that.

But I do think that Dr. Fauci, more broadly, is airing a level of frustration, I think, on behalf of anyone who's tried to engage with science in this moment, to see the level of just frank cynicism on behalf of elected officials who have used their platforms to try and dissuade people from doing the very things that we can do to take this pandemic on.

And you saw it really bubble over there. But it's -- you know, it really came to a head against Dr. Fauci. They take him as a symbol in certain ways. And it really has deleterious impact on him, and his family, and I think you saw that bubble over, justifiably so.

COLLINS: Yes, and it even got to the point where an HHS spokesman was coming out and defending Fauci, saying, you know, they couldn't believe that senators were spending time in this hearing, where there are so many questions about testing and CDC guidance, to attack Dr. Fauci.

But Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

EL-SAYED: Thank you.

COLLINS: Coming up, President Biden changing his posture on the filibuster when it comes to voting rights, calling out Congress for not getting it done. Can he actually get the ball moving?

Plus, Donald Trump is ripping, quote, "gutless politicians" who won't disclose their vaccine status. His new target might surprise you.

BERMAN: It rhymes with, you know, "Mon LesLantis."

Plus, Florida reaching record highs in new coronavirus cases. But why is Governor DeSantis doubling down on his pandemic response?



BERMAN: President Biden putting his credibility on the line in the fight for voting rights. He traveled to Atlanta to announce he supports changing Senate rules to pass new voting rights legislation if his bid fails.

And look, all signs are pointing in that direction. Biden's political capital could be drained, along with his domestic legislative agenda.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act! Pass it now! I've been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I'm tired of being quiet!

We must find a way to pass these voting rights bills. Debate them, vote, let the majority prevail! And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.

We have 50/50 in the United States Senate. That means we have 51 presidents. Anyone can change the outcome. Sadly, the United States Senate, designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body, has been rendered a shell of its former self. I've never seen a circumstance where not one single Republican has a voice that's ready to speak for justice.

So I ask every elected official in America, how do you want to be remembered? At consequential moments in history, they present a choice. Do you want to be the -- on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?

We will choose. The issue is, will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend the right to vote. Our democracy against all enemies, foreign, and, yes, domestic!


COLLINS: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now openly acknowledging his party does face an uphill fight to pass those election reforms, saying that senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still oppose changing the chamber's filibuster rules.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): As we speak there are meetings going on with these senators, and I've been meeting constantly. So farm they're not on -- they have not come onboard.

And I don't want to delude listeners. This is an uphill fight, because Manchin and Sinema both believe in -- do not believe in changing the rules. But --


COLLINS: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House. And so Jeremy, you heard Senator Schumer there, saying that they do not believe, they're not on board yet when it comes to Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. So what is the White House's plan going forward here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, ultimately, after many months of White House reporters like you and me asking the president where he stands on the filibuster, at least now we have a very clear answer. And that is, President Biden leaving absolutely no doubt that he

supports making changes to the filibuster rules or eliminating it altogether when it comes to voting rights legislation.


The president, in a fiery speech yesterday, set against the backdrop not only of the civil rights movement in Atlanta, Georgia, but also of these voting restrictions that have been enacted in Georgia and more than a dozen other states.

The president making clear, making the case in the starkest terms, arguing that it is necessary to protect democracy to make those changes to the filibuster and pass these pieces of voting rights legislation.

Interestingly, the president really laid this out in terms of good versus evil. Asking senators whether they want to be remembered for being on the side of MLK or being on the side of George Wallace. Effectively comparing them to segregationists.

And that's a message that wasn't just aimed, it seems, at Republicans but perhaps at those two Democratic senators you just mentioned, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have been vocal, who have been clear, with no equivocation, that they do not support making changes to Senate rules in this instance, saying that it opens up a whole other can of worms.

And that's where the problem is for the president. There's no clear path to getting those two senators onboard here.

Nonetheless, Senator Chuck Schumer has made clear that he intends to move forward with these pieces of voting rights legislation as early as today. And after that, after those pieces of legislation are expected to fail because of lack of Republican support, he's also expected to move forward with these changes to the filibuster.

But again, as Schumer is trying to lower expectations there, neither Manchin nor Sinema have indicated they're willing to do that, and ultimately, that is a huge risk that the president has now taken by laying out these terms and saying that this is the bar for him -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, it's quite a political gambit. We'll see what happens. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

The president's trip to Georgia was met with some criticism by some of the voting rights advocates in the state, who say he needs to do more to try to pass these voting restrictions in Washington.

Joining us now is the president and CEO of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson.

Derrick Johnson, thank you for getting up with us early this morning. I know you were there for the president's speech, for his visit to Atlanta, deeply symbolic yesterday, but you said afterwards not only was the speech stirring, you praised it, but you said it needs to be met with action, not just words.

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT/CEO, NAACP: Yes. We're looking for outcomes, not a performative activity. What the president demonstrated yesterday was a strong case of why the Voting Rights Act protection must be passed. Now we have to have an outcome of passage of voting right protections.

For African Americans, he stated that he will stand with us, because we stood with him. This is the time to stand. It cannot only be a priority; it must be the priority for this administration, for the Senate.

Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema and all the Republicans [SIC], they have to stand up in this moment for our democracy. If not, we're going to have the ongoing issue of January 6th repeating every day that we do not pass protection for the Voting Rights Act.

BERMAN: Yes, President Johnson, I listen to what you're saying, but the Republicans don't support the measures right now, and Manchin and Sinema don't support changing the filibuster rules. And none of that shows any sign of changing. So what more could the president do to get outcomes?

JOHNSON: Well, this president is considered one of the masters of the Senate. He has more experience than any other president, other than perhaps Lyndon Johnson.

It is not for us to tell him how to get it done. It's for us to say you have to get this done. Our democracy demands it. Equity in this country demands it.

Equal protection under the law, especially the right to vote, must be the priority for this administration. How they get there, that's the job of the presidency. That's the job of the Senate, but we must get there.

COLLINS: And that's a big question, of course, for the White House today, is how they do plan to get there.

But I have one more question about the speech yesterday, because you were there. You were listening to the president, and when he raised those questions that Jeremy was just talking about, saying, you know, posing this question to lawmakers, do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or do you want to be on the side of George Wallace? Do you think that was aimed at Republicans who have blocked the voting rights legislation so far, or is that aimed at these Democrat holdouts who have so far not supported changing the rules?

JOHNSON: This isn't a partisan issue. That was aimed at everyone who's standing in the way of ensuring that the right to vote is protected.

You know, I'm sitting there next to Jesse Jackson with many other veterans of the civil rights movement, and people were like, that's the tone, that's the message we need to hear, but we should have heard this a year ago, six months ago, with this level of energy. But we're here now. And because we're here, we must elevate the

pressure to ensure the rights of all citizens, all Americans who are legitimately able to vote, are protected. We have not seen this level of energy. This administration put other things in front of that.


But now that we're here, let's push as hard as we can to ensure the legacy of Dr. King, the legacy of so many people who sacrificed their lives for this democracy, will be protected.

BERMAN: Derrick Johnson, Mr. President, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

BERMAN: So breaking this morning, Donald Trump, in a new interview, hangs up on a radio anchor with no warning. What set him off?

COLLINS: And the Omicron surge is continuing to crush restaurants. What some owners are doing to stay afloat as they face a lot of uncertainty.


BERMAN: So breaking moments ago, Donald Trump hung up. He hung up on NPR anchor Steve Inskeep during an interview, an interview that Steve worked six years to get.