Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Djokovic Admits Falsehoods on Form, Broke COVID Protocols; Fauci Fires Back at Moron GOP Lawmakers During Hearing; Biden Tries Shaming Senators, Dares Them to Act on Voting Rights. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around world. It is Wednesday, January 12th. I can say 12. Brianna is off. Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here, who can count way higher than 12, thankfully.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN NEW DAY: Yes. I'm here to help with any dates, John, if you need any help. Let me know.

BERMAN: I appreciate that, and multiple digit numbers.

This morning, what really feels like a shift in posture from the administration towards COVID, most people are going to get it. That's from the acting head of the FDA. Most people are going to get it. Now, it's the kind of language many people, many of us, have been using lately, but it was still notable to hear from a top official. And Dr. Anthony Fauci added to that when he noted omicron will find us, meaning, most of us will be exposed.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC 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 OF 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.


BERMAN: So, it will find you. SO, what does that mean? Well, if you're vaccinated and boosted, like Dr. Fauci said there, almost definitely not much. You are largely protected against severe infection, but the unvaccinated are not. The unvaccinated are pushing hospitals to the breaking point this morning. We're going have much more on that in just a moment. COLLINS: Also new this morning, a scary incident on an American Airlines plane in Honduras, a man breached the cockpit during boarding for a flight headed to Miami and then damaged the plane and the cockpit before trying to climb out of a window, as you can see him doing here. Passengers were delayed for eight hours before they got a new plane and that flight could finally take off and the suspect has been arrested, though there are still no details on his identity or what drove him to do this.

BERMAN: That is really scary video right there.

We begin, though, with breaking news out of Australia. Tennis Star Novak Djokovic is now admitting lies in his papers, and admitting that he broke COVID protocols after testing positive. He put out a lengthy statement that reads in part, while I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgment and I accept I should have rescheduled this commitment. This refers to after he tested positive, he did an interview after he knew he tested positive, he did an interview with reporters and took a photograph with them unmasked there.

Joining us now is Ben Rothenberg, Contributing Writer for The New York Times. Ben, thanks for joining us.

Djokovic put out a long statement, a lot of words in it, but if you parse it down to its root, what he says is, he admits his papers to enter Australia had lies in them and he admits that he broke COVID protocols in Serbia. So, what's the takeaway this morning?

BEN ROTHENBERG, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You hit the two main points, for sure. It was a long statement but the two main things he said, he tried to sort of skate a bit between some of the what we've seen in the timeline as people were trying to construct his movements in mid-December. So, basically, Djokovic admitted in affidavits and in his submissions to the court during his appeal at his deportation that he had tested positive on December 16th. A quick look at social media showed that he was still very much active around Belgrade on the 16th, and on the 17th, he was around a bunch of kids giving out trophies at his Novak Tennis Center in Belgrade. And then on the 18th, he did an interview and a photo shoot with L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper, for an award he was receiving an from them.

And Djokovic had to split the difference a bit but not completely by saying, he only found out about the test a day after or so it was done and had already registered a result. And then so he was only positive for this one interaction, this interview with L'Equipe. But still a very serious admission that he was saying that he was knowingly positive with COVID and yet still sat down for an in-person interview and a maskless photo shoot with these journalists who come from France to interview him.

And then the other part of this is that you mentioned inconsistencies in his submission for travel, he admitted that his agent, he said, incorrectly checked the boxes on his travel declaration form for Australia, saying that he had not travel anywhere internationally in the previous 14 days, which was not the case, as we saw that he had been in both Serbia and Spain in the 14-day window before his arrival to Australia.

BERMAN: And that's a pretty significant difference. If you say haven't traveled, whether or not, you are signing the documents or not, and, in fact, you have, that's a big difference that could influence, I imagine, the rules on your entry.

As far as what he did or didn't do in Serbia about breaking COVID protocols, I don't know how it impacts on him being allowed in Australia. It just makes him irresponsible, which is a separate subject.

Ben, CNN is reporting this morning that Australian authorities are looking once again, open this new investigation into the timeline of his testing positive.


Where do things stand right now? What might happen in terms of Djokovic being allowed to stay and being allowed to play in the Open?

ROTHENBERG: So, Djokovic is facing a wider scrutiny now after basically winning his first appeal round on purely procedural grounds, that he didn't get enough time at the airport when he was being detained, not enough access to people he could call, with middle of the night, 4:00, 5:00 A.M. when he was at the airport being held and his sort of sources and contacts in Tennis Australia and other government bodies weren't around to assist him. That's how he got the first initial turn overturned.

But if we're looking back at his whole application all over again, there's a lot of inconsistencies. And things like checking the wrong box about previous travel in the past 14 days really could be held against him firmly by government officials if they want to make a case against him. And still it's a lot of political will and a lot of resentment against Djokovic here in Australia, which has been so diligent in following the rules and dedicated to quarantines, to lockdowns, things like this.

And there's a thought that Djokovic really is trying to flout these things and get around them. And so he's become a bit of a pinata, politically, different politicians kind of lining up for a whack at Djokovic to show that they're being tough on people trying to get around the COVID rules. So he's in an uphill battle there and still in discretion of the immigration minister here who can decide fairly unilaterally at this point to cancel Djokovic's visa and reissue it with a deportation order, that will be much harder for him to come back from.

BERMAN: Yes. If Djokovic thought that the judge let him out of his sort of detainment in the hotel was the end of the story, a ton of new questions this morning, this story far from being over. Ben Rothenberg, thanks so much for being with us.

So, Dr. Anthony Fauci firing back at two Republican senators during a pair of tense exchanges in a hearing on Capitol Hill. Here is Fauci after Senator Rand Paul tried to portray him as a dangerous government official.


FAUCI: What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have life -- threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.


BERMAN: Fauci suggested the Kentucky Republican was attacking him as a way of raising money.


FAUCI: I asked myself, why would a senator want to do this? So, go to Rand Paul website and you see, fire Dr. Fauci, with a little box that says, contribute here. You can do $5, $10, $20, $100. So, you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.


BERMAN: Fauci also firing back at Senator Roger Marshall after the Kansas Republican falsely accused him of withholding financial disclosure forms.


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.


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?


BERMAN: That was an open mic moment where you could hear Fauci say, what a moron. Joining us now, Washington Post Global Opinions Contributor James McAuley. James, thanks so much for being with us.

It sounds like Dr. Fauci reached a breaking point there. What did you hear, James?

JAMES MCAULEY, GLOBAL OPINIONS CONTRIBUTOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, I think it's -- it's just yet another example how sad it is that the GOP chooses to demonize and stigmatize the top, or essentially the country's top public health official instead of trying to get to the bottom of how we can protect as many Americans as we can, especially as the omicron variant ravages the country. So, it's sad that it's really nothing new in that sense.

COLLINS: Yes. It's almost come to be expected in these hearings. Clearly, Dr. Fauci was prepared there. He brought the printouts of Senator Rand Paul's website about the fundraising when it comes to firing Fauci.

But I also want to get your perspective on what's happening in France given what we've seen the French president say recently about how it's really no holds barred when it comes to the unvaccinated, and he is making clear that he's fine with provoking them and angering them over restrictions of what vaccinated people can do versus what unvaccinated people can do.

MCAULEY: Absolutely. So, last week, Macron made headlines when he said that his strategy moving forward from here on out was to -- was to piss off. That's how we translated it at The Post, to piss off the unvaccinated who have continued to refuse the free vaccine at this time.


But in French, the word that he used literally means something closer to, I'll say, just cover with excrement. Let's leave it at that.

And the comment triggered a lot of blowback, a lot of criticism. But the truth is, it -- it -- I think it's absolutely right. I mean, what Macron has done at this point is a really successful strategy against vaccine skeptics.

So, let's not forget that at the beginning of last year, when the vaccines were just being rolled out, France consistently had some of the highest anti-vax numbers. So, it's a deeply vaccine skeptical country. But once the government said that, you know, you cannot -- like, it's not a matter of your opinion or your personal freedoms or your choices. If you want to refuse the vaccine, that's fine. But then you cannot go to movie theaters. You cannot go to cafes. You can't go to restaurants. You can't have any sort of semblance of a normal public life.

Lo and behold, a lot of the anti-vaccine sentiment melted into air, which perhaps suggests that the convictions behind a lot of that are not actually convictions, but just sort of irrational and selfish. And I think Macron is absolutely right to refuse to kowtow to that, that resistance, which, in the U.S., at least, is really, really holding us back.

BERMAN: James, I got a D in French. Seriously, I got a D in French. But the word was what? (INAUDIBLE)?


BERMAN: Yes, that's Why I got a D.

MCAULEY: Which means, as I said, just say, covered in excrement.

BERMAN: Okay. So, we'll pronounce it your way there. Do you feel like doing that, the covering with excrement can work in the United States?

MCAULEY: I think -- look, what Macron has shown, the -- the big picture here is that it doesn't seem to work to couch getting your vaccine as a form of civic duty that you have to do to protect other people. What the French have done remarkably successfully is to say, no, it's not about that. If you don't get your vaccine, you cannot have a glass of wine or a restaurant meal. And lo and behold, that really works on people.

So, I think if we maybe looked across the ocean and saw what was happening in France and tried something similar here, we might have lower levels of vaccine skepticism in the states.

COLLINS: Yes. I think no matter what language you speak, everybody wants to be able to go and get a glass of wine. James, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

MCAULEY: Thank you so much for having me.

COLLINS: Up next, President Biden is pushing voting rights and shaming senators who so far have blocked it.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president.


COLLINS: A top White House adviser is standing by to talk to CNN live.

BERMAN: Plus, Donald Trump wants to get rid of Mitch McConnell. How is that working out? New reporting ahead.

And why parents are being pressed into duty as substitute school teachers.



COLLINS: President Biden is calling on the Senate to pass key voting rights bills and forcefully getting behind a change to the Senate's rules to do so.


BIDEN: I've been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I'm tired of being quiet.

I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills. Debate them, vote. Let the majority prevail. And if that bear minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.


COLLINS: Joining us now is Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to the president. And, Cedric, good morning and thank you for joining us.

And I just think, to step back and look at that speech, for a president who served in the Senate nearly three decades to come out and call for this exception to the filibuster is a pretty big shift for him. So, I wonder how he got to this breaking point?

CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, it's clear. You have minority of Republicans that are able to block any significant legislation. I think you also heard him say yesterday that voting rights are the rights from which all other rights flow. And we've seen the attack on voting rights, 19 states, 34 laws. And the president is just fed up with the obstruction. And this is so important that he went down to Georgia, which is ground zero, to raise, again, the conscience of the country on the attack and assault on voting rights.

COLLINS: So, there is one point at the speech where the president asked -- he posed the question of do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace, John Lewis or Bull Connor, Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? But my question is, was he talking to Republicans or Democrat holdouts there?

RICHMOND: No. I think you heard in the speech. He said everyone should vote for voting rights, Independents, Democrats and Republicans. And he went on to point out that when we renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and other times even Strom Thurmond voted for it, Mitch McConnell voted for it. It was 98-0 in the United States Senate. And now we can't get one Republican?

And so he was highlighting the fact that voting rights have always been bipartisan. But the minority Republicans in the Senate have obstructed and weaponized the filibuster so we can't even debate it, much less vote on it.


COLLINS: But does that sentiment of equating those who were standing in the way of getting this legislation passed, equating them to segregationists, that applies to Democrats as well as Republicans? RICHMOND: Well, I think what the president was doing in a very crystal clear manner was defining the moment. And he started the speech saying that this is one of those moments where you want to be on the right side of history, where before and after a vote, people will decide what your legacy is. And I think that those were very clear examples of the past where you had people obstructing voting rights, civil rights and progress and you had those that were fighting for it.

COLLINS: And, Cedric, we interviewed Derrick Johnson, who is the president of the NAACP, of course, there with the president on this trip yesterday, and he praised his speech but he said his actions do need to match his words. So, I'm wondering what is the president's plan to match his actions yesterday in Atlanta -- to match his words yesterday in Atlanta with action.

RICHMOND: Well, I want to be clear. Yesterday, the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States being in Atlanta, taking the fight to the belly of the beast, for lack of a better description, is putting the full weight of the president and the vice president behind voting rights. And that's what activists and civil rights leaders have been calling for, including Derrick, who I talk to often. They want the weight of the presidency behind it, and yesterday was the beginning.

And you heard the president say that we will use January 6th, we will use the anniversary as a renaissance of the fight for voting rights. This is not the end. It's the beginning. And I have watched this president and vice president work on voting rights, from doubling the civil rights division in the Department of Justice, putting two civil rights leaders in there, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, suing states who are enacting these laws, and signing an executive order so that we could advance voter registration.

So, this has not been an administration that has turned a blind eye to voting rights. This is one that has fully engaged on protecting the right to vote and doing those things. And now we're going to continue to take the fight to the people and continue to urge members in the United States Senate to do their job and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

COLLINS: You talk about the president and the vice president putting their full weight behind this effort, but I wonder what you say to some of the civil rights leaders and activists who have said that maybe he should have given that speech sooner than yesterday?

RICHMOND: Well, remember, we talked about the -- the president talk and voting rights and the need to pass this legislation in his inauguration speech, in his speech to the joint session of Congress, went down to constitution hall in Philadelphia to raise it again. And part of it is, you have to raise awareness in the country of what's going on. When we went to Philadelphia, this was a humongous issue and Georgia and Texas, and we needed to raise the issue so that the rest of the country could see what was going on. So, this has been a steady drumbeat of fighting on for voting rights. COLLINS: So when it comes to now that you're back in Washington, he's given this speech. Is he going to personally call Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, since Senator Schumer said last night that they have not yet agreed to get onboard with any changes?

RICHMOND: Well, I won't speak for the president, but I will tell you the president has been and will continue to talk to members of the Senate, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, about this very important issue.

COLLINS: Has he spoken to Senator Manchin lately?

RICHMOND: Well, I won't get into his private conversations but I think that we can all expect the president to make significant outreach on the need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

COLLINS: I guess the big question that we've heard from other Democrats, too, is, if these holdouts refuse to budge when it comes to changing the Senate rules, making an exception to get voting rights legislation passed, like the president asked for yesterday, what is the White House's backup plan?

RICHMOND: Well, we're going to keep fighting, and we're not going to -- the president was very clear yesterday. He said, failure is not an option on this issue. And so we're not planning to fail. We're going to keep fighting until we get it done. And the president yesterday said that he was for reforming Senate rules, he said he was for eliminating the filibuster, if that's what it took. But what he ultimately said that he was doing for whatever was necessary to make sure that we protect the sacred right to vote.

COLLINS: But do you feel like there is kind of -- this is about where we can go? He can call Senator Manchin, he can call Senator Sinema and talk to them, but is there any other steps that he could take if that doesn't work?

RICHMOND: We have to keep pushing them. We will keep pushing. Look, this is a legislative progress. I was in Congress over ten years. This is how it works, as frustrating as it is. It's a process. And you have to make sure you have the votes to get it done.


And the president will weigh in and push and talk and do all the necessary work along with the vice president to make sure that we get this done.

COLLINS: We'll be watching to see what those holdouts on Capitol Hill say. Cedric Richmond, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I know it's cold out there on the lawn.

RICHMOND: Thank you.

COLLINS: Coming up, a Texas sheriff is under investigation this morning. What he's accused of ordering his deputies to do when it comes to undocumented immigrants.

BERMAN: And Donald Trump learning there are limits to his power over Senate Republicans. We have new CNN reporting.


COLLINS: There's new CNN reporting this morning on former President Trump coming to terms with his potential limits on his power over the GOP.


Overnight, the former president unloaded once again on the senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, in a new interview.

CNN's Gabby Orr joins us now.