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New Day

Trump Privately Realizing His Limited Influence over GOP; Chicago Teachers and Students Return to School Today; Sheriff Accused of Ordering Deputies to Take Cash from Immigrants. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 07:30   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: 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.


STEVE INSKEEP, NPR HOST: Why is it you think that the vast majority of your allies in the United States Senate are not standing behind you?

We did have that statement by Mike Rounds.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because Mitch McConnell is a loser and, frankly, Mitch McConnell, if he were on the other side and if Schumer were put in his position, he would have been fighting this like you've never seen before. He would have been fighting this.


COLLINS: CNN's Gabby Orr joins us now.

What is your making of what the president said about McConnell overnight and what you hear from sources about what this means for how he views the fact McConnell still has a lot of power in the Republican Party?

GABBY ORR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: McConnell still does have quite a bit of power in the Republican Party, Kaitlan, but also Donald Trump does. And he has been asking Republican candidates he's meeting with down at Mar-a-lago to come out and say that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, they would work to depose McConnell as one of the top Republican leaders in that chamber.

And yet he's found very little support among Republican candidates seeking Donald Trump's endorsement to actually go that far. So far only two Republicans who are running for Senate, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska, challenging Lisa Murkowski, and Eric Greitens, running for a seat in Missouri, had actually come out and said they would not support reelecting McConnell as minority or majority leader. That is a very small number of Republicans who've been willing to go

that far. Aides and allies of the former president do tell me that this has been somewhat of a reality check for him, on his ability to control what Republicans say on the campaign trail and the relationships that they look to build, as they try to get into the Senate.

Remember, Mitch McConnell is aligned with a number of very powerful and very heavy-handed super PACs that will spend quite a bit of money in the 2022 midterm elections. And so a lot of candidates have to weigh losing out on that potential support against aligning themselves against Donald Trump across the board and promising to oust McConnell if given the opportunity.

COLLINS: Of course we know that this has been a fascination of the former president's. I don't think he and McConnell have spoken in over a year now but fascinating to see how it's playing out within the Republican Party, given it is, of course, these two warring factions. Gabby Orr, thanks for joining us.

ORR: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring in CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign adviser David Urban and former Republican congressman and presidential candidate Joe Walsh.

David, welcome back. Look, it's interesting. Mike Rounds, Mitch McConnell and Shelley Moore Capito, John Thune, Kevin Kramer, not to mention Mitt Romney and others, they don't seem to be afraid of Donald Trump right now on this subject.

What's this movement we're seeing in the U.S. Senate?

DAVID URBAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm not so sure it's a movement, just the luxury of having a six-year term. Those folks all have roughly five more years on their them. So not as much to fear as a House member who has to run this coming year in '22.

As you all know, most House members fear not losing in a general election. They fear losing in a primary. So you know, Donald Trump, former president, is incredibly popular amongst Republican-based voters.

So those House members are very, very concerned about their districts and the sway that president Trump holds over those Republican base voters. So that's not so true of the Senate and I think senators are just, you know, they recognize that reality.

COLLINS: Joe, I want you to listen to this NPR interview the former president did, where he hung up on the host, Steve Inskeep, after about nine minutes. They were supposed to have a 15-minute interview.

And it came when they were talking about the election and just what we all know, which is what the outcome was. This, of course, is stemming also from this fight that the president has, the former president has now picked with senator Mike Rounds after he just bluntly stated what happened.

And during this interview Trump was being asked about those claims and about his attacks on Senator Rounds.


TRUMP: People have no idea how big this issue is and they don't want it to happen again. It shouldn't be allowed to happen and they don't want it to happen again.

INSKEEP: I want to --

TRUMP: The only way it's not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.


INSKEEP: Mr. President, if I might -- one more question. I want to ask about a court hearing yesterday on January 6th. Judge Amit Mehta ...

He's gone. OK.


COLLINS: Joe, what do you make of that?

JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, Kaitlan, Trump speaks for the base. I agree with David. You know, Mitch McConnell and some of, you know, the inside baseball that's being played in the Republican caucus in the Senate really doesn't matter.


WALSH: This is Donald Trump's party. And Mike Rounds, you know, as David said, he's not up for re-election for four years. One Republican senator in a safe seat in South Dakota, 431 days after the election was called, he finally comes out and speaks the truth that Joe Biden won.

And all of a sudden this is a big story?

No. It would be a big story, Kaitlan, if Mike Pence said what Mike Rounds said, if Ted Cruz said what Mike Rounds said, if Tom Cotton or Marco Rubio or any Republican that wanted to run for president or be a leader, viable in the party with the base. This is Trump's party. I just don't think this is a story at all.

BERMAN: Not at all?


WALSH: Not at all.

John, you're talking about a handful of senators -- and I know it's more in private but, my God, we're five or six years removed from Republicans in private. But publicly, you show me one Republican, John, that wants to be president in 2024, that would have the you- know-what to say what Mike Rounds said. Then I will tell you, oh, that's interesting.

BERMAN: David, you worked for Donald Trump.

Can I just ask you, David, will you say right here and now, Donald Trump lost?

URBAN: Yes. The president lost the election. He lost the election. Unfortunately. Democrats played the game better. I mean, it's a painful truth but it's what happened. We won a very close election in 2016. Lost a very close election in 2020.

I -- look, I think -- I wish the president would spend time focusing on his accomplishments and comparing and contrasting those accomplishments of that of the current Biden administration. Talk about what the president's doing. Talk about what Speaker Pelosi is doing. Talk about what Schumer is doing.

I think the president would be best, you know, best use of his time would be focusing outward, not inward; focusing forward, not backwards.

COLLINS: Joe, what do you think?

WALSH: Kaitlan, there's so much -- and you know this because you hear it every day. There is so gosh darn much wishful thinking that goes on privately among Republicans. Oh, we just want to move on from Trump. Let's just do whatever we can.

And that's why, when you get an inconsequential senator, like a guy like Mike Rounds, who says 431 days after the election was called that Joe Biden won, Republicans want to think, maybe this will be something.

I'm sorry. The party will not move on from Trump. If Trump wants the nomination in '24, it's his. And they know that.

COLLINS: Well, it's notable --


COLLINS: -- go ahead, David.

URBAN: I was going to say, I 100 percent agree with Joe in terms of, Donald Trump is incredibly popular amongst Republican base voters. If he chooses to run in '24, he'll be the nominee and, you know, dare I say he'll be the next president in '24 again. That's my prediction. So strap in, America.

COLLINS: What's notable about this it's not like Senator Rounds is trying to provoke the former president with these comments. He was, he's a pretty mild-mannered guy. He doesn't often get in the headlines. He was just saying what happened, what actually happened in the election and that is what has gotten the wrath of former president Trump in these interviews in this back and forth.

Joe Walsh, David Urban, thank you both for joining us this morning.

Meanwhile, a desperate school district wants moms and dads to sub in for sick teachers. We'll talk to the superintendent about that, next.

BERMAN: And I didn't see this tease coming up. A stunning admission from former adult film actress Jenna Jameson.





COLLINS: In Chicago, students are expected back at school today after a contentious week-long standoff over COVID-19 protocols. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus joins us live from Chicago.

Adrienne, the union's governing body voted 63 percent to 37 percent to end this walkout.

What more can you tell us?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, good morning. I can tell you students, after five days of no learning, returned to the classroom later this morning. Teachers were at the schools yesterday, preparing for those students.

Let's take a look at this tentative agreement. We know the district has agreed to provide enhanced weekly testing at schools across the district. On top of that the city will provide 4KN95 masks for staff and students and there will be paid contact tracing.

Perhaps most significant for members of the union, there will be a threshold, a metric that would trigger individual schools to flip to remote learning while in high transmission or if there's a surge in COVID cases.

And that surge will be outlined by what the CDC recommends. As students prepare to return to the classroom, a local dermatologist said safety is top of mind.


DR. CAROLINE ROBINSON, DERMATOLOGIST: I think that everyone has a valid, you know, point in this. And we just have to work together, because, at the end of the day, we need to educate our kids. And that's the only side to take.

So I think in terms of health and safety, of course, being a physician, I'm really conservative. Even if those safety steps are -- maybe some would deem not exceptionally necessary, I want to take every extra step, I want to take every extra measure. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BROADDUS: That was Dr. Caroline Robinson, who has two daughters in public schools here in Chicago.

There was so much bickering but she didn't engage. Instead she used the opportunity to teach outside of the classroom. She took her girls with her to work as she continued to treat her patients, showing them what they could become. And she is relieved, she and her husband, that the kids will be back in school today -- Kaitlan and John.

Yes, a sense of relief not just for the doctor and her daughters but all the other parents dealing with this as well. Adrienne Broaddus, thank you.

BERMAN: New this morning, one Texas school district trying an innovative and some might say desperate approach to stay open. Hayes Consolidated Independent School District, just south of Austin, is asking parents to fill in as substitute teachers. Joining me, the superintendent for the Hayes Consolidated Independent School District, Eric Wright.

Mr. Superintendent, thank you for being with us.

Why you asking parents to step in?

ERIC WRIGHT, SUPERINTENDENT, HAYES CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Just because we have a shortage at the moment, as do all schools across the nation. We just decided to be innovative. I prefer that instead of desperate, obviously.

We are extending the offer to parents just to allow them to come in and help us out. We know many of them prefer to have in-person learning and many of them, I think, will be willing to step in and bridge that gap, so that we can continue to have in-person learning, because we know it's so crucial for kids.

BERMAN: I didn't mean desperate to be bad; I meant everyone wants schools to stay open so much right now you're willing to try almost anything.

What's the response been?

WRIGHT: So far we've gotten I think three total that have signed up and, you know, it's a process. They still have to go through our normal substitute orientation. And they have to obviously have the background checks for safety.

But what we are doing is, we are just deferring the 30 collegiate hour requirement if necessary, if they can be vouched for by their campus principal. And we've had that in place but we've never advertised it until now.

And we're doing so, because typically, in an average year, we have about 500 substitutes and this year we're down to a pool of 300. And so in order to make it work, we just thought we would market that opportunity that has always been there. But we just haven't really taken advantage of it.

BERMAN: Three parents so far.

How many do you think you need?

WRIGHT: As many as we can get. Three is more than we had and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to get 50 to 100. You know, we're a school district of 21,600 students and, obviously, many of them have two parents or guardians. So I mean, if we could get 50 to 100, even more, that's better than what we have right now.

BERMAN: Again, this isn't forever. The goal is to stay open. Right?

The goal here, if you don't have enough teachers, if there are a lot of teachers sick, you can't stay open but they won't be sick forever. It's five days, 10 days, depending on your rules.

You just need a few days' help here, right?

WRIGHT: That's right. It's kind of cyclical and if you can have a few extra puzzle pieces to utilize, to help us out, then it goes a long way. Right now, you know, we're using assistant principals and individuals from our curriculum instruction department to fill the voids.

And we're also paying teachers to take classes during their conference periods. So we're making it work. But it would be more optimal if we had more individuals to help out.

BERMAN: I'm sure there will be parents willing to step in to keep these schools open. Eric Wright, thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Superintendent.

WRIGHT: Absolutely. My pleasure.

BERMAN: Just minutes ago the British prime minister apologizing before Parliament. This is big. We're going live to London.

Plus, also new this morning -- the world's number one tennis star just made a big admission in the standoff over his vaccine status.

COLLINS: Also this morning, why John Legend's songs are no longer his.





COLLINS: A Texas sheriff is being investigated after allegedly ordering his deputies to take cash from undocumented immigrants during traffic stops. Real County sheriff Nathan Johnson is now the subject of search warrants conducted by the Texas Rangers and the state attorney general's office.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

I guess this morning, the big question also is, what is the status of this sheriff?

Is he still on the job while all of this is happening?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sheriff is still serving and no charges have been filed against him. But he is part of an ongoing investigation. Last month, Texas Rangers and the Texas attorney general's office conducted search warrants as part of that investigation.

And those search warrants, which were first reported by "The Texas Tribune," include details of the traffic stops where money was taken from undocumented immigrants. For example, last May, body camera footage shows Johnson asking or directing deputies to take money from undocumented immigrants.

Now according to the warrants, that money was to be filed as abandoned cash and deposited with a county fund. Then later in October, more than $2,000 were seized from undocumented immigrants as part of a stop that stemmed from a report of a suspicious vehicle and no insurance.

Now the investigator in these warrants did interview Johnson. And in that interview, Johnson said that currency and property was held as evidence in trafficking crimes. But still, the officer found -- and I quote here.


ALVAREZ: "I believe Nathan Johnson is committing felony offenses of theft by public servants, abuse of official capacity and other possible offenses."

Again, there are no charges against Johnson. Johnson has acknowledged this investigation in a Facebook post, saying that he doesn't know what prompted it but will continue to serve. But Kaitlan, a lot of questions still surrounding his conduct.

COLLINS: And major questions about that. Interesting to see what happens next. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for bringing us the latest.

BERMAN: John Legend just made a huge new deal.


BERMAN (voice-over): Legend is now the latest and the youngest star to sell his music catalog. The price is unknown but, of course, unlike Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Legend is just 43 years old and still making hits.


COLLINS: Meanwhile, the adult film star Jenna Jameson is saying she is battling Guillain-Barre syndrome. She and her partner say her diagnosis comes after she had been throwing up for weeks and become unable to walk. She's currently in the hospital undergoing treatment.



BERMAN (voice-over): Elvis Costello says he will no longer sing his 1979 hit, "Oliver's Army," because it contains a racial slur.


BERMAN: He said he had written a new verse for the song but has ultimately decided to retire it. He is also asking radio stations who have been censoring the word to stop playing the song as well.


COLLINS: The Los Angeles home best known as the house haunted by Freddy Krueger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is selling for nearly $3 million. The iconic house has three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms with a pool and a guest house and some notoriety.


BERMAN (voice-over): Finally Oreo is celebrating 110 years with a new flavor: ooh -- chocolate confetti cake cookie.



BERMAN: It is first ever Oreo cookie made with rainbow sprinkles, both in the cookie and on the outside.

Because who wants an Oreo with confetti on the inside?

COLLINS: Why you to seem repulsed by that?

That sounds incredible to me at 7:32 in the morning.

BERMAN: How often do you eat confetti?

COLLINS: Maybe once a year. But when I do eat it, I want it on the inside and the outside of the cookie that I'm eating.


BERMAN: It has been around for 110 years, why not celebrate the fact it is pretty awesome in and of itself?

COLLINS: I do love a classic Oreo. But I'm going to try this and I'll let you know what I think. BERMAN: Well, be safe.

"NEW DAY" continues right now.


BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, January 12th. I'm John Berman, Brianna is off. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins with me here this morning.

And breaking overnight: tennis star Novak Djokovic opening up 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; instead, he did an interview and he was in a maskless photo shoot.

Now this is also big: he also admits to a false travel declaration, as the Australian government considers another move to deport him.

COLLINS: Djokovic writing in a statement, overnight, quote, "This was an error of judgment and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment on the issue of my travel declaration. This was submitted by my support team on my behalf. This was a human error and certainly not deliberate."

Of course, John, that's going to raise a lot of questions.

BERMAN: It certainly does.

Joining us now is Rennae Stubbs, ESPN tennis analyst and former world number one in doubles. She joins us from Melbourne in Australia.

And, look, I got to say, Novak Djokovic put out this really long, winding statement overnight. But the nugget or the two nuggets in here that are hugely important is, number one, he didn't follow COVID protocols when he tested positive and, number two, which has huge implications for where you are, there were lies in his travel documents.

Your takeaway this morning?

RENNAE STUBBS, ESPN TENNIS ANALYST: Yes, I mean, unfortunately, Novak keeps getting himself into problems from his own volition, really. When he put out the tweet he was coming to Australia with a medical exemption, that's when sort of the firestorm started.

I think he was probably better off not putting that out originally. Now he's put out another statement, trying to correct some of the problems which he's been facing over the last few days. And now again he's gotten himself into hot trouble.

A lot of people are saying, if you had COVID, why would you do an interview?