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Johnson Apologizes for Office Party During Lockdown; New Inflation Numbers Released; Fauci Fires Back at Lawmakers; Jerome Bettis is Interviewed about Returning to College. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 08:30   ET



BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I must take responsibility.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now from London is CNN reporter Salma Abdelaziz and CNN anchor and correspondent Bianca Nobilo.

And, Salma, I want to start with you because this is a remarkable scene playing out in parliament this morning where Boris Johnson's critics are calling on him to step down. And we've seen it get tense, of course, there at times. Often you hear them shouting out when a speech is going on. But this was really remarkable.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Kaitlan, this was a loud day in parliament. Finally, finally, after weeks and weeks of reports of multiple parties, over multiple lockdowns, the prime minister saying I'm sorry. But sort of. He did not admit any wrongdoing. He did not admit that any Covid rules were broken. He left it all up to the inquiry. A contradiction that the opposition labor leader was very quick to call out.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For there we have it, after months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of room, his defense, his defense that he didn't realize he was at a party. It is so ridiculous that it's actually offensive to the British public.


ABDELAZIZ: You can hear the jeers and the laughter there. And I can tell you it echoes the sentiment across this country. How can there now be multiple reports of garden parties, of bring your own booze parties, of Christmas parties and yet the prime minister stays steadfast. That's why you saw opposition lawmakers calling for him to resign because, Kaitlan, this is no longer just about what parties happen, when and who was in attendance, it is about the prime minister's handling of the controversy, what we call here party-gate. And his handling has been seen by many to be outright lying to the public.

So what you're looking at right now is a prime minister who is vulnerable, a prime minister who is fighting for his reputation. And this matters, Kaitlan, because he is leading the country during a public health crisis. During a public pandemic.

So the question is, is he fit to lead? Does he still have the moral authority to tell people to follow the rules if his very government wasn't doing that.


COLLINS: Yes, and until now he hadn't even admitted that he had been at this party. So far they had just stopped answering questions.

And so, Bianca, I know there is an internal investigation happening here. The prime minister cited that today. But he did make pretty clear that even despite based on what the opposition party, the labor leader is saying, he has no plans to step down for right now.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Based on this prime minister's reputation, Kaitlan, and his career-long fixation on the office of prime minister, he will need to be pushed. He's not going to go quietly. And what that would take is around 15 percent of his own MPs, which is around 54 of them, to write letters of no confidence to then trigger a leadership contest.

And the reason that that's more likely today than it has been over recent months is because the loyalty that Boris Johnson inspires within his own party is actually pretty shallow. It's not like, for example, Margaret Thatcher used to inspire in the conservative party. That was a deep loyalty that even continues now after her death.

The allegiance to Boris Johnson is more superficial. And it's transactional. It's based on his ability to win elections, which he's always been very good at doing.

So now that his reputation is taking such a hammering and that is reflecting on the party and also trust in politics in general, this could be a moment that more MPs consider moving. Because, let's face it, what's happening right now is the opposite of electorally advantageous. As Salma was laying out, you have the option of either the prime minister being hypocritical and treating the British public with contempt, saying that he -- he even suggested in the House of Commons today that this party on the 25th of May 2020 may have been his idea as a way to thank staff. We have yet to find out the outcome of the investigation.

But if that's true, or even if he just attended, this was a moment where people in hospital were dying alone because no friends, and no family were allowed to go in and see them. So, people were grieving alone. They couldn't go to funerals of their nearest and dearest. So, the fact that with such flippancy this email invitation was sent inviting staffers to this party at Downing Street is deeply insulting to the British public and, of course, it is hypocritical. So that's one way of reading the situation. And, to be honest, given the facts, it's hard not to.

The other option, Kaitlan, is that the prime minister didn't understand his own rules or forgot them. And that, frankly, just looks like idiocy. So he also may not have realize he was even at a party, which is being suggested.

So, there are your two options. There is contempt, hypocrisy or naivete and idiocy. Neither electorally advantageous for the prime minister, which puts him in an acute moment of political peril.

COLLINS: Yes, I think it's also hard to argue that it wasn't a party when it told them on the invitation to bring their own booze to this event.


NOBILO: There you go.

COLLINS: Salma and Bianca, thank you so much for updating us. And we will pay close attention to what happens to Boris Johnson's political future.

Here's what else to watch today.


11:00 a.m. ET, White House Covid-19 briefing.

12:30 p.m. ET, Harry Reid lies in state.

3:00 p.m. ET, White House press briefing.


COLLINS: There was a hot mic moment during Dr. Fauci's appearance before the Senate yesterday. He called one Republican senator, quote, a moron.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And an incredible story of survival after a helicopter carrying a baby crashes.



BERMAN: Breaking moments ago, brand-new numbers on inflation, and they are a wow.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now.

Romans, a wow and maybe a yikes.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let me first show you the numbers and then we'll talk about what they mean.

Overall inflation, consumer prices, what we all pay for things, up 7 percent over the past year in December. December versus December last year. That is the fastest rate of consumer inflation since 1982 when Ronald Reagan was president, and "Ebony and Ivory" was the top song on the billboard charts. I mean think about how long ago that was.

From month to month, from November to December, that inflation rose 0.5 percent. That's a big one-month jump. We've been seeing this month after month.

Core inflation, when you strip out volatile food and energy, that rose 5.5 percent on an annual basis. That is the fastest inflation since 1991. And the core rate up 0.6 percent.

John, really important here on energy. Energy costs cooled off in December. So these numbers would have been even worse if it weren't for a cooling off in energy.

For just about everything else, prices went up -- I'm trying to find where prices fell. I can only see vehicle, motor vehicle insurance, and some recreation categories, prices fell. Just about everything really running at a hot pace here.

This is why the economy is strong. This is why the polls show people don't say they feel it is because their higher wages, well, they're being eaten into by their higher grocery bills and prices for everything else. It's really sapping confidence.

And it's really dangerous for the lowest income Americans. That's where inflation really bites the worst here.

So this is still an economic problem and a political problem. The inflation fighter here is the Fed, of course. And the Fed switching gears for this year and will be raising interest rates to try to make sure this doesn't become entrenched in the American economy, you guys.

COLLINS: Yes, and it's a dangerous political problem for the White House because yesterday they were bracing for this. They were saying, we know the number is going to be high. I'm not sure they expected it to be this high. What you were saying, the record since 1982, when it comes to prices.

And so the White House has been saying, well, if we get President Biden's Build Back Better plan passed, we believe that will lower prices. But, Christine, that is completely stalled in Congress right now.

ROMANS: It is.

COLLINS: There has been virtually no movement on it. And so, you know, what is the path forward here for the White House when making that argument to voters that you noted are pretty down on the economy right now.

ROMANS: Well, you know, so much of the conversation around Build Back Better is political. I mean, guys, it's just the facts. I mean what the message about prices is, help for your -- help for your childcare costs, you know, school, you know, quality pre-k, these are the things that can lower costs for families, and that's where the White House, I think, the message hasn't been securely on that, at least in the minds of so many voters and people who -- when you talk to these people -- they are polled and they say they feel pretty rotten about the economy overall. So, yes, that is the political messaging that is so interesting here.

The Fed, by the way, is the inflation fighter. We should point this out again. The -- it is in the Fed's wheelhouse to fight inflation. And that means raising interest rates. And that might be something, if they do it wrong, could actually hurt the economy overall.

So, here into 2022, you guys, we have a real interesting balancing act in terms of the economy. It is roaring ahead, prices are rising because of it, and now it's the Fed's job to try to get things back in balance.

BERMAN: Highest inflation since 1982, "Ebony and Ivory," as Christine Romans says, number one on the charts. But I will say, the political agenda from the White House and inflation not together in perfect harmony.

ROMANS: Well done. Well done.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: John Berman, who wears a rugby from 1982, I know for sure.

BERMAN: Yes. Proudly.

Thank you so much, Romans.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, after two years of attacks from right-wing personalities and lawmakers, Dr. Anthony Fauci is firing back and he brought the receipts this time.

John Avlon is here with your "Reality Check."


Look, you know, self-awareness, not a strong suit among Trumpers. Self-owning irony, however, is.

Take a listen to former Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on right-wing talk TV yesterday.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are at a really, really dangerous point in this country.

When you stop trusting public health officials, that's when we have a problem.


MCENANY: And we've gotten to that point. There is so -- such lack of faith in the messengers coming out of this

White House.


AVLON: Of course, this is just another version of the old arsonist as a firefighter routine. Because those comments came the same day that Dr. Anthony Fauci was getting hit by rhetorical sock full of manure by Republican Senators Rand Paul and Roger Marshall. It was the latest BS-based assault on Fauci after almost two years of right-wing demonization designed to blame him for the Covid mismanagement, initially birthed by ex-President Trump's politization of this pandemic.

But because criticisms of the big lie are not really possible inside the cult of Trump, Fauci has been the prime target in that game of deflect and project. And because political grift is the only constant there, the doctor pointed out that Rand Paul had been fundraising off this bile.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: 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, harassments of my family, and my children, with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me.

So, I ask myself, why would 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.


AVLON: And as if to confirm that accusation, Senator Paul's office fired off a fund-raising email soon after the exchange with the subject header, Fauci is hysterical.

Now, look, there are many legitimate areas where Dr. Fauci can and should be grilled by U.S. senators. Among these are the test shortages that have compounded omicron confusion, why the U.S. government didn't seem better prepared to confront this variant, and investigations into the origin of the virus, including possible lab leaks from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

These are urgent, legitimate questions. And other senators, Democrat and Republican made them, showing that maybe we still can be tough but civil at the same time.

But, you know, you'd think that an actual medical doctor on the Senate committee might be able to shed some light, rather than just heat, on those proceedings. But Kansas Senator Roger Marshall, who voted to overturn the election after the attack on the Capitol, again showed that his priority is playing to the base with baseless claims. Now, Marshall tried to imply that Fauci might be personally profiting off the pandemic, asking if he would submit a financial disclosure, which led to this heated exchange.


SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): Maybe some shenanigans are going on. You know, I don't that that's -- I assume that that's not the case. I assume it's not the case.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Senator, what are you talking about? My financial disclosures are public knowledge, and have been so. You are getting amazingly wrong information.

MARSHALL: So, look, I cannot find them. Our office cannot find them. Where would they be if they're public knowledge?


AVLON: Maybe Senator Marshall's office should get better at Googling, because, in fact, as Fauci said, his financial disclosures are a matter of public record. It shouldn't have to be this hard to have a civil fact-based inquiry in the U.S. Senate. But it's this fixation on personal attacks that's straight out of the paranoid style of politics. It is designed to deceive. And it does push us to a more dangerous place where hard partisans stopped trusting our public officials during a pandemic. Rather than showing that we can meet the challenges of this moment as a strong, deliberative democracy.

And that's your "Reality Check."

COLLINS: John Avlon, as always, thank you.

AVLON: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Coming up, a double fault for Novak Djokovic, the two admissions to lying that he has made overnight.

BERMAN: And a scary moment on an American Airlines flight. See what happened when a passenger stormed the cockpit.



BERMAN: It is time for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

Tennis star Novak Djokovic admitting to not immediately isolating after testing positive for coronavirus last month, and to a false travel declaration. Despite winning a court challenge to remain in Australia, the Australian government is still considering another move to deport him.

COLLINS: And President Biden making a passionate plea to pass a voting rights bill, but he still faces an uphill battle in Congress, where current Senate rules require 60 votes to pass most bills and President Biden doesn't yet have the Democratic support to change that.

BERMAN: The latest incidents of passengers behaving badly, this time in Honduras. A man was arrested after breaking into the cockpit of his American Airlines jet causing damage to the aircraft and then trying to escape through the cockpit window. Look at that. As the flight to Miami was boarding.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, in New York, a couple who survived Sunday's deadly Bronx fire is suing the building's landlord for a billion dollars, claiming, quote, defective conditions in the structure.

BERMAN: Four people, including an infant, survived Tuesday when their medical transport helicopter crashed in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The helicopter was transporting the baby to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when it crashed in front of a church.

COLLINS: That's "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." More on these stories all day on CNN, and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. You can go to and find it wherever you get your podcasts.

All right, set the scene here, John. We've got the last game of the regular season. Rob Gronkowski needed one more catch to get a million- dollar bonus. I believe it was actually seven catches, 85 receiving yards to get these two bonuses that equaled to a million dollars. The Buccaneers were up big on the Panthers, but instead of Tom Brady sitting out the rest of the game, the quarterback was not going to let his tight end miss out on a big payday.





If I don't get this extra (ph) catch (ph), I have to go get a real job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean? Ka-ching, Gronkowski has his catch bonus.

GRONKOWSKI: Tom, good pass, dog (ph).

BRADY: Thanks, baby (ph). (INAUDIBLE).

GRONKOWSKI: Thank you. Thank you, dog (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just got a milli (ph)?

GRONKOWSKI: Yes, I got a million. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just got a milli (ph). Oh!

GRONKOWSKI: Oh, I got a milli (ph). We going -- where we going?


GRONKOWSKI: Yes, we going today.


GRONKOWSKI: We're going to the city (ph) with my milli (ph).


COLLINS: I think he owes Tom Brady lunch or something maybe.

BERMAN: Yes, Tom Brady's doing OK. He doesn't need -- he doesn't need the handout.

Look, Gronk is such a nice guy. You know, congratulations to him. He doesn't need it either.

On another note, Jerome Bettis, a pretty good football player in his own right, an NFL Hall of Famer who played ten seasons with Pittsburgh after, I think, three with the Rams, he ended his career with a Super Bowl ring, but "The Bus" has another achievement that he is working toward now, his bachelor's degree. Bettis left the University of Notre Dame before his senior year to enter the NFL draft. Now, more than 25 years later, he's ready to finish what he started.


JEROME BETTIS, PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMER, FINISHING FINAL SEMESTER OF NOTRE DAME: First day of school. Just getting on campus. It's cold as ever. But I'm excited. And, here we go. Here goes nothing.


BERMAN: So joining us now is Hall of Fame running back, and I guess we can call you college senior, Jerome Bettis.


BERMAN: So tell us about why you made this decision. I think it's wonderful.

BETTIS: Well, it was -- you know, it was a long time coming. It was something I had promised my mother a long time ago that I would do it. And now, having children, I've got a daughter, Jade is 16, son, Jerome Junior, 14, they're watching me. And my wife and I discussed it and said, you know what, it would be a great thing to get done, not only for myself, but for my family as well.

So, we looked at the possibility, but I had to come back to campus for my last four courses. So that was the hard part. So, we had to figure out when could I get back and get the job done. So my wife is -- was so gracious and taking care of the house and the family that she allowed me to come and finish.

COLLINS: I think that -- I think it's so cool. And what a great example to set. I think that's just so meaningful.

But I also have to ask, what is it like to be back on campus, because I imagine things have changed some. And so what was -- you know, did anything kind of catch you off guard or surprise you?

BETTIS: Yes, everything has kind surprised me. I had a class yesterday. I go into the class and I'm the only one there. And I'm looking around and thinking to myself, what -- what's going on? Well, what I didn't realize was that the class was canceled. My professor sent emails to everyone. But I don't check emails before a class. I just didn't think to do that. So, I'm in the classroom, just sitting there by myself.

COLLINS: By yourself.

BETTIS: So that's a lesson learned.

BERMAN: Yes, they didn't have emails when you were last in college.

BETTIS: Well, I wasn't -- yes, I wasn't checking emails.

BERMAN: They didn't -- they didn't have cell phones when you were last in college.

I have to ask, favorite class, favorite teacher.

BETTIS: Oh, my goodness. You know what, I just got into class the last two days so I'm just reading syllabuses and I -- so I haven't really got there yet. But I'm excited about strategic management, and I've got an entrepreneurship class that I'm excited about. So, I've got some classes that I'm looking forward to, to taking. I think that's the great part of my situation. These are classes that I'm going to enjoy, but I'm also going to be able to use in business.

BERMAN: I was -- I thought it was funny that like what if you had a phys ed requirement left, to me.

BETTIS: You know what, that would be pretty difficult, but I want to check and see if I have any -- any eligibility left. I think I -- I want to look at maybe a little golf.


Well, they've got a new football coach there. You could maybe see if he needs any help.

I do wonder, though, some other people probably find yourselves -- themselves in your situation, where maybe they just have a few more courses to take to -- a few more credits to get. You know, what would you say to people like that who are -- who are on the line, thinking about doing this? BETTIS: I would say, it's never too late to take advantage of the

opportunity. And, you know, education is always going to be critical because if we're not learning, a lot of people say, if you're not learning, you're dying. So I would just tell people that, you know, don't ever think that it's too late. You could always find a way to get it done. And, believe it or not, it will add to your legacy.

BERMAN: Jerome Bettis, you are always one of my favorite non-Patriot players. And I have to say, this only makes it more so. So, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Congratulations on this. And good luck on your last semester.


Study hard.

BETTIS: Thank you. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: Invite us to your graduation.

BETTIS: Absolutely. And you know I'm going to walk, that's for sure.