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GOP's McCarthy Refuses to Cooperate with January 6th Probe; Djokovic Named Number 1 Seed in Australian Open as He Awaits Visa Decision; Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend Testifies in Sex Trafficking Probe; Biden Sending Military Medical Teams to Overwhelmed Hospitals; 5 Reasons Not to Get COVID on Purpose; Obama Backs Biden's Push to Change Filibuster for Voting Rights Law. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday January 13, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.
This morning the top Republican in the House is the latest in Trump's orbit to stonewall the January 6th committee. The panel now seeking information from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he is refusing to cooperate, calling the probe illegitimate. Quite the about-face since McCarthy said this last May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th, if you were asked by an outside commission?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure. Next question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So even with that, I doubt the committee ever really believed McCarthy would answer anything.
What I do think is significant is, if you really look at this letter sent by Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, the committee meticulously lays out a road map for what they are investigating and what they have found.
What was Trump doing during the hours of the insurrection? What did Trump do after to shape or maybe change the story?
This letter cites an interview he gave to CBS during the insurrection, where McCarthy admitted to speaking with Trump, asking him to tell the rioters to stop. Members of the committee say this information is critical.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): This is someone who clearly has information. He talked to the White House and to the president leading up to January 6th on their efforts to overturn election results. He talked with the president, by public reporting, on January 6th. And he was concerned about the safety of the Capitol after January 6th.
All of those are key bits of information that we feel are important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And in a CNN exclusive, Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the Select Committee, not ruling out the possibility of issuing a subpoena. She suggest the minority leader is attempting to cover up what happened.
Jessica Schneider is joining us now on this story.
Jess, good morning.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brianna.
You know, Cheney continued to say that McCarthy has an obligation, as she put it, to come forward. And that's because the committee is contending, in this lengthy letter, that McCarthy has crucial information to inform their probe.
So the letter sent out by the committee, it explains that they want to know about that phone conversation that McCarthy had with Trump during the Capitol attack, plus one he had with chief of staff Mark Meadows before the attack. McCarthy apparently said that objections to the electoral count were doomed to fail.
Plus, they want to know about McCarthy's discussions with White House staff. And even Trump himself, after the Capitol attack, where McCarthy apparently expressed concerns about Trump's state of mind.
Now, despite all of that, and previously telling our Manu Raju, as you heard, that he would cooperate in any probe, McCarthy is refusing to talk.
This is the statement he released last night, saying, "As a representative and leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee's abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward."
So loaded words there, Brianna. Here's how Vice Chair Liz Cheney responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We know that Leader McCarthy was pleading with the president to tell people to go home when police officers and others were being beaten here at the Capitol. So, you know, I wish that he were a brave and honorable man. He's clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward, and we'll get to the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: But one person from Trump's White House who is apparently cooperating, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She actually appeared virtually before the committee yesterday.
Interestingly, hers are among the records that the committee is fighting in court to get from the National Archives.
So the committee getting some cooperation here. Of course, they've said they've already talked to hundreds of people already, Brianna.
But the question looms, will the committee ultimately resort to subpoenas for McCarthy or the other two Republican congressmen they want to talk to, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry? That all remains the big question here. Will they move forward with any subpoenas here -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. He could have participated. He could have had his party participating by appointing people who are not witnesses, who would not be witnesses in all of this.
Jess, thank you for the latest.
BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN correspondent, anchor of "EARLY START," and attorney at law Laura Jarrett.
Laura, I truly think what's significant here in this letter isn't what the committee is asking Kevin McCarthy. It's what it's telling McCarthy.
It's telling McCarthy and telling the world, this is what we have. This is where we're going.
There are footnotes everywhere in this letter --
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Yes.
BERMAN: -- that says, "Documents on file with the Select Committee." They're amassing evidence of what Trump didn't do during the 187 minutes of the insurrection, and that's significant.
JARRETT: Yes. They're once again laying out something to tempt us with. Bread crumbs, if you will, of what they know, piquing everybody's interest.
But the big question is, Jessica, I think, laid out at the end there, is what does the committee do with this, knowing what they have? How -- excuse me, how far are they willing to go against one of their own? This is somebody who could become the leader of the House. If the House flips to the Republican side in November, come those midterms. Somebody who would be in a leadership position; is now, frankly, on the Republican side.
And the American people have a right to know exactly what those conversations were like.
As you point out, John, one of the more interesting parts here is that he apparently told Mark Meadows before January 6th that this whole idea of trying to subvert the election was doomed to fail.
What was Meadows' response to that? What was Trump's response to that? And how did McCarthy go from saying that the president bore responsibility after the insurrection, to going down to Mar-a-Lago, completely switching his tune?
KEILAR: And what about this part? So Thompson also writes, "It appears that you may have also discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump's immediate resignation from office."
Why is that significant?
JARRETT: Because it all speaks to, again, McCarthy's state of mind at the time. Knowing that the writing was on the wall. Knowing that the jig was up. Knowing that all of this -- all of these things were doomed to fail and in contravention of the duties that these people took to uphold the Constitution and uphold democracy.
McCarthy knew at the time what the right thing to do was, and is essentially warning them, like so many other text messages that we have seen from people who told one story in public and another story behind the scenes.
BERMAN: Yes, I have to say, it isn't even McCarthy's state of mind that matters as much here. It's Trump's state of mind --
BERMAN: -- which this letter really does indicate that this committee is digging way more into and what Trump did after. You heard Liz Cheney say a cover-up here.
Well, listen to this provocative question in this letter. "Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump."
BERMAN: "At that meeting, or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly, or in any later investigation?"
That would be, Laura, witness tampering.
JARRETT: Well, and it's getting to sort of obstruction of justice-type questions there. Right?
And obviously, this is something that if -- if, you know -- could be within the purview of the Justice Department. Right? If the president or the former president and his allies, were actually trying to say, if you do this for us, McCarthy, then we'll do that. That sort of quid pro quo is all the type of stuff that would be of interest to investigators and, certainly, of interest of the committee.
But, again, the question is, if they don't get the answers to these questions, what do they do with that? Do they have enough over the course of these six pages to say, this is pretty damning? Or do they think they actually need to fill some gaps here?
BERMAN: It will be interesting to see what those documents in possession of the committee and these footnotes actually mean. Laura Jarrett, stick around. We've got much more to ask you.
And coming up, we're also going to speak with two people who have interviewed with the committee.
Over major news overnight. This is breaking overnight, in fact. Novak Djokovic was now listed as the No. 1 seed in the Australian Open. For now. He's still waiting for immigration officials to decide whether he can stay in the country. This, again, happened overnight. We were waiting to see whether the Australian Open would release its official seeding. They did. Djokovic is No. 1.
CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us live from Melbourne in Australia. But there was a delay. The Open inexplicably delayed the seeding, and everyone was wondering, what's going to happen now?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. It was delayed for well over an hour, and there was an expectation that maybe an announcement was about to happen. It didn't come, and then the draw went ahead.
So it's business as usual at the Australian Open. We saw Novak Djokovic once again on the court, practicing. He is physically and mentally preparing himself for playing from -- from next Monday, from the start of the Australian Open.
So you wonder, what's going to happen? Is there a case of running out of time for the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who can still personally intervene and say that he should have his visa revoked?
Now, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, had a press conference. He was clearly asked about it many times. And he wanted to point out that there is still a very strict policy of either being vaccinated or having a water-tight medical exemption to get into this country.
And he said that he hopes his government upholds that policy. It's his immigration minister that has the final say on this.
He also wanted to point out there is a difference between having a visa accepted, and then getting to the border and having your vaccination status accepted. This was one of the arguments that Djokovic's lawyers were giving, that he had a visa, so clearly, he was allowed in the country. He's saying that's simply not the case. Now, it is getting late now, Thursday night here in Australia. Friday
could be the day where we do hear from the -- from the immigration minister.
We heard from the deputy prime minister, actually, Barnaby Joyce, and he sort of summed up what many people in this country are feeling, saying that they don't like the idea of, quote, "someone like a tennis player or the king of Spain or the queen of England coming in and having different rules than the rest of us."
BERMAN: Yes. At this point, everyone just waiting for the definitive decision about whether he can stay or go.
Paula Hancocks, thank you very much.
KEILAR: An ex-girlfriend of Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz testified before a grand jury on Wednesday in a long-running sex trafficking investigation.
Gaetz is accused of paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl back in 2017.
Let's bring Laura Jarrett back on this story. OK, look. This is something that has been going on, as I mentioned, for a really long time, Laura. The fact that they're talking to this ex-girlfriend seems to be a sign that perhaps this is pushing to a critical point.
JARRETT: Yes. If you're Matt Gaetz this morning, you cannot be happy about this news. I think you're right that it signals not only is the case active -- so he has to not take any comfort in the fact that this is not going away -- but could -- could be progressing into a more serious stage.
If you're bringing in a witness to the grand jury, someone like a former ex-girlfriend, former girlfriend, I should say, a former staffer, someone who was privy to some of the interactions apparently, at least allegedly, with this other young woman, that's a sign that they might be trying to get a material witness to cooperate against him.
They already have one person, Joel Greenberg, this former Florida politician, who has agreed to cooperate in this probe. And so if they get another person with intimate knowledge of the facts here, that is not good news for Matt Gaetz.
I should mention, of course, he has denied any wrongdoing in any of this. He says he didn't do anything wrong. He didn't pay for sex.
But the whole allegation here is that he's violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying somebody underage for sex, crossing state lines, and potentially luring her in with gifts and money and other things. So it is a -- it is an ominous sign for him.
KEILAR: Yes. Look, the fact that he is still employed may be a sign of the times that we are in right now.
Laura, thank you so much for that.
KEILAR: Coming up, six states getting hit the hardest from the latest Omicron surge may be getting the assistance that they so desperately need. We'll talk about President Biden's plan for that next.
Plus, welcome to Club COVID. It's all the rage. Shouldn't be, though. Why people are now trying to get the virus on purpose.
BERMAN: Former President Obama's first newspaper op-ed since leaving office. What he found so important that he just had to write.
BERMAN: This just in to CNN. President Biden is sending in military medical teams to help six states with hospitals that are overwhelmed with COVID patients.
The teams will be sent to Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Jersey and New Mexico. They'll help triage patients, helping to decompress overwhelmed emergency departments and free up healthcare providers for other life-saving care.
KEILAR: And as hospitals fill, overwhelmed healthcare workers are beginning to have to dig a little deeper for compassion. Minnesota doctor Benji Matthews say he and his colleagues will always care for each and every patient, but the pandemic has taken a toll on their empathy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BENJI MATTHEWS, CHIEF OF HOSPITAL MEDICINE, REGIONS HOSPITAL: Healthcare systems and our colleagues have taken a hit. Hundreds and thousands of doctors across the state are all with COVID. Our stress is high.
And I think one of the things that I want the community to hear is that doctors are human. Right? We're going through this, and our empathy is taking a hard hit.
We will fight and take care of every patient that comes through our walls regardless of their background, but our empathy has taken a hit.
As someone has said before, imagine a 50-car pileup on the interstate, and the roads are really icy and car No. 51 is coming in. Right? And that car that's coming in, they've been warned the roads are icy; it's slippery. But why are they going into that? Have we taken the necessary precautions?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So Matthews is urging the public to get vaccinated, get boosted, and wear a mask. BERMAN: All right. Brand-new this morning, officials in some East
Coast cities are saying the surge seems to be slowing and may have even peaked.
In Boston, you can see new cases finally starting to drop. Look at that. In Washington, D.C., which saw a huge surge, cases also trending downward.
And cases in New York city have also begun to plateau. Governor Kathy Hochul says, while cases are still increasing elsewhere in the state, this change could be a, quote, "glimmer of hope."
And look, across the entire nation, numbers are still rising in many places, but the fact that the decline might have begun in the places hit first and hardest could be a pretty big deal.
KEILAR: And one that we will certainly keep our eye on.
Still, there are people out there who are trying to get Omicron on purpose. We're serious. Doctors are warning, though, not only is this a bad idea, it's dangerous.
Let's bring in CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.
Elizabeth, I will tell people they do not want to have this. They do not want to try to get this.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I think the thoughts in some people's minds are like, Look, it's everywhere. It's inevitable. I might as well try to get to it. That is very, very poor reasoning. You're putting yourself and others at risk.
So Sandy LaMotte, good friend and a colleague here at CNN, she wrote a wonderful CNN.com piece about the five reasons why you don't want to get COVID. So let's take a look.
No. 1, it's not a bad cold. I know that what people keep saying, but I personally know people who have COVID and are miserable. They would have done anything to avoid it. They are out for days and days and days. Don't try it.
And I mean recently, the Omicron kind.
Also, remember long COVID. We hope that people who get Omicron don't go on to get long COVID, but we don't know. We just don't know. Even if you got a mild illness with Omicron, it is possible you will get long COVID. This virus has surprised us before.
Also, if you intentionally get Omicron, you might spread it to children who cannot be vaccinated, meaning the little ones under the age of 5. You might also spread it to adults whose vaccines didn't work well. There are millions of immune-compromised adults who got vaccinated, who did what they should do, they got boosted -- got boosted twice, some of them -- but still, their vaccines might not be working well, because they're immune-compromised.
Also, you might stress out the healthcare system. Brianna, this relates to what that doctor was just -- was just saying to us. If you intentionally get COVID, you could end up in the hospital even if you're healthy, even if you don't have underlying disease. It's possible that you could end up in the hospital.
Basically, you're saying to doctors and nurses, I got myself sick. I don't care that I'm putting you at risk. I don't care that I'm giving you more work.
What a terrible thing to say to our doctors and nurses who have been heroes throughout this pandemic -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, look, I got it. And I did get an unvaccinated 3-year-old sick. And he took it the worst of any of us, and it was terrible to watch. I feel awful about it. I exposed a friend who has a child who is vulnerable before I realized I had it, and it was a mess. You know? It was a mess of a terrible waiting game. Nobody wants to do it, Elizabeth, if you really think about it.
So we really appreciate the report, and we'll read that online. It's essential. Thanks.
BERMAN: So in just a couple of hours, President Biden will go to Capitol Hill to make the case on new voting rights legislation. Former President Obama also lending his voice to the pass -- fight to pass elections reforms. He wrote an op-ed backing the push to change the Senate filibuster rules.
CNN's Lauren Fox, live on Capitol Hill with the latest. The legislative process is beginning, even if we sort of already know what's going to happen in the end.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly, John. A major assist, though, for President Biden with his former president, President Barack Obama, penning that op-ed, saying, "I support the changes to the Senate rules."
And I want to read a piece of that. It says, "I fully support President Biden's call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote. And every American who cares about the survival of our most cherished institutions should support the president's call, as well."
That last part seemingly a shot across the bow at some moderate Democrats who still are on the fence about those rules changes, making it clear they may not ultimately back them, John.
BERMAN: So Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, like, two weeks ago told me this was an uphill fight to change the filibuster rules. Yesterday, he still called it an uphill fight. But what's the actual process to try?
FOX: Well, this is going to transpire over the next several days. But the first thing you can expect is that the House will send over past legislation of voting rights. Both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
At that point, the Senate will vote on that legislation. But here's the catch. They do not have ten Republicans to support it. So despite the fact that they have worked very hard to get Manchin and Sinema onboard with those two pieces of legislation, they don't have Republicans.
At that point, Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, will turn to try to change the Senate rules so that they could pass those bills through a carveout that would just affect the Senate rules for voting rights legislation.
We still don't have the details of exactly how that rules change would work, but essentially, it would allow them to pass this with just 51 votes.
Of course, there's the major catch, which is that both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still do not support that filibuster reform, despite the fact that they have had around-the- -- around-the-clock calls and meetings to try to convince them otherwise -- John.
BERMAN: Just to be clear, they've shown zero sign that they're going to change their minds.
Lauren Fox, thank you very much.
Skyrocketing costs of groceries and gas burning a hole in Americans' pockets. We have that report next.
KEILAR: And the armorer from the film "Rust" is now filing a lawsuit against the movie's gun supplier. Who she's now alleging was at fault.
BERMAN: This morning, inflation at the highest rate it has been since 1982. Americans saying they feel it every day.
CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich with the numbers. Good morning, Vanessa.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
2021 was a very expensive year for Americans. We started to see some prices cool down last month, but not many. Americans we spoke to say they're trying to live with these higher prices. They're trying to budget, but that sticker shock still stings.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): Despite a cold December, inflation was red- hot. Consumer prices grew at the fastest annual pace since 1982, 7 percent year over year, and up .5 percent last month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who can budget? You just have to pay the price. YURKEVICH: Americans on average paying about $250 more for the same
things they were buying a year ago. Gas topping the charts, up nearly 50 percent from a year ago. Same for furniture, up just over 17 percent. And food, up 6.3 percent.