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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Refuses to Cooperate with January 6th Probe; Djokovic Named #1 Seed in Australian Open as He Awaits Decision; Omicron Surge May Be Slowing in Some East Coast Cities. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 07:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: She's the first female manager in minor baseball history.

And despite the progress being made, Balkovec says she's aware of how some have reacted to her barrier-breaking journey.


RACHEL BALKOVEC, TAMPA TARPONS MANAGER: I don't understand the negativity. Like, if you know my story, and you have a pulse, I think it's pretty hard not to get behind what's going on here, and I just -- you know, if you know yourself and you know where you came from, I just -- it doesn't really matter. So, that's -- I just -- that's how I deal with the negativity or anything I hear coming my way. It's hilarious to me because it's the American dream.


SCHOLES: And ten years ago when Balkovec was struggling to get a job in baseball, her sister actually suggested she change her name from Rachel to Ray on her resume. She did that, actually got some calls but changed her name back to Rachel she realized she didn't want to work for someone who didn't want to hire women. And, John, Balkovec says, great to see progress being made, 11 women in uniform working in baseball this upcoming season.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: She seems awesome and I love her attitude and wish her best of luck, except when she plays the Red Sox. Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

New Day continues, right now.

Welcome to viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, January 13th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And this morning, the top Republican in the House is joining the growing number of Trump loyalists defying the January 6th select committee. The panel says it wants information from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but he is refusing to cooperate, claiming the investigation is illegitimate, he calls it an abuse of power.

Now, you can bet the committee knew what McCarthy would say. You can bet they didn't really expect him to show up, but the real news might be not in what they're asking of McCarthy but what they're telling him, and what they're telling us about what they have in this investigation and where they're going.

In this letter to McCarthy, Chairman Bennie Thompson, he cites an interview McCarthy gave with CBS News during the insurrection where McCarthy admitted to speaking with Trump demanding he tell rioters to stop.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: And in a CNN exclusive, Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the January 6th committee, does not rule out subpoenaing McCarthy. She suggests that McCarthy is trying to hide something.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY) (voice over): 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, I wish 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.


KEILAR: Now, after the Capitol riot, McCarthy unequivocally blamed Trump. As Lauren Fox reports, the flip-flopping soon followed.


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.

RAJU: You would?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): CNN previously reported that the conversation between McCarthy and Trump resulted in a shouting match, with McCarthy insisting that the rioters were Trump supporters who are breaking into his office through the windows.

According to sources who were briefed on the call by McCarthy himself, Trump said, quote, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are. McCarthy then yelled at Trump, who the F do you think you're talking to?

In the days following the Capitol attack, McCarthy said Trump was responsible.

MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters.

FOX: But a week later --

REPORTER: Do you believe that former President Trump provoked --

MCCARTHY: I don't believe he provoked it if you listened to what he said at the rally.

FOX: In January, McCarthy traveled to Mar-a-Lago to visit the former president and since then has downplayed his phone conversation with Trump.

MCCARTHY: My conversations with the president are my conversations with the president.

FOX: Representative Liz Cheney, who was recently stripped of her leadership position for speaking out against Trump, believes McCarthy should testify.

CHENEY: Leader McCarthy has spoken to a number of people in large groups and small groups since the 6th about his exchanges with the president. He's spoken publicly on the House floor about his view of the president's responsibility. I think it's very important that he clearly has facts about that day that an investigation into what happened, into the president's actions ought to get to the bottom of. And I think he has important information that needs to be part of any investigation.

CHRIS WALLACE, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: And what do you think that accomplishes to talk about a conversation on January 6th? Do you think that raises issues that it is President Trump's responsibility for the riot, whether or not he's trying to tamper with Kevin McCarthy as a witness?


CHENEY: Certainly. I mean, I think that, you know, any conversations, and we know certainly that that conversation happened.

FOX: Just a few weeks earlier, McCarthy was also asked by Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace about witness tampering.

WALLACE: Has the president ever reached out to you, since that report came out, to discuss what you and he talked about in the January 6th phone call and did you say to him, I can't, because we're under oath?


WALLACE: That never happened?

MCCARTHY: This never happened, never even close.

WALLACE: And if it did happen, you would agree that would be witness tampering?

MCCARTHY: Yes, but never happened, never even came close, never had any conversation like that.


MCCARTHY: Never even heard that rumor before until today.

FOX: Lauren Fox, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


BERMAN: Right. Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator Alyssa Farah Griffin, she was White House Communications Director to President Trump, she resigned in December of 2020. She has also spoken with Republican members of the January 6th committee voluntarily.

Alyssa, I submit the news here isn't that Kevin McCarthy is refusing to go talk to them. I think that was a given, even though he claimed before that he would show up and talk to them. I do think with news in this document is, is it tells us everything about where the committee is going and what they have. They're really, really honing in on the 187 minutes about what Trump was doing during the insurrection here. What can you tell us about your experience with the committee that provides insight into that?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I've said from the outset the committee is taking a very deliberative process in how they go about this. They don't even go after kind of the top tier recruits, if you will, that they would bring in, like a Kevin McCarthy, until they've backfilled all the information that they need from talking to other staff. So, I think some of the people who have gone in have been actually surprised by how much information the committee in fact has.

But one thing I want to note, with Kevin McCarthy, everything he does from now until this time next year is about getting his speakership and trying to get Donald Trump support for his speakership. So, this should come as no surprise to any of us. The thing Kevin McCarthy least in the world is an article on Donald Trump's desk in Mar-a-Lago saying, Kevin McCarthy cooperating with the January 6th committee.

But one thing I would be watching for, I was actually -- Kevin McCarthy's response was a little bit ambiguous, where I thought that he may, in some capacity, maybe turn over some documents. I wouldn't be surprised if just for legacy and history's sake he wants to show, whoa, whoa, I had nothing to do with this but I don't anticipate any level of cooperation or, like, sitting down with the committee unless compelled.

KEILAR: And yet Trump, Alyssa, must look at what's in this letter, you know, information about what McCarthy was warning him about and so on and not be happy about that either, but it's worth noting, this is a pretzel of Kevin McCarthy's own making, right? I mean, he could have had Republicans on this committee who were friendly to him.

GRIFFIN: Correct. He should have sat Republican members that could have at least given him insight into what the committee is finding. But the thing is Kevin McCarthy knows the conversations he had that day. I anticipate based and what you just showed and what we remember, he was horrified after January 6th. I don't think you're going to find any wrongdoing by Kevin McCarthy. So, his refusal to comply is purely about protecting Donald Trump and the second thing being protecting his goal of being speaker of the House.

BERMAN: And, again, you talk about this committee doing meticulous work. This letter, which I'm fascinated by, includes several footnotes that say, documents on file with the select committee, which is to say to McCarthy and the world, we got stuff here. We have the receipts here. We know what's going on.

And one other curious thing, if you look at this letter, it really -- it seems to hint of the possibility of some kind of deliberate cover- up, and you heard it there in Lauren Fox's piece. The committee's letter says, your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump at that meeting or any other time. Did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly during the impeachment trial or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on January 6th? The committee is asking, throwing that out there, about witness tampering and you hear Liz Cheney repeatedly talking about a cover-up.

GRIFFIN: Right. And I think it may not be something as direct as what Chris Wallace was asking about, like a direct conversation with the former president. But let's be clear, Donald Trump has been out there very, very clear that he thinks people should not cooperate, that the committee is a sham, that it's a witch-hunt. So, what may be kind of indirect witness tampering are the statements going out from the former president basically making clear he wants no one to cooperate.


So, I think that's most likely what Kevin McCarthy is seeing. He knows that if he were to speak to the committee, that would hurt him tremendously in his standing with the former president. I will very curious to see, and I could be wrong, if he ends up turning over some documents or communications, because Kevin is a man who does care about legacy. And I think when the book is written January 6th, which will be the committee reports, he is going to want it to very unequivocally show that he tried to do the right thing, he tried to get the National Guard there. So, there may be some levels of cooperation at some point but certainly not voluntarily and not publicly.

KEILAR: What do you make of Kayleigh McEnany, of course, the former press secretary, speaking to the committee? She did this yesterday virtually after she was subpoenaed, not taking the route of defying the subpoena. What do you think the committee would want to know from her and why do you think she made that decision to comply?

GRIFFIN: Well, two things. I mean, Kayleigh is a lawyer. I think she's a smart person. And I think she realizes there's quite a bit of legal exposure that comes with defying a congressional subpoena, but I'd also imagine that Fox News expected her to go in. I wouldn't imagine that they would be in favor one of their hosts defying a congressional subpoena. I would say this. I think the conversations that they'd want to have with her are, what did you observe that day? She would spend a lot of time with Donald Trump. She was in and out of the oval constantly. And what recommendations was she bringing to the president? Why didn't she use her platform, had millions of followers, to ask for folks to stand down? But I don't think that -- I don't have any reason to believe that she herself was involved in any of the planning beforehand other than spreading the big lie. But she'll be helpful in kind of painting the picture of what Donald Trump was doing that day, what led to the remarks that were written that he delivered outside of the White House. And it's a good thing that she's cooperating.

KEILAR: Yes. And just to note, she did not resign in response to January 6. She kind of ghosted there at the end of the administration working from home in Florida but she did not resign. Alyssa, thank you so much.

Novak Djokovic is now officially the number one seed in the Australian Open men's singles draw, but he is still waiting for immigration officials to decide on his visa, which has been granted, then revoked, granted and may be revoked yet again over issues with his travel forms and his COVID testing timeline.

Let's talk about this now with Cari Champion. He's a former ESPN Anchor and she is the host of the podcast Naked with Carrie Champion.

Cari, it is great to see you this morning. I mean, this is the story that just keeps on giving. And I wonder what you think now of where we are as this has unfolded at this point?

CARI CHAMPION, HOST, "NAKED WITH CARI CHAMPION: Apropos, it continues to give. I've been trying to write about this, but I start then I stop because it has a new twist and turn. Where we are today, I have changed a bit in my stance, because it now is very clear that someone from Novak's camp is not telling the truth, whether it'd him, his party, whomever. It's very clear not the truth there that we can see and now are looking at the end result, because for just a moment, people were on his side in Australia. They were thinking, that's unfair, he's in this detention center. All that may be true but something is not very clear here in terms of this timeline, and we know that you actually had COVID and you went outside and interviewed with someone, and that's not necessarily fair. We're hearing the journalist didn't know Novak had COVID.

And so here we are with all of these moral decisions to make. And I've said this before. we are learning in real-time how to adjust to COVID. But I would think that he would want to perhaps either leave, because I don't see the benefit in staying if you win the Australian Open, because it doesn't seem like people in that country are for you. This is forever going to change the impact of tennis and what it looks like for the Australian Open.

KEILAR: I also have been dying to ask you this question after seeing someone say this on Twitter. They said, someone posting yesterday, imagine if Venus Williams acted like Novak Djokovic. Okay. So, consider that. Imagine that. What would that look like? What would the response be?

CHAMPION: Oh, first of all, I mean, she would never. Serena would never. Naomi would never. And I'm not saying that Novak is pushing his elite privilege in everyone's face, but what I am saying is that the tennis world, even the authorities, would respond differently.

Today, the French Open, the very same French Open that said, Naomi had to go to press, there are rules in place and we're maintaining rules simply said, yes, an unvaccinated Novak Djokovic can come here, be here and play, we will allow him to play the French Open. It's definitely a double set of standards. We've seen that with tennis over the years. And I just truly find it -- when you put it even in that way, it's absurd because it would outlashed, they would be off with her -- excuse me for being so vocal about with his -- off with her head, she's done something horrible, if that were Venus or Serena or Naomi Osaka.


Look, we cannot deny that Novak has privilege. Those ladies also have privilege. But it is quite -- it would be quite a different story and the answers that we're still looking for of whether or not he can play I'm sure would have been provided long ago had it been those three other ladies.

KEILAR: Yes. And, look, we're going to keep talking about this, Cari, because we're waiting to hear from the immigration minister in Australia. We now know that someone on Djokovic's team, whether it was him or someone filling out the form for him also was lying about his travel on his entry application. So, there's a lot to happen here.

Cari, thanks for being with us this morning.

CHAMPION: Of course, Brianna. Thank you.

KEILAR: Senator Lindsey Graham saying that he won't back Mitch McConnell for leader if he can't work with Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Bob Saget's widow speaking out after the beloved star's sudden death, new details on his recent health battle.

And the pills that could dramatically change the fight against COVID, if you can find them.






KEILAR: Officials in some East Coast cities are saying that omicron COVID surge seems to be slowing and may have actually even peaked. In Boston, you can see some new cases finally starting to dip there. In Washington, D.C., which has seen a huge surge, now also trending downward, and then cases in New York City has begun to plateau. Governor Kathy Hochul says, while cases are increasing elsewhere in the state, this change could be a, quote, glimmer of hope.

Numbers are still rising though in many places around the country, but the fact that the decline may have started in these places that were hit first and hardest is significant.

BERMAN: So, also this morning, when the FDA authorized the first oral antiviral COVID treatment last month, it was welcomed as a game changer. But that drug and others, they're scarce, forcing doctors to decide who gets treatment and who doesn't.

CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates.


CLAY BYINGTON, COVID-19 PATIENT: I could feel like the mucus build up in my lungs.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Like millions of other American, 26-year-old Clay Byington tested positive for COVID-19 after gathering with friends and family over the holidays.

BYINGTON: When the coughs came, it definitely sent the aches down the body.

GUPTA: Were you quite worried about how sick you were getting?

BYINGTON: I was pretty worried. I -- I see a lot of stories about how people's health has declined very fast, you know, in a matter of days. I know me being overweight just kind of worried me.

GUPTA: Despite being boosted, Clay's BMI of 35 placed him at higher risk. So, Clay's doctor prescribed his plaques Paxlovid, an antiviral that has been shown to reduce hospitalizations by nearly 90 percent among those at highest risk for developing severe disease.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: They're a game changer and have the potential to dramatically alter the impact of COVID-19.

GUPTA: It's a combination of oral pills that work by interfering with the virus' ability to replicate. Based on Paxlovid's high efficacy, the 20 million courses bought by the Biden administration could eventually prevent more than a million hospitalizations, based on CNN's calculations. But the problem is this, the majority of those doses won't arrive for months.

TOPOL: There is hardly any of these pill packs around.

GUPTA: Dr. Eric Topol is executive vice president for research at Scripps in San Diego. He believes the Biden administration should have invested in Paxlovid months ago. TOPOL: Had we had hundreds of millions of blister packs of Paxlovid right now, we'd be able so much better to fend against omicron.

GUPTA: Several months before the vaccines were authorized, there were at-risk investments being made, many bets being made on various vaccines, and those are gambles. Were those same sorts of gambles made on therapeutics?

TOPOL: The fact that this was the first medication that was designed specifically against this virus, that I think was worth a shot. It was worth an investment, but there was none.

GUPTA: So far, just 160,000 courses have been delivered around the country. And with more people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic, these pills will soon be in short supply, they will need to be rationed, leaving doctors like Shireesha Dhanireddy at the University of Washington's Harborview Medical Center with some tough decisions.

DR. SHIREESHA DHANIREDDY, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE CLINIC, HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER: We're using these medications judiciously and really giving them to the people that would most benefit from these therapeutics. If we open it up to vaccinated individuals, we would not have enough therapy.

GUPTA: Should a vaccinated person get it versus an unvaccinated, or should it only be for unvaccinated? I mean, it's kind of raised all kinds of ethical and medical sort of questions.

TOPOL: The availability is so limited and more people who are unvaccinated are going to wind up in need.

GUPTA: The National Institutes of Health guidance prioritizes treatment for those at highest risk, the immunocompromised, the elderly, and, yes, the unvaccinated.

DHANIREDDY: Many of the people who are seeking this therapy may not need this therapy to recover from COVID-19 and particularly if vaccinated, boosted.

GUPTA: There are other treatments available, but Remdesivir, an antiviral, and Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody, both require infusions.


And Molnupiravir, another oral pill, is the last line option being recommended, none of them as effective as Paxlovid.

BYINGTON: Yesterday, my cold wasn't as worse and today I'm feeling a lot better.

GUPTA: Clay was one of the lucky few getting both physical relief as well a mental relief from the drug.

BYINGTON: Once you're sick, you know, you're feeling the symptoms and you're kind of like, oh, my goodness, is this going to get worse? So, that kind of -- the medication helped alleviate that stress and anxiety.


GUPTA: Now, it could be a very effective medication, again, at keeping people from developing severe symptoms. The White House has addressed this shortage of these medications saying, look, they were working with Pfizer last year, trying to accelerate the clinical trials and cut through some of the red tape. But here we are. I mean, millions of pills will arrive by summer but we're in the middle of a surge now and instead we have about 160,000 of these treatments. So, that's the shortfall.

KEILAR: Where are the other doses, the other courses of this drug, if 10 million have been requested?

GUPTA: Well, they just take a while to manufacture. I mean, this is a complicated drug, the complicated active ingredients, so, six to nine months to potentially manufacture. And that gets at this issue again is, at what point in the middle of a pandemic to you make these at- risk investments? We have long discussions during Operation Warp Speed. They were investing in several different vaccines at that point, they didn't know which once were likely to ultimately be found to be effective, but that's sort of those at-risk investments. There was the Pfizer therapeutic, the Merck therapeutic, the Roche therapeutic. There were not the same sort of investments made in those early on.

Now, people may say, well, we didn't know if they were going to work or not, and that's a big discussion topic, but the final sort of thing is that we just don't have the enough right now. They're going to come by June, they say, 10 million more pills, and another 10 million after that by September.

BERMAN: Yes. It's not just Paxlovid that's in short supply, Sanjay, right?

GUPTA: No. I mean, so, first of all, the other oral antiviral, the Merck one, will likely also be in short supply, but also the monoclonal antibodies, Sotrovimab, that you just heard about there. That's the one that's been found to be effective against omicron, also in short supply.

Now, again, this requires a lot of sort of almost fortunetelling in terms of what do you think is actually going to work, how the clinical trial is going to play out, where do you invest your money. But I think there's some real lessons learned here in terms of how those decisions are made months in advance to sort of anticipate what's happening now.

KEILAR: Sanjay, we heard both Dr. Fauci and the acting FDA commissioner this week saying that nearly everyone is going to encounter the omicron variant. Are you discouraged by that? What do you make of this change in tone? GUPTA: Well, I mean, I think we've been hearing some version of this for some time. If you remember, the WHO European chief, when omicron started really surging, said, within six to eight weeks they anticipated that, you know, half of European citizens would likely be exposed to this, just within six to eight weeks. So, this is not that surprising.

And also when you take a look at the numbers in terms of confirmed cases in the United States, any given day, that's a significant underestimate because we're still not testing enough and a lot of people are doing at-home tests and those aren't reported. So, instead of three quarters of a million, we're probably closer to 2 million, maybe, people getting infected every day.

So, I'm not discouraged by that. I think that the question really is not how many people ultimately will get exposed but how rapidly the population will get exposed. That's always been the discussion. Even from the earliest days of the pandemic, that's where the term, flatten the curve, came from. If you look at the curve, the volume under the curve is roughly the same. It's just a question of flattening it so not everyone is getting exposes at the same time.

BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you, as always.

GUPTA: You got it, thank you.

BERMAN: So, this morning, unanswered questions in Bob Saget's sudden death. We'll get the latest from the family.

KEILAR: And did Joe Biden take it too far in his fiery voting rights speech? Former Senator Al Franken will join us next with his reaction to some of the criticism.