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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Asked to Testify to House Committee Investigating January 6th Insurrection; President Biden to Announce Plans to Deploy Military Medical Teams to States in Need of Support Due to Recent Coronavirus Surge. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2022 - 08:00   ET



KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They've written memoirs. They do speaking engagement. But writing about their time in the White House is something for every American to read and share and opt in. So it's a slightly different thing here that Melania Trump is doing by signing a piece of clothing and putting it up for sale for one person.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Kate Bennett, thank you very much.

NEW DAY continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, January 13th, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

This morning, the top Republican in the House could be facing a subpoena after joining a growing list of Trump's loyalists who are defying the January 6th committee. The panel wants to speak to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and perhaps not surprisingly, he is refusing to cooperate. He says the probe is an abuse of power, and he calls it illegitimate, a jarring 180 from this comment that McCarthy made last May.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th if you were asked by an outside commission --



BERMAN: So even with that, I doubt the committee ever really believed McCarthy would answer anything. What is significant, though, is if you really look at this letter sent by the Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, the committee meticulously lays out this roadmap for what they're investigating and really what they found already. 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 that McCarthy gave to CBS during the insurrection where McCarthy admitted to speaking with Trump, asking Trump to tell the rioters to stop.

KEILAR: And in a CNN exclusive, Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the select committee, not ruling out the possibility of issuing McCarthy a subpoena. She suggests the minority leader is attempting to cover-up what happened.


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 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.


KEILAR: Joining us now, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig. Elie, this is a really interesting letter that has been sent to Kevin McCarthy. It specifically -- it is sort of one of those things where maybe someone isn't going to answer the question, but the question is going to tell you a lot.

ELIE HONIG, SENIOR CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Brianna, I think they're making two key statements in this really interesting five-page letter that the committee sent to Kevin McCarthy. The first thing is they want to know from Kevin McCarthy what did you know about Donald Trump's state of mind as this attack unfolded. We all know that Kevin McCarthy had this really important phone call. Kevin McCarthy is inside the Capitol while it's being ransacked. He gets on the phone with Donald Trump and essentially says call off your people. Is Donald Trump displeased by what's happening? No. He's angry that Kevin McCarthy is upset by what's happening. I think that's really revealing. The committee made a point of saying, hey, Kevin, we know this.

The other thing the committee is really interested in, whether there was some effort to tamper with Kevin McCarthy as a witness, potentially to obstruct justice. So I think the committee is making a statement in that letter to Kevin McCarthy.

BERMAN: We talk about speaking indictments, which are different here, McCarthy is not being indicted for everything, but speaking indictments are where a prosecutor lays out exactly what you have. This felt to me like a speaking letter from Bennie Thompson. This is what we have, this is where we're going. And on that subject of a possible cover-up there, look, I'll read you that sentence, "Your public statements regarding January 6th have changed markedly since you met with Trump. At that meeting or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly?" And McCarthy faced tough questions about that from our new colleague Chris Wallace. Listen.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR: 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: Never happened.

WALLACE: And you --

MCCARTHY: Never even close.


BERMAN: It was interesting. People wondered why Wallace was asking it at the time. And I wonder why this graph is in this letter, Elie.

HONIG: Well, John, one of the great things about the law and an investigation like this is we are allowed to use common sense. The committee is allowed to use common sense. And when you have a person like Kevin McCarthy who goes through such a 180, there's early January Kevin McCarthy who says the president, quote, bears responsibility for what happened. And then you have late January and beyond Kevin McCarthy who says I have nothing relevant to add here. It's logical to ask what happened in between.


And we know what happened in between. Kevin McCarthy makes that journey down to Mar-a-Lago, I want to know a lot about what is said there, what happens there. And as a result of that, he comes out with this completely different voice, this completely different perspective. I think it is perfectly logical for Chris Wallace to ask, for the committee to ask, for all of us to wonder what happened there? What did that very powerful person say to you, Kevin McCarthy, that caused you to completely change your story?

KEILAR: So what are we actually likely to learn here, Elie, and what does this moment tell us about where the committee is?

HONIG: Well, so the committee has a really important moment of decision before it here, Brianna. Now that Kevin McCarthy, like Jim Jordan before him, has said no thanks, we're not going to accept your polite invitation to testify voluntarily, the committee really only has two choices. Choice one is to say, sorry, Kevin, sorry, Jim Jordan, sorry for bugging you guys, go about your day, we're done with you. That would show some real weakness. Option two is to issue the subpoena.

And we heard the clip earlier of Representative Liz Cheney saying that's not off the table. But that's really their only other option if they want to force this issue. But they need to be thinking more than one step ahead, because if they issue that subpoena, you can bet Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan in all likelihood will continue to defy, and the question then is whether the committee is ready, willing, and able to take that next step of potentially voting to hold them in contempt and send them over to DOJ for potential prosecution. It's what the committee did with Steve Bannon, it's what the committee did with Mark Meadows. We'll see whether their own congressional colleagues have to play by the same rules.

KEILAR: Yes, but wow, a member of Congress defying potentially a congressional subpoena is something to behold. Elie, thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Brianna and John.

KEILAR: Breaking moments ago, President Biden is set to announce plans to deploy military medical teams to Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Jersey, and New Mexico to provide relief to overwhelmed hospital staff. Nearly a quarter of hospitals across the nation are reporting a critical staff shortage, more than any other time during this entire pandemic.

Joining us now to discuss is Deanne Criswell. She is the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is coordinating this response, along with the Department of Defense and the White House. Administrator, thank you so much for being with us this morning to talk about this. Tell us what the most critical need is at these hospitals where these medical teams from the military will be heading.

DEANNE CRISWELL, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Good morning, Brianna. Thank you for having me on today. Our regional administrators and our staff here at headquarters have been in constant communication with all of our states and our state directors trying to understand what their needs are. And as we have seen the rise in the Omicron cases here recently, the number one request continues to be staffing. So these teams are going to provide critical support to help relieve some of the drain and the strain on the healthcare system and give them the well needed resources that they need to continue to fight this pandemic.

KEILAR: So what are we talking about? Are we talking about checking patients in, screening patients? Are you talking about doctors, what kind of skills here?

CRISWELL: It can be a wide variety of all of that, right. The needs are across the spectrum. I would say primarily we're looking at medical care providers with nurses and physicians to come help support the COVID patients. But we also have sent additional individuals in to help with some of the administrative needs as needed as well.

KEILAR: So right now, it seems like we may be plateauing in certain east coast cities. There are other places around the country where it seems like Omicron is heading or they're really in the throes of a surge right now. What is the timeline that you're prepared for?

CRISWELL: We are prepared, as we have been since day one of this pandemic, to continue to support the states. We remain in constant communication to anticipate what their needs are. And as the needs or as the resources become available and not needed in one state, we'll forward deploy them and move them to the next state that's in greatest need. This is a constant evaluation, making sure that we can try to stay ahead of the anticipated need and get the resources in place ahead of time.

KEILAR: Are you thinking other states will need these resources?

CRISWELL: I think it's probably a good possibility that we're going to see additional states. As we have seen these surges, they spread in a wave across the country. And we have been doing this again since day one, sending resources out, moving them from one state to the next in order to help all of those hospitals maintain the level of care that they need to.

KEILAR: And so what do you do if some of these staff members end up sick themselves?

CRISWELL: They have protocols in place to make sure that we're protecting our workforce as well as those that they're treating. It is not uncommon to see some of the individuals get COVID and then they isolate just as anybody else would.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly provides that gap in care, allows the gap in care to be covered, though, which is so important.

CRISWELL: Absolutely.

KEILAR: Administrator, thank you so much for being with us.

CRISWELL: Thanks, Brianna.


KEILAR: Happening moments ago, Vice President Kamala Harris defending the Biden administration on their COVID response. She acknowledged the frustration with the state of the pandemic, and she said that when the COVID tests -- she talked about when the COVID tests that the White House ordered are going to be made available.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 500 million tests that have been ordered that are going to be sent to every American, do we know when those are going out?

KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shortly. They're going to go out shortly. They have been ordered -- I have to look at the current information. I think it's going to be by next week. But soon, absolutely soon. And it is a matter of urgency for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we have done that sooner? HARRIS: We are doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But should we have done it sooner?

HARRIS: We are doing it.


KEILAR: Coming up, Novak Djokovic official listed as the number one seed in the Australian Open, but will the country allow him to stay to compete?

And how did fake election certificates claiming that Trump won in seven states that actually he lost in make it to the national archives?

BERMAN: What a Republican lawmaker tweeted about COVID measures and the Nazis. It may have gotten him blocked in Germany.


BERMAN: Breaking overnight, the Australian Open officially named Novak Djokovic the number one seed in the tournament, as they announce the men's singles draw. But his participation far from guaranteed as he waits the decision on whether his visa will be canceled again by Australia's immigration minister. This all has to do with irregularities on his --

HERE immigration minister.


This all has to do with irregularities on his entry process, on how he talked and whether he was honest about his COVID status.

Joining us now is Patrick McEnroe, ESPN tennis commentator and former U.S. Davis Cup Captain.

So great to see you again.

The draw was announced overnight. There was a delay when they announced it and the whole world was thinking what's going on here. What have you learned?

PATRICK MCENROE, ESPN TENNIS COMMENTATOR: Well, we were waiting with bated breath, John, for the draw to come out, to see if Novak Djokovic was actually going to be in it. Of course he is the top seed, based on the fact that he's the number one player in the world. So, when the draw was postponed, which is highly unusual to happen at a grand slam tournament, we all thought, okay, this is it, they're throwing him out of the country.

Well, not so fast. We have been trying to predict how this is going to play out through the course of the last week, John. At the moment, Novak Djokovic is in the tournament. I've gotten a real education, John, on politics down in Australia in

the last week, having spoken to multiple sources down there in the political world, in the journalism world as well. And essentially this is playing a huge part in the decision here because if the prime minister and the federal government decides to kick out Novak Djokovic, they're sort of sending a message to the world, sort of, you know, we got rules here, you got to play by our rules.

But remember the government trying to open up their economy. They have been under strict lockdown. Most of the population is double or triple vaccinated. So the country, the people are ready to open up, they're ready to get back to normal life.

If they throw Djokovic out, it sort of plays into what the public perception is with the population in Australia.

But from a tennis standpoint, can you imagine, John, if Novak Djokovic actually takes the court next week? It is going to be a zoo. But another thing, the ratings will be sky high. Maybe that's factoring into this decision as well.

BERMAN: I can't imagine either scenario at this point. That's what makes it so unusual. He's the number one seed. Awfully hard now to go in and say you can't play to the number one seed, now that the draw has been announced.

But at the same time, like you said, I can't imagine him walking on to the court and actually playing. You talk about public opinion in Australia, it swung wildly back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. At first, it felt like it was against Djokovic, then maybe for him, after the court ruled.

But then when it turned out there were lies on his entry form, and that he flouted COVID protocols, it seems the public opinion is against him again.

MCENROE: It is literally going -- it is like watching a tennis match, back and forth, back and forth. You're 100 percent right on the public opinion side.

I think when Djokovic won the appeal, the public said, okay, you know, we didn't treat him that well, looked bad, didn't look good the way he was held in a detention center for five days. That's not a good look for anybody.

When he put out his Instagram post, John, just yesterday, saying there is a lot of misinformation -- that's an old card, right? We're used to hearing that card being played. But really, where is the misinformation? It is coming from you.

That's where the mis -- we're just reporting on what you put on your visa, now it is all out there for the public to see.

So, when that came out, the way he did, the Australian public said, wait a second, we're doing everything we've done. We've been double, triple vaccinated, we stayed home, we've abided by the rules that the government have put forth and now you let this guy in who is clearly lied on his application and who sort of flaunting the idea that he can do whatever he wants.

And, by the way, John, I'm also hearing from my sources on the players' side, they're getting very, very tired of this whole Novak act. They have had enough, for a while they were standing up for him because he was standing up for himself. But now, remember, the 97 percent of the male players are now vaccinated. Djokovic is out there on an island by himself and he's drifting further and further away.

BERMAN: To use a tennis metaphor, the ball is in the government's court. We need to hear whether he'll be allowed to stay or go.

Patrick McEnroe, thank you for being with us.

MCENROE: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Here's what else to watch today.


BERMAN: An actual case of election lies, Trump allies creating these fake documents saying Trump won in seven states that he lost.


We're going to speak to the head of elections in one state where this stunt went down.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, President Biden compared some lawmakers to segregationists in his push for voting rights. Did he go too far? One top Democrat seems to think so.


BERMAN: CNN has learned in the weeks after the 2020 election, allies of former defeated President Trump sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven swing states that he lost.

Joining me now is Jocelyn Benson, Democratic secretary of state for Michigan, one of the several key battleground states won by Biden where Trump sought to overturn the election result and for which these fake slate of electors was submitted.

Secretary of state, thank you so much for being with us.

What exactly was this document, what happened here?

JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we, as the governor and the state election officer, we submit a formal document to the national archives after the election detailing the electors who have given their electoral votes to the winner of the vote in the state, which was Joe Biden.

[08:25:06] So, we were first notified in December 2020 by the National Archives that there was a second document that was not real, it was fake, and it was attempting to submit an alternate slate of pro-Trump electors illegally to the National Archives.

So, we referred the matter to the attorney general, and it really illustrates the moment that we were in, what trying to overturn democracy looked like, and guarding democracy looked like. There were so many attempts where we had to go to the courts, and other -- look at all other avenues to block against these, you know, multiple fronts that we were defending against of people using anything, all based on lies, to overturn valid accurate election results.

BERMAN: So, a fake slate of electors. You say illegally submitted here. How so? And did you receive any indication that this is being investigated further?

BENSON: Well, the Michigan attorney general is investigating. Now there was no state seal, no fake signatures on the documents, so there wasn't a clear forgery, but federal law does include specific provisions for how electors are chosen and this group obviously did not follow them. They are chosen by the voters, not by a political party or a campaign or candidates.

And so, you know, the bottom line is that the January 6th committee investigation is really what proceeded these documents becoming public and it is why it is all the more important that we spend time now really sifting through the embers of everything that was attempted to overturn the 2020 election, because mark my words, they will come back in 2024 or in future elections and try it all again.

BERMAN: What is your contact been with the January 6th committee at this point?

BENSON: My office and I directly have spoken with the investigators of the January 6th committee. I think it is important for everyone called to submit information or testify before the committee to do so. It is your duty, as an American, as a citizen, as anyone who is committed to ensuring the truth is uncovered and that accountability and justice is served for those who were part of a coordinated attempt to try to block the will of the people, in 2020.

BERMAN: Were these fake slates of electors, part of the discussion you had with the committee?

BENSON: Yes, and some of what we provided was that documentation. That's another thing, we not only witness all of these attempts from my office in Michigan, but we kept the receipts and we're going to continue to provide the evidence that we have, that there were multiple attempts at every level to try to block the will of the voters in 2020, again with an eye toward not just ensuring there is accountability for what happened, but for preparing for anything that could happen again in the future.

BERMAN: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, thank you so much for being with us. BENSON: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: Today, President Biden will head to Capitol Hill to push for voting rights legislation, despite strong resistance when it comes to changing the filibuster.

But is filibuster reform really such a crazy idea?

John Avlon has the "Reality Check".


The fight to vote is in overdrive now. And it is happening from the halls of Congress to state courthouses near you. In Washington, D.C., Senate Democrats are poised to push through a debate on the freedom to vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Act ahead of Martin Luther King Day. They argue some version of this legislation is needed to defend our democracy from voter suppression and election subversion efforts that passed in 19 states from the back of the big lie.

But here's the thing, their efforts can run smack into the face of Republican filibuster, and that, of course, will accelerate calls to reform the filibuster as president Biden and former President Obama urged in recent days. Now, there is still no sign that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who support election reform, have changed their minds about opposing the filibuster reform.

And this frustrates their colleagues who feel the fierce urgency of now and Dr. King's words, but Manchin seems genuinely concerned about what getting rid of the filibuster might mean for Democrats when they're in the minority next. I haven't heard a good reality based argument for why Democrats wouldn't be singing a different tune with the Republican Senate majority as they have in the past.

But there is one widespread argument for keeping the current filibuster that is just bunk.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): The tradition of the Senate here in 232 years now. We need to be very cautious about what we do. That's what we've always had fo2r 32 years. That's what makes us different than any place else in the world.


AVLON: All right. The current filibuster has not been Senate tradition for 232 years. In fact, it's not in the Constitution. And it changed a lot over time.

And that's actually why mending the filibuster, not ending it, is totally consistent with Senate traditions. Now, if you see "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", one of my favorite movies, or read about Southern conservative Democrats like Strom Thurmond trying to block civil rights legislation, then you know that in its OG form, the filibuster required a senator to take the floor and speak for hours. It was supposed to be a mechanism for protest by the minority.

And let's look at the data.