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Tennis Star Novak Djokovic May Be Not Allowed to Play in Australian Open and Be Deported from Australia Due to Unvaccinated Status; Oath Keepers Leader Stewart Rhodes Indicted for Seditious Conspiracy in Relation to January 6th Capitol Insurrection; Biden Suffers Brutal Week on COVID, Voting Rights, Economy. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 08:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And NEW DAY continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday, January 14th. And we do have breaking news. Overnight the Australian government canceled the visa for Novak Djokovic, the world's number one tennis player, just three days before the start of the Australian Open. This is a big deal. Djokovic is the number one seed in the tournament. He is unvaccinated. Australia is struggling with rising case numbers and facing huge internal backlash for the idea that Djokovic would operate under a different set of rules than the rest of the country. Australian immigration officials have been investigating a series of errors and discrepancies in his COVID testing and travel documents.

KEILAR: Djokovic is now facing deportation, and if that happens, he would, of course, be unable to defend his Australian Open title. He would be unable to break the Grand Slam record. Djokovic's lawyers are appealing the ruling, and Australia's immigration officials will seek to interview Djokovic tomorrow morning and detain him shortly after.

BERMAN: Joining us now, Patrick McEnroe, ESPN tennis commentator, a former U.S. Davis Cup captain. Patrick, thanks so much for joining us. Let me just remind our viewers that this decision from the Australian officials comes after Djokovic admitted to breaking COVID protocols, doing an interview with reporters after he knew he had tested positive a few weeks ago, and also comes after he admitted that his documents had lies on them to enter Australia. Now the immigration minister says your visa is canceled. Your reaction to all this this morning?

PATRICK MCENROE, ESPN TENNIS COMMENTATOR: Well, John, I think that you're exactly right in that the discrepancies that have come out through this process have played a part in this decision yet again to attempt, and I say attempt, to deport him, because it sounds like Novak Djokovic and his lawyers are going to fight this to the bitter end. And as you said, the tournament is set to start in a couple of days, Djokovic going for his record 10th Australian Open title. He's the top seed. With the mood in the locker room, in addition to the mood in

Australia, from the citizens of Australia, is we have had enough. And you're starting to hear that more from players, Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is the number four seed in the men's draw, and who actually lost to Djokovic in a five set final at the French Open last year, came out publicly and said Novak is playing by his own rules and this is making us, meaning all the other tennis players, by the way, all of whom are vaccinated -- every player, John, this is interesting, every player that is due to play in the singles, male or female, in the draw at the Australian Open has been vaccinated except for Novak Djokovic. And the players, I think, have had enough of this whole circus atmosphere. But it sounds like it is going to continue for a couple more days.

BERMAN: At least a couple days. The impact of this would be that the number one seed is removed before even playing a match. I can't think of a precedent for something like that, Patrick. But it's interesting what you're telling me here, which is that the other players, who are 100 percent vaccinated in the singles draw, they're beginning to turn on Djokovic.

MCENROE: Yes, I think that's the case. And I think they have had enough of this process, the fact -- they read the appeal. They saw what happened with Novak, that he went to a public event, admitted he did that, ticking the wrong box to what country he had been to. OK, he made a mistake there, probably an honest mistake. He claims that was his agents. That doesn't go over too well either, not taking responsibility.

And he did say in his public statement, John, that he wanted to clear up all the misinformation, I'm quoting, his statement. Really, there is not a lot of misinformation, it is just the information that's coming out. And since he put that public statement out, the tide has turned against him again. It has gone back and forth, really, over the last few days. The Australians, I think initially they didn't like the way he was treated, put in a detention center. It will be very interesting to see what they do with him now between now and the appeal process again.

And will it be the same judge? Remember, the judge who decided the case the first time said, no, they didn't give Djokovic enough time to prepare. Well, now he's got enough time to prepare, so now it becomes, does the minister of health have the ultimate authority, which he says he does, to kick Djokovic out of the country if he might be a threat to health and safety of the citizens? That's all they have to prove. Very, very intriguing as this goes on. A total soap opera.

BERMAN: Oh, my God, a total, even beyond a soap opera. They won't put this in a soap opera, there are so many twists and turns. Three more days until it all opens. And you can imagine the pall it will cast over the tournament no matter which way it goes. Patrick McEnroe, I think we're going to be talking to you again in the next few days. Thank you very much.

MCENROE: Good --

[08:05:01] KEILAR: For first time the Justice Department is unveiling charges of seditious conspiracy against 11 participants in the January 6th Capitol riot. So what do these new charges tell us? Here are five takeaways from our Marshall Cohen, who has been following these cases every step of the way. Prosecutors here sending a clear message after criticism from lawmakers and legal experts who thought the DOJ was going too easy on the rioters. The charges also show the extent of advanced planning as we learned many of the rioters were expecting war. The indictment also shows the attack could have been far worse, the Oath Keepers accused of coordinating efforts to get inside the Senate chamber.

It was also clear that the plot went beyond January 6th. One defendant allegedly spent thousands of dollars on weapons and equipment to organize militias to oppose the Biden administration.

And finally, the charges show prosecutors are focusing on the top of the food chain, as some Oath Keepers have turned on the group's leaders.

BERMAN: Joining us is Tasha Adams, the estranged wife of Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, who was indicted by the Justice Department. In 2009, she helped him establish the group before it became the far right group that it is today. Tasha, thanks so much for being with us this morning. When this indictment came down, you wrote you were happy. Why?

TASHA ADAMS, ESTRANGED WIFE OF STEWART RHODES, HELPED HIM START OATH KEEPERS: So much relief. It felt like I had been -- there was a weight I had been carrying I didn't know I had been carrying. I knew we lived in fear that he might show up here. But the -- just setting that weight down and knowing we were safe and my kids were safe and my kids' school doesn't have to worry, that was a kind of relief I didn't know existed.

BERMAN: So I understand you're telling us you feel personally at risk from Stewart, but I wonder what danger you feel, what threat you feel he poses to the country.

ADAMS: He's a dangerous man. He is very dangerous. He lives very much in his own head. He sees himself as a great leader. He almost has his own mythology of himself. And I think he almost made it come true as seeing himself as some sort of figure in history. And it sort of happened. He's a complete sociopath. He does not feel empathy for anyone around him at all. And -- yes.

PAUL: Now, I understand you've been talking to the January 6th select committee, so you've been involved in the various investigations here. You say he is dangerous to the country, a dangerous man. What is it specifically you think he did in the events surrounding January 6th?

ADAMS: Excuse me, sorry. I think he planned it very carefully. I think he planned for himself to not get arrested by seemingly to stay out of the Capitol himself. But that entire stack, the people that went in, the entire event, to me, I see his fingerprints all over it, and I think even though from the outside, oh, I told them not to go in, we were just there for -- we were just there to guard people, it is silly, but it is very -- it is also very carefully planned to keep himself -- to keep himself out of trouble.

And it's what he did on a small scale in our family. I wasn't able to get a restraining order. It was denied because he seemed like such a great guy to the judge. And this is just how he's always been. And there is a lot of vindication there seeing him finally having to answer to some type of consequence, probably for the first time in his entire life.

BERMAN: Based on what you know of the Oath Keepers and how it works, would the people who did go inside and do what they did, would they have ever done it without his direction and authority?

ADAMS: It's hard to say. My first response is probably not. But then again, he does tend to surround himself with the type of people that tend to fall into groups like that, that tend to fall, either follow some type of religion or they follow some type of ideology, very much the type of people who are sort of gullible, multilevel marketing firm type people, that type of follower type that gets caught up in things like that. So possibly maybe they would have followed some other leader. But I think that -- I think Stewart probably made a convincing case that they were going to succeed and they were all going to be heroes.


BERMAN: You were there when the Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 in Lexington, Massachusetts, not far from where I grew up. When it began you say it was really based on libertarian values, small government. But then it changed into something you saw as dangerous. Had how did that change? Change into what?

ADAMS: I -- in retrospect I would say maybe this was his plan all along, was to take it that direction. When Oath Keepers first started, there was actually a lot of Democrats on board, or a lot of former Democrats, a lot of Ron Paul libertarians, a lot of sort of politically sort of lost people that wanted to join up with something.

And I wonder if he was sort of fooling everyone into here's what this is, we're basically the ACLU. And then started just making that hard right turn. Even though I haven't really spoken to him in four years, when the George Floyd riots happened, I was still surprised on what side Oath Keepers came down on, because it seems like the most obvious thing in the world that they would come down on the side of -- on the side of the protesters given the original purpose of Oath Keepers. But, no, there was no other more obvious purpose to a group like Oath Keepers than to defend the BLM protesters. But it didn't happen.

BERMAN: What did you see or observe in terms of his view or attitudes or behavior, and I think you might be frozen there. Tasha, are you still with me? Let me see if we can get Tasha back there. All right. I think that might be it with Tasha Adams, the estranged wife of the leader of the Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes who is now indicted, charged with seditious conspiracy, the first sedition charges to come in the January 6th attack. And you heard her say that she believes he was a dangerous man.

Next, CNN's Sara Sidner had run-ins with Stewart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers, personal experience of her own. She will join us.

Plus, President Biden has had just a brutal week from his strategy on COVID to voting rights hitting major walls.

KEILAR: And see what happens when nondoctor Joe Rogan gets fact checked on his own COVID misinformation.


JOE ROGAN, PODCAST HOST: Let's look that up. Because I don't think that's true. That's interesting. That is not what I've read before.




KEILAR: The Justice Department bringing sedition charges against 11 January 6th defendants, and this includes the leader of the far right group the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes. The indictment alleges that Rhodes recruited members, stocked up on thousands of dollars in weapons and tactical gear and ammunition, and plotted to disrupt congress' certification of the 2020 election.

CNN's senior national correspondent Sara Sidner has reported extensively on Stewart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers, and she is with us now.

Sara, we heard a fascinating interview that Berman was doing with the estranged wife of Rhodes, who really gave us a look into who he is. You, as well, have had some experience covering him and the Oath Keepers. Tell us about your impressions.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, so the Oath Keepers became extremely visible. They have been around for a very long time. They became extremely visible, I think, to the public at large, in 2014.

That was during the -- in Ferguson. There was a killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. There were protests that lasted for literally months, almost half the year.

And every now and then you would see these group of guys who would come out and would be armed, they would have on military gear, they would be standing out together obviously in a group, and they said they were out there to protect, for example, businesses. And so they became a presence, but they always were armed to the teeth. They looked like they were on a mission.

They are also known for going into places that had, for example, hurricane damage, and trying to help out. They got this dual role. But they always have been a group of people that you would see standing out armed and very much visibly armed, very much sort of military looking.

I spoke to Stewart Rhodes after the arrest that resulted from January 6th, there were three people who were accused of not only being oath keepers, but breaching the Capitol, and he said, yes, a couple of those folks are a part of my organization, the Oath Keepers. He said, you know, we -- all the things you hear may not be true. He said I don't necessarily agree with them going into the Capitol. But, you know, there are some problems that we need to address with this administration.

And then I went and looked at some pictures and video. And there he is, outside the Capitol, you see him there, you see him standing with some other members of the Oath Keepers, and, you know, you have to wonder, you know what is going on.

Now, usually the oath keepers will tell you, look, we were there as guards for VIPs, that included Roger Stone, we saw an oath keeper with Roger Stone. We saw Oath Keepers doing what the military might call in a stack. And in those stacks, it is a military maneuver.

One of the things that the oath keepers do is they try and recruit either current or former military, current or former members of law enforcement, current or former people who have been part of the intelligence apparatus in the United States, whether it be the FBI, CIA, and anybody that they can get and bring into the organization. And when you think about that, it means that they have training, tactical training to do something like this and to plan something like this.

The question is, will Stewart Rhodes be ensnared in that, he has been, a grand jury says that he was involved in this seditious activity.


But, you know, he was very clear, 24 days after the breach of the Capitol on January 6th, he went on Infowars, the right wing, you know, conspiracy spewing online apparatus and he talked about what he thought about this administration. He goes after the Biden administration and appears to make some threats and he's still doing this, mind you, after we have all seen the attack on the Capitol.

Here's what he had to say.


STEWART RHODES, LEADER, OATH KEEPERS: You got to declare this regime to be illegitimate, you got to declare everything that comes out of King Biden's mouth as illegitimate and null and void from inception because he's not a legitimate president.

They have plans for us that they know we'll rebel against and they're afraid because there is 365 million of us. We outnumber them vastly and we're armed. We're well-armed. So they have a problem. So they're afraid.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: You hear him say, you know, this is an illegitimate administration and we're well armed. And if they're going to come after us, we're going to do something.

And so, it is interesting that he's still spewing the big lie, he's still going hard, he's still, you know, making it very clear that they are -- don't believe that this administration was legitimate and telling his followers and his members this very thing. And this is after the attack on the Capitol.

So what has to be proven, of course, is that he took part in the planning, because what we do know is that there is no evidence that he went into the Capitol himself. It was some of the members of the Oath Keepers who did so. But, what the FBI has and what the prosecutors have is that some of those Oath Keepers who had been caught are now talking and they have got information that we have seen in that indictment -- Brianna.

BERMAN: This could be just the beginning of what we're seeing now. Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

So the Supreme Court delivers a crushing blow to President Biden's pandemic response, and just the latest setback in a really brutal week for the White House.

KEILAR: And COVID restrictions across the U.K. did not put a damper on parties at ten Downing Street. A new revelation of boozy rule breaking within the government.



KEILAR: President Biden is acknowledging the path forward on his proposed voting rights legislation is not looking good.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You all ask questions about complicated subjects like can you get this done. I hope we can get this done. Honest to God answer is I don't know.


KEILAR: All right, that is not good in Washington speak. And that's not the only setback that is facing the Biden administration. The Supreme Court just shot down a federal vaccine mandate for private businesses. There are testing shortages and confusion over the new CDC guidance. Inflation is at a 40-year high. And his build back better bill has also stalled in the Senate.

Then overseas global fears that Russia could invade Ukraine and overnight North Korea fired a possible ballistic missile, at least the second one this week.

All of this as we see Biden's approval rating around 42 percent, according to CNN's poll of polls.

Let's talk about the scene, let's talk about the landscape for President Biden with CNN chief national correspondent John King.

John, how do you see this? I mean, he had infrastructure, right? Huge bill, Build Back Better very much in jeopardy, voting rights apparently dead, what does that do for him?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm reminded of an old saying, John McCain used to mangle this quote from Chairman Mao, it is darkest before it turns completely black.

That's where -- that's where Joe Biden is right now. Just, you know, schools are closing, people out in the country have COVID exhaustion. Here in Washington, the president is disappointing his own base.

He has two giant problems. One with the broader can country that didn't wake up every day with a checklist. You know, what did Joe Biden do for me today? They wake up every day trying to live their very complicated stressful lives now in the beginning of year three of this pandemic, and candidate Joe Biden said, I'm not Donald Trump, I'll be better at this.

President Joe Biden back in July said we're going to begin a summer of freedom. Well, people don't feel like they have that summer of freedom, do they, with omicron surging.

So the COVID frustration, the impact on schools, businesses, on the economy, on public health, has an exhausted country saying, Mr. President, you really haven't given us what you promised. Then his own base says, Mr. President, you haven't given us what you promised. In a midterm election year, he needs to motivate his base.

Now, look, Joe Biden thought when he won in November he was going to have a Democratic house and Republican Senate and he would be more of a centrist dealmaker. Then they won those two Senate seats in Georgia and Democratic expectations went off the charts. He's been unable to fulfill those expectations, and so he has that problem.

The country is frustrated. His party is frustrated. We're two weeks into a midterm election year, a few days away from the one-year anniversary of inauguration and it is black. It is very dark for him right now.

BERMAN: Jen Psaki tried to address this yesterday by saying the White House is trying to do hard things, the Biden administration is trying to do hard things. That's the business of governing.

The problem is, is they really have nothing to show for it the last couple of months. They are on a very big losing streak. They're going to hate this framing, but the things they have tried to accomplish haven't worked out and they're having a hard time putting points on the board, John.

KING: They are. You mention the timing is important. It is true, Joe Biden, the American Rescue Plan, the COVID relief act was hugely significant. The bipartisan infrastructure deal, that's no accident, go back to talking about something you did that actually worked. You know, Donald Trump tried to get a big infrastructure plan, Joe Biden did.

There are big achievements here. The unemployment rate is at a historic low. They added 2 million people to Obamacare because the Biden administration is pushing to do it. So, there are some good numbers there.

But the big things, talk to your friends, talk to your family, people around the country, they're exhausted from this pandemic. So that's the big dynamic, the wind in his face. And, you're right, of late, of late, he's having a bad -- just a miserable streak in part because, again, they let expectations get so high.