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NASA Monitoring Asteroids that May Pose Threat of Impacting Earth; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) Interviewed on Legislative Failures of Democratic Party and Potential Losses in Upcoming Elections; Trump's Plans Solidifying as Operation Gets More Organized. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 08:00   ET



KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: This asteroid is something that has been watched and monitored and detected for decades now.

What NASA astronomers are particularly worried about are those asteroids that sneak up on earth, and this happened back in 2019. Just two years ago an asteroid got within 40,000 miles of earth. That is nothing. This was a big asteroid, and the craziest part, John, is that NASA and astronomers around the world, they only noticed it less than 24 hours before it made its closest encounter to earth.

And we now know it's a combination of things. I won't get into the physics right now, but that is what NASA is most concerned about, not this one that you see that we've been monitored for some time, but those asteroids that go undetected until right at the last moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can't have asteroids sneaking up on you. That's just unacceptable, right?

FISHER: That's when you really need to start calling in Bruce Willis, right? Or what NASA is doing with this dart redirection mission where they're trying to crash this spacecraft into an asteroid. They actually called Bruce Willis and said, hey, do you want to come down for the launch. And he said no. So we're on our own, John.

BERMAN: He'll be surprised by the asteroid that sneaks up on us, but NASA, hopefully will not be.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Come on, Bruce. We need you. America needs you.


BERMAN: You have better things to do? I've seen a lot of movies recently. He hasn't been in them. So I think he's free.


NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world, and perhaps on asteroids flying near earth.

HUNT: Who knows?

BERMAN: That we won't let sneak up on us.

It is Tuesday, January 18th. I'm John Berman. Brianna is on at 9:00 p.m. tonight eastern time. Do not miss it. Kasie Hunt waking up early.

HUNT: I am luckily a morning person.

BERMAN: Lucky for them.

A huge begins in Washington today, but it seems the outcome preordained. The formal process of voting on voting rights legislation begins in the Senate, because of unanimous opposition from Republicans and the unwilling unwillingness of two Democrats to change the rules, this is going to fail today like likely. And that is a tough blow to the White House. The president two days away from marking one year in office, and Democrats are feeling the pressure of what some of them see as a stalled agenda.

HUNT: Senator Bernie Sanders says, quote, "It is no great secret that the Republican Party is winning more and more support from working people. It's because in too many ways the Democratic Party has turned its back on the working class." Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, is worried about how voters are reacting to the party's failures. He says, quote, "I'm sure they're frustrated. I am. It depends on who they blame for it."

And as Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan says, it seems like the Democrats can't get out of their own way. And joining us now is that congressman, Tim Ryan, Democrat from Ohio and U.S. Senate candidate. Congressman, great to see you again as always. We really appreciate it.

And I'd like to start on this note here. There is so much frustration right now. The president's approval rating, according to some polls, down around 33 percent. That is a death knell if you're the party trying to run for re reelection. Who is responsible for that?

REP. TIM RYAN, (D-OH): Well, I think there is plenty of blame to go around, Kasie, but we've got to get stuff done. We've got to get this thing back on track even if it means taking smaller bites. I've been traveling around Ohio now for months, and there is a good deal of frustration that things aren't getting done.

And we've got -- even if we pick, let's get this tax cut done, right? Right, let's get that done. Let's get some momentum. Let's get back on track. Let's get some money in people's pockets. And we just got to get our focus back. And I think we can, and there is a lot out there that we need to do, but we've got get focused and hit the reset button here.

HUNT: I was reading a "Washington Post" story about this this morning, so I just want to underscore this. You're saying that the strategy should change on Build Back Better, and instead trying to do something big on the economic agenda, you think you just try to get some small pieces of that done?

RYAN: Yes, they're not small. Tax cuts for working people, for families who have been struggle struggling for 30 or 40 years, who are working longer hours, six, seven days a week, many times single parents out there slogging away, a tax cut for them is not an in insignificant thing. And so let's get that done. And then move on to the next thing, and we build a consensus around something else. We've got veterans out there who are getting sick and have been sick because of the burn pits. We've got a fentanyl poisoning epidemic that is all over the country that has moved to the back burner through the pandemic.


There should be some really significant issues that we should be able to come around and coalesce around and get done. And I think we can. I think we can get it done. And we need the president, we need the administration to lead the way. They're in charge. The buck stops there. There is no doubt about, and we need to get things done. We're not doing good enough.

HUNT: So you mentioned both the pandemic and the president, and of course, President Biden ran on the idea that he could come in, govern in a competent manner and fight back against the pandemic. And so many Americans have been so confused about the guidance coming out of the CDC. There is testing shortages. You're apparently going to be able to get tests from the government, but it's going to be potentially weeks late for those people who had been dealing with the Omicron surge early. So my question to you, do you think the Biden administration, do you think President Biden is fighting the pandemic in a competent manner?

RYAN: I think there is a great deal of frustration on the ground, with families, in Ohio and across the country because of the mixed signals that are coming from the CDC, from the administration. Is it 10 days, is it five days? I was running around the grocery stores a couple weeks ago trying to find tests, and we're not even sure if they work. We're not sure about masks that are coming from China.

We are two years into this, and I think the frustration in families is well beyond what politicians think it is. It is at a very, very fever pitch. There is anxiety. As I said, there is all of these other issues that are still out there, too. People rare working six or seven days a week. Now we're doing virtual school, not virtual school. Masks, no masks. What's going on here? And I just think the lack of clarity is contributing to the level of frustration.

And we've got to get this right because these families deserve it. They're already struggling, and that's why I think you got the inflation piece. That's why we need the tax cut. That's why we've got to show people in Ohio and across the country that we're getting the job done. We're two years into this thing, and I think that the frustration level is getting to people here.

HUNT: And do you blame President Biden for that frustration?

RYAN: Well, the president is the president, and there is no question that he bears some responsibility for it. But there is also Congress and the Senate, and the Republicans are MIA. They're worthless. The Republican Party right now is worthless. They do nothing. They make matters completely worse than they need to be. If we had some cooperation from them, whether it's voting rights, whether it's a tax cut. Now we have the Republican Party that was supposedly built on tax cuts won support tax cuts for working families, which means they support tax cuts for the top one percent and lowering corporate rates for the big corporations, the Amazons of the world. But for the small businesses and the working-class people that are out there, they're not for those tax cuts.

So let me be very, very clear, while I'm frustrated with the administration, I'm really ripped over what the Republicans are doing, because they're worthless and they're not contributing to try to solve these big problems. But we've got to get back on track. The president needs to lead us. Let's get these tax cuts done for working people, and then let's get some momentum and start moving forward again.

HUNT: I was going to say, your point is well taken about Republicans, but on the other hand, it seems like if voters -- what are the voters that you're talking to going to do? Are they going to stay home, or are they going to have no choice but to vote Republican because they're so unhappy with what's going on?

RYAN: They know the Republicans are MIA, which is why I'm frustrated because there is this huge void for advocating for the working class, and it got caught up in this whole Build Back Better argument that we had late last year. We've got to get back on track.

And Kasie, let's be very clear here. If we pass a tax cut for these families again, we will then reestablish ourselves as the party of the working class. The Republicans aren't going to vote for it, so let's take this one big step for them, and then let them know who is fighting for them.

And then the fentanyl poisoning and the burn pits issue with vets, let's get some momentum going and maybe we can do a universal preschool or maybe we can do a little something with the Medicare and the hearing aids and the glasses for people. But everything we're doing, we should be advocating for getting money in the pockets of working class people, whether they're seniors or they're single moms or they're in construction, or teachers, or whatever, nurses. Let's go. Let's get this thing done, because the world's not waiting.

And here is the issue, too, real quick. China's running circles around us right now. They're shooting hypersonic missiles all the way around the world, and we're sitting here having fights about Big Bird and Dr. Seuss and crazy snuff. Meanwhile they're eating our lunch in technologies and other things.


So we've got a lot of work to do. We've got to stop dithering, stop milling around, get this tax cut passed, and let's win back these working class people and reset the agenda. And we can do it. We can do it. And we need the president to lead the way.

HUNT: Congressman, very briefly, do you think that Democrats are wasting time on voting rights? We're going to start this big debate in the Senate, but from what we can tell, it's gg going nowhere. Should they be spending their time doing something else instead?

RYAN: I think we need to have the vote. I think we need to call the question and have the vote. You can't move the needle for working class people if they don't have access to the ballot box. White, black, brown people, whatever, we need to get to the ballot box.

And right now there is an intentional movement in states to disenfranchise people. One drop box in a whole county, the ability to be able to purge voter lists at random, the ability to move precinct locations or voting locations willy-nilly in black comm communities, for example. That's nonsense, and that should be stopped. And we need to call a question and have a vote on it, and then I think get back to the economic agenda that working people are dying for us to pass, because those tax cuts, they apply to white people, black people, brown people, working class. Let's go.

But I think we have got to call the question and make sure we know where everybody stands on that issue and then continue to fight. And then maybe we take smaller chunks of the voting right piece. Maybe we make Election Day a holiday. Let's get that done. And then we start moving forward. But let's maybe take smaller chunks, but in the right direction. I think the American people would like to see that.

HUNT: Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much, as always. We really appreciate you being here.

BERMAN: I think there was a lot in there.

HUNT: There was a lot in there.

BERMAN: I think there was a lot in there. I think that was a really interesting, important discussion. When a guy like Tim Ryan, who is a loyal Democrat. He speaks his mind, but says unreservedly that the voters are frustrated with the White House, and President Biden is partly to blame because he's in charge, that's a thing.

HUNT: It's pretty significant. This is, I think, a turning point for Democrats because this frustration has been building for the last few months. I've been talking privately with very loyal Democrats in Congress who have been watching what is happening across the country.

And this is always how it happens, right? It builds out in the country first. It takes often us a while to realize what's going on. But people like Tim Ryan are out in their communities and they're listening to the frustration and they're hearing people say, hey, things are not going well for me, and maybe they don't want to vote Republican, like Angie, the woman we spoke to who is upset about her children in school. She says she's a lifelong Democrat, but now she's got nowhere to go. I think that's what you're hearing Tim Ryan say there, and to hear them start to say hey, in public, the Biden administration's part of this problem, that is not a good place to be.

BERMAN: No, and I think the Biden administration, they were trying to do big things. The Build Back Better agenda and the voting rights acts are big things. And I think there was this notion that they wanted to get caught trying, at a minimum they get credit for trying to do it. However, what Tim Ryan seems to be saying is you need to get caught doing something even if it's not as big.

HUNT: He's essentially saying we need to do stuff that we can run for reelection on. That's what he's saying. And right now he's also acknowledging that hey, it's been a while since we've done anything, and let's not forget what he said about testing, the CDC and messaging, and how rough that's been.

BERMAN: Totally. Again, he was kind, and he clearly likes Joe Biden there, but he also clearly was trying to send a message right there. That was an interesting discussion.

All right, we have brand new reporting from CNN's Jake Tapper that three dozen former Trump administration officials held a conference call, this happened last Monday, to discuss efforts to fend off Trump's efforts to, in their view, erode the democratic process. Participants included former White House chief of staff General John Kelly, former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin, Anthony Scaramucci, among several others. Ideas ranged from shining a light on Trump's corporate contributors to directly targeting each election candidate he endorses.

Jake reports, quote, "the only item the group seemed to agree upon, however, were that they're not sure what their way forward should be in that they are way behind the efforts of former president Donald Trump and his allies to set the stage for 2022, 2024, and beyond." Kelly, apparently, had a previous engagement. He stayed on the line for 10 minutes. There were a lot of people that we don't know the name of everyone there. The cast list, we're told, was interesting, but there didn't appear to be any giant resolution.

HUNT: Right, well, and of course, the fact that they seemed to be behind where the potential Trump campaign is, is also telling, because frankly, that's sort of where the never Trump movement has found itself throughout the last four years and perhaps heading into the next ones.


All right. So, one year after leaving the Oval Office, Donald Trump has, of course, not retired. His staffers in Florida are building his political machine, amassing money and getting the RNC to pay for some of his personal legal bills.

CNN's Gabby Orr joins us now with her new reporting.

Gabby, it's good to see you.

And we were obviously, talking about this from several different angles, including the potential opposition, but I know you've been digging into how the operation that the former president is running has changed since he first headed back to Mar-a-Lago.

What have you learned?

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Kasie.

You know, a lot has changed since Trump left office nearly one year ago to the date. He didn't know if he would have a future in Republican politics at that the time. He did not have a plan for sure.

He was isolated down at Mar-a-Lago. He was doling out endorsements to whichever candidate got to him first. He was really flying by the seat of his pants. And, you know, I spent the past two weeks asking Trump aides and Trump advisers, what's changed over the last year?

And there are two things that really stood out to me. Number one, that vetting process for determining which candidate he's going to endorse and in a number of these Republican primaries has seen a lot of organization brought to it since he added Susie Wiles, this veteran Republican campaign operative to his team down in Florida.

Instead of just meeting or speaking with whichever candidate who's calling him first, he's now sitting for a presentation on the latest polling and the latest field research in different races before he meets with these candidates who want his endorsement. That is a significant change from what he was doing last spring, when he almost blew up the Ohio primary with a very early endorsement of Jim Timken. Number two, he's starting to listen to allies who say, you know, former President Trump, you need to focus on 2022 if you want to have any chance at a successful comeback bid in 2024.

He has obviously spent a great deal of time focusing on 2020, on so- called election integrity and voting reform, but his focus has slowly begun to shift to 2022 and what he can do to use that as a lunch pad for a potential presidential campaign down the road.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Gabby, who are the people around him? Same cast of characters or is he speaking with different folks?

ORR: He's definitely surrounded himself by the same people who were with him at the White House and on his presidential campaign. He's still talking regularly to Kellyanne Conway, to Stephen Miller, Dan Scavino, you know, household names who we came to know very well during the Trump era.

But there are some new faces who have made it into his inner circle well. I'm told that Florida-based attorney Carlos Trujillo, who was the ambassador to the Organization of American States during the Trump administration, has become a pretty regular adviser, somebody who Trump regularly bounces ideas off of, asks political advice from, somebody who has made his way into that inner circle.

HUNT: Gabby, let's talk about -- you mentioned 2022. I'm curious what the thinking is in terms of particularly Senate races where Republicans in Washington have increasingly been optimistic about their chances of not necessarily definitively taking back the Senate but about it being much more in play, considering the president's approval rating. But a lot of that has to do with the candidates that they pick some in some of these primaries.

Where is the former president's head in terms of that particular piece of -- is he willing to listen to Republicans who look at what happened in Georgia, and say, hey, you need to back candidates who don't necessarily agree with your big lie or aren't out there talking about it every day or is he not open to that argument at all?

ORR: I would point to Alabama as a great example of a candidate who has a Trump endorsement. Mo Brooks is running there and he's been out on the campaign trail regularly, telling Alabama voters we need to look beyond the 2020 election, and he has not lost Trump's endorsement. Now, the former president isn't necessarily happy with that message from Mo Brooks, but he hasn't withdrawn his endorsement and he hasn't gone out there and issued a statement critical of Congressman Brooks.

So there are instances where Trump is willing to bend a little bit to allow these candidates some flexibility and to tailor their message in such a way that will help them in a primary, but also in the general election contestant.

And you mentioned Georgia, Kasie. You know, that's one state where I spoke with a lot of advisers who said they really feel confident that Herschel Walker can run a successful campaign against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock, but they don't want Trump to go to Georgia to campaign for Walker and focus exclusively on 2020. That did not work in those run runoff election last January, and they're really hoping that he doesn't do that again.

HUNT: All right. Gabby Orr, thank you very much for being with us and sharing your reporting. We really appreciate it.

ORR: Thank you.

HUNT: Coming up next, New York City's new Mayor Eric Adams gets heckled at the Garden for one analogy.


Don Lemon joins us live.

And just revealed, the final photo taken of the beloved Betty White. Look at her. A legend.

BERMAN: Plus, investigators make a breakthrough in an historic mystery. Closer to answering the question, "Who Betrayed Anne Frank?"

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) STELTER: As the Senate prepares to begin a contentious debate over two voting rights bills today, Republican leaders, including Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, are among many Republicans receiving backlash for their tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while also blocking the new voting rights legislation.

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who says she will not vote to change the filibuster in order to pass those voting bills, also taking heat for her tweet commemorating Dr. King.

Joining us now is Don Lemon, host of CNN's "DON LEMON TONIGHT" and the author of "This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism".

Don, this is Kasie Hunt.

Kasie Hunt, Don Lemon.

HUNT: It's great to meet you in person.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: It's great to meet you. Welcome to CNN. You've been here for a while, but it's good to have you here.

HUNT: No, and it's great to be on with you.

BERMAN: Are you okay with each other? Before, we start, I want to make sure this is cool.

LEMON: Big fan.

HUNT: We fist bumped.

BERMAN: Fantastic. I'm so glad that we're all here together.

So, Don --


BERMAN: -- everyone likes to quote Dr. King.

LEMON: Always.

BERMAN: Always.

LEMON: Convenient, when it's convenient for them and that's a problem.


And that's -- that was what I struggled with yesterday and I struggled with every year, especially this year, because everyone -- listen, we all want to pay tribute to Dr. King especially on the day that we celebrate his legacy, right? And so we put things on social media and I struggle with that, and everyone always puts him when he's standing there in the orator and, you know, the march on Washington or he's standing at the pulpit or whatever, and I said, I didn't want to do that this year.

What I wanted to show is -- that I could do off of CNN's air was show him in the trenches, being arrested, having his head bashed, right? Being threatened, going to jail and those things. And inevitably, you get the politicians, especially the ones in Washington now who are blocking the people's access to the voting booth, and they want to use Dr. King conveniently. They're the biggest hypocrites on the planet because if Sinema and Manchin really want to honor the legacy of Dr. King and all the people who fought for civil rights and voting rights in this country, what they would do is do a carve-out for voting rights with the filibuster. That's what they would do.

But for some reason, they are mired in tradition and they are stuck with these rules that are back backwards. And as a former president said at John Lewis' memorial service, these are relics of Jim Crow. The filibuster has been used to block civil rights legislation forever. And so, we need to stop that.

We evolve -- just because there is a rule doesn't mean that that rule can't change. The Constitution is amended. So it's time to amend the rules and fight and protect the most sacred right that we have as Americans, and that is the right to vote.

HUNT: Democrats are going to force them to, it seems, vote on that rule change and as of now, they've said no, we're not going to do it. Does it mean anything to you that they have to be on the record as saying that?

LEMON: It does, it does, and I have a quote. I read this last night on my show, and it's a quote from Dr. King from a Birmingham jail. This is from 1963 and it could be today.

And he says, I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negroes' great stumbling block in the strive to freedom is not the white citizens council or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is devoted to order than to justice, who prefers a negative piece, which is the absence of tension, to a positive piece, which is the presence of justice, which constantly says, I agree with you in a goal that you see, but I cannot agree with your methods with direct actions who paternalistically believes that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises a Negro to wait for a more convenient season.

That sounds like the moderates, right? Not now, we can't change the rules because the rules are tradition. But we're going to block people from the voting and you're supposed to be a Democrat who e espouses to the ideals of Dr. King. That's bulls -- that's B.S. Sorry, it's in the morning, I could say that at night. But that's B.S., and you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a hypocrite.

BERMAN: No, look, I'm glad you read that quote because again, everyone wants to quote Dr. King and I don't doubt that people -- that everyone admires, but they're not giving you the full picture of what he really stood for and fought for unless you're including that quote right there, which they conveniently forget. LEMON: And the quote which we have a video of him in 1963 when he was

against -- '63 or '65, I forget it, when he was against the filibuster. When he talked about the filibusters and that the people use it -- the minority use to block the rights of the majority and to keep people from the voting booth and to block civil rights legislation.

He talked about the filibuster then and that it was a ridiculous mechanism to keep the minority in charge and to block progress in this country. So, you use those quotes, if you want to use a Dr. King quote.

HUNT: One tweet I did say yesterday from a politician that was an interesting one, it was not a quote from MLK. It was from Senator Schatz of Hawaii and he said it's important to remember that at the time that while 94 percent of Americans right now see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a hero, at the time, he wasn't what we would considered popular. He was --

LEMON: Not even among African Americans.

HUNT: And that was so remarkable to me and say so much about how we're -- how we think about it today.

LEMON: Because people are -- you look at what happens now with protests, right? With the people who want -- who want to fight for changes in our criminal justice system and people rare a little bit nervous about it. Are they going too far? Are they making us look bad? Are they causing trouble? Are they causing unrest on the streets?

Well, that's similar to what Dr. King was doing in that day and the establishment, even among African-American preachers and African- American establishments who's just a little bit too much, they're uncomfortable with it. They weren't comfortable with a rabble-rouser. So, it's good to have rabble-rousers.

It's good to people push the envelope and for us to evolve and that's what Dr. King did.

HUNT: Good trouble.

LEMON: And people like to quote John Lewis as well.