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New Day Saturday

U.S. Capitol Becomes Fortress ahead of Inauguration; Domestic Terrorists Pose Most Likely Threat to Inauguration; Capitol Mob Seconds Away from V.P. Pence; CDC Warns New COVID-19 Variant Will Delay U.S. Peak; Biden Outlines U.S. Vaccination Plan; Trump Wants Grand Departure; Tech Companies Ban Trump but Continue to Allow Other Problematic Leaders on Their Platforms. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 16, 2021 - 05:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American Capitol now a fortress, as Washington and the country brace for more violence.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people can be confident, we'll ensure that we have a safe inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was ripping my mask off.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Over 2 million people have died from coronavirus .

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rollout has been a failure.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We were not getting the vaccine doses out in the most efficient manner.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): New warning says there is a new variant that could become the dominant strain.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is "NEW DAY" weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning. We're glad you're up. It is January 16th and we are just grateful to have you with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We're beginning this morning in Washington. The Capitol is preparing for protests ahead of President- Elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The Department of Homeland Security, other agencies as well, say that domestic extremists pose the most likely threat.

PAUL: Pete Muntean.

And Pete, they are anticipating armed protests leading up to the inauguration.

What have you learned?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Roadblock after road block here in Washington, we have learned that the bridges into D.C. will close Tuesday through Inauguration Day.

This is about as close as one can get to the Capitol on foot and we're blocks away. Anybody who walks will first be met by 8-foot fencing around the Capitol and also going up around the National Mall.

And now there is a 12-foot fence in the Capitol if anybody gets over it, they will be met by 25,000 members of the National Guard. And about 7,000 members are here right now.

They are coming from states all over the country, Delaware, Pennsylvania, they are here armed with M-4s. And while the head of the guard says this looked like a war zone, it is definitely not one. Here is what he said.


MUNTEAN: You see just the sheer volume of Guards men out in front the Capitol and some looking like a foreign occupation for military overseas, like a war zone.

How tough is that and how would you classify it?

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM J. WALKER, D.C. NATIONAL GUARD: This is not a war zone. Anybody who's been in a war knows it's not.


MUNTEAN: This is a spot would typically be full of people. And this is the parade route between the Capitol and the White House. No JumboTron, not much in the way of crowds will be here on Inauguration Day.

BLACKWELL: Tell us what you know about the claim that has been walked back by federal prosecutors, that rioters intended to capture and assassinate elected officials.

MUNTEAN: We know things are changing by the moment. It is a fluid situation. We keep learning that the rioters were very close to Vice President Mike Pence as he was hunkered down in the Capitol.

So this is something that federal officials say there needs to be a rigorous investigation to figure out where the security failures were as the mob made its way closer to the Capitol.

This time around, they will be met with a much more fortified security apparatus here at the Capitol and all of D.C. Every major intersection has armed guards. And so, for the folks who live here, it is a major traffic snarl.


MUNTEAN: So, we'll see how this plays out.

PAUL: Four days to go. Pete Muntean, great job helping us understand. Thank you.

According to "The Washington Post," an internal intelligence report warned of violence targeting Congress from supporters of the president.

BLACKWELL: "This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter protesters as they were previously but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th."

And with us now is Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary at the DHS.

Juliette, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: When you hear the memo that went on for 12 pages, they had it three days before, does this become even clearer that this was a huge failure or is that an overstatement?

KAYYEM: No, it is not an overstatement. And there's nothing surprising in the intelligence. That is the other frustrating thing about this. Anyone who was monitoring what was going on, reading Donald Trump's tweets, knew January 6th was the day of congregation and words like "fight" and "take back the vote" were animating this group.

And their focus was on Congress itself. January 6th was the day that the electoral votes were certified. So this is an instance in which, you know, a bunch of intel was out there but no one put the pieces together like on 9/11.

This is where the pieces were handed us. And there was no response by the Capitol police. And we'll have to figure out what happened and what explains that gap. PAUL: You wrote, "The history of counterterrorism suggests that

letting Trump off easily is exactly the wrong strategy."

If he is not held accountable in some capacity, what do you anticipate the consequence will be of that?

KAYYEM: I think that -- let me put this way. Trump cannot have a soft exit. Trump any sort of belief by his followers that he has a second chance. And I say it reluctantly. But if we view Donald Trump as the intellectual as well as operational leader of a domestic terrorism organization, which he clearly is at this stage, then, like any counterterrorism effort, you have to you have to isolate the leadership.

And so I'm in the all the above phase -- impeachment, isolation -- and we had another cabinet resignation overnight -- criminal prosecution, not staying around for the inauguration, which I'm quite pleased about.

You want to isolate the leader of an organization that utilizes terror because then you will stop recruits. I'm not thinking that it ends on January 20th. What you want to ensure is that Donald Trump cannot continue to motivate and animate and get new recruits into his ideology.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is not al-Baghdadi, so he has no one searching for him. He will hold rallies likely and go on television shows.

So how do you deal with a former president in that position, who will have a budget and office and media that will welcome him?

KAYYEM: So some media will welcome him and I think that legitimate media should consider whether his words actually have news value. He's using news media as platforms to incite violence. He has had bad ideas for a long time.

But since the election he's utilized his platforms to justify an insurrection. So I think we have to consider whether his words are actually newsworthy. But something important: he will be less relevant to all of us.


KAYYEM: He will not be the focus of our days and nights. And that continuing isolation, that he has no power, is really important not simply to move forward but to also make us safer. This very small element of his supporters -- it is not Trump voters, not MAGA, it's a small element of his followers.

They like winners. And the less he is seen as a winner, as someone who can protect them, because they thought they would be protected, the less likely we'll have violence. But there will be pockets and maybe a lone wolf. But isolating him actually is better than unity.

BLACKWELL: We've got a little more than 100 hours left --


BLACKWELL: And we're just --

KAYYEM: I think I'm sitting here for most of it.

(LAUGHTER) KAYYEM: As I say to all my producers, I'm outside the blast zone and that's just humor for all your viewers. But I'm up here in Boston. You guys be safe and be good.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Sarah Westwood.

The president is making plans for his exit from the White House. It appears that one of his allies is not giving up on the idea that the president will be in office on January 21st. Tell us about this.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. My Pillow CEO was seen heading into the White House, holding notes with suggestions for Trump's final days in office and told Jim Acosta he presented Trump what he called evidence of voter fraud.

Obviously there is no so far but it gives you a window into how Trump is spending his final hours into office. Mike Pence has been taking on more of the public role here at the end of the Trump White House.

Pence called Kamala Harris, offering his assistance, his congratulations. That is not something that Trump has done. He has not phoned Biden. And Pence also publicly attended a briefing on inauguration security and spoke about the importance of keeping the nation's Capitol safe.

Again, not something that we've heard President Trump do. Trump has been pretty silent, especially since his Twitter account has been suspended. And we expect the silence to continue because White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has served her last day.

So we're not expecting a lot in the way of interaction with the media. Also we got the third cabinet resignation overnight when Health Secretary Alex Azar resigned, mentioning the insurrection last week as part of the reason why.

I'll read you a part, "Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration."

And he went on to say, "The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world."

That letter dated January 12th. So the halls of the White House will be a lot emptier.

PAUL: And a stunning revelation on the Trump administration's vaccine rollout. That stockpile that everybody thought would help boost the lag in vaccinations apparently no longer exists. One governor calls it deception on a national scale.

So now what?

BLACKWELL: And we did not know that Mike Pence and members of his family could have been just seconds away danger during the riot.





BLACKWELL: Four days to go in the Trump administration and the president and vice president, they seem to be approaching the Biden inauguration completely different. Mike Pence has spoke to his successor. But President Trump is ignoring it.

PAUL: They are speaking now because the relationship was strained after the riot. And that put Mike Pence and his family just 100 feet from danger, according to "The Washington Post." Here is Tom Foreman.


PROTESTERS: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence" and a makeshift gallows went up, the vice president, his wife and daughter, were just seconds away from being spotted, according to "The Washington Post."

At one point, they were hiding less than 100 feet from the violent crowd, attacking police officers, journalists and others. The timeline tells how it happened. Just before 1 o'clock, President Trump demands Pence toss the election results.


TRUMP: Mike Pence, I hope you're going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you're not, I'm going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now.


TRUMP: I am not hearing good stories.


PENCE: The Senate will now retire to its chamber.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Pence has no legal power to reject the vote.

But in little more than an hour, as he lead Congress in certifying the vote for Joe Biden, the Trump crowd is hammering through Capitol barricades. Inside:

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have been told by Capitol police that the Capitol is in lockdown.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Outside, by 2:11, the mob smashes into the building. Moments later, "The Post" says, Pence is hustled out of the chamber.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): And it will stand at recess until the call of the chair.


FOREMAN (voice-over): 2:14: Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman single-handedly slowing the surge of rioters, some shouting, "Where is Mike Pence?"

Based on "The Post's" reporting, the few seconds Goodman buys keeps the mob from seeing Pence and his family, being hurried into hiding in an office. Goodman lures the crowd toward other officers, likely giving other lawmakers time to escape, too.

Soon after, the violent mob seizes the Senate floor anyway, taking the very seat the vice president occupied minutes earlier.

And President Trump during all of this, he was watching events unfold on TV, according to many witnesses, taking no action for hours to stop the attack, and tweeting at 2:24, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done."

It was later deleted.

FOREMAN: Of course, the vice president came back later to declare Joe Biden the winner and the Secret Service says Pence was secure at all times. But that security, we now know, was far more tenuous than we thought -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


PAUL: So you remember when the Trump administration said releasing reserved vaccine doses could help boost a sluggish rollout?

Well, here's the problem this morning: there is no stockpile of reserve doses.

Now governors across the country have something to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am shocked and appalled that the federal government would set an expectation with the American people on which they knew they could not deliver.





(MUSIC PLAYING) BLACKWELL: It's 26 minutes after the hour and there is a new

projection from the University of Washington team that creates the influential coronavirus models: 192,000 new deaths between now and May. And the pandemic, they say, will peak in February. They also say more rapid vaccination efforts can bring that number down. Despite more than 31 million doses being distributed so far, the actual number of shots in arms, that is at 12 million.

PAUL: So now, on top of this, we're learning those reserve shots, that some people hoped could be released to boost that rate, well, they don't exist. And governors are angry.


GOV. TIM WALZ (D-MN): It is not debatable that the United States did this more poorly than any nation on Earth. They were lying. They don't have any doses held back.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): Let me be very clear, this is deception on a national scale.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): What we need is a new administration. We need President Biden and Secretary Becerra to restore some competence and sanity to this to figure out what the hell's going on and, if they have extra doses, to get them out.


PAUL: And Polo Sandoval is following all of this.

I know that we are in the deadliest days of the pandemic yet. The vaccine situation obviously, I mean, this is just confusing.

What do we know about this?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you hear from the Democratic governors, they are angry and confused because many are trying to protect as many residents as they can.

So they are left wondering how many doses will be heading their way because, as you mentioned, the Trump administration had just said earlier this week that they planned to release more reserves.

And you heard from Alex Azar yesterday, saying that those don't exist anymore, that they are no longer sitting on additional reserves.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer hoping to reassure governors that COVID-19 vaccines were being held for second doses. But Friday, Alex Azar told NBC News that that is not the case.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: No, there is not a reserve stockpile. We have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose to people. So we're not sitting on a reserve, we've made that available to the states to order.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Pfizer says second doses are ready. But there is still a lot of confusion among Americans. This week closed with roughly 39 percent of distributed vaccines having gone into arms. The president-elect promised to push harder on vaccinations.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be a partner to the states and cities so where things are working we'll help do more of the good work. And where things can improve, we'll bring more resources to bear.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Biden vowing to expand vaccination eligibility, set up more free pop-up sites and give supply a second win. Also it can't come soon enough with the new variants, including one first detected in the U.K., threatening to accelerate.

And L.A. County is at a breaking point. And the National Guard is sharing the grim task of handling the dead. And overwhelmed EMTs are the ones having to decide if a patient is rush to the hospital or remain at home.

MICHAEL DIAZ, EMT: Now it's where, if somebody has coronavirus specifically, we're basically giving them 20 minutes. And if they are not viable after 20 minutes, we have to make a rough decision.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): With more than 2 million dead from COVID-19 around the world, the U.S. is on track to hit 400,000 lives lost due to the virus in the coming days. That is about six packed NFL stadiums. And somebody's loved one filling each seat.


SANDOVAL: There are some hopes in the numbers, for example the actual test positivity rate, that has remain downward and that suggests that we could be possibly at an apex in California.

But when you look at hospitalization numbers, those are still just jaw-droppingly high. At one point this week, there were only about 1,000 ICU beds available. And as you heard, there are just a few minutes to decide if EMTs take them to the hospital or just go on and console the family.

BLACKWELL: It is horrible. And to think that the administration made such fanfare over emptying the shelves and now we find out that the shelves are already empty. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

PAUL: Dr. Rod Davidson is an emergency room physician in West Michigan and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.

Dr. Davidson, good to have you with us. We know that Biden is promising there will be 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days. But if there are no more reserves and there were only 31 million doses distributed initially, well, there are only 12 million people who've been vaccinated. The numbers don't add up. DR. ROD DAVIDSON, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: And so a goal without

a plan is just a wish. So that was just a number that they hoped that they can do. We have an administration coming in with plans to use FEMA sites to get people vaccinated, to use the National Guard, the Defense Production Act to increase production.

So it is a big number. And we have a president coming in, who, I think, wants to take the responsibility and wants people to hold him and his administration accountable. So, yes, I'm hopeful. I think it is possible and I think that we should shoot for it.

PAUL: If there are only 32 million doses right now and President-Elect Biden is promising 100 million in the first 100 days, where does the discrepancy come from?

Are Moderna and Pfizer still in production obviously?

DAVIDSON: Yes, they are in production and I think, yes, by the federal government using a whole of government approach, the Defense Protection Act in particular, to basically force these industries to produce more, to work around the clock, I think that it is possible.

And also Johnson & Johnson possibly coming out with phase III data in January, production in February and adding to that number hopefully. Again, it is a big goal and we may not reach it but we shoot for that and have a government pushing, certainly we can get as close to it as possible.

PAUL: If people hear that there is production, that might quell a little bit of the fear. We're just five days from the COVID-19 task force in the new administration.

If you could talk to the new task force, what do you want them to know?

DAVIDSON: I want them to know that the system of testing is still broken in the states.


DAVIDSON: There are far too many cases handing to be able to test and trace, that we have health departments that have been disinvested for decades, that can't keep up with the need to vaccinate and test.

We need a doubling of efforts, to fund state and local health departments. And I just need them to speak with one voice, telling people to wear masks and stay home. I think if we have one message, that will at least get those folks who are listening, who are receptive to do the right things and protect people.

PAUL: Doctor, thank you to you and your teams and all the frontliners.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Outgoing presidents typically leave Washington on January 20th but not like this. President Trump will leave on Inauguration Day, that morning. But no intentions to see the incoming president face-to-face. So we'll tell you about how the president wants to say goodbye.





BLACKWELL: He's been impeached twice, approval rating didn't spent a single day above water but Trump still plans to leave with a hero's salute. He wants to hold a grand departure ceremony with a military band and a 21-gun salute and red carpet.

And here with me now is Julian Zelizer.

He wants to here "Hail to the Chief" one more time.

What is the precedence for something like this for a president to leave in this style?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The only real departure we think about was Richard Nixon, who left after resigning office. And it was a very dramatic moment. Otherwise, this is not how it is done. The outgoing president attends a lunch after the inauguration and takes off in a government plane in a low-key style.

BLACKWELL: And so Mike Pence will attend the inauguration. He has thanked National Guards men and women, out there protecting the Capitol. He called to congratulate the incoming vice president, Kamala Harris.

But he was in lockstep with every major decision of this administration. He stayed silent through all of the lies, which we'll detail later.

Will his legacy depart from that of this president?

ZELIZER: I don't really think so. The more that we learn about the insurrection on January 6th, the worse it gets and the clearer it becomes, the intent of those in the Capitol and the connection between what they were saying and what all administration officials were saying in challenging and trying to overturn the election.

So I think that will be weighed down by his role in these terrible final weeks of the Trump presidency.

BLACKWELL: Aside from the requirement -- not a requirement because he is not doing it -- but the tradition of attending the inauguration, there is a note left to the incoming president. I want to read a bit from the letter that Obama left.

"We are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions, like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties. It is up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them."

Are they as strong now?

I think the answer is no.

But can they be fortified, strengthened as quickly as they were weakened?

ZELIZER: No, because they have been weakened over decades. And it has accelerated dramatically in the final four years. It will take the work of future leaders to restore governing and also to restrain a presidency, which, as we have seen, can get out of control very easily if the occupant of the office goes wherever they want using their power.

BLACKWELL: Julian, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And we'll be right back.





BLACKWELL: Twitter is getting praise from some for removing President Trump's account after inciting the siege on the U.S. Capitol.

PAUL: But some say that it is a double standard because Twitter lets other authoritarian leaders post. Here is Scott McLean.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Following the deadly U.S. Capitol riot, many political opponents are cheering Twitter's decision to permanently

ban the person they say encouraged the insurrection -- President Trump.

Twitter claims his account posed a risk of further incitement of violence. And his personal Facebook account was also suspended indefinitely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He violated our policies and it was a risk we couldn't take.

TRUMP: I think that Big Tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country. And I believe that it is going to be a catastrophic mistake for them.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Social media platforms have consistently pointed to their own rules. But experts say consistency is lacking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not consistent so you have to wonder whether some have become basically monsters that they can't tame themselves.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Trump's ban has set off a fierce international debate around free speech. The Mexican president says the ban was contrary to freedom and a spokesperson for Angela Merkel says it is problematic.

And critics also pointed to the paradox of a U.S. president banned from Twitter while brutal dictators remain like Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, accused with crimes against humanity or the government of Saudi Arabia, with a long record of jailing and killing dissidents. The company explained in 2018 blocking a world leader would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that they made the wrong decision by kicking off President Trump. But I would like to see them apply the same standard to leaders around the world.

MCLEAN (voice-over): But many unsavory world leaders also have some of the tamest Twitter accounts. Vladimir Putin has a verified Kremlin account but, offline, he has been accused of silencing his critics. Navalny warns that the president will be exploited by enemies of freedom of speech around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Expecting the companies to be the speech police of our dreams, that is unrealistic.

MCLEAN (voice-over): And this week Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said platforms should look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement.

President Trump used his Twitter account to inflame debate and spread outright lies. But just last week China reportedly tweeted from the accounts of its embassy in Washington that the minds of Uyghur women have been emancipated, making them no longer baby-making machines. The tweet was removed by Twitter.

Other posts are still up, like the 2018 tweet from Iran's ayatollah, calling Israel "a malignant cancerous tumor."

Twitter told CNN, "We've taken enforcement action on world leaders prior to this," but didn't give any details. Former executives summed up the reluctance like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I threaten my neighbor, it's a criminal. If the president threatens our neighbors, it is a statement of foreign policies.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In 2018, Twitter explained, "We review tweets within the political context that defines them."

But local political context is where experts say American social media companies have a blind spot.

That same year, Facebook conceded that it didn't do enough to prevent a genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Human rights activists say the killings were fueled in party by hatred ginned up by military leaders on the social network.

Facebook now says it has banned 20 accounts.

MCLEAN: Why is it only now that we're kind of waking up to this?

This has happened before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that it is a secret that Americans look at their own societies than others. And it is a matter of resources.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Europe is already planning new legislation to rein in the power of social media platforms. Both parties in Washington agreeing something needs to change but they can't agree on what -- Scott McLean, CNN, London.


PAUL: And let's talk sports because the NFL's two most mature in age quarterbacks, let's say, will meet for the first time ever in the playoffs. Why Tom Brady says being older is an advantage.