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D.C. Fortifies As FBI Warns Of Potential Armed Protests; WAPO: Capitol Police Intel Warned Three Days Before Attack That Congress Itself Could Be Targeted; Biden Outlines Five-Point Plan To Speed Up Vaccine Rollout. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 16, 2021 - 08:00   ET




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: We were a bit too rigid. We were not getting the vaccine doses out in the most efficient manner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New warning from the CDC says there's a new more contagious coronavirus variant that could become the dominant strain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing viruses do what viruses do. You know they mutate.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY Weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Flags flying at the White House there as the president is there, President Trump for the last four days leading up to the inauguration of President elect Joe Biden and we know right now law enforcement officials say they are tracking dozens of people who may be headed to that spot, there in Washington.

The U.S. capitol bracing for more protests ahead of president elect Joe Biden's inauguration and the department of homeland security and several other agencies say domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to that event on Wednesday.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We're also learning some new details about the attempted coup on January 6 as an internal report that details the major security and intelligence failures. Investigators have opened hundreds of criminal cases against the protesters and some of the rioters and several of them are facing charges.

PAUL: We're covering these stories from every angle. Our reporters and correspondents are standing by. We want to begin with CNN's Pete Muntean in the nation's capitol because Pete, this is going to be an inauguration like we have never seen before. Based on what you're seeing there this morning, tell us about it. PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So true, Christi. You know the

security keeps getting tighter and tighter. We're pretty far away from the capitol, blocks away in fact and we were just moved back here because of a security sweep taking place behind me.

You can see the eight-foot fence that now surrounds the capitol complex and is going up around the national mall. On the other side of this, some 7000 members of the U.S. National Guard coming from all 50 states and U.S. territories and the Major General of the DC guards leading this operation tells me the 25000 members of the guard could be here by inauguration day.

They are armed with M4s but he insists while this does look like a war zone, it is not. Here's what he said.


MUNTEAN: What's your message to folks who see just the sheer volume of guardsmen out in front of the capitol today?

And some have compared it to looking more like a foreign occupation for military oversees, like a warzone. How tough is that classification to you and how would you classify it?

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM J. WALKER, COMMANDING GENERAL DC NATIONAL GUARD: So this is not a war zone and anybody who's been in a war knows that this is not a war zone.


MUNTEAN: Major General William Walker spoke to me in his dress uniform having just left the House, speaking with leadership there, reassuring them that this will be a peaceful transfer of power. The flip side of that is that this will be a very quiet one. DC practically deserted right now. The road block stretched for miles and bridges from Virginia into DC we're just learning will be closed starting Tuesday and through Inauguration day. This will be an inauguration like no other. Security very clamped down here in DC.

PAUL: All right Pete Muntean, we appreciate it. Thank you so much. Let's go to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood now. Sarah, the president is making plans for his departure but he has someone now who - it's just surprisingly relevant in the last few hours of the Trump administration who thinks that he has a chance at a second term.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes Victor. That would be Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow and a close personal ally of President Trump who was photographed heading into the White House yesterday with notes containing what appeared to be suggestions that Lindell had for Trump for his final days in office.

Lindell then told CNN that during a meeting with Trump at the White House, he tried to hand the president what he described as evidence of voter fraud. Obviously no evidence of widespread voter fraud has been presented publicly since Election Day but that's what Lindell said he was trying to offer to Trump yesterday and it gives this sliver of insight into how Trump is spending his last moments in office.

He's been largely spending them behind closed doors here at the White House. And meanwhile Vice President Mike Pence has emerged really is the more visible and frankly more presidential leader. On Thursday he called his soon to be successor vice president elect Kamala Harris to wish her congratulations, to offer her assistance.

Trump as we know has not extended that courtesy to his soon to be successor president elect Biden, has not picked up the phone to call him. Pence also attended an inauguration security briefing at FEMA headquarters and crucially, he spoke publicly this week about the importance of keeping the nation's capitol safe on inauguration day.

That's not a message that Trump has spent a lot of time. Pence also stopped to greet national guardsmen stationed outside the capitol so Pence emerging as a very presidential figure and the only one who is going to be attending the inauguration. Trump not expected to do so.


He's been very quiet in his final full week in office that's been amplified obviously by the lack of his Twitter account and the White House might get even more quiet over the last few days because the press shop has been almost completely cleared out. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany completed her last day on the job yesterday.

Her deputy is also gone so not expecting a lot from the press office here in the Trump White House. Sources tell CNN that Trump is resisting the push from his aides to consider delivering a farewell address during his final four days in office, either taped or live. Trump has expressed disinterest in that, really turning his focus to his send off at Joint Base Andrews before he is expected to fly off to Palm Beach on Inauguration day. Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, good to see you this morning. Thank you for the update. Let's talk now to Democratic congressman from Texas, Vicente Gonzalez. He serves on the Foreign Affairs committee and is a member of the problem solvers caucus. Mr. Congressman, good to have you with us.

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Good to be here, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you so much for taking time for us so we know the FBI is warning these armed protests could happen at any capitol in the country this coming week. What conversations are you having with your colleagues about how to tackle this?

GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, we expect to have overwhelming manifestation of force in every capitol in the country and certainly on our capitol here, here in Washington DC, the law enforcement has been very active and military troops have been activated, as you know our National Guard is here from several states.

It looks - it looks pretty tight out here in Washington and I think it's sending a message to the American people that you can rely on our democracy and it will not be deterred by a small group of terrorists, of internal terrorists if you will. Our democracy will continue and we will continue to be the United States of America and lead the world in freedom and democracy and stability as we always have.

PAUL: I want to get your reaction to something Senator Rand Paul said on Fox last night criticizing the military presence in DC there.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): You know government, they either under react or overreact so I think there's too little security obviously last week and now we're going to become a militarized zone and you know they're checking congressmen as they come in to see if they have a sharp pencil. Yes, we have to resist this.


PAUL: What did he mean, we have to resist this and what's your reaction?

GONZALEZ: Well, there is an over-reaction because it deserves the over-reaction. Five people died last week including four of President Trump's own followers and a law enforcement officer so this is certainly something not to underestimate so an overreaction would be appropriate in this case.

Now is this going to be a permanent over reaction. That's something that I would be obviously critical as well. At some point we need to tone it down, we need to have very good security to assure every member and every visitor and every staffer is safe in our capitol and on Capitol Hill to conduct government business.

But the over reaction is also - it is going to be a concern if it - if they become permanent measures but we do need to have permanent measures in place to assure that what happened last week on the U.S. capitol will never happen again.

PAUL: Sure and I want to get your perspective as a member of the foreign affairs committee on some news that's coming in this morning. A bulletin and a joint bulletin that CNN have obtained notes that there are foreign agitators, Russian, Iranian, Chinese influence actors that are using the capitol violence that we saw on Wednesday to amplify the narratives in their favor.

Talk to us now about that potential threat and how the U.S. should respond.

GONZALEZ: Yep. Well, I clearly expected that that are our enemies or our foes were going to take advantage of President Trump's failures. They've been doing it for four years so this would be no different. Clearly we need to respond to that, we need to assure the world, the democratic world that stability is back in the United States, that we're back on track, that our economy is building back, that President Biden has a very aggressive plan to disrupt the virus that's killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

And sure that we have an economic plan to succeed and I see this clearly as a path forward and I think that that's the message our friends and foes around the world will receive very shortly.

PAUL: So you tweeted after what happened on 1/6 that I am shaken to my core but I am undeterred. How has that attacked in going through that, how has that shaped your focus now?

GONZALEZ: That's right. Well, when you're at work and you think you might not make it home, you're shaken to your core that at that point I can't - I could say right now nothing makes me more proud than to have served with the brave men and women of the 117th Congress. We were undeterred to go back into sure the process of democracy was not stopped.


That we were able to certify our next President of the United States in a peaceful transition of power. It was unfortunate that some members still went back in and were on the wrong side of history and voted against it but the vast majority didn't including many Republicans who were - who were on the right side of history and did what was right and appropriate for our democracy and I just, I'm very proud that you know men and women who have been elected to office are doing their job or assuring that a small mob of domestic terrorists do not deter this country and our government.

PAUL: So I think you were referring to your fellow Texas lawmakers Senator Ted Cruz and the 15 other members from your state that voted against certifying a president elect Biden's win even after the mob had stormed the capitol so I'm wondering if you have spoken with them since then and where do you - how do you move forward at this point with that kind of a divide?

GONZALEZ: Yes. Clearly, it's very disappointing that they took these votes. They did out of fear. I don't believe that they believe that this election was stolen from them. Certainly not Senator Cruz or these members of Congress, the vast majority of them. They know the truth. They know this election was not stolen.

They're - they're fearful of their constituents who have been lied to by our president and our president has not been honest to them and told them he legitimately lost this election and until he does, I don't know that he will appease the hearts of those people, those types that showed up to our capitol that exist across our country that really believe that this election was stolen from them and if I believed legitimately that this election was stolen from them, I would be a protester myself.

But there's no evidence of that, it's been debunked in over 60 lawsuits, most of them in federal courts, many of them by judges who were appointed by Donald Trump himself. This this election was certified in all 50 states, the vast majority of them Republican states who told the president, you lost legitimately.

And he has not been able to have an honest conversation with the American people and let them know that. And until he does, our democracy has some cancer that we have to address. People have been lied to and people are gullible, many people are gullible and have believed him and it requires him and these members of Congress and senators to go back and be honest with our constituents and do what their job is, what they've been paid to do is to be honest and tell them we've lost this selection.

Calm down, let's try again in two years or four years but this is our reality.

PAUL: So Congressman, real quickly speaking of fear, let's listen to what Representative John Garamendi told our Brooke Baldwin yesterday.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I just want to jump in because I want to make sure we are - I'm hearing you crystal clear as you bring up the desire of some of these members of bringing guns into the capitol which is not allowed by the way. Are you concerned - are you suggesting that one of your fellow members of Congress might harm you?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Of course. Why would you bring a gun onto the floor?


PAUL: Well, what is your reaction to Representative Garamendi there saying that obviously and as Brooke very rightly pointed out, it's not allowed to buy a gun to the floor but that he actually fears any of or some of his fellow congressmen having one.

GONZALEZ: Yes. I might not completely agree with him on this. We are living tense times and I hope this measure is temporary but the rule for members to be able to carry gun on capitol grounds has been available for 53 years and we've never had a breach of that rule we've never had a member do anything to compromise that rule.

So I don't believe we should repeal that in any way. The rule is apparently you cannot carry your gun on the floor so that we need to continue with that. Tensions are running high as you know our leader Pelosi put these metal detectors right at the door of the entrance into the chamber.

I hope that these measures are temporary and once people calm down and realize that Hey this was a horrible event that happened in our history but we're going to get past this, we're going to unite again as Americans and we're going to have our freedoms back, I don't believe in taking American freedoms away when every time we have an event.

We need to be very, very careful at every step that we take and if we do and a measure like this, I'm hoping that it's a short-term measure. For 53 years we've been able to trust members of Congress to carry their weapon as an extra layer of security which obviously I believe we need because we've had - we've been targets of violence in this past Congress.

Members got shot at that baseball game. We've had members of Congress be shot and killed before so that extra layer of protection is something that I will advocate for moving forward. This metal detector =

PAUL: Do you Congressman - I'm sorry. Congressman, do you carry and do you fear as a Representative Garamendi said, congressman who also carries, they may do something? Do you carry?


GONZALEZ: Yes, well, I own a weapon. I don't always carry and I don't carry to Capitol grounds because I feel that our capitol police does a good enough job in keeping it safe. Last week though really, really was an issue that I think members will be able to advocate even more that hey, it would've been nice to have that extra layer of protection in a well and proper trained and planned way.

Now we don't have that at this time. We haven't talked about that in the Congress. We didn't even know how to put our masks on. We have not had any drills on how to evacuate so we need to go back and revisit a lot of security measures and have conversations about this and including the topic of members being able to carry.

So I don't oppose members being able to carry because we've never had an issue with it before. The day we do then we need to address it but for 53 years, that has been the rule, that has been the law and no member on either party has ever violated it.

PAUL: Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, appreciate the conversation this morning. Thank you, sir.

GONZALEZ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Just days before he takes off as president elect, Joe Biden is outlining his plan to get COVID-19 vaccines to millions of Americans, 100 million doses in its first 100 days. Let's go to CNN's Jasmine Wright.

This is an ambitious goal.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN VIDEO PRODUCER: That's right Victor and Biden is pledging to use the full weight of the federal government to vaccinate Americans. It's part of his larger goal to beat coronavirus but also as you said, to fill that initial goal of vaccinating 50 million Americans in his first 100 Days in office.

That is 100 million shot and yesterday in Wilmington, Biden was candid when he addressed this ambitious very large task ahead of him. Take a listen here.


BIDEN: Some wonder if we're reaching too far for that goal. Is it achievable? A legitimate question to ask. Let me be clear. I'm convinced we can get it done. And this is the time to set big goals. To pursue them with courage and conviction because the health of the nation is literally at stake. The honest truth is this.

Things will get worse before they get better. I told you, I'll always level with you.


WRIGHT: And so this is a multi-faceted plan. Let me read you some of the details. It includes mass vaccination sites supported by the federal government. That's like arenas or baseball fields specifically for getting those shots in people's arms. It includes a public education campaign to reach those Americans who are hesitant to take the vaccine.

It includes a federal push to increase vaccine supplied by the Defense Production Act. Now exactly how Biden would use that Defense Production Act to increase supply as well as how - how many of those mass vaccinations size he wants to see across the country. Those are some things that were not exactly included in the plan but Biden outlined his plan with a real sense of urgency yesterday.

He called the current rollout under the Trump administration a dismal failure and he was really candid when saying that. Things will get worse in this country before they do get better but he ended his remarks yesterday with a note of optimism saying that his administration will manage this operation. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Jasmine Wright for us. Thank you, Jasmine.

PAUL: There's a stunning admission from the Trump administration on the rocky vaccine roll out. The stock pile that so many people had hoped would help boost the lag in vaccinations? Well, that stockpile no longer exists. One governor calls that "deception on a national scale."

What is the plan now? We'll talk about it.

BLACKWELL: Plus new details about the riot on January 6. The Washington Post says that an internal report warned of violence targeting Congress members days before the attack.




BLACKWELL: There's a new projection from the University of Washington, the team that creates the coronavirus models used by the White House. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts close to 567,000 people dead due to coronavirus by May 1.

But they say more rapid vaccination efforts could bring that number down.

PAUL: Now that's despite more than 31 million doses that have been distributed thus far. Actual shots in arms so far totaled 12 million but we're learning that the reserve shots that so many people had hoped could be released to boost that rate no longer exist and here's what governors are saying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: 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) OREGON: Let me be very clear. This is deception on a national scale.

GOV. HARED POSE (D) COLORADO: What we really need is a new administration. We need President Biden, Secretary Bacera to restore some confidence and sanity to this to figure out what the hell's going on and if they have extra doses to get them out.

PAUL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this. Polo, any explanation as to why this happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we heard from Azar now, the recently resigned Secretary of Health and Human Services which you'll hear it from in just a few moments but basically what you're seeing is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention basically imploring right now for Americans to double down on those safety measures that they've been hopefully practicing for almost the last year.

They're pointing to what is a relatively startling use simulation from the CDC that now shows that this new variant of the virus was first identified in the U.K. may potentially become the dominant form of the virus as early as this March and that's really adding to that urgency and adding to the frustrations from some governors across the country.



SANDOVAL (voice over): Vaccine manufacturer Pfizer hoping to reassure some of the nation's frustrated governors who were told by the Trump administration that COVID-19 vaccines were being held to ensure second doses. On Friday though, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told NBC news, that's not the case.

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY, HHS: No, there's not a reserve stockpile. We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people. So we're not sitting on a reserve anymore. We've made that available to the states to order.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Pfizer says second doses already and only recently started shipping them at the request of Operation Warp Speed that's a Trump administration's efforts to develop the distributor COVID-19 vaccine.

But nationally there still a lot of chaos and a lot of confusion among Americans anxious to get their shots. This week closed with roughly 39 percent of distributed vaccines having gone into arms according to the CDC of a 1.5 million people who have already received both necessary doses. Speaking to the nation on Friday, the president elect promised to push

harder on vaccinations after he takes office.

BIDEN: 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 when things can improve, we'll bring more resources to bear to get folks tested and vaccinated.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Biden vowed to expand vaccination eligibility, set up more free pop up sites and give - second efforts to second win. And it can't come soon enough with a fresh warning from the CDC about new COVID-19 variants including one that was first detected in the U.K. that are threatening to accelerate viral spread by March in the United States.

California, specifically LA County is at a breaking point. That's where the National Guard is backing up the quarters office sharing the grim task of handling the debt. In some cases overwhelmed EMTs are the ones having to decide in minutes if a COVID patient is rushed to the hospital or if they remain at home possibly succumbing to the virus.

MICHAEL DIAZ, EMT & UNION PRESIDENT: Now it's gotten to the point where if somebody has coronavirus specifically, we're just basically given them 20 minutes and if they're not viable after 20 minutes, we're making up a rough decision.

SANDOVAL (voice over): But with more than 2 million people now 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's about six packed NFL stadiums. Imagine somebody's loved one filling each one of the seats.

There is some at least hopeful news for people out west including test positivity rates in California that have been on a downward trend for the last several days. Experts suggesting that that could potentially be an apex that people they are experiencing but still hospitalizations on the rise or at least continue to be extremely high there Christi.

The state that's home to about 40 million people at one point this week only had about 1000 ICU beds so it certainly speaks to that sense of desperation that we continue to hear from frontline workers out west.


PAUL: Yes, no doubt about it and 40 million and just a 1000 beds. That is - that is jolting. Polo Sandoval, really appreciate it. Thank you.

SANDOVAL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The Washington Post says capitol police intelligence report which was published three days before the riots warned violent supporters of President Trump could attack Congress. We'll talk more about this next.




BLACKWELL: According to "The Washington Post," an internal intelligence report from the capitol police warned of violence targeting Congress from supporters of the president. Here's part of the report. "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 sixth.

Let's talk now about all this with Jonathan Wackrow , a CNN Law Enforcement analyst and former secret service agent. Jonathan, welcome back. How does something like this slip through?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, good morning Victor. How much more clear do you need to be to identify a threat. I mean this is - this is bonkers that this intelligence report wasn't widely distributed to not only every single capitol police officer so that they fully understood the potential threat at that time but also shared with all of the capitol police's law enforcement partners.

Having intelligence that stated that Congress was actually a potential target with a high likelihood isn't just an intelligence failure, it is absolute negligence on the part of the leaders of the capitol police and those who held that intelligence back.

And Victor, what we saw on January 6, we saw the acute shock at the moment where officers were literally overwhelmed. They had no idea that this group of what they perceived was protesters would actually have the intent of storming the U S. capitol and attacking our democracy.

That led to a complete breakdown of the incident command structure and really made a bad situation so much more worse and now we're understanding that this could have been avoided. That is just shocking.

BLACKWELL: Jonathan, let's look ahead especially to the inauguration and control room, let's put up the video of the security posture in Washington and around the capitol building. There obviously is a demarcation somewhere, right?


Where there isn't the fence, there aren't the thousands of members of the National Guard. What's your greatest concern? Where is that in the capitol?

WACKROW: Well listen Victor, right now what is happening is a really good decision by the outgoing DHS secretary was to accelerate the implementation of the national special security event structure as coordinated by the secret service and what that actually does is, it brings a whole of government approach to providing protection to a region, not just specific locations.

But your point is very critical here. There is this line of demarcation. We were referring to Washington as a war zone where there's a secured-unsecured area. Actually what is - what is happening is you're seeing the fortification of hard sites such as the capitol and the White House.

But law enforcement is keenly aware that a threat never remains at rest and is going to take the path of least resistance and because of that they are taking the appropriate actions to deploy resources, whether it's overtly by the utilization of law enforcement uniformed officers and National Guard or covertly in terms of surveillance and looking for pre-attack indicators throughout the city.

I assess really the risk in terms of a coordinated attack is going to be minimal for Washington like we saw here on January 6. I am really concerned about the lone actor, the lone wolf attack, whether it's in the District of Columbia or at other key target locations around the United States and that's why the warnings are going out by law enforcement.

You'll see amplified activity by law enforcement at key locations around the country to address this clear and present danger.

BLACKWELL: And of course, state capitols are concerned over this week and heading into the Inauguration. Had a conversation a couple of hours ago early this morning with Juliette Kayyem, who you know well also, formally with the Department of Homeland Security where she talked about the need to control or limit some of the communication from those who would promote or plan through social media some violence in either the U.S. capitol or state capitols.

But you say that those limitations cut both ways. Explain that.

WACKROW: Well listen, you know, you can - you can take away some of the clear channels of communication for these groups but their intent is to try to you know further their ideology and think about this. We're dealing with individuals that are anti-government, anti- establishment, violent militia extremists and what they are trying to do is further a goal.

So while they're off traditional social media, they're still communicating. They're still communicating on fringe websites, chat boards and basically targeting in on certain locations around the United States. So this is the challenge for law enforcement is you have hundreds of thousands of conversations going on at the same time with some saying stand down, don't attack at this time, wait, we'll address things in the future.

And others saying it is our right, we're going to defend our rights on inauguration day and further our ideology.

BLACKWELL: Jonathan Wackrow, always good to have your insight. Appreciate your time this morning.

WACKROW: Hey, thanks Victor. PAUL: Well, GOP and election denialism. Some in the party My Pillow

CEO and close friend of the president, Mike Lindell are still hoping that President Trump will overturn the election results.



BLACKWELL: Even after the deadly riots on Capitol Hill, the president's allies are still giving oxygen to these baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

PAUL: Yes but the son of a famous conservative media mogul is not one of them. CNN's Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter with us now. So even - even during the president's final days, I think people are astounded that some in his circle are still searching for evidence of this fraud that he talks about this alleged fraud.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is kind of a new lost cause. Sadly it is not going away even though it's been debunked in dozens of courts, dozens of times. I don't know how I'm going to sleep with my My Pillow anymore.

This has been one of my My Pillows. I fell for it. I bought a couple of those pillows. They're not you know, they're not my cup of tea but it is so strange to see basically an entrepreneur with a controversial past getting access to the White House to go, come up with ideas for voter fraud.

Instead of buying his way into the White House, he bought his way into Fox news and Newsmax by running so many ads, tens of millions of dollars of ads for his pillow on right wing media and that has made him a hero of right-wing media so he is still out there, I think in some ways trying to win customers by supporting Trump and claiming there was mass voter fraud and claiming there was a way to overturn the election.

But make no mistake, this is straight from the QAnon well. The QAnon rabbit hole. This idea that somehow the president to declare martial law, could try to stay in office for a second term. This is straight up QAnon conspiracy theory, going straight to the White House via the CEO of My Pillow.


BLACKWELL: But does the pillow help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer? I feel like that's the--

STELTER: No, last night it didn't, not after hearing about his. Not after hearing about a My Pillow coup. I mean, this is like a strange situation. It's not like the head of mattress warehouse goes and tries to help the Biden administration. We're in such upside-down times and Victor, that's why I want you to send me one of those jugs of gumballs.

I need that as a historical archive as a memory for the Trump years. PAUL: I got one too Bria.

BLACKWELL: You will certainly get one.

PAUL: I got one too. My kids asked if they could eat it.

BLACKWELL: I can't even believe it that Mike Lindell's relevant or how he gets to meet with Cipollone and the president. All right, so let me get back to the Murdoch sons. They're not going with the White House line here. They're speaking out against election misinformation. What are they saying?

STELTER: Yes, in a scathing statement from one of the Murdoch sons, James Murdoch who left the family business because he could not take it anymore. So disappointed by the conservative disinformation coming from Fox news.

James and his wife Catherine saying overnight that media property owners have just as much responsibility as elected officials who know the truth but choose to propagate lies. He is aiming straight out Fox news, aiming straight at his father and his brother Lachlan who run Fox news because we ought to acknowledge that what happened in Washington ten days ago, it was a riot of lies.

It was a riot built on this big lie about voter fraud that was promoted on Fox news and actually in some ways continues to be alluded to or indulged on Fox news and as you go on to other fringier cable news channels and websites, you hear this new narrative that says the riot wasn't that bad.

Greg Kelly on Newsmax last night said I'm so sick of hearing about the riot, they're trying to make us all feel bad. Well, obviously your federal authorities and news outlets want to get to the bottom of what happened and just how coordinated it was. This story's getting bigger every day but they're already trying to minimize it in the pro-Trump media.

They're already trying to wipe it away and move on because of course it is such an embarrassment, an embarrassment for the nation and they are trying to minimize it. I think it's important that the rest of us not let that happen because there's still so much we don't know about what happened on January 6.

PAUL: Yes and tell those five families that lost somebody that it's not that bad, that we shouldn't be feeling so bad about it. Brian Stelter, we appreciate you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Stelter.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: So Facebook is now facing some new scrutiny. They're taking action ahead of the inauguration. We'll tell you what the company is doing and what it means.



BLACKWELL: Users who repeatedly break Facebook's new face - new rules, I should say face new restrictions through Inauguration Day. Now in the wake of last week's riot, the company will stop repeat offenders from streaming live videos or creating new pages, events or groups.

PAUL: And Facebooks' also banning the creation of new event pages tied to Washington DC and state capitols. "This is a move intended to "further prevent people from trying to use our services to incite violence." Facebook said that in an update to a blog post. Donie O'Sullivan has been on the front lines of this story for CNN. He joins us now from Washington.

Donie, good to see you this morning. Talk us through the new restrictions.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, we've seen a raft of new policies, new crackdowns on conspiracy theories, election lies and stuff like QAnon over the past week from platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Twitter alone suspending in the course of just over last weekend 70,000 - 70,000 QAnon accounts.

So we are really seeing these platforms finally seemingly getting serious about misinformation about this election but of course the question does remain you know why now and if some of those 70,000 accounts have been taken down prior to last week, maybe an insurrection could have been avoided here in Washington.

BLACKWELL: So Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg, she's been talking about what happened. What's the reaction to her statements?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, Sheryl Sandberg is trying to really downplay Facebook's culpability in the violence we saw here in Washington DC. She gave an interview this week, have a listen.


SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don't have our abilities to stop hate and don't have our standards and don't have our transparency.


O'SULLIVAN: What she's really saying there is she's trying to sort of cherry pick what Facebook did without mentioning that you know the whole 'stop the steal' movements went viral on Facebook. QAnon was spreading on Facebook for years and just this week I mean I came across a video that had 5 million views this week, 5 million views before Facebook did anything about it.

And it was repeating the baseless claims that was actually Antifa, far left activists that were responsible for the violence here last week. So if you have a platform like Facebook and in the days and weeks after an insurrection when the country is mired in fear of more violence, if you have videos like that going around on your platform that are getting 5 million views before you do anything about it, you have a major problem.

So again, it's just a failure to acknowledge from Sandburg and other leaders in Silicon Valley, really their culpability in what we saw in this past week.

PAUL: Anything that stood out to you on other social networks through all of this Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes and I mean, we have seen the migrating, a lot of these far right extremists and Trump supporters migrating to new platforms now that they've been kicked off at the likes of Facebook and Twitter and that is going to pose a new challenge for law enforcement as they need to now get into these even darker corners of the internet.

So it's going to be you know in the next few days I guess, we will see maybe how effective some of these new policies are going to turn out to be.


PAUL: Donie O'Sullivan, great work Donie. Thank you so much.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And that will do it for us this morning. "SMERCONISH" is up next. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM Eastern.

PAUL: So make good memories.