Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Saturday

Decision on Whether to Convict Trump Could Come Today; Weekly Average of New COVID-19 Cases Falls as Vaccinations Increase across the U.S.; AstraZeneca to Test Vaccine on Kids as Young as 6; Trump Lawyer Tried to Quit over Video Clips; New York Governor Accused of Covering Up Nursing Home COVID-19 Deaths; Over 120 Million under Winter Storm Alerts. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 13, 2021 - 05:00   ET




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

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Capitol Hill, the continuation of the trial of former president Donald Trump. And we could find out as soon as today if the Senate will convict the former president for inciting the insurrection on Capitol Hill.

Now in a few hours, the Senate will reconvene for the final steps of the impeachment trial.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: The House managers could ask for witnesses here, that is the unknown this morning. It does not seem likely at this point, but today's proceedings will include closing arguments. And the final vote of conviction or acquittal is expected to come this afternoon.

The former president's legal team laid out a short rebuttal yesterday. The defense claimed his rhetoric did not incite the rioters. They compared it to speeches from Democrats and argued the former president is protected under the First Amendment.

BLACKWELL: And there is a key question that the defense left unanswered, what if anything did then President Trump actually do to respond to the riot, especially considering the danger to his own vice president?

We have new reporting on that in a few moments. But let's start with some of the key arguments from yesterday's proceedings.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment.

MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN, TRUMP'S DEFENSE LAWYER: No thinking person could seriously believe that the president's January 6th speech on the ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection. The suggestion is patently absurd on its face.

TRUMP: And we fight.

VAN DER VEEN: You can't incite what was already going to happen. This unprecedented effort is not about Democrats opposing political violence. It is about Democrats trying to disqualify their political opposition. It is constitutional cancel culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have reason to believe the House managers manipulated evidence and selectively edited footage.

TRUMP: I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are we walking to the Capitol?

Well, they cut that off. The House managers spoke about rhetoric, about a constant drumbeat of heated language. We need to show you some of their own words.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (INAUDIBLE) throw a punch.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not aboutwhatism. I'm showing you this to make the point that all political speech must be protected.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know how to fight. We like a good fight.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): I've got to stand up and fight.

And fight and flight.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We are in this fight for our lives.

HARRIS: We cannot ever give up fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the metaphorical, rhetorical uses of the word fight. We all know that, right?

Suddenly the word fight is off limits?

Spare us the hypocrisy. The reality is Mr. Trump was not in any way, shape or form instructing these people to fight or to use physical violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House managers assert that the January 6th attack was predictable, and it was foreseeable.

If so, why did it appear that law enforcement at the Capitol were caught off guard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy cow. That is a really good question. And had the House managers done their investigation, maybe somebody would have an answer to that. But they didn't. They did zero investigation. They did nothing. They looked into nothing.

But Jiminy Crickets (sic), there is no due process in this proceeding at all.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): And you know, my counsel said before, this has been my worst experience in Washington and for that, I guess we're sorry. But, man, you should have been here on January 6th.

Rather than yelling at us and screaming about how we didn't have time to get all the facts about what your client did, bring your client up here and have him testify under oath about why he was sending out tweets, denouncing the Vice President of the United States, while the vice president was being hunted down by a mob that wanted to hang him and was chanting in this building, "Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence.


RASKIN: "Traitor, traitor, traitor."


BLACKWELL: Let's go now to Daniella Diaz, she is on Capitol Hill.

What should we expect to see today?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, you just played a really good recap of what Trump's defense tried to argue yesterday. Trump was using political rhetoric that all Democrats and Republicans use. They used examples of Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren using this rhetoric and then showed that impassioned speech from Jamie Raskin, where he argued that the insurrection was incited by Trump himself.

And this is a good summation of what will happen today, where we expect the Senate to resume and reconvene at 10:00 am. And today is likely to be the final day of the impeachment trial. That could change but this is what we expect.

We expect the vote to happen around 3:00 pm. And we expect to hear from some senators leading up to it, who might give speeches of what they thought of the impeachment trial. So, we're looking to that.

But I really want to drive home the point that, even if every Democratic senator sign on and votes to convict Donald Trump today at 3:00 pm, they still need 17 Republican senators to sign onto this. And right now, it just doesn't seem like that will happen.

We are watching the usual senators who usually vote their conscience, this includes Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney. But other than that, it doesn't seem like there will be 17 Republicans.

And if the argument here -- the goal here from the impeachment managers leading up to today, the final day of the trial, was to change heart and minds from Republicans, it just doesn't seem like that will happen today.

BLACKWELL: Daniella, we'll watch for all of that. Thank you.

PAUL: And so, Professor Thomas Gift from the Center on U.S. Politics at the University College of London is with us.

And also, Ross Garber, who teaches impeachment law at Tulane Law School.

Thank you both for being here.

Ross, I want to start with you because I think one of the biggest, most glaring question marks that has been left open today is this question that has gone unanswered, it seems, from senator Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

They asked specifically when did Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end and when did he take them?

What do you think is the consequence for that, at the end of the day, being unanswered?

There were no specific actions that were given by his attorneys to defend him in that regard.

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it is actually such an important question because the Trump lawyers argued that, when Trump was saying fight, when Trump was saying all the things that he was saying, it was just sort of normal politician speak, that he didn't intend otherwise for this riot, for this occupation, for this insurrection to happen. That wasn't what he was planning.

And as evidence of that, the House managers pointed to, just as you said, the fact that it doesn't appear that, after the president knew that the Capitol was being occupied, that he did much of anything.

And so, what the president was doing, as the Capitol was being occupied, became a central issue. The House managers cited press reports about the president being delighted.

But otherwise, you know, it does seem like it was silence except for some tweets, one of which that attacked the vice president and others that were sort of, you know, not very assertive in trying to get the rioters to stop.

So that was a big issue. The senators asked both sides about that and team Trump, that actually has access to the president, kind of, you know, meandered around it but didn't answer the question. So that is a big issue.

And late last night, there may have been some momentum to call witnesses. I don't know if it will succeed or not. But that is the big issue of the day.

PAUL: That is what I was going to ask next. Thomas, I want you to elaborate on what we expect today and what is

the likelihood that any of the testimony or the arguments, I should say, that we saw in the last couple of days, might lead to either side asking for witnesses before closing arguments today.

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, it does seem like there has been quite an internal debate among Democrats about witnesses.


GIFT: But I think that they have calculated rightly that this is not going to make sense. And the main reason is that most of the events on January 6th were in plain view. Everyone could hear what Trump said and everyone could see the mayhem that ensued.

So, it was a fundamentally different situation for example than with Ukraine, where considerable information was concealed. The another reason is that this could really turn the trial into a much more lengthy proceeding. And I think Democrats aren't really interested in that.

They are calculating that a more rapid-fire approach allows them to say that they pursued impeachment without dragging their feet and distracting from Biden's agenda for an impeachment that is probably heading nowhere.

And lastly, Democrats are probably, if they want to get witnesses, going to run into significant legal roadblocks trying to force, for example, testimony from White House staff, who might be able to provide some private information about Trump's demeanor and words after the riots began. But I think overall it is very unlikely that we'll see witnesses.

PAUL: Ross, talk to me about the Pence factor here. The Democrats made quite strong arguments leading to the idea that basically President Trump kind of left his vice president out to dry.

GARBER: Yes, so it was one of the big contracts we saw between the Democrats' House manager presentation and the Trump lawyer presentation is the Democrats did what they knew they had to do, which is reach out to the Republicans.

And one of the ways they did that was by focusing on the vice president, focusing on the danger he was in and focusing on the notion that it didn't seem as if the president really cared.

I think at some point they said that they left -- the president left him for dead. And so that was an effort by the Democrats to I think appeal to Republicans and, in a way, drive a wedge in between, you know, the supporters of the president and people who care about the vice president.

And again, it goes to those big factual issues about what the president was doing, did he care about the vice president or not.

PAUL: So, Thomas, before I let you go, I mean, there was such emotion in the Democrats' arguments and the video. And what is really unique here is the fact that the jury, they are also the witnesses.

These senators, they were there January 6th, they know what happened, they know what it felt like.

Is there any likelihood, do you think, that that could persuade any of them, any of these 17 that is needed, from the Republican side to convict to come on board?

GIFT: To me, the big takeaway from the Republican side and the impeachment trial in general, is that there really is no big takeaway or at least nothing that would be sufficient to change the not guilty verdict that was more or less predetermined.

Every single aspect of this trial I think was predictable. It would start with Democrats making an emotional appeal, Republicans would counter by challenging legitimacy of the trial and defending Trump with the extremely capacious definition of free speech.

And then it would end with the party of Trump voting to acquit as much on procedural grounds, alleging the trial was unconstitutional as on substantive grounds. And then the encore, Trump pointing to a headline saying he's acquitted, which he will try to spin as exoneration of his unconscionable actions on January 6th.

I think the only real suspense here is how many Republicans might turn on the former president. Likely some but it will be a small number. Getting 17 senators on board just isn't remotely in the cards in my view.

PAUL: Thomas, Ross, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Former President Trump's team spent just three hours of the allotted 16 defending him. So, I have a question, were those three hours even necessary?

Did they use too many of the 16 hours, considering the charge against him?

We'll talk about that coming up.

PAUL: And also, President Biden says the U.S. is on track to have vaccines for 300 million people by the end of July. Great news but the vaccine rollout is still a struggle.

So, what is the reality here?

More ahead.





BLACKWELL: Let's bring back now Thomas Gift and Ross Garber.

Ross, I want to drill down on two witnesses specifically, Tommy Tuberville, senator from Alabama, and the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy.

One of the president's attorneys said, at no point -- the president did not know that his vice president was in danger. Tommy Tuberville stands by the content of the call with the president.

CNN's reporting of Trump's call with Kevin McCarthy, saying that he immediately tried to defuse the event. This is a tweet from Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

"One way to clear this up, suspend the trial to depose McCarthy and Tuberville under oath, get facts, ask Secret Service to produce for review comms back to White House regarding the V.P. safety during the siege.

"What did Trump know and when did he know it?"

Should they do those specific things?

GARBER: So, you know, as we talked about there, there are these lingering questions. And the Trump lawyers went right at it yesterday. They said there are these huge questions about what the president was doing or about what his intent was.


GARBER: And the Trump lawyers say the House managers didn't prove their case. They didn't have evidence.

And so, what Senator Whitehouse and others have said, it won't be hard to get some of this evidence. We can call the House minority leader. We could call our fellow senator, Senator Tuberville. And so, let's do that.

And that is what Senator Whitehouse is saying. It still seems unlikely that will happen. But these questions are lingering in the air.

BLACKWELL: Thomas, if the argument of inevitability is justification for not deposing Tuberville, for not getting the facts from McCarthy, then what was the point of any of this?

It was unlikely that they would get 17 Republicans to vote to convict from the start.

So, if that is the argument for not getting the information to determine what the president did or did not do as the insurrection was happening, why are we doing this at all?

GIFT: Well, I think that is a really good question. And it begs the issue for Democrats of kind of what is the end game here. Because we see that this is more or less a foregone conclusion and it is not obvious that it will end with a political win for Democrats. In fact, it could backfire by giving Donald Trump an opportunity to

galvanize support among his base. You know, it is a real tricky situation. I do think that Democrats were in a hard place because there is a principal matter here, one of accountability and, of course, many of their constituents would have been highly unsatisfied had Democrats not taken this course.

But at the same time, I do think that they had to kind of look forward a few steps, think about how this was going to end. As I said, I do think that basically everything that we've seen so far has followed a very predictable script and looks like it will end the way most experts thought that it would from the outset.

BLACKWELL: Ross, a single article of impeachment, is this the right article?

And I mean, is it frontloaded, as the questioning, the insurrection, how much did the president contribute to what happened, instead of what we now know, that there were conversations about what the president could have done and did not do as this was happening.

If the article focuses on the wrong end of the action here, something more to a violation of the oath to protect, preserve and defend.

GARBER: Yes, if that were the article, though, it would be met with this argument that that is actually not a high crime or misdemeanor. You don't need a crime for it to be an impeachable offense. But it has to be something incredibly serious that probably is a crime.

Being a bad president, that doesn't count. You know, the founders thought about including maladministration as grounds for impeachment and they rejected it. It has to be something that is incredibly serious.

This is the one that the managers chose I think to avoid the debate about whether it is impeachable or not. And the Trump lawyers went right at it said you picked this article and you haven't proved the case.

I think the Trump lawyers were pretty effective to their base of dumping this issue back on the House managers, House Democrats saying you initiated this process; you picked the article of impeachment, you had control of the timing, whether witnesses were called, whether subpoenas were issued. And you just botched it, guys.

That was the Trump lawyers' point. And I honestly think that it is probably a pretty appealing point to the Trump base and some of the senators in the room.

BLACKWELL: So, let me stay with you for this one, Ross, because this is what I teased before the break, the defense attorneys used roughly three of the 16 hours allotted for the defense.

If there is an acquittal on the constitutional argument, which, yes, was decided before, early in the month, why are they going on to these other elements? From a defense attorney's perspective, if you know that you can get an acquittal on point A, why argue points B, C and D, because that is where the confusion is, that is where the question for witnesses are.

Was it a mistake to go even those three hours?

GARBER: Well, I think we'll see in a while whether it was a mistake or not. But the objective -- what the Trump lawyers were doing was focusing not just on acquittal.


GARBER: It was clear from the beginning, as Thomas noted, that there was going to be an acquittal here. So what the Trump lawyers did, they went into try to appeal to the Trump base to try to appeal to, you know, the senators, who might be on the edge, Republican senators, and to talk to their client.

So, they were talking about jurisdiction and, you're right, a lot of senators will use that as a basis. But then they went hard after issues that appeal to the Republican base, you know, cancel culture and, you know, the Democrats hating the president, things like that.

The question is, did they do too good a job and invite witnesses?

We're going to see about that. But that is what they were trying to accomplish, and I think that they probably did accomplish that.

BLACKWELL: Ross, Thomas, thank you both.

And be sure to stay with CNN, our special coverage of the second Trump impeachment resumes today at 9:00 Eastern.

PAUL: For the first time since November, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are trending downward. Still a pandemic obviously is a big concern here. It has torn families apart. Coming up in fact, you will hear how one young family was devastated by this virus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was fighting really hard that way because she knew that baby Kendall (ph) was still in the NICU.






BLACKWELL: The U.S. is reporting a steady increase in coronavirus vaccinations and a decline, albeit a slow one, in new infections. The variants, though, are still a concern across the country. PAUL: For the first time since the start of November, the seven-day

average of new coronavirus cases is below 100,000 and, this week, the federal government began direct shipments of vaccines to retail pharmacies. We're talking about a million doses going to 6,500 stores across the country.

Of course, it expands greatly the availability but there is a new report showing nearly a third of adults are undecided about the COVID- 19 vaccine.

BLACKWELL: Despite some hesitancy, the U.S. has averaged more than a 1.5 million doses administered every day the past week and almost 50 million doses have been administered overall.

PAUL: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is with us live.

Good to be talking about promising news but give us a fact check here on the reality that we're still seeing today.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, you put it right. This is a hard week to summarize with this pandemic because, on the one hand, we have some really good news. On the other hand, this pandemic is still able to cause just absolute tragedy.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): More tragedy from this pandemic. In Las Vegas, a family mourning; a pregnant frontline nurse rushed to the hospital with COVID complications. Only her premature child survived.

NICK ROSE, HUSBAND: She was fighting really hard because she knew that baby Kendall (ph) was still in the NICU.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The coronavirus ripped this family apart even in a week with the virus seemingly in retreat; 40 states are showing downward trends in new reported cases of coronavirus. Only one, Alaska, shows reported cases rising.

The death toll, now over 480,000, remains shocking but the seven-day average is in slow decline. The vaccine rollout remains a struggle. Friday numbers show only around 11 percent of the American population has had at least one dose so far. And variants of coronavirus are spreading across the country.

In Florida, officials reporting around 10 percent of new cases in the state may be due to the variant first detected in the U.K.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think that we'll be wearing masks for several months into the future.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Still the improving numbers have led some states relax some restrictions put in place during the December surge. Indoor dining partially reopens in New York City, while the country's focus turns to reopening classrooms to students. JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's goal is to

have schools open five days a week, kids in school learning, teachers in school, and to do it safely.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): On Friday there was new guidance from the CDC on how to do just that. Classrooms can reopen safely, it said, if they follow these five rules -- universal and correct wearing of masks, physical distancing, washing hands, improved ventilation and contact tracing for new cases that arise.

Not on the list, vaccinated teachers: the CDC says states should prioritize teacher vaccinations but should open schools even if they can't.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: It is one of those layers of mitigation that we believe will help. But we believe and the science has demonstrated that schools can be reopened safely prior to all teachers being vaccinated.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): That is a problem for some teacher groups, who have been urging schools to vaccinate educators before sending them back into a classroom. There is availability in some states, but it varies. Some teachers are getting frustrated. This one in Tennessee drove 100 miles to get a shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not OK that we're having to do this. We should have been better prepared.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So those struggles still a big part of the vaccine and now feeding into the conversation about schools. But obviously the base of the conversation is about kids and keeping them safe.

And we have new news about that, which is that the AstraZeneca company that has one of their vaccines, they are now testing it in England in children as young as 6 years old. Now we haven't seen that kind of testing in kids that young, most of the places that we've seen testing.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Here in America, it is only down to about age 12. So that 6-year-old age testing, that could be a big step forward in this pandemic.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.

And so be sure to stick with CNN for the latest on the pandemic as well. Tuesday night we expect to hear Joe Biden's latest take. He will be joining Anderson Cooper live from Milwaukee in an exclusive presidential town hall. Again, that starts at 9:00 Eastern this coming Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: New reporting may show what former President Trump was thinking during the Capitol riot and whether it seemed like he was going to -- or intended to call off the insurrectionists. Boris Sanchez is live in West Palm Beach with more -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Serious allegations about a phone call that Donald Trump had, as his supporters were ransacking the Capitol. How that might impact his impeachment trial.

Plus, turmoil behind the scenes on the Trump legal team. One of his attorneys quitting before being talked back into the job by Trump himself. Details ahead.





PAUL: It's 40 minutes past the hour. CNN has learned that one of former President Trump's impeachment attorneys, David Schoen, threatened to quit Thursday night. A source said that the former president was able apparently to talk him into staying.

BLACKWELL: "The New York Times" first reported the incident. They reported that Mr. Schoen was quitting over a debate about how to use video evidence during their defense on Friday. Mr. Schoen will not be present at the trial today. He left the Senate last night to observe the Sabbath.

PAUL: CNN has also learned that the former president has been complaining about his lawyer Bruce Castor all week and briefly considered firing him apparently. We're learning, too, some new details about that fiery exchange between then President Trump and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

During a phone tall while the Capitol was under attack, McCarthy asked the president to call off his supporters. President Trump responded by telling the GOP leader that the rioters cared more about the election results than he did.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Boris Sanchez in West Palm Beach.

So, some Republican members of Congress say that exchange amounted to dereliction of the former president's duty.

What more are you hearing about what now they or anyone will do about it?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that is still the open question. At least one of those Republican Congress people, Jaime Herrera Butler, is going on the record with these accusations. She and other Republicans claim that Kevin McCarthy, shortly after having a conversation with Trump, that his supporters were ransacking the Capitol, detailed that conversation to them, relaying what the president -- former president said, as McCarthy was begging him to call his supporters off. And here is part of that exchange. McCarthy telling these lawmakers that Trump told him, quote, "Well,

Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

And McCarthy reportedly responding, "Who the F do you think you are talking to?"

Of course, this confirms so much of what we've already heard about President Trump's mindset that day. We saw it on Twitter. The president was angry at Republicans for certifying the results of the 2020 election.

He was calling it a great day, he was happy about what his supporters were doing, ultimately saying that they were special, that he loved them. Clearly though this draws into question the approach of the House impeachment managers and Democrats, who have been hesitant to call witnesses if there are Republicans that are already going on the record with this story, that show that Donald Trump not only knew what was going on at the Capitol but was happy about it.

That blows an enormous hole into his defense and, again, it leads to questions about whether ultimately, they may be called to testify.

BLACKWELL: We could get that answer today. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

So, let's move to a developing story that we are also following. New York's governor Andrew Cuomo is facing accusations that his administration covered up thousands of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes. We'll have more on that after a break.





BLACKWELL: New York governor Andrew Cuomo is facing accusations that his administration undercounted thousands of COVID deaths in the state's nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.

PAUL: And comments from his top aide are fueling the controversy. Here is Athena Jones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gravity of this coverup cannot be overstated.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York governor Andrew Cuomo is under fire after his top aide admitted to withholding data for months that revealed thousands more confirmed and presumed COVID-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents than previously disclosed. According to a transcript of a private video call, Melissa Derosa, who

often appeared at press conferences with the governor, told Democratic state lawmakers, "Basically we froze because then we were in a position where we weren't sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us."

Cuomo arguing at the time the threat of an inquiry from the Trump administration was politically motivated.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): They have played politics on this from day one.

JONES (voice-over): The "New York Post" first reported the story, citing a recording of the call. State lawmakers from both parties slamming Derosa's admission; 14 Democratic state senators saying in a statement, Cuomo should be stripped of his emergency powers.

Among them, a senator tweeted, "You are only sorry that you all got caught."

State Republicans echoing their call and going further.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Cuomo administration purposely lied and withheld evidence and information to avoid prosecution. Andrew Cuomo must be prosecuted, and Andrew Cuomo must be impeached if this evidence exists.

JONES (voice-over): Residents of long-term care facilities have accounted for a significant percentage of COVID deaths in many states. In New York, some 15,000 residents at facilities like nursing homes died, according to the Department of Health, about a third of all COVID deaths statewide.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The COVID crisis in New York's nursing homes was a preventable crisis.

JONES (voice-over): The true death toll was revealed after New York attorney general and Cuomo ally Letitia James issued a scathing report last month, accusing the state of undercounting deaths in these facilities by some 50 percent.

By only publicly reporting those who died onsite, not residents who were admitted to hospitals and died there or elsewhere. The deaths were counted in the state's overall death toll but were not attributed to long-term care facilities.

CUOMO: Whether a person died in the hospital or died in a nursing home, it's -- the people died. I wish none of it happened. I wish there was no COVID. I wish no old people died.

JONES (voice-over): The Associated Press reporting more than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York were transferred to nursing homes from hospitals early in the pandemic, including more than 6,300 previously disclosed admissions directly from hospitals and more than 2,700 readmissions of patients sent back to nursing homes from hospitals.

Cuomo, who was among the governors meeting with President Joe Biden, has faced criticism over a March 2020 state Health Department advisory that required nursing homes to admit and readmit patients with COVID- 19, something critics say may have further fueled the outbreak in those facilities.

Cuomo has said the policy was in line with federal guidance. Cuomo's administration has pushed back. State health commissioner Howard Zucker argued that 98 percent of New York nursing homes had COVID-19 cases before admitting a positive patient from a hospital and that the major driver of infections appears to be from asymptomatic staff.

The controversial directive was scrapped in May.

JONES: This latest controversy comes after Governor Cuomo was praised initially for his handling of the pandemic. He even wrote a best- selling book about leadership in a pandemic. His daily COVID briefings became appointment viewing during the worst of the outbreak here in New York.

And he was even awarding an international Emmy Founders Award for his use of television to inform and calm the public. Some people were even talking about how he should run for president. Well, now he faces a real crisis-- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Athena, thank you.

There is a bitter cold gripping the country. I mean from coast to coast. This is expansive. And with it, a potential Texas-sized snowstorm here. We have a live report for you on what you can expect, stay close.





PAUL: So, depending on where you are waking up this morning, you may be one of 120 million people under this winter storm alert this morning. We're talking about record low, dangerously cold temperatures that is really going to grip a good chunk of the country.

BLACKWELL: And there is also the potential for snow. Light snow could develop into a blizzard-like condition impacting an area the size of Texas and will cover most of Oklahoma, possibly extend as far as Houston.

(WEATHER REPORT) PAUL: So, by the way, if the cold has you indoors this weekend,

whether rain, snow, whatever, CNN's new original series, "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY," will be there for you. The award-winning actor's new show airs tomorrow night at 9:00.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your "NEW DAY" starts right now.