Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Saturday

CDC Urges Americans to Upgrade Masks as Omicron Sweeps the U.S.; Biden Agenda Endangered by Setbacks on Economy and COVID Response; Senate to Take Up Voting Rights Next Week as Dems Face Grim Odds; Significant Winter Storm Expected to Slam Eastern Half of the U.S.; Djokovic Fights to Remain in Melbourne Ahead of Australian Open; Oath Keepers Founder and 10 Others Charged with Seditious Conspiracy; Consumers in U.S. Struggle to Make Ends Meet as Prices Soar. Aired 6- 7a ET

Aired January 15, 2022 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you. Welcome to your "NEW DAY." I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez.

The Biden administration is responding to a surge of COVID cases across the country by sending out free at-home COVID tests. We'll tell you how you can get yours and explain some new changes in the CDC guidance on masking.

PAUL: And listen, this is no joke. There is a sprawling winter storm that's blowing across the country. It slammed the Midwest. It is now looking at bringing to the east heavy rain, snow and that ice.

SANCHEZ: Plus, Novak Djokovic detained. The tennis star back in detention after his visa is again revoked. The moves that could now reshape the Australian Open.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who can budget? You just have to pay the price.


PAUL: We all know that, right? Inflation is hitting all of us. How much prices have risen on everything from gas to groceries, just to give you some perspective and why some analysts say listen, there is some good news on the horizon.


SANCHEZ: Buenos dias. It is Saturday, January 15th. Grateful to have you. Thanks for waking up with us. Great to be with you as well, Christi.

PAUL: Always to see you, Boris. Always. SANCHEZ: Yeah. So, we begin this morning with the CDC updating its guidance on masking. Urging Americans to upgrade their masks for better protection. They say that you should find one that fits well and that you'll wear consistently. Though CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen says that a cloth mask is just not enough.


DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We have known for over a year that COVID is airborne and our quality of mask really matters. That it is best if you wear an N95 or KN95 or KF94 mask. If you're unable to do that, at least wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top of that but a single layer cloth mask just is not enough.


PAUL: Now with COVID hospitalizations at record levels, on a national scale, Democrats in Congress are pushing for President Biden to quickly increase the country's access to those at-home tests that have been so hard to find.

CNN's Natasha Chen has more on where we stand right now with that.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Starting today, many Americans can get an at-home COVID-19 test for free through their private insurance, that is if they are available. From pharmacies, retailers, or online vendors. All part of the Biden administration's effort to increase access to testing around the U.S.

Free test kits will also be available for people to order starting Wednesday from These efforts come in the wake of the relentless spread of the Omicron variant, crippling the work force, particularly medical staffing.

On Friday FEMA announced expanding flexibility for National Guard members to support hospitals and is deploying teams to Ohio, Michigan, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and New Mexico.

DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: These teams are in addition to more than a - than the more than thousands, staff that are already deployed to 26 states, two territories, the District of Columbia and 24 tribal nations.

CHEN: As of Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services data shows 18 states and the District of Columbia have less than 15 percent capacity in their ICUs. Seven of them have less than 10 percent of ICU capacity.

DR. BERNARD ASHBY, MIAMI CARDIOLOGIST, FLORIDA COMMITTEE TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE: Hospitals many of which including mine are at capacity. And we're seeing the worst of it currently.

CHEN: On Friday, the CDC updated guidance to recommend wearing the most protective mask or respirator that fits well and can be worn consistently saying that KN95s and N95s offer the highest level of protection.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are electrostatically charged fibers in here, so it is not just filtering particles, it is actually attracting particles.

CHEN: Another important tool in this fight, vaccinations. But the rate of new cases is currently about double that of new vaccinations.

The Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated a federal vaccine mandate for certain health care workers in 24 states. They'll have until March 15th to be fully vaccinated.

Another 25 states and D.C. continue to face a February 28th deadline for health care workers to be fully vaccinated as the mandate had not been blocked there. Some religious and medical exceptions may be allowed. All the while, children under five are still not eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is just really frustrating.


And I think with older kids, at least you have that option, at least they're able to kind of vocalize how they are feeling when they do get sick. Is it COVID? Is it not? It is a little bit easier, I think, for parents to work remotely when they have to and when there's been exposure. When day care, when school closes, you can't pop a 3-year- old there, when you're old and friend and TV might buy you, you know, 15 minutes but that's it.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.


PAUL: And on Wednesday, we're going to hear from the president. And with the first anniversary of his inauguration approaching here, there are some serious obstacles that he seems to be facing. Almost in every arena.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. A year after he pledged to tackle the pandemic, COVID cases are still rising. Inflation and supply chain issues remain a concern. Democrats in Congress are struggling to pass key parts of the president's agenda too.

PAUL: CNN's Jasmine Wright is with us live from Wilmington, Delaware.

Jasmine, good morning to you.

We know President Biden faced that loss in the Supreme Court this week, voting rights legislation, it's on life support and then all of this economic uncertainty. What do we know about what he's doing today as we head into a really important press conference and speech on Wednesday?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, that is right. We are heading into that important press conference, Christi. But right now, the president is kind of coming off another bad week really at the start of 2022. And it is unclear right now of how and when that could get better and the first major setback came from voting rights on Thursday when Senator Sinema of Arizona really doubled down in her opposition to changing the Senate rules to allow voting rights legislation a key priority of the president to pass with 51 votes, a simple majority.

And well, she and Senator Manchin, another holdout of those filibuster rules went to the White House on Thursday after that speech and talked with the president, a conversation the White House called candid and respectful. But still, it is unclear whether there is anything that President Biden can do, or any other Democrats could do to change these two's mind. Of course, really imperiling the priority of the president.

And yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, she acknowledged the difficulties that this administration is facing because of that 50/50 split in the Senate because of the narrow margins. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're dealing with the realities of the fact that we have a very slim majority in the Senate and in the House. That makes things more challenging than they have been in the past. He's committed to continuing to fight. You heard him say this week that voting rights, the rights of people to express their views at the polls is something that is fundamental to him and he's going to stay at it.


WRIGHT: So that was Psaki on voting rights. But another setback, Christi and Boris, came when the conservative leaning Supreme Court, they struck down President Biden's vaccine mandate that applied to employers with 100 or more employees, really curtailing a keyway that President Biden and officials within the White House feel as a way that they can manage the pandemic and get more people vaccinated. And so, those are two things. I haven't even mentioned the record amount of inflation that this White House is seeing and of course, President Biden's sinking poll numbers. So, a lot of things that are happening that are certainly not the way that this White House wants to start the new year. Christi, Boris?

SANCHEZ: Jasmine, this week the White House released details of its plan to send out millions of at-home COVID tests but there are Democrats, members of the president's own party that are unhappy with that plan. Why is that?

WRIGHT: Yeah. Well, they said the president is thinking laterally. A group of Democrats really lambasting him for the progress of at-home testing. They said in a letter that the White House had been, when it came to this pandemic, reactive, instead of proactive, especially when it comes to testing. And now, this is a real reflection because it is coming from Democrats, his own party, of the state -- messy state really of testing that is happening in this country. And so, I talked to a White House official yesterday and they told me that, listen, they're in conversation with the Hill all of the time, they're talking about testing. And of course, they share the goal of wanting to get free and accurate testing to go to people around the country. And of course, this comes after the White House launched that website where families could order up to four tests from the website. The federal government will give them out. And of course, that program starts on Wednesday. Boris, Christi?

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware. Thank you so much.

This morning, we're fortunate to have with us Tia Mitchell. She is the Washington correspondent for the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution."

Tia, thanks so much for sharing part of your weekend with us.

Thursday is going to mark one year in office for President Biden and it's been a year full of challenges, right? COVID and all its variants, inflation, the agenda that stalled, a series of foreign policy issues. What is your analysis of the president's first year?


TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION": Well, that is a big question. There is -- there are some things to celebrate. Democrats got another round of COVID relief that Republicans would not have -- it would either have been much smaller or nonexistent if Republicans had any ounce of control in Washington. Democrats got infrastructure done. You know that's something that many presidents, including Trump, including Obama were unsuccessful in achieving.

But as we've already heard this morning, there have been a lot of things that the Biden administration has not been able to accomplish, the Build Back Better, the voting rights legislation, and the coronavirus recovery is not to the place that I think most American people would have thought we would have been, especially a year after Biden got in office.

And you know, some of the things that people believe President Trump was a barrier to a more robust recovery. Well, that barrier was removed a year ago. And that unfortunately cases are on the rise and you know there are a lot of factors at play, many of them outside of President Biden's control. But I think just in a lot of ways we aren't as far ahead as people had hoped once the new president was in place.

SANCHEZ: And Tia, there is some anger within the Democratic base toward the White House on the issue of voting rights. There are activists that are angry with the president. They argue that administration hasn't really, until recently, had the urgency required to meet the moment on the issue. Do you think that anger has caught the White House off guard?

MITCHELL: I don't think that anger has caught the White House off guard. But it looks like the White House has been caught off guard figuring out what to do about it, figuring out a way to appease the activists and the members of the base that really want them to get voting rights done. But also understanding the reality of that slim margin in the Senate and the moderates in the Senate mainly, Sinema and Manchin, who are the roadblocks. Because the filibuster remains in place.

So, you know, I think they knew that voting rights would be important. And I think it is important to the White House. But they haven't figured out a great messaging strategy and they definitely don't have a strategy for actually getting it done.

SANCHEZ: Charles Blow of "The New York Times" recently saying that Biden was dilly dallying on adjusting the filibuster. He mentioned messaging and - and trying to address this earlier in the process. What more could Biden do at this point to try to sway those two senators you mentioned that don't want to change the rules of the Senate?

MITCHELL: I think - you know, I think he's tried the diplomatic way. There are some people who want him to do more of the bullying and the, you know -- to say, you know, I'll make life rough for you. But I don't know if that would work honestly. So, really, it is looking like what -- the only thing that they really can do is hope and pray that they not only retain control in November but grow it to the point where Manchin and Sinema's votes aren't so crucial. And you know that would require all the stars to align for Biden and Harris.

And in the meantime, unfortunately, I think they are going to have to pivot and that is going to make some members of their base really upset. But there really isn't a clear path to getting it done. And there is no incentive right now for Manchin and Sinema to cave.

SANCHEZ: As you said, the stars have to align for them to retain control of both chambers of Congress in November.

Tia Mitchell, thanks again for the time.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So, right now, more than 65 million people from the Midwest to the east coast are under winter weather alerts as a massive storm is moving towards several parts of the country. Rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, dangerous conditions, frigid temperatures, like you're seeing here in Iowa. Where roads are already deteriorating as snow moves across the state.

PAUL: And that does not look good. And that's going to be the picture for so many people there. I think more than 65 million people under weather alerts this morning.

We got South Dakota here. Officials are asking people to drive with caution. They describe crippling weather conditions that are already causing limited visibility in some very slippery surfaces.

The storm is pushing east as Boris pointed out. There is a look at the radar right now. Setting up what meteorologists say could be an ice storm for parts of the Deep South, all the way up to Virginia. And we know the south is not always fully equipped to deal with weather like this, particularly ice storms.

CNN's Allison Chinchar is live from the Weather Center.


Talk about the complexity of these moving parts, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. And I would have to agree with you. The south, not exactly the best place to have a lot of these winter weather. But in their defense, no one could drive on ice. And that is really going to be the biggest concern of this storm. Yes, we do have snow and a lot of it.

You've got areas of Iowa, North Dakota, already with over a foot of snow. Even the capital of Iowa picking up over 9 inches so far. And that is the key because you still have a lot of snow still coming.

Now, you can see that transition taking place around St. Louis and even Kansas City. So, they've now crossed over from rain into more of the winter precip. The system itself is sliding down to the south and then it will gradually slide off to east. So, we're going to have a lot of different impacts here.

You've got again a ton of areas under winter storm watches, winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings and even this ice storm warning across portions of South Carolina, Georgia. It's that Carolina and Georgia is really going to be the focus unfortunately for the ice of the ice storm for this particular area.

Here is a look at the forecast radar. Again, you've got Nashville, Little Rock, Memphis, Huntsville, Atlanta, Charlotte, all of these areas, they're initially going to start with rain and then gradually see the change over into snow.

But in order to get the snow, you'll likely going to also see some sleet and some freezing rain mixed in as well. And that's what you don't want to have. This by far is going to be the biggest issue we encounter over the next 48 hours. Ice and a lot of it.

Again, all of the pink areas are about a quarter of an inch. But then you start to see the numbers go up. Half inch, maybe even as much as an inch of ice. Again, that is more than enough to cause major accidents on the highways, ground planes, not to mention cause some pretty widespread power outages and that is likely what is going to happen in some of the areas.

Yes, snow will accumulate on the back side once that cold air begins to filter in. So, you're going to have some decent snowfall from Nashville over to Charlotte and even down to Atlanta. Obviously, in the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians, you're going to be talking in excess of a foot of snow there. But then the system again gradually starts to slide up the east. So, eventually, the mid- Atlantic and even the northeast are likely going to see some of these issues as we transition guys back into Sunday as we go into Monday as well.

PAUL: Allison Chinchar. Hey, very quickly, I just have a very quick question for people who are wondering. When you're talking about say half an inch of ice. How long does it take for that to dissipate or melt and do the temperatures in those areas that are coming in after this support that or are you looking at days of ice on the road?

CHINCHAR: Right. So, for some of these areas, they may not get above freezing, Monday or even Tuesday. So, it's going to be for some of these areas, especially Carolina and Georgia north. It's going to be a while.

For areas like say Atlanta, Georgia where the temperatures aren't necessarily going to be quite as cold or they'll warm back up on Monday or Tuesday. Yes, that will allow some of that ice to melt but then at night you're going to get cold again so a lot of it is going to refreeze back again.

So again, I think for a lot of these areas, you're talking a couple of days of having to dealing with some of these issues.

PAUL: All right. Fireplace and hot chocolate.

SANCHEZ: A little bit of bourbon, Christi. I'm telling you. Just a little bit of bourbon.

PAUL: That too. But you're going to get me on bourbon before it is all said and done, Boris.


SANCHEZ: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Allison.

SANCHEZ: So, this morning, fire crews are battling an 11-alarm fire at a chlorine manufacturing plant in Passaic, New Jersey. Apparently, this thing could be seen from miles away. Chlorine was found in a portion of the building. But we're told it is not under control. Most of the structure where the fire started last night has collapsed.

One firefighter was hurt. They had to be transported to a nearby hospital.

Crews drafted water from nearby river to try to supplement the tremendous amount of water needed.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is asking residents who live in that area to keep their windows and doors closed in the meantime as a safety measure.

Novak Djokovic has been detained for a second time.

Up next, we'll tell you why Australia is calling the unvaccinated tennis star a threat to public order. And later, the U.S. says Russia is up to some of its old tricks during fears of an attack on Ukraine. What could President Biden do to stop it?



SANCHEZ: The saga continues. The immigration case against tennis star Novak Djokovic is now going to be heard in Australian federal court.

PAUL: Yeah. The number one tennis star back in detention ahead of that hearing now. Djokovic is fighting to remain in Melbourne and contest his Australian Open title after his visa was canceled for the second time, mind you.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is with us live from Melbourne.

So, Paula, walk us through these latest developments and the fact that it is now in the hands of the federal court.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right. Yes, this is a higher court than the one that we heard from last week. And what we know is that this morning he was detained once again. So, Djokovic, spending Saturday night in detention. He did have another interview with immigration officials. He had time as well to speak to his lawyers. All of the time though he was escorted by two Border Force officials as he is in detention.

Now 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning is when the full hearing starts, when the detailed arguments will begin. And we know it is going to be a full court, meaning there will be three judges hearing this case.

And we've also seen from the court filings really that argument that the government and the immigration minister is making. The fact that Djokovic being in the country could excite anti-vaccination sentiments, also pointing out that it is in the public interest he is not here, even suggesting there could be civil unrest.

And now one of the points also made was that there could not only be a tendency for some not to get vaccinated. But also, they're talking about the booster vaccine at this point which is not mandated in the country.


Also pointing out that there could be those who want to emulate Djokovic's behavior after he tested positive.

Now we've heard from Djokovic's own admission that the day after he says he received the positive diagnosis, that he did then go to a media shoot and a photo shoot.

So, these are really the arguments that are being heard and will be heard and rebuffed by Djokovic's lawyers on Sunday. They want this to go very quickly because they want him to be able to play on Monday at the Australian Open when it starts. They'll be looking either for a legal error to get this decision to cancel the visa overturned. There is a possibility of a bridging visa meaning that would allow him to play while this is going through the courts. But that really is at the discretion of the minister of immigration and he's very unlikely to give that.

SANCHEZ: And now this has become a political issue because Australian elections are just a few months away in May.

Paula Hancocks from Melbourne, Australia. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Serbia's president meanwhile is blasting Australia over its treatment of Djokovic because there - I mean, he's considered a national hero.


Scott McLean is in Belgrade, Serbia with more reaction.

And Scott, Serbia's president sees this as a matter of - of national pride?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Boris. And he made abundantly clear that if you mess with Novak Djokovic, national hero in this country, you are messing with all of Serbia. He put out a tape statement yesterday that will surely do nothing to improve relations between Serbia and Australia. The president is framing this has a moral question for the Australians that if they didn't want him in the country because he's unvaccinated, why did they issue him a visa in the first place.

Now he doesn't -- he doesn't seem bothered by the decision of the Australian judiciary. His issue is with the politicians. And the fact that they were able overturn this. I mean, he finds pretty amazing considering that Australia, he says, often preaches about the rule of law. He's suggesting that this is all because of the upcoming Australian election. A bid to win political points.

There are also some questions though here in Serbia about Novak Djokovic's positive PCR test on December 16th that the government tried to clarify yesterday. You may remember that the ID number on that positive test corresponded with tests that were taken 10 days later. The government says that's simply because it was processed at a different lab.

There were also questions about the QR code which for a time when you scanned, it actually showed up as negative. They blamed that on an overwhelmed server. But here is the real question that is still outstanding for Novak Djokovic. He says that he didn't know about his positive test or he was not informed about it until after he attended an event maskless with children on December 17th. The government says there was simply no way that he did not get an e-mail and a text message telling him that he was positive before that event ever took place. Christi and Boris?

PAUL: Scott McLean, we appreciate it so much. Thank you. Stephanie Myles is with us now. She writes for tennis news site "Open Court."

And I know, Stephanie, you've been following this so closely. I want to ask you. Paula Hancocks, she mentioned it, the fact that this is now in the hands of the federal court there. Talk to us about what that really means for him? Does this mean that what they say goes and any appeal is off the table?

STEPHANIE MYLES, WRITER, "OPEN COURT": That is basically what it means. It sort of skips a step and Djokovic's people were for this full bench and the government was not. Ultimately the decision that they come to will stand. And I think they could appeal to the high court, which for a case like this apparently is just a completely insane thing, but nothing about this whole thing, including the president of Serbia is particularly sane. So, I would say -- I would say let's not exclude any possibility.

PAUL: OK. We are hearing from other players now about all of this. How transparent have they been about their feelings about the situation but also about Djokovic himself?

MYLES: Well, it is a very, very tricky thing. Because many of them were here last year when they couldn't speak a word about how hard quarantine was without having people come down on them. So certainly, to support Djokovic right now basically means you support not being vaccinated in their eyes. And as the tournament starts, they don't want to get people on their back.

So, I think generally, you know the Aussie players will say well, you know, we've through a lot. Naomi Osaka said, well, I know what it is like to have people talk about me. So, I'm going to try to stay positive about this. But I think most of the players just want it to be done with. It's basically sucking all the energy, all the oxygen out of the Australian Open room.

And we should point out, this is a - this is a huge tournament. For - for your viewers who are not necessarily huge tennis fans, there are four major tournaments during the year. And they've probably heard the Wimbledon and obviously, you know the U.S. Open. But then there's the French Open and the Australian Open. And they're all massive.


I mean, they -- clearly, to a $100,000 just to lose in the first round. It's a huge event, it's about, you know, all of Australia and Asia-Pacific and Asia. And so, it's a massive undertaking.

And this is basically, all we're talking about is whether, you know, Novak Djokovic is in the roach motel tonight or not. It has to end. You know, either he's going to play Monday night or he's not going to play Monday night. But everybody just wants to know so they can get on with their tournament.

PAUL: So, if she doesn't play, where do you think that leaves him for future competitions? MYLES: Well, he's not -- this is not the only place that he's going to

have a problem. You know, even coming into the U.S., there are two tournaments in just about a month and a half in March. There's one at Indian Wells, in California, there's another one in Miami. And to get into the U.S. right now anyway, you have to be fully vaccinated. And a list of reasons why you could have an exception does not include having had COVID. Ever. Not in the last six months, not ever.

So, unless he gets President Biden to sort of sign off a little note for him, saying, well, Novak, we know you're important to these tournaments, so we're going to let you in. He's going to have the same problem here and on-and-on. Probably almost everywhere he goes --


MYLES: And so, he -- you know, if -- he might win this battle, but he's losing the war.

PAUL: Just for a second. I only had a second left, but I want to ask you, had he been vaccinated, or had he not had that event prior to, you know, or after testing positive. Do you think we would be seeing different opinions about him, and what does this mean? And again, I'm sorry, I only have a couple of seconds, but what does this mean for his future as a whole on and off the tennis court?

MYLES: Well, he's always been polarizing. So, he's even more polarizing now, but there's never any doubt that he's probably the best of all time.

PAUL: All right, Stephanie Myles, always good to have you, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you, ma'am. We'll be right back.



PAUL: So, for the first time in the investigation into the January 6th riot, the Department of Justice is unveiling seditious conspiracy charges. Eleven defendants have been charged including the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, who pleaded not guilty in court yesterday.

SANCHEZ: Now, prosecutors say Rhodes and others used encrypted communications to coordinate their plans leading up to January 6. CNN's Paula Reid has more.


PAULA REID, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, made an initial appearance in court today in Texas as one of the first people charged with seditious conspiracy related to the U.S. Capitol attack.

JONATHON MOSELEY, ATTORNEY FOR OATH KEEPERS LEADER STEWART RHODES: Even the government says that they're accusing him of an organizational role, they admit that they did not commit any violence. They did not hurt any police officers. They did not damage any property. But they're charging him as being conspirators, the organizers or aiders and abettors, that sort of thing.

REID: But a detailed indictment placed out a sprawling, methodical plot to disrupt the counting of 2020 electoral votes starting in the days after the election when Rhodes allegedly told his supporters, we aren't getting through this without a civil war. Prosecutors allege Rhodes and his ten co-defendants traveled from across the country to D.C. with stockpiled weapons, ammunition and other tactical equipment. Video from January 6 captures Oath Keepers wearing military gear forcing their way into the building in a military stack formation.

Prosecutors say the group even stationed quick reaction forces outside D.C. to rush into the Capitol if needed, and that Rhodes was planning for violence well beyond January 6. Rhodes' estranged wife also spoke to CNN.

TASHA ADAMS, ESTRANGED WIFE OF STEWART RHODES: He sees himself as a great leader, he almost has his own mythology of himself, and I think he almost made it come true, seeing himself as some sort of figure in history.

REID: Meanwhile, some Trump allies like Senate Minority leader Kevin McCarthy are refusing to voluntarily cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating January 6. Even though, McCarthy previously supported an investigation and said that President Trump admitted responsibility for the attack. CNN surfacing this interview from shortly after the riot.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I say he has responsibility. He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do.

REID: Yet, on Thursday, McCarthy said he could not recall such conversations.

MCCARTHY: I'm not sure what call you're talking about.

REID: But other Trump allies are willing to talk. On Thursday, former New York City Police Commissioner and close ally of Rudy Giuliani, Bernard Kerik, spoke with the committee virtually for over eight hours. And today, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller also spoke with investigators.

(on camera): CNN has learned that Attorney General Merrick Garland was initially reluctant to bring the rarely used seditious conspiracy charge. But people familiar with the investigation say the investigators spent months building the case, using cooperators, internal communications among the Oath Keepers and even Rhodes himself provided an interview to the FBI. Now if convicted, this charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


PAUL: Paula, thank you so much. Listen, there's been a week of high- stake talks, and there are still no sign of tensions easing between Russia and Ukraine. What the U.S. says Moscow is planning now to justify an invasion of its neighbor. That's next.


SANCHEZ: We're following developing news out of Russia this morning. A U.S. official tells CNN that Russia may be preparing to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to create a pretext, an excuse to invade the country.

PAUL: Yes, CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance following all of this from Moscow. Matthew, it's always good to see you and get your perspective here. We know that Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Defense Department has Intelligence that indicates Russia's position to a group of operatives near the Ukrainian border. What more do you know about that right now?


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's incredible -- an incredible story, isn't it? Unfortunately, the Russians or what you might expect the Russians have ruled it out, said that that's not true. And there is no evidence that's been presented for it, which is the case in fact. There's also been word which is very similar from the Ukrainian military intelligence as well, saying that they've identified individuals elsewhere in the country that may be planning false flag operations like this in order to provoke some kind of Russian attack.

And it all kind of, you know, speaks to the sort of very high degree of tension that exists between those two countries at the moment. There are tens of thousands of Russian forces that have been deployed near to the Ukrainian border. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister for his part had said that this whole crisis has been used as a pretext, not by Russia, but by the United States and by the west to strengthen their forces, NATO forces in the region close to Russia's borders as well.

And so, we're in this sort of situation at the moment where the week- long of -- week-long negotiations that we've just come out of have essentially come to nothing. There's been no progress on Russia's core demand which is to, you know, prevent any further expansion of NATO, and particularly to make sure that Ukraine doesn't become part of the western military alliance. And now we're just waiting to see, you know, what happens next? Will there be more talks, or will Russia draw a line under this and decide to proceed with whatever military option it may be planning.

SANCHEZ: And all we've heard from the White House so far is the threat of economic sanctions, which didn't deter Vladimir Putin in 2014. We'll have to see how they respond alongside our European allies. Matthew Chance from Moscow, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Matthew. Listen, if you've done any shopping lately, you and I both know inflation is going in the wrong direction. It hit a near 40-year high. So, what does this mean moving forward? Is there any good news here? Maybe. That's next.



SANCHEZ: We have all been feeling the pain lately, haven't we? From cornflakes to cars, Americans are paying more for everyday items.

PAUL: Yes, and pandemic price hikes didn't let up in the last month of 2021. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite a cold December, inflation was red hot. Consumer prices grew at the fastest annual pace since 1982, 7 percent year-over-year, and a 0.5 percent last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who can budget? You just have to pay the price.

YURKEVICH: Americans on average paying about $250 more for the same things they were buying a year ago. Gas, topping the charts, up nearly 50 percent from a year ago, same for furniture, up just over 17 percent and food up 6.3 percent.

SUSAN KELLY, GROCERY SHOPPER: What I used to buy, let's say last year, cost me around $50 in grocery, almost doubles right now.

YURKEVICH: And at the pump, prices soared to over $4 a gallon in some states, prompting President Biden to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve in November. Last month, gas prices dropped by 0.5 percent. But for this Lyft driver, he's still burning through gas to find customers and burning a hole in his wallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no business, you have to drive too many miles to make less money, you spend too much on gas. Gas is like double now.

YURKEVICH: And the higher prices are even scaring some drivers away. Tommy Hondros owns this gas station in lower Manhattan, and says he used to have a line of cars.


YURKEVICH (on camera): A hundred and fifty.

HONDROS: Look how many I have now? Nothing. One. It's insane. I used to have people come and fill up, now they just, let me get $5, let me get -- I've seen $2.

YURKEVICH: Used car sales rose by 37 percent year-over-year, as there were less new cars coming to market.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Court shut down, credit shortages of all kinds of things from vehicles to lumber, to clothing and that caused prices to rise.

YURKEVICH: And that trickled down to the cost of food. Groceries rose by 6.5 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a constant re-juggling of budget to try to keep up with the food prices. Lately, meats especially are increasingly expensive.

YURKEVICH: But the price of meat declined slightly last month from November by 0.4 percent. Same for fish and eggs. But for restaurants already struggling with labor shortages and a new Omicron variant, taking on another battle of high food price has been challenging.

BRET CSENCSITZ, MANAGING PARTNER, GOTHAM BAR & GRILL: Halibut one week is $14, and the next week, it's $24 or now -- and now it's $28. So that's -- and that's the most dramatic.

YURKEVICH: Yet some encouraging news this Winter. Energy costs dipped from November to December by 0.4 percent.

ZANDI: I think we're seeing the worst of the inflation now. I think Delta did a lot of damage. Of course, Omicron is going to hurt as well. I think by this time next year, the world should look a bit better. Inflation should be down.

YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.



PAUL: Well, southern governors declare states of emergency ahead of its massive Winter storm system that you're looking at here. Sixty- five million people, 65 million of you under Winter weather alerts. The latest on it coming up. First though, we have a quick programming note for you. You know her face.

Do you really know her story? Discover the life and legacy of the true Marilyn in the new CNN original series "REFRAMED MARILYN MONROE", it premieres tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

PAUL: Good morning Boris, I'm Christi Paul. Let's talk about the sprawling Winter storm, it is blowing across the country, it slammed the Midwest. We've got some pictures to show you of what it's already done.