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New Day Saturday

Over 10 Million People Across 10 States Under Blizzard Warnings; Trump WH Spokesman Subpoenaed By January 6 Committee; Fallen Police Officers Widow Delivers Heart-Wrenching Eulogy; NYPD Resurrects Controversial "Anti-Crime Unit". Biden Pledges To Appoint Black Woman To Supreme Court; Tennessee School Board Pulls Pulitzer-Winning Holocaust Book; Dozens Charges In Undercover Drug Bust Using Dating Apps; Twitter Stops Taking Action Against Lies About The 2020 Election; Joni Mitchell Joins Neil Young In Pulling Songs From Spotify. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 29, 2022 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Expect more from Rafa seems very aware of how finite these opportunities are. So he's not taking anything for granted.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good to know. (INAUDIBLE), good to see you. Thank you. We'll be right back.

So good morning to you. We are so grateful to have you with us on your new day on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. There are hurricane force winds, whiteout conditions and potential flooding ahead for parts of New England. Several states under a state of emergency as a dangerous nor'easter begins to hit the Northeast.

PAUL: Yes, we'll take you to all the places there. Also under fire, the law enforcement community is on edge after a string of attacks. What some cities are doing to deal with a surge in crime?

SANCHEZ: Plus, the White House confirming one of the potential picks for Supreme Court nominee. Will tell you who's a potential front runner.

PAUL: Well, on this Saturday, January 29th, you've made it to your weekend. You might be stuck inside I know. But thank you for being with us.

SANCHEZ: Yes, this morning. We're watching the forecasts, aren't we Christi. Millions of Americans bracing for a powerful winter storm, 55 million people right now under winter storm alerts.

PAUL: Yes, this is a powerful bond cyclone as it's called. And it's bringing heavy snow and vicious winds, also potential coastal flooding. It's slamming the Northeast now. Want to give you a live picture from Boston in fact. As you can see people out there helping and shoveling but the snow is moving sideways. Based on what we can tell. They have had several states that have issued a state of emergency declaration Massachusetts in particular, Rhode Island expected to get the worst of this extreme winter weather.


GOV. DAN MCKEE (D-RI): Not only are we expecting large amounts of snow, we're also expecting high winds. And we're fully expecting whiteout conditions.

MICHELLE WU, MAYOR, BOSTON: This has the potential to be a historic storm, a huge one.


SANCHEZ: Officials are asking folks to just stay inside because travel is going to be a problem and not just on the road. Nearly 3,400 flights have already been canceled across the U.S. that's on top of the thousands of flights that were axed yesterday, and more than 600 have already been canceled for tomorrow.

PAUL: CNN teams have been covering this powerful storm as it moves across the Northeast this morning. We want to start with CNN meteorologist though Tyler Mauldin you can see our two Brian Todd and Brynn Gingras just waiting to talk to us and probably get out of that snow when they can. So let's get to you Tyler and see what you can tell us so we can get to them.

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just take a look at how quickly the snowfall totals are beginning to increase, Ocean City Maryland now sitting at nine inches, Forked River New Jersey now sitting at 15 and a half inches. We're going to see the snow continue to pile up as we go through time because this system right here is slow mover. It's a slow mover moving to the northeast and as it rapidly intensifies it's going to cause the snowfall rates to increase exponentially.

Notice the temperatures out there too. It is very uncomfortable five degrees in Albany and then we're looking at 16 degrees in New York, 20 degrees in Boston, the wind adds a bite to that air. And then also this 46 mile per hour wind. That's the stain in Nantucket. A gust of now 63 miles per hour that's leading to the near whiteout conditions in parts. That's why we have a blizzard warning from Maine, all the way down through Massachusetts on into the coastline of Virginia. Philadelphia, New York, you're not included in that blizzard warning. You're in a winter storm warning at this time, those winter weather alerts extend all the way down into the Carolinas.

The Bullseye is really here across eastern Massachusetts going on into Maine. This is where we're going to see more than 24 inches of snow in some areas and eastern Maine, eastern Massachusetts could see north of three feet of snow. And you can see right here, all the areas in pink and some of that purple, that's more than a foot of snow. So, a lot of us seeing more than a foot.

And in Boston if we pick up more than two feet, this will be the snowiest day on record in Boston. And we don't see a taper off in Boston until we get past midnight. So this is something that we'll be dealing with all day long. And in Maine, you're going to deal with it overnight as well. Guys.

SANCHEZ: Tyler Mauldin, thank you so much for breaking down the forecast for us. Let's go ahead and move to Brynn Gingras, she's in New York City with the very latest for us.

Brynn, I see some people moving around behind you. There were joggers earlier today. What are you seeing right now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris and Christi, if you guys didn't believe me that they were joggers. I actually have a jogger now to talk to his name is Chris Peck. He came out this morning.

And Chris, I'm just so curious, you see the snow and you're just like, oh, this is a good day for a jog.

CHRIS PECK, NEW YORK RESIDENT: Yes, it's great. I mean, it's a good chance to get some peace and quiet in the city. Kind of close your eyes and great tenure out in nature has changed a pace.


GINGRAS: Obviously, we heard the mayor talking about yesterday how they're preparing for the storm and it's going to be a big one in certain areas more than others. Tell me what your first impressions are so far of how the city looks.

PECK: Looks not so bad. I'm kind of surprised that the Central Park loop and the roads were like sort of plowed this morning which is pretty (INAUDIBLE) I think getting out of that here at like six o'clock in the morning.

GINGRAS: Yes, we're near tough right?

PECK: Yes.

GINGRAS: All right, Chris, go enjoy your jog obviously there's lots of people here sightseers, people walking their dogs there's going to be a lot of sweaters I'm sure later on. Thank you so much for joining us.

And like I said, it's really not so bad just yet. Of course though, this snow continues to just fall in New York City, the outer boroughs actually having a tougher time with they're making sure those powerlines, you know, are in good tax because of the wind and that's what's really getting us right now is that strong gusts of wind. They really hit you in the face guys. But so far, doing a good job here in the central part of the city getting the roads cleared so cars can move about even though officials have said stay home if you can on the Saturday morning.

PAUL: Yes. Byrnn Gingras. Thank you so much. Stay safe there for us.


PAUL: Want to make sure your all you and the crew are all well. She's right, New York tough. It is real.

So, you know, who else has tough one Mr. Brian Todd. Oh, he has been out in Atlantic City in some really horrific conditions this morning. Brian, how you holding up?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're holding up pretty well guys. I did hear someone on the air on a short time ago, one of the officials he ran a sound clip off talking about whiteout conditions, I can show you the whiteout conditions. Take a look down here on South Carolina Avenue you can't really barely see about a block away, we are told visibility is going to be near impossible. As these whiteout conditions continue to intensify. I'm looking down this way and I can get hit by another burst right here. I can barely see a gentleman who just walked past us down this way.

Now, over here, there's a snowdrift that I showed you a short time ago, these guys are now trying to they've just fired up a snow blower over here. And they're trying to clear a path on this hotel driveway, just so someone -- excuse me, someone can get out. But I don't know how anyone's going to get out in this. The snow has been coming down for 12 hours, it's going to be coming down here blizzard warning in effect for another eight hours. And more than a foot of snow is expected. But it's really not the accumulation. That is the issue. It is this wind. It is high tide that was about three and a half hours ago. But that's causing some flooding.

We're told a short time ago that Route 40, a key artery into an out of Atlantic City is closed right now, because of the high tide, because of flooding. You know, it's basically a convergence of three forces here in Atlantic City, it is a high wind, and this whipping snow, it's the accumulation, but it's also a tidal situation. Atlantic City is a barrier island. And the areas around the bay side are very low, excuse me low line. And those are the ones that are really susceptible to flooding at this hour.

And we again, I mentioned high tide was only about three and a half hours ago. So flooding, there is an issue. And if you can see down here, just in this few seconds, actually, Josh, we're going to go to our right, just in the few seconds that I've been on the air here, look at how visibility down the street has dissipated, you can barely see down past those light poles. And it was a little bit better visibility when I started this live shot.

So again, as they try to dig out from this, these people trapped inside this driveway here, these cars trapped in here, we can tell you that officials here are telling us that people are venturing out onto the roads, they are getting stuck. And as you can see, it is really ridiculous to try to do that. You've got to hunker down and stay inside. Now the casinos are still open. So that's one thing that the mayor said is the casinos and this is one time he would encourage people to stay in those casinos if you're in there.

PAUL: Well, I guess it gives them something to do. Brian Todd, you and the crew take good care there. Oh, I hope you don't have to endure this all day long. But like you said, eight more hours potentially this. Thomas Koch, mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts is with us now. And we know that Boston is your neighbor, Boston is expected to get the brunt of this. So we're expecting that you will as well. What can you tell us about the wind gusts, the snow that you might be seeing right now? We're told that it could be historic levels?

THOMAS KOCH (D) MAYOR, QUINCY, MA: Indeed, we are well prepared. We've got every snow route covered right now. But 200 pieces of equipment are across the city but we are expecting somewhere between nine and noon time for absolute whiteout conditions with things will probably come to a halt for a period of time. So we tell people please be patient stay home. Don't go out. Obviously if you have any questions or issues to call our emergency numbers.

PAUL: So Mr. Mayor, do you know if those emergency numbers have been called on just yet?

KOCH: We've had some minor things we had one major coastal road that has been closed down from flashover watching that. There's just general questions at this point about parking and some folks have been towed but no major emergencies today.


PAUL: OK, we have Brian talk about the potential coastal flooding. I know that is a big concern for you as well, because back in 2018, there was that storm where dozens of people needed to be rescued, because of some of the flooding that came up on the coast. I understand you have fortified those sea walls now at least in part about a mile and a half has been fortified, you say three or four miles yet needs to be fortified. But how confident are you that what you've done so far, we'll be able to hold as a barrier.

KOCH: Well, we're extremely confident we had some major design and engineering work done a lot of meetings about it. What height should the seawall be? So, the new seawalls are about two feet higher than they were before. So the section of the city that that covers that I'm sure part of Merrymount (INAUDIBLE) should be well covered. We're not seeing the extreme ties that we would have had an 18 either we deal with mostly splash over at this point.

PAUL: OK, well, that's good to know. So you don't anticipate having to call for any evacuations or you did not do so of that area?

KOCH: We prepared if we need to, but the first tide is high. Now we think we're going to be OK. We'll continue to watch it for the next the next cycle. But we are prepared for that we have crews out keeping an eye on the tide gates and making sure the drainage is working appropriately. So it doesn't back up into people's homes. But so far, so good.

PAUL: OK, good. We'll keep our fingers crossed that that continues. So when we're talking about potentially two feet of snow, and winds, they say potentially up to 70 mile per hour gusts. What does that mean once this blows through for any interruptions of power, and your ability, your team's abilities there to get to that and try to remedy the situation that may be occurring at that time?

KOCH: It's going to be a major challenge. Obviously, we're watching and we have the power company here with us. In case we have any issues. It's really almost a minor hurricane with snow. The big issue that I see is us getting the streets back opened up again. There's no question we're going to lose control for a period of time. There's no way plow is going to operate when they can't see in front of their face. So, you know, we're talking two to three feet of snow. That's a lot of snow. And with a 70 mile an hour winds, we're looking at six to eight foot drifts.

We have a lot of coastal roads and those winds will be blowing that right across even after the storm is done. We'll be plowing for many hours afterward to keep up with the wind blowing it.

PAUL: Well Godspeed to you and your teams there. Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us. We know that you are going to be a busy man. Mayor Thomas Koch -- Koch there, excuse me. Thank you so much.

KOCH: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: We'll be monitoring the storm all morning, obviously, so stay tuned for the latest on that. But we do want to pivot to what's happening in the nation's capitol. The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, has issued another round of subpoenas. This time they're targeting Donald Trump's former deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere.

PAUL: Investigators say they hope Deere can shed some light on Oval Office conversations the former president was having before and after the Capitol attacks.

CNN national security reporter Zach Cohen is with us now. So Zach, talk to us about what we do know regarding these meetings.


So, the committee like you said, they want to know what was said in the White House behind closed doors on January 6, and of the days leading up to it. Now, the letter to Judd Deere says that he participated in a specific Oval Office meeting on January 5, where the President allegedly said, quote, what are your ideas for getting the rhinos Republican name only to do the right thing tomorrow? How do we convince Congress? Now the context of that quote, is not clear. But obviously, but it seems that it refers to the next day where Congress is supposed to certify the election results for Joe Biden. And as we know, there was a pretty concerted effort leading up to that day to convince Mike Pence not to do so.

So, you know, Judd Deere yet another White House official who had has knowledge of these intimate conversations at the White House on January 6, and in the days leading up to it. His former boss, Kayleigh McEnany, spent several hours testifying before the committee recently. And so we'll see if Judd Deere does the same. SANCHEZ: And Zach, we're also learning that more than a dozen subpoenas were also sent to key players tied to that fake elector plot on that day. Do we know who all was subpoenaed?

COHEN: We do. So this is 14 Republicans from seven key swing states where, you know, they put forward these fake slates of electors. And as we've reported, it was part of a coordinated effort with the Trump campaign that led up to the January 6 in hopes that they could overturn the election results there.

Now, these are GOP party officials for the most part they're listed as the chairperson or the either the chairperson or the secretary for each slate of electors. And these are -- these people the committee believes has intimate knowledge of the organizational efforts to bring these fake electors together and get them assigned to fake certificates that were then sent to the National Archives and to Congress.


SANCHEZ: A huge story amid controversy after controversy that this committee has uncovered and will soon be sharing with the American people. Zach Cohen, thanks so much.

Coming up this hour, outrage over a book removed from curriculum. A Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel about the Holocaust pulled from some Tennessee classrooms. Will other school districts do the same?

PAUL: Also, the pictures are looking just breathtaking. Thousands lining the streets of New York yesterday to say the final goodbyes to an NYPD officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty last week. We'll hear from his widow, next.



COOPER: With a suspect accused of shooting three Houston police officers in a wild chase and shootout has a long criminal history. Now, he's also charged with three counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Roland Caballero surrendered to authorities after leading police on a chase and barricaded himself inside a house for hours. Records show that his criminal record started when he was a teenager. He's been convicted of five felonies and sentenced to more than 16 years in prison. Two of the three police officers who were shot are fortunately out of the hospital. The third is in stable condition.

Meantime, the widow of a New York City police officer killed in the line of duty delivered an emotional and heart wrenching tribute this week. Thousands of fellow officers turned out yesterday to honor Officer Jason Rivera. He was shot and killed just over a week ago while responding to a domestic disturbance call. PAUL: The officers look at that there standing shoulder to shoulder 20 deep packing Fifth Avenue outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. It was a sea of blue as you can see. During the funeral, Officer Rivera's wife said that sendoff was a fitting tribute.


DOMINIQUE LUZURIAGA, WIDOW OF OFFICER JASON RIVERA: This is exactly how he would have wanted to be remembered like a true hero or like I used to call him Big P.O. Rivera. You have the whole nation on gridlock. And although you won't be here anymore, I want you to lift through me.


SANCHEZ: Dominique Luzuriaga also took aim at the new district attorney, she says that new laws are making officers less safe apparently referring to Alvin Bragg's bail plea and sentencing policies.

PAUL: Their cities around the country are dealing with attacks on police officers and increases in violent crime. And in response, New York's mayor is resurrecting a controversial program known as the Anti-Crime Unit. This was disbanded in 2020 following complaints about aggressive tactics and police brutality, and links to several police involved shootings, while the units will now be called Neighborhood Safety Teams that construct patrols in the next three weeks.

And Joseph Giacalone is a former NYPD detective and current professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Thank you so much, sir, for being with us. Your reaction first and foremost to reviving this program.

JOSEPH GIACALONE, LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINER: It's an important first step, the anti-crime units acts as a deterrent for people to carry handguns. And if people don't fear that they're going to get caught, then we saw a huge rise in gun violence almost about the day after he -- they deleted this unit going back and I believe was June of 2020.

PAUL: So Mayor Adams is uniquely qualified to address this, would you say? I mean, how much confidence do you have in this mayor who is a former law enforcement officer?

GIACALONE: Well, he certainly understands policing. And he certainly understands the fact that the cops actually matter when dealing with crime. And he's got, you know, he has filled banks with him, he has picked the new police commissioner or highly capable people. It's just that they're fighting a lot of politics in order to try to get this done.

PAUL: So when we can go back to that unit that he is resurrecting, do you think there is an appetite? Do you think there is space to remedy this unit and strengthen it in a way that would be more embraced by the residents of New York considering the fact that there were a lot of civil complaints against the prior unit? GIACALONE: Yes, you're dealing with a unit like this, you're dealing with a lot of civilian complaints. I mean, that's the nature of their job. They're going after guns, they're going after violent felonies. And this is what you have to worry about. If something goes wrong, if something goes payable, which we refer to as go sideways, does this administration have the stomach to handle it? And that's going to be the number one question going forward.

But this unit is an important aspect of it. And it hasn't been, you know, it hasn't been out for a long time. But there will be some retraining. They'll go through all of the different steps will set them to plainclothes training again, and they'll go through all of the different aspects of let's say, reasonable suspicion and all those other things that make sure that we can try to prevent a lot of these civilian complaints.

PAUL: Can we put the picture up please of the funeral on Fifth Avenue that that to sea of officers, law enforcement. You couldn't see the street, you couldn't see the pavement anywhere because so many officers were there to honor, to honor Rivera.


I want to ask you Mr. Giacalone, help us understand what a situation like this an event like this does to the camaraderie and to the mental headspace of fellow officers?

GIACALONE: Well, unfortunately, I've been to my share of police funerals. And this one here was the largest I think I've ever seen. So I know people refer to it as the thin blue line. But that thin blue line is not that thin. When you look at the men and women, who every day, put their own safety aside, they put their own families aside and they go out and they try to make the city a better place for the residents. I mean, that's the bottom line.

And when you have a situation like this, you know, we have a saying, you know, (INAUDIBLE) faithful to death. And this is a prime example of that. It's a brotherhood and a sisterhood that, unless you are in it, you can't really explain it. But I can tell you that the bonds grow deep, and that the men and women that do this job, try to do their very best every day. And you can see that in this picture.

PAUL: Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, we appreciate your service. We appreciate you taking time to talk us through what we're seeing in New York now. Thank you so much, sir.

GIACALONE: Thanks for having me.

PAUL: Of course.

And join CNN Sarah Sidner tomorrow night. She's riding along to find out why driving while black in America can be deadly serious. "CNN NEWS SPECIAL REPORT TRAFFIC STOP" begins tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: To replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, President Biden renewed his pledge this week to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court. The White House says Biden is considering multiple potential nominees. And they confirmed one name, Judge J. Michelle Childs, a favorite of one of Biden's closest allies, House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

With us this morning to discuss the historic implications of this potential pick, the Dean of Boston University's Law School, Angela Onwuachi-Willig is with us now. She's an expert on race, on the law, and was at one-time finalist herself for a spot on Iowa's Supreme Court. Angela, thank you so much for sharing part of your Saturday morning with us. We're grateful to have you.

Let's talk about the historical implications here. It's very likely the first black woman will soon be appointed and confirmed to the Supreme Court. What does that mean to you?

ANGELA ONWUACHI-WILLIG, DEAN, BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Oh, it means a great deal to me. It's important for a number of reasons. It's important because, as Justice Ginsburg said before she passed when she was talking about when -- how it was important to have three women on board. At one point, she said, when school girls look at the Supreme Court and see three women in the court, they'll see that it's natural improper. And when a black woman is on the Supreme Court, people will look at the Supreme Court and see that it's natural and proper to have a black woman on the Supreme Court.

It'll -- it's important because it'll add institutional legitimacy to the court. People will have a greater trust in the court if they feel like they're representative. They feel like their views or perspectives are represented on the court, their voices are heard on the court. It's very, very important because everybody brings their life experiences with them onto the bench. All judges do.

And having a black woman who's lived experiences at the intersection of race and gender will not only shape how she views the facts of a case, how she views the stakes of a case, it'll shape how her colleagues do. Justice O'Connor when she was talking about the impact, that Justice Thurgood Marshall had on her to that the kinds of stories that he would tell, based on his lived experiences as a black man, based on his lived experiences in representing black people during the Civil Rights Movement really, really shaped how she viewed so many cases, and shaped the ways in which they discuss cases during their deliberations.

And I think shaped the outcomes, shaped the majority -- have shaped out the majority opinion was written. And so having a diversity of perspectives, having a diversity of backgrounds, having a diversity of work experiences is really, really critical to having a strong Supreme Court. And adding a black woman's voice to the Supreme Court is really, really important for all those reasons. SANCHEZ: It seems obvious that you would want the highest court in the land to be reflective of the population, and so representation and that high realm matters. But I'm curious what you make of the response from some folks out there who claim that a person's background whether their ethnicity, gender, sex, et cetera, they say it shouldn't be a consideration in the process. What's your response to that?

ONWUACHI-WILLIG: Well, I would say -- number one, I would say that the very key to the excellence of an appellate court where you want a diversity of perspectives or you want a lot of really smart people discussing complex legal issues, that turned on whether you have various people with different background, different perspective, different work experiences, different life experiences, but that really matters.


So whether who the best person is, the terms are missing from the court, in part, right? And there are so many people at this level who are so exceptionally qualified for this position. And the people that they're talking about are so exceptionally qualified. That you're choosing between, you know, excellent and excellent, basically, on all these candidates.

And so, I would say to tell you these people, and I don't think I would say to these people is that for many, many, many years, it's been presumed that the only qualified candidates were white men. 95 percent of all Supreme Court justices have been white men. And I think that -- and there is non-consciously some of that happening. I mean, when there's a woman being replaced by a woman, when there's a person of color being replaced by a person of color, there isn't kind of this reaction.

And I think that there is non-consciously -- there's kind of reaction happening because there is a white male justice being replaced by a woman of color. And this (INAUDIBLE).

SANCHEZ: Interesting. Angela, I have one more question for you. And it's a bit personal because you've broken barriers in your own career. You were the first person of color to lead Boston University's Law School, the first black woman to lead a top 20 law program.

There are a lot of challenges with being the first of something, right? And I'm wondering what your perspective would be for any potential nominee, to go through a process of confirmation and to sit on that bench. Again, such a high realm, right?

ONWUACHI-WILLIG: I think it's, obviously, it's a lot of pressure. Your -- more eyes are on you. You're hyper -- you're very visible. But all of these women are used to being the first in many things that they do. All of these women are used to having to be twice as good to get half the credit. And all of them will rise to the challenge. Whoever the nominee is, will rise to whatever challenge there is on the Supreme Court.

We're talking about people with exceptional impeccable credentials. And I would say you know that the bench is deep. There are so many people who could do this job. And the top candidates are all phenomenal candidates.

SANCHEZ: It is an exciting moment in American history. And we're delighted to have your expertise this morning. Angela Onwuachi-Willig, thank you so much for the time.


SANCHEZ: Of course. Stay with CNN. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: A school board in Tennessee voted unanimously this week to stop a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel from being taught in classrooms. It's determined that the book, "Maus," about the experiences of Holocaust survivors was inappropriate for its eighth grade students. The book depicts Jewish people as mice and Nazis as cats. Here's what the book's author Art Spiegelman told CNN.


ART SPIEGELMAN, AUTHOR, "MAUS": I think that's so myopic and their focus in this so afraid of what's implied and having to defend the decision to teach "Maus" as part of the curriculum, that it led to this kind of daftly myopic response.


SANCHEZ: There has been a noticeable uptick in attempts to control what's being taught in schools, especially in Republican-led states. So let's discuss the impact with an educator and the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten. Randi, thanks for being with us this morning. It's not just "Maus" and it's not just happening in Tennessee, there are books across the country in Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia.

Yesterday, a school district in Washington State pulled "To Kill a Mockingbird" from the curriculum. Texas, Florida facing similar crackdowns. Why is this book banning a trend again? It seems this happens every few years.

RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So first off, let me just say that, "To Kill a Mockingbird," I was a high school social studies teacher. And I used "To Kill a Mockingbird" in Crown Heights Brooklyn, as a key way of showing the limitations of justice systems in places where you had Jim Crow and racist laws. And it was a wonderful way of teaching in an age appropriate manner, and creating the kind of critical thinking that you need to do in schools.

What I think is happening is that we have a terrible cultural war that's -- that is going on by some people who want to actually censor and to stop kids from having the robustness that they need for their lives. And what's very dangerous about it just like the book banning and that we saw in autocratic regimes, what's very dangerous about it is that we are stopping kids from grappling with really tough issues but really important issues, slavery, the Holocaust, genocide.


We have to teach it in an age appropriate way. And we have to be mindful of actually making sure we respect all kids. But this is a very, very dangerous trend. And it hurts the children and students and young adults in America in terms of their education.

SANCHEZ: Randi, one of those board members in Tennessee made the argument that schools can still teach kids about the Holocaust but without the profanity and nudity that they objected to in "Maus." And to be clear, the profanity was a couple of uses of the word damn, and depiction of a female breasts that wasn't in a sexual context. What's your response --


SANCHEZ: -- to that claim from that board member?

WEINGARTEN: It's -- look, that -- it's just -- for a school teacher like myself, and someone who had relatives who died in those concentration camps, it's horrifying, because what, you know, we have to grapple with this. Again, age appropriate, Common Sense Media, others have said that "Maus" should not be taught until kids are 13 years old. Age appropriate is an appropriate conversation to have between teachers and parents and school boards.

But what they're saying is that they don't want our kids to actually have to grapple with, be exposed to the kinds of bad as well as the kinds of good in history. And if we don't do that, we are not only not giving kids the kind of knowledge and skills that they need for their lives, but we're also doing a huge disservice to the peoples who have been discriminated against. We're also actually opening up the availability to repeat terrible history.

We need to make it clear that the Holocaust was terrible. Genocide is terrible. It's really uncomfortable to teach about genocide. But if we do this in an age appropriate way, we are actually making sure that we don't repeat it.

SANCHEZ: Randi, it strikes me that the same folks who are frightened to teach kids "Maus" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" then often turn around and celebrate politicians that use racist and crude language and then call their opponents snowflakes. Do you think this is really about protecting kids, shielding kids from harm, or is it --


SANCHEZ: -- a political weapon?

WEINGARTEN: It's a political weapon. It's -- look, I don't -- we have to be careful. And I, look, I am as political as everyone else. But in this moment in time, we have to be careful not to politicize schools. And this is the politicization of schooling. Book banning is about stopping kids from having a holistic education and understanding the world around them.

And frankly, this is canceled culture. Book banning is the perfect example of canceled culture. What we need to do is we need to get through the tough times. Not try to shield us from the tough times, it will make all of us stronger, and frankly, it will make people more empathetic.

And part of what we need to do right now, as we're grappling with COVID is we need to see each other and make and help people be more empathetic about each other. And part of that is teaching tough things, teaching about slavery, teaching about the Holocaust, just like we teach about July 4th. These are things that we need to do to help kids have a -- have that -- have the knowledge and skills they need to live their lives and be able to deal with tough issues and be able to see each other as real people.

SANCHEZ: A challenge in times as divided as these. Randi Weingarten, as always, appreciate your perspective. Thanks for joining us.

WEINGARTEN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We'll get you caught up on a couple of our top stories. First of all, after a six month-long undercover investigation, authorities in Florida have charged 68 people in connection with the sale of illegal narcotics on popular dating apps. The Polk County Sheriff's Office called the operation Swipe Left for Meth and said the dealers would use emojis to signal that they were selling drugs as well as code words such as party and Tina, which stood for methamphetamine. Detectives say the drugs were worth about $14,000.

SANCHEZ: Twitter says it's no longer taking action to try to limit the spread of lies about the 2020 election. The announcement coming just a day after YouTube removed a Republican Congressman's campaign ad because it included misinformation about the election. A spokesperson for Twitter tells CNN that their current civic integrity policies designed to be used during the duration of an election. And since the results have been certified, they stopped enforcing the policy in March of last year.

PAUL: Legendary singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell says she also plans to remove her music from Spotify, acting -- in unity with Neil Young. He did the same in a protest over vaccine misinformation. Now earlier this week, Young pulled his music from the streaming service citing Joe Rogan's podcast, which is known to spread false and inaccurate claims about the pandemic.

In her statement on a website, Mitchell wrote, "Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives."


PAUL: So all morning we've been staying on top of developments as a powerful winter storm moves through the Northeast. Nearly 55 million people from the Carolinas to Virginia to New England are under winter weather alerts this morning. A bomb cyclone bringing a dangerous mix of heavy snow, vicious wind and potential coastal flooding in some areas. As we take a live look at this picture now from Boston.

PAUL: The combination of near hurricane-force winds. We're talking of up to 70-mile-percent-hour winds in some areas. And then all that massive snow that you saw there expected to bring -- they're getting -- we say expected to bring I think the blizzard conditions have arrived.


PAUL: Do you think, Boris?

SANCHEZ: I think so that snow has been hitting some of our reporters sideways. It does not --

PAUL: Yes.

SANCHEZ: -- look like a good time out there. So unless you absolutely have to do not go outside, stay indoors.

PAUL: Yes. We'll see you again in an hour. Smerconish is up next.