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New Day Sunday

U.S. Capitol A Fortress And D.C. On Lockdown As Threats Grow; Biden Plans Flurry Of Executive Orders On First Day In Office; Trump Huddles With Advisers In Private While Pence Makes Flurry Of Public Appearances; Trump Leaving Office With Lowest Job Approval Ever; U.S. Close To Surpassing 400,000 Deaths Due To COVID-19; Michigan Identifies Its First Case Of U.K. COVID-19 Variant. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 17, 2021 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I certainly think that we've done everything possible to prepare for the course of this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very large part of me grieves, as an American, that the peaceful transfer of power is not something that we are able to take for granted.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The new variant threatens to become the dominant form of coronavirus by March.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: This virus is so efficient in transmitting, that's what makes it more dangerous. A much more effective virus is going to spread a lot more easily in the community.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The honest truth is this, things will get worse before they get better. I told you I'll always level with you.


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

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to all of you waking up in New York there. As you see the sun is not quite up yet. It's on its way, of course. And we say good morning to all of you wherever you might be lifting your head off the pillow this morning.

Let's talk about the law enforcement that is on high alert right now following threats of armed protests in all 50 states ahead of the inauguration.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Look at this. Overnight at least 500 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen boarded flights. All of them headed to the nation's Capitol.

PAUL: Also, this morning we have new details regarding President-elect Joe Biden's plans for his first day in office and the executive orders he plans to sign. One of those includes issuing a mask mandate on all federal property.

BLACKWELL: Let's start this morning with CNN's Brian Todd. He is in Washington. Brian, law enforcement, state officials on high alert for potentially violent protests. Tell us more about some of these growing preparations.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Victor and Christi, the security posture in the city is intense, to put it mildly. The city becomes more and more of a fortress, really seemingly every hour because almost every hour you hear one other security measure being implemented. You're hearing of the perimeter being pushed slightly further away from the U.S. Capitol here.

We'll walk over here a little bit because there are some buses full of National Guard troops that may be coming any second. But this is one of the things that really strikes at you visually, this high fence with razor wire on it all around the U.S. Capitol. We are on Constitution Avenue right now, but it rings the entire Capitol grounds here. You've got armored personnel carriers and Humvees with National Guard troops all around them at checkpoints all around the city.

This is Constitution Avenue down here. Look, every block down there is a checkpoint. You cannot get through here with any vehicles. No vehicles privately owned can get anywhere near this area and they are starting to limit foot traffic in this area even as we speak.

So this security situation is getting more and more intense and robust. All of this, of course, because FBI officials and other law enforcement authorities telling CNN earlier this week that there had been plans for armed protests in all 50 state capitols and Washington, D.C.. How intense they are going to be, where they are going to gather, that's what we will be monitoring all day long. But this is a tense day here in Washington and in 50 state capitols as people possibly gather for armed protest.

Now I can tell you that In Washington, D.C., you know, where they gather that's going to be something interesting to monitor because again the security perimeter being pushed further and further out. More and more streets are being closed. The bridges from Virginia down that way coming into Washington, D.C., four of them are going to be closed by inauguration day. That's a major step. These are major arteries that go into the city from the state of Virginia.

They're going to be shut down. And that's a signal to people, do not come into Washington. The National Mall right behind me, the Washington monument just over there completely shut down. An extraordinary thing. We just have not seen this on an inauguration day, but that's going to be the case here.

Now, it's not just because it's 6:00 in the morning but all through the day around Capitol Hill it is eerie because it is so quiet right now. Again, people are not being allowed to walk in this area anymore. And this is going to be the case until after inauguration day. Those protests that we are going to be monitoring, that's the key for later today, guys. We're going to see who gathers in and around Washington and other capitols and where they go if they gather. PAUL: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much for letting us really get a good look at what's going on there. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood is up next. She's at the White House this morning. Sarah, good morning to you. So we haven't heard anything from President Trump, but we know he spent the weekend with his advisers planning this big send-off and his impeachment trial. What do you know?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Christi. And, yes, President Trump now turning his attention to the way he'll be leaving office in just three days now. We know that he plans on ditching tradition. Obviously, he won't be in attendance at the inauguration. He won't be greeting the president-elect and the soon to be first lady here at the White House.


We also know that the president, according to officials, is considering a big send-off at Joint Base Andrews before he jets off to Palm Beach, Florida, where he is expected to spend a significant amount of time post-presidency. That could include according to administration officials a red carpet, even a 21-gun salute. So very elaborate what Trump is planning on Wednesday.

We also know that the president is resisting pressure from aides to deliver some kind of farewell address, whether that be a taped address or a live speech. Trump just has not seemed interested in it, really focusing on leaving office at this point. That has left Vice President Mike Pence the far more visible and, frankly, presidential leader at the moment. Pence has been embarking on something of a farewell tour. That took him yesterday to a naval air base in California where Pence spoke about being the vice president being the honor of his life.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first administration in decades not to get America into a new war. And as my time in office draws to a close allow me to thank you for the privilege of serving as your vice president these past four years. It's been the greatest honor of my life.


WESTWOOD: Now, Trump has been spending some of these final days huddled behind closed doors with allies and advisers from the CEO of My Pillow, Michael Lindell, to Rudy Giuliani who was spotted entering the White House yesterday. Trump is weighing who should represent him in that upcoming impeachment trial. It is expected to be a different defense team this time around.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood at the White House, thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Sarah.

So let's go to CNN's Jasmine Wright. She's in Wilmington, Delaware. Jasmine, good to see you this morning. We know President-elect Biden's team they've laid out some of their top priorities for day one in office. What are you hearing?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN VIDEO PRODUCER: Christi, Biden -- President-elect Biden will have a very busy first day in office come Wednesday. His administration says that he will sign roughly a dozen executive orders on that first day. And some of those are meant to roll back the actions that President Trump took over his last four years, but they will also go further in places that just weren't possible under Trump.

Now, Chief of Staff Ron Klain laid out some of those first-day moves. He said that Biden will be rejoining the Paris climate agreement that Trump removed the U.S. from. He will reverse the travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries. He will sign that 100 day mask challenge mandating that masks are worn where Biden can mandate them so federal buildings, interstate travel for those first 100 days.

He'll extend the restrictions on -- excuse me -- evictions and foreclosures and he will ask the Department of Education to extend the pause on federal student loans. And these are all things that President-elect Biden signaled that he would do, really campaign promises from the primary to the general election and now he is looking to fulfill those campaign promises -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Jasmine, also there are some new details about the inauguration, specifically the swearing in of Vice President-elect Harris.

WRIGHT: Wednesday's inauguration is going to be unlike one that we have ever seen in this country and it is in part because of that swearing in of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. She will become the first woman, the first black woman, the first south Asian woman vice president. Now, yesterday in remarks to kick off that first inaugural event she spoke of the large task ahead of this administration that is inheriting one of the worst pandemic -- excuse me -- one of the worst public health crises this country has faced. Take listen here.


KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must remember the work, the fight that lies ahead, the fight to save lives and beat this pandemic, the fight to rebuild our economy so it works for working people, the fight to root out systemic racism and combat our climate crisis and strengthen the democracy we all cherish. Make no mistake. The road ahead, it won't be easy.


WRIGHT: Now, in terms of those inaugural details that you spoke of earlier, Victor, CNN has learned that Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and she will be sworn in using two Bibles. One belonging to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who Harris credits as really one of her inspirations for her legal career, and the second belongs to Miss Regina Shelton, a long-time family friend of Harris who she says is like her second mother -- Victor, Christi. [06:10:06]

BLACKWELL: Thurgood Marshall, Sonia Sotomayor first in their own right as well. Jasmine Wright there for us. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in now "Washington Post" White House reporter and CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa. He is with us. Toluse, good morning to you.

Let's start with the incoming administration. If we have time, we will get to the outgoing one. President-elect Biden also plans, in addition to the executive orders, to send over to Congress on his first day immigration legislation. Now, he has got crises to deal with. We remember President Obama had crises to deal with and Obama decided to put his political capital behind health care legislation. Are we to understand this as to be the first big legislative push, comprehensive immigration reform?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, in addition to this COVID relief package that President-elect Biden wants to push through in terms of domestic policy, he wants to be able to say, I put forward an immigration policy to try to bring 11 million people out of the shadows and into good standing and potentially on a pathway to citizenship. Now, this is a different type of package in part because there is not a lot of money expected in this package for things like border security or very harsh measures to secure the border, sort of an olive branch to Republicans.

So, Biden is essentially saying, we want to push forward a progressive policy on immigration. We want to have it on our first day in office. We want to challenge Republicans, who right now are out of power, to block this and really make a political issue out of it by saying it's Republicans that are keeping this from happening. So, we will have to see exactly what's in this package.

But I think it's very critical that he is going to be focusing on immigration very early despite the fact there are a number of crises that he's facing from the economy, to health care, to racial unrest.

BLACKWELL: And it's been decades since -- that immigration reform has been on the table, has been discussed and actually any major progress on a comprehensive plan. These executive orders, there is a spate of them that Ron Klain says that will be signed on the first day or the subsequent days soon after. Is this a strategy that Democrats, especially those who decried Trump as trying to be a king with his number of executive orders, that they are going to get behind?

OLORUNNIPA: I think a number of Democrats are going to get behind this strategy in part because there is so much hunger for progress and they realized what happened in the past when Republicans used the little power that they had under Obama to stop him from getting much done in terms of legislative progress. So they realized that in order to get things done in a divided country executive power is going to be necessary.

They saw President Trump use his executive power, according to some abuse executive power, but use it to great effect to do a lot of things that he wanted to do that were on his list of agenda items. And there are a number of Democrats that want to see President-elect Biden use his power in the same way to undo some of the things that President Trump has done, everything from the ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries to, you know, withdrawing from the Paris climate accords to other things that Democrats have been pining for for several years. That they don't think that there is much chance that they're going to be able to convince Republicans to get onboard to have bipartisan legislation.

So in the absence of bipartisan legislation Democrats, especially progressives, are saying that President-elect Joe Biden should use his executive authority to provide relief to American people -- to the American people, student loan debt relief, immigration issues, a number of different policy areas where there is not very much chance of having major bipartisan legislation. And they are saying that President-elect Biden should not allow Republicans to block him from doing his agenda. Instead, he should use his executive power just as President Trump has done over the past four years.

BLACKWELL: So speaking of President Trump, he is at the White House. Not speaking with many people. He leaves office with historically low approval ratings, 29 percent by one recent poll. He is preparing for an impeachment trial. He'll go to Florida. Has he or have those around him started to detail what is next for a potential comeback, potential relevance post-presidency?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. The first step for the president is sort of to salve his wounds. And he is going to be doing that by going to a place that's much more friendly to him politically which is Florida, Mar-a- Lago where he has dues-paying members who applaud him while he eats, who show their support for him on a regular basis. And it has become sort of a home base for the MAGA crowd in many ways.

So he's going to go there and try to salve his wounds and then he's going to try to plot some kind of a political comeback whether it's through himself, whether it's through his children, some of whom are also moving to southern Florida. Or whether it's by being a king maker within the Republican Party by weighing in on primaries. He has a big cash reserve from, you know, these election return challenges that he has been funding over the past several months.


And in order to use that money, he does not have very many restrictions. So he is likely to be able to use the money that he has to weigh in on primaries, use the power he that has to weigh in on the Republican Party and to continue to be a force within the Republican Party for years to come. That's his goal. Whether or not he tries to run again may depend on whether or not he is convicted in the Senate trial. But in the meantime, he is going to be trying to use his power within the party to influence what happens going forward.

BLACKWELL: Yes. That's going to be a new role for him, not being king, but being king maker. No indication thus far that he wants an heir instead of taking the role himself, but we'll see. He'll have the opportunity to craft that position for himself after he leaves the White House. Toluse Olorunnipa, thank you.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And tonight, join our own Abby Phillip as she talks with soon to be Vice President Kamala Harris and her family. The CNN special report "KAMALA HARRIS MAKING HISTORY" airs at 10:00 p.m.

PAUL: Ahead this hour, CNN investigates how homegrown extremists are now a greater threat to the U.S. than jihadi terrorists.

BLACKWELL: Also ahead, how the pandemic is forcing a lot of working mothers to make a big sacrifice for the sake of the family.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no option because I have to maybe ask somebody come to watch them, but there is no option for me.




BLACKWELL: The U.S. is getting close to a tragic, tragic milestone in the coronavirus pandemic. Four hundred thousand deaths because of COVID-19. Another 3,200 people died yesterday along with almost 200,000 new cases reported, and more than 126,000 people are fighting COVID in hospitals.

PAUL: Now states are juggling that challenge with trying to boost the rate of vaccinations. We know 12.2 million shots have gone into arms thus far nationwide. That's according to the latest CDC figures. That equates to just about 39 percent of the more than 31 million doses distributed. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following that part of this. And I know that, Polo, part of the push to speed up these vaccinations is because of the concern of this dominant variant and the expeditious nature of its spread, yes?

SANDOVAL: Absolutely, Christi. As we've heard from health expert, not necessarily that this new COVID variant is deadlier, it's actually that it's more transmittable. And because of that we're hearing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that's essentially renewing that advice that we've heard for the last 10 days that for people to not only mask up, remain socially distant, to continue to take other measures as well.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): The list of U.S. states seeing what's possibly a faster spreading COVID-19 variant is growing. This weekend Michigan reported its first case with a woman west of Detroit who officials say had recently traveled to the U.K. where the variant was first discovered last month. And there will be more of these cases, as the new variant threatens to become the dominant form of coronavirus by March, warns the CDC. The agency now imploring Americans to double down on preventative safety measures.

RODRIGUEZ: This virus is so efficient in transmitting, that's what makes it more dangerous. What we're hoping is that there is not a mutation in the future that makes the virus immune to the current vaccines. So a much more effective virus is going to spread a lot more easily in a community.

SANDOVAL: The virus's mutation only adding urgency to vaccination efforts that continue largely at a frustratingly low pace due in part to supply. Take New York, for example, the state reporting a recent expansion of eligibility means about 7 million residents can now get their shot in the arm. The problem is vaccine supplies from the feds have been enough to cover only a fraction of those eligible.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We are receiving 300,000 vaccinations per week. It takes you about six months to do 7 million people at 300,000 per week. We are -- our constraint is the federal supply.

SANDOVAL: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pleading for patience and asking residents to stay out of lines unless they have an appointment. In neighboring New Jersey frustration is building among unvaccinated essential workers. The state announced it will allow smokers under the age of 65 to get vaccinated as per federal guidelines considering them as high risk. Teachers in the Garden State, however, are still waiting their turn.

This weekend COVID ravaged L.A. County became the first in the U.S. to surpass 1 million COVID cases. This L.A. city firefighter describing the number of deaths as impossible to fathom.

DAVID ORTIZ, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: It's hard to imagine that many people passing away and each one of those is a story, it's a family. It's horrible to just imagine. We in our fire department have lost two of our members, two valuable members to this disease. And so it hits home.


SANDOVAL: Not only hearing from that official there, really underscoring that not only the physical but also that mental toll that many first responders have had lately. Now, another (INAUDIBLE) California Representative Lou Correa becoming the latest member of Congress who tests positive for coronavirus just last week. Three Democratic lawmakers reported that they were infecting after sheltering in place with colleagues that refused to mask up during the Capitol siege on January 6th -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval in New York, thanks so much.

PAUL: Still ahead, a religious reckoning perhaps? Emotions are raw from the Capitol riot. The Trump era coming to this chaotic end. What is left of the Trump relationship with conservative Christians? Can they get behind Biden, our nation's soon to be second Catholic president? That conversation just ahead.


BLACKWELL: The threat from white supremacists and right-wing extremists has been growing in this country for years.

PAUL: In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has identified these groups as the greatest terrorism threat currently to the U.S. Here is CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. The alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor. Just two recent instances of a violent right wing extremist movement that has been growing on U.S. soil for years. According to current and former counter-terror officials, the threat now rivals that from international terrorism.

PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR, "UNITED STATES OF JIHAD: INVESTIGATING AMERICA'S HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS": There is no debate, the facts show that right wing extremists have killed more people since 9/11 than any other political ideology. And that includes jihadi terrorists.

SCIUTTO: Since 9/11, 114 people have been killed in attacks by far right wing terrorists in the United States, 107 by jihadist terrorists.


And right-wing attacks are increasingly outpacing jihadi terrorism, responsible for two-thirds of attacks and plots in the U.S. in 2019. And more than 90 percent between January 1st and May 8th, 2020. Attacks and plots by such groups have now occurred in 42 states and the District of Columbia in the past six years. Fueling right-wing extremists are the conspiracies propagated by the President of a system organized against him. And two essential ingredients.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DHS: The first is a leader who tells them what to do, who tells them how to feel, who sort of makes them -- makes them believe that they are part of something bigger, right, that this is a mission. The other is a network, whether it's social media, or a platform, or ways of communication that lets them essentially talk amongst themselves, right, get organized.

SCIUTTO (voice over): The growing degree of organization particularly alarms U.S. officials. Investigators are pursuing signs the assault on the capital was planned and not spontaneous, including knowledge of the Capitol's layout, radio communications among protest leaders, and planting of explosive devices to divert law enforcement. The worry now is that the targets could expand along with the planning, from the U.S. Capitol, to all 50 state Capitols, to so-called "soft targets," mirroring those attack by jihadi terrorists.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSTRUCTURE & INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Infrastructure, hitting soft targets, the disruption of services, those are the sorts of things that every systemically important infrastructure owner operator, CEOs needs to be assembling their crisis management teams yesterday.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Fact is the FBI and Justice Department have been warning about right-wing extremism for years. And the DHS now identifies it as, quote, the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland. However, political appointees in the Trump administration at times downplayed them.

PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR OF "UNITED STATES OF JIHAD: INVESTIGATING AMERICA'S HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS": The political signals have been that the right-wing terrorism is sort of OK. That's certainly what the President say that Charlottesville -- after the Charlottesville terrorist attack, and he continues to some degree.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Downplaying the threat, and even echoing extremist rhetoric.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country will be destroyed. And we're not going to stand for that.

SCIUTTO (voice over): That has had consequences.

KAYYEM: The failure to identify it, to name it, and to focus resources on the growing threat of white supremacy, terrorism, has meant that agencies have not focused on it in the way that they should.

SCIUTTO (voice over): January 6th laid that vulnerability bare. Despite weeks of chatter online, U.S. authorities were not prepared for a deadly assault in the heart of the U.S. Capitol.


BLACKWELL: Jim Sciutto, thank you for the reporting.

PAUL: Yes, still ahead. With Joe Biden becoming the second Catholic President in our country's history, will Christian conservatives remain faithful to President Trump? We'll talk about that in a moment. Stay close.



PAUL: So, in three days, President-Elect Joe Biden will be just the second Catholic president in our nation's history. Attending weekly mass is expected to be a fixed part of his schedule, as it was yesterday, for one more time before being sworn in. Now, the coming Biden presidency and the end of the Trump era seems to be sparking some introspection among some Conservative Christians.

Here are just some recent headlines in the New York Times. "Trump Ignites a War Within the Church." The Chicago Tribune says, "A Catholic pastor speaks out about Trump. Some parishioners walk out." And from NPR, "How Did We Get Here? A Call For An Evangelical Reckoning On Trump."

With me now, Doug Pagitt. He's executive director of Vote Common Good and pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis. Pastor, it's so good to have you with us. Thank you. I have to ask you the question --


PAUL: Hey, I have to ask you the question that has been debated so many times over this. Why were evangelical Christians so loyal to President Trump?

PAGITT: Yes, you know, this is a question that many of us have been asking for so long. And you know, some of it is policy. Sure. And over 40 years, the Republican Party has promised policy changes to religious voters that they've liked. But I think with Donald Trump, it was more than just policy.

I think Donald Trump said to evangelical and white Catholic voters, especially, I get you, I understand you, I like you. And while many of us think that that's not always that important. To a lot of people, the feeling that a president would recognize you and know who you are, and see who you are, really made a big difference.

And frankly, oftentimes, Democrats send a message to religious voters that, oh, we might want your vote. But we don't really care for the way that you think about politics. So, I think what the Joe Biden administration can do, and I think with President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, they're able to do this, they can really communicate to these voters that they care for them, that they like them, that they want them to be part of the Democratic Party, and they want them to support their administration.

PAUL: Did you see any action from the President that backed up the words he said that kept evangelicals behind him?

PAGITT: I mean, isn't this the most difficult thing to try to understand? So much of what he did, both in policy which he would make promises and then not fulfill, I mean, the lack of competency on issues that the Trump administration said matter to religious voters was really stunning.

And then, he would act in ways himself and his administration would actually, you know, implement practices separating children from their families. Telling refugees, they're not welcomed in this country. Moving against science, not caring for people during this incredibly difficult pandemic.


These were all actions that so many of us said, Look, these voters are not going to stick with Donald Trump. And as it turned out, that was true. Evangelical voters and white Christian voters and white Catholic voters moved away from Donald Trump in this election. In fact, Joe Biden won a higher percentage of those voters than any democratic president in recent history.

So, those voters said to Donald Trump, No, thank you. And they're looking at Joe Biden with some hope. And quite frankly, a little bit of skepticism after, you know, four decades of feeling out of the Democratic Party, wondering if this would be a place and a time where they can enter back in and be supportive this administration. And I think there's a lot the Biden administration will do about that.

PAUL: What do you think they'll do? Well, what should they do?

PAGITT: Well, I hope, and this is what we saw on a poll that we -- that we did with faith voters, that kindness really matters. And I think Joe Biden, temperamentally, and Vice President-Elect Harris will be the same way. I think they can act with an administration that's kind, but also competent. And then, frankly, to be honest, and to tell these voters what they are going to do, and that they're going to do those things that they promised they were going to do. So, I believe that kindness, and competency, and honesty will really go a long way.

Now, look, there are some big policy issues that evangelical voters and white Catholic voters have been told mattered to them. And I don't think the Biden administration should back off on those. In fact, there's a lot of voters who are rethinking some of the very classic arguments that have been made for why religious voters should stick with Republicans.

Like religious liberty, and like caring for the poor and reproductive rights. These are issues that many people are rethinking. And they've been told over and over that if you're going to be faithful, you have to be a Republican, and they've watched Donald Trump and these other Republicans turn their backs on the very issues that they care so much about and the way that they -- that they want a leader to act in the world.

And this is a powerful opportunity, not only for Joe Biden, but for so many Democrats. And at Vote Common Good, we work hard to be sure that Democratic candidates know that faith voters are voters that they really can address, and they can talk to, and they should ask for their vote. And we say to faith voters, consider Democrats, even if in your life up until this point, you've always heard that to be faithful, you have to be Republican, we just remind them that that's not at all true.

PAUL: I want to talk about that decline in support for the President. New York Times 2020 election exit poll show that his support from evangelicals dropped from 81 percent in 2016 to 76 percent in 2020. It's five percentage points. I know Michigan, specifically, saw a drop in Trump supporters, particularly among evangelicals.

Have -- has anybody been able to pinpoint the reason for that decline? I mean, obviously, we talk about the priority of policy for evangelicals. And I know you're talking about kindness, but specifically, do we know what turned them away from this President?

PAGITT: We do. At Vote Common Good, we spent a lot of time trying to make those changes a reality and trying to understand what happened. And while a lot of us want to believe that we vote for our politicians based on policy, it's really much more about identity, that we feel connected to a candidate.

And what's happened with the Trump administration, and those numbers have even cratered further since the end of the election and his support of the insurrection, that what voters have said is, I don't see myself in the Republican Party, and I can't see myself supporting this president any longer. It wasn't just policy. It's one of the mistakes we make when we -- those of us who think so much about politics, and certainly politicians, we think that policy goes first. Very often, its identity that goes first. And then, people adjust their policies and their policy beliefs to fit their political identity.

So, this is what we saw happen with these voters, they just simply said, I can't stay with this president any longer. The way he acts, the things that he's doing. Over and over, we would talk to hundreds of faith voters all around the country, and in the states that you mentioned.

And they would say, separating children or they would -- they would name an action from this administration. And there were so many that were so painful for voters to say, I just can't see myself with him any longer. So, we really do trust that these are Americans who are going to say, we want to have an administration that we can support that's kind and competent. And as we would say in our organization, for the common good.

PAUL: Pastor Doug Pagitt, we appreciate you sharing all that you have learned and your perspective. Thank you for being with us.

PAGITT: Thank you and good morning.

PAUL: Good morning to you.

BLACKWELL: Imagine this, a decline of misinformation on social media. There's a new report that claims that it has dropped dramatically within the past week. I wonder why.



BLACKWELL: A little more than a week ago, President Trump's account on Twitter was suspended and several other social media sites followed suit. Now, there's a new report in the Washington Post that says since then, misinformation on social media has dropped 73 percent.

PAUL: Wow. CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter with us now. So, The Post says, Brian, that the firm who research this found chatter about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000. What is the takeaway here?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this is coming from Zignal Labs, which is a pretty reliable source when it comes to online misinformation spreads. What this data indicates is that the researchers who have said for years that Trump was a super spreader of misinformation, a super spreader of lies, that they were right, that the hundreds of times employees who wrote to the CEO and said, Trump should be suspended because he's doing nothing but polluting our platform. Well, this suggests that they were right. [06:50:09]

It shows that when you take out, in this case, a president, but a leader who is spreading all sorts of smears and misinformation, did that actually does send a signal to the followers to maybe move on, to let it go, to stop engaging in some of that harmful behavior. Look, the President obviously, you know, typically, we would expect, he would be on a platform like Twitter, sharing accurate information, promoting his policies, promoting his opinions.

But Trump took it in a completely different direction, by creating this big lie about the election in the same way that he did before election day, lots of other stories. So, this data indicates it really does make a difference when the leader of a, you know, a big lie is removed from a platform.

BLACKWELL: We know that Rudy Giuliani still believes this big lie, or at least he's trying to push it. What more can tell us about what he's doing?

STELTER: Yes. Really interesting news overnight, you know, first, Rudy Giuliani spotted at the White House. Then, there's an interview with ABC that comes out that says Rudy is working on an impeachment defense, thinking about the Senate trial and how to defend Trump. So, those are the headlines overnight. And then, in the middle of the night, you get the Trump campaign coming out with a curious statement. I think we can put it on screen. Hogan Gidley still does have a Twitter account.

He tweeted out this saying, "Trump has not made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him." And then, notice how Gidley goes on here and tries to turn the claims about the riot into claims about the impeachment. He says, "It's a disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy known as the impeachment hoax." Well, I'm sorry, but words still have meaning.

The impeachment is real. It is not a hoax. And by the way, why does Trump still have a campaign apparatus? Why does he still have a campaign operation? He lost the campaign. He lost more than two months ago, but it is notable overnight, Gidley basically pushing back on Rudy Giuliani, saying, hey, not so fast. Trump's not sure who's going to represent him at the trial.

Rudy (INAUDIBLE) ABC said, if he can prove that the voter fraud lies are actually true, or quote, True enough, then that would let Trump off the hook, because he can't incite violence if you were telling accurate -- if you were telling the truth. That's actually not true either. But that is suggested as a defense by Rudy.

It is remarkable that Giuliani, after embarrassing himself more times than we can count, is still out there, still trying to help President Trump, even amid reports that Trump might not -- might not pay him, right, he's trying to stiff him for all of his legal fees, all his legal bills. It is -- it is a sad end note to the Trump years that Rudy is still trying to defend Trump, even to these last days. BLACKWELL: That defense won't hold up in a stiff wind. And the idea

that Rudy Giuliani says, If only I had a chance to prove it in court. How many dozens of judges, scores of judges said that there's nothing here? You had your chance.

PAUL: I don't know --

STELTER: I like the phrase, true enough. If he can just prove that it was true enough, then that would help him out. Well, again, that is not the standard in court. And perhaps, you know, well, look, we'll see in a few weeks in the event of a trial if Rudy is actually a part of it.

PAUL: I mean, this is a movie that you just can't turn away from, because you're trying to figure it all out in the whole process as well. It is just crazy.

BLACKWELL: The only reason you keep watching these movies is you can't find the remote. Brian Stelter, thanks so much.


PAUL: All right. Make sure to watch Brian. He's on "RELIABLE SOURCES" this morning in 11:00, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: So, as the Trump administration heads out the door, government scientists whether one last assault on climate science says new 2020 data reminds us just how urgent the crises is that President- Elect Biden will face. They're wondering what happens next.



PAUL: So, the incoming Biden-Harris administration is vowing to quote, lead with science and truth. Unveiling yesterday, the White House team that will help them tackle issues like the climate crisis.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan. The same laws apply. The same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.


BLACKWELL: That's a shift from the Trump administration, which appointed climate science skeptics to top scientific positions. Some even recently published essays filled with disinformation that has already been debunked. CNN's Allison Chinchar is here with the reality check. Allison, scientists are hoping for more policy, less politics. Data from 2020 makes it clear that we are in an additional crisis.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you're right, guys. And I think that's kind of just it. People are hoping that this will be less about politics and more about science. Look, you don't hear politicians debating about what the high temperature was, when the National Weather Service issues those numbers out of D.C. or any city. They want this to be the same.

They want people to understand that the data is there, you just have to read it. And here is a look at 2020. Now, according to two organizations, this is Copernicus, as well, as NASA. 2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record. Now, we would like to point out NOAA puts it at second place in terms of hottest years.

Overall, we noticed the global warming by just over about one degree Celsius, that's just over about two degrees Fahrenheit. But one thing that all of those organizations agree on is that seven of the hottest years on record have been the last seven years.

So, that's one thing to note. Look at all of these. Again, each one is continuing to see that warmth continue to spread and grow.