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New Day Sunday

U.S. Capitol A Fortress And D.C. On Lockdown As Threats Loom; Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA); U.S. Recorded 198,218 New Cases And 3,286 Deaths Saturday; Opposition Leader Who Survived Poisoning Heading Back To Russia; Biden Plans Flurry Of Executive Orders On First Day In Office. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 17, 2021 - 07:00   ET



ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The other thing to note is that the decade, they all agree, that from 2011 through 2020, this was the warmest decade on record, too. So, again, these are all things to kind of consider when you look at the data that is there.

One thing to note about 2020 that made it a little bit unusual is we had a La Nina. That's that circle there, that cooling of the portion of the Pacific Ocean. 2016, which had been the previous hottest year on record, that was actually El Nino. You expect that because you have that warming already in the Pacific Ocean and that trends elsewhere.

Again that separated this year from being different. Here's why. Even though you had dealing portion of the Pacific Ocean, you had extreme heat across portions of the northern hemisphere, especially across regions of Russia, and that excessive heat there was likely able to combat some of those areas that were slightly on the cooler side. The North Pole region also dealing with extreme temperatures in 2020.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Allison, thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have 25,000 National Guardsmen and women in Washington, D.C. That's ten times the amount of troops that we currently have in Afghanistan.

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, as an American, the peaceful transition of power is not something that we are able to take for granted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new variant threatens to become the dominant form of coronavirus by March.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 a community. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

BLACKWELL: Tens of thousands of National Guard troops around that building and around the city of Washington, D.C.

Good morning to you as we look at Capitol Hill.

Law enforcement is on high alert not just because of threats in and around Washington, but because of armed protests and threats of those in all 50 states ahead of the inauguration.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at some of the video we are getting in overnight. At least 500 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen loading on to flights there, all of them headed to the nation's capital.

BLACKWELL: Also we have details of President Joe Biden's plans for the first day in office and the executive orders he plans to sign. One of those is a mask mandate on all federal property.

PAUL: We begin this morning with CNN's Brian Todd who is in Washington, D.C.

We know law enforcement and state officials, Brian, on high alert there. Talk to us about what you are seeing in the nation's capitol, because I know you said this is something that you have seen that you have never seen before.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christie and Victor. We haven't seen this even after 9/11. You are talking layers of security here in the nation's capital, very intense layers. These layers keep getting pushed further out. We are at the corner of Constitution Street. Security right there, that's the outer security perimeter. But it's not really the furthest out because there is more security perimeter beyond that. So you have got at least two going that way and again they are pushing these security perimeters further and further out.

(AUDIO GAP) razor wire and high fencing all (AUDIO GAP) Capitol building, extending down First Street up Independence Avenue up that way. Armored personnel carriers and National Guard there.

I have got that, plus bridges are going to be closed down here, these bridges coming from Virginia to the district starting this week and through inauguration day. That's a major step, another security perimeter. As you mentioned, armed protests possibly planned in 50 states and here in Washington. Law enforcement officials telling CNN they are using a huge amount of

surveillance to try to track extremists who may want to come to Washington to make sure that they don't come to Washington, including monitoring cellphones and other communications according to law enforcement officials. There is a concern about extremists possibly using vehicles to try to breach these checkpoints. But (AUDIO GAP) again, these checkpoints are heavily fortified here in area and there are several layers of them around the city, guys.

BLACKWELL: And the threat does not subside after Wednesday. We will have to see how long that posture will land.

Brian Todd for us there in D.C., thanks so much.

PAUL: CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd is with us now. He's also former CIA counterterrorism official and former FBI senior intelligence advisor as well.


Well, Phil, it is always good to see you. So, when we look at the fortification of D.C. and we hear these stories about what the threat is in all 50 states, what is your greatest concern this morning?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: There's a couple of things I would be thinking about. Look, if you got 20,000 plus National Guard around the inauguration, the inauguration would not be my number one concern. There is a couple of things looking out into the 50 states beyond D.C. that I would be thinking about.

The first, obviously, is weapons. If one National Guard member gets shot at in any state capitol, trying to predict what happens outside that incident I think is almost impossible.

The second thing I would talk about is locations. You look at what happened at Michigan recently. One of the locations that was, that Michigan plot including about a half a dozen men who were going to try to attack the state capitol, they eventually turned to the governor's vacation home as a potential target. So, looking at places that are outside the norm.

And also looking at tactics outside the norm. National Guard can deal with demonstrators, deal with 100 or 200 people. If you are a creative person sit being a couple of buddies in a basement, you can come up with a scenario. So I think weapons, locations and tactics, Christi.

PAUL: So, you put all those things together, give us a perspective historically of what you have seen in the past and compare that to how organized or not what you are seeing the threat is right now.

MUDD: Boy, okay. Can we go to 8:00 a.m.?


MUDD: Let me do a perspective. In some ways, I would regard this as more concerning not just from a sort of -- obviously, I am an American. Not just from a cultural perspective, but more of a practitioner's perspective.

So, let's go back to the thing we know, al Qaeda, ISIS, 9/11. There are characteristics to this that are more troubling.

Number one, breadth. I know where to go after the al Qaeda and ISIS guys. They have a nerve center. ISIS obviously is Syria, al Qaeda was the tribal areas of Pakistan, there's no nerve center.

Number two, numbers. At any one time we might at 7:00 a.m., 7:15 a.m. with the FBI director be briefing let's say half a dozen major cases across the United States. I guarantee you that virtually every county in this country has some sort of extremist presence of the kind that we saw on January 6th. So breadth is a big problem.

Let me close with a simple problem, civil liberties. Going after ISIS in front of a grudge or a congressional committee is pretty easy. That's an ISIS member, I am going up on their email, their phone, get human surveillance on them. How do I say, Chrsti, that I want to go up on your neighbor because he a QAnon member? This is something America has not confronted and it's going to get ugly.

PAUL: Are you more concerned about right-wing extremism as a group or the lone -- potential lone wolves more of a problem?

MUDD: Less the groups for a simple reason. Once you have a group, you have a couple of things you can do. The first is human informants, that is, I know what to target. I know where the cancer is. And also I can it get technical coverage. That is once the human informant is in, I can figure out who the key players are, go up on their cellphones. I can go up on their laptops.

We often worried in the past not about a group, but about somebody who says the following. This group is too quiet. This group doesn't do enough. This group is all talk and no action.

The spinoff person who says I want to do more because the group is too conservative, that person, A, is hard to cover because they are not part of the group anymore, but, B, is more extreme.

PAUL: So what do we know specifically about these right-wing extremists?

MUDD: We know a few things. Number one, I mentioned earlier is breadth. The willingness to do violence is a second key element. The thing that I think about most is propaganda. It is very hard to persuade someone to join a movement that potentially is going to get them in jail.

We now have this movement in all 50 states, the ability to turn someone's mind. I think what you're talking about, about 15 minutes ago, about the decline after President Trump left Twitter, the decline in extremist context is really critical. That means people's brains aren't being turned on.

So I think that propaganda piece, and I use that word advisedly. People talk about political sort of debate in this country. This is propaganda the same signed ISIS used. The decline of that is really important. There's somebody who is not going to be recruited today because there is less propaganda out there.

PAUL: You acknowledged earlier this week that there were intel gaps leading up to the capitol siege and you talked about questions that we need to be asking in today's day and moment. What are your top three questions you are asking right now?

MUDD: Boy, my biggest question is about the future. If you look at this country, when we have had major social upheaval, you look at the '60s, I was a small child then.


But I don't think we really recovered from the -- forget about the war, not forget, but add on to the war, the social upheaval that I don't think we really recovered from that until the '80s.

I don't think we got out of being focused on al Qaeda and ISIS for a year or two ago. So, think 10 or 20 years for this upheaval in our culture to work its way through. We're going to be at this for a long time.

So, question one, how do we handle that? Question two, how do we have a debate about what's appropriate for people to say? Is it okay to say I hate somebody? That goes to the heart of American liberties, but other countries like Germany have done this very successfully in their free societies.

And the last thing I'd be asking as a practitioner is you, the media, the people, the congress. What do you want your state, local, federal, the FBI and others to do about your neighbor next door? Do you want them to follow these people or not? And if you do, it better be on paper because people like me are not going to take the word of a congressman who says go out and look at QAnon. I want it on paper and I want it in law and those are U.S. citizens you want us to look at.

PAUL: Phil Mudd, I always learn so much from you. Thank you for taking time to be with us and wake up early this morning.

MUDD: Thanks for having me. Six a.m. out of Memphis, I see you.

PAUL: Thank you, Phil.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Phil.

So, President Trump is spending his final weekend at the White House huddled with advisers. Let's go to the White House now.

PAUL: Sarah Westwood is there.

So, Sarah, good to see you this morning.

The president we know staying out of the public eye. What do we know about what he is doing in private? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Victor and Christi,

"The Washington Post" is reporting that Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller directed the head of the National Security Agency to install White House official and a former GOP operator Michael Ellis as the NSA's top lawyer. This is a Trump loyalist. This is "The Post" reporting this.

Now, the Pentagon general counsel had put Ellis in that role, named him to that position back in November but, as is the case with most high-level government roles, there are a lot of steps, a lot of requirements that need to be fulfilled. So, Ellis hadn't yet assumed that role because those boxes hadn't yet been checked.

But Miller gave the NSA head until 6:00 p.m. yesterday to put Ellis in that job. The deadline came and went. The Trump loyalist not put in that position and it's unclear whether the head of the NSA is going to be facing any repercussions.

It's notable that Miller, the acting defense secretary, said earlier this week though that he, quote, can't wait to leave his position. So, Miller eying the exits with three days left in this administration. He is not the only one.

CNN is reporting that president Trump also considering how he is going to leave office. And that Trump has floated to aides an elaborate send-off ceremony at Joint Base Andrews that has involved in these discussions anything from a 21-gun salute to a red carpet before the president jets off to Palm Beach, Florida, where he is expected to spend a significant part of his time after his presidency -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: We'll see it in just three days. Thank you, Sarah Westwood.

And be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and former national security advisor H.R. McMaster are two of Jake's guests. That's today at 9:00, right here on CNN.

All right. Here is an unbelievable statistic for you out of California. Los Angeles County alone has topped more than 1 million coronavirus cases, just Los Angeles. One official compares the situation there to waking up to a nightmare every day, and now new worries over that more contagious COVID variant.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is not doing a victory lap in his last couple of days in office. So how can the next administration now get the two sides to work together? Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton is with us next.



BLACKWELL: All right. Seventeen minutes after the hour now.

And when he takes office, the President-elect Joe Biden plans to start rolling back some of the Trump administration's policies through a spate of executive orders. Let's talk about them and more with Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Congressman, good to see you again.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Good to see you.

BLACKWELL: So, we've talked this morning about the executive orders. I want to get to this reporting that immigration, a huge immigration bill to offer a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in this country currently illegally is on the way to Congress.

Is that where you want after the crises are dealt with -- coronavirus, the economy, jobs -- is that where you'd expect this president or want him to put his chips before the midterms in 2022?

MOULTON: Well, wait, it's not my job to judge whether or not Biden has got the right plan. But I'll tell you this: he's picking an issue that is popular with the American people. We have heard so much divisive, outright racist rhetoric from the current president of the United States that a lot of Americans forget that having a pathway to citizenship is something that the overwhelming majority of our country supports.

I'm a U.S. Marine. I served overseas with some -- some of the most amazing Americans I have met in my life, 17, 18-year-old kids willing to put their lives on the line for their country. When you later learn that these heroes, some of them don't even have their paperwork to be American citizens, you recognize just how essential this issue is. It's something that the American people support and that's why Joe Biden is doing it.

BLACKWELL: It's been decades though since there has been any immigration, massive kind of comprehensive immigration reform passed through Congress. In this environment, do you think that's realistic?

MOULTON: Look, your point it's going to be challenging. That's right, it is going to be challenging. Just about everything in Congress is challenging these days.

There is no question that Biden has his work cut out for him, but in a sense because the Congress is so closely divided.


Democrats hold the majority in the House and Senate but only a narrow majority in both Houses.

We have to find ways to work across the aisle to get many of these things across the finish line. So, I think what you're going to see out of the Biden administration is a unifying agenda. I will give you another example of an issue that is seen as very contentious but has broad support of the American people and that's gun reform.

I am a huge advocate of gun reform. I used guns overseas. I have seen the effects of gun violence firsthand and I recognize it has no place on our streets or in our schools.

And guess what? So do 96 percent of Americans who want universal backgrounds checks for guns. So, it's only this GOP group in Congress beholding to the National Rifle Association that doesn't want to see that issue move forward --

BLACKWELL: Congress --


MOULTON: -- unity.

BLACKWELL: Congressman, let me get in here, because I do want to get to gun reform more acutely from your position level, but also Joe Biden led an effort after the shooting at Sandy Hook to get some gun reform through.

And if after the killing of 4 and 5-year-olds, Congress couldn't come together to get gun legislation passed and signed by the president then, I don't know what suggests it could happen now.

But let me get to -- let me get to guns on Capitol Hill, because several Republican House members have talked about and have bragged about carrying on the Hill. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, she recorded an ad that said she would carry a Glock on Capitol Hill. Madison Cawthorn was armed on the 6th during that insurrection there.

And I want to listen to your Democratic House colleague, John Garamendi.


REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): I am concerned that any member that brings a gun into the Capitol, into a hearing room, into the office buildings or into, on to the floor of the House poses a danger, a danger to me and a danger to the other members of the Congress and the staff. Do not need to have guns anywhere in this is complex.


BLACKWELL: You brought up guns and in this environment, should members be allowed to carry on Capitol grounds?

MOULTON: Absolutely not. I mean, neither Cawthorn nor Boebert were in the military, were in law enforcement. They don't have proper training.

And what they should be doing as lawmakers is passing laws to prevent violence in America, to prevent gun violence from coming up the Capitol steps. That's their responsibility. Not to try to be some cowboys and cowgirls who are going to protect themselves in the halls of Congress. I mean, let's not be ridiculous here.

BLACKWELL: You served in Iraq. You brought that up today. Some of the insurrectionists were military veterans. The founder of a -- a co- founder of vets for Trump was seen on the Senate floor back on the 6th, in the chamber at least.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has urged House Armed Services, a committee which you serve, to ensure that military branches vet enlistees for signs of white nationalistic beliefs. Do you support that? And what the progress on trying to find out why this wing of the Trump support base is likely to involve themselves in something like what we saw on the 6th?

MOULTON: Yes, absolutely I support this. This is actually closely related to the answer I just gave. Congress and the American people, and the U.S. government in general, need to come face to face with the right-wing domestic terrorist threat to this country.

It's a lot of white supremacists and racists. It's many followers of Donald Trump, and it includes some veterans. We have to stamp that out. As a veteran myself, I am disgusted that there were any veterans in the Capitol Hill riots.

Now, so far it's emerged that there are about two dozen. That's actually a strikingly small percentage of the overall number who assaulted the Capitol. But it should be zero. It should be absolutely zero.

Let's not forget, the majority of veterans in America do not support Donald Trump. They know what it means to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and they are opposed to the Capitol Hill riots.

But we got to make sure that there are no veterans involved in any of this at all, and I think that the measures that are being discussed, including really being careful about when these threats infiltrate the armed services themselves are steps that we're going have to take.

BLACKWELL: Last thing here. I want to listen to part of your interview with WBUR. This was on the day of the insurrection, as it was going on, you were on lockdown in our office. Let's listen.


MOULTON: We're going to be okay. We're going to pull through this. But I'm not sure that our country at least since the Civil War has ever been in a more precarious position, has ever been under more direct assault from within.



BLACKWELL: Direct assault from within.

I glean from the context that you were talking about within the U.S. borders in that conversation, but as we have learned more in the interim period about tours the day before, what we saw on the 6th, and text messages or tweets about the whereabouts of leadership and claims from some of the insurrectionists, do you believe that there was coordination from members within the House, within the body? And what should happen to and with those members?

MOULTON: Well, I'm not going to speculate on members that could well be under criminal investigation here, but let me tell you my concern. The fact that I even have to worry about colleagues of mine in the United States Congress being with the other side here, being on the side of outright racist domestic terrorists, that's a frightening position for our country.

When you go to the U.S. Capitol today, I was down there last week and I will be heading down this week for the inauguration, it looks like the Green Zone in Baghdad. I expected that as a U.S. Marine in Iraq. I expected troops everywhere guarding the seat of democracy.

I never imagined it in the United States of America. We have more troops in the U.S. Capitol right now than we do in Afghanistan. And they are here to protect us from the president of the United States and his mob.

What does that say about the state of democracy today?

BLACKWELL: All right. Congressman Seth Moulton, thanks so much for your time this morning.

MOULTON: Thank you.

PAUL: So opposition leader Alexey Navalny is going back to Russia today. Remember, he survived being poisoned by a Soviet era nerve agent. Well, now, he is facing quite a threat when he returns home.



BLACKWELL: The U.S. is nearing a milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, 400,000 deaths. Another 3,200 deaths were reported yesterday along with nearly 200,000 new cases. More than 126,000 people are fighting COVID in hospitals.

PAUL: So states are juggling that challenge by trying to boost the rate of vaccinations, obviously, 12.2 million shots have gone into arms so far nationwide. That's according to the CDC figures. That equates to 39 percent of the more than 31 million doses that were distributed.

CNN's Polo Sandoval following this for us.

So, Polo, talk to us about what you are learning about the push particularly as we learn more about this variant and how contagious it really is.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this variant is increasing that sense of urgency in terms of those vaccination efforts. When you hear from the health experts, as they said before, this variant, it's not that it's more deadly than the current form of the coronavirus, it's much more contagious, and that's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention basically renewing that guidance that we have heard for the last ten months, but saying that now perhaps more than ever extremely important to mask up, avoid groups and continue to social distance.


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 this 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 dominant form of coronavirus by March warns the CDC.

The agency now imploring Americans to double down on preventative safety measures.

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE AND VIRAL SPECIALIST: This virus is so efficient in transmitting, that's what makes it more dangerous. What we are 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 effort that continue at a frustratingly slow 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 at the arm. Problems problem is, vaccine supplies from the feds is covering only a fraction of those eligible.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We are receiving 300,000 vaccinations per week. It takes 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 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 (on camera): Those losses even being felt by first responders not just in California but across the country. Staying in California, U.S. Representative Lou Correa also confirming that he tested positive for the coronavirus, the latest member of Congress to do so. It was just last week, Victor and Christi, that three lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers, reported being infected after sheltering in place with colleagues who refused to wear masks during the January 6th siege on the Capitol.


PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is expected to return to Russia today having survived an attempted assassination. Navalny is an outspoken critic of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was poisoned in August and nearly died.

PAUL: You may remember this story that we all talked about. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement but a CNN investigation with the group Bellingcat found Russian security agents trailed Navalny for years before he was poisoned.

And Navalny says he never doubted he'd return.


ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: I am Russian politician, and even when I was not just in hospital, I was in intense therapy, and I said publicly I will go back and I will go back because I am Russian politician, I belong to this country, and definitely which I, especially now, when these actually crime is correct open revealed, I understand the whole operation, I would never give Putin such a gift.


BLACKWELL: CNN Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward joins us now.

Clarissa, the list is long of risks that taking by returning to Russia. But he is calling for a big crowd to meet him there.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. He went on Instagram. I guess the theory is safety in numbers. The more vocal and verbal and public he is about his return, the less chance that he may be arrested.

Nonetheless, Victor, that does appear to be what the Russian state is planning to do when he returns to Moscow. His flight leaves in just about one hour. He is flying on Pobeda Flight 936, a bizarre coincidence. It means victory in Russian.

He is expected to land at about 11:20 Eastern Time. Already authorities in Moscow have said that no one is allowed permission to film or take footage inside the airport terminal. We are getting reports of a sort of beefed up security presence there.

Also, a lot of journalists outside the airport in Berlin, we are understanding that he will be led by German authorities directly to the departure gate, that he will not be going through the sort of usual public boarding procedure.

So, clearly, everyone understands that the risks are huge. The Russian prison authority has said that it will have to choice but to arrest him because he was in Germany, that technically violates the terms of his suspended sentence that he was serving on embezzlement charges. So now they are being asked to make that suspended sentence actually a jail sentence, meaning that he would spend up to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Believe me, that's not the only risk here. This is someone who survived an attack with Novichok, an internationally illegal, lethal nerve agent. So, certainly, he is fearful and yet choosing to remain positive about the risks ahead -- Victor, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Clarissa Ward with us from London, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, Clarissa.

President-elect Biden is taking steps to reverse some of President Trump's most controversial decision.

Coming up, the executive orders President-elect Biden is expected to sign on day one.



PAUL: So President-elect Biden is planning to start rolling back some of the Trump administration's policies and he is starting to do this on day one, he says.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Jasmine Wright is joining us now.

Jasmine, tell us about President-elect Biden's priorities day one.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN VIDEO PRODUCER: Well, Victor, Joe Biden will have a busy day on Wednesday. The president-elect will sign about roughly a dozen executive orders on his first day that he is inaugurated, and those orders, like you said, will reverse some of those actions taken by Trump over the last four years, but also add in areas where people did not think it was possible under Trump.

And some of those executive actions include rejoining the Paris climate accord that Trump removed the U.S. from over the last four years. It includes reversing the travel ban from predominantly Muslim countries as well as signing a 100-day mask mandate in federal areas, as well as taking actions on evictions and student loans. And these are things that President-elect Joe Biden promised he would do on day one on the campaign trail from the primary and general election. So, now, these are ways he will fulfill those promise.

Now, for his Vice President Kamala Harris, she will also be inaugurated Wednesday as really a historic first, the first woman, the first black woman, the first South Asian woman, and she spoke about the task ahead for the administration who will inherit one of the worst public health crises to date. Take listen to her here.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), 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, combat the climate crisis and strengthen the democracy we all cherish. Make no mistake: the road ahead, it won't be easy.



WRIGHT: Now, CNN has learned some details about her inauguration. She will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, and she will be sworn in using two bibles. One that belonged to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, someone that Harris credits as an inspiration for her own legal career, and one that was owned by family friend, Mrs. Regina Shelton, who Harris says was a second mother to her growing up.

BLACKWELL: Jasmine Wright for us there in Wilmington, thank you.

PAUL: Alex Burns, a CNN political analyst and national correspondent for "The New York Times" with us now to discuss.

Alex, good morning to you.


PAUL: Well, the interparty fighting we are seeing within the Republican Party, is there any sense that that might actually help ease some of the battles that Biden may have once he gets into office?

BURNS: Well, Christi, I think there certainly is a sense among Joe Biden's allies and among some Republicans on Capitol Hill that there is more of a window for Biden to reach out to and potentially secure cooperation from a handful of major Republicans in the house and Senate because the GOP is so divided right now.

It is totally a matter of political course that the defeated party is usually divided. But Republicans right now are divided more deeply and more bitterly than any political party I have ever covered. The recriminations over the mob attack on the Capitol earlier this month and the sense among moderate Republicans that their fellow conservatives further to the right may have some culpability in that event has folks at the leadership levels of the GOP just completely fed up and, frankly, looking for other options.

PAUL: Yeah, let's talk about that. You wrote a piece for "The New York Times." I want to read from that. You write, as president Trump prepares to leave his office, Republican leaders including Senator Mitch McConnell are maneuvering to thwart his grip on the GOP in future elections while forces aligned with Mr. Trump are looking to punish Republican lawmakers and governors who have broken with him. We're seeing some of this friction from Trump-aligned activists that

are eyeing defeats or punishments for governors in Arizona and Georgia right now.

What is the expectation in the Republican Party of where they go with all of this?

BURNS: Well, the expectation in the party on both sides of that divide that you just described is essentially a state of political civil war, that you have people close to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell who told me and told my colleague Jonathan Martin that they are planning a national effort in the 2022 elections to crush these far- right candidates in primary elections, that they see what happened in the 2020 campaign and especially in the Georgia runoffs this month and they see what happened on Capitol Hill and the president's role in that and they say enough is enough.

And I think there are a lot of people in the party, including some important financial backers of the party, who say it's about time that you said enough is enough, that this went too far along time ago. But at the same time, Christi, the president is still the most prominent and probably the most popular person in the Republican Party and that actual rank and file Republican voters are still likely to take his support for a candidate or his opposition to a candidate like a Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia or like Senator John Thune in South Dakota as a very, very serious recommendation.

PAUL: So, talk to us about the consequences of the big business backlash.

BURNS: Well, we are already seeing examples of the Republican Party's more corporate donors and more mainstream wealthy individuals saying that they are not comfortable with the state of the GOP right now. You saw the Lowe's Hotel Corporation cancel an event at a property just yesterday involving Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator who was a ringleader in trying to block the congressional acceptance of Joe Biden's victory. That's a big step.

You have other Republican donors. I spoke to one multi-million-dollar donor to Mitch McConnell's super PAC who said he was going to be watching closely to see which Republicans voted in favor of impeachment because the party made a mistake by not removing President Trump when they had a chance in 2019. Excuse me, in 2021. They are looking for the party to take a more principled stance this time.

PAUL: So, as they look ahead to 2022, and you mentioned it briefly there, do you get a sense that the Capitol siege green-lighted some Republicans to take a stance that they had wanted to take previously?

BURNS: I think there is no question about it. And you talk to Republicans in the house. Of course, there are people like Liz Cheney who have taken enormous political risk his conduct around and on the day of the siege.

[07:50:08] But other Republicans have not gone quite as far as Cheney are far more willing now than they may have been a few years ago or even a few weeks ago to say that the president's day has come and gone. And that is, I think, maybe an even more meaningful indication of where the internal currents in the party are. There may not be all that many Republicans who are willing to say, yeah, I'm going to put my career on the line for an impeachment vote.

But the sense of just dissatisfaction, even from people who voted against impeachment and saying, you know, I wish this guy would kind of move on, that is really palpable.

PAUL: Alex Burns, always appreciate your perspective. Thank you for taking time to be with us.

BURNS: You bet.

PAUL: We'll be right back.



BLACKWELL: America's golden girl Betty White is celebrating her 99th birthday today.

PAUL: Ninety-nine. She is a TV legend, right?

BLACKWELL: Right. Career lasted more than 75 years.

PAUL: And, listen, she's never been one to complain.


BETTY WHITE, : I think I've been lucky enough to do just about -- so much that I -- if I start complaining about anything under the sun, throw me out of the business.


PAUL: Listen, happy birthday to her and we have to say thank you to Adam Charlton, our executive producer who is trading in his alarm clock probably for some alcohol on Saturday and Sunday nights. Later. Later Saturday and Sunday nights.

BLACKWELL: You said it, I didn't.

PAUL: Later.

BLACKWELL: Here is a picture of the weekend team Christmas -- oh, I don't like this picture.

Adam is there next to Christi, over her shoulder in the red sweater. We will miss you. Great work. Adam, thank you so much.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)