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Stacey Abrams Running For Governor, Facing Possible Kemp Rematch; Former DA Faces Charges Over Handling Of Arbery Case; United Completes First Successful Flight On 100 Percent Sustainable Fuel. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 05, 2021 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you and welcome to your NEW DAY, this is. I'm Christi Paul.

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

We've got new details this morning on how officials captured the parents of an alleged school shooter. They're now behind bars after a manhunt and officers are looking for a third person who may have helped them try to get away.

PAUL: Also, tightening tester rule -- tighter testing rules, I should say. A new set of protocols for international travelers goes into effect tomorrow. We're going to tell you what you need to know.

SANCHEZ: And a potential showdown is taking shape in Georgia. Why the state is about to become a political hot spot.

PAUL: Also, Crimson Tide takes the win. Alabama knocks down Georgia in the SEC championship. We're going to show you the game winning highlights.

SANCHEZ: We are so grateful to have you this Sunday, December 5th. Thank you so much for joining us. Great to see you as always, Christi.

PAUL: You as well, Boris. All right. We do need to talk about what's happening with the Michigan school shooting.

SANCHEZ: Yes. We begin this morning with the latest developments in the Oxford High School shooting. Authorities have identified a person of interest who allegedly helped James and Jennifer Crumbley. The parents of the suspected shooter evade police for hours in Michigan and now that person could face charges.

PAUL: The couple is being held at the Oakland County Jail on a combined million dollar bond this morning after pleading not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Those are for each of them. Now, their son Ethan is being held on suspicion of wounding seven people and killing classmates. Those classmates, by the way, you need to note, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 14-year- old Hana St. Juliana and 17-year-old Justin Shilling. And in a letter to the Oxford Community School District, Superintendent Tim Throne says he has requested an independent third party investigation into last Tuesday's deadly shooting. And authorities say they're still combing through, they say, a mountain of evidence in the case that has an entire family sitting behind bars this morning.


PAUL (voice-over): The parents of the teenager accused in this week's deadly school shooting in Michigan are waking up this morning in the same county jail where their teenage son is being held on charges of murdering four classmates. A judge ordered Jennifer and James Crumbley each held on $500,000 bond following an hours long manhunt that ended with their capture at a Detroit area warehouse.

This exclusive video shows the couple being taken into custody early Saturday morning after a tip led police to the building hours after the Crumbleys were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The couple was arraigned by video conference Saturday morning. Each of them entered not guilty pleas in connection with Tuesday's deadly shooting rampage at Oxford High School.

The county prosecutor says the Crumbleys gave their troubled teenage son access to a deadly weapon and did nothing to warn school officials about the dangers he pose.

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: This is a very serious, horrible, terrible murder and shooting and it has affected the entire community. And these two individuals could have stopped it. And they had every reason to know if he was dangerous and they gave him a weapon. And they didn't secure it and they allowed him free access to it.

PAUL: Prosecutor Karen McDonald pushed hard for the $500,000 bond saying the couple was trying to flee when police caught them. Attorneys representing Jennifer and James Crumbley say the couple had the gun locked up and that their son did not have free access to it. The lawyers also claim the couple had intended to turn themselves in but were unable to do so before police arrested them.

SHANNON SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR JAMES AND JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: Last night and throughout the day we were in contact with our clients. They were scared. They were terrified. They were not at home. They were figuring out what to do, getting finances in order.

PAUL: The sheriff of Oakland County doesn't seem to buy it.

SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: We were out actively looking for them, working with our partners, and they were taken into custody before that question was asked or answered. Were they actually going to do it? I don't know. But given that they were hiding in a warehouse in Detroit, it certainly raises my eyebrows.

PAUL: The Crumbleys' son Ethan was arraigned Wednesday as an adult, charged with terrorism, murder and other counts in connection with Tuesday's deadly shooting at the school. Authorities say there is clear evidence the shooting was premeditated and that the 15-year-old -- quote -- "was looking forward to it."



SANCHEZ: Let's get to CNN law enforcement reporter Mark Morales. He's live in Pontiac, Michigan, this morning. Mark, bring us up to speed on this independent investigation that the school district is calling for.

MARK MORALES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER: Well, the school is asking for this investigation on the heels of a lot of parents who are reaching out, asking questions. And these questions are coming from press conferences that are being held by the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's office where they've been detailing the chain of events. And part of that always points to the interaction that the school shooter, Ethan Crumbley, had with school officials, with guidance counselors.

On Tuesday morning he did have a conversation with the guidance counselor after they found a picture that he had drawn. The picture depicted somebody being shot, full of bullet wounds. He in his defense, according to this letter, says that the drawing was because he was trying to create some sort of a video game. That he wanted to follow a career in video game design and that's what this was just depicting that scene. Eventually the parents came and they were able to talk to the parents about this, but it was the school's -- it was this guidance counselor's decision -- they made a call according to this letter, using their years of experience that he wasn't a threat and he wasn't a danger.

Now, this has been the subject of a lot of these discussions publicly by the local prosecutor, Karen McDonald. She has come out and she said that the parents could have asked if the kid had a weapon inside of his backpack. Law enforcement strongly believes at this point that that gun was in his backpack. The letter also goes on to say that they're -- that the part of the reason they're calling for this independent investigation is because they want to make sure that that is exactly what happened, that the weapon was in his backpack.

PAUL: All right. Mark Morales, thanks for breaking it down for us. Appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: With us this morning to discuss the shooting and the investigation, retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. She's also the author of "The Confidence Chronicles."

Cheryl, good morning and thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us. The Oxford school district is now requesting this independent investigation into the shooting that Mark was just outlining. What are the benefits of reviewing the district safety procedures and practices that were carried out by the teachers and staff, and what might indicate to you that someone at the school could be held accountable? CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LOS ANGELES POLICE SERGEANT: Well, certainly one of the benefits would be to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. And I think there's plenty of liability to go around. Certainly that school counselor could have done more, should have done more whenever -- has a parent been the deciding factor as to whether or not their student remains on campus when they have been caught doing such egregious and outrageous activity.

And, listen, this wasn't the first time this young man has dealt with administrators at that school I'm certain. There were plenty of red flags. And so now they have got some explaining to do. Four young people lost their lives because they neglected to act -- to err on the side of caution.

SANCHEZ: Cheryl, right now Ethan Crumbley faces 24 charges. And you mentioned some of the warning signs prior to the shooting, one teacher reporting that Ethan had been searching for ammo on his phone the day before the shooting. There's also a disturbing drawing showing a person being shot with the words -- quote -- "blood everywhere." That was reported by a separate teacher on the same day of the shooting. At what point should law enforcement have been notified that the student was having these issues?

DORSEY: Well, I think they should have been notified immediately when they thought that there was potential for a threat. Again, you err on the side of caution. And as far as the parents are concerned what responsible parent would encourage and foster an environment where your child lies, LOL, in a text from mom, just don't get caught. Who does that? And so this is all very problematic.

SANCHEZ: So during the parents' arraignment defense attorneys denied the prosecution's assertion that their son had unrestricted access to the weapon that was ultimately used. I want you to listen to what they said.


SMITH: That gun was actually locked. So when the prosecution is stating that this child had free access to a gun, that is just absolutely not true. And we need an opportunity to fight this case in court and not in the court of public opinion.


SANCHEZ: So, if the investigation finds that the gun had, in fact, been locked away, does that diminish the parents' responsibility?


DORSEY: Listen, it changes nothing in my mind. OK, so the gun was locked. Obviously this shooter had access to the lock. He had access to the key. He was able to not only possess the gun, but obviously unlock it, remove it from whatever case-locking mechanism had been on it. He was able to overcome all of that. And so this kid had access to it because, after all, they purchased it for him. And so none of this explains anything for me. The family says that they were trying to figure out what to do. No doubt, how to flee, how to evade authorities. And so they're saying all the things that they need to say publically. This is not going to fly.

SANCHEZ: Cheryl, quickly I want to ask you about this third party, the person that apparently helped them get into the building where they were ultimately found by police. They might face potential charges for either aiding and abetting or obstructing justice. What kind of evidence do you need to build a case like that?

DORSEY: Well, I think we've already heard that there's video evidence of this person helping them secure their car, park, get into the building, get access to this room that they were found in. And so that will be an easy fix, easy find, and that person should be charged.

SANCHEZ: We've got to leave the conversation there. Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, thank you so much for the time. We appreciate it.

DORSEY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

PAUL: Taking action to stop the spread of COVID-19. In less than 24 hours travelers visiting the U.S. from abroad will face new testing requirements. The question is will it be enough? A doctor is weighing in with us on what he's already seeing in a state that's going through a resurgence of the virus.

SANCHEZ: Plus, a rematch brewing in Georgia. Stacey Abrams once again setting her sights on the governor's mansion. The road to re-election may be rocky for the current governor. We're going to break it all down when we come back.



PAUL: Well, there are new testing requirements for international travelers that go into effect tomorrow in an effort to combat the COVID Omicron variant. People coming into the U.S. have to have a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of travel. The new order also extends a transportation wide mask mandate for another two months.

Now, new numbers show the U.S. is averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, that is the highest in two months. The increase comes after millions of Americans traveled, obviously, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Rob Davidson is with us. Dr. Rob Davidson, he's a west Michigan emergency room physician and executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care. Dr. Davidson, we are so glad to have you with us yet again because I know that Michigan has consistently had, it seems, an overload of cases there.

I understand that you were working at an ICU a couple of days ago that normally has -- I think you said 15 beds. They're now up to 40. And the majority of those cases are COVID unvaccinated patients.

I know that it's punishing enough, obviously, to be in ICU but when we're talking about these variants and what people are dealing with, are you optimistic that those people that are there can recover? I'm just wondering about the severity of the symptoms they have. We know that it's serious because they're in ICU, but compared to what you've seen in the past.

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE: Yes, I think it's critically important to talk about this because, you know, everyone -- a lot of people who are against vaccines, against masking say, well, you know, only a certain -- very small percent die from COVID. And out of the hundreds of millions of cases that may in fact be true but not dying is not the only bad outcome.

We've had people on the ventilator for weeks up to a month or more. After that you see people going to rehab hospitals for weeks and months on end learning how to eat again, learning how to walk again, with tubes, you know -- and still in their trachea through their neck helping them breathe. I mean, it's -- you know, a lot of these people will survive. Most of them are in their 50s and 60s versus the first round of this last year where people are in their 70s and 80s. But survival, you know, isn't just popping out of bed and going home.

I had a patient the other day. I called his spouse. She was at a church, you know, praying for his recovery. She was in tears on the phone begging that we help him get home by Christmas. And, you know, I said, "Listen, you know, we're doing everything we can but the reality of that in just three weeks is pretty low." You know, this person is going to have a very long recovery.

PAUL: So, even when we see numbers going down in other states Michigan keeps surging. To what do you contribute or think contributes to what's happening in Michigan, what we have seen so consistently there?

DAVIDSON: Well, all I can say is what's happening in our system is 98 -- I think 98 percent of the people in the ICU with COVID are unvaccinated people. You know, more than 85 -- 88 percent of people in the hospital with COVID are unvaccinated people. Even the people I'm seeing in the ER who are -- who have been vaccinated, they're folks who should have had their boosters by now. So those breakthroughs probably aren't technically breakthroughs anymore because we're recommending boosters after six months.

And so really it's in pockets of the state that have low vaccination rates. And unfortunately, you know, the way infections disease works if you get a few cases in a cluster and then it just starts growing exponentially from there we're going to see this in other states. It's just a matter of time until we have enough people vaccinated to prevent or to -- you know, kind of to burn it out in certain areas.

PAUL: Well, every few weeks or months we hear of a new variant. And we know that that's just going to continue to proliferate. With that said, do you think there is stronger evidence now that the COVID vaccine will become an annual shot, like the flu shot? DAVIDSON: I think the reality is until enough people get vaccinated that we can actually, you know, put an end to this. And even if it's endemic, make it a very rare occurrence, I think, yes, we're going to see periodic need for booster shots or additional shots.


Now, the reality is we don't know. We don't know if a three-dose vaccine series is adequate to give us enough memory in our immune system to fight this for a very long time. That's why we just have to kind of watch this play out and unfortunately science happens this way. Usually it happens in the background among, you know, academics and journals. Right now it's happening out in the open and I think it's really concerning for a lot of people to see how it happens.

PAUL: All right. Dr. Rob Davidson, we appreciate the work you do, the people that you're taking care of. Thank you for taking time to talk to us. We know you're busy.

DAVIDSON: Thank you. Good day.

PAUL: You too.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, Mark Meadows changing his tune, now cooperating with January 6th investigators. But the full extent of his cooperation, still unknown. What this could mean for the investigation, next.



SANCHEZ: He was a no-show at his first deposition before the January 6th committee, but Donald Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is expected the sit down with the committee this week. The decision by Meadows to begin cooperating with the panel could prove valuable information about the January 6th insurrection and the bogus claims of election fraud.

PAUL: CNN congressional reporter Daniella Diaz is with us live from Capitol Hill. Daniella, good to see you this morning. So give us a preview of what we could expect from Meadows' deposition.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Christi, Boris, with his book about to come out Mark Meadows will have to take a break from his book tour and sit down with the January 6th House select committee for a deposition. Of course, as you said, he was a no-show for his first one.

But now, while he plans to cooperate with the committee, how much he plans to cooperate is still up in the air. His decision to start cooperating could give investigators a valuable window into how former President Donald Trump and his allies tried to enlist government officials to pursue baseless election conspiracy theories.

New reporting from CNN this week revealed that in the weeks after the 2020 election Meadows actually reached out to some of the country's top national security officials to connect them with Trump allies who were pushing unfounded claims of foreign election interference and voter fraud. Sources tell CNN that Meadows actually passed along some of the materials himself including YouTube videos that allege widespread evidence of voter fraud.

But while he plans to cooperate, Meadows actually said in an interview this week that he still plans to honor former President Trump's claims of executive privilege. But his new book could complicate these claims of executive privilege since he talks about some of what happened during the insurrection in his book.

Take a listen to what Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren told CNN last night. She actually sits on this House select committee panel about -- said to CNN about Meadows possibly claiming executive privilege.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), MEMBER OF JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: I haven't read the book. It's not out yet. But you can't talk about things that you claim are privileged in another form and refuse to talk about it with the Congress. So we'll see whether he's waived any claims to privilege. And also, privilege is -- the holder of the privilege is the president of the United States, not the former president.


DIAZ: Bottom line here, Christi and Boris, is we could learn a lot this week during Meadows' deposition. But it could really be either he cooperates or it could become a showdown between him and the committee because he does not offer enough information. Christi, Boris.

PAUL: All right. Daniella Diaz, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Daniella.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is once again running for governor, setting herself up for a potential second showdown with Republican Brian Kemp. And this is shaping up to be quite a race especially after 2020 and false claims of fraud from the former president leading to a standoff with Brian Kemp. Kemp held his ground against Donald Trump, but now he may lose the governor's mansion to a primary challenger.

"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's" Greg Bluestein is here with us to dive deeper into Peach State politics. Greg, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

If this does end up being a 2018 rematch given how Georgia voted in 2020 that -- rather 2018, the strained position that Governor Kemp is in with former President Trump, the fact that Republicans are scared of Stacey Abrams, even organizing against an Abrams run since February, you reported, does all of this make Stacey Abrams the favorite now in this race?

GREG BLUESTEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yes, that's a good question. I don't know if he's the favorite, but certainly Brian Kemp has not even stopped running against her really since his victory way back in 2018. I mean, he launched his campaign for re-election a few days afterwards. That's how seriously Republicans have always taken Stacey Abrams.

Now they have a dramatically changed electorate. They've got hundreds of thousands of new voters, many of them younger and diverse. They've got continued infighting among Republicans. They have decisively -- Democrats have decisively flipped the Atlanta suburbs. And beyond that they now have a proof point. They now can say that they have won Georgia statewide elections for the first time in decades in the November presidential -- on the January 2021 runoffs.

SANCHEZ: So, Greg, Abrams defended herself on CNN this week from criticism that she never officially conceded the 2018 election. I want you to listen to what she said.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: He won under the rules of the game at the time, but the game was rigged against the voters of Georgia, not against me, not against him. This isn't about politicians. This is about people and their right to be heard.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Abrams is making the distinction that she thought the election was rigged against Georgia voters and not against herself. The state does have some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. So, how do you think the issue of voting rights is going to play out in the next election?

Yes, interestingly, she did not focus on voting rights with her launch. And this is what she's known as nationally, as a voting rights advocate. But it will certainly play a major factor, if only and partly, I should say, because Republicans will keep on it will be a recurring theme comparing her 2018 non-concession speech to Donald Trump.

GREG BLUESTEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: But the major difference is, as you heard, she acknowledged that Brian Kemp was the governor, unlike the former president who did not acknowledge that Joe Biden had won and tried actively to reverse his victory in that election.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And he also claimed that it was rigged against him. She's arguing that the spirit of the election, voters were disenfranchised, so there's a difference there. Abrams has notably found this interesting. She also welcome President Biden to campaign in Georgia with her though his approval ratings have recently dipped.

Despite some of the issues that are hurting his popularity, do you think the President can help Abrams win Georgia?

BLUESTEIN: Yes. This is a new strategy among Democrats in Georgia who used to run away from national figures. I mean, not that long ago, when then-President Obama came to town, you would not see any sort of leading Democrats anywhere near him.

But you saw that start to shift in 2018, and really in 2020, where Democrats said, hey, it's all hands on deck. This will be a base motivating election where Democrats will try their best to motivate and energize voters of color, other voters who might not typically vote in midterms and the base that came out in 2020. And so, it's sort of all hands on deck.

And I expect Republicans to do the same thing, because we can be sure that Donald Trump will come to Georgia a few more times next year.

SANCHEZ: And I want to ask you about that, because the question of who he might endorse is a big one on the Republican side. Is it possible that Brian Kemp gets primaried by former Senator David Perdue and that Purdue winds up with Trump's endorsement?

BLUESTEIN: It's very possible. And friends and allies of the former senator say he's leaning towards running right now. That is the big question right now in Georgia politics. And this will be an epic primary battle between two very formidable Republican figures.

And Donald Trump has essentially promised David Perdue his endorsement, even coming down to Georgia and the September rally and urging publicly that David Perdue run against Brian Kemp.

SANCHEZ: It could make for a very impactful election one certainly with a lot of fireworks. We got to leave the conversation there. Greg Bluestein, thank you so much for the time.

BLUESTEIN: Thank you for --

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Next, prosecuting the prosecutor. The district attorney accused of mishandling the case of Ahmaud Arbery of his killers is now facing prison herself.



SANCHEZ: So, now, that a Georgia jury has convicted three white men of murdering black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, the focus shifts to the former district attorney.

PAUL: Yes, that is Jackie Johnson. She's facing charges over her handling of the case. Now, she directed police, it is alleged not to arrest Travis McMichael after he shot and killed Arbery. Johnson denies any wrongdoing. CNN's Martin Savidge has details.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): An hour after Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and neighbor William Bryan Jr. chase down and murder them on Arbery on a Sunday in South Georgia, Greg McMichael was on the phone. GREGORY MCMICHAEL, SUSPECT IN KILLING ARBERY: Jackie, this is Greg.

Can you call me as soon as you possibly can?

SAVIDGE: Calling Jackie Johnson, the local District Attorney.

MCMICHAEL: My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.

SAVIDGE: For years, McMichael work with Johnson investigating cases for the Brunswick DA's office. Now, as he stood with Arbery's blood literally on his hands, McMichael made sure police knew about the connection.

MCMICHAEL: I was chief investigator with the DA's office for 23 years so, I know what you got to do.

SAVIDGE: No one was arrested that day, or for months to come. The Georgia Attorney General contends Johnson's influence in the case not only delayed justice for Arbery's family, but it also nearly denied it.

In September, more than a year after Arbery's death, a grand jury indicted Johnson for violating her oath of office and obstructing police. Arbery's family applauded the move in a virtual press conference.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: She didn't pull the trigger, but she is just as much to hold accountable as the three guys who actually did this to Ahmaud.

SAVIDGE: Johnson turned herself in at the Glenn county jail but was free in less than an hour and didn't have to pay any bond. According to the indictment, Johnson directed police not to arrest Travis McMichael that day even though he shot at an unarmed Arbery three times, point-blank with the shotgun hitting him twice.

The indictment also says that after recusing herself, Johnson recommended another district attorney, George Barnhill, never disclosing she'd already talked to Barnhill about the case. Barnhill would send a letter to police advising the shooting was justified, saying, we do not see grant For an arrest of any of the three parties.


That could have been the end of the case if not for one thing. The public release more than two months later of the cell phone video showing Arbery's pursuit and murder, outraging a nation. Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested within days.

CNN has made numerous attempts to contact Johnson or her legal representation for comment without response. Johnson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and defended her actions, including during a virtual debate when she was running for reelection.

JACKIE JOHNSON, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA: I'm sorry that from the very beginning, a lot of us told about how my office handle that case. That case is a terrible tragedy for our community. And it's a tragedy for the family. I'm sorry about how things happened. I'm sorry that a lot got started and I could not turn it back.

SAVIDGE: Voters didn't buy it. After 10 years in office, Johnson lost the election. Now, this one's top prosecutor prepares for a prosecution like none she's ever faced before, her own.


SAVIDGE (on camera): No court dates been separate Jackie Johnson. The next legal step would be an arraignment. If she were to be found guilty of the most serious charge which is violating your oath of office, that's a felony and she could get one to five years in prison. Boris and Christie?

PAUL: Marty, thank you so much.

A group claiming to be from Patriot Front, which is a group widely considered to be white nationalists, marched across the National Mall and passed the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. Now, they were seeing wearing -- you see them there, the white masks, matching arm patches. Some members were carrying a plastic shield.

The U.S. Park Police first told CNN The march was allowed, and then clarified this group did not have a permit. Authority say the gathering was peaceful and no arrests were reported.

Join CNN's Elle Reeve for new documentary, White Power On Trial: Return to Charlottesville. The CNN Special Report begins tonight at 9:00 p.m.

SANCHEZ: So, this is not your average plane because it's powered by fuel made from sugar and corn. We'll take you on board a historic flight when we come back.



PAUL: 46 minutes past the hour right now. Good to have you with us. You know, authorities in Arizona are looking into how and why a man jumped out of a Southwest Airlines airplane as it was taxiing at Sky Harbor International Airport.

Initial reports say yesterday, the 30-year-old exited the aircraft through a rear door, then locked himself in a room in a nearby fire station. The flight captain was forced to stop the aircraft obviously and notify air traffic control. The flight continued to designated gate after authorities responded to the situation. And the man was transported to a hospital for a lower extremity injury we're told. The airport hasn't responded to CNN request for comment though.

SANCHEZ: Yikes. So, imagine a commercial flight fueled by food. This week, United Airlines completed a successful flight from Chicago to D.C. run only by corn and sugar. And this could be the first chapter in a new phase of airline travel. CNN's Pete Muntean has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our first-ever 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel flight.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN, CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): From the moment you step on board, it is clear this is not your regular flight. The passengers are executives and politicians. Flown by test pilots, this plane is labeled experimental since the fuel onboard is not traditional jet fuel.

This is what's called Sustainable Aviation Fuel processed from sugar and corn. It is powering this United Airlines 737 in one of its two engines, a first for a flight carrying passengers.

This is an important and historic moment for global aviation. United CEO Scott Kirby says this test could one day combat climate change. The Biden administration's goal is no aviation carbon emissions by 2050, an industry that contributes about three percent globally.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel cuts emissions by up to 80 percent. But it is up to eight times more expensive than regular fuel, and right now in limited supply. But it is a start with electric airplanes too far in the future.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: There's simply no battery technology, even theoretical technology that has enough energy density that you could put enough batteries on the airplane to get an airplane this big with this many people flying this far. And so, what works and a lot of other transportation industries won't work for aviation.

MUNTEAN: This test touchdown in Washington with a message. Airlines want tax credits to lower the cost and the FAA to approve the fuel more widely. Manufacture Virent says this fuel is so molecularly similar to jet fuel. It is a direct replacement.

BRICE DALLY, PRODUCTION MANAGER, VIRENT: It means all the infrastructure, the planes, the engines, everything is ready to go today right now. So, this hopefully someday is not really a big event. It's just the normal way we do things.

United Airlines says these tests will continue but it says, now the ball is in the court of the government to raise the limit of sustainable aviation fuel allowed on board a plane like this which will thereby lower the cost.

By the way, this is the plane used in that test. It's a normal Boeing 737 MAX 8, no specific modifications. In fact, it's about to go back out and fly passengers again albeit with normal jet fuel on board. Pete Muntean, CNN Dulles International Airport.



PAUL: Pete, thank you. Oh, don't hate me for saying, down goes number one. Alabama rolls Georgia in SEC Championship. It doesn't necessarily mean the end of the dog's playoff run though. We'll talk about that next.

But listen, there's more head on NEW DAY. First, the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2021 have been announced. And one of whom will be named the CNN Hero of the Year by you, our viewers, because you get to vote. And in the last week of voting here, we're reintroducing you to some of these extraordinary people.

Today's hero left a Beverly Hills practice behind to help fight cervical cancer in remote regions of the world. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free cervical cancer screening. Screen and treat for free of charge.

PATRICIA GORDON, CNN HERO: There are 350,000 women dying a painful and dignified death globally. And it's almost 100 percent preventable.

So, this is everything you need to screen entry to patient.

We bring in these big suitcases. We teach local health care professionals the see and treat technique,. At the end of the week of training, we pack up that suitcase and give it to the nurses that are going back to their clinics.

Within a day, we can literally save 20, 30 lives depending on a number of women we screen. That there are 8000 women who are alive and well and able to provide for their families is honestly the most rewarding thing that I could have ever imagined in my life. I think I'm the luckiest doctor that ever lived.


PAUL: And all those women are pretty lucky for her. To learn more or to vote for your favorite hero, just go to And thank you for doing so.



SANCHEZ: It is Selection Sunday in college football. So, in just over five hours, four teams are going to be picked for the playoffs and a whole lot of fans inevitably are going to be furious about who gets picked.

PAUL: Yes. Andy Scholes is with us. So, we're going to talk about Alabama. Man, I mean, people -- somebody yelled at me yesterday. We were talking about UGA, and they're going, are you UGA or are you Alabama? And I'm like dude, I'm neutral, whatever you want.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know, guys, a lot of Georgia fans I talked to you thought this was finally going to be the year that they took care of Alabama. But you know how the old saying goes. You know, if you want to be the champ, you got to beat the champ. And Georgia still just can't get over that hump and beat Alabama.

So, this was the first time since 2015 that Nick Saban and the Tide were underdogs. Back then, they beat Georgia and a blowout in the game. They're underdogs and well, what do you know, they did it again.

Quarterback Bryce Young, amazing in this game. He threw for an SEC Championship game record 421 yards, three touchdowns, locking up the Heisman trophy. Georgia's defense hadn't given up more than 30 points in an entire month this season. Alabama put up 41, winning this game 41 to 24. Nick Saban saying afterwards the team using all that underdog talk that the media was talking about. They use it as motivation.


NICK SABAN, AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACH: I think we had a tremendous amount of respect for Georgia, their team and what they accomplished. But you guys gave us a lot of really positive rat poison. The rat poison that you usually give us is usually fatal. But the rat poison that you put out there this week was yummy.


SCHOLES: So, both Alabama and Georgia likely in the playoff, as will be Cincinnati. The Bearcats completing their dream season beating 21st ranked Houston 35-20 to finish 13 and 0 and when the American Conference title. Cincinnati will now likely be the first ever team outside of the power five conference to make it to the playoffs.

All right, in the big 12 title game, fifth-ranked Oklahoma State trying to keep their playoff hopes alive yesterday taking on Baylor. The Cowboys had first in goal from the two to basically win the game. It would go all the way to fourth down and on fourth down we had a lot of drama.

Dezmon Jacksongoing to be racing towards the goal line but Jairon McVea does just enough and Jackson comes up short. You know, football, a game of inches and about six inches decided. The big 12 title heartbreak for Oklahoma State as Baylor wins 21 to 16, their first big full title since 2014.

In the big 10 title game, Michigan looking to punch their first ticket to the playoff taking on Iowa. The team wearing a special patch with Tate Myre number 42 and four hearts in honor of the Oxford High School victims. Tate was a junior, a football star player at Oxford high school. He reportedly ran toward the gunman when the shooting started on Monday. He died trying to stop him.

In a touching moment, Michigan and Tate's -- Michigan had Tate's family there as honorary captains toward the game. The Wolverines then went out and put up 42 points, Tate's number, to win their first conference title since 2004. And the significance of that score was not lost on coach Jim Harbaugh.


JIM HARBAUGH, HEAD COACH, MICHIGAN WOLVERINES: What an honor. Tate Myre in this game. You know, I dedicated the game to him, you know, for his courage and what he did in the shootings in Oxford. You know, he's a hero. We got our 42 point up there and you know my patch fell off, but yes, I mean, it's -- I think God was with us.


SCHOLES: I tell you what, guys, pretty special that Michigan scored 42 points on the -- on the day and the night they were honoring Tate Myre.

PAUL: No doubt. Andy Scholes, that was a -- that was a great moment to share with us. Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Andy.