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New Day Sunday

U.S. Shatters Average Daily COVID-19 Case Records; France Sets New Daily Record, Surpasses 10 Million Total Cases; Biden To Speak With Ukrainian President As U.S. Warns Against Russian Invasion; Lawmakers To Commemorate Deadly Capitol Riot Anniversary; Former First Lady's NFT; Severe Storms Batter Parts Of The Southeast. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 02, 2022 - 07:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Kaitlan Collins, in for Christi Paul this morning.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Kaitlan.

I'm Boris Sanchez.

COVID cases are spiking, sparking major problems. Thousands of canceled flights and in-person learning now in jeopardy for millions of kids. We'll tell you what the experts are concerned about going into the New Year.

COLLINS: Plus, some high stakes talks. President Biden is preparing to speak with the president of Ukraine this afternoon, just days after warning Russian President Putin that there will be serious consequences if Russia invades Ukraine. The big question, whether those diplomatic efforts will be enough to turn down the tensions.

SANCHEZ: And it's been almost one year since the Capitol insurrection. We're going to break down what we've learned from the investigation.


SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for waking up with us this Sunday, January 2nd.

Kaitlan, I hope that alarm clock very early this morning wasn't too unsettling.

COLLINS: Well, I was watching a lot of football games that Coy was talk about. It was a little brutal, but not too bad. I like getting up early. So, I'm happy to be here with you.

SANCHEZ: Great. I appreciate it.

COLLINS: This morning -- you know, we have a not talk about because millions of Americans are getting ready, Boris, to go back to work or school this week, but this explosive surge of new COVID-19 infections is altering daily life across the U.S. The holidays may be over but the travel nightmares are just getting started because airlines have canceled nearly 1,700 flights today due to a combination of COVID-19 disruptions and the weather we've been talking about that is slowing down travel.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And as we take a look at the map, it's a sea of red across the United States. All but one state reporting over a 50 percent rise in COVID cases week after week. And that is shattering records.

The number of COVID-19 cases jumped 113 percent across the U.S., but hospitalizations have ticked up at a slower rate with the unvaccinated still making up the vast majority of those needing treatment.

Despite a year of pleading from public health experts, only about 62 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated at this point.

And now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner warns that previous mitigation measures, that were once effective, may not be as helpful as stopping the spread of COVID now.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So, at the beginning of this pandemic now, hard to believe almost two years ago, you know, we all were taught, you know, you have a significant exposure if you're within 6 feet of somebody and you're in contact with them for more than 15 minutes. All these rules are out the window. This is -- this is a hyper contagious virus.


SANCHEZ: With the holiday season now behind us, millions are facing the grim reality that a return to work or school will be anything but routine.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fresh off the holiday break, teachers, parents and students are trying to make sense of the latest COVID surge. Monday's return to school for millions of kids across the U.S., but many will not be headed back to a classroom. Record numbers of children are hospitalized for COVID-19, some school districts will start with online learning, including in Atlanta which announced the first week back will be virtual.

It's the third largest school district in Atlanta metropolitan area to make that move. All Atlanta public school staff members are required to report to their workplaces on Monday for COVID-19 testing according to a statement.

DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, CHIE OF DISASTER MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: There is no way to keep omicron out of the schools. No way. It's more transmissible, it passes through and looks just like a cold, and what we're going to be relying on is testing in addition to the standard practices of masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene. But the testing we're using, the antigen tests at home are simply not sensitive enough to keep omicron out of our schools.

Even if they're picking up 80, 85 percent of the cases, that's with parents doing their best to test correctly and read it correctly or having a willingness to do so, some cases of omicron are still going to slip through.

SANDOVAL: A vast majority of the country seen in dark red is struggling with COVID surges and in some places 50 percent or more. The nation broke records at least four times recently for its seven- day average of new daily COVID-19 cases. The nation broke records at least five times this week for its seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases, reporting an all-time high of more than 394,000 new daily infections on Saturday.


That's according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

REINER: I'm worried about our hospitals. We're going to continue to see millions and millions of cases in the United States and even with a lower virulence apparently for this variant, still about 2 percent of folks who contract the virus need to be hospitalized, and it's going to be race. It's going to be a race between waiting for this surge to crest and hoping that we don't run out of hospital capacity.

SANDOVAL: As the holidays come to a close, airlines canceled more than 2,700 flights on Saturday, more than any other recent day, dealing with both coronavirus infections among aviation crews and a winter storm sweeping much of the nation. A week of massive cancellations have complicated holiday travel including the return home.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Polo, thank you for that report.

COVID cases are surging not just in the United States, but Europe as well. That's why French lawmakers are considering aggressive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in that country. Yesterday was the fourth consecutive day that France recorded more than 200,000 new infections.

KAITLAN: That brings the total number of COVID cases over the course of the pandemic to 10 million.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau joins us live.

So, Barbie, what are you seeing and what are you really expecting these French lawmakers to do next?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: -- looking at those numbers, they are staggering. They're looking at doing anything they can to not lock down the country completely, and that includes turning their health pass right now into a super health pass. That means it's no longer possible to just go to a restaurant to just have a negative COVID test. That has been the practice. That's something that we've done here in Italy as well.

It's really focused on those people who are hesitant to get their vaccinations. And these health passes now have an expiration on them, that is to say, that you're going to have to get your you're booster if you're going to want to go to a restaurant or cultural event going forward.

COLLINS: Yeah. And, of course, we know this comes as the state department is telling Americans if you're traveling abroad, you better make sure you have contingency plans in place.

Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much.

Joining me now is Dr. Saju Mathew, a primary care physician and public health specialist.

Doctor, thank you so much for joining us this morning. And I guess the first question is, as people are getting ready to go back to work, go to school and whatnot this week following this holiday break, what should they be bracing for with these new omicron infections that we're seeing?


Listen, I live in Atlanta. I almost feel like everybody, if you haven't gotten the COVID infection there's a high chance you will get it. I was on call yesterday, starting from 3:00 a.m. in the morning, Kaitlan, I received 50 phone calls, 45 of those were for COVID positive patients.

So, I think ultimately, even though I do agree with Dr. Reiner that a lot of the mitigation guidelines may not work as well, remember, it's all about a viral load. If you still wear a mask and you maintain a distance and don't hang around a lot of people whose vaccination status you don't know, you can still cut down on the exposure and even if you get sick, you won't be as severely sick.

But, Kaitlan, the bottom line is, I see a split between those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated. My vaccinated patients are doing significantly better. My unvaccinated patients have pretty bad illness, almost borderline in terms of going into the hospital.

COLLINS: Yeah. Of course, we know there are so many millions of Americans still unvaccinated. That should be a big concern for them.

I do want to know, when it comes to testing and just making sure, you know, you're going somewhere, if you're going to a dinner or hang out with friends how often, if you can get your hands on them, do you think people should be taking these rapid COVID-19 tests?

MATHEW: Yeah. A couple of things regarding these rapid tests that I've tweeted about them, Kaitlan. Firstly, if you have symptoms of a cold, just assume you have COVID

even if your tests come back negative. Number two, these rapid are not very accurate. The reason we know this omicron virus or the variant actually replicates in the back of your throat and the rapid test basically just asks you to swab the nose. I think the FDA should look into a saliva test or swabbing the throat as well.

But, regardless, if the tests are available you should be testing frequently if you're going to some kind of event. You want to test right before the event. Not hours before, but minutes before the event. But I think the bottom line, Kaitlan, is don't look at a test, a negative test, as a green signal.


It's a flashing yellow light asking you to be cautious.

COLLINS: Yeah, you say people should take them before they go somewhere, not just that morning and go somewhere that night. That's good to know.

And I wonder, you know, President Biden has this plan that is supposed to go into place this month, though waiting on a few details, about how the half a billion tests they want to distribute to people. You can sign up for them online. They will send them to you for free. It's a rapid test.

And I'm wondering, is this something that you wished you had seen in place from the administration sooner than this?

MATHEW: One hundred percent. You know, I know that a lot of other doctors have expressed this concern and so am I. I don't understand two years into this pandemic, we don't have these rapid home tests. It should be like a pregnant test, which by the way is way more accurate. But that is exactly ho we should have this rapid test.

A family of four should be able to test every morning before they go to school or work and decide if they need to stay at home or go out there into the society. But I definitely think that once we get the rapid tests and improve the sensitivity, it will change the whole course of the pandemic. But remember, it's all about layering. It's about testing, ventilation, wearing the right kind of mask.

Kaitlan, I'm really huge on how every American should be wearing an N- 95 and these masks are readily available. These are the masks that I wear and other health care workers wear. Really protects you against the virus.

COLLINS: Yeah. We know what kind of mask you're wearing is so important.

I think that's how people were surprised when the CDC issued that new guidance last week and they said, if you're asymptomatic or your symptoms are resolving you can basically go back into the world, leave isolation after five days if you wear mask, but didn't say what kind of mask people should be wearing. But turning to schools, Doctor, this is something that is a big concern for parents because a majority of schools we have not seen close or return to virtual learning. They have big concerns about that.

But a lot of parents are getting ready to send their kids back to school tomorrow. I wonder what your advice for those parents is, given their concerns over their kids haven't been able to get a booster shot yet. They haven't been able to get vaccinated at all yet. I'm wondering what your advice for parents is.

MATHEW: Yeah, you know, Kaitlan, this is what I would say, and I know a lot of schools and parents may not be happy with this, but I think that we should go to virtual learning for the next couple of weeks because my prediction is, this -- COVID cases are rising like this, and it's going to come down, but I think we're going to get to the other end, second and third week of January, and there's really no way, Kaitlan, to keep this virus out of schools.

We don't have enough testing. Even if the kids fair well with COVID, they go home to family members. They can infect elderly parents. They can teachers.

So, I think we should wait for the cases to come down before our students and our teachers go out there again.

COLLINS: Yeah. I mean, we've seen a lot of school districts say they're not going to do that. D.C. I know they're going to require a rapid test for everybody before they go back to school this week. So, we'll wait to see how this plays out. We know it's a big concern for parents.

So, Dr. Mathew, thank you for getting up early with us this morning.

MATHEW: Thanks, Kaitlan. And roll Tide.

COLLINS: Roll Tide. I love that.

SANCHEZ: So this just in to CNN. Lionel Messi, one of the greatest soccer players ever, has tested positive for COVID-19. His club Paris Saint-Germain says that Messi and three tested positive after returning from winter break. The team says all the players are now in isolation and subject to the appropriate health protocol. The team does have a game scheduled for tomorrow, though. It's unlikely Messi is going to play.

COLLINS: That will be a bummer for those fans.

And, meanwhile, at least three people are now missing after a fast- moving wildfire tore through Boulder County, Colorado, given three all missing lived in homes destroyed in the blaze, authorities say they fear the worst. The marshal fire leveled entire subdivisions in minutes, destroying nearly 1,000 homes in the state since Thursday and some survivors say they saw their entire lives change in a matter of seconds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO RESIDENT: It looks like something just came and flatted out parts of the neighborhood. Trees are gone, houses leveled. So, yeah, it's hard to see.

REPORTER: Tell me what that was like the first moment you saw your house standing there.

BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO RESIDENT: That was tough. You know, you prepare for that moment, but it's like, I don't know, your kids, they grew up there.


COLLINS: Roughly 6,000 acres have been burned by the blaze which is now more than 60 percent contained.

SANCHEZ: As tensions mount on Russia's border with Ukraine, President Biden is set to speak to the Ukraine president later today. What is on the table for those discussions as Eastern Europe is on the precipice of war?

Plus, a line of storms sweeping across parts of the United States this morning leaving behind a mess. What this means for holiday travelers after a quick break.



COLLINS: President Biden is expected to speak with Ukraine President Zelensky later today, just days after telling Russian President Putin to deescalate when it comes to that ongoing military crisis on Ukraine's border.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, during a call with Putin on Thursday, Biden threatened Moscow with major economic sanctions should it invade crane.

Let's get it straight to CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak who's traveling with President Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. We also have CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson live for us from Moscow.

Kevin Liptak, let's start with you, what do we know about the upcoming call between Biden and President Zelensky? What's on the table there?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah. This is really meant to -- for president Biden to update President Zelensky about that 50- minute phone call he held with President Putin last week and to really kind of lay out his strategy going forward as he continues to try to defuse this crisis on the Ukrainian border.

And this kind of follows the same pattern the last time the president spoke to Putin, he also spoke to Zelensky a couple of days later. The White House has made clear and White House officials have repeated that they aren't going to do anything that affects Ukraine's future without incorporating Ukraine and President Zelensky into the discussion. So, essentially, they aren't going to go behind Ukraine's back as they try to figure out this situation.

And the reason that's important, obviously, Ukraine's sovereignty seems to be at stake here as the troops amass on the Ukraine border, but also, one of the things, one of the major things that President Putin is demanding in this has a lot to do with Ukraine's future itself.


He wants commitments from the West and from the United States that Ukraine never be able to join NATO. Now, that's something that White House has said that it won't accept outright, but it does leave this open question of whether there's this sort of middle ground in there somewhere as they try to talk to Russia to try to come up with some solution, some diplomatic solution, that would avoid conflict.

Now the president did discuss some of what he told Putin when he was having lunch here in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday. Listen to a little bit of what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made it clear to President Putin that if he makes any more moves and goes into Ukraine, we will have severe sanctions. We will increase our presence in Europe with our NATO allies. And it will have to be a heavy price to pay for it.


LIPTAK: Now, we're about a week away from these key talks that are set to begin in Europe between the U.S. and Russia. One of the things that president will talk to Zelensky about today is this sort of strategy as the U.S. enters these critical negotiations.

COLLINS: Yeah. These are critical talks, Nic. So, I'm wondering how Russian officials are viewing this because Kevin just talked about how the White House has rejected these demands, sometimes called threats, from Putin, what he wants Ukraine banned from ever joining NATO, ruling out expansion.

And I'm wondering how Russian officials are viewing the upcoming call with Biden and Zelensky today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. The Russians are calling these security proposals. They look on paper quite like demands as you say, that Ukraine is not allowed to join NATO, that NATO should roll back its eastern forces. Russian's perspective in all of this, you know, this troop buildup should be nothing of the West's concern because it's all in Russia's territory. This is standard military winter training exercises and not a threat to Ukraine. So, that's Russia's position.

When it comes to their view on the talks, you know, I think President Putin gets the message from President Biden that there will be economic sanctions. It's sort of out there if he transgresses and invades Ukraine. The sort of military option as well, of increasing NATO's troop presence along what he sees his west border.

That's a real pinch point for Putin. That's everything he wants to avoid right now. But the real threat for Russia of U.S. NATO troops coming into Ukraine to defend Ukraine, is not on the table. The question in Putin's mind is the lack of that enough to make him feel tough going into the talks. But I think there's another perspective near Russia, and although three layers of talks, on the 10, 12, 13, the meetings between the Russians and NATO and OSCE, these multilayered talks, but what we heard just a couple of days ago from the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was, he was not -- Russia's not going to allow these talks to kind of roll on.

So, again, Russia keeping up the pressure that they have to get a result fast and it's not clear where that result is going to come from. I think, perhaps, President Zelensky and Ukraine will want to kind of understand more nuance of what president Biden was talking about a couple days ago when he said, you know, that if Russia deescalates, removes some of the troops, there can be progress in the negotiations. But what Russia is asking for in essence from Ukraine's perspective denies the sovereign right to choose whether they want to go with NATO or what direction they want to go in.

So, from Ukraine's perspective where is the compromise even if Russia pulls its troops back.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, an important way to consider what is happening right now. Nic Robertson and Kevin Liptak, thank you.

Let's dig deeper on the potential for war in Eastern Europe with Jim Townsend. He's former deputy assistant for defense for European and NATO policy.

Jim, grateful to have you this morning. Appreciate your expertise. I'm curious about Vladimir Putin's intentions here because perhaps inadvertently, he has fostered a galvanizing of Ukraine national identity and there are very serious questions as to whether he would be able to sustain an invasion of Ukraine and whether he wants to enter Russia into another Afghanistan, so to speak?

Do you think he's serious about invading Ukraine?

JIM TOWNSEND, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR EUROPEAN AND NATO POLICY: Yes. I think he's quite serious about invading Ukraine. But what that means in reality is still up in the air. And I think your point about does he want another Afghanistan is something that he's quite aware of and something that deters him from taking that ultimate step.


And certainly, the administration has told Putin if he does go into Ukraine, we'll do everything we can to help the Ukrainians in terms of beings guerrillas or otherwise making that occupation very uncomfortable for the Russians.

SANCHEZ: We've heard from President Biden repeatedly talking about the harsh economic sanctions as kind of a deterrent potentially against Vladimir Putin. The military option nebulous at best, he has essentially said that U.S. will not act unilaterally on behalf of Ukrainian sovereignty.

But specifically on economic sanctions, they didn't work after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Do you have any indication that they could be an effective deterrent now?

TOWNSEND: You know, it's interesting. It seems the Russians, and particularly President Putin, are shrugging off that kind of deterrent. I think he believes his experience in 2014 with the sanctions then, it's something that Russia is able to absorb and particularly now with the Russian economy and changes since 2014 in Russia, that he's ready to take on any kind of economic sanction that West can put towards him, no matter how harsh they may be. I think he's ready to roll the dice.

SANCHEZ: Jim, there's an important angle to all of this, and it's Russian energy and Germany's reliance on Russian energy in light of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Inevitably, that's going to impact how a key NATO ally approaches Putin and the alliance with the West. Do you think Germany is willing to hurt its own economy and energy supply in the sake of Ukrainian sovereignty?

TOWNSEND: Well, it's a great question and all eyes are on Berlin as this controversy with Russia and Ukraine heats up. The Germans have assured us that if there's an invasion of Ukraine again and also additional problems with Russian aggression, that they're willing to do something about Nord Stream 2 in terms of using it, in terms of approving its usage.

So, Berlin is on the record with us being willing to take steps. Will they do it, given that there's going to be a harsh reaction, not just in Germany and other places in Europe that are dependent on Russian energy, we'll have to see. But that's a weapon the West has if the Germans are willing to step up and use that weapon should we need to.

SANCHEZ: Jim, I quickly want to ask you about something that Nic alluded to. Senior and Russian officials set to meet in Geneva in about a week. That's before a meeting of the Russia NATO Council. I'm wondering how effective the talks are going to be if Ukraine isn't at the table?

TOWNSEND: Well, this is -- the three sets of talks coming up are so very different in all of their -- in all how their characteristics work. In terms of what's going to be the most important talks, it will certainly be those first talks in Geneva, the strategic stability talks. Wendy Sherman in the chair for the United States, that's what Putin wants and that's what Putin wants to see is the U.S. and Russia talking about European security.

The Europeans don't want to see that. They are looking towards a NATO Russia Council that will be happening afterwards, as well as the OSCE, for those countries to have a voice as well. Ukraine is part of the OSCE, Ukraine will have its seat at the table, but those talks in the OSCE are also dominated by Russia and a lot of countries friendly to Russia as well. So, it's really the Geneva talks where the most important conversation will take place.

Ukraine won't be there, but that's when Biden calls the Ukraine president and talks about what happened there and gives him a readout and make sure not just Ukraine but the other allies as well are kept informed on what's happening behind the closed doors in Geneva.

SANCHEZ: And we will be watching these talks very closely and leaning on voices like yours to get important perspective on what's happening.

Jim Townsend, thank you so much.

TOWNDSEND: Thank you.

COLLINS: The events of January 6th forever changed the political landscape. Up next, a look at where the investigation into it all stands one year later and how lawmakers and the former president both plan to mark the day.



SANCHEZ: A New York city police officer is recovering this morning after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. It happened after he finished an eight-hour shift. The off-duty officer was asleep in this ca on New Year's Day waiting to start his next shift when a bullet shattered his window.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities say the shot was fired from a significant distance away. So, it's still unclear whether the officer was the intended target. A $10,000 reward is being offered for any help in identifying the shooter.

SANCHEZ: One year ago this week, a mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. They were seeking to overturn the 2020 election and subvert democracy on behalf of former President Trump. The insurrection launched a series of probes including an effort by the Justice Department which resulted in more than 700 arrest, 165 guilty pleas and 70 people sentenced.

COLLINS: Now, a House Select Committee is seeking to determine the cause of the riot and ensure it never happens again. So far, that panel has subpoenaed dozens of people and organizations involved in what happened that day including several of the former president's top allies.

CNN's congressional reporter Daniella Diaz joins us now.

So, Daniella, what is this January 6th going to look like?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, it's going to be a day of remembrance, a day the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said would be a prayer vigil, a remembrance of the events that took place, the lives lost. Look, this day undeniably was tragic and people died as a result of this day. It was a major attack on our democracy, even though many Republicans still continue to deny what happened that day and whitewash the events.

But that's not stopping, of course, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who is planning to host a series of events that day, January 6th, of this week, including starting at noon, a prayer and moment of silence on the House floor, followed by a, quote, historic perspective, a conversation between historians.


Then, also notable, lawmakers plan to share their accounts of what happened that day and how they felt about that day. And it will be presided by Jason Crow, a congressman who also was there during the insurrection. There will be a prayer vigil outside the Capitol between House and Senate members.

But the bottom line here, Kaitlan and Boris, that this is a day, you know, these lawmakers don't want to forget. Americans don't want to forget. They are going to honor what happened that day this week.

SANCHEZ: Daniella, bring us up to speed on the latest from the House Select Committee. What are they working on?

DIAZ: Well, you know, it has been congressional recess, Boris, so it's been very slow on Capitol Hill, but there has been some news from the committee, including that they announced that they plan to release their interim report with initial findings by this summer. Of course, this report will be before a final report this fall. There will be a lot of information. This is what their investigation is working toward.

And we also learned about another cooperating witness who is working with the committee and that is Bernard Kerik. He's the former New York City police commissioner, excuse me, and he is a former ally of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and close ally to former President Donald Trump. He apparently in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election tried to find any evidence for voter fraud.

So, that is another witness cooperating with the committee. So, they continue to work hard to see whether they can meet the deadline of the interim report this summer -- Kaitlan, Boris.

COLLINS: Yeah. We know the clock is ticking on that as well. We talk about the president's domestic agenda, what that's going to look like, but lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers r also worried about the time winding down for that committee to finish its work.

So, Daniella Diaz, thank you for joining us this morning.

SANCHEZ: Former Federal Prosecutor Michael Zeldin joins us to talk a look at all the legal implications of these investigations.

Michael, always a pleasure to have you on. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

I want to start with the select committee and what Daniella mentioned. They're hoping to have a preliminary report out by this summer, a final product right before midterms. Given that so many people of interest in this investigation aren't complying with them and taking them to court, do you think they're going to have enough material to meet those goals in time?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I do. They've had about 300 people cooperate with them. It had 50 subpoenas returned and about 35,000 documents received. They've got these five work streams -- the funding of it, the organizing of it, the misinformation campaign, so I think the various work streams are progressing at different speeds.

So, the fact that you have a Meadows or a Bannon obstructing, doesn't prevent the other streams from moving forward. I think that you'll see in the summer some of these five work streams being more toward the completed stage and, therefore, subject to the public reporting.

SANCHEZ: And, Michael, we're still waiting on a decision from the Justice Department after the House sent over a referral for criminal contempt charges against the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

When do you think we're going to hear back from the DOJ and what is Attorney General Merrick Garland weighing here?

ZELDIN: I think that the DOJ is probably waiting on the Supreme Court. Remember, Trump has said he retains executive privilege and Meadows and Bannon and others have said we can't testify. If the Supreme Court denies the request to hear this case and lets the Court of Appeals decision which went against Trump be the law of the case, then there is no basis for the Meadows and Bannon of the world not to cooperate. If they still refuse to Cooperate, even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court declining the case, then I think contempt indictment would likely be more reasonable.

SANCHEZ: So, Michael, fewer than half the defendants who have been sentenced so far by the Justice Department for their role in the capitol riot have wound up going to jail. Most have received lesser penalties like House arrest, probation, or fines. One man who attacked police just received a five-year prison sentence.

What do you expect to see from judges handling these cases this year?

ZELDIN: Well, I think what we've seen, Boris, is the low hanging fruit, those who are charged with entering the building without authority or entering a secure space without authority, they have been the ones that have been sentenced first and they're the ones getting more lenient sentences which is appropriate to the crime.

The ones that will be coming up in the winter and spring are those who were obstructing the investigation, who were fighting with police officers, and who are engaged in the more serious conduct. Those people, I think, will get more like the last defendant, five years, three years, if convicted.

So, I expect to see the more serious cases coming up in the coming months.


SANCHEZ: And as we watch footage from that day, it's hard to believe so many are trying to whitewash what happened, still jarring to get a clear image of what was going on in the Capitol last January 6th.

Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for the time, sir. We appreciate it.

ZELDIN: My pleasure, Boris, and happy New Year.

SANCHEZ: Happy 2022. Hope it's a good one.

So, the January 6th conversation continues this morning when select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson joins Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION". That's right here on CNN at 9:00 a.m.

COLLINS: Still ahead, former First Lady Melania Trump is embracing a crypto craze in her first public move since leaving the White House. We have more on what she's doing, next.

But, first, don't miss a special concert film. Watch "Carole King and James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Here's a preview.


ANNOUNCER: Friends, collaborators, legends, the music shaped a generation. They came together for the tour of a lifetime.


ANNOUNCER: James Taylor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His songs were amazing, his voice was amazing and his demeanor.


ANNOUNCER: And Carole King.

TAYLOR: Carole King, one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I asked her to be a part of my band.

Forty years have passed since the first time we played.

CAROLE KING, SINGER: I loved every experience we have had together.


ANNOUNCER: "Just Call Out My Name", tonight at 9:00 on CNN.




COLLINS: After months of relative public silence, former First Lady Melania Trump is stepping back into the public eye with a new project.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. It's probably not what you expect, as CNN's Kate Bennett explains, the former first lady is getting in on the crypto craze.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since leaving the White House almost one year ago --

MELANIA TRUMP, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Being your first lady was my greatest honor. Thank you for your love and your support.

BENNETT: Melania Trump retreated into her standard comfort zone, privacy. Only recently emerging promoting her new NFT business on an almost-daily basis since its announcement, and tweeting what slightly more frequency than her normal silence about national anniversaries, tragedies, and a holiday visit with the Florida coast guard.

But it is the release of her non-fungible token, or NFT, that has been unexpected. NFTs are Blockchain-encrypted digital artworks or other collectibles that are purchased through cryptocurrency. Trump's features a close-up of her eyes drawn by a French artist.

Purchasing Melania's vision, the title of her NFT, includes the drawing, as well as a brief audio clip.

M. TRUMP: My vision is look forward with inspiration, strength, and courage.

BENNETT: Plenty of celebrities have embraced the NFT craze mostly because they can be super-lucrative, into the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in profit, via the world of cryptocurrency.

Releasing limited-edition pieces that fans can buy has already lured not only Melania Trump, Tom Brady has one. So does Snoop Dogg. The singer Grimes is a fan. As are Lindsay Lohan and Mark Cuban.

And what is a pop-culture trend if it doesn't include Paris Hilton?

PARIS HILTON, MEDIA PERSONALITY: That's hot. That's hot. That was hot.

BENNETT: Who has released several NFTs and also counts herself as a collector.

But a former first lady, not exactly what most do after leaving the White House. Laura Bush has dedicated her work to helping others on a global scale.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Free people around the world must stand with Afghan women.

BENNETT: Michelle Obama has used her platform and popularity to push various projects, including voting rights.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is that registering to vote just isn't hard. It doesn't take long.

BENNNETT: Melania Trump has yet to establish a post-White House foundation or outline an agenda of work.

She did say in her NFT announcement that a portion of the proceeds would go to help foster children. But questions from CNN as to how much and which programs have gone unanswered.

One person in her corner on the venture? Her husband and crypto critic, Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never loved it because I like to have the dollar. I think the currency should be the dollar, so I was never a big fan.

BENNETT: Now, embracing his wife's latest and somewhat unusual project.

D. TRUMP: She's going to do great. She's -- does -- she does really -- she's got a great imagination.


SANCHEZ: Valentine's Day is coming up. So, for those who can't get enough Melania.

Kate Bennett, thank you so much for that.

So, they've been friends and collaborators for decades. The partnership between singer-songwriters James Taylor and Carole King has made a remarkable impact on the music industry and American culture.

Tonight, the CNN Film "Just Call Out My Name" celebrates their 50-year friendship and the music that so many have come to love.

Here's a preview.


KING: The troubadour was a community of people who wanted to hear that kind of music and the bands that chose to play there, and they were often interchangeable. But this little unit that we are right now is an essential core of the people that were there.

TAYLOR: We've been trying to cast our minds back and try to remember what songs were in the set that we played together when Carole and I did the Troubadour back in 1903 or whenever.

We can't. It's gone. But probably we played pretty much everything we had back in those days, so this song was probably in the set somewhere.


(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: This is going to be special. Make sure to watch "Carole King and James Taylor: Call Out My Name" tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

COLLIS: There's still a chance to start off your new year as a multimillionaire. Where the Powerball jackpot stands right now and when you can try your lucky numbers again, next.



SANCHEZ: New York City Mayor Eric Adams gave his first speech since being sworn into office on New Year's, offering a statement of resilience as the city continues to struggle with the COVID crisis.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: We have lived through two years of continuous crises. The crises tells us that it is in charge, that it is in control. The crises wants to tell us we can be happy, when we can be sad, when we can work and how we can enjoy our city.

This would be our New Year's resolution: We will not be controlled by crises.


SANCHEZ: The former NYPD officer takes on the role as the city is struggling with a dramatic surge in COVID cases, high unemployment rates and rising crime.

COLLINS: The iconic marker of the southern-most point in the continental U.S. became a target on New Year's Day. Vandals in Key West placed a Christmas tree in front of a concrete buoy and lit it on fire, causing minor damage of the facade. It happened between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. and police say that they are looking for two male suspects they believe are responsible for the damage.

SANCHEZ: So the forecast across the country looks a bit intense. There's heavy snow, thunderstorms and the possibility of tornadoes. A wave of severe weather is moving across the country and it could impact millions of Americans.

COLLINS: So, let's bring in CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Allison, if you're traveling today, one of those people -- a lot of people are doing so -- what should people be expecting?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A lot of different elements, honestly, because we're going to have a lot of different things with this system, especially as we transition from the warm air out ahead of it to the cold air back behind it.

Now, on the warmer side, we have a lot of severe storms to talk about. And this was actually just upgraded here just moments ago to a level 2 out of 5 threat rather than a level 1, which we were just a couple of hours ago. They're increasing that threat zone for areas like Savannah, Augusta, stretching down towards Panama City. Damaging winds will be the main threat, but a few tornadoes and isolated hail could be mixed in with a couple of these thunderstorms.


We've got some of them already ongoing this morning. They'll continue through the afternoon and the evening hours. But once that cold air starts to infiltrate on the backside of that cold front, now you actually have the potential to add in some wintry weather as well.

So, snow is possible for cities like Nashville, Knoxville, Huntsville, even Memphis once that cold air pushes through. The heaviest rain is going to be across the Carolinas and also areas of Virginia where we have a flooding concern because that ground is already saturated.

But same thing, winter weather advisories and alerts out for areas of the mid-Atlantic stretching back to Texas once that cold air moves through. For areas of interior New England, we already have that snow ongoing this morning. The concern for that region is going to be today, whereas the Mid-Atlantic, it's going to be for tonight and into early Monday morning.

So, keep that in mind. A lot of folks headed back tomorrow to school and even work. You're going to have to deal with that on your commute for places like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and a lot of these other areas in that general region.

Guys, back to you.

SANCHEZ: A number of headaches in that forecast. Allison Chinchar, thank you very much.

$522 million, that is how much is up for grabs in the Powerball jackpot after no one won last night.

COLLINS: One lucky winner walked away with nearly $700 million back October. And since then there's been 38 drawings but no winning ticket for the grand prize. And so, the next chance to win is on Monday.

And, Boris, I don't want to dampen your excitement, but CNN did report last week that you were more than likely to go to the emergency room with a pogo stick related injury than win the lottery.

SANCHEZ: I don't get near pogo sticks, but I have something working in my advantage. I've got some candles, some rum, a little bit of Santeria, (INAUDIBLE), so we're going to shift the odds in my direction.

So, I'll keep you posted if you want to get in on this.

COLLINS: OK, perfect. Just buy me a coffee or something if you win.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

SANCHEZ: "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Phil Mattingly in the chair for Abby is up next. Have a good weekend.