Return to Transcripts main page

Quest Means Business

Biden's Day One Agenda Set To Roll Back Trump Era; Qatar Airways Receive 5 Star COVID Rating From SkyTrax; At-Home COVID Test Could Turn Tide For International Travel; Trump To Depart White House Without Acknowledging The Transfer Of Power; Parler Back Online Citing "Technical Difficulties"; Navalny's Arrest, What Next For Russian Opposition?; Samsung Heir Jailed Again In South Korea. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 18, 2021 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Now, last hour of trading, now 60 minutes until the closing bell, though there's no trading on Wall Street.

It's the Martin Luther King Day holiday. So the U.S. markets are closed. But the day -- well, the day has been busy so far. Four years of policy

versus one stroke of the pen, Joe Biden is preparing to undo his predecessor's platform.

And white-collar criminals are expecting pardons from Donald Trump before he leaves the White House.

Alexei Navalny is jailed in Russia and that's left countries calling for sanctions.

And we are live in New York. It's Monday, it's the 18th of January. I'm Richard Quest, I mean business.

Good evening. It is becoming clear today the speed with which Joe Biden will act on his first day in office, as he makes final preparations to

enact his sweeping new agenda.

Starting on Wednesday, Biden plans to reverse Trump era policies and chart a new course for the United States. And it will begin with a 10-day blitz

of Executive Orders addressing the COVID crisis, looking at the economy, and plenty more. Joe Biden's incoming Chief of Staff says there's no time

to waste.


RON KLAIN, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: But I think the events of the past few weeks have proven out just how damaged the soul of America has

been, and how important it is to restore it. That work starts on Wednesday.


QUEST: So the Biden team has got the red pen out and is getting ready. Executive Orders on day one will undo some of Trump's signature policies

starting with the Muslim travel ban. Biden will also plan to overhaul the U.S. immigration law and he'll bring the U.S. back into the Paris Climate

Accord as he promised during the campaign. He also plans to block the construction of the Keystone Pipeline on environmental grounds.

Arlette Saenz is in Wilmington, Delaware. They've been open and upfront about just what it is they're going to do. But I mean, this will -- major

policies at a stroke take the U.S. in 180 degrees the opposite direction.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly will, Richard, and what the President-elect is trying to show here is that he is ready to

hit the ground running as soon as he is sworn in on January 20th.

A lot of these executive actions build on some promises he made during the presidential campaign. And as you mentioned, some of them are intended to

undo some of the policies of the Trump administration that includes rescinding that ban on travelers from Muslim majority countries, also

rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, something that was negotiated during the Obama-Biden administration that President Trump pulled out of.

There are also some executive actions relating to the pandemic, continuing that freeze on evictions and foreclosures, as well as that pause in student

loan payments on the Federal level. Then the President-elect is also trying to issue this hundred-day masking challenge, and while he cannot mandate

masks nationally, he can require them in Federal buildings and interstate travel.

But the President-elect while he is readying that roughly dozen executive actions for his first day alone, the President-elect is aware that he can't

do everything by Executive Action, there's going to be a lot that he needs cooperation from Congress with and that includes that $1.9 trillion COVID

stimulus relief deal.

But one thing that has the potential to really dominate the early days of Biden's presidency up on Capitol Hill is that looming Senate impeachment

trial, his incoming White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, and others have said it's imperative that the Senate find a way to do both that impeachment

trial and run legislative business at the same time -- Richard.

QUEST: What's the mood? I mean, one could imagine, I can see how they've gone for specific policies in a very similar way, in a sense to what Trump

did four years ago. He came in and on day one did a whole raft of draconian measures.

But what's the mood? Are they -- is the Biden team feeling strengthened? Are they anxious? How do you gauge them?

SAENZ: Well, I think the Biden team has shown that they are ready to just dive in as soon as they possibly can. And so much of what they want to do

was the promises that they made from the presidential campaign trail, but they feel that after these months of the transition, that they are ready to

now actually get into office and put all of this into action.

You'll remember that President Trump put up quite a few roadblocks to Biden's transition work over the course of the past two months, but they

have insisted that they are plowing ahead, so they will be prepared for this moment when he takes office, and the President-elect, it is not just

those executive actions on that first day. He is planning executive actions throughout the first 10 days of his presidency.

So they are trying to take action where they believe that they can as they're trying to enact his agenda.


QUEST: Arlette, thank you. Biden's nominee to lead the Treasury says that she will urge lawmakers to go big during her confirmation hearing.

Janet Yellen is looking to get a massive relief bill through Congress as Arlette was talking about. It includes the $1,400.00 in direct stimulus

checks, more than double the Federal minimum wage to $15.00 an hour and extends the pause on evictions on student loan payments to the end of


Boston Consulting Group's CEO Rich Lesser is with us. Rich, it's always good, and I was much heartened by your statement on the Capitol violence

that you put out. We'll come to that in one second.

I just want to get a feeling from you, what do you think is the most important of the Executive Orders that we're already hearing about that the

Biden administration will do. What for you grabs you?

RICH LESSER, CEO, BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP: Well, I think getting back into the Paris Accords in a longer term sense is a very important -- a statement

to the world. It doesn't necessarily imply specific actions, but it is a clear statement to the world about the U.S. being -- returning to its

historic commitment to trying to make progress on climate and collaborating with other countries around the world. So I guess in a long term sense,

that would probably be at the top of the list.

I think the urgent issues right now of course is COVID relief, and it is to make sure that we're doing everything we can to vaccinate as many as we can

to keep people safe in the interim, to have people wear masks for the first hundred days or as long as necessary.

So the urgent is around COVID. People are dying. Thousands every day. We have to focus on that.

QUEST: Bearing in mind so many Trump policies were well and truly off the chart, a return to normality does require, will look somewhat strange in

that sense, but does the business community for instance look for -- I mean, want to see the removal of the trade tariffs on China or do you want

-- would you prefer to see the prosecution of these similar sort of tariffs with allies instead?

LESSER: I think the business community in general is not a big fan of tariffs. That's pretty clear. I think there was an understanding that the

relationship between China and the U.S. is complex. It requires hard negotiation on both ends to work through a different way of working.

So I think that the administration will be given some time by the business community to sort out the best way to do that, to work to engage with

China. But hopefully in a productive way that can lead to a win-win on both sides. I think that's the hope of the business community and to really be

able to have a productive relationship that drives economic growth around the world and in the U.S.

QUEST: I realize talking about tax policy when we're facing pandemic and numbers of deaths can seem a little venal and perhaps not quite right, but

assuming the pandemic does sort itself out in the fullness of time, the Biden tax proposals will mean that your clients pay more money, both at the

corporate level and at the higher income level.

Do they -- no one wants to pay more, but do they recognize the reality of this?

LESSER: I think they recognize with the change in both the House and Senate, as well as the presidency, the tax policy is going to get

revisited. I hope -- I think most of them hope that there is going to be a way to do that that keeps a focus on making sure that we have strong

economic growth.

We need investment in this country. We need growth. I think they'll be looking, not -- I don't think there will be an expectation it will stay the

same. I think there will be a hope that they'll work together to drive some sustained, strong growth in the years ahead.

QUEST: Rich, one of the reasons we love having you on the program is that you're always forthright about this. You said in your note after the riot,

you said, it is incumbent upon the business community to be clear eyed about President Trump's behavior as well as those of Congress who act as

enablers in the events of the last week.

But we can say that really over the course of the four years, I suggest. Do you think -- I know there is a real politic when you are running a company

with tens of thousands of employees, but do you think some CEOs may have to think about what they did over the last four years?

LESSER: Yes. Though I would just observe that particularly over the last three of those four years, I think in the first year, many wanted to try to

see if there was a way to work together to move things forward.

I think many business leaders tried to distance themselves in a fair way. If you look at the BRTS, the association I'm the closest to, if you look on

the stances on immigration, on climate, on infrastructure, on purpose of the corporation, I think in many cases those were directly in contrast to

the administration.


LESSER: This was not a case where the whole business community just said, we'll go along with whatever the administration says. There were places

that could have alignment, you could move things forward, places you disagree. I think that's what the business community needs to do.

But I do think, you know, it was such an extreme period in the U.S. I'm sure there will be learnings for many on what could have been done

different, particularly when you look at how the last couple months have played out.

QUEST: Do you in any -- he is not even in office, and I'm already asking you what you may not like about it. But that's the way it goes. Do you

worry that the pendulum in its inevitable swing back, which we know about already, you and I have been talking about it, will swing too far?

And I hesitate to use the word socialism, because we're not talking about that. But I suggest anti-company or anti-corporate policies will find their

way into the agenda. Is that a concern of yours?

LESSER: I'm sure, it is a concern for some in the business world. I think we're so far away from the way this has been painted. But I do think on

specific policies, could it have tipped too far? Sure. It tipped too far -- it can tip too far in either direction.

I do think we have to remember that the Senate includes a number of pretty centrist Democrats, and it's a 50/50 split with, you know, Vice President

Harris as the deciding vote. So I don't expect at least as it relates to legislation to see extreme things going through.

I do think it will be better if there's a way to have any bipartisan element to it, which was, you know, very difficult on most issues related

to the economy over the last 12 years, actually. But boy, will we be better off if five or eight Republican senators and the vast majority of Democrats

could align on something than if it's all one party and I would have said it the other way, too, when it's all the other party.

We're stronger as a country when we can work across both parties, even if it tips more one way or more the other way.

QUEST: All right, good to have you with us, sir. We will -- we have a standing invitation for you to come and join us as we go through the Biden

administration. Thank you, sir.

Now as QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues at the start of this important week, the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways tells me government health officials

and IATA are to blame for not putting more coordinated travel rules in place. Akbar Al Baker, next.



QUEST: Qatar Airways has become the first long haul airline to get a five- star COVID safety rating from SkyTrax. Airlines are judged on cleanliness and the use of PPE and control of social distancing, what they're doing,

not what they're promising to do.

Speaking to me earlier, the chief executive Akbar Al Baker said protecting passengers is the absolute priority.


AKBAR AL BAKER, CEO, QATAR AIRWAYS: From day one, I have been involved in the taskforce in Qatar Airways, making sure that every single equipment or

every single innovation that was introduced, we were the first one to get.

Now, just give you an example, we have the UV system that we use in aero planes, we hold a very large number of them. And every single aircraft,

every 24 hours, is completely disinfected using the UV. We have robots that goes around the airport. We have contactless check-in areas and boarding


So we have done everything including the PPE that our crew wear, the way we are delivering products and catering into the aero plane. So we have gone

through the entire process to make sure that we have done our utmost to protect our passengers.

QUEST: What do you think the industry needs in terms of coordinated response now? It seems to have been -- the travel and tourism industry

seems to have been somewhat piecemeal, in the way it's done it. What do you now think it needs?

AL BAKER: As a matter of fact, I blame the governments for that, because each government is putting out regulations in piecemeal. There is no proper

coordination. And I also blame the organizations like IATA, ICAO and W.H.O. for not getting together and coming back with a policy that is imposed as a

standard for all the countries to follow, including a travel pass, which IATA is now working on.

This should be standardized and recognized all across the world. Only by doing this and stopping this quarantine issue, which is again, implemented

in a very haphazard way, which is really affecting the -- and giving erosion of confidence with the travelers because nobody knows from the day

to the next what would be the regulations, and the countries are again -- authorities are running around like headless chicken, immediately

panicking, as soon as they see that the figures of infections are rising.

If they implement things correct, they will mitigate the reason for them to do what they are doing.

QUEST: Do you believe that some will go out of business? And I don't just mean the small ones. So far, we've not seen a major carrier, for example,

we've seen some protect themselves in bankruptcy, such as in Latin America, we've seen Norwegian decide to stop flying long haul, but we haven't seen a

major carrier go.

AL BAKER: I think if this prolongs, I am expecting there will be some big airlines that would really need a massive state aid to stay afloat, or else

they will have to shut their doors.

You know, some countries are very lucky, like we just mentioned in Latin America and in North America, where people can apply for Chapter 11. Not

every country allows you to apply for Chapter 11. I wish they did so that at least we could, at this difficult time, reduce our exposure to our


QUEST: You had a major development, didn't you, in the last couple of weeks with the lifting -- with the agreement with the other Gulf countries and

the lifting of the blockade. You are now flying back to many of those destinations where you are forbidden from flying.

AL BAKER: No, as a matter of fact, we are not flying too many, but we will eventually fly. We started on the 11th flights to Riyadh on the 15th to

Jeddah and on the 16th, to Dammam. We are soon going to -- we have already started flying to Egypt just an hour ago and we will be flying to

Alexandria next week and hopefully soon, we will start operating both to the UAE and to Bahrain.

QUEST: It made a huge difference, didn't it, no longer having to circumnavigate that airspace that was shut off to you. That's a big

improvement for you.


AL BAKER: Yes, it is. Just to give you an example, we saved nearly two hours and 40 minutes flying to San Paolo each way. Khartoum will be only

three and a half hours instead of seven hours. Lagos we will save nearly an hour and a half. So yes, it will make a big impact for our operational



QUEST: The U.K. has officially closed its travel corridors for the next four weeks. Shares in IAG, EasyJet and Ryanair, of course is down on the

news as you can see there. The low cost carriers perhaps getting the brunt of it.

IAG slightly lesser because of course, remember, it's got all -- it's got the European carriers or the E.U. carriers within it.

Starting today, anyone coming into the U.K. must also prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 and go into quarantine. The U.S. has announced

similar rules last week.

As demand for tests rises, patients are finding it harder to get hold of one. Ellume is the first at-home test to receive emergency use EUA at the

F.D.A. in the United States. The Chief Executive, Dr. Sean Parsons is with me, joins me from Brisbane via Skype.

Sean, it must be early for you -- via Cinco -- at the moment, so I do thank you for getting up early to talk to us. Look, the issue now is twofold,

isn't it? It's getting a test, getting a result that is -- I mean, sometimes you need it just to know if you've got COVID. But often you need

it because you're going to travel. How does your test fit into that?

DR. SEAN PARSONS, CEO, ELLUME: Yes, hello, Richard, thanks very much for having us. It is fairly early over here, but great to be talking.

So we have the first at-home test for symptomatic and asymptomatic people, adults and children to test themselves to find out if they have COVID. It's

a really simple to use test which connects to your smartphone, you walk through the test in a 15-minute period and you receive a result there and

then, with the result actually available on your phone.

So this is, you know, obviously terrific in terms of enabling people to find out if they have COVID, but then also be able to demonstrate that

result to, you know, important health authorities to travel authorities, one of those but you know, employers and education facilities and all of

those other scenarios where being able to show your COVID status is important.

QUEST: Many viewers, myself included are confused. Now, we know that you get a PCR test. Everyone wants a PCR, the holy grail of COVID testing, and

then you've got the rapid PCR, but then certainly some countries won't accept rapid PCRs. What would your test be considered as?

PARSONS: So the two big categories, PCR, which is amplifying a piece of viral RNA, and then immunoassay, which is detecting a piece of viral

protein. And so the PCR tests are very accurate, they're very slow, and they're very expensive. The immunoassay tests are far quicker and the good

ones of which Ellume is certainly one of those, at-home test is one of those get close to PCR, but not quite there in terms of those very low

viral load patients.

QUEST: Yes, would you -- I mean, obviously, you need to get more -- I mean, besides to find out if you've got, which, of course, it will be splendid to

have this, that you can do in 15 minutes at home. It will be extremely -- 90 percent accuracy frankly, is good enough for most of us who go about our

normal daily lives.

But as long as these other organizations are still insisting on this PCR, I mean, do you need to try and convince them of the urgency of accepting the

immuno ones that you're talking about?

PARSONS: So our take is high performance, fluorescent immunoassay tests, these have been quite wildly championed by a number of European leaders

such as Michael Mina, and they have huge advantages in terms of that rapid time to result within the community.

And on the back of our emergency use authorization from the F.D.A., we've been very much inundated by expressions of interest, in particular from

consumer groups in the U.S., but also very much from companies looking to have a means of quickly and relatively affordably testing their workforces

to reduce the chance of COVID being transmitted at work.

QUEST: When do you expect -- because you're real, you could have the -- you could have the problem that many CEOs wish for which is not being able to

keep up with demand and how quickly, can you make these tickets? How quickly can you distribute them globally? And how much will they cost?


PARSONS: So we've spent a lot of energy winding up our manufacturing. We're on track for a quarter million tests a day this quarter, this calendar

quarter. So we're winding up.

We do have line of sight to a million tests a day, media, but there's obviously an awful lot more work to go into getting us to that point. We

have had support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to help accelerate our manufacturing and that has been very important.

In terms of distribution, there are significant discussions underway with a major distribution partner to help us scale that in the U.S., especially.

And we have to be talking a bit more about that in due course.

So we feel like we have a good pathway to market to get this product out to America, and how much will it cost? Look, the target price ultimately is a

$30.00 test is where we'd like to see or around $30.00 in the beginning, when we're supply constrained, I think it will be a little higher.

But we would, you know, we very much want to make this as accessible as possible to America to help get people and the economy going again.

QUEST: Considering I've just spent 120 on a home kit that I had to send away and get the result two days later. I think 30 bucks is a bargain.

Thank you, sir. Kind of you to join us on today's program. Thank you.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, a lucrative market has emerged in the final days of Donald Trump's presidency. Allies who are in his ear are reportedly

earning tens of thousands of dollars from those who want a pardon or clemency. In a moment.



QUEST: (...) Australian open tennis tournament. It's a grim warning for other major events that are happening in the coming months. We'll talk

about that.

But we'll do so only after the news. Because this is CNN and here, the news always comes first.

U.S. law enforcement is investigating a tip that a woman may have stolen a laptop from the house speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the July --

sorry, the January 6th riots with the intention of selling it to Russia. According to court documents, the woman has been charged with unlawfully

breaching the Capitol building. Her whereabouts are unknown.

The FBI is vetting National Guard troops assigned to secure the U.S. Capitol for Joe Biden's inauguration. The acting defense secretary,

Christopher Miller, says while officials have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, they want to leave no stone unturned.

Brazil is beginning its COVID vaccine roll out. Regulators authorized two drugs on Sunday, the Oxford AstraZeneca and another developed by the

Chinese company, Sinovac.

The country currently has only 6 million doses for a population of 211 million people.

President Trump is expected to issue around a hundred pardons and commutations on his last full day in office. The white-collar criminals and

high-profile rappers are amongst those expected on the list and the White House is receiving a crush of last-minute requests.

"The New York Times" says all lobbying has become a lucrative business. The president's allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars from felons

to push their case for clemency.

Jim Acosta is at the White House to discuss this grubby and seedy business going on.


QUEST: So there's about a hundred of them. What's your gut telling you, who's getting them?

ACOSTA: Well, it looks like it may not be a laundry list of sordid characters from Trump World as we expected.

We'll see what the final list looks like but people like Steve Bannon may not get a pardon from this president, according to the latest information

from our sources.

Of course, things could change at the last second, Richard. But at this point it does not appear the president will pardon himself, it does not

appear he will pardon his adult children. We're hearing from our sources that that is looking less likely.

Although I talked to a White House adviser a short time ago who said listen he could write these things on a napkin before he leaves the Oval Office,

that's how unpredictable this president is. And we know he's been even more so lately.

And so I do think we're going to have to wait until this all sorts out at the end of the day but it may not be as lengthy in terms of these sordid

figures from Trump World as we initially thought.

QUEST: Jim, what about -- let's go through some of the events that I'm finding fascinating having sort of -- is it expected that Joe Biden will go

to the inauguration from the White House with -- I've heard rumors of the vice president with him or just go from his own home and make his own way

in a cab, so to speak?

ACOSTA: This is going to be fascinating to watch, Richard. Because we have not had an outgoing president skip an inauguration like this in more than a

hundred years. This hasn't happened since the 1900s when there was a transfer of power taking place.

And so what we do expect to see happen is the Bidens leave from Blair House which is the residence across the street from the White House that's used

for state guests and so on.

The Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be at the inauguration. But the outgoing president, Donald Trump, is trying to rival all of this with

his own departure ceremony of his own. He wants to have sort of a military or state leader like send-off over at Joint Base Andrews which is the air

force base right outside of Washington D.C. with a military band, a color guard, 21-gun salute and so on.

And the White House has even sent out invitations encouraging people to invite up to five guests. Which, as you and I both know getting invited to

receptions and events every now and then, since when are you ever able to bring five guests with you. That's how big of a crowd the president wants.

I talked to an adviser earlier who said he wants a big crowd. To the very end, Richard, this is a president who is obsessed with crowd sizes and so

on. And so it goes for his departure ceremony.

But there's really -- there's no -- I think no sugar coating this or diminishing this, minimizing this in any way. This is an historic slap in

the face of American democracy that we're going to see from Donald Trump.

Somebody who's just going out as a sore loser unable to deal with the fact --

QUEST: Right.

ACOSTA: -- that he lost this election. And sort of going out like a toddler who didn't get his way.

QUEST: And to --

ACOSTA: Not going to a successor's inauguration to me, it's just something I never thought I'd ever see in my lifetime.

QUEST: And do we know -- well, I supposed we don't -- but what would you suppose? Is he going to leave the famous letter in the resolute desk for

his successor? Which is a rite of passage from one president to the next.


We often don't know the contents for many years later. Do you think he'll leave one for Biden?

ACOSTA: Well, we know he won't be able to leave a tweet, Richard, because he has been banned from Twitter. But my guess is that he is not going to

abide by that custom. This is a president who is all but smashing, the White House China, on the way out the door.

Now we'll have to wait and see whether or not he ultimately does that. But at this point, he is going out -- I talked to an adviser earlier today who

said he still believes he was cheated out of the election, that the election was stolen from him.

It's funny, as we're talking right now, Richard, I can hear the band warming up on Pennsylvania avenue outside the White House preparing for Joe

Biden's inaugural. This is something Donald Trump can hear himself.

He can see the signs for Biden and Harris, their inauguration, himself from the White House. It has to be driving him crazy, no question about it.

QUEST: And I promise you this. To his dying day he will never accept that he actually lost.

ACOSTA: That's right.

QUEST: Jim Acosta is at the White House. Thank you.

Now the streets of the U.S. capital, those where the bands are playing that Jim described -- but the streets themselves are largely empty.

Security's extremely tight for the inauguration. These are the live pictures, 25,000 National Guard members from all across the U.S. will be

there helping with efforts.

A social media network popular with the far right is back online. It was booted from major tech platforms following the Capitol Hill riots. It's

Parler and the website suddenly reappeared Sunday with a brief message from its CEO citing "Technical difficulties."

Parler says it expects to welcome users back soon.

Donie O'Sullivan is in Richmond, Virginia. Now you see it, now you don't, now you see it again. It's back. What happened?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Richard. There are some signs of life on Parler. If you go to their website now you will see that


But if you were a Parler user, you're not able to post on there right now or read the posts or read the misinformation or some of the hateful

rhetoric that they were allowing. So.

But the fact that it might be coming back online, it may become the sort of new home for all these Trump supporters and maybe Trump himself after he

got kicked off the likes of Twitter.

But in some ways it also doesn't matter so much. We have seen over the past week a huge migration of sort of Trump influential accounts in the Trump

orbit, conspiracy theorists, moving to other apps like Telegram and Signal.

And some of those apps, of course, are encrypted which is harder for the likes of law enforcement to be able to monitor for potential violent

protests or more riots.

QUEST: Donie, where does this go? Does Twitter -- once Trump is out of office, does Twitter let him back on, does Parler find a new best friend?

Where does this end up? I can't see a way forward here.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. It's certainly -- there's so much happening here right now, of course. We saw the violence here last week.

What Twitter did last week, suspending permanently -- they're saying it's permanent so he'll never be able to come back -- the president of the

United States from its platform. I think even a spokesperson for Angela Merkel said that is quite concerning, that's quite troubling, that a social

media platform, a private company would be able to do that.

And Jack Dorsey himself, the CEO of Twitter, said that he found that power a bit daunting and a bit troubling.

So I think if things do happen to settle down or calm down here a bit in the U.S., with the Democrats -- we've heard them for years talking about

reining in big tech -- it will be potentially interesting to see if the Biden Administration wants to take on this issue of really how you do

regulate speech online?

It's an extremely thorny issue, of course, particularly in this country with the First Amendment which doesn't apply to these platforms but the

sort of spirit of the First Amendment and free speech.

We are certainly very much in uncharted territory. And I think while people might say it was good to take Trump off the platform right now in this sort

of emergency moment we have here in the U.S., I think many people are very concerned by it as well.

QUEST: Good to see you, Donie. You're obviously a couple of couple of days ahead. Thank you, sir. Wish you well.

Coming up. A wave of international criticism following Russia's detention of Alexei Navalny.

Countries are threatening to take action since Navalny has been arrested or now is put back in prison. We'll talk about it after the break.



QUEST: The Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, is urging his supporters to take to the streets following his arrest on Sunday. He has accused the Russian

government of lawlessness for arranging a quick court hearing in a police station.

Navalny had returned to Russia from Berlin having been poisoned five months ago.

Now some E.U. members are calling for new sanctions.

Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. Let's take this in a clip, Fred.

Navalny knew he was going to get re-arrested for breaching his parole or whatever it might have been. I guess the question is with this 30 days how

likely is it just going to be extended and moved on again and again?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SNR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT Well, highly likely, Richard. It's not only going to be extended but there are several

other cases against him in this country as well including a fraud case where he received a suspended sentence in the past, in 2014, that has since

been turned into a real jail sentence.

So that could see him -- that alone see him go to jail for about three-and- a-half years. And there are other cases as well that could add to that time.

So, certainly, there is the very real threat that Alexei Navalny could be in prison for a very long time.

Now he has said -- and he said this yesterday after he landed at Moscow's airport -- where he said he understands right now the threat of detention

is very real but he believes that he is right.

He believes that the cases that have been cooked up against him are all politically motivated. He thinks that he has done nothing wrong.

So he's someone right now who is in jail but who, at the same time, says he believes he is right and that's the reason why he returned to Moscow

despite the fact that, of course, as you mentioned he had been poisoned by the chemical nerve agent, novichok, had recovered for a very long time

under very tough circumstances.

He still said (ph) he believed that it was -- he needed to come back here to the city.

However, earlier today in a video that he put out from that trial that took place, even he said he was surprised at what was going on inside that


He said that in the morning they came into his cell. They said there's going to be a hearing against you today -- by the way, it starts right now.

And the next thing he found himself inside that room which wasn't even inside a real courtroom, it was inside the prison where a makeshift court

was taking place.

And so he heavily criticized that process. And he said even by the standards of some of the things that he's witnessed here in the past he

said that's something he called a mockery of justice, Richard.

QUEST: Fred, the problem for Navalny is he and Putin are playing two different games in this sense.

Putin doesn't care. He'll do whatever is necessary and required to keep Navalny locked up in some shape or form they say.

PLEITGEN: Yes. But at the same time, Alexey Navalny does -- he has said he does believe that he thinks that Vladimir Putin is quite nervous.

One of the things that he said yesterday -- look, he came flying toward Moscow in a plane that was supposed to land at one of the central airports

called Vnukovo Airport -- there were many journalists there, many supporters of Navalny as well, not in the thousands but certainly the



And, essentially, what happened then was that the air space above that airport, that airport -- no one was allowed to land in that airport and

that plane was then diverted to a different airport.

He said he doesn't believe that Vladimir Putin would do that if he wasn't nervous about Alexei Navalny coming back.

Also that sentence I was talking about before, that suspended jail sentence that was turned into a real jail sentence, he also -- he believes that is

because the authorities are nervous.

He's called for action on the 23rd of January around the country.

We'll wait and see how many people actually turn out for that. Richard.

QUEST: Thank you. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. Thank you, sir.

Samsung shares fell more than three percent after its vice chair and heir apparent was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

It follows a major bribery scandal in South Korea. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Samsung heir, Jay Y. Lee, is behind bars once again this Monday after the Seoul high court sentenced

him to two years and six months for bribery. And it was not a suspended sentence.

Now this goes back to a court case that happened just a few years ago. It was part of the huge influence peddling scandal that engulfed south Korea

and actually brought down a president.

The former president, Park Geun-hye, was impeached and she is currently behind bars as well. She has been sentenced to a couple of decades for her

part in this scandal.

So for Jay Y. Lee, the Samsung heir, back in 2017 he was sentenced to five years for bribery, bribing an associate of the former president, Park Geun-


He then went to prison but then that sentence on appeal was reduced and was also suspended. So he ended up spending less than a year behind bars.

But since then, the supreme court said that they believed that the bribes that had been dealt with in that court case had been under-valued, there

was more money than previously thought.

So it has gone back to Seoul high court and he is now sentenced to two years and six months. It's less than prosecutors wanted, they had been

pushing for nine years but it's clearly more than Jay Y. Lee would have wanted.

Now the year that he did spend behind bars will count towards that two-and- a-half years. It was unclear, exactly, how much he will be in prison or how long he will be in prison.

It's -- interestingly, though, that he did have supporters and also some industry leaders and corporate leaders who are asking for leniency, saying

that it's important for him to be free because he is part of the economic recovery post-COVID.

Now this part of the economic recovery is really an argument that is quite often being used in the past when trying to negate or to lessen the terms

of some of these chaebol, these conglomerate heads.

But certainly, for those anti-corruption activists who do not appreciate what was a very cozy at one point relationship between the political elite

and business leaders, they will be pleased with this verdict today.

HANCOCKS (On Camera): Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


QUEST: And in just a moment. COVID cases tied to the Australian Open tennis tournament.

Well, it augurs a very grim warning for other major events that are planned in the coming months. Can they go ahead, should they go ahead?

After the break.



QUEST: The Australian Open is set to begin three weeks from today. And yet dozens of players are not being allowed to leave their hotel rooms, not

even to train.

Look at these photographs. Training in your room.

Seventy-two athletes are now in quarantine after possible exposure to the virus. Nine COVID-19 cases have been linked to three chartered flights that

brought the tennis players and their teams and their colleagues and friends and family to Melbourne.

Australia has used targeted lockdowns and high rates of testing and contract tracing to manage the pandemic in the country.

Now the Australian Open might well serve as a grim warning for other big international events that are scheduled to take this year.

For instance, the World Economic Forum normally held in Davos about now instead is going to be held in Singapore in late May, about a dozen weeks

from now.

The following month, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says a face- to-face G7 summit will go ahead as planned in Cornwall, in England, this June -- that's perhaps easier to deal with, there's not so many people.

But the biggie, the Tokyo Olympics canceled last year because the virus rescheduled for later this summer in July.

Joining me now the medical analyst Dr. Leana Wenn, is with me now.

The Australian Open, they've had a good fist attempt to get the thing going and they've ended up in some sort of -- I am sure it'll be fine on the day

but they all had to get there three weeks before and they've all had to do this and that and the other. How realistic is it for other major events?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Richard, it's really hard right now. And that's because the virus level is just so high in different parts of

the world including in the U.S. where I am but also the U.K. and so many other parts.

And we know that when the virus -- when we travel, when people travel, the virus travels too.

And so I really hope that organizers of events will say if there's something that can be done virtually please do that -- so maybe the World

Economic Forum can be done virtually.

Olympics will be a lot harder but maybe you can do a combination of testing, strict quarantining and, by then, maybe there'll also be

widespread vaccination of the athletes which would help a lot too.

QUEST: The athletes. Well, there are thousands of the -- there's only dozens of tennis players but there are thousands at the Olympics.

But it would make it -- let's have a moment of realism here, Leana. It's January. Even if vaccination continues at a fair old clip with J&J and

AstraZeneca, realistically most of us are not going to be vaccinated by the summer.

WEN: That's exactly right. And the other major question that we don't know yet is whether getting the vaccine means that you are not able to transmit

the virus.

Right now we know that getting the Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine, that it reduces your chance of getting severely ill which is fantastic and also of

getting ill in the first place. But you could still be a carrier and transmit the virus to others.

And so if some athletes are able to be vaccinated but others are not or if athletes are vaccinated but spectators are not, you're still going to have

issues of virus transmission, potentially.

And so, I think you could still have very strict protocols. For example, maybe you do quarantine two weeks ahead of leaving --

QUEST: Right.

WEN: -- you do a test at the time that you leave then you quarantine for another two weeks and then do a test after that.

But I'm not sure how many athletes or spectators are willing to put up with all of those protocols.

QUEST: On a different subject, just listening to your answer there, I just want to take you up on one point.

This idea that you could still be a carrier, you could still pass it on, you might not get very sick, even if you've been vaccinated. That doesn't

bode well for society being able to get rid of social distancing if, even after vaccination, you still could be a risk and a danger.

WEN: Although I would say two things. One is that if enough people are vaccinated we essentially could turn COVID-19 into the common coronavirus

that causes a common cold.


And so, if you just get this illness, if everybody ends up getting infected with this illness at some point but it doesn't cause severe illness, if

people don't end up in the hospital that's not so bad.

But that depend on having the vast majority of the population vaccinated.

QUEST: Right.

WEN: And then you also hope that at some point you could reach herd immunity through vaccination. Which would also help a lot.

QUEST: And if you were a betting woman -- and I'm sure whether you are not -- do you think the Olympics realistically can take place?

WEN: I think some form of the Olympics could happen but probably without spectators or with very limited spectators.

QUEST: Wow. Gosh, there's -- every time we go with this virus there is another moment of reality when we realize just how it's impacting our daily


Doctor, it's very good to have you. Thank you. We'll talk more again. I much appreciate your time. Thank you.

We will take a profitable moment -- and remember, there's no market trading so there's no closing bells. We'll have a profitable moment after the



QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment."

As we look to the end of the Trump Administration, it's worth just considering one thing.

There's two things to look at. Firstly, there is the man Donald Trump and secondly, the policies that this president put forward.

And by that, I mean immigration, the border wall, the tariffs on China and the European Union, the tax cuts in the first year that raise the deficit

dramatically. The America First agenda on trade, industry, and policy.

Now, you can dislike the man and the way he prosecuted those policies -- and very much like the policies he put in place. And that's what we need to

separate tonight.

Because there are large numbers of Americans who loved those policies. It's not for me to say good or bad or indifferent but they liked them and they

believed they were the right policies for this country at this time.

It is the way he put them forward, the nastiness, the corruption around it, the lack of discourse, the vulgarity, that's what people objected to. And

that goes to the man, and that man goes out of office on Wednesday. But don't for a second think that the conservative agenda of those policies

will go too.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York, whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. See you