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Jan. 6 CMTE. Chairman: Expected To Issue More Subpoenas This Week; Still No Decision On How To Deal With Mark Meadows' Defiance; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), Is Interviewed About January 6 Committee; Now: Jury Deliberating In Kyle Rittenhouse Homicide Trial; House To Vote Tomorrow On Censuring GOP's Gosar Over Violent Video And Remove Him From A Committee; Wyoming GOP Votes To No Longer Recognize Liz Cheney As A Republican; European Leaders Toughen Rules For The Unvaccinated Amid A New Wave Of COVID Infections On The Continent; FDA Planning To Authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses For All Adults In U.S. By Friday; Polish Guards Use Water Cannon, Tear Gas On Migrants Throwing Rocks. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 16, 2021 - 17:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: From limb to terrifying limb, it's bigger than a baseball with inch long things strong enough to pierce human fingernails.

A stranger anonymously donated the creepy crawler in a takeout container. Experts are asking the mystery donor to come forward so they can find out more about it.

Our coverage continues now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the January 6 Select Committee is on the brink of issuing more subpoenas. But the panel still hasn't decided how to deal with the defiance of former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. This, as the former president is offering a new argument for hiding his records from the committee.

Also tonight, jurors are entering the eighth hour of deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial. CNN is live in Kenosha, Wisconsin on watch for a verdict on whether the teenager was a vigilante or acted in self-defense.

And COVID restrictions are tightening once again in Europe, as infection rates over there are rising. Is it a preview of what may happen here in the United States in the weeks and months ahead?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's begin with the new developments in the January 6 investigation and what the chairman of the House Select Committee Representative Bennie Thompson is now telling CNN about what may be just ahead. CNN's Jessica Schneider is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jessica, what are you learning? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, the committee here is plowing forward, planning to issue many new subpoenas. We don't know the exact number but we know that they have already issued 35 to top Trump officials like former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, top adviser Stephen Miller.

But the committee here has so far run into fierce resistance as we know, Steve Bannon refuse to comply. The committee referred him for criminal contempt. He's now been indicted by the Justice Department.

And the committee has told us that, in fact, they're considering also referring Mark Meadows for criminal contempt. However, late this afternoon, our Annie Grayer on Capitol Hill she heard from Bennie Thompson, he said he was going to be giving Meadows one more chance to comply with the committee. Bennie Thompson says that by later today, he will sign a letter that will go to Meadows recapping the committee's demands.

Of course, the committee has already been quite clear about what they want from Meadows. But this might be a chance to buy the committee some more time since, of course, their members are leaving town on Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Even if they were to move forward with this criminal contempt referral, it likely wouldn't be until the end of November anyway. So now they're giving Meadows one more shot here a letter sent to him recapping what they want with perhaps the idea that maybe this time he'll comply, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. You know, the former President Trump, he's continuing his effort to keep his White House records secret. What's the latest? What are you hearing?

SCHNEIDER: So today, Trump's legal team filed the first of what will be three briefs, all as they move toward this Appeals Court argument that's scheduled for November 30 here. And Trump's team, they're broadening out in some sense the argument they made before the district court. They're saying if the committee gets all of these documents, if they're handed over from the National Archives that this, in their words, could give Congress lopsided power, and also could forever change the dynamics between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Specifically, Trump's legal team, the brief said this, "In these hyper partisan times, Congress will increasingly and inevitably use this new weapon to perpetually harass its political rival."

So Trump's lawyers here are really seizing on an argument that the district court judge, Tanya Chutkan, seem to be somewhat sympathetic to, the fact that Congress may be made this request a little bit too broad. Of course, the district court judge ultimately ruled against Trump's team. And right now these documents are on hold.

And with the way that this appellate schedule is laid out with the court not hearing these arguments until the end of November, they likely wouldn't issue a decision before the beginning of December. And with any possible appeal after that to the Supreme Court, it's quite possible, Wolf, that even if the committee wins, they wouldn't get these documents anyway until maybe 2022.

BLITZER: Yes, that's one of the goals, I'm sure, of those who are resisting to delay, delay, delay as long as they can.


BLITZER: All right, thank you very much. Jessica Schneider reporting.

We're now joined by a key member of the January 6 Select Committee, California Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren.

Representative, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, your chairman, Bennie Thompson, says more subpoenas are coming. The committee's already heard from, what, more than 150 people so far. So, who do you still need to hear from?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, actually, we've heard from close to 200 witnesses, we received close to 25,000 documents, more than 200 tips from our -- received through our tip line. And the chairman's right, there will be more subpoenas. I've sort of vowed not to identify who we're going to subpoena until those subpoenas are issued. But we want to find out all the information about what led up to the riot, the insurrection on the sixth, so that we can determine what steps, whether it's legislative or administrative, to prevent this from ever happening again.


BLITZER: Without mentioning names, and I certainly understand your reluctance to mention names before subpoenas are actually issued, could you at least give us an indication where the subpoenas -- these individuals, where they are, what they were doing? Are they from the White House? Were they working elsewhere?

LOFGREN: Well, I'll tell you, we've had people from the Trump administration come in voluntarily. Some of the information they provided has led us to seek information from others. So there are people who have personal knowledge about what happened, not only what the president did, but what others did leading up to the riot.

And by the way, Mr. Meadows, I sure hope he does come in, because the questions that we have to ask him are important. I think he has an obligation to tell the truth to the public and to the Congress. And even if he had -- if he thinks he has a claim to executive privilege in some way, we don't think so. But clearly, there are questions that have nothing to do with executive privilege. For example, if he uses private e-mail and private cell phone for government business. What happened to that cell phone if he did? That's not covered by executive privilege.

BLITZER: As you know, your chairman, Bennie Thompson, also said there's no decision from your meeting this morning on whether to hold Meadows in contempt. Is that off the table, at least until after the Thanksgiving break? LOFGREN: Well, we had a very good discussion, making sure that all of the elements that would be necessary to support a prosecution are present. We met with the committee lawyers. And I would say this discussion is very much ongoing. And clearly, he didn't comply with his obligations under the law.

You have to come in to the committee. And if you have a claim of privilege, you have to assert that privilege question by question. There's no absolute immunity. The courts have ruled on that before. You can't just refuse to come in and refuse to answer any questions.

And unfortunately, that's what Mark has done. And it's not lawful.

BLITZER: If the committee says Meadows, as you suggesting, has even refused to answer if he was using a private cell phone to communicate on January 6, where his text messages from that day are. Do you have reason to believe he didn't retain those records or submit them to the archives?

LOFGREN: Well, we have that question. And we'd like to pose that question.

You know, my former colleague, Mark Meadows, I'd like to ask him that.

BLITZER: What do you think?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't want to speculate. We just follow the facts and the law and get to the end. We are going to pursue every piece of evidence so that when we are through, we'll be able to tell the American public and our colleagues here in the Congress everything there is to know so that we can take appropriate action, whether it's revising the Electoral Count Act, revisiting the Insurrection Act, or a number of many other things that we might want to take a look at.

BLITZER: We got a lot on your plate. There's no doubt about that.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much for joining us.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're standing by for a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. A jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin is deliberating his fate as we speak. We have details and analysis. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Right now we're on a verdict watch as a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin deliberates the future of Kyle Rittenhouse. He's the young man charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring a third during a racially charged protests. CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the scene once again for us tonight.

Omar, the jury has just asked the judge for extra copies of its instructions. So what does that indicate? OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.

So earlier today, they requested extra copies of pages one through six of jury instructions. And those instructions include concepts like self-defense, like provocation, of course, significant ones in deciding some of this trial. It also includes or also deals with, I should say, intense, and the first degree reckless homicide charge tied to the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum. And then about an hour ago, they requested more copies from pages seven through 36. So that's all of the jury instructions.

Now, they've been deliberating for just about seven hours or so in total today. The day began with Kyle Rittenhouse himself drawing from -- drawing the either jury names or jury numbers from an old school lottery tumbler. Now we asked a prosecutor or an attorney I should say who has tried cases in front of Judge Schroeder before asking if this has happened. And he says he hasn't seen it at least in cases he's tried. And the court did tell us that the judge is expected to address the process around that at some point on camera, but we don't know when that is, so we'll be watching for that at this point.

The judge did say though, in regards to progress for these jurors, he will be checking in with them in a little less than an hour to see how long they want to continue into tonight and whether they would want to pick things back up in the morning.


BLITZER: All right. So you let us know as soon as you know, we'll know.

What are you seeing, Omar, taking place outside the courthouse? I hear some noise behind you.

JIMENEZ: Yes, Wolf.

So, of course, as this trial has gone on, we've seen the numbers of protesters and people outside grow steadily. And today, we've seen maybe the most we've seen over the course of this drought. Still small overall, but today has been a combination of those calling Kyle Rittenhouse a killer, those calling people like Gaige Grosskreutz, of course, the man wounded in the shootings that night, a hero. Those calling Kyle Rittenhouse a hero, including people like Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who you may remember were made famous or gain notoriety for pointing their weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters outside there St. Louis area homes.

We've seen a slightly increased law enforcement presence today. But they've told us all along, they've been keeping an eye on these proceedings and feel confident that they are adequately staffed to maintain public safety over the course of this. There are no plans as of right now, at least from the police department, to institute any curfews or significant road closures and the lead up to this verdict.

But you can see that people are anxious about when this verdict is going to come. And just based on the people that have shown up outside the courthouse so far there are going to be people that are angry or whatever the verdict is, again, whenever it comes.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens. Let's hope it's peaceful.

Omar, thank you very much.

Let's get some more in all of this. Defense attorney, former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu is with us, CNN Legal Analyst, Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin is with us, and CNN Legal Analyst, former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams is with us as well. Guys, thank you.

Elliot, this case is now in the hands of the jury. They're in their eighth hour, about to begin their eighth hour. How difficult is the decision before them?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's very difficult as evidenced by the fact that they're now requesting to see the jury instructions.

Look, the jury instructions lay out what the law is governing the case. And these are, you know, there's -- you're talking about five different charges, some lesser included charges and very complicated concepts like reasonable doubt, which is a term we hear all the time, but it's quite hard for jurors to understand. And they're going to have to unpack this for each of these individual charges.

So yes, it is even what may seem like common sense to outsiders watching this, and I know this is a politically charged and racially charged case. At the end of the day, these folks have to assess these five charges. And the law is just complicated.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, Areva, that the only thing that jurors have asked for so far today during these hours of their deliberation are these extra copies of their jury instructions?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not surprised at all, Wolf. I agree with Elliot, these are very difficult and complicated matters that the jurors are being asked to consider. And think back to yesterday when the judge was instructing the jury, he himself got caught up in the reading of the jury instructions. He stopped oftentimes, he would pause, he would reread paragraphs, I think he created a lot of confusion himself. And then you had the lawyer stand up in their closing arguments and made reference to the jury instructions.

So the jurors have the actual instructions before them. They have what the judge read to them. And they have the references from the lawyer. So they've got to sort through all of that.

I think it does tell us one thing, they didn't go back there and say automatically, you know, guilty or not guilty. They said, let's go through these jury instructions, let's be methodical, and let's make sure we're doing a very thorough job. So I think that speaks well of our jury system.

BLITZER: You know, Shan, does the presence of lesser charges make it more likely the jury will come to a unanimous decision? SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's to come to the unanimous decision, no matter what. I think it generally gives the prosecution more bites at the apple to give the lesser included. Here, of course, as Areva and Elliot just said, it makes even more complicated.

The judge did this jury no favors. He really botched the instructions. It's going to be so critical what kind of verdict form they're given because that's got to serve as their navigational guide through this morass of charges including the lesser included (ph).

BLITZER: If they don't come to, you know, unanimous decision, if there's a hung jury, you know, that would have to potentially lead to another retrial, right?

WU: Absolutely. A hung jury is going to be a victory for the defense because lots of things can happen in that decision to retrial. They might reach a plea agreement. Witnesses' memories fade, so they hung jury ending and miss trial, that's a victory for the defense.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see if that happens.

You know, Elliot, the jury is not formally sequestered, we're told. In a trial that has gained so much national attention like this, should they be?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, judges really, Wolf, really like to avoid sequester and juries, it, you know, deprives people of their liberty. And you know, I think it's an incredibly stressful experience being on a jury in the first place and then sequestering them on top of that.

Now, the law prison rooms that jurors can follow directions not to turn on the news, not to talk to their families, not to take in information about the case and so on.


Now look, like many things in the law that sort of defies common sense, and these are human beings in a 24-hour news cycle. And it's hard to believe that they won't see any sort of information about the trial. But again, judges are very, very reluctant to put jurors away in that manner. So I'm not that surprised that he didn't, but yes, this is an incredibly controversial case and there might have been an argument for it.

BLITZER: We also, something I thought was unusual earlier today, Areva, Kyle Rittenhouse himself selecting the names of the 12 jurors, there have been 18 jurors at 12 were going to be finalized who will decide his fate out of this raffle tumblers, as they say, is it unusual to involve the defendant in that process? Usually, a clerk would do something like that, right?

MARTIN: Absolutely. Wolf, what we've heard from lawyers who have practiced in Wisconsin for decades and lawyers who've been before this judge said it is highly unusual that he allowed the defendant himself to make that selection. But you know, this judge has been the center of attention, has made himself the center of attention throughout this entire trial. He's been prone to histrionics and he's invited, I think, a lot of drama into this courtroom. So I wasn't at all surprised that there was this dramatic moment where Kyle was, you know, picking the jurors out of this tumbler.

And I think it's a another, you know, inappropriate act by this judge signally to some jurors perhaps that Kyle Rittenhouse has, you know, handpick them and perhaps there's some personal obligation that they have to Kyle Rittenhouse because he was given that task. I think it was highly inappropriate.

BLITZER: Yes, we anticipate that the judge, Judge Schroeder is going to be explaining why he decided to do that at some point. We'll watch and listen.

All right guys, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, there are new developments tonight in another closely watched trial. Georgia State prosecutors have just rested their case in the trial of three white men accused of killing African American jogger on the Ahmaud Arbery. If convicted, each man could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. All three men have also indicated have been indicted, I should say, on federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges. We're watching that trial as well.

Up next, President Biden hits the road to sell his new infrastructure law. But the rest of his agenda is facing major hurdles tonight, amid new questions over how much you will add to the federal deficit. Stay with us. You're on THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: President Biden on the road celebrating one very, very important legislative victory while promoting the next item in his very ambitious agenda. Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly.

Phil, the President today in New Hampshire says he thinks his social spending and climate bill will be passed in the House of Representatives within a week or so. What are you hearing?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's part two of the President's $3 trillion domestic policy agenda.

In New Hampshire today, standing on an 80-year-old bridge desperately needed repairs to try and pitch the plan part one as the infrastructure proposal. One day after he signed that proposal into law, making clear that he and his administration plan to wholeheartedly sell that proposal in the days and weeks ahead and hope to have some political benefit for the New Hampshire congressional delegation, some of whom are top targets for Republicans come the midterm elections. But as you noted, Wolf, the President also focused on that second proposal, proposal that's expected to get a vote in the U.S. House as soon as the end of this week. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that the House is going to pass this bill. And when it passes, it'll go to the Senate. I think we'll get it passed within a week.

And it's fully paid for. It'll reduce the deficit over the long term, as I said.


MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, whether or not that proposal is fully paid for is really the open question right now as a handful of House moderate Democrats have been waiting to see the Congressional Budget Office scores of that nearly $2 trillion proposal to ensure that it is in fact paid for.

Now, one issue that has popped up has been the idea that the one of the key revenue raisers in that proposal, IRS enforcement, the White House says it should raise about $320 billion on net. The CBO is not likely to score it that high. But moderate Democrats have made clear, they are very aware that is likely to be the case. They don't believe it is a hold up.

And when you talk to Democrats, both here in the White House and on Capitol Hill, Wolf, they make very clear the expectation is at least in the House, that proposal will be passed by the end of this week.

BLITZER: And there's more news I'm hearing, Phil, the President recently, just a little while ago, commenting on U.S. policy on Taiwan. He's commenting after his lengthy, what, three and a half hour conversation with the Chinese president last night.

MATTINGLY: Yes, Wolf, it has been one of the most significant sources of tension between the U.S. and China. Probably the most important geopolitical relationship in the world over the last several months. And part of the driver of that is President Biden going back and forth on what the U.S. policy is, a policy traditionally defined more by ambiguity than explicit desire of the United States.

The President, at least last night in that three and a half hour virtual meeting with President Xi Jinping, made clear the U.S. has not shifted its policy at all. That seemed to take a turn earlier today when he made clear Taiwan can make its own decisions. Now, he's saying this. Take a listen.


BIDEN: I said that they have to decide today, Taiwan, not us. And we are not encouraged you, (INAUDIBLE) will encouraged that they do exactly what the Taiwan Act requires. That's the word knowing (ph), but that make up their mind. Period.


MATTINGLY: Now, Wolf, the President referencing the Taiwan Relations Act which has guided U.S. policy as it relates to Taiwan and China over the course of the last 40 or so years. And I think underscoring the fact that when it comes to U.S. policy on Taiwan, there has not been a shift.

The President underscoring last night that the U.S. supports the One- China policy. This, obviously, just one of a myriad of significant issues the two countries have been facing, trying to figure out a pathway forward on and I think that's the biggest takeaway that I've heard from administration officials about that meeting last night. It wasn't about deliverables or any breakthroughs. It was about setting the terms so the two countries can engage on those issues of friction in the weeks and months ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Phil Mattingly at the White House for us. Thank you.

There's more news we're following. A source now telling CNN, the House plans to vote tomorrow, tomorrow to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona and stripped him of one key committee. The move comes after Gosar posted an animated video to show to social media showing him appearing to kill Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.

Let's talk about that and more. Joining us our Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, and CNN Senior Political Analyst, David Gergen. David, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Republican from Wyoming, says it's indefensible for the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to turn a blindar (ph) to Representative Gosar's behavior. Shouldn't this be a no-brainer drawing the line of depictions of violence against the fellow lawmaker?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And once again, Lynne Cheney is right. And I think we ought to obey that. And, listen, we have enough troubles right now in our hands, we have so many other issues that are so much more important than than this. Let's censure this guy and move on.

BLITZER: But, you know, Jeff, I suspect that not a whole bunch of Republicans will vote with the Democrats to hold Representative Gosar accountable, will they?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think you're right. I mean, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, of course, Republican of Illinois, who has already said he's not running for re- election, of course, both of those two Republicans voted to impeach President Trump last year. But we do not expect many other Republicans to join in. There may be a couple here or there.

That does not mean that Republicans privately are not frustrated. They're really angry about this. But no leaders or others have spoken up, they simply do not want to anger the former president. Even some -- you know, we will look to those 10 members who voted for impeachment. Take one, for example, South Carolina Republican Tom Rice, he's going to be in a re-election fight. He said he does not believe what a Congressman Gosar said was inappropriate. He thought it was wrong. He shouldn't have said it, but stopped short of voting to censure here. So I'd be very surprised if there was a long roll call vote of Republicans tomorrow. Simply people are still afraid of former President Trump, who, of course, could lash out at all of them, if they voted to a censure, Mr. Gosar.

BLITZER: You know, at the same time, David, the Wyoming Republican Party will no longer now recognize Congresswoman Cheney as a member of the GOP. Is this fully the party now at least in Wyoming, the party of Trump?

GERGEN: Yes, I'm afraid it is, and Liz Cheney is suffering from that. Look, it's spreading across the country and it has spread widely. The Trumpism is -- has been embraced increasingly not decreasingly all over the country. And the Republicans, I think, are really getting a little scared. It's getting too hot.

You know, they wanted Virginia, Youngkin and one in Virginia, because he had -- he struck a better balance. He didn't talk about Trump, he started to keep the distance but didn't didn't go after him. What he did was come forward with a fresh new agenda or what sounded like that.

So that was the winning ticket. And they do need to do -- take a stand on this fellow for what he did. And make it clear, we're not -- you know, we've got to work together on this. We cannot be sort of condoning violence. I mean, who -- if you rent (ph) somebody showing you killing, just by definition, wrong. Again, just it's it's crazy.

BLITZER: Yes. You know, it's true. You know, Jeff, what sort of message does that send to other Republicans, what the Republican Party in Wyoming, for example, is doing Liz Cheney, as everyone is getting ready to now head into the midterm elections?

ZELENY: Look, it's -- it certainly sends a message to Republicans, and they've already heard this repeatedly, that there is simply no space for them to be able to distance themselves from any behavior that really is inappropriate or any language of the former president. So, the news from the Wyoming Republican Party is it was hardly new. They already voted to censure Congressman Cheney, so they can't strip her of any powers, but the reality is it is, you know, going to have -- has already had a, you know, an effect in other Republicans.


People are simply afraid to speak out. Everyone does not agree with it. If you talk to members, Republican members privately they would -- many of them would like to focus on issues and things but they simply are afraid of the leadership of their party. But look at Steve Scalise, I mean, he is Exhibit A here in the leadership. He was shot, shot at in 2017 by a left-wing gunman. He's been leading the way, you know, talking about how political rhetoric needs to cool down. He is also not in favor of the censure here.

So really the boiling point here is increasing. It's very dangerous. And it would be nice if both sides could sort of take a deep breath and recognize this for what it is. BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you. David Gergen, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, a fifth, fifth wave of the COVID pandemic is now sweeping across much of Europe prompting new restrictions. So what is the resurgence of the virus there mean for the U.S. this winter?



BLITZER: European leaders are toughening rules on people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as a wave of new infections is raising alarm across the continent. CNN's Melissa Bell is joining us live from Paris right now. Melissa, very disturbing developments in Europe right now and a possible sign of what the U.S. could face this winter. What are you seeing?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. When you think, Wolf, that it's been nearly two years, in February would have been two years since we learned that the pandemic had spread from China to Europe, four waves have come and gone since then. And over the course of the last few months, a real sense of a return to normality. No one could have imagined that once again, those COVID figures would be rising so alarmingly fast that it is not just Europeans health, but also their freedoms that are once again threatened.


BELL (voice-over): These sparkling decorations in Parisian windows, a celebration of the return of the Christmas season, also returning the threat of more COVID restrictions.

SUZANNE HEUFPEL, PARISIAN RESIDENT (through translation): That's why we came here as soon as we learned that the decorations were up to make the most of what little free time we might have left.

BELL (voice-over): Already, two regions in France announcing the return of mandatory masks in outdoor spaces. New infection rates in France are skyrocketing.

GABRIEL ATTAL, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON (through translation): Over to 10 days ago, the virus was taking the stairs. Now it's in the elevator.

BELL (voice-over): This new wave of COVID-19 already harshly impacting France's neighbors. Germany battling its worst infection rates since the pandemic began, again, imposing restrictions in Berlin. Allowing only people who've been vaccinated or who recently recovered from COVID-19 to enter restaurants, cinemas and sports facilities.

LOTHAR WIELER, PRESIDENT, ROBERT KOCH INSTITUTE (through translation): We have to assume that the situation throughout Germany will get worse. And without additional measures, it will be unstoppable.

BELL (voice-over): Austria seeing their cases exploding, taking more extreme measures, placing some 2 million unvaccinated people on partial lockdown. The new mandate, unvaccinated people in Austria age 12 and older can only leave their homes for work, food shopping, or emergencies,

ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): If the incidents vaccinated people is down, it continues to rise exponentially for the unvaccinated.

BELL (voice-over): The lockdown which began on Monday enforced with random spot checks and police patrols being stepped up for at least the next 10 days. The move causing an outcry from some Austrians about the disparity of treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I'm here today because I want to fight for my rights. These measures are absolutely discriminatory.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): (Speaking Foreign Language)

BELL (voice-over): In the Netherlands, protests against lockdown measures announced last week amid a jump of new COVID-19 infections, reaching a tipping point over the weekend. With police firing water cannons on angry demonstrators. Perhaps, most alarming about the rise of new infections across Europe, new cases striking areas with fairly high vaccination rates.

In the Netherlands, almost 85 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. In France, that number is almost 75 percent, Germany more than 65 percent and Austria, almost 65 percent. Leading many to wonder watch if anything will be able to stop a seemingly never ending pandemic.


BELL: Wolf, there are a number of factors at play here, the colder weather pushing people indoors, immunity levels dropping since people who have been vaccinated got vaccinated a while ago and have not necessarily had their booster shots yet. But if you look at those measures, what they're targeting is the unvaccinated and that tells you really the European leaders feel that it is those 25, 30, 35 percent depending on the country, the population that have so far proven recalcitrant that have not chosen to get vaccinated that they're really worried about and that may be pushing Europe towards another long, bitter COVID winter, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's an awful situation indeed. Melissa Bell in Paris for us. Melissa, thank you for that report.

Let's discuss this with Dr. Peter Hotez. He's the co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, also the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. The author, by the way, of an important book entitled -- you see the cover there -- "Preventing the Next Pandemic." Dr. Hotez, thanks as usual, for joining us.

So you just heard what I think everyone will agree is a very concerning report out of Europe, even in countries with fairly high vaccination rates. They're seeing infection levels skyrocket right now. Should we, here in the United States, be concerned we'll soon see similar spikes?


DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes. And arguably, Wolf, we are already starting to see that we've had a 14 percent rise over the next -- over the last two weeks. And guess what? The epidemic in the United States looks like the same as it did last year where it went -- it was a huge southern wave across the southern states in the summer, it went down. And then around the time of Thanksgiving, it started going up in the northern Midwest. And guess what? That's exactly what's happening again.

So, 14 percent over the last two weeks, we're seeing now things are looking -- starting to look dire again in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, very much like last year. And the problem is this. You know, everyone is high-fiving themselves saying 59, 60 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated. Well, that means 40 percent's unvaccinated.

And that's a lot of individuals where this virus can still infect, and we're also having some declining immunity after two doses. And so, we're going to have to get three immunizations of the mRNA vaccines in order to stop that as well.


HOTEZ: So, we can take care of this. We have the tools, but the bar is high.

BLITZER: Yes. We're just looking at the numbers from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. is now averaging almost 90,000 new cases a day. And that's a huge increase, 24 percent increase over last week alone. And some 1,200 Americans are still dying every day from COVID, mostly all these peoples, the new cases, and the deaths, unvaccinated Americans. 1,200 Americans still dying every day.

We're also, right now, learning a new details about the FDA that apparently is planning, Dr. Hotez, to authorize Pfizer's vaccine booster doses for all adults 18 and over by Friday here in the United States. Are you optimistic this will help prevent what we fear could be a winter surge?

HOTEZ: Yes, provided enough people buy in and get that third immunization. We've seen the data coming out of Israel. That third immunization seems to restore the ability of the vaccine to not only halt hospitalizations and deaths, but also even transmission and the infection as well. There was a paper in the New England Journal and another in the Lancet. So I'm very excited about three doses.

But, you know, to really halt this pandemic in the United States, it's going to need 85 percent of the U.S. population vaccinated, not the adults but the full population. So all of the adults, all of the adolescents. And we have to redefine what full vaccination means. Three doses of either the two mRNA and two of the J&J and we can do it, but people have to be willing to accept it. We're losing too many unvaccinated Americans right now.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly are. It's not going away, sadly. Dr. Peter Hotez, thanks as usual for joining us.

Coming up, a very tense confrontation turns violent as Polish forces use water cannons and tear gas after migrants begin throwing rocks. We have a live update from the Poland-Belarus border after this.



BLITZER: A very dangerous situation along the border of Poland and Belarus is getting worse. Today, violence broke out at a border crossing Polish security forces are blocking migrants who are desperate to cross into the European Union and being encouraged by the regime of Belarus. CNN's Matthew Chance is on the Belarus side of the border for us. Matthew, you were there as the situation erupted and exploded, tell us what happened.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very dramatic scenes, Wolf, on that border between Belarus and

Poland with the migrants who have been kept in very, very tough conditions for over a week, finally, kind of losing their temper is essentially getting so frustrated and the anger boiling over resulting in violence. So picking up stones, throwing them towards the Polish border security guards on the other side of the fence inside Poland and inside the European Union.

Sticks -- you know, running towards the fence as well trying to breach it by force, that was responded to by the Poles with force themselves. They push the protesters back, the migrants back. They used water cannons to spray, you know, high pressure hoses against the crowds. I was caught up in it myself and some of the water had a sort of an acrid sort of pepper component to it. And so it stung your eyes and stung your lips and things like that.

It was effective, though, because essentially after being subjected to that kind of treatment at the hands of the Polish border security forces, the protests eventually fizzled out. Now, the Belarusians, of course, had been accused of manipulating the situation of orchestrating this migrant crisis in order to create a humanitarian incident or catastrophe on the border to punish Europe perhaps for the sanctions they've imposed against Belarusian, to warn them about the chaos that could ensue if they get on the wrong side of Belarusians, they push it too far.

And I didn't see who started this. I didn't see any sign of the Belarusians urging these migrants to attack, but they didn't intervene either. And right up until the end, then security forces reporting from the Belarusian side and the migrants sort of dissipated and the violence came to an end, Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Matthew, be careful over there. We'll stay in close touch with you. You're doing excellent, excellent reporting for all of us. Appreciate it very much.

Coming up, more subpoenas expected soon from the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. But will it be able to get what it wants from former President Trump's former White House Chief Staff?



BLITZER: Happening now, the January 6 Select Committee is about to take another shot of getting what it wants from former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The panels still trying to figure out how to deal with Meadows defiance as it prepares to issue a new round of subpoenas. Also tonight, the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse is being decided by a jury on this, the first day of deliberations in his homicide trial. Will jurors keep going into the night? We're going to have the latest on what's happening at the courthouse.