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Attorney General Vows Accountability For 1/6 Perpetrators At Any Level; CDC Vaccine Advisers Endorse Boosters For Kids As Young As 12; World's Number One Tennis Star Denied Entry In Australia Over Vaccine Exemption; Officials See Uptick In Violent Rhetoric Ahead Of Capitol Riot Commemorations But No Specific Plot; Philadelphia Row House Fire Kills 13, Including 7 Children. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 05, 2022 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, on the eve of the January 6th commemorations, the United States attorney general is vowing to hold everyone behind the riot accountable at any level and no matter how long it takes. I'll speak with a key member of the select committee investigating the insurrection, Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Also breaking news this hour, CDC advisers have just moments ago endorsed booster shots for Americans as young as 12. This as the president of the American Medical Association is now calling the revised CDC isolation rules confusing and counterproductive. He will join us live.

Also breaking, the world's number one tennis star is denied entry into Australia and is ordered to leave the country after a lengthy standoff with government officials over his COVID vaccine exemption.

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

We begin with breaking news in the insurrection investigation. I want to go straight to our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. Paula, update our viewers. What are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just moments ago, CNN spotted former Trump White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham arriving on Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers investigating January 6th.

Now, earlier today, the attorney general provided a rare update on his department's investigation into the Capitol attack and his remarks come amid growing calls for him to do more, and specifically to examine the role of former President Trump and his associates in the insurrection.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good afternoon. REID (voice over): Attorney General Merrick Garland said today the Justice Department is committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level accountable.

GARLAND: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.

REID: This speech comes amid growing calls for him to do more.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): I think Merrick Garland has been extremely weak and I think there should be a lot more of the organizers of January 6th that should be arrested by now.

REID: The nation's top law enforcement official today vowing their work is not done.

GARLAND: Our answer is and will continue to be the same answer we would give with respect to any ongoing investigation, as long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done.

REID: The Justice Department work runs parallel to the House select committee investigation. Lawmakers on that panel say they are looking at whether Trump may have committed a federal crime by obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and could make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, and they continue to bring in witnesses. Former Trump White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham arrived on Capitol Hill this evening to meet with lawmakers.

Their meeting follows an in-depth phone call she had with committee member Jamie Raskin, a source telling CNN Grisham shared candid details about what was going on inside the White House during the insurrection, including conversations involving Trump.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I was hearing from some people that he was in the dining room watching and enjoying that people were fighting for him, and I just couldn't -- I couldn't watch what was happening to our Capitol.

REID: Grisham became the first Trump official to resign in the wake of the attack, stepping down on the afternoon of January 6th. She later recalled in her memoire that she sent First Lady Melania Trump a text that said, do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of American but there is no place for lawlessness and violence, to which Trump replied, no. Her cooperation comes as the committee also targets other Trump allies, like Fox News Host Sean Hannity, former Vice President Mike Pence and now we're learning radio host Sebastian Gorka, subpoenaing his cell phone records.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: The most powerful and one of the greatest presidents we've ever had.

REID: Gorka is suing the committee and Verizon to block that request. His lawyer arguing that, unlike other targets, he wasn't involved in planning events on January 6th and only observed speeches at The Ellipse, like any other spectator.


REID: Garland in his remarks today also addressed what he sees as broader attacks to democracy, including attacks against judges, police and journalists, and also legislative enactments that make it harder for millions of Americans to vote. He notes that most of those legislative efforts came following the big lie that the election was stolen.



BLITZER: All right. Paula, thank you very much, Paula Reid reporting.

Let's discuss this and more with Congressman Jamie Raskin. He is a key member of the January 6th select committee. He is also the author of a very timely, brand-new book, there you see the cover, entitled Unthinkable, Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks so much for writing this book.

I want to get to all of the news in just a moment, but let me start by once again expressing my deepest condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son, Tommy. You buried him I know a year ago today, and you write about him in your new book. First of all, how are you doing and how would you like him to be remembered on this day?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, thank you for asking, Wolf. Thank you for having me. We are hanging tough as a family and we have great friends and we have great neighbors and wonderful constituents of mine here in Maryland's eighth district. So, we're doing okay and we're able to talk about Tommy without dissolving into tears and agony.

But we want him to be remembered as a beautiful young man with a perfect heart who loved this world and wanted nothing but the best for the people of this world. And he, of course, succumbed to depression, but he hoped for a world that would get beyond fascism and beyond hunger and beyond war. He was really like a messenger from the future who came to talk to us about what life could be like. So, he expected a lot more from American democracy, not a lot less from it.

BLITZER: Yes. And as we say, may his memory be a blessing.

Let's discuss what's going on right now. You are a key member of the January 6th select committee. Let me ask you about Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump press secretary's meeting with the committee tonight, which comes as a result of your encouraging her to come in. Why is her insight, Congressman, into what happened on January 6th so important?

RASKIN: Well, we're trying to fill in the picture and there were a lot of people like Stephanie Grisham who were aware of what was happening, who tried to move events in a more positive and less dangerous direction, and everybody is part of this jigsaw puzzle. So, she was very good, the way that most of the witnesses are being, about coming forward and saying, of course, they will render truthful, honest testimony, as the Supreme Court has said everybody has got to do when Congress comes calling or a court comes calling. This is a civic and legal duty. And also, as most people see it, it is an honor to be able to serve the country in this way because we've got to fortify the institutions of democracy against violent insurrection and authoritarian attacks from the outside.

BLITZER: And if we don't learn exactly what happened, we're bound to repeat that horrible, horrible situation. That's why what you and the select committee are doing are so, so important.

We learned yesterday, congressman, that the committee also wants to speak with Sean Hannity of Fox about his interactions with the former president, both before and after January 6th. Will the committee -- will the committee subpoena him if he does not come in voluntarily?

RASKIN: Well, we haven't made that decision yet, but, you know, if two people were crossing the street and one is a truck driver and one is a news commentator and they see a car accident and they are fact witnesses to an event and they're subpoenaed to come in, both of them have to come in. There's no general exception from having to render truthful testimony that goes to members of the press or to politicians or to friends of powerful people.

Under the rule of law, everybody has got to testify. That's how we make due process work and that's how the justice system operates.

BLITZER: What about the former vice president, Mike Pence, who the select committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, says the committee also wants to talk to? Is the committee prepared to subpoena him if necessary?

RASKIN: Again, we haven't made that decision. Vice President Pence was a hero and a constitutional patriot on January 6th itself when he properly executed the duties of the vice president, despite a massive pressure campaign being leveled against him by Donald Trump and his acolytes to try to force Pence to declare unknown powers of the vice president, simply to nullify Electoral College votes from the states. So, he did the right thing.

Since then, of course, he has tried to curry favor with the president and his political forces and he has got every right to do that, but he doesn't have a right not to render truthful and honest testimony, and I'm certain that he will recognize his legal duty and his constitutional obligation to come and tell us everything that happened with truth and with honesty.


BLITZER: We'll see how that unfolds. In your new book, Unthinkable, which I have gone through, it is really, really excellent. You write about the work of the select committee, that if, in your words, if we cannot get the past right, we will get the future all wrong. That's a direct quote. Will there be specific recommendations in any final report to ensure we don't get the future wrong and that any future coup attempts will fail?

RASKIN: Well, absolutely. It is part of our charge not just to render an exhaustive and painstaking report on exactly what happened and why, but also to make recommendations about how to fortify American democracy going forward in the future.

So, there was a realm of a mass wild demonstration, as Donald Trump put it, that turned into a riot. There was the realm of the insurrection with the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and the militia groups and the Aryan nations, and that was an organized, violent insurrection against the union. And then there was the realm of the coup where they tried to exploit various weaknesses in the Electoral College system to propound a seizure of the president by Donald Trump.

We're going to have to address the problems in each level there. We are going to have to talk about the social media. We are going to have to talk about how to defend ourselves against domestic, violent extremism, which is the number one terror threat domestically in the country. And we are going to have to learn how to defend the whole electoral system, voting rights, the integrity of the election, the Electoral College process, against these kinds of attacks. So, that's a complicated task that's facing the committee, but we are determined to do that as well as getting all of the information to the American people and to the Congress.

BLITZER: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks so much for joining us. Once again, thanks for writing Unthinkable. a really important book, Unthinkable, Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy. I appreciate it very much. We will stay in close touch with you.

RASKIN: Thank you much.

BLITZER: And stay with CNN. Tomorrow, I will be anchoring CNN's special live coverage of the January 6th commemorations beginning at 8:45 A.M. Eastern, as President Biden gets ready to address the nation from Statuary Hall over at the U.S. Congress. And this also another important note, Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper will host a special January 6th, One Year Later, at 8:00 P.M. Eastern tomorrow night.

Just ahead, there's breaking news. Millions of American kids 12 and older could be on the verge of getting booster shots after a CDC advisory panel just moments ago cleared the way.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Breaking news, a CDC advisory panel just gave the green light to COVID booster shots for all children, age 12 and older.

Let's get straight CNN's Alexandra Field in New York City for us. Alexandra, this is a big step for millions of American teenagers. Tell us more. ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, something that parents have been waiting for. And, look, the CDC director will still have to sign off in order to make these extra shots possible for children as young as 12, but there are still major hurdles to clear. We know that the boosters are an important weapon in the arsenal when it comes to the fight against COVID, but, Wolf, you have to take into consideration the fact fewer than half of the people who qualify for boosters nationwide have gone ahead and gotten those shots.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: Individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they've received their primary series. That definition is not changing.

FIELD (voice over): No plans to change the definition of fully vaccinated, the White House says, even as there's new evidence of the efficacy of boosters, lowering the chance of death by an additional 90 percent, according to data shared by the CDC, even as eligible people are encouraged to get boosted.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you are vaccinated and boosted, you are highly protected.

FIELD: And on the question of how long infected people need to isolate, more confusion today.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I wish the CDC would just come out and say, hey, we don't have enough tests. We really should have enough tests, and then you can test your way out of isolation.

FIELD: Instead, the CDC issuing updated guidance, suggesting that people in isolation who have access to a test could test after five days. If positive, then isolate for five more days. But the CDC says, if you don't test after five days of isolation, then just wear a mask for five more days.

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: So if there were an abundant and overly abundant supply of rapid tests, I think we would be approaching this differently. You know, we might all be getting up in the morning and doing our rapid test before going to work, before sending our kids off to school. And if they're negative, we are out and about, feeling better.

FIELD: 96 percent of schools across the country are open, according to the White House, which is urging schools to stay open and to use billions of federal dollars to keep students safe. But in Chicago, the nation's third largest district, there's no school today, virtual or in-person, for more than 340,000 students. The teachers union voting to go remote, the district canceling all classes in response.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-CHICAGO, IL): Let me remind you about what the consequences of moving an entire urban district to remote learning are. And we simply can't ignore the realities of the history that we experienced through 2020 and 2021. FIELD: Amid a critical shortage of tests, new federal test sites are set to open in six states. The half billion free at-home kits promised by the Biden administration, delayed.


As new COVID cases now average over half a million daily and they're climbing fast, and hospitalizations are surpassing the delta peak last September and approaching an all-time high set last January.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The sheer volume of the number of cases that may be a reduced severity, but could still stress our hospital system.


FIELD (on camera): And, Wolf, the list of COVID-related cancelations grows longer every day. The Grammy Awards show now postponed with no new date set. The organizers saying there's simply too much uncertainty around the omicron variant and the whole thing just comes with too much risk right now. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, second year in a row for that. All right, Alexandra Field in New York, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well as president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gerald Harmon. Doctor, thank you, both of you, for joining me.

Sanjay, let me start with the breaking news, CDC advisers just a little while ago recommending expanding boosters for Americans as young as 12 years old. Sanjay, how significant is this development?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, on a personal note, I have two children that fall into that category, so they will be getting their booster shots. My older daughter already got hers. She is 16. So, I think it will make a difference for people who qualify.

Here is the issue, Wolf. I think we are talking overall in the country about 5 percent of the population, and of that 5 percent -- these are people between the ages of 12 and 15 -- only about half have already gotten their first two shots. So, you know, it is a relatively small percentage that we're talking about that are going to be impacted by this.

So, it is good for them, you know, to be able to get this added protection, but the real problem still, Wolf, whether it is children or adults is still primarily the unvaccinated. This is giving another layer of protection to people who already have pretty good protection. That's good. That's important, but when you look at the numbers on the right side of the screen in terms of the hospitalizations in particular, those are primarily people who are unvaccinated completely, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's absolutely true. Dr. Harmon, let me ask you about the new isolation guidance we have received from the CDC. You say it is, and I am quoting you now, confusing and counterproductive. So, what are they getting wrong?

DR. GERALD HARMON, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, it is a good point, Wolf. And to your point, what we at the AMA have is a concern that if you are going to end a period of isolation after an active COVID infection, it would be nice to have, in fact, we would recommend a valid negative COVID test, an antigen test, a rapid test in order to ensure that you are no longer shedding the virus, no longer transmissible and you tend to validate you are not contagious before you go back into your workforce, your family and potentially spread the virus more.

BLITZER: Yes, I think that's significant as well. Sanjay, you have a new essay on this issue coming out soon on about how the CDC is missing the mark on these guidelines. What do you see as the main failure here?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, I completely agree with Dr. Harmon here on the fact that this is confusing. I mean, there's a couple of things. I don't know if we have this graph, Wolf. I want to show you one of the studies they actually looked at to determine how contagious are you on what day after you have been diagnosed with COVID.

So, we're talking about day five here. That's when they say, look, day five, you could potentially be ending your isolation. Well, we know on day five, 31 percent, roughly a third of people are still contagious. So, if those people, as the doctor mentioned, aren't getting tested, that's potentially putting a lot of people out into the public that could potentially transmit the virus. So, the fact that you don't have testing, the fact that there's still a significant percentage that could be contagious at that point I think is of concern.

And I would add to that, Wolf, that the masks issue, you know, we've talked about this a lot, but CDC is still saying, you know, three-ply cloth masks are okay. Omicron spreads very easily from person to person, and being able to have these masks, N-95 or KN-95 masks, which are more plentifully available now, I think, is really important now. If you are going to wear a mask, which you should, you should wear a good mask. So, those are three areas where I think the message could be a lot clearer and more effective.

BLITZER: Yes. And that's also an excellent point.

Dr. Harmon, you say the CDC's ambiguous guidance could allow this virus to spread further. Just how real are the consequences of this messaging failure?

HARMON: Well, this isn't an AMA versus a CDC issue. From what you heard to Dr. Gupta's point, what we're after is if you have a COVID infection, we want to make sure before you resume your day-to-day activities and spread this virus, and it is a highly transmissible virus with consequences, it would be nice to have a validating negative test to know you are safe and you have a substantially lowered risk of spreading the virus.


If you put these folks back into the workplace -- and I understand the forces that are driving this, we want folks to get back to a sense of normalcy, we want them to be in the workforce, we want them to be in the health care workforce. Goodness, we have enough shortages across the spectrum. But when they go back, we don't want them to spread the virus and then further impact the negative workforce issue.

BLITZER: Dr. Gerald Harmon and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to both doctors, thank you very, very much for all you are doing. Thanks very much for joining us.

Coming up, how the Capitol police are still struggling a year after the insurrection up on Capitol Hill. I'll speak with a former police officer who was beaten by the rioters on January 6th. He says there's a crisis of leadership.

And what happens now that the world's top-ranked tennis player has had his visa canceled by Australia after initially being granted a COVID vaccine exemption to compete in the Australian Open?



BLITZER: Tonight, the U.S. Capitol police chief says his department is being challenged to keep up with a slew of threats against lawmakers one year after the January 6th insurrection.

Brian Todd is up on Capitol Hill watching what is going on. Brian, we are told there's progress being made, but some critics are warning it isn't enough. What is the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there has been some back and forth between the new Capitol police chief, Tom Manger, and a government watchdog overseeing reforms. They do disagree on whether enough has been done. But on the eve of the anniversary, the chief is expressing strong confidence in his force.


TODD (voice over): A year after U.S. Capitol police battled insurrectionists at the Capitol, the new chief of that force, Tom Manger, aims to reassure an anxious city.

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Today, I'm confident that the U.S. Capitol Police Department has made significant progress addressing the deficiencies that impacted the department's response on January 6th.

TODD: Critics have said that's a low bar for a force that was overrun that day. Chief Manger telling lawmakers and reporters the weakest links in the Capitol police leading to the breakdowns on January 6th were his top priorities since he took command in July.

MANGER: We are sharing information better. We are assigning responsibilities. People know what their responsibilities are. And we have backups to each one of the different commanders.

TODD: But a government watchdog is calling for more progress, saying last month, only 30 of his 104 recommendations had been implemented so far.

MICHAEL BOLTON, INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Much work still needs to be addressed in relation to training, intelligence, cultural change and operational planning.

TODD: Manger counters that a vast majority of those recommendations have at least been addressed in some form. One challenge, staffing. The chief telling CNN they are about 450 officers short of the number they need.

MANGER: I think it is going to take us at least two to three years to get up to our staffing in terms of hiring new officers.

TODD: At least 130 officers have retired or left the department since January 6th, according to the force.

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So if you want a well- trained officer, it probably takes six to eight months to background and get the right person into the queue and then another six months to get them into training.

TODD: The chief also reporting that 2021 was a disturbing year, with about 9,600 threats recorded against lawmakers, threats he says that are continuing.

MANGER: The biggest challenge I think we have is keeping up with the number of threats. I mean, we -- we have -- we have doubled the number of officers that investigate these threats.

TODD: Manger says many of the threats come in the form of emails, phone calls, social media posts, but some over the past year were more direct. Democratic Congresswoman Norma Torres told us last summer after she had a political dispute over Twitter with the president of El Salvador, she received multiple threats, then an anonymous video, a man's voice narrating it.

REP. NORMA TORRES (D-CA): He stated that he was following me and he panned out to a blue vehicle, which I had. I owned a blue SUV. And he said that he was following me and then panned down to his gun and said that he had something for me.


TODD (on camera): Congresswoman Torres' office now tells us the direct threats against her like that one have ramped down since last summer, but they say that she is still getting near constant online harassment related to her work on immigration.

Now, as for any possible threats to the Capitol here tomorrow on the anniversary, the chief tells us there are no major red flags at the moment but they are keeping an eye on a protest vigil that is expected tomorrow at the nearby D.C. jail connected to people who are being held in relation to the January 6th, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll have extensive coverage of all the events tomorrow. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Let's discuss right now with former D.C. police officer, Michael Fanone, who was dragged and beaten by rioters while defending the U.S. Capitol back on January 6th. He is now a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. Michael, thanks so much for joining us.

We are looking at some video. I want to show our viewers some video right now of you being attacked by the insurrectionists back on January 6th, a year ago. How are you doing now one year later?

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT: I don't know. I have got mixed emotions. I mean, physically, psychologically, I think I'm doing 100 percent better than I was, you know, four months, six months, eight months and obviously a year ago. But, I mean, this week has proven to be difficult.


BLITZER: Totally understandable. You say Capitol police, and you know many of them are still experiencing what you call a crisis of leadership, exactly who are you talking about?

FANONE: I'm talking about command level officials. Not all of them, but quite a few. There is a complete and total breakdown and failure amongst the executive level leadership within the United States Capitol police, and that's something that I witnessed firsthand. And it has not been addressed. I continue to speak to many of my brothers and sisters at the United States Capitol Police, and they've expressed to me the reality that they don't have confidence in their leadership.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a serious problem obviously. You just heard our Brian Todd report, Michael, that at least 130 officers have either retired or left the department since January 6th of last year. Can the department be effective when they're actually losing so many police officers?

FANONE: No, absolutely not. I mean, I understand the difficulty of Chief Manger's job now post-January 6th, and I think it would be incredibly difficult for him to come out and say that his department was not prepared. But I find it incredibly difficult to believe that their department is prepared, much like any department would be prepared, for a situation like January 6th when you are dealing with staff shortages at that extreme level.

BLITZER: Yes, that's important. Michael Fanone, thanks so much for joining us. We will discuss much more on all of this certainly tomorrow and in the days ahead.

Just ahead, there's breaking news coming in right now. Australia now ordering the world's number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, to leave the country just before the Australian Open. We have details on all of the controversy over his vaccination status and we'll share those with you right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: We have more breaking news we are following. The world's top men's tennis player, Novak Djokovic, is being ordered to leave Australia right now just before the country's Australian Open, one of the biggest tournaments of the year. Djokovic reportedly failed to apply for a visa that would permit a medical exemption for being unvaccinated.

CNN's Sports Analyst Christine Brennan is joining us right now. Christine, can you give us more details about what exactly is going on here?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, this is really something, and I'm sure the most surprised person on earth is Djokovic who probably was just going to saunter into Australia and be at the Australian Open and try to win his tenth Australian Open, but no. The Australian authorities, the tennis officials running the Australian Open, Wolf, gave Djokovic that exemption, not being vaccinated, to go ahead and be able to compete. And that's what he heard and then at that point he got on the plane. When he landed in Melbourne, he found out that he was going to go into a room where he was being interviewed by the border authorities. He did not have the right documentation, they said, to get into the country on a medical exemption.

There's a lot of questions today, and now, you know, obviously all around the tennis world and also around the world in general about how much pressure was put on the Australian government, because the moment, Wolf, that he was announced -- it was announced that he was going to get his waiver -- as we know, Australia has been through a lot and Melbourne in particular had 260 straight days of quarantine at one point in lockdown, and there was an outcry that was extraordinary. And that very well may have played a part in the political side of this where the politicians and the prime minister said, no go, you're not getting into the country.

BLITZER: Because you're making an important point, this certainly isn't coming out of nowhere. Djokovic has been very outspoken about his opposition to vaccines and vaccine mandates, right?

BRENNAN: Yes, he has. Cavalier. He doesn't -- he said it is personal and private. Obviously, though, he has to, I guess, understand that the Australians have their rules as well and he may not like all of those. There were videos of him dancing during the early days of the pandemic in 2020, not keeping socially distant and basically just kind of sloughing off the whole thing.

So, yes, he has acted like a lot of these pampered, rich, multimillion dollar athletes who think the rules don't pertain to them. And so, all of a sudden, shock of all shocks, he is now being sent home and kicked out of Australia. At least that's the latest. And he has no one to blame but himself. If he's not vaccinated, which apparently it is, he has never said that publicly, then it is his fault. It is all his fault. And one would think if you want to play tennis enough that you might actually decide to do what millions and millions of people have done and get vaccinated, but, no, and now he's going to pay a very big price for that.

BLITZER: How do you expect he is going to respond to this rejection?

BRENNAN: Well, he's a hot-headed guy, and so I don't think it is going to be good. Wolf, I have a feeling he is not a happy camper, and to be held in a room, guarded room overnight and not told anything and then kicked out of a country is probably not exactly what he was thinking when he got on that plane to come to the Australian Open and be feted as the great champion, defending champion that he is. But an ignominious disgraceful and ending for him, and they say he will appeal. Maybe he will. I have no idea how he exactly he's going to appeal. But the Australians seem to be standing firm and really showing everyone else how to stand against people who will not be vaccinated, especially in a country that has been hit so hard and has been so careful and so diligent, as the Australians have.

BLITZER: He won't mince any words I'm sure. All right, Christine, thank you very, very much, Christine Brennan helping us appreciate the severity of what is going on.

Coming up, a new snapshot of the violence here in America a year after the Capitol insurrection and what the government should be doing to try to stop the rise of hate in our country.



BLITZER: Tonight, federal officials are reporting an uptick in violent rhetoric just ahead of tomorrow's commemorations of the January 6th riot, but say there is nothing to suggest a coordinated plan or a specific threat at least not now.

We are joined by the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt. He's also the author of an important new book entitled, "It Could Happen Here: Why America is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable, and How We Can Stop It".


Jonathan, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for writing this book.

Imagine, this uptick in violent rhetoric comes -- imagine it comes as no surprise to you, especially given the book you have just written. But what does this new report tell you about where we are as a country right now one year after the insurrection?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Well, Wolf, I think we are actually at a very perilous moment. I mean, who would have imagined in some ways that you would see this terror attack on our nation's Capitol? That's really what it was. Perhaps, the most predictable terror attack in American history because they told us they were going do it. But in fact, you could predict it, Wolf, because there was sort of a

through line from Charlottesville to Capitol Hill. From -- from Charleston to Pittsburgh, you have seen the normalization of extremism in this country. You have seen the rise of anti-Semitism in this country. You have seen the kind of racism and polarization on the ground that's deeply scary.

So, in a world in which we see rising extremism on the far right and politicians who excuse me and a kind of increasing illiberalism from the far left, and again, politicians who excuse it. That leaves all of us in really tough shape.

BLITZER: In your new book, you write s and I am quoting now, you write our society is becoming more vulnerable by the day to hate on both the left and the right. You say both our government and all of us, as individuals, have a role to play in stopping all this hate that's exploding out there. Tell us how we do that.

GREENBLATT: Well, look, I think this is really important. There is no silver bullet that will stop the rise of hate or that even will prevent us from tearing the social fabric.

Wolf, this is an all hands on deck moment and we need an all of society strategy to tackle it. I -- this is the reason why I wrote the book. It's filled with ADL strategies and tactics and tips. Based on what we have seen after 100 years of fighting hate and it lays out a blueprint, so what can citizens do, what can businesses do, what can faith leaders do? What can parents and teachers do?

And let me just give you a quick, couple examples. Number one, we have got to speak out when hate happens. Even when it originates on our side of the aisle, so to speak, right? We need conservatives to call it out and liberals to call it out.

Number two, Wolf, we got to cancel "cancel culture". We got to lose the litmus tests. My Jewish faith tells me everyone can be redeemed. Everyone has an opportunity to amend for their errors.

And number three, Wolf, I really think we have talked about on your show before, social media. We have really got to curve the excesses and the algorithms that are literally engineered to inflame people. That's got to be corrected, once and for all.

BLITZER: Those are such important points and I am so glad you wrote this really important book. It could happen here and the title is so, so scary, "Why America is Tipping from Hate to the Unthinkable and How We Can Stop It".

Jonathan Greenblatt, thanks for writing the book. Thanks for joining us.

GREENBLATT: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have much more news just ahead, including an update on a deadly row house fire in Philadelphia that killed at least 13 people, including seven children. Stand by for details.



BLITZER: We are learning heartbreaking new details about a deadly fire that tore through a Philadelphia row house early this morning, killing 13 people and including seven children.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is on the scene for us in Philadelphia.

What're you learning, Evan?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, things are changing here in this tragic situation here in Philadelphia. Just in the past few minutes, we have seen fire trucks that have been here for 12 hours since that blaze was first called in around 6:40 this morning, leave, leaving investigators to take over the scene.

What those investigators are facing is a truly horrific scene of a fire that left, as you mentioned, 13 people dead, including seven children. Twenty-six people in a two-family house.

Earlier today, the deputy fire commissioner talked about just how rough and how scary that fire was.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER CRAIG MURPHY, PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT: The fire was extinguished, and it was a terrible -- it was terrible. Most -- I have been around for 30, 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires I've ever been to.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That emotion from the fire commissioner there, that I have been hearing all day here as I have been here at this scene. And now that the fire is out, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

One, why are there 26 people in a two-family house owned and operated by the public-housing authority here in Philadelphia? How the fire start? How did it spread so fast? And why were there four inoperable, not working smoke detectors inside that house?

Authorities say they are going to do a thorough investigation that starts now. Hoping to get some of those answers, Wolf.

BLITZER: I understand, Evan, two people are still hospitalized. What are you learning?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That's right, so when the fire department got here, they were able to get eight people out of that house before the fire took over and killed those other people, unfortunately. We know that two people -- one child and one adult -- are at two separate hospitals here in the city. Police say they are in stable but critical condition, Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan McMorris-Santoro in Philadelphia, thank you very much. I will be back tomorrow morning, 8:45 Eastern to anchor CNN's special live coverage when President Biden marks the one-year anniversary of the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The White House says the president will be blunt -- blunt -- in blaming Trump.

Until then, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.