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State of the Union

Interview With New York City Mayor Eric Adams; Interview With Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 09, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Massive consequences? Russian aggression overseas setting up a key test for President Biden.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.

TAPPER: And, with democracy in peril at home, does the U.S. have leverage? I will speak to Secretary of State Antony Blinken next.

And school wars. With thousands of kids across the U.S. back to virtual learning, New York's new mayor is drawing a line.

ERIC ADAMS (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We can't continue to hurt the education of our children.

TAPPER: As Omicron spreads, how can schools make it work? New York City Mayor Eric Adams joins me to discuss ahead.

Plus: terrorist attack. On the anniversary of an insurrection, one Republican lawmaker backpedaled, while other pushed for truth.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That's how democracies die.

TAPPER: Are we doing enough to stop that? I will speak to a prominent Republican, Governor Asa Hutchinson, in moments.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is having Cold War flashbacks.

The U.S. is entering a series of urgent meetings with Russia this week at one of the most precarious moments with that nation since the fall of the Soviet Union.

On Monday, U.S. official also meet with their Russian counterparts in Geneva in an attempt to de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine, which Russia appears poised to invade, with nearly 100,000 troops stationed on the border of Ukraine and the ability to quickly mobilize twice that many. Following the bilateral meetings in Geneva, representatives from NATO

will meet with a Russian delegation in Brussels. The stakes of these meetings are incredibly high. The U.S. is warning of steep sanctions if Russia moves forward to invade. And there are already concerns the Russians are not remotely entering the negotiations in good faith.

Joining me now to discuss is Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Secretary Blinken, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's start on these talks beginning tomorrow in Geneva, President Putin demanding that the U.S. pull some troops back out of Eastern Europe and rule out expanding NATO to include Ukraine. Are either of those on the negotiating table?

BLINKEN: Neither of those is on the table, Jake, but here's where we are.

There are two paths before us. There's a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation. The other path is -- is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine.

We're about to test the proposition about which path President Putin is prepared to take. We have important conversations between us starting -- starting tomorrow, as well as -- at NATO, as well as at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

We're going to listen to Russia's concerns. They're going to have to listen to our concerns. If they are proceeding in good faith, we think we can make progress in addressing concerns on both sides that would reduce tensions and deal with improving security.

We will do that in close coordination with European allies and partners. We have made very clear to Russia that there's going to be nothing about Europe without Europe. But, ultimately, this is up to President Putin to decide which path he's going to follow.

TAPPER: It seems unlikely Putin will withdraw troops or take at least some of them off the border without some concessions by the U.S.

You have already said that those two that I mentioned up top are off the table -- or not on the table. What about moving heavy U.S. weaponry out of Poland, moving it further west? Or what about moving missiles? What about limiting the scope of U.S. military exercise? Are any of those on the table?

BLINKEN: Look, first, Jake, I don't think we're going to see any breakthroughs in the coming -- in the coming week.

We're going to be able to put things on the table. The Russians will do the same, both directly with us at NATO, at the OSCE. And we will see if they're grounds for moving forward.

But here's what I can say. First, any progress that we're going to make is going to have to happen on a reciprocal basis, by which I mean, if the United States and Europe are taking steps to address some of Russia's concerns, Russia will have to do the same thing.

Second, nothing's happening without Europe. And, third, it's hard to see making actual progress, as opposed to talking, in an atmosphere of escalation with a gun to Ukraine's head. So, if we're actually going to make progress, we're going to have to see de-escalation, Russia pulling back from the threat that it currently poses to Ukraine.

TAPPER: So you didn't rule any of those out, which doesn't mean you're going to do them, but just they're not off the table, as the earlier items you said were.

So, let me just ask you, going forward, if those concessions are a possibility, you must -- we -- possibilities -- you must be worried about creating a precedent in which Putin at any moment can throw 100,000 troops on a border and threaten to invade a country until the U.S. gives him at least some of what he wants, the very scenario you referred to when you said Russia had a gun to Ukraine's head.

BLINKEN: Yes, it's -- Jake, it's exactly the opposite.

First of all, why are we here? We're here because, repeatedly, over the last decade, Russia has committed acts of aggression against neighbors Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine in 2014, and now the renewed threat about Ukraine today.

Second, there are large principles at stake that go to the fundamentals of international peace and security, the principle that one country can't change the borders of another by force, the principle that one country can't dictate to another its foreign policy and the choices -- and its choices, including with whom it will associate, the principle that one country can't exert a sphere of influence to subjugate its neighbors.


All of that is on the table. That's exactly why not only are we standing up, but we have rallied countries not just in Europe, but indeed beyond, to make it clear to Russia that this aggression will not be accepted, will not be tolerated, will not stand. So, the choice is Russia.

It's also not about making concessions. It's about seeing whether, in the context of dialogue and diplomacy, there are things that both sides, all sides can do to reduce tensions. We have done that in the past. We did it with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty that, unfortunately, Russia has violated and the previous administration pulled out of.

We have done it in the context of the conventional forces in Europe agreements, including, for example, having confidence-building and transparency and other measures put in place on the way exercises take place. And those are certainly things that can be revisited...

TAPPER: Right.

BLINKEN: ... if, if Russia is serious about doing it. TAPPER: So, you say the U.S. will respond with massive consequences

to any Russian aggression in Ukraine.

President Biden has ruled out U.S. unilateral troops on the ground. What sanctions is the U.S. willing to impose? And are U.S. troops as part of a NATO or international force on the table?

BLINKEN: Well, first, when it comes to consequences, it's not just us who have been saying this.

The G7, the leading democratic economies in the world, have made clear there would be massive consequences for renewed Russian aggression. So has the European Union. So has NATO. And we have been working very closely with all of these countries in recent weeks to elaborate those, to come to agreement on the steps that we would take together in the event of renewed Russian aggression, including things that we have not done in the past in the face of previous Russian aggression, economic, financial, other measures.

I'm not going to telegraph the details, but I think Russia has a pretty good idea of the kinds of things it would face if it renews its aggression.

Second, we have made clear that we will continue to provide and supply Ukraine with defensive military equipment to be able to defend itself. And it's also clear that, in the event of further Russian aggression, NATO is going to have to further reinforce its eastern flank.

And, Jake, what's interesting about all of this is that President Putin talks about lots of things he's concerned about.

TAPPER: Right.

BLINKEN: And yet the very actions he's taken have precipitated much of what he says he wants to prevent.

Back in 2014, before Russia invaded Ukraine, 25 percent of Ukrainians supported Ukraine joining NATO. Now it's about 60 percent.

TAPPER: Right.

BLINKEN: Similarly, after 2014, NATO felt compelled, because of Russian aggression, to put more forces and more equipment on its eastern flank close to Russia.

So, it's President Putin's actions that are precipitating what he says he doesn't want.


BLINKEN: There's now an opportunity, if he takes it, through dialogue, through diplomacy to see if we can address any legitimate Russian concerns, as well as address many concerns that the United States and Europe have over Russia's conduct.

TAPPER: Right. Beyond this military buildup on the Ukraine border, Russian-led troops

are now intervening in violent protests in Kazakstan. They also stepped in after recent Belarus elections and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said a few years ago that what he believes drives Putin is a desire to restore the old Soviet Union.

Do you agree?

BLINKEN: I think that's right.

I think that's one of President Putin's objectives. And it is to re- exert a sphere of influence over countries that previously were part of the Soviet Union. And, as we have said, that's unacceptable. We can't go back to a world of spheres of influence. That was a recipe for instability, a recipe for conflict...


BLINKEN: ... a recipe that led to world wars. We're not going to back to that.

TAPPER: Do you think the invasion is likely? Do you think an invasion of Ukraine is likely?

BLINKEN: Look, I can't tell you whether it's likely or not.

I can tell you this. We're committed to dialogue and diplomacy to see if we can resolve these challenges peacefully. That is by far the preferable course. It's by far the most responsible course.

But, equally, we're prepared to deal very resolutely with Russia if it chooses confrontation, if it chooses aggression. We will see. It is now up to President Putin to decide which path he wants to follow. We're prepared again...


BLINKEN: ... starting this week, to talk through all of this, to hear their concerns, for them to hear ours, to see if we can make progress.

TAPPER: So, Kazakstan's president is publicly saying that he gave an order -- quote -- "to open fire," to kill without warning the protesters in the street.

President Biden said in October that your administration -- quote -- "put human rights back at the center of our foreign policy" and -- quote -- "No U.S. president should stand by when human rights are under attack."

They're under attack in Kazakstan. At least 164 people were killed during protests this weekend.

BLINKEN: Yes, I condemn that statement and, if that's the national policy, condemn that policy, the shoot to kill. Look, I spoke to my counterpart in Kazakstan just a couple of days ago. The authorities in Kazakstan should be able to deal with the challenges that they're facing peacefully are protected, to protect the institutions of the state and law and order, but to do it in a way that is rights-respecting.


We have real questions about why they felt compelled to call in this organization that Russia dominates. We're asking for clarification on that.

But what's imperative now is that all of this be dealt with in a peaceful manner that respects the rights of those who are trying to make their voices heard.

TAPPER: All right, Secretary Antony Blinken, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time today.

BLINKEN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: teachers on edge, parents at the breaking point. As Omicron rips through the U.S., how can schools stay open safely? New York City Mayor Eric Adams is next.

And up is down, down is up in the new Republican Party. Is there any way back to the truth?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

As the Omicron variant pushes COVID cases to record highs across the country, parents and students are facing what we all thought we'd put behind us, a return to virtual learning, as thousands of students and teachers call out sick with COVID.

In New York City, the new mayor is so far resisting pressure to pause in person learning. How is he making that work?

Joining us now to discuss, New York City's new mayor, Eric Adams.

Mr. Mayor, congratulations on taking the oath of office. It's good to see you.

So, you have seen the images from the last few weeks, lines of New Yorkers wrapped around the block trying to get COVID tests. The Biden administration has pledged to improve access to testing supplies across the country. Are you getting what you need from the Biden administration? And are you satisfied with where testing is in New York City right now?

ADAMS: We are getting what we need.

And I cannot tell you how much I thank the president getting the resources here on the ground and the governor. The amazing communication and coordination is allowing us not to live within the walls of this crisis. And we are moving things forward.

And, yes, we're going to expand our testing. You never have enough. We're going to continue to do so and get them into schools and in the community, and we're happy about the response from the president and the White House.

TAPPER: So you're adamant about keeping New York schools open. And many parents are applauding you for that.

Health experts say the way to keep schools open safely is with vaccines and masking and ventilation and widespread testing. Right now, New York uses a complicated opt-in randomized testing program that only covers a fraction of students in schools.

The teachers unions are proposing -- or at least some teachers are calling for weekly testing mandated for all students and staff.

That would be the safest. Why not?

ADAMS: That's a great question.

And, first, I want to take my hat off to Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president. We're seeing what is playing out in other locales, but, here in New York, we're doing something that's important. We're communicating.

And even in areas that we disagree, we say that's fine. Now let's get down to the task of keeping our schools open. Science dictates one thing. The safest place for children is in a school building. And what we want to do is not get in the way of preventing children from coming into that building.

Some parents have been reluctant of doing the mandatory testing. We believe the combination we have put together now of making sure we test in the classroom, if it did not spread, keep that classroom open, remove that child out, and also make sure children are in a safe space, because all children can't afford or do remote learning, because they don't have access to technology.

TAPPER: Right.

ADAMS: They -- English as a second language.

There's many reasons why we should be in school buildings.

TAPPER: So -- but I guess the question is, wouldn't mandated weekly testing for students, teachers, faculty be the safest way to keep the schools open? Why are you not doing that?

ADAMS: Because, ideally, that would be the safest place -- safest way to do it. But you know what would happen? I don't want to lose some of my

children. And the way we are doing it now, we are being successful in keeping down the rates low. And if we reach that moment that we have to have that mandatory testing, then we will evaluate that again with our medical professionals.

But I need my children in school. And any barrier to do that, I believe is more harmful than helpful.

TAPPER: Only 40 percent of New York City residents under the age of 18 have received at least one shot of the vaccines.

California is going to require all students in public schools to get vaccinated to attend school in the fall. Will New York City do the same?

ADAMS: That is something that I am speaking with my health care professionals to do an evaluation to determine, is that -- if that is what we do.

Let's be clear. In this country, we do vaccinate for smallpox, measles and other things. And so we need to engage in a real conversation of how to educate, use the time before the fall to educate our parents to show the importance of it. And we're going to -- we're going to sit down and determine if we're going to roll that out as well.

TAPPER: You announced last night that you're going to support a law passed last month in New York City which will allow roughly 800,000 legal noncitizens to vote in local elections, provided that they have lived in New York for at least 30 days.

You previously called the bill problematic and expressed concern about giving a right to vote to non-citizens who have only been here for a short amount of time. I think there are a lot of Americans watching right now who might share your concerns and also have, more broadly, questions about the idea of people who have not taken a citizenship test, prepared for that test by learning about the U.S., who haven't sworn an oath to the country getting to vote.

Why did you change your mind? And why is it acceptable for non- citizens to vote in an American election?


ADAMS: No, I did not change my mind.

I supported the concept of the bill. The one aspect of that I had a problem with and I thought was problematic, was the 30-day part, of being in the country for 30 days, was the place that I had questions. And I sat down with my colleagues.

I'm a big believer in conversation. We have to start talking to each other, and not at each other. And after hearing their rationale and their theories behind it, I thought it was more important to not veto the bill or get in the way at all, and allow to build a move forward. In New York City, just Brooklyn, for example. 47 percent of

Brooklynites speak a language other than English at home when I was the borough president. And so I think it's imperative that people who are in a local municipality have the right to decide who's going to govern them.

And I support the overall concept of that bill.

TAPPER: Doesn't the bill just make a mockery of the idea of American citizenship, though?

I mean, this is just for local elections. But does that mean, like, next, New York City is going to want non-citizens to vote in federal elections? I mean -- and what do you say to all the people who went through the process, the difficult process of becoming an American citizen, studying for the test, swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States of America, who now see this legislation just saying, well, anyone who's here, go ahead and vote?

ADAMS: Well, I tell to -- I say to them, keep doing it. Membership has its privileges. Being a member of what we call United States of America is a great privilege. And I would tell them, keep doing it. Be encouraged. This is a great opportunity to be a member of this great country.

Don't let anything daunt you or take you away from that mission. This legislation is not going to do that. Keep becoming a citizen of this country.

TAPPER: "The New York Post" and "The New York Daily News" are reporting that you have appointed your brother, a fellow retired police officer, as a deputy commissioner for the NYPD.

Is that true? And, if so, doesn't that at least violate the spirit of the law in New York, which says public servants, friends and family members should not benefit from their positions?

ADAMS: Well, we have something here in the city called conflict of interest board. They do rulings and waivers. It is going through that process now. They will make the determination. And we have a great system here in the city.

But let me be clear on this. My brother is qualified for the position. Number one, he will be in charge of my security, which is extremely important to me in a time when we see an increase in white supremacy and hate crimes, I have to take my security securities in a very serious way.

But, at the same time, I need that right balance. I don't want the people of this city to believe that their mayor is not approachable and he's not willing to engage with them on the level that I want to represent you.

So I took the subway system when -- my day one in office, and those are the types of things that I'm going to do. My brother has a community affairs background, the balance that I need. He understands law enforcement. He was a 20-year-old retired veteran from the police department. And I need someone that I trust around me during these times for my security. And I trust my brother deeply.

TAPPER: You have also named former NYPD Chief Philip Banks as your deputy mayor. I'm sure you know he was named an unindicted co- conspirator in a federal corruption probe and resigned in 2014 after being accused of accepting bribes in return for favors. We should note that he denies that vociferously.

But are you worried at all about the message you're sending by appointing someone with that record to be your number two?

ADAMS: Not at all.

I believe that Phil acknowledges there were some real mistakes and errors that were made. He was not accused of a crime.

I think that, when you look at what happened yesterday in this city, a young person was shot in a robbery in a store. It really personifies why I need the best person for the job. I can't leave bad people doing bad things, the good people on the bench, when I have a talented person that just made some bad calc -- bad decisions.

He didn't do anything that was criminal. Phil is a great person, the right time to do this job. He rose to be the chief of the New York City Police Department during a time when we had to bring down the abuse of stop and frisk, we had to bring down gun violence and crime.

Leaving that talent on the bench is the wrong thing to do. He's the right person for this time to really bring together all of my law enforcement agencies and entities. And I -- he's going to show New Yorkers every day he's the right person for this job.

And I'm excited about having him on the team with all the other team members that I put together to deal with public safety, which I say is the prerequisite to public -- to prosperity, public safety and justice.

TAPPER: When you won your primary last summer, you said that the national Democratic Party is going to struggle in the midterm elections this November if it doesn't learn from your victory, if it doesn't focus on issues of justice and safety and inequality and speaking to blue-collar voters.


Do you think the national Democratic Party is focusing on the right issues? Or are they setting themselves up for a shellacking at the ballot box this fall?

ADAMS: Well, I think we can right-set the message and we can put the ship on its right course.

We have to be radically practical, radically practical. We need to deal with those kitchen table issues that are important to everyday Americans and New Yorkers. I strongly feel that. We can't allow social media to dictate what happens.

I say it all the time. It's people on Social Security we need to be focusing on. And they're focusing on health care, educating their grandchildren and children. They focus on affordable housing and jobs. These are the issues that we are -- we must be looking at and ensuring that we are living in a safe a city, in a safe country.

And if we have that message honed in and let it cascade throughout this entire country, you're going to see those Democrats come to the polls, polling places, because they understand we're dealing with those real issues that impact them. And that is what I believe. We have to be radically practical. And that's who I am.

TAPPER: Your predecessor, Bill de Blasio, says he's seriously considering running for governor of New York. Do you think he should?


ADAMS: That's up to him.

Running for office is not only taxing on you, but it's taxing on your family. And he has to make that decision. It's a gut-check moment. And I'm sure he will make the best decision for Bill de Blasio.

Right now, I'm making the best decision for our city. I love this city. I served it as a police officer, and I'm proud to serve it as the mayor of the city of New York. Bill has to make that determination, what he's going to do in his future.

TAPPER: I told my team you were going to evade that one, but they didn't listen to me.


TAPPER: New York City Mayor Eric Adams, thank you so much for joining us today.

Congratulations again.

ADAMS: Thank you. Take care.

TAPPER: From Darth Vader memes to a warm welcome by progressives, former Vice President Dick Cheney came full circle this week.

I'm going to ask Governor Asa Hutchinson about Cheney's warning for his party next.



TAPPER: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

For decades, former Vice President Dick Cheney who has been demonized and absolutely reviled by official Democrats. But, this week, Mr. Cheney, who's also the father of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, was enthusiastically greeted by Democrats on the House floor. The Cheneys were the only two members of their party who joined in a moment of silence in the House to mark the anniversary of the deadly events of January 6.

Joining us now, a leading Republican voice in this country, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.

Governor, thanks for joining us.

In a statement after that event on Capitol Hill, former Vice President Cheney said -- quote -- "I am deeply disappointed at the failure of many members of my party to recognize the grave nature of the January 6 attacks and the ongoing threat to our nation" -- unquote.

Do you agree with him?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): I agree with him in substance. I'm glad he was there.

I do think that, you look at the Republican members of Congress from Arkansas, they all issued statements on that day. They condemned the violence of that day and made it clear. And so I don't know that absolute attendance was the only way to show the frustration of January 6.

But the fact that the former vice president was there, I think, did send a signal that traditional Republican strength in America does not demonstrate unity with January 6. That's an affront to all of us. And it should be.

TAPPER: According to a "Washington Post" survey, at least 163 Republicans who have embraced the big lie about the election are running for statewide positions throughout the United States.

Are you worried at all about individuals who embrace the big lie and support the notion of subverting elections, are you worried about putting them in positions -- being put in positions or elected to positions where they can potentially warp and undermine legitimate election results?

HUTCHINSON: Well, what worries me is that they're not demonstrating leadership.

Whenever you're running for office, that's whenever you start about the future, and you help educate the voters as to what happened on January 6, and you make this about the future.

We're going to win, I feel comfortable, the GOP in the short term. We're going to have a good 2022. I'm excited about the elections. But at the same time, if we want to be a party of strength over the long term, then we have got to not diminish and minimize the consequences of January 6.

And this last week was a time of reflection that. And over the coming years, it's going to get worse, not better. And so we have to, one, make sure we show that that was unacceptable. We have to define it in the right way. It was an attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. And, thirdly, we have to make sure we are clear that President Trump did have some responsibility for that.

And, beyond that, let's move on. Let's talk about the future. And I think that's how a candidate runs for office.

TAPPER: After accurately describing the January 6, 2021, events as a -- quote -- "violent terrorist attack," Texas Senator Ted Cruz went on FOX to apologize and try to walk it back.


Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was, frankly, dumb.

What I was referring to are the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers.


TAPPER: We should note, Senator Cruz has referred to the events of that day as terrorism more than a dozen times before he said it that time.

Now, the FBI defines domestic terrorism as individuals using force or violence to -- quote -- "further ideological goals, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature."

What did you make of that interview? And isn't that exactly what the people who invaded the Capitol were doing, using violence and criminal behavior to further the political goal of, as you note, undermine the election?

HUTCHINSON: Well, let's -- let me put it back in a little bit more historical context.

I prosecuted, when I was a United States attorney, a domestic terrorism case against white supremacists because they were trying to use violence for their own political purposes. That was an FBI domestic terrorism investigation.

Now, we prosecuted them for racketeering, not a terrorism charge, but a racketeering charge. And so you move that forward to January 6, and I have no doubt that this is considered a domestic terrorism investigation. But, at the same time, they're not being charged with terrorism.

So it's a lot of wordsmithing going on there. The key is, don't minimize what happened. Some people are going to call it an insurrection. Some people are going to call it terrorism. I call it an interference with the lawful transfer of power using violence, and that's wrong.

And so let's accept what it is. Let's don't run from it. Let's learn from it. And let's make sure that we don't fall down that path again. For the long term, we have to show that -- to the world that we're not going to accept that as how we transfer power in elections in America.

TAPPER: Let's turn to COVID, which I know preoccupies a lot of your time.

Arkansas is seeing record high COVID cases right now, with a positivity rate nearly 30 percent. Hospitalizations and death rates are also up. Low vaccination rates in your state are obviously making the crisis worse.

Critics will point out that you have not imposed any vaccine mandates, even for state employees, and that Arkansas is now going to extend unemployment benefits to people who are being fired for refusing to get vaccinated.

Are you confident that you are doing everything you can as governor to save lives and control the pandemic?

HUTCHINSON: Every day I wake up, I ask the question, am I doing everything that I can to reduce the impact of this pandemic and to save lives?

And, right now, we are doing everything that we possibly can. As you look at the challenge of vaccinations, the good news is that it's not static. Those numbers are going up every day in Arkansas. People are getting vaccinated as the Omicron continues to spread. That risk increases the people's understanding of the importance of it.

I don't believe that the mandate is the right way to go at this time, particularly the federal mandate that should be struck down, because that's going to give us a greater worker shortage. It's going to increase the resistance for taking the vaccine, which is what we want to be able to do.

Over time -- and I think the CDC this last week did a good job of harmonizing the -- and reducing the burden of isolation period. I think that makes it easier for us to live with this in a safer fashion.

Over time, as the therapeutics continue to increase, I hope that we can normalize this terrible Omicron, so that -- and whatever the next variant might be -- so that we can handle it, we can live with it in the safest fashion to keep our schools open, our businesses open, and live life, because this is still going to be with us for a while.

TAPPER: Arkansas was one of many states suing the Biden administration over the federal vaccine mandate for large businesses.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the case Friday. The rule goes into effect tomorrow, barring any action from the court, although we should note, listening to the arguments, it did sound like the court was not going to support the federal mandate. But, still, the day is tomorrow. Should Arkansas businesses comply?


They should wait until they get to Supreme Court decision. And, of course, that's an individual business decision. And our employers in Arkansas, some make the decision that they ought to have a vaccine requirement in the workplace. And I support their ability to make that decision. There shouldn't be a ban against that.


But others make the decision that it's not necessary. Maybe they work in a more open environment or they have a risk of losing too many employees. And so they have that freedom.

But this mandate of OSHA, the federal government, needs to be struck down. And that's why we're fighting against it. And I expect the Supreme Court, hopefully, to rule against the Biden administration on that oppressive vaccine mandate.

TAPPER: Governor Hutchinson, always a pleasure.

Thank you so much for joining us today. Appreciate it.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: On January 6, a year ago, did you look at the television, watch those images and say to yourself, this is not who we are? A year later, are you still so sure?

We're going to talk about this week's race to the bottom next.



TAPPER: On Thursday night, the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, CNN hosted an event at the Capitol to talk about that horrible day. Along with police officers, lawmakers, and staffer, conservative Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair of the Select House committee, was one of our guests.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6TH: I mean, imagine, Jake, if President Eisenhower had summoned a mob to Washington and told them to march on the Supreme Court when they were hearing arguments in Brown v. Board of Education, and then imagine if he sat and watched them invade the Supreme Court and didn't do anything to stop it. We couldn't imagine that -- that, you know, an honorable man like Dwight Eisenhower would do something like that, yet that's almost exactly what Donald Trump did.

TAPPER: Some of your fellow Republicans are out there, probably right now on certain other channels, saying this was no big deal, we're making too big of a deal out of this. Ted Cruz said that this special tonight was just political theater. What do you say to them?

CHENEY: I say, that's how democracies die. That if you have members of political parties who ignore an attack that we've never before been in a situation where the president himself provoked a violent assault on this Capitol Building, and when you sit here in Statuary Hall tonight and you realize the history of this place and you realize how sacred this place is, any American who would enable or look the other way or dismiss what happened or refuse to do their duty to get to the bottom of it I think is failing to live up to their oath of office and to their duties as a citizen of this great nation.


TAPPER: As it so happened, that very night Senator Cruz, Republican of Texas, was apologizing on FOX, apologizing for having described the events at the Capitol one year ago January 6th as a "violent terrorist attack."


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Tucker, as a result of my sloppy phrasing, it has caused a lot of people to misunderstand what I meant.


TAPPER: The thing is, it wasn't sloppy phrasing. Cruz had called the attack terrorism at least 17 times before in written as well as spoken remarks. Frankly, Cruz using the term might seem odd, not because the term is imprecise. The FBI definition of domestic terrorism is, quote: "violent criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature." And that, of course, is what the attack was, violent and criminal to further a domestic ideological and political goal, specifically to stop the counting of Electoral votes to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

No, what's odd is that Cruz is voicing opposition to the activities of January 6th, because they were in part inspired by his actions, by his role, and that of Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, in objecting to the counting of Electoral votes for Joe Biden, which was all part of the twisted Kabuki theater that helped inspire and incite the very people who attacked the Capitol, including these individuals ransacking desks in the Senate chamber, including Cruz's desk as captured by The New Yorker.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's with us. He's with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has got to be something in here (expletive deleted) we can use against these scumbags.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (expletive deleted) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) I think Cruz would want us to do this, so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're good.


TAPPER: "He's with us, he's with us." "I think Cruz would want to us do this." And maybe so, because in his apology, Cruz was sure to remind folks of the role he played that day.


CRUZ: While thousands of people were standing up to defend this country on January 6th, at that exact moment I was standing on the Senate floor objecting to the election results. So of course it would be ridiculous for me to be saying that the people standing up and protesting to follow the law were somehow terrorists.


TAPPER: And Cruz then clarified, the only people he said he was calling terrorists were these people, the ones specifically attacking law enforcement officers. So presumably he was not referring to these people, the ones committing different violent and criminal acts to further a domestic ideological and political goal, just not attacking cops, for these ones, storming Statuary Hall.

Thursday night in Statuary Hall, I could not stop looking at this statue, donated in 1931 by the state of Mississippi, it's a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. And there's also this statue, donated in 1927 by the state of Georgia, Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy.


Two leaders of the fight for states to have the legal right to own and enslave black Americans. Two individuals who committed treason, honored right now as this nation honors so many of its traitors who fought for that disgusting cause. We literally have military bases right now named after losing generals who fought for the wrong, immoral, losing side.

So, Thursday night, as I sat in Statuary Hall looking at these two tributes to traitors, I thought about all the times I heard in the last year people say about January 6, this is not who we are. Actually, the advocacy of political violence to achieve a warped ends that treasonously betray the ideals of this country, democracy, equality, that's sadly who some of us are.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: American democracy is under attack, two CNN investigations. One, "The Fight to Save American Democracy with Fareed Zakaria," that's tonight at 9:00 p.m. And 10:00 p.m. tune into my special "Trumping Democracy: An American Coup."

The news continues next.