tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN December 16, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
the new strain. all of this prompting a number of colleges to move their final exams and even if final days of the semester online. >> omicron has been identified in 36 states. dr. anthony fauci says it's a matter of time before it overtakes delta as the dominant variant in this country. >> it has an extraordinary ability to transmit efficiently and spread. it has what we call a doubling time of about three days, and if you do the math on that, if you have just a couple of percentage of the isolates being omicron very soon, it will be the dominant variant. >> joining us now to discuss what this all means, dr. paul sax, professor of medicine at brigham and women's hospital and harvard medical school. good to have you on. the big-picture question is what's the right response to this, right? it's clearly spreading more quickly. some of the data seems to indicate it doesn't cause as
severe illness. does that mean that shutdowns may not be necessary? how should folks be receiving this at home? >> well, the primary thing they should do is, if they haven't been vaccinated, they definitely need to get vaccinated because the data so far suggests that in vaccinated individuals, especially those who've received three doses of the vaccines, the disease they get with omicron is relatively mild, and that the likelihood of hospitalization is much lower. so that's the primary thing. this should be a real motivator for people to get vaccinated if they haven't been vaccinated already. second thing is we really need to step up our game on the kind of nonpharmaceutical prevention measures, and i think it makes a lot of sense in public settings to wear masks, good masks, in particular in places like transport, airports, other crowded place where is we can't control the environment. the third thing is testing. you know, rapid home testing is available. can we make it more widely available? this would be definitely a good
thing for prevention of transmission, especially to the vulnerable people who can't respond to the vaccines. >> picking up on the testing question, how often should somebody be testing, especially if you are vaccinated, maybe even boosted, and you feel fine? should you still be taking a test before you, for example, go see someone over the holidays? >> well, i recommend it. i think socializing over the holidays is something we can do this year more safely than last year because we have the vaccines and we have a better understanding of how the virus is transmilted. but you do use testing before gathering over the holidays. do it right before you go, not the morning of, not day before. that's the power of these rapid tests is it can give you an indication of am i contagious now. the other thing you can do is two days before and the day of, so yesterday, plus today, that's the best use and that's why you get two tests per kit. i would particularly recommend this if you're going to be visiting someone who's
vulnerable, maybe immunocompromised, maybe enough older with multiple medical problems. that's the key thing. nothing is 100%, but it is better than nothing. >> given as you say the environment is different today than a year ago because most people are vaccinated and more people are getting boosted. does that mean for big organizations, universities, schools, sports leagues, et cetera, that the reflex to shut down when you have an outbreak may not be necessary this time? i know it's a difficult decision for organizations to make, but are the standards different now? >> well, you know, part of the reason why it's hard to make a definitive statement because the virus, the omicron variant, was really only found around thanksgiving time. so we're still waiting for a more complete picture to see how severe the disease is and how bad the outbreaks are. so i can understand, for example, cornell, which had a very large outbreak, that they did close things down. so i think rather than making a final decision, we'll have to
see how things go. i agree with dr. fausm it's likely that omicron will become dominant in the next couple weeks and that will gives us a betts sense of where we stand in the united states. >> dr. paul sax, good to have you on. >> thanks for inviting me. other major story relates to january 6th, erica. >> the january 6th committee deposition with former department of justice official jeffrey clark delayed again, postponed a second time as he continues to deal with a medical condition. clark, of course, was a key figure in pushing former president trump's false claims of voter fraud within the doj. also this morning, a spokesperson for republican congressman jim jordan confirms to cnn it feels jordan who forwarded a text to mark meadows in the buildup to the insurrection outlining a bogus legal theory that then vice president mike pence had the ability to flatout reject election results in certain
states that notably trump lost. cnn legal affairs correspondent paula reid has more. it says forwarded. i'll not sure what, you know, substantive difference that makes. the key issue seems to be multiple sitting lawmakers discussing what the white house flatout rejecting the results from states trump lost based on false allegations of fraud. >> exactly. we see these messages start coming into the then white house chief of staff, mark meadows, the day after the election. earlier this week, the house select committee released text messages from u.s. lawmakers coming up with ideas, how they could undermine the outcome of the 2020 election. these are u.s. lawmakers pushing untested theories about how to potentially diz enfranchise millions of voters and pushing these theorys to the white house chief of staff. the house select committee
released these messages. they did not reveal which lawmakers sent them. one has been identified as having been sent by representative jim jordan. in this text message sent on january 5th to meadows, and in it he's forwarding an idea about how then vice president mike pence could stop the certification of the 2020 election results. the text message read in part, "on january 6th, 2021, vice president mike pence as president of the senate should koul out all electoral votes he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all." it's the pressure pence was facing from the president and his allies. his spokesman has emphasized this was a forwarded text, not an original content creation. but the committee emphasizes this is exactly why they believe meadows was a dissenter and why they want him to sit for a deposition. >> they're encouraging him to
reject results. thanks very much. joining us, to anchor of "state of the union" dana bash. what are the potential consequences, if any, for the lawmakers involved very directly in this effort to overturn election results? >> it's a great question because just add this to the long list of what appeared to be unprecedented moves. the notion of jim jordan saying, well, i only forwarded this text, i only forwarded this bogus legal claim, who cares? the fact you forwarded it from somebody purporting to be a legal expert you could argue makes it more egregious when it comes to his argument. the reason why this is so crucial is we have been focusing, understandably, on the role of mark meadows, and this is part of his action, the fact that somebody like jim jordan
thought he was, you know, receptive to this. but this broadens it because we've heard for so long rumors about members, republican members, being involved somehow. this is not, just to be clear, evidence of involvement in the insurrection, but it is evidence of involvement in a coup, which is effectively what he was trying to do. once that information goes through the investigation, it will be a big question what the united states house of representatives does if they try to punish him somehow. >> as we learn more, too, about as other of those now currently unnamed lawmakers, right, if and when we get their names. elliot williams made this point earlier with jim and i saying if they were to bring jim jordan in to talk to him, that that's probably -- i mean, that's something that jim jordan would want, right? to be able to be up there, grand standing, doing his thing,
railing on the committee and its investigation. i'm curious what are the thoughts on capitol hill about whether it's worth bringing some of these lawmakers in to testify before the committee? >> well, it is a great point. and we've already seen this week jim jordan doing just that. he's been on the floor of the house of representatives defending the action of his good friend and former colleague mark meadows -- or inaction, i should say, at his refusal to come up to capitol hill to actually testify. so for him, it's clickbait, fund-raising, all of those things, but that doesn't negate the desire by his colleagues to try to call him in and to try to get information about that he knew, not just about the notion of encouraging the president of the united states, the vice president of the united states in this particular case, to just throw away the electoral college
votes. but the big question is, again, what, if any, involvement did he have in discussing and planning or at least coordinating with anybody at all who ended up storming the capitol that day. not just him. there are other members to be questioned. >> are criminal contempt referrals possible for other who is don't cooperate? >> we don't know. we don't know. it is entirely possible. that is -- part of the point in putting this -- making this unprecedented move this week with mark meadows was to compel him to testify but also to continue to send a signal like they did with steve bannon, that they're not going to take no for an answer. also to compel the people who are coming to testify, to try to get them to be more forthcoming. it's tactical when it comes to the actual testimony of mark meadows, but it is also strategic when it comes to the
people that they are talking to, and by all accounts, they are talking to a lot of people that we don't know about. >> absolutely. dana bash, always good to see you. thank you. >> you too. up next, we're joined by democratic senator as the fate of the president's social spending plan is in jeopardy this morning. talks between the white house and key senator -- i bet you can guess who it is -- at an impasse. >> man: so i'm not taking any chances when something happens to it. so when my windshield cracked... my friend recommended safelite autoglass. they came right to me, with expert service where i needed it. ♪ rock music ♪ >> man: that's service i can trust... no matter what i'm hauling. right, girl? >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace. ♪
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this morning, the build back better bill a key piece of president biden's agenda is in limbo. talks with joe manchin at a standstill and don't seem poised to move anytime soon. >> i'm concerned about inflation. i'm concerned about the challenges. >> joining me now, a democrat from hawaii. she serves on the armed services and judiciary. good to see you. you saw senator manchin and my colleague, manu raju. he is open minded, trying to
work with everybody. based on your twitter feed from last night you're sort of done at this point. you tweeted, "we cannot let one person risk the safety and security of millions of children. it's time for all of us to step up and pass build back better." do you think that forcing this to the floor, forcing a vote would change joe manchin's mind? >> no, not necessarily. but i think it's important for the american people to know where each of us stands in terms of enabling women in particular to get back to work so that they can afford child care. lower prescription drugs. so there's a lot in the bill, and i think people should know where we stand. at the same time, i realize that the discussions are continuing. so, you know, when i hear jose he's keeping aban open mind, i hope so, and that even though we may not be able to get this done this month, my hope is that we'll be able to get it done next year. at the same time, erica, what i'm seeing are voter suppression bills being enacted by state
legislatures across the country, so that is a direct threat to our democracy. voter suppression bills by the hundreds. so you have a state like georgia where they're trying to take over the election board, they already have, where you can't give water or food to people standing in line for hours, where you have one voter who can challenge another voter, and they're getting people to volunteer to do that. that is what's going on across the country. we need to support voter protection laws. >> in terms of that, thank you for the transition to another topic i wanted to talk about, president biden last night said, his words, that voting rights is the single biggest issue right now domestically. but the reality is that's not moving in the senate either. senator sinema was also very clear last night, when it comes to the filibuster, she doesn't want that to happen, right. you raise all these concerns about what's happening across
the country. there is a voting rights act waiting, doesn't seem to be moving anywhere. what's the path forward? >> there are two voting rights bill. one is the voting rights act. we can call it that. the other is the john lewis voting rights bill. i they that bill is really important because that's going to give the department of attorney general the tools to fight back against these voter suppression bills. here's what i'd like to see happen at this point. i'm not even talking about eliminating the filibuster, which i support. i would support bringing back, really, the talking filibuster, which is something that joe manchin supported earlier. so if you're going to be that one person to halt everything, you should get on the floor of the senate and hold that floor for however many hours you can so that the american people will know who is the person that's stopping, in my view, voter protection legislation. >> what are the chances of that happening? >> i'm going to push for it. it's something that joe biden --
not joe biden -- joe manchin originally supported. i'm going to call on joe to support a talking filibuster as the way forward for us to protect people's right to vote. >> what we've learned this week in terms of some of these messages that have been released by the january 6th committee, specifically an unnamed lawmaker who the day after the election was already working, floating this plan to overturn the election. how much does that concern you as we head into 2022, as we head into 2024? >> it's totally concerning that president trump and all his enablers continue to push for the big lie that this election was stolen and therefore they need to support the passage of all of these voter suppression bills that will really stop minority people, the black people, chicanos, asian-american people from voting. that's where they're going because this is their effort to
retain power. >> so back to where we were before, what if you can't get anything done? what if you can't get these two different voting rights bills, what if nothing happens there? >> i am relying on the courts at this point. there are all kinds of legal challenges to the georgia law, the texas law, being mounted by groups thereupon that have to use their time and resources. and we also have an attorney general now who's not just going to be a shell for the president but who is also fighting some of the gerrymandering and other kinds of bills. the attorney general needs the cools and that tool would be the john lewis voting rights act so we can stop these voter suppression bills from being enacted to begin with. >> quickly, before i let you go, circling back to build back better, you sounded a little more optimistic this morning, right. the talks are still ongoing. you're okay with this being pushed into the new year. the reality is president biden, as i understand it, stripping
out the child tax credit is not an option for him. joe manchin is specifically concerned about that and doesn't want it to be just a year. what could it add if it's ten years? where is the middle ground if we have these two clear positions? >> we're not even talking about extending the child tax credit for ten years. it's one year. that's what we're talking about. i'm going to go with the 17 nobel prize-winning economist who is say build back better is not going to add to the inflation, in fact, it will strengthen our economy. i go with those economists. >> senator mazie hirono, thanks for joining us. >> aloha. the defense is just beginning its case in the sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell. the latest from the courtroom just ahead. my only interest. i also love cooking with heart-healthy, idaho potatoes. always look for the grown in idaho seal.
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and the one way they're trying to do this is that they want to call a lawyer for one of the women because they want to make the point they were motivated by money, and that's the reason they came forward with these allegations against maxwell and the reason why they are testifying in this trial. so the judge is allowing them to question one of the attorneys for the accuser who went by the name jane. she was the first witness in the case among the accusers, and she testified how she meant maxwell and epstein while at summer camp and was drawn into this life of abuse. so they'll call that witness. they want him to talk about how he was seeking extra money for her participation, which she would get credit for as part of the epstein victims compensation fund, jane being paid $5 million. the first witness on the stand is a woman who had worked at epstein's house, part of his business. she is expecting to testify about how she stayed in touch with jane after jane had left this world, part of the defense's argument that if it was so bad, why was she still in
touch with so many of these people. they're expected to call a memory witness and a number of character witnesses. they say their case can last two to three days. >> thank you. let's speak now to federal and white collar criminal defense attorney carol polisi. good to have you back. you heard the description of the defense there in effect questioning the motives of these young women at the time who accuse epstein and maxwell of sexual abuse, claiming it's all about money. how does that defense work in your view both legally and with the jury? >> yeah. so the defense has been very candid from the start here, jim. they said in opening statements this case is about money, manipulation, and memory. that's exactly what they're doing as karen noted. they'll go point by point trying to debunk with these four women are saying now.
they were minor victims, alleged victims at the time. three have testified anonymously. only one, annie farmer, is using her actual name. she's been vocal from the start about this. the idea is that the government is using maxwell as a scapegoat, that epstein obviously is not here to be tried and that she's left holding the bag. i think it goes to a bigger question of criminal liability in general for enablers of abuse. that's a huge deal here. then with respect to, you know, discrediting the victims, it doesn't play well in today's day and age. i think they're going to try to walk that fine line. they're introducing a memory expert to say maybe these women aren't lying per se, but perhaps they have a distorted memory of what occurred all these years ago. we'll see how it plays out. >> epstein years ago signed an agreement, really, a plea agreement with federal
prosecutors, which was quite broad and punitively provided protection against prosecution of any co-conspirators in effect going forward. i wonder if you believe that could be a vulnerability to whatever happens in this trial on appeal. >> yeah. i don't. you know, it's dubbed a sweetheart deal with epstein, widely criticized, even in internal watch dog within the doj has come out saying extremely poor judgment in executing that agreement. it's sort of unprecedented the type of nonprosecution agreement that he entered into with epstein. he essentially granted perpetual immunity to any alleged co-conspirators from now until the end of time. that sort of thing is not the type of thing that holds up in court, and also prosecutors have really thought critically about what charges to bring and how they're charging maxwell in this trial. i think it will hold up. >> another story, another trial
you've been following closely, the trial of elizabeth holmes regarding fraud around her company, theranos. in that, the defense's case is really focused on her including her claiming that a lot of this results from a decade-long abusive relationship with the former c.o.o. of the company, and really watching the jury here, right. i wonder, based on your reading of this case so far, do you believe that defense might work? >> so here's the deal with that defense, jim. i mean, they're really rolling the dice not only putting holmes on the stand but really that's the only testimony that they're relying on. there was a chance they would put on an expert as well to testify sort of interpersonal relationships and abuse and how that, you know, has an effect on the mind-set of somebody. really, the defense is only using holmes' testimony about this really abusive and manipulative relationship.
i think both things can be true at the same time. the jurors can both believe and accept that she was in, you know, a, by all accounts, a very dysfunctional relationship, but the question is does that really go to negate her state of mind? does that really, you know, have anything to do with whether or not she on purpose, you know, relayed mischaracterizations and misrepresentations to theranos investors. i think that's the real issue there. >> and therefore defrauded them. there's been criticism it's been contradictory. >> exactly. one of the bombshell pieces of evidence in this case is she actually doctored documents. she put a pfizer logo on some documents and gave them to investors, the idea being she had, you know, contracts with many pharmaceutical companies. and, you know, i think that the issue there is whether or not, you know, just how bad that was. and she did well on the stand.
i do have to say, she's a magnetic personality. there's a reason she sort of ascended to fame in the hay day of theranos. people like her. she's extremely compelling. i think she did a very good job defending herself. >> caroline polisi, always good to have your expertise. >> thanks for having me. still ahead, the omicron variant spreading at a remarkable rate, forcing some countries to reimpose lockdowns and restrictions. that's next. to balance risk and reward. with one element securing portfolios, time after time. gold. agile and liquid. a proven protector. an ever-evolving enabler of bold decisions. an asset more relevant than ever before. gold. your strategic advantage.
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the rapid spread of the omicron variant raising serious concerns overseas. >> the time it takes new cases to double in number, it seems to be doubling every two or three day, and that's massive. by january, we're told we should expect omicron to be the new dominant variant in europe. >> we're following all the latest developments around the world. let's begin with cnn international correspondent ben wedeman in rome. italy is extending its covid-19 state of emergency. what does that look like on the ground there? >> reporter: what that means, jim and erica, is basically, the italian government, oftentimes bog dound in bureaucracy, can imact quickly to impose restrictions. for instance, now travellers from abroad or elsewhere in europe who have not been vaccinated will have to undergo a mandatory five-day quarantine.
italy has this green pass in effect whereby you have to prove that you have been vaccinated to enter a lot of public places. it now has a super green pass, which means that just testing negative isn't enough. you have to show you've been vaccinated. and starting today, italy has begun vaccinating children between the ages of 5 to 11. we're outside rome's children museum where they are vaccinating these children. and this is all part of the effort to really increase the level of vaccination in the population to avoid the kind of outbreak of the omicron variant, which here is still in the low double digits. they don't want to have a situation here like what the united kingdom is going through. jim and erica? >> speaking of the united kingdom, reporting its highest number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
salma abdelaziz is in london. that is prompting a concern and some action there. >> reporter: jim and erica, it feels like everyone, i mean, everyone right now is reconsidering their christmas plans. people are canceling social gatherings left, right, and center. even the queen has canceled a pre-christmas lunch with her family out of abundance of caution. we're not under lockdown, but it feels like a self-imposed one. yesterday the uk has you mentioned recording the highest number of covid cases in a single day since the very start of this pandemic. more than 78,000 new positive cases. health officials are warning that the "r" number for omicron in this country is between 3 and 5. that means for i every person infected they can infect up to five other people. it has the health system here concerned, worried. there's always a finite number of hospital beds.
officials are saying reconsider christmas, be very careful, think twice. >> happening so quickly. salma abdelaziz in london, wield weed in rome, thanks so much. working shortages, unimaginable wait lines plaguing particularly the child care industry in this country. how parents are coping with the crisis. but first, here's a look at some of the other events we're watching today. hello, for the last few years, i've been a little obsessed with chasing the big idaho potato truck. but it's not like that's my only interest. i also love cooking with heart-healthy, idaho potatoes.
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new this morning, weekly job claims ticking up just slightly last week with roughly 206,000 filings for unemployment, which means that's actually staying near that 52-year low. >> this comes as the federal reserve says it is planning to wrap up its stimulus program faster than originally announced, says that it will
likely also raise interest rates, signaling as many as three interest rate hikes early next year, all to respond to inflation. cnn business reporter live in new york, matt egan. matt, tell us how quickly consumers see this. i mean, the bond buying is something they don't necessarily see right away, but interest rates they will, mortgages, credit cards, you name it. >> reporter: jim and erica, absolutely. it does take some time to filter through economy, but this is a major policy shift by the federal reserve. we know that high inflation is really the biggest financial headache facing americans right now. the fed is finally showing that it's serious about trying to tame inflation after months of insisting that these price spikes were just a temporary issue. the fed is finally acknowledging reality, which is that inflation is on fire and someone's got to put it out. so the fed is acting like the firefighter here. they're stepping in to cool things off by wrapping up that bond-buying stimulus program a few months early and penciling
in three interest rate hikes next year and more hikes to come after that. now, the rate hikes, that would be a big deal, because that does raise the cost of borrowing on everything from mortgages and credit cards to small business loans. borrowing costs will still be low, but they would tick higher. now, here's how jerome powell explained during yesterday's empbs from exactly why the fed is making this policy decision. >> i believe that inflation may be more persistent and that may be putting inflation expectations under pressure and that the risk of higher inflation becoming entrenched has increased. >> reporter: now, the fed came to the rescue in march of 2020 to prevent this covid recession from turning into a full-blown depression, and it worked. yet the fed is still largely in emergency mode, even though today unemployment is low and inflation is high. this would be like a doctor continuing to heavily medicate a
patient long after they've fully recovered. there will be some i'd effects. in this case, it's inflation. we got new evidence today of how strong the jobs market is. unemployment claims did tick higher, but they remain near 52-year lows. bosses simply aren't firing people right now pause they can't afford to. they have so many job openings they can't fill. jim and erica, this is another reason why the fed is getting out of emergency mode here. the jobs market is moving rapidly towards full employment, and that is great news, especially considering where we were in the spring of 2020. >> wages going up too. matt egan, thanks so much. one industry hit particularly hard by the pandemic is child care. maybe you've experienced it yourself. centers can't find workers, which means wait lists for parents getting longer. >> gabe cohen takes a look at the ripple effect on the economy. >> reporter: there's a crisis closing classrooms at early education in boston.
>> we need to get ready for the tea party. >> reporter: the nonprofit staff has shrunk 30%. >> employees can earn a lot more money working anywhere other than child care. >> reporter: across the country, more than 10% of child care workers have left the industry during the pandemic, driven out by closures and furloughs early on, and now wage competition. nationwide, the average child care worker makes just over $12 an hour, far less than k-12 teachers. and in this competitive hiring market, other industries are raising wages to attract workers. >> this developmental time for children is most critical developmental time in the human life cycle. and yet we're competing against other minimum wage jobs. >> reporter: the american rescue plan passed by congress in march spent billions to keep the child care industry afloat. it helped nurture raise wages a dollar an hour, but martin ramos, a teacher here, works a second job at home depot. >> i been living check by check
and getting behind on my bills. >> reporter: with the staff shortage worsening, nurturing is now taking 15% fewer students. how long could a family be on the wait list? >> they may be on it for the better part of 2022. >> reporter: across the u.s., roughly 10% of child care programs have closed. others are downsizing. and many parents are seeing prices rise and wait lists go. >> parents, predominantly women, can't go back to work. >> reporter: a recent survey found 84% of parents feel overwhelmed by the cost of child care, and nearly 240 20% have quit a job because of it. the average annual costs nationwide is more than $10,000 per child. for the average couple, that's 10% of their income. for single parents, it's 35%. >> hi, boo-boo. >> reporter: she became a stay-at-home mom when her son was born last year. she was making less than there are 40,000 in seattle.
>> the child care was more than rent. i decided i have to quit my job. >> reporter: she and her husband are trying to find daycare so she can get back to work, but the wait lists are up to two years long. >> we can't find any child care. >> reporter: nearly 300 million women are still out of work from the pandemic. >> it's really important in terms of the jobs recovery going forward. >> she is adp's chief economist. >> the u.s. is losing trillions of dollars when women are not fully participating in the labor market. >> reporter: president biden's build back better plan would invest close to $400 billion in child care, boosting wages, offering universal free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and parents paying no more than 7% of their income on child care. >> early childhood educators can't earn less, so it will take significant public funding in order to fix this problem. >> reporter: just look at
reynolds and the career she left. what was the job you quit? >> i was a preschoolteacher, and i had that job for 15 years. i loved it. it was great. but i could not afford the costs of child care. >> reporter: a teacher stuck at home needed more than hour. >> if you want us to support your children, you have to give us what we need. >> thanks to gabe cohen for that report. we're hearing so many similar stories around the country. thanks for joining us today. another busy news day. i'm jim sciutto. >> i'm erica hill. "at this hour" with kate bolduan starts after this quick break. a mountain of toys to fulfill many wishes must be carried across all roads and all bridges. it's not magic that makes more holiday deliveries to homes in the us than anyone else, it's the hardworking people of the united states postal service. it's the most joyous time of the year. especially at t-mobile! let's go to dianne. i got the awesome new iphone 13 pro and airpods, and t-mobile is paying for them both! and this is for new and existing customers.
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i'm kate bolduan. growing concern. dr. anthony fauci warning it's only a matter of time before the omicron variant is the dominant strain in the united states as the variant rages across the world. historic severe weather. president biden vows to help kentucky in a big way as the midwest is reeling from hurricane-force winds battering the region. and taking the stand. kim potter is set to testify in her own defense on trial, facing questions about how she drew a gun instead of a taser when she killed daunte wright
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