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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  December 22, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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♪ the snow's comin' down ♪ -mommy? ♪ i'm watching it fall ♪ watch the full story at to our viewers in the united states and around the world. happening now, breaking news. the white house is touting the benefits of the first fda
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authorized pill to treat the coronavirus, saying it dramatically reduces hospitalizations and deaths as omicron spreads. will the pills be available fast enough? also breaking, the january 6th committee is asking to talk to a top trump ally, republican representative jim jordan, demanding details about jordan's communications with the then-president. as democrats fume at joe manchin for tanking the president's bill, mitch mcconnell dangles a recruitment campaign. will it work? welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. let's get straight to the breaking pandemic news. a promising new covid-19
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treatment just authorized as the coronavirus omicron variant sweeps across the united states. cnn's amara walker is working the story for us. amara, we just heard the white house say this new pill by pfizer will dramatically reduce hospitalizations and deaths. >> reporter: that is the expectation, wolf. the white house also saying that 265,000 courses of this antiviral treatment will be made available in january and all 10 million by the summer. now, wolf, we're here at a drive-up covid-19 testing site in the northeast part of atlanta called viral solutions. i can tell you, patience is wearing very thin. some people even say they've been waiting up to 3 1/2 hours to get covid tested. they've been here for -- they're all here for a variety of reasons. some saying that they're traveling ahead of the holiday season. others saying they believe they may have been exposed at work or at home. as you know, we've been seeing
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these long lines for covid tests across the country. and thanks to omicron, the demand for these tests are expected to skyrocket. today the fda authorizing the first pill to treat covid-19. paxlovid, made by pfizer, will be available by prescription for adults and high risk individuals 12 or older who have high to moderate symptoms but a high risk of hospitalization or death. pfizer says they stand ready to begin delivery in the u.s. immediately. >> as quickly as pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered, we'll immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution. >> reporter: the long testing lines across the country have already begun amidst the holiday rush. in atlanta, frustrations are running high. >> i've been here an hour and a half. the line is stretched all the way back. >> we've gone less than a mile but we're on hour three.
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>> very busy, like it was back in the january, february time frame. >> reporter: some taking precautions as omicron has overtaken delta as the dominant strain in a matter of weeks. omicron has now been identified in every u.s. state, washington, dc and puerto rico. >> there are a lot of reasons to be concerned. we know for sure about this variant that it's incredibly transmissible. each infected person infects on average five other people, which is much more than with previous variants. >> reporter: for those gathering during the holidays, the cdc director stressing that all guests be vaccinated and/or boosted and exercise caution in the days before they get together. >> i want to remind folks that, you know, so much about the safety of your gathering has less to do with the plane ride or the train ride that you're going to do to get there and very much to do with the behaviors that you have in the week prior to your gathering. >> reporter: case rates in the u.s. are back to level seen in the middle of the delta surge, the highest they've been in three months. icu beds are about 76% full and
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one in five are covid-19 patients. >> i'm worried that the surge in the coming weeks will be worse than what we saw last winter. >> reporter: meanwhile, south africa has passed the peak of its omicron outbreak. >> there is some evidence that in south africa, where a lot of this started, that it's dropping off. >> reporter: health officials stress the antiviral pills are not a substitute for getting vaccinated. >> let's be clear. unvaccinated people are at a hi higher risk of getting severely ill from covid, getting hospitalized, and dying. >> reporter: and underscoring just how rapidly omicron is spreading, new york saying that it has broken its own record again for the fifth time in less than a week with the highest daily total of covid-19 cases. cases up 24% from the previous record, wolf. >> amara walker reporting for
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us, thank you very much. let's go to the white house right now. our cnn chief correspondent jeff zeleny is joining us. how is the white house responding to the criticism that it was caught flat-footed by this fast moving omicron variant? >> reporter: wolf, you can hear the defensiveness when he talks about testing, that is the central area of criticism from experts. this has been months in the making. testing has been a challenge long before this variant came into view but now it certainly is a big challenge. we asked dr. anthony fauci and other advisers at the covid briefing this afternoon if there was one thing they wished they would have done over the last month to prepare for this moment differently. and dr. fauci said, not to say we've done everything perfectly, he stopped well short that have, bu of that, but he could not point to one thing. the administration is promising
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half a billion tests to be sent to homes in january. but that is not the beginning of january, that is likely the middle to the end of january. those tests have to be manufactured, there has to be a website set up for them to be requested. so there are many questions about how that is all going to work. but testing remains the central question of the criticism here at the white house, wolf. >> there's a lot of frustration out there, people want to get tested and they apparently have to wait in long lines to get it. thanks very much, jeff zeleny, for that. joining us now, dr. william schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at vanderbilt medical center. also with us, william hazeltine, a former harvard medical and public health school professor. he's the author of the book "variants: the shape shifting challenge of covid-19." dr. schaffner, first to you. how big of a difference will this new pfizer pill make in the fight against the pandemic? >> well, it's certainly good
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news, wolf, that we have some treatment available in addition to the vaccines. the treatment is not a substitute for the vaccines. but we need a good system in order to get this good treatment to people. you make a very good point in the segments coming just up to this, because testing is key. you have to get a positive test before you can qualify for the use of paxlovid. we're going to have to improve testing so people can get their tests quickly. then when they're positive, ve to go to their health care provider, those providers will have to learn how to write those prescriptions, but then you can go to the pharmacy quickly, get your medication, and it's very, very reassuring that these medicines reduce the risk of the infections maturing to
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seriousness such that you have to be hospitalized. we look forward to it and it's all now in the implementation. the theory is great. it's available. but we've got to implement it smoothly. >> it's so important, so encouraging. professor hazeltine, president biden says 250,000 of these pills will be available in january. why aren't these ready to roll out now? >> i can't tell you why they're not ready to roll out now, but it's a good thing coming. dr. schaffner was very clear on the advantages of having this drug, it's a great thing. just a caution also, that you really have to know what other pills you're taking. there are a lot of adverse reactions with drugs, for example, that i'm taking for high cholesterol. so you've got to be careful with drug/drug interactions. i also want to emphasize the importance of testing. it's clear that we dropped the ball on testing. i wrote as early as september 2020, we needed to have enough
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tests so everybody could do it at home at least three times a week. that will make a big, big difference. at least at times like this, when omicron is surging. we just didn't do it. some countries did. but we didn't. i think it's time that we made tests available for free, for everybody to get it, at least two or three times a week. >> i think it's so important as well. dr. schaffner, amid all the confusion over omicron, dr. fauci just cited studies from south africa, now scotland, showing this new variant is less severe than delta. what will you be watching to see if that holds true here in the united states? >> you see my fingers crossed. i hope that certainly is the case, because potentially, a highly contagious virus that is less serious actually could contribute to the growing herd immunity in our population and that might issue in the beginning of the end of at least
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the pandemic phase of this virus here in the united states. so we hope certainly that that's true. but it should not discourage people from getting vaccinated who still are not. and if you still haven't had your booster, get that. >> you certainly should. professor hazeltine, south africa already coming down from the sharp omicron spike, which is being described as steeper but shorter than previous waves. is that an encouraging sign for those of us here in the united states? >> i would say our situation is a little more complicated, because as you will recall from past waves of infection, it sweeps across our country very slowly along with the weather. it's not exactly how you would predict. in the summertime down in florida and texas, it can be really serious. we're much more complicated. my rule of thumb is, we take numbers from great britain, multiply by five, and stretch it
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out five to six months. that's the reality of what's happened in the past. now, that doesn't predict exactly what will happen. i would also like to say i think it's unfortunate that everybody is focusing on the fact that this might be less dangerous. we don't know that. and it gives people i think a false sense of security, certainly for those people who are at highest risk, older people, people with immunosuppressed status, people undergoing cancer therapy, and a variety of other situations, this may not be mild. so i think it's really premature. we have to treat this as if it were dangerous, as dangerous as anything else, until for sure we know it's not. >> and we know it's extremely contagious, and that could affect a lot of people out there because it moves very quickly. thank you very much to both of you, appreciate it very much. more breaking news we're following. the house january 6th select
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committee seeks to interview one of former president trump's top congressional allies, representative jim jordan. will a subpoena follow if he refuses? nsive wealth plan for your full financial picture. with the right balance of risk and reward. so you can enjoy more of...this. this is the planning effect. >> man: what's my safelite story? i spend a lot of time in my truck. it's my livelihood. ♪ rock music ♪ >> 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. ♪ (vo) the more we do with our phones, the more network quality and reliability matter. and only verizon has been the most awarded for network
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there's breaking news in the house investigation into the january 6th capitol insurrection. the select committee now seeking an interview with top trump congressional ally representative jim jordan. jessica schneider is working the story for us. jessica, one of trump's allies on capitol hill is being asked to come in and answer questions. what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right, wolf, the committee telling congressman jordan they want to hear from him about his communications with the former president on january 6th. they say jordan had at least one and possibly multiple chats with trump that day and now they want the congressman to sit down for a voluntary interview as soon as january 3rd. but from what we've seen, it is highly unlikely jordan will cooperate. he's already warned that targeting lawmakers would be met with political retribution if republicans retake the house
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after the midterms. we saw republican congressman scott perry lash out at the committee's legitimacy already this week. he has eagerly rebuffed their request to interview him. we haven't seen a response from congressman jordan yet but the committee is already trying to throw jordan's words back at him by writing in their letter to him that jordan said back in august that he had, quote, nothing to hide. so congressman jordan did have at least one text message of note, the committee has already referenced it and his spokesperson confirmed congressman jordan forwarded a text to former chief of staff mark meadows on january 5th outlining a legal theory of how vice president pence could block the certification of the election. but jordan's spokesperson said the text was actually written by a former defense department inspector general and that the congressman was just forwarding that text on to meadows. but it is clear athat this committee wants to know through jordan what trump was up to inside the white house on january 6th and they say that jordan had at least one if not
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multiple communications with trump. and interestingly, the committee is also saying they know that trump was watching tv coverage of the attack from his private dining room right next to the oval office that way and even after the crowd dispersed, trump was still trying to delay the vote count. so, unlikely if jordan will sit down for this voluntary interview and we'll have to see if the committee goes so far as to subpoena him or scott perry. >> we'll watch it together with you, jessica, thank you. joining us now, cnn senior legal analyst ellie honig, the author of "hatchet man: how bill barr broke the prosecutors' code." and kristen powers, whose new book is called "saving grace."
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elie, it may be wishful thinking that congressman jordan will voluntarily cooperate with the committee, but he is a critical figure in this investigation, isn't he? >> is he, wolf. the committee has made clear they're playing hardball, that they're going to pursue the truth no matter who may hold the truth up to and including their own colleagues in congress. jim jordan is not being picked on here just for fun. he has absolutely earned this request for information which could soon become a subpoena, because we know for a fact that jim jordan spoke with donald trump on january 6th. jim jordan has now admitted that, sort of reluctantly, in a way he's not super proud of what he talked about with donald trump on january 6th. so there is a real reason and purpose behind this subpoena. jim jordan has said he has nothing to hide and we'll see if he can back up that talk. >> kirsten, this is someone who pushed to serve on the committee investigating january 6th to protect the former president, donald trump.
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what sort of fight do you expect him to put up against the committee now? >> i would expect him to put up a big fight, because the trump allies have really tried to delegitimize this committee, right? so calling it a sham committee, a witch hunt, and one of the things they love to point to is that jim jordan, who was one of the people who kevin mccarthy wanted to put on the committee, was not allowed to be on the committee. of course because it was pretty clear he wasn't really interesting in doing an investigation. and so when you have a committee that's designed to investigate something, you can't have people on the committee who aren't interested in investigating it and who were very much, you know, possibly involved in what happened. he had these conversations, at least one conversation, maybe more conversations. he was involved in some meetings that are pretty suspect. he has forwarded a text message outlining a legal strategy for
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how to overturn the election. this is a person who obviously has a dog in the fight. it's in his political interests and probably in his personal interests to fight this. and so, you know, that's what i would expect him to do. >> elie, you say this move was long overdue. how aggressively do you think the committee will have to be to pursue jim jordan to make up for that lost time? >> this is not going to be an easy fight for the committee. assuming jim jordan stone wwall them, the committee will have to issue a subpoena. jim jordan will have three options. one, he can comply, seems unlikely. two, he can take the fifth. if he believes he may have some criminal exposure, he can invoke the fifth. that's very unlikely from a sitting member of congress. three, he can defy the committee. if that happens then the question for the committee is do you have the political will, the political backbone to hold him in contempt and to send him over to the justice department for
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potential prosecution. we've already seen them do that with steve bannon, and with mark meadows we're waiting to hear from the doj. >> kirsten, some would say it's outrageous for these republicans to essentially disrupt an investigation into an attack on their own workplace, the u.s. capitol. >> yes, i mean, that's what you can never lose sight of, exactly what this committee exists for. and that is to try to prevent something like this from happening again. it was a dark, dark day in the history of the united states. and so this investigation isn't about persecuting jim jordan or persecuting anybody. it's about trying to get to the bottom of what happened so that we can be sure that it doesn't happen again. and that's something that republicans are not interested in doing. and i would say somebody like jim jordan in particular has
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really actively been against. >> kirsten powers, elie honig, thanks to both of you for joining us. coming up, mitch mcconnell's full-court press to try to get joe manchin to join the gop after the democrat broke with his own party on the biden spending bill. classic dishes... ♪ and a new seat at the table. ♪ liz, you nerd, cough if you're in here! shh! i took mucinex dm for my phlegmy cough. what about rob's dry cough? works on that too, and lasts 12 hours. 12 hours?! who studies that long? mucinex dm relieves wet and dry coughs.
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available now for comcast business internet customers with no line-activation fees or term contract required. see if you can save by switching today. comcast business. powering possibilities. tonight, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell is seizing on a growing split
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between senator joe manchin and many of his fellow democrats. mcconnell is publicly urging manchin to switch parties, saying he would be more comfortable, his words, in the gop after his rejection of the biden spending bill. our chief congressional correspondent monday nanu raju capitol hill. how serious is mcconnell? >> reporter: mcconnell remembers what happened when jim jeffords decided to caucus with the democrats and changed the 50/50 senate to the control of the democrats. he wants to see the same happen with manchin. they've sat down behind closed doors in mcconnell's office talking about a wide range of issues and undoubtedly this has come up. at the same time, mcconnell today dangled an incentive for joe manchin to break ranks with his party, saying come over to the republicans and you can
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still chair the senate energy committee. >> i've had the conversation with him off and on with him for a couple of years. >> would he get to keep his chairmanship of energy? >> that's something we've talked about. obviously he enjoys being chair of the committee, it's important to west virginia. >> reporter: it's unlikely manchin will become a republican. he supports the affordable care act, he opposes the 2017 republican tax law. he voted to convict donald trump twice in his impeachment trials. and he has sided with the biden administration on a number of issues including the $1.9 trillion covid relief plan earlier this year. last night joe manchin was on a conference call with democrats in his caucus, talking about the path forward. he also made clear that he is not supportive of the $1.75 trillion build back better plan, wants some serious changes, says he has been consistent in his
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opposition for some time. but wolf, he said he would continue talking with his colleagues. can they get a smaller deal, something that can get to the president's desk? that's the big question in the new year. >> we'll see what happens. manu, thank you very much. joining us, the senior democratic whip, debbie dingell of michigan, who also serves on the congressional progressive caucus. thank you for joining us. mitch mcconnell says joe manchin would be more comfortable in the gop. is he right about that? >> i think if he would have been more comfortable in the gop, he would have changed parties a long time ago. this is a man who was a democratic governor, he is close friends with joe biden. there have been some policy differences this year but i suspect in the end his comments to i think it was "rolling stone" earlier this year that people love to chatter, they love to gossip, but i think we're going to see joe manchin continue to caucus with the democratic side of the senate. >> i sense you're right.
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mitch mcconnell also says democrats are basically calling manchin a liar. in fact house progressive chair practice milla jayapal told me in "the situation room" earlier this week that democrats can't trust manchin's word. you know washington well, you know capitol hill well. how does this relationship get pulled back from the brink? >> i think it's got to start at the white house, with the president. i was surprised myself when joe made the statement on sunday. but i'm somebody, as you well know, that tries to respect everybody that i work with, keep relationships open. the person that you're mad at today you're going to need tomorrow on the next bill that you're working with. i think this christmas break came at a good time. the pandemic has been going on for two years. people are tired, they're working hard. everybody needs to take a deep breath. there are a lot of things that we need to deal with. many of them in the build back
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better bill. we'll come back in january fresh, come back to the table and figure out how we're going to help people that need us to be there for them. >> senator manchin excluded the child tax credit from his $1.8 trillion counterproposal to the white house last week. is a bill without the child tax credit from your perspective a nonstarter right now? >> wolf, i love you, but we are not going to negotiate on public television. i think his reaction to the child tax credit is nuanced. and i think negotiators, starting with the president, and the speaker, and others, need to get back to the table, figure out what we must have. i've got parents that are looking for that money to be able to ensure that they can put food on the table. it helped them a lot this year. i've had a mother who told me what it allowed her to do. so that's one of the many other issues that is on the table. people are really worried about
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the cost of their prescription drugs. i know joe manchin cares about that. the bill that i have in there is about long term care for seniors and it's a year-end program. i'm not abandoning all the work we've done to get there with senator casey and the president. we've got a lot of important issues. there have been a lot of sharp words. it's christmas. it's the holidays. not everybody celebrates christmas as you and i do. but we need everybody to really just take a deep breath because these issues are too important to get lost in anger right now. >> what's your message to voters who are simply frustrated that democrats can't seem to get across the finish line on this critically important issue in spite of being in control of the white house, the senate, and the house of representatives? >> i'm going to remind them that we've got the thinnest majorities in the house and the senate. it's a 50/50 senate. you know, democrats have got -- look, i'm going to put it on me
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as well as everybody else, as we have to do a better job at talking about what we have gotten done. look at where we were last holiday. we're finding ourselves a bit back there as we're dealing with covid and omicron, but we're not scared. we don't have people worried about whether they'll get vaccinated. now we have to talk people into getting boosters. we got the american recovery plan passed, we got shots in arms, we got people back to work, we got money in the pocket of people, we got schools reopened. we got the infrastructure bill, we're going to fix our roads and bridges. we'll make sure people have access to affordable water. we won't be equivalent to a third world country in terms of our infrastructure once these investments are made. we've made a lot of good progress and we'll keep making it. that's what we've got to focus on. what's gotten done and what we're going to get done. >> i hope you have a merry christmas and a happy new year, representative debbie dingell of michigan, thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf.
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a healthy 2022 to everybody. >> let's hope 2022 is better than 2021, better than 2020. i can't believe we're entering year three of this covid pandemic. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead, will the u.s. follow israel in recommending that some people get a fourth dose of the covid-19 vaccine? we'll hear what the head of the cdc is now saying.
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more now on the coronavirus
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crisis. israel has begun rolling out a fourth vaccine dose to vulnerable people including those over 60 and medical workers. let's go to our senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen. she's got details for us. elizabeth, walk us through how israel arrived at this key decision. >> reporter: wolf, so israel has been seeing really for many months now that this vaccine tends to wane and boosters tend to wane as well. they're just another shot of vaccine, after all. and also, omicron, it doesn't react as well to the vaccine, in other words the vaccine doesn't neutralize it as well. so they're saying let's sort of speed up this process. they're right now recommending, this was just announced last night, fourth shots for people age 60 plus, medical workers, and for those who are immune suppressed. in the u.s. there's only an allowance for the immune suppressed. the cdc told them a while back you can go ahead and get a fourth shot if you want to. all of these fourth shots in
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israel, it's got to be at least four months after your third shot, wolf. >> it's been four months since i got my third shot, so let's see what the u.s. decides on that front. it seems, elizabeth, as you well know, that israel is often a step ahead of other nations when it comes to reacting and taking action against covid. remind our viewers what israel has been saying and doing. >> reporter: right, so israel actually started their third dose rollout back at the end of july. so that was, you know, about two months before it started in earnest in the united states. and in israel they just did it. in the u.s. it was for this group, no, for this group, and it sort of went on and on. there are several reasons israel has been ahead on this. israel acts quickly. i know it seems strange to make this reference but i think back to the haiti earthquake in 2010, we were waiting for the americans to come build a mobile hospital for the haitians and the israelis got to haiti way
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before the u.s. got to haiti to build those hospitals. they tend to move quickly. they have a centralized health system. they essentially have one insurance company and they can see all the data they need to see. the u.s. has at least hundreds of insurance companies. another thing we're seeing here, wolf, is that american experts tend to like data tied up in a bow, laid out, fully researched, preferably published in "the new england journal of medicine." israelis aren't that way. it's a cultural thing in some ways. they don't expect things to be all settled up. they sort of act on less information. they kind of connect the dots, not necessarily less information but they don't need it laid out as nicely as americans do, wolf. >> as you say, they have world class doctors and scientists there as well. elizabeth cohen, thank you very much for that update. meanwhile, the national hockey league says its players won't, won't take part in the men's ice hockey tournament at the upcoming winter olympic games in beijing citing increasing covid cases and
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dozens of postponed games. let's dig deeper with cnn sports analyst christine brennan. christine, the nhl has already had to postpone 50 games. how much of this decision to skip the olympics is about being able to compete its own -- complete its own season, to compete here at home? >> reporter: that's it, wolf, because they're not sending players to the olympics, they will have three weeks which will give them an opportunity to schedule some games. there was great concern exactly how long a quarantine period would be in china at the olympics if you test positive there. the nhl was talking about three to five weeks in quarantine. those numbers sound exaggerated. that's the very high side for the chinese, the beijing olympics. but that fear was put in the
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hearts and minds of many hockey players and nhl leaders and coaches, saying, wait a minute, one of my players goes to the olympics and didn't back until april? that of course was untenable for a league that is already struggling. >> good point. the nba, as you know, has postponed eight games already this season. but amid this surge in omicron cases, nba commissioner adam silver says he doesn't see the logic of pausing the season right now. what message does that send to players and everyone working on those teams? >> reporter: it means you're scrambling. they're really scrambling here. it's different than march of 2020 for many reasons. the vaccines, of course, chief among them. but the nba is not going to shut down as they did on march 11, 2020, signaling how serious covid was to all of us back then. the nba will keep going on. obviously christmas day, you're a big nba fan, you know this well, the christmas day games are huge, they're big ratings games. people are sitting at home able to nba and the nba certainly
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doesn't want to lose that. of course the nhl, going back to hockey, is dealing with the border issue much more than the nba is. so they'll keep playing and keep scrambling and we'll see how they do it. >> let's hope for the best, i'll be watching those games, of course. thanks so much, christine brennan. up next, details about talks between a top russian general and his counterparts about a possible move by russia on ukraine. nowcame from. doesn't that look like your papa? that's your great grandfather. it's like opening a whole 'nother world that we did not know existed. ♪ you finally have a face to a name. when you give the gift of ancestry®, you give the gift of family. ♪ to run a growing business, is to be on a journey. and along the ride, you'll have many questions.
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or live chat at today. right now of a high level call between the united states and russia amid growing concerns of a possible russian invasion of ukraine. let's go to oren liebermann. what is the latest. >> the top general, mark milley spoke with his russian counterpart and in the read out, they discussed operational deconfliction, which is tried to avoid a fight or conflict between russia and ukraine. it is not the first time they've spoke. they were concerned about the build up of russian forces and this is part of the effort to
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try to find some kind of off-ramp and avoid an escalation between russia and ukraine. part is the diplomatic side, russia said they hope there are u.s. and russia talks next month to try to find what russia calls security guarantees to avoid a greater fight. but it goes beyond that. antony blinken with a punishing and sweeping sanctions against the economy and financial seccor should russia decide to invade ukraine. that is part of the effort to deter that russian action. and what the u.s. continues to watch is the rhetoric coming from russia and specifically russia president vladimir putin who said yesterday claiming that the u.s. does what it wants in ukraine and that russia has nowhere else to retreat to. that is setting up a narrative before a possible fight, wolf. >> thank you very much. very disturbing developments. let's get more on all of this.
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cnn military analyst retired general wesley clark is joining us, the former nato supreme allies yid commander. how much of a conversation between the counterpart in moscow accomplish amid putin's provocative rhetoric. >> well i think it is good to be talking but i don't think that general is going to tell any key operational tales to general milley. i think it is just a matter of communications. but the russians are rolling forces forward and arming them and preparing them. we have strategic warning of an attack now, probably president putin has not pulled trigger on this because it would happen quick live. but we're approaching the window where the forced readiness is there and the ground is freezing over so they could maneuver off roads, they've got overwhelming air superiority over the ukrainians. this could be very ugly very quickly.
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and wolf, we have to consider this, it may be impossible for us to conceive this, but the way that the russian diplomacy is unfolding, the charges, the statements by putin, the complaint by the defense minister that we have chemical weapons in ukraine, it looks like he's preparing the russian people and the russian authorities for force, the use of force, could he do that? why would he do that? because he knows every time we used our military, that it is brought a huge boost in u.s. prestige when we solved the kosovo problem in 1999 with shock and awe in iraq and people jumped back with new found respect for the united states. this is not about ukraine. this is about the future of russia and the future of nato and the future of the united states. ukraine is just a demonstration piece. so we have to be aware that he
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may have in his mind that he really does want to use force. forget about the casualties, forget about the economics. he wants the soviet union restored as a centerpiece of europe, let's say and this could be very serious. >> i know you're really worried about this. what are the chances you believe the united states could deter a russian invasion? >> i think the sanctions, the energy work are helpful. but i don't think it's going to be sufficient if put inreally wants to demonstrate russian military power. i would like to see the united states and nato send some air reinforcements in the places like romaina to make sure there is no spillover to the russians that stop right here. but there has been talk about maybe we would supply ukrainian guerilla forces and have a
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counter insurgency campaign, this is not serious talk. the ukrainians will fight hard but the russians, they're full of themselves, they're arrogant, they believe they've learned everything, they have new equipment. they're itching to go at the military level is my reading of it. putin may decide not to but he's not getting the notes of caution from his military. they think -- they could overrun this and in a few days so this could be really a real shock to the international system in the new year. >> it certainly could. very disturbing developments. retired general wesley clark, merry christmas and happy new year, thank you so much for joining us. and more breaking news rear following here in "the situation room." the white house touts the first pill to treat covid 19 as had gets fda authorization. all of the latest pandemic news, that is next. and t-mobile is paying for them both! and this is for new and existing customers. upgrade to the iphone 13 pro and airpods both on us.
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at happening now, breaking news, the white house is welcoming the fda's authorization of the first pill to treat covid-19, promising a dramatic reduction in hospitalizations and deaths. there is the question, when will infected americans be able to get the pill and see the benefits? also tonight, the desperate scramble for covid-19 tests just ahead of the holidays as the omicron variant spreads to all 50 states. we're going to try to clear up the confusion about which test to take and where to get it. another breaking story this hour, the january 6 select committee is setting its sights on jim jordan on