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tv   Don Lemon Tonight  CNN  January 5, 2022 8:00pm-9:00pm PST

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we're now just hours away from commemorations at the u.s. capitol marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly insurrection the white house saying president joe biden will speak about the singular responsibility the former president has in the chaos and carnage of the attack.
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also tonight, the new manhattan district attorney announcing a list of crimes his office will prosecute, and will not prosecute i should say, drawing both positive and negative reactions. is his move the right way to go? and a major upset in the world of tennis but this time off the court tennis champ novak djokovic ordered to leave australia after applying for a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated for covid-19. a lot to discuss. let's bring in cnn's senior political analyst and white house correspondent. good evening. >> good evening. >> john a., meaning avlon, one year out, look. it's almost easy to forget that right after the insurrection there was a moment where republican leaders could have broken with trump for good, right? i had a guest on earlier that said the party could have pivoted away from trump. instead trump and his big lie
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have more of a hold on the gop than ever. did it have to be this way, john? >> absolutely not. look, we know 147 republicans voted with trump to overturn the election after the attack but republican leaders as you said stood up and denounced him in the days and weeks after the fact but then they pulled a punch at a critical moment particularly the senate trial of his second impeachment. that could have taken him out of politics forever. that combined with the right wing media echo chamber has allowed the big lie to spread in a way that is incredibly disfiguring to our republic and is primarily the problem in the republican party. trump is powerful because people knuckled under. they remained fearful of a disgraced would be des pot living in florida. >> john harwood, john h., biden is going to be giving an address tomorrow. i should say the president is going to be giving an address
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tomorrow where advisers say he will be blunt about the focus behind the insurrection and what it has done to our democracy. what message will be trying to drive home on this first anniversary? >> well, don, i think it is an important pivot moment for the joe biden white house. throughout 2021 he talked about threats to democracy and the need for democracy to show it could work. that was mainly about democracy delivering. that meant his government and his party, which is in control of the congress delivering. they've struggled to do that. they've been fighting internally and trying to get his agenda through. for that and some other reasons his ratings have suffered. in 2022 if he is going to come back politically he is going to have to take it hard to republicans, draw sharp contrast with republicans, and talk about the difference between the two parties. one of the differences is this question of democracy. it's an argument that has the
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advantage of being true. as you were discussing with avlon a minute ago, it didn't have to be this way but it is. the democratic party is not a threat to democracy. the republican party is. if joe biden can make that case forcefully, that might have the ability to rally his base and bring some people to his side. >> john avlon the attorney general merrick garland warning that acts of violence and threats have become frighteningly common over the last year. here is part of it. >> flight crews have been assaulted, journalists have been targeted, school personnel and their families have been threatened. a member of congress was threatened in a gruesome voice mail that asked if she had ever seen what a 50 caliber shell does to a human head. these acts and threats of violence are not associated with any one set of partisan or
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ideological views. but they are permeating so many parts of our national life that they risk becoming normalized and routine if we do not stop them. >> listen, you know, john, this all started with the rise of trump, right? >> yes. >> this sort of anger. but it really came to a head over the last year since the insurrection. it seems a year after the insurrection americans are angrier than ever at people they disagree with. where is this going? >> well, look. there is no question the tone comes from the top and we have defined deviancy down and are in danger of normalizing threats and violence. whatever political frustrations folks may be feeling, frustrations around covid, we need to reawaken to the basic idea of common ground and common decency. that is what in part garland, a.g. garland was discussing today. this downstream effect from the
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bile in our politics. but it's also going to take accountability to rein in some of these folks who now feel free rein to threaten violence because they've become unhinged. we need to cut that off at the pass before it escalates again. >> mr. harwood, in a "new york times" op-ed out today the former president jimmy carter is calling out republicans in his home state and other key states warning and i quote here, they seek to win by any means and many americans are being persuaded to think and act like wise threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed. i now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally, the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strong men politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power has become dangerous fragile at home.
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very profound. when a former president says american democracy is on the brink wouldn't you say, hey, we have a real problem here? >> we definitely have a real problem here. the challenge for joe biden is making average americans and the people who vote in the 2022 midterms believe it is a huge problem. people are focused on day-to-day concerns, focused on covid, on their economic circumstances, inflation, all of the things that in day-to-day life preoccupy most american families. and the january 6th insurrection had the advantage of dramatizing the threat to democracy on our television screens in a way nobody could miss. as we get a year out from that defending democracy is an abstraction for most americans. it is not clear especially given the president's lack of popularity at the moment that he can rally a large audience even with the help of jimmy carter.
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we'll have to see if he can make that case. maybe it can rally his base but the truth is right now republicans have enough political strength to win without cheating, without violence, without things that threaten democracy, and joe biden and democrats are going to have to make that threat as vivid as possible. >> before you jump through the screen, john? >> look. aside from the historic nature of a former president warning that democracy is in danger in america, you know, this isn't about popularity. it's not about all the things that drive people to distraction in their daily lives. this is fundamental. there does need to be a broader movement to defend our democracy. folks should be single issue voters if they're not part of the trumpist right. this should be something that can unite us. there is nothing more important than defending our democracy at the end of the day. it does require people realizing that that is the issue and
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forming broader coalitions to defend our democracy. honoring those republicans who did the right thing, you know, people who are some of the heroes of the last year, but realizing that there is a rot inside the trump led republican party that must be confronted if you care about democracy and that is the essence of being a patriot. anything else is transactional partisanship. >> you just took the words out of my mouth. they are not actually patriots. >> no. >> they think that's what patriotism is. you have to live it. thanks very much, gentlemen. i want to bring in cnn contributor and former nixon white house counsel john dean as well as former u.s. attorney harry litman. hello, gents. how are you? >> hi, don. >> hi, don. >> another john. john dean. good evening to you. the attorney general merrick garland insisting today the justice department is committed to holding those involved in the
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january 6th insurrection accountable. >> the actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. the justice department remains committed to holding all january 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law. whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. we will follow the facts wherever they lead. >> so critics on the left have been demanding more action from the doj. should they feel reassured tonight? >> i think they should. i actually tweeted that very fact shortly after the address. in fact, i learn in your first segment that the department of justice put that paragraph out in their press release before the speech, so they were obviously sending the signal.
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and it was received. i didn't have an advanced press copy. that paragraph or that statement just jumped out at me because i don't think that trump's team should be sleeping as easily tonight. they know they are potential targets. >> this was, harry, a relatively safe speech from a.g. garland coming a year after the capitol riot but it is important to remember the doj doesn't operate on a political calendar like congress does. could a lot more be happening behind the scenes? it has been a year. it seems like a long time. >> so, yes, yes, and yes. first, as to the sort of money quote that john just said, overall it was a button down, bureaucratic speech. but this was the big point. and what you played is exactly the focal point. his cadence slowed. his voice raised. he meant very carefully to say, listen to me and what i'm saying and i mean it. on the other hand, the calendar
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is a huge point as you say. this is more implicit in the speech. i don't think people tumbled to it quite as much but he was basically saying. >> we are on a different timeline and it is not necessarily congruent with the january 6th committee timeline. i think he is saying they will go there but indications are they have not yet and it takes months, more really to put together a case and in that sense as a practical matter i think we were also hearing tonight that he is not going to be giving the huge shot in the arm that some in the democratic party might be seeking in advance of the midterms. he was asking for patience and a little bit of like give me some room here. this is how we work it. it is how they work it. but it will disappoint some. >> yes. we saw four years, harry, of trump attempting to use the doj as a political weapon. is this department, is this, excuse me, how the department is
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supposed to operate? >> it is. 100%. he plays it so straight and so by the rules. now you'll have people especially on the left saying this is such an extreme situation. you should bend the rules a bit. tell us a bit more. go to this investigation quicker than you otherwise would. but there is no doubt he is a by the book guy. what he said today as you put it, don, was safe but significant. and he was really retreating to the prerogative here is how the doj does stuff and we aren't going to change it even for this historic and abhorrent event as he made clear at the beginning and even if there is a sort of political heat on the outside. we are doing our job the way we do it. he was really clear about that. and again as people focus on it, that will mean that it won't give the democrats and the
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committee what they are necessarily looking for between now and the end of the summer. >> john dean, let's talk about this trump advisers who happened to have television shows. we got these new text messages this week that sean hannity sent to the former chief of staff mark meadows. he talks about the white house council in the text in that quote here. we can't lose the entire white house counsel's office. i do not see january 6th happening the way he is being told. one year ago on january 5th he sent this one. it says pence pressure. white house counsel will leave. as a former white house counsel who testified against president nixon what is hannity's concern telling you about what was happening around trump on the eve of the insurrection? >> it really is a post watergate kind of reaction. white house counsel typically do not resign. it is a very unusual situation.
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none have. mcgahn trump's original counsel threatened it once internally. it leaked out because of the russia investigation. it is an unusual circumstance. that hannity would know about it shows how deep inside his knowledge is because we know from senate testimony there was one occasion that sip loney, his last counsel was talking about leaving if they put a new attorney general in, this fellow clark who was just a mid level assistant attorney general. so this is, we couldn't tell from this as to whether it is another one or the same. clearly hannity has a lot of information that could be very valuable to the committee. i'll be surprised if they don't subpoena him. >> oh, wow. right on. harry, you agree? >> i do agree. now, they'll very carefully tread the first amendment line. it is a hugely interesting issue because he is really not acting like a reporter here.
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let me put it this way. they will ask for him to cooperate and make clear eight ways from sunday we're not talking about any journalism. if he disputes and it goes to the courts we'll see what will happen. but it is, you know, he will use the shield of journalism. he isn't a journalist here. he is an insider and that reflects poorly on the, you know, his journalistic role not to mention his sort of crony role. >> what a tangled web. thank you very much, gentlemen. i appreciate it. why the right is trying to recast a woman who died at the capitol on january 6th as the joan of arc of the insurrection. next the truth about what happened to ashley babitt. new vicks vapostick. strong soothing vapors... help comfort your loved ones.
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so to some americans on the right she is a patriot who died a martyr. lies about ashli babitt's death at the january 6 insurrection have spread like wild fire over the last year. >> reporter: captured on video this was the moment the former president's stolen election lie led to the death of air force veteran ashli babitt. in the wake of her killing, her story spread and transformed into a right wing conspiracy. one of the reasons ashli babitt's case took off is because there is video of the incident happening and taken out of context it can be used to further conspiracy theories she was used as a galvanizing point for militia to state they were being suppressed by the government. media figures and elected officials have sought to recast her as a political martyr, the
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joan of arc of the insurrection. >> together we grieve her terrible loss. there was no reason ashli should have lost her life that day. we must all demand justice for ashli and her family. >> reporter: those closest to her tell a more complicated story of a veteran and business owner sucked into a world of conspiracies, lies, and deception that ultimately led to her death. >> that is one of the hardest parts about seeing the video is you just want to grab her and shake her and be like, damn it, ashli, why did you have to do that? >> reporter: in the months before the january 6 insurrection ashli babitt was living in san diego, california. babitt previously voted for barack obama but later became a qanon conspiracy follower and driven by a presidential lie joined the pro trump crowd in d.c. january 6th. >> i feel like she went to the capitol because she felt her voice wasn't being heard. i think my sister truly believed by going there they were going to change america for the
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greater. >> we are now walking down the inaugural path to the capitol building. >> reporter: she attempted to climb through a shattered window leading to a speaker's lobby outside the house chamber just as police were evacuating lawmakers. capitol police lieutenant mike berg shot once and killed her. three investigations determined he was justified. former capitol police chief terry gaynor agrees. >> given what he knew at that time at that moment and what the insurrectionists were doing trying to break down that door, a few feet from the hallway that would enter the chamber while we were trying to empty the chamber of members. >> reporter: in washington, whitney wild, cnn. >> thank you very much for that reporting. joining me now professor of history at nyu, the author of "strong men, mussolini to the present." ruth, thank you so much for joining us. so conspiracy theorists and the right wing media made ashli babitt a false martyr to their
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cause. why is so much about january 6th manipulated and twisted into propaganda? >> because january 6th is the foundational event of this new insurgency. to have an insurgency you need momentum and they can't really wait till 2024 for trump to come back, for their leader to come back, so martyrs are very useful to, since facism a hundred years ago martyrs are very useful for keeping people engaged and enraged. and ashli babitt is perfect because she is at the center of this vortex of disinformation, qanon, and trump leader worship. trump isn't just a politician. he is a cult leader. ashlee babitt died with a trump campaign flag wrapped around her shoulders so was fully into not just saving the nation but saving trump.
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i see january 6 as a kind of authoritarian leader cult rescue operation. >> wow. ruth, it is shocking to hear just how distorted truth can become. cnn's donie o'sullivan went out and talked to trump supporters who continue to believe lies about the insurrection and the election. >> we are very peaceful people. it was a total set up to me. the fbi set it up. >> reporter: you said the whole thing is a set up. you don't really believe that do you? >> i do. i do. because trump won the election. they have proven it over and over again. >> it was set up. i think that people didn't know what was happening. and i think they went in there and they were caught in a trap. >> don't think trump had much to do other than people that were supporters for him some were involved but i think they were enticed by the fbi. >> wow.
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i mean, wow. it is really sad in a way. how do you make people who are so sure of something completely wrong believe they have been misled? how do you get them to see the truth? >> it is really difficult because once they're fully immersed in these cult dynamics and very invested like speaking to the press or going to rallies and their identity becomes anchored to these myths they believe are kind of dogma, they are very reluctant even if they have an inkling something might not be right they are very reluctant to distance themselves. it's like they don't want to lose face or be ashamed. and so they can actually dig in further. but a lot of the studies show that it is very easy to want to cast these people off. so many of us have friends and family we can't talk to anymore. that is not a good thing to do because then they go further into their burrows of disinformation. it is a very difficult problem.
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trump has been a master at leading these people further and further into this kind of disinformation tunnel and playing them up to january 6th. you know what is interesting, january 6th they showed a propaganda film at the rally. we haven't paid enough attention to that because it was a qanon film. there is a huge amount of overlap between all the qanon and gop and mike flynn. they had hollywood and globalists but the film ended with this terrifying sight if you're not in the cult, trump's giant face. it covered the whole screen. that face stayed on the screen as the people went off to assault the capitol all riled up by trump, saving him. we really have to understand these dynamics of authoritarian cults and disinformation if we are going to understand january 6th and what it has wrought and what our reality will be in the
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future. >> wow. ruth, thank you. it just reminds me, unwhere it came from, of the drinking of the kool-aid. just unbelievable. thank you. i appreciate it. new york's district attorney changing the rules on who gets prosecuted for what. he says it'll make the city safer but not everyone agrees. plus, australia ordering the world's top tennis player out of the country.
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okay. so this is interesting. in new york city manhattan's new district attorney announcing that he won't prosecute some crimes as overall crimes spike in the city. in a memo he says his office will not prosecute marijuana misdemeanors, skipping public transportation fares, trespassing, resisting arrest, and prostitution. he says he wants to invest more in alternatives to incarceration that will reduce reoffending and conserve resources. the new policy is laid out in his memo and says unless you are being charged with a violent crime or public corruption you won't wait in jail for a trial. you won't wait for trial in jail. so joining me now cnn's legal analyst joey jackson and political commentator scott jennings. this is interesting. can't wait for this
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conversation. good evening. joey, you're first. he says this move will keep new yorkers safe and will free up resources for prosecutors to focus on violent crime. will that happen if his office stops prosecuting lower level crimes? >> it certainly could. good evening don and scott. i am an alumni of the manhattan district attorney's office, proudly, prosecuted crimes in manhattan and, certainly, i think the city and people in the city need and want to feel safe. what i read his memo and his policies as are really diverting resources into violent criminal actions. when you have guns on the street resources should go there. when you have violent sex offenders we need to address that. we need to address assaults and people abusing from a domestic violence context, from the context of sexual offenders. i think what he is saying is we really have to focus on that. there is such a long time where the city has prosecuted these
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petty crimes and i think what you want to do is focus on the people who are violent criminals in the city of new york. this is a guy who has ban federal prosecutor, a civil rights attorney, a prosecutor in a state level. i think him combined with the fact that we have a mayor who has served as a law enforcement official and retired as a captain i think will be one of the safest cities in the united states >> i want to be clear. people accused of murder, sexual assault, domestic violence or major economic crimes are still going to be prosecuted and still have to wait for their trial in jail. right? >> that's right. >> okay. >> it is the other issues, the lower level offenses. you have to ask the city of new york before scott goes, i'm sorry scott, you have to ask, listen, would you rather prosecute someone waving a gun or jumping over a turn style? would you rather them prosecute someone who is abusing a woman on the street or doing something
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else or engaged in -- >> you can't do bogue? >> i think you can but i think in a world where the resources are limited you have to focus those resources in an area where they are needed and necessary. >> all right. i'm not going to pay to ride the subway anymore. i'll just jump the turn style since i won't be prosecuted. i'm kidding. i can understand some people saying why should i pay to ride the subway if other people, no one is going to be prosecuted for it? so he campaigned on this policy and won. why shouldn't he be able to implement what new yorkers supported? what do you think of this? >> he should be able to implement because he did win. he is more than capable i guess of implementing the same sort of soft on crime policies imappellated in chicago, philadelphia, baltimore, these places that are utopias of public safety. i don't live in new york.
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i love new york. i've been visiting and been in it quite often in my years with cnn. this makes me think twice about whether i want to be in the city and certainly whether i want to bring my family there. joey who i have a lot of respect for and trust his legal opinion, i am not a lawyer, but he mentioned do we want to prosecute people waving guns, well one of the provisions of this is they are downgrading armed robberies if you don't hurt somebody. so you will have people waving guns who don't get prosecuted to the extent i'm sure the person being robbed or the store owner would like to see. i think this is a big political issue by the way, don, a continuation of liberal democrats' war on police. i think you'll see republicans use it, conservatives talk about this, and i think you'll see the mayor of new york city who by the way i have a lot of respect for because he is already standing up to the shutdown mafia and the teachers unions, will he stand up for the police he previously served with?
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this is a real test for him and chance to distinguish himself nationally. >> you both mentioned and i know you please want to respond, eric adams, a former police officer. and he has actually vow to fight crime but seems to be on board with this change, these changes bragg wants. >> at the precinct level someone comes in for a petty theft. you identify they have a mental health issue. instead of locking them up let's defer prosecution, have a local community based organization that deals with mental health illnesses handle it right at the precinct. that is the coordination we need. there is no one with mental health illness in rikers island. that is a revolving door. >> we have seen the rise of smash-and-grab crimes in large cities like san francisco. do you expect bragg and adams to stay eye to eye on this kind of
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crime? if it goes up certainly it is going to be used as a political cudgle by the right and frankly by new yorkers who want a safe city. >> don are you asking me? >> yes, sir >> i see a mayor who is committed to the reduction of crime. i see a mayor who understands the nature of crime having worn a vest in the city for 22 years and retired as a captain. i see a prosecutor who is looking not to prosecute petty offenses and keep people mostly of color in jail. i see a prosecutor looking to divert resources and make people feel safe. with respect to scott's assertion with regard to waving of guns that is not at all what his memo says. what they are talking about are dangerous instruments that don't relate to guns. he indicated he is going to put out a very tough on crime gun policy, hate crime policy in addition to this. what i do believe is that this will be a safe city. it will remain a safe city. it'll be safer than ever. but what you have to do is look
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to alternatives to incarceration for petty offenses. let's go after those people representing the real threats to fantastic tourists we want in our city like scott and his family. let's make sure that they feel safe, that we all as new yorkers and myself who goes to the city every day and everyone else is safe. but let's focus on those people who need to be incarcerated and let's have diversion programs and not be putting them in jail. let's put the rapists and other people who deserve to be in jail. i think this is a policy we have to let breathe. we have to look for alternatives. this is a district attorney and mayor who are committed to making the city the safest and best place it can possibly be for years to come. >> scott, we want you and your family to come. i promise you i won't jump the turn style. i'll give you my subway card so you can use it if you're here. >> you know, some of this is actually i think a good social debate. >> quickly, please.
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>> on violent crimes but i have to say this whole issue of downgrading and not prosecuting people who are resisting arrest if i were a police officer in new york city that issue alone, i'm out here trying to keep the city safe to do what joey says, have a safe city and you are basically giving people a blueprint or pass on how to commit crimes and get away with it and say resisting arrest is somehow going to be a lesser charge or not prosecuted at all would give me extreme concern if i were a public safety officer in any city doing that. >> that is the last word. thank you very much. world's top tennis player being kicked out of australia over his vaccine status or lack of a vaccine. we're live in sydney, next. ready to turn your dreams into plans and your actions into achievements? explore over 75 programs
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serbia and ault trading tough talk over world number one tennis player novak djokovic. after australia canceled his visa to enter the country organizers of the australian open earlier said djokovic received a medical exemption to play at the tournament but he was reportedly held at the melbourne airport after applying for a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated for covid. djokovic has been outspoken about his opposition to mandatory vaccines. joining me now cnn producer angus watson live in sydney,
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australia. hello to you. djokovic may not be able to defend his australian open title. it looks like he could be deported. what happened and where is he now? >> reporter: don, this is is the end to quite a saga about will djokovic be able to come to australia to defend his australian open crown or won't he? it all played out in astonishing fashion last night as djokovic arrived at melbourne airport into australia. half way through the night he was kept there by immigration police who wanted to go over all his paperwork. when djokovic arrived, he believed that he had the documentation that said it was okay for him to come into the country unvaccinated. the country has very strict rules saying all people that travel in here need to have two shots of a recognized covid-19 vaccine.
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we presume now that novak djokovic does not have that proof of being fully vaccinated. instead he tried to show there are other reasons why he should be able to come in and keep the public safe while he is in here. he failed to do that. he was kept there. the government decided he instead had to be deported. they've now i think, we think taken him to a hotel to keep him there until he decides whether to appeal or whether to fly out of the country. now, we're hearing from his lawyers that he might file that injunction against the government decision to deport him by around this afternoon. we heard from the prime minister of australia today, don, with really firm words saying that it is one rule for everybody and that everybody has to stick to it whether you are a tennis star or a regular person. here is what he had to say. >> if you are not double vaccinated and not an australian resident or citizen, well you
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can't come. >> those firm words really appealing to a lot people here in australia who have gone out and done their bit to get vaccinated and been told throughout this pandemic that to do the right thing you have to get two shots to protect yourself and the rest of the community. the people that are going to watch the tennis when the australian open begins half way through january all have to be vaccinated to attend the stadiums. a lot of people here are saying the players should have to be, too, including novak djokovic. >> i commend the prime minister for saying what he said and doing what he is doing. we should have that policy here in the united states as well. thank you very much. i appreciate you joining us. we'll be right back. it was very hard. kimberly came to clearchoice with a bunch of missing teeth, struggling with pain, with dental disease. clearchoice dental implants solved her dental issues. [ kimberly ] i feel so much better. i feel energized to go outside and play with my daughter.
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unacceptable in this country. >> it is not a protest. these aren't children. these are adults and they're destroying our country. >> i think what is so jarring to so many americans right now is just the fact that there's so much lawlessness. >> why isn't anybody stopping the looting and the vandalism and the destruction of public and private property? >> that giant lie handicapped the police so they couldn't do a thing to stop the riots without being accused to attacking mostly peaceful protesters. >> these include people that threw projectiles at cops. >> screaming the most disgusting things an inch away from their face. >> well, there you go. we're now just a few minutes from the one-year anniversary of january 6th. cnn is marking the day with an unprecedented gathering inside the capitol with police, lawmakers and leaders. life in the capitol, january 6th, one-year later with jake tapper and anderson cooper begins tomorrow at 8:00. i will be on right after that
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with some really important interviews with folks who lived through the attack, who defended the capitol, our democracy and more. thanks for watching, everyone. i will see you tomorrow. our coverage continues. came part of our financial plan. ♪ ♪ find a northwestern mutual advisor at as a professional bull-rider i'm used to taking chances. but when it comes to my insurance i don't. i use liberty mutual, they customize your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need.
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good evening from washington. we are here to mark tomorrow's anniversary of the january 6th attack on the capitol, which we now know was only part of a larger scheme to overturn the outcome for a free and fair perjury election. it was in every way an assault on democracy. looking at the building behind me in all its magnificence and all it signifies about our democracy should make us all stop and reflect on what we almost lost a year ago tomorro


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