tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 11, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
see if you can save by switching today. comcast business. powering possibilities. happening now. breaking news. president biden says he's tired of being quiet about the threat to voting rights in america. will speaking out help advance stalled legislation. i ask his top domestic policy adviser susan rice about the president's push, democrats' frustrations, and risk of failure on this critical issue. also tonight. dr. fauci says surging omicron variant will eventually find just about everybody. the acting fda director agrees, suggesting the u.s. should focus
le less on stopping the virus and more on keeping essential services running. and setting sights on rudy giuliani. the former trump lawyer is an integral part of the investigation. rudy giuliani's camp is firing back. welcome to viewers in the united states and around the world. i am wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin tonight with president biden's new call to action on voting rights as he faces growing pressure from fellow democrats to make election reform a top priority. let's go to our chief white house correspondent kaitlan collins. he spoke in georgia and he spoke very strongly. >> reporter: he did. wolf, this is a symbolic trip for president biden, not only visited with martin luther king jr.'s family, laid a wreath, and
went onto make a call to change the filibuster to get voting rights legislation passed. what voting rights activists want to know is whether or not calls that the president made today can translate into action on capitol hill. with an uphill battle ahead, president biden making a push for voting rights tonight. >> i will not yield, i will not fledge. i will defend the right to vote. our democracy against all enemies, foreign, and yes, domestic. >> reporter: in georgia, a state that's become ground zero in the fight over election integrity, biden framed it as a defining moment. >> not just here in georgia. last year alone 19 states not proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights. >> reporter: the president upping pressure on congress to pass voting rights legislation by making an exception to the filibuster which has allowed republicans to block the bills so far. >> not a single republican has
displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president, to protect our democracy. i support changing the senate rules. whichever way they need to be changed to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights. >> reporter: biden was flanked by vice president harris, democrats, and a slew of civil rights leaders. but one of the most prominent voices for voting rights, stacey abrams, was missing. >> i spoke to stacy this morning, have a great relationship. we got our scheduling mixed up. >> reporter: abrams' office said there was a scheduling conflict. her absence raised eyebrows as others boycotted the visit, calling for action, not a photo op. >> gave a speech in philadelphia in july, then for seven months we heard nothing else about voting rights from him. >> reporter: the president is taking a gamble he may not be able to deliver on. >> i have been having these quiet conversations with members
of congress for the last two months. i'm tired of being quiet. >> reporter: changing the filibuster requires support of all 50 democrats which right now he doesn't have. >> we need some good rules changes, we can do that together. but to change rules with two-thirds of the people are present, democrats and republicans, changing rules to make the place work better, getting rid of filibuster doesn't make it work better. >> reporter: chuck schumer is pushing for rule change if republicans don't get behind voting rights legislation by martin luther king jr. day. >> if they continue paralyzing this chamber to the point we're helpless to fight back against the big lie, we must consider the necessary steps we can take so the senate can adapt an act. >> reporter: senate minority leader mitch mcconnell vows a scorched earth response if democrats follow through. >> what would a post nuclear senate look like? i assure you, it would not be more efficient or more productive.
i personally guarantee it. >> reporter: wolf, we should note it is quite a moment for president biden who is a self described institutionalist to call for change to the filibuster when it comes to voting rights. that's a position he has resisted in the past, but one he is taking now. now the fight goes from the white house to the senate. so far president biden hasn't been able to convince holdouts to get on board with these changes. that is going to be the new bar and standard given what president biden said in atlanta today, wolf. >> certainly will be. kaitlan collins at the white house for us, thank you very much. let's discuss with the director of the white house domestic policy council, susan rice. ambassador rice, thanks for joining us. the president of the naacp responded to the president's speech saying it is time for the biden administration to, quote, match their words with actions. why nearly a year into lewis or
>> ambassador susan rice, thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. good to be with you. just ahead, dr. anthony fauci says the omicron variant will find just about everybody. does the united states need to rethink its strategy fighting the virus now? stay with us. you're in "the situation room." easy tools on the chase mobile app. simplicity feels good. chase. make more of what's yours. ♪ limu emu... & doug ♪ ♪ superpowers from a spider bite? i could use some help showing the world how liberty mutual customizes their car insurance so they only pay for what they need. (gasps) ♪ did it work? only pay for what you need ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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>> reporter: tonight, a sobering assessment from the nation's top health officials. >> omicron with its extraordinary unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility will ultimately find just about everybody. >> most people are going to get covid. >> more americans are sick with covid than ever before. >> what we need to do is make sure hospitals can still function, transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens. >> hospitalizations, twice as many as two weeks ago, surpassing last winter's peak, underscoring the threat posed by the highly contagious omicron variant, especially for the unvaccinated. >> despite potential decrease in severity, the substantial number of absolute cases is resulting in hospitalization increases across all age groups, including children age zero to four. >> hospital staff struggling to cope.
>> we have so many physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists that are practicing health individuals in health care that are getting to the end of their rope as far as being able to care for patients. the high mental health risk of being almost like in a war zone. >> reporter: deaths are also spiking, up 33% from last week. the u.s. averaging more than 1,600 deaths a day. this as the cdc reportedly raised updating mask guidance to wear n95 or k n95 masks. >> omicron is likely not to be the last curve ball the virus throws at us. we have tools to prevent further spread of the virus. this means for everyone five and
older, please get vaccinated. for those 12 and older, get your booster shot. >> reporter: despite logging some 66,000 positive covid cases, los angeles students and staff are back in classrooms today. chicago also following suit. >> school should be the first place to open and last place to close. >> we had a delta surge in fall, 95% of schools were safely open. we have vaccines available for every child over the age of five. >> reporter: and wolf, sources tell cnn the agency will update the website to best reflect options for people and different levels of protection they provide. the agency continues to recommend any mask is better than no mask. we expect that later this week. >> lucy cavanaugh, thank you. let's get some analysis from cnn medical analyst dr. leana wen. what do you make of dr. fauci saying the omicron variant will
find in his words just about everybody? >> well, he's right if we look at the sheer numbers. last week 1 in 60 americans was diagnosed with covid-19 and that's almost certainly a substantial undercount. the real number may be five or ten times higher because of the number of people that got rapid tests never reported and number of people never found out they got covid. so if it is a matter of time br you're going to get exposed to covid, best thing to do is protect yourself. this is why vaccination and boosters are so important. i would also say that's not a reason to want to get exposed as soon as possible. our hospitals are overwhelmed now. the entire point of flattening the curve is to spread out infections over time so we're not straining the health care system at the same time. >> according to "the washington post," dr. wen, the cdc is considering recommending n95 or kn95 masks for all americans that can consistently wear them
correctly instead of the cloth masks, for example, some of the other masks. is that the right step? >> it's about time and actually way past time for the cdc to be changing mask guidance. covid is airborne. we have known this for many months. we also know omicron is the most transmissible variant we have seen yet, and the best way for us to protect against it is to have the best possible mask. it is just a real shame that i still see so many people walk around with a single layer cloth mask. these are individuals who might be thinking they're protecting themselves when they're not. if you are going to a crowded indoor setting, you should be wearing at least a surgical mask with cloth mask on top or ideally, kn95, kn 94 mask. that's the standard and that's what the cdc should be recommending and the federal government be providing to individuals that cannot afford
to buy the masks. >> good point. let me get your thoughts while i have you on dr. anthony fauci going after senator rand paul, accusing him of putting his life in danger. watch this exchange. >> i guess you could say well, that's the way it goes, i can take the hit. well, it makes a difference because as some of you may know, just about three or four weeks ago on december 21st, a person was arrested who was on their way from sacramento to washington, d.c., had a speed stop in iowa. the police asked him where he was going and he was going to washington, d.c. to kill dr. fauci. and they found in his car an a r-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition because he thinks that maybe i'm killing people. so i ask myself why would senator want to do this. so go to rand paul website and
you see fire dr. fauci with a little box that says contribute here. you can do $5, $10, $20, $100. so you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain. >> so what's your reaction to that, dr. wen. >> it is so difficult to watch because here's dr. fauci who has been a public servant for many decades who is giving up so much of his life in order to try to give honest advice to the american people and here he is bearing witness to all these threats and assaults on his life. i mean, this is really difficult. i wish that people like senator paul would stand up and say that this is all really wrong, that look, we can have honest discussions about policy differences but we should not be putting people's lives in danger. there are so many public health
experts including me who have had threats to our lives and that really should not be happening. >> whenever you see dr. fauci, you see security all around him. sad to see that. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. coming up, the january 6th select committee setting its sights on rudy giuliani. could former president trump's former personal attorney hold the keys to the investigation? . (woman) wow, that's something. (burke) you get a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. [echoing] get a quote today. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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it's been nearly two years since the pandemic started. our students and teachers tried their best, but as a parent, i can tell you that nearly 18 months of remote learning was really hard. i'm so angry that instead of helping our kids get back in the classroom, the school board focused on renaming schools schools that weren't even open . please recall all three school board members now. for the sake of our kids, we can't wait one more day, never mind a whole year for a fresh start. the house january 6th select committee wants to hear from trump loyalist rudy giuliani calling him integral part of the
probe into the insurrection. paula reed is working the story for us. paula, what are you learning? >> wolf, the committee revealing the first time publicly they want to talk to rudy giuliani eventually. chairman benny thompson told cnn the former mayor is an integral part of whatever happens here, he is on the list of people they would like to talk to at some point. not surprising. giuliani was personal attorney for president trump including in the lead up to the insurrection, one of the leading figures, pedaling false claims of election fraud. he was one of the speakers at the stop the steal rally that preceded the capitol riot. at one point told the crowd to engage in trial by combat over election results. as to whether they'll ask giuliani to come involuntarily as they have with other high profile republicans or if they'll subpoena him, thompson said they're working through the process and didn't give a timeline when this could potentially happen. giuliani's attorney robert
costello said the outreach about his client was the first he heard about this and suggested any information giuliani would have would be covered by attorney/client privilege. wolf, he may have materials that are covered by privilege, but unlikely it would cover everything they're interested in. >> paula reed reporting. thank you very much. joining us, cnn chief legal analyst, jeffrey toobin and elliot williams. what sort of information could giuliani have to advance the committee's investigation? >> great way to think about this is that january 6th didn't spring out of a sea shell in the ocean on the morning of january 6. there were months and months of lies about elections pedalled, going back to the summer before. number one, he has been already sued by officials in georgia and sued by dominion voting machines, all on the same claims. the committee can ask him what
was the basis of the statements he was making in public, what were the basis of the remarks he made january 6, prior to january 6 and after january 6, and that these are all statements that are far beyond reach of attorney/client privilege. yes, he is a critical witness, far beyond one on one conversations he may have had with the president in his own right. >> let me follow up with jeffrey on that. looks like giuliani is clearly gearing up for a fight. saying anything would be attorney/client privilege. does that argument stand up? >> well, it may or may not, but there's a different point here. rudy giuliani is never, ever, ever going to testify because it is hard to keep track of players without a score card but he's under criminal investigation right now. he has had his phones searched and seized by the southern district of new york as part of
an investigation for potentially illegal lobbying on behalf of ukraine. he is going to take the fifth in the unlikely event he shows up to give testimony, so any lawyer with any sense at all, and robert costello is a lawyer who knows what he is doing, is going to tell rudy take the fifth and rudy will take the fifth, that's the end of the story, no litigation, no debate, that's the end of it and he is not going to testify. >> the committee also issuing new subpoenas, including for former white house staffer about a draft of the speech on the morning of january 6, 2021. will the committee have better luck with lower profile staffers like these? >> wolf, it always depends on how much a particular witness has an appetite for fighting and going to the mat with the committee.
the committee already established it can seek criminal referrals to the justice department if witnesses don't comply, so it is hard to say. now, what they're doing, quite clear from many other types of investigations, filling in the gaps. this is what jeffrey says. where rudy giuliani won't speak, mark meadows, jim jordan, other members of congress and others will not speak, some people fill in the gaps. and you can still build a credible investigation even when some of the biggest fish choose not to testify. >> very quickly, jeffrey, before i let you go, do you think the former vice president mike pence will agree voluntarily to testify? >> no. he's got to keep ties to trump world and trump world requires defiance. he might actually have constitutional arguments that would allow him not to testify so i think he's going to give a stiff arm to the committee like so many people close to trump have. >> guys, thank you very much. just ahead, details on a
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and make this the best year for your business yet. visit your local t-mobile store today. north korea claiming they test fired a ballistic missile. brian todd is working the story. if this is true, it would be the third hypersonic missile test by the regime. >> it would be, wolf. some experts question how far advanced the hypersonic missile program is, there's genuine concern that kim jong-un's regime is at least developing this dangerous weapon. provocative move by the 38-year-old dictator, causing enough security concern in the u.s. to halt air traffic. the faa ordering ground stop for
pilots on the west coast, this after norad, u.s. military north american aerospace command detected he fired a missile. some pilots were instructed to land, others prevented from taking off like at burbank. >> ground stops, all departures right now. just until further notice right now. >> reporter: the faa says flights resumed in less than 15 minutes, it is reviewing the ground stop order. norad said it didn't issue any warnings, assessed the north korean launch didn't pose a threat to the continental u.s. still, u.s. officials call the latest tests destabilizing, dangerous, and missile experts are concerned what they could mean for security in the region. >> this shows they're making some progress. >> reporter: the suspected ballistic missile according to south korea's top military officials reached a velocity more than ten times the speed of sound. north korean state media says kim jong-un attended the launch,
calls the projectile a hypersonic missile. south korea military says the projectile was more advanced than the weapon the north koreans tested last week, which the regime claimed was also a hypersonic missile. if true, north korea may have tested hypersonic missiles three times in recent months. >> these missiles if equipped can reach seoul in less than a minute. >> reporter: what makes hypersonic missiles and the glide vehicles they send off so dangerous is that they could fly as fast as 20 times the speed of sound and are more maneuverable in flight than other missiles. >> these hypersonic missiles would be less vulnerable to missile defense based in the region, could make conventional forces and bases more vulnerable to north korean attack. >> reporter: the dictator passed tenth anniversary of his ascent to power, and little doubt what his rule meant for north korea weapons capability. >> are they more dangerous?
yes, the threat increased because they're nuclear weapons and missile program has expanded and they modernized and are continuing to do so, and there's not any way for us to stop them. >> reporter: while they worry about the program gettin g of di energy to engage north korea on its weapons program this analyst sa says. could the latest twist in the vaccination saga put australian open plans in jeopardy? of risk and reward.alance so you can enjoy more of...this.
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december 17th. the serbian prime minister spoke to reuters, said there were isolations. he wouldn't say what the repercussions might be, but even in his home country, the national hero is facing difficult questions. >> as he should. paula hancocks reporting from melbourne. thank you. let's bring in former player patrick mcenroe.
thanks for joining us. knowing what you know about djokovic and you followed him over the years, would it surprise you if he did lie, in fact, on the forms? >> well, it wouldn't surprise me if mistakes were made, wolf. it would surprise me if he would outright lie at this point. i think he has too much at stake, too much on the line, trying to get his 21st major title and 10th australian open title, but there are so many questions still. that's why this is not going to be put to bed until djokovic himself talks to the media, talks about the timeline, talks about all of the questions that are out there. i tell you what's also playing into this situation with the australian government, wolf, that's the following. when djokovic first went to australia, when the -- the percentage of people according to polls in australia was well over 90% that did not want him in the country. to play in the tournament. now, that's flipped in the last -- because of the way he was treated, i think a lot of
australians are simply embarrassed by the fact that he was put in this sort of holding-detention center for -- for five-six days, and now that's flipped about 60% actually support djokovic. why do i think this -- this is important? because i think that's the crucial factor here into whether or not immigration decides to try to pull the trigger, and kick him out of the country. or do they let him stay? i would guess, at this point, because of the political fallout that would happen if they kick him out of the country, i will i believe he stays and he plays. >> well, we shall see. but, would you expect a global pandemic to inspire at least a bit more humility in someone, like novak djokovic? >> well, that is true. he's one of those -- those prominent athletes that, at the moment, have said, you know, they are not going to be vaccinated for whatever reason. and i am hearing from my sources, down in australia in the locker room for a lot of players and a lot of coaches, wolf, that initially sort of
supported djokovic taking this stand. they are getting a little bit fed up with this preferential treatment. there is a lot of questions about the timeline, that exemption -- the exemption date was extended for novak. he had a practice today at the arena, where the center court of the tournament that was completely closed to the public. so, he is getting preferential treatment. why is he getting that, at the moment? that's a question that only tennis australia or novak djokovic, himself, can answer. >> we will find out, fairly soon. patrick mcenroe, thanks, as usual, for joining us. coming up. we are learning right now, new details act a medical helicopter crash in pennsylvania, including the condition of the infant child pulled from the wreckage. i'm gonna earn 3% on dining including takeout with chase freedom unlimited. that's a lot of cash back. are you gonna stop me?
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we are following new developments after a medical helicopter crashed outside philadelphia. at least one crew member was seriously injured when the aircraft experienced an incident while transporting a pediatric patient from maryland to a children's hospital in pennsylvania. the federal aviation administration and the national transportation safety board are investigating. the infant child survived the crash, along with all other people onboard. a u.s. justice department official has announced that a new domestic terrorism unit is being established to fight the threat that's more than doubled in the past two years. let's discuss this and more with cnn political analyst carl bernstein. his brand new book is entitled -- there you see the cover -- "chasing history, a kid in the newsroom." carl, thanks very much for joining us. i want to talk about your fascinating, new book in just a
moment. but as somebody who broke the story of the watergate scandal with bob woodward, just how worried are you right now about the state of american democracy? >> well, we have an authoritarian ex-president, a seditious ex-president who attempted a coup. a president of the united states, unlike any other in our history. and he has a huge following that is an anti-democratic force in this country, such as we've never seen since the civil war. so, the worries are real. and also, truth has been the casualty of this war against democracy conducted by a president of the united states and that's a lot to talk about in the coming days. >> certainly is, very strong words. let's talk about your really excellent, new book, which i have gone through. it focuses in on a part of your career that many of us aren't familiar with, the beginning. what was -- what was the most important lesson, carl, that you learned as a 16-year-old copy boy at the washington evening
star that helped you go on to break the story that led to the resignation of a sitting-american president? >> the job of a reporter is the best obtainable version of the truth and that's what was drummed into me when i went to work at 16 years old at the washington evening star. it was the ethic of the paper, itself. it was a better paper at the time than "the washington post." writers great, editors, great reporters. and also, about perseverance. there is a straight line to watergate from what we were taught and i was taught at -- at the star, and, that is, you knock on doors. you go out at night to see people in their homes. you don't sit around their offices, where they are under pressure. you go after people, one after another after another. you don't take no for an answer. but more than anything, you listen to them because you learn that if you give your sources a chance to talk and you are a careful listener, they will usually try to tell you the truth. certainly, their truth.
and our job is to take whatever truths we can find, nail them down with multiple sources, and that's basically what the lessons of watergate were, as well as the lessons that were drummed into me as a teenaged reporter, a copy boy at this incredible newspaper. >> yeah. and it's really amazing, because you were 16, 17, 18 years old and only a few years later, you and woodward -- you were in your 20s, your late 20s, when you broke that story called "watergate." >> well, i have 12 years' experience by then. bob was a great reporter, even the day he walked into "the washington post." but again, the basics. this is about the basics and knowing that our job in the press is not to follow a preconceived notion of what we think may be the truth. but rather, to go wherever the story takes us. that's the lesson of watergate. it's the lesson of what we did at the washington star. and it's really a great failing, in too many of our newsrooms
today because people are too dependent on the internet and they are not going out to get the news from their sources outside the office. >> book is entitled "chasing history" it is a great book. a kid in the newsroom. really, must read for anybody who wants to be a journalist but for everybody else as well. carl bernstein, thank you very much and to our viewers, thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. out front next. biden's push for his voiting rights bill. the president calling out republicans, and throwing his full support behind changingling the rules of washington to protect roet voeting rights but will today's speech actually push his agenda forward? plus, students in chicago just hours from returning to class after a week-long standoff. the agreement? completely different from testing guidelines in other major cities. why? u.s. surgeon general is my guest. and one republican senator not holding back on how she kneels about her own colleagues, who continue to downplay the deadl