tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN January 25, 2022 8:00am-9:00am PST
massive gold mirror from the sun's rays. the web telescope taking of exo planets or worlds outside the solar system. the first new images this summer. about 300 times more powerful than hubble. >> can't wait to see those images. >> thank you for joining us. i'm jim sciutto. >> i'm bianna golodryga. at this hour with kate bolduan starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. here's what's we watch at this hour. high alert. thousands of u.s. troops on standby to deploy to europe as russia builds up its forces at the border with ukraine. raising fears of an invasion at any moment. a new booster. pfizer announcing it could soon have an omicron-specific vaccine as a new study shows just how crucial the current booster is to protect against it. >> and blockbuster cases from abortion rights to affirmative action, what the docket for the
u.s. supreme court could, should tell you about the direction america is heading. thanks for being here, everybody. we begin with the growing threat of war in eastern europe. heightened alert for possible deployment as there is real fear a russian invasion in ukraine could be imminent. the pentagon said the u.s. troop that would be sent would be in support of nato's response force. the pentagon spokesperson is our guest this hour. for russia's part, they're now launching new military drills and the kremlin now blaming washington for increasing tensions. the greatest threat in the region since the cold war. let's begin with cnn's barbara starr live at the pentagon for us this hour. what more do you learn about these troops on heightened alert? >> reporter: good morning, kate. right now, the pentagon very
clear that these troops are not on dpleployment orders yet. heightened alert, more ready than you've been in case you get deployment orders. how would they go and who would trigger that? some would go unilaterally where they work out arrangements but the bulk of the 8500 are most likely to go as part of the nato response force if and when nato activates that force. this is a defensive measure the pentagon says. there is no intention of any kind of combat or offensive operations by u.s. or nato forces. it is, of course, nato defensive alliance. the idea is some european allies think baltics, poland, romania. these are some of the countries very nervous about russian moves and like to be shored up to get that nato commitment on that territory. what kind of capability could the u.s. bring to the table?
combat brigades, essentially a ground force intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, medical, logistics. that sort of thing. helicopters, being able to move people around. possibly even doing more exercises and training with local forces on the ground. what we are waiting for is an announcement from the pentagon on what specific units might be getting these preparation orders, they are trying to notify families, troops and units and once those notifications are complete, the pentagon said it will tell the american public. kate? >> barbara, thank you so much for that. really appreciate it. the biden administration is planning a series of congressional briefings on this issue later today, the ukraine crisis. one key question to all of this. are diplomatic options for resolving the standoff with russia dwindling? cnn's sam kiley live in ukraine's capital of kyiv and joins us now. sam, more world leaders are speaking out in this critical moment. what's the very latest from
there? >> reporter: they are speaking out and try to speak out in response to kind of vibrations coming from the ukrainians. active reassurance being effectively by the ukrainians, almost angered by plans by the u.n., u.s., uk, germany to downsize, kate, indicating that the central government here in ukraine immediately got on the front, try to calm its population and also insisting that there would be no deal about ukraine or ukraine done behind their backs. that's something they've been repeating consistently and just as that was going on, of course, boris johnson, the british prime minister speaking at westminster, also keen to reassure the ukrainians, this is what he said. >> what putin basically wants is to go back to the old system of spheres of influence. and it's not just ukraine, madam
deputy seeker, that he has his eye on. that this moment matters for the whole geometry and security architecture of europe and we must stand firm. >> reporter: it's that security architecture that boris johnson referred to there. that vladimir putin made it very clear he wants to undo, turn the clock back to 1997 before so many eastern european nations joined nato, that europeans completely ruled out. >> thank you so much. joining me now is pentagon press secretary john kirby. thank you for being here, john, i appreciate your time. >> you bet. >> i heard you say that these troops would be deployed as part of the nato response force, a multinational force. who makes the final call then to deploy? is it nato commanders or president biden? >> well, in terms of the nato response force, obviously, their
activation would be a nato decision to make and that would be up to the secretary general, of course, in consultation with the commander of allied forces in europe, general walters, president biden has agreed to make these troops available to the task force, if, in fact, it's activated but not all of the troops we were talking about yesterday are, in fact, designated just for the readiness force for nato. some of these are also being told to be on a heightened alert just for our own united states purposes to see if there's a need for us to continue to reassure on a bilateral basis with some of our nato allies over in europe. >> how quickly could these troops be heading overseas? i know it takes them from a state of readiness from ten days to five days and kind of progresses from there, but how quickly do you envision they could be heading over? >> we don't know the answer to that, kate. all we've done here, kate, is put them on heightened alert posture on a shorter bit of a tether there but there's been no
activation, there's been no deployment orders. it's difficult to tell how soon this would happen. frankly, a lot of this is going to depend on what mr. putin does or doesn't do, kate. if there's another incursion into the ukraine, certainly, i would believe could drive nato and other allies to make posture decisions that they haven't made yet. >> 85% u.s. military personnel on heightened alert. is this the ceiling of military personnel that the administration will be committing to this conflict, do you see? >> what we're talking about today is about 8500 on heightened alert, but as i said yesterday, we're certainly not going to rule out other options. we provide options to the president, the commander in chief and we're going to continue to do that. and so i would, i certainly would not rule out the possibility that we could be putting additional forces on heightened alert in the coming days and weeks and maybe even moving troops around europe that are already there to bolster and to reassure some of our allies
on the ground on the continent. i would not rule out the possibility that we could be talking about larger numbers in future days and weeks. >> it sounds to me like the pentagon was planning for many different contingencies in what you've just laid out there. >> that's right. the big thing here is to make sure that, "a," we're meeting our responsibilities to nato, to the alliance, and "b," we're also meeting our commitments to some of our nato allies and partners, more specifically, and then i think, "c," to make sure we continue to provide security assistance to ukraine so that they can defend themselves. we just shift over three packages of assistance to them over the course of the last few days. there will be more coming. we're also focused on making sure we can have the ukrainian armed forces defend themselves as well. >> when asked if the 8500 could be deployed before a russian incursion, i want to play for you what the deputy national security adviser john finer told
cnn today. >> i don't think we're taking any options off the table in regard to that. they will not be deployed anywhere but on allied territory. >> not deployed on anywhere but allied territory. but is it a possibility? >> a possibility to go somewhere other than allied territory, no. that's not what this is about. remember, the vast majority -- >> sorry, john, he was speaking, asked specifically if they could be deployed before a russian incursion, and he says, not taking anything off the table. do you see that as a possibility? >> i absolutely think we want to make sure that we provide as much flexibility to the president and to the alliance as we can, and as i said yesterday, we are not specifically defining time bounds here in terms of when they could deploy. so i think mr. finer is exactly right. we're not taking any options off the table in terms of the when. it's really just right now about making sure they are ready to go on a little bit shorter timeline than they were before.
>> is there any chance of these men and women could end up in ukraine? >> again, the president's made it clear that what he wants from the department of defense are options to reassure our nato al l allies and finer said on territory. we have small number of trainers inside ukraine for many months advising ukrainian armed forces and what we'll do with them depends on what the security situation looks like but the president has been very clear from from a military perspective, he wants us focused on reassuring our nato allies and that's what we're intending to do. >> john, i'm curious, does the president want, does the pentagon want to alert, to tell russia where u.s. troops are deploying in order to avoid a miscalculation? or is the element of surprise still important when we're looking at the conflict we're looking at now? >> this isn't about surprise on our part, kate.
this is about reassuring to allies, reassurance to allies, i mean, look, just yesterday, i stood up at the podium and gave a number and i said, we're putting on a a hheightened aler. nothing but transparent about what we're doing militarily. a couple of days ago, the neptune strike in the adriatic sea. nothing but transparent and continue to do that to the maximum degree possible. not getting the same transparency out of moscow. they continue to add forces out of the western parts of the country in ukraine, belarus and nothing but non-transparent about the intent on this. we still don't think mr. putin has made a decision. we still think there's time and space for diplomacy but obviously, more transparency about moscow would be welcome. >> the u.s. has supported ukraine in various ways for some time. ukraine is not a must be member. you speak to skeptical americans right now, why is this in the
interest of america? >> what is in our interest to maintain security and stability on the european continent. we have tens of thousands of american forces deployed either rotationally or permanently on the european continent. security and stability there is very much in our national security interest, and we still believe that we have an obligation to help ukraine defend itself and to defend its borders and that's why we continue the security assistance and we're not alone in that, kate. i would remind the american people that other of our european allies are helping ukrainian armed forces defend themselves, sending security assistance packages to them. this is something the entire international community should be aligned on and frankly, we're seeing that kind of alignment inside the nato alliance. >> john kirby, thanks for being here. >> my pleasure. thank you. >> for more on this, cnn global affairs analyst, susan glasser, a staff writer for ""the new
yorker."" thank you for being here, susan. you heard the latest from the pentagon, i thought it was a really interesting conversation with john kirby and where they are, the contingencies they're planning for. there could be more troops they get on a heightened state of readiness to deploy. so how real do you think the possibility of a land war is in europe? what do you think of this moment? >> well, look. actions have consequences, and i think it's very striking that putin understood that one of the consequences of this extraordinary mobilization of, i believe we're seeing now, it's close to 130,000 russian troops on the border of ukraine are going to be a reaction by the united states and nato. it's ironic because, of course, putin says the reason the troops are there is is nato but triggering the response from nato. you see this extraordinary statement from moscow this morning. well, the united states is destabilizing the situation. can you imagine 130,000 troops
on the border of ukraine, the united states announces plans to mobilization 8,000 and yet that's what russians, the russian government is complaining about. it's just a very alarming moment, kate, because this escalation ladder, once you start going up it, how are we going to stop this? >> kirby also, john kirby also said when we spoke that there's still room, time and space, if you will, for diplomacy. even after these announcements and these moves they're talking about. but does this announcement, coming from the president and the pentagon, of putting troops on a heightened state of alert, does it indicate very clearly that the chance for diplomacy is dwindling? >> well, i mean, it is notable that in recent days, what you've heard after the last round of conversations that was tony blinken, secretary of state speaking with the russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov, since then, you've not heard a lot from the white house about negotiations or diplomacy. what you heard is language
saying the russians are not deescalating. we don't see signs of them backing down. the united states is done with gradualism. that was a message of the briefing earlier this morning when it came to sanctions that the u.s. is preparing to impose, adjusting that they have changed that you are approach from 2014 when russia illegally annexed from ukraine and saying we're going to take a tougher and different approach than we did at that time. so none of this suggests that a diplomatic breakthrough is imminent to say the least, kate. >> and also, the view from the pentagon we just heard from the white house is the nato alliance is united, but the polish prime minister was speaking out today about fractures in the nato alliance in response to this conflict with russia saying this, from the prime minister, a great disappointment and amongst others is germany's withholding consent to apsupply arms to
estonia, a country that is preparing to defend against an aggressor. what is going on with germany? >> i think the germany factor is an important reason why i think this is, this crisis is happening right now. putin is a very, very attentive to the politics of the region and this sort of major political moment in the area has come with the transition of angela merkel. a new government come into office. this is incredible test for the coalition government of the new chancellor and what you're seeing, i think, is not just that germany has fissures or disagreements with other allies in the united states but within that german coalition, this is proved an enormous and immediate test to foreign policy. the u.s. and others will put enormous pressure on germany if russia makes a military step toward ukraine to absolutely cut off once and for all the nord
stream 2 gas pipeline but some are pushing back saying, no, the german naval chief had to resign the other day for making an outrageous statement essentially saying you've got to admire what putin is up to. he was forced out, but i think it does underscore some uncertainty on how this new german government will react. >> susan, it's great to see you. thank you so much. also developing at this hour, north korea has fired two cruise missiles overnight. that's according to the south korean military. the launch marks north korea's fifth missile test just this month. a dramatic increase from recent years. kim jong-un indicated last week that he may soon restart long range missile and nuclear device tests which he suspended before his superintendent with former president trump in 2018. still ahead for us. pfizer starts clinical trials for an omicron specific vaccine. what it tells us about where this pandemic is headed. details and a live report next.
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pfizer announcing clinical trials, specifically targeting the omicron variant. the pharmaceutical giant said it's already manufacturing doses in anticipation that it would eventually be approved. pfizer says it expects to have this new vaccine type ready in march. cnn's jacqueline howard with more on all of this for us. what more are you hearing about this? >> this will evaluate the omicron specific vaccine through different regimens. how through those series, compared with what a single booster shot. what we're hearing, this trial
will include up to 1,420 participants ages 18 to 55. these participants will be broken up into three different groups, and one group, the participants would have received two doses of the current vaccine and then they'll receive one or two doses of the omicron-based vaccine. group two, these participants would have already had three regular doses. they'll receive one dose of either the current vaccine or the omicron-based vaccine and then in group three, these will be unvaccinated participants. they'll receive three doses of the omicron vaccine. and then, kate, the whole purpose of this is to really evaluate this omicron-based vaccine as to whether, how it works as two doses compared with a single booster shot and this is something that vaccine makers have been talking about for a while. developing variant specific vaccines. so the results of this trial will be really interesting to see how this omicron based
vaccine works and whether this might set the stage for the future development of other variant-specific vaccines. kate? >> jacqueline, thank you. joining me for more on this, carlos del rio. an emory school of medicine at gr grady health system. the news laying out the details of the clinical trials started for the omicron-specific vaccine from pfizer. when do you think we'll know whether we need it? >> well, you know, first of all, we need to see if it works. what it does, right, we know the current vaccines while they have lost vaccine efficacy, they're still pretty effective against hospitalizations and severe disease and death. so the first thing is to know what additional thing you're getting with an omicron-specific vaccine and whether you use it as a primary series or just to boost and that's how the study was assigned. after that, see when to use it and it will be important to see. if you've already been boosted,
you get any additional benefit from getting another shot with the omicron-specific one. we know from the current vaccines that an additional shot from israel suggests you don't get additional benefit. there's a lot of questions to be asked and i think the most important thing is can we develop this booster-specific vaccine, variant-specific vaccines and when to use them and i caution you that we need to be careful because if other variants emerge, this omicron-specific vaccine may not have adequate coverage against variants. it will be important from a policy standpoint where to use them. >> kind of leads to a question of, are we chasing the variants? because if it's not available until march, how much of a difference do you think this could make? >> well, that's a good question. and i'm not sure it's going to make a lot of difference. it depends what happens with omicron long-term. does it go away or remain in the background here, right, but the other important thing is to see how companies develop what we call pan-coronavirus vaccines.
we need vaccines not developed against one specific strain like the vaccines we currently have developed against the wuhan strain, what we call the strain and then lose efficacy on future strains. we need to have more pancoronavirus vaccine that it doesn't matter which variant but still have efficacy and that really is where the holy grail of vaccinology is looking at. >> what's a measure or indicator you'll see that will make you comfortable that thinking that the pandemic has become endemic and is essentially that this virus, what we're tfacing is manageable? >> i think there are going to be two things. one, we see a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and number two, we see a decrease in the number of deaths. we are still having over 2,000 deaths for day in our country and that's clearly unacceptable level. i think most of us would like to see the number of deaths drop about 100 deaths per day and in
which, that case, put you at par with the number of deaths we see from the flu on a yearly basis and if that's the case, i think we'll look at something that looks more like the flu. at this point in time, we're still way above those numbers. >> yeah, just, looking at kind of mitigation efforts and in new york, the supreme court judge has struck down the mask mandate for indoor public places including schools and nursing homes and public transport. the mandate can remain in effect while it's being appealed but from a public health standpoint, what does all of this legal fighting that we've seen, not just in new york but from many states about mitigation measures due to efforts to keep people safe? >> i think it's unfortunate this has to be litigated in the courts and cannot be, you know, done as public health. i think two things, if you read the ruling, the governor is above his, the governor is above her ability to mandate things because there's no longer a public health emergency. number one, you declare it a
public health emergency but saying the legislator has the ability to do that. so maybe the governor doesn't but the legislator does. we need to work together as governments, as societies, as individuals in trying to mitigate the impact of covid and what we do really, should be done in the best interest of people, we need to think about what's best for the population and how do we implement those things in order to continue both keeping people safe but being able to work and do the things that are necessary. >> yeah, exactly. good to see you. thank you so much, doctor. coming up for us, london police now investigating parties at the british prime minister's office held at strict covid lockdowns. what does this mean for boris johnson now? details main a live report next.
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fact that allegations of partying in the highest office of the land in downing street are now a matter for the police. this is a serious escalation of partygate that makes prime minister boris johnson's position more precarious than ever but with a stiff upper lip said he welcomed the news. listen. >> i welcome the permission to conduct its own investigation because i believe this will help give the public the clarity it needs and help to draw a line under matter. >> kate, this came after a another inquiry led by the cabinet office, has for weeks now, been looking into allegations of partying. i am talking christmas parties, garden parties, bring your own booze parties. the latest allegation is he held a birthday party when other kids couldn't even have their birthday party during the country's first hlockdown and te escalation now of these multiple accusations of parties that were
being shared with the police. the police now saying that some of these events may potentially have breached covid rules. they might be, kate, a criminal offense. now, the prime minister says this will draw a line and bring clarity to the public, but it's also going to bring clarity to his own party. the conservative party. and it could be that if they turn against him, if this implicates the prime minister directly, that's it. he could be pushed out of office, kate? >> salma, thank you so much. so many updates, always coming with this. appreciate it. the west african country under lockdown after a military coup. the country's military seized power yesterday ousting the democratically elected president and suspending the constitution. u.s. state department in response says it is, quote, deeply concerned by events and faso, closely monitoring the situation. coming up still for us at this hour, georgia launches a new investigation into donald trump's election interference.
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investigation into trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election in the state. at the center of the investigation, moments like this one. >> all i want to do is this. i just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more. >> like these or the secretary of state, on the receiving end of that now infamous phone call. with jeffrey toobin, what does this step mean for the fulton county d.a.? what wold you expect to happen next? >> this phone call has, of course, gotten a lot of attention and it's deserved, but to do a full criminal investigation, you need to understand the full communication with trump and his
allies and the georgian election officials. that's another side of this story with the still unexplained departure of the united states attorney in atlanta during this period after the election. all of this needs investigation and it needs subpoenas, both for testimony and documents and that's what the fulton county district attorney is going to get, now that she has a grand jury. >> let's turn to the supreme court, jeffrey, because yesterday announced it's going to take up two potentially monumental cases, challenging affirmative action in college admissions. but add this to the list of really divisive and charged issues that the court has already decided to take up. abortion rights, affirmative action, as i just mentioned, gun regulations, covid mandates. looking at this current make-up of the court, what story does this tell you? >> well, you know, this conservative agenda is not some secret. conservative judges, academics, politicians have been talking about what they want to do on
the supreme court for decades, and now that there are six conservatives on the court, they can do all of these things. they can eliminate women's constitutional right to abortion. they can ban affirmative action in college admissions. they can limit or eliminate the ability of states and localities to implement gun safety laws regarding guns or ammunition. all of this is part of the conservative agenda, but the conservatives have never had enough votes. now they have enough votes and it does appear they're moving quickly across the board. >> there's also a new and interesting interview today, just today, with justice sonia sotomayor, asked if the justices worry themselves about public perception of the court, public concern that its credibility is falling. i want to play for you what she
said. >> one of the hardest things about our work is that there are no easy answers. reasonable people can disagree. in fact, we only take cases when there are circuits, i shouldn't say only but broadly, most of our case docket is when the courts below have disagreed and because of that, obviously, just as the larger society disagrees about the answers to some of our problems, so does the court. and if you bear that in mind, perhaps the public can be more accepting of the kind of work we do. >> what do you think of that? >> i think what's so interesting about that is that all the justices, without regard to politics, have this tremendous desire not to, what they call, foul the nest. they never want to damage the institution of the court, even as they disagree so
passionately. compare with justice sotomayor said on "the today show" to the dissent about the texas abortion law. she has been furious, she has been outraged. she has said the court's credibility and reputation is going to suffer because of the way they are allowing texas to ban abortion before roe v. wade is even overturned. yet, at the same time, when she's speaking in public, she's really soft peddling the differences on the court. that's a very common pattern among the justices. i can't say i understand it completely, but they all do it for their own reasons. >> so interesting. good to see you, jeffrey. thank you. >> all right, kate. coming up for us, new york's new mayor combatting his plans for gun violence. former nypd commissioner with what he thinks of the plan. we discover exciting new technologies.
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new this morning, new york mayor unew york city mayor eric adams defending his plan to curb the devastating rash of gun violence in his city, including bringing back nypd's controversial anti-crime unit. listen to this. >> we want to reinstitute an anti-gun unit where police officers will have a modified version of police uniform apparel. they want to be better trained. we're going to use technologies with cameras to video every interaction. and i'm going to make sure the right officers are assigned there with precision policing to go after those who are dangerous gangs and carry guns in my city. >> this move and others comes
after the tragic killing 262-ye2of 22-year-old officer jason rivera. the shooter used a stolen gun and the mayor said it could have been even worse, revealing police found an ar-style assault rifle under the gunman's mattress. joining me now for more is former nypd commissioner bill bratton, the author of "the profession" community, race and the arc of policing in america. commissioner, thanks for being here. what do you think of mayor adams' plan? >> very pleased with it. it's very comprehensive. i know it's a plan. we'll have to see how it works going forward. you talked about what he is doing with the anti-crime unit. great move. make those arrests. however, the devil is in the details. will those prosecutors, will those judges and state legislators put those people in
jail? that's the problem. nobody is going to jail for gun violence in new york city. if there are, there are too few of them considering the amount of violence they're having. >> and the number of guns they're turning up that they're getting off the street that they're finding. >> you mentioned the devil is in the details and we'll have to see. that's an interesting question. how soon until it should be able to show this plan should be able to show results, do you think? meaning at what point do you think you will know if it's working or not and need to course correct? >> the good news is over the last several weeks they've been actively improving the offices, the necessary screening, starting the screening. the key is the selection of the officers and the training. we had an effective unit in the '90s. 80 highly trained. they grew the unit too fast back then to 400. we had the diallo shooting right after that.
he understands the training and selection. they're going to do an even better job of getting guns off the street but it's going to be up to the prosecutors to put some of these people in jail. 6,000 guns taken off the streets last year. only 100 trials of the approximately 6,000 people carrying those guns. that means there's over 5,000 of those people still roaming the streets of new york awaiting trial. that's going to be the other half of the equation that eric is going to need a lot of help on. >> you are hitting at something pretty important. adams is defending this move. but i want to read for you some criticism coming from a group of new york city public defenders about this move. they write, reinstating the nypd's anti-crime unit without also addressing the culture and policies that drove that unit's decades-long pattern of harassment and violence targeting black and brown new yorkers is a mistake. they say the mayor must focus on addressing longstanding problems with nypd's culture of impunity before he doubles down on strategies that will only
perpetuate the harms of that culture. they say -- what they are saying is they think there are deeper problems here that aren't being addressed in this plan. what do you say to that, commissioner? >> eric understands the situation more than anybody else. his own experience both being beaten by police, and that was ironically motivation to become a cop in the first place. these people have been beating that drum for 30 years. what's it getting for new york? more violence, more disorder. more racial tension. the reality is the crime is occurring in minority neighborhoods. minorities are not being targeted. police are going to where the crime is, where the victims are. new york has a mayor that understands this issue and can push back against the tired refrains of all these cast of characters of the 30 years of beating up the nypd. what happens when you beat up on the cops to the extent they are not policing effectively? you get what's happening in the streets and subways of new york right now. rising crime rates.
>> does seem to be what we're looking at. we lost another officer who seemed to be just the best of what you want in an officer. >> isn't that the case that here's two latino officers that joined for all the right reasons and then the third officer, the third officer, immigrant from india, who desired to become a police officer. 15 years ago he came to this country. that is the face of the new york city police department that all these public defenders are attacking. all three of these officers live in new york city. the city has a minority majority police force. over a thousand muslim officers, 20% female. give it up. the nypd is new york city. so the old tired refrain of all the cops living out in the suburbs. here's three young kids that basically were willing to sacrifice their lives. one of them has. another is basically -- >> fooighting for his life righ now. commissioner, thank you. >> exactly. fighting for his life.