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tv   CNN Newsroom With Jim Acosta  CNN  November 28, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com you are live in the "cnn newsroom." i am jim acosta in washington. president biden is huddling with covid experts as the u.s. braces for the arrival of a new highly mutated coronavirus variant known as omicron.
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>> i'm having a meeting with my medical team as i get back to the white house i'll have more to say. >> and while we wait for more information, a top u.s. health official says there's no evidence yet to suggests it causes more serious illness than previous variants. instead, it could cause milder illness. >> there is even a bit of a report from south africa that maybe people with this are milder than the usual case. but they're mostly young people who have mild illness anyways. we do think it's more contagious when you look at how rapidly it's spread through multiple districts in south africa. >> but let's be cautious about this. it is still early in this process. nothing is concrete. and we still do not know a lot. and that is whether or not our current vaccines can stand up to this variant. moderna say they expect to know the impact on their vaccine in a couple of weeks. in the meantime, many travel
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doors across the globe are slamming shut in hopes slowing the spread seven hours from now the u.s. will join multiple nations in restricting travel from seven countries including south africa where this new variant was first identified. cnn's joe johns is at the white house. and, joe, what more are we learning about the president's covid briefing today? >> right. well, just a little bit of clarity as i was walking out here to the camera just a couple minutes ago, i did see the sentry signal. that briefing has wrapped up and we're told to expect a read-out, presumably written, to tell us whatever it is the administration would like us to learn about the president's briefing, which we're told included dr. anthony fauci. and i think also important to say that this administration has been trying pretty much all afternoon to send a very strong and clear message that the
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president is very much focused on the omicron variant to the extent that the administration put out a statement even before he left nantucket on his thanksgiving weekend saying he was going to have this meeting, and now it has occurred. also i think important to say, jim, that we are now in the countdown period before those travel restrictions on several southern african countries, including south africa, as well as botswana. we are in that countdown period before we actually see those travel restrictions go into effect. the question, of course, for the president, which he did not answer today, is whether he's going to expand any of those restrictions in light of what the scientists have learned over the last weekend. jim, back to you. >> and of course we know there are cases popping up all over the globe, not just in that part of africa. joe johns, thank you very much. the world is racing to contain this new variant with multiple countries blocking and
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restricting flights from south africa and surrounding nations, a move that both the world health organization and south africa have condemned. nick valencia is at atlanta's hartsfield international airport. flights from johannesburg are still arriving in the u.s. and will continue arriving in the u.s. even after these restrictions go into effect tomorrow. tell us about that. >> reporter: that's right. in fact, i just spoke to somebody who had just recently arrived from johannesburg earlier today who described her experience traveling as just a downright nightmare and said when he was in johannesburg that her initial flight was canceled after the emergence of the news of omicron. she was eventually able to get on a flight but she says several people she saw there at the airport in johannesburg were not. i asked her if she had any second flights, she said she didn't.
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she added that she wouldn't be surprised if it was already in the united states. >> i wouldn't be surprised. and, again, when you have the vaccine you could carry those things and show no symptoms. so people just need to stop panicking so much. >> reporter: we were surprised to learn there was no additional screenings for her either when she arrived back in atlanta. and we're hearing that from other passengers north of us. in newark a passenger arrived earlier today there and said they were surprised they didn't have to go through any additional screenings. >> the pilot let us know that they will be checking covid tests randomly, that we weren't one of the people who were checked. but they were checking for people's tests to see the negative result from the last 72 hours. and then they had this really cool station here where you could take a covid test on site and they give you this little at-home test kit in case you are
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feeling any symptoms in the next few days. >> reporter: back here in atlanta, it is very much so business as usual for delta airlines, the hometown airline here for atlanta. they're continuing flights to south africa despite this travel restriction going into effect on monday. and, jim, the passengers that we've spoken to here, for the most part, are actually kind of flippant when it comes to news about omicron, saying it did not factor in at all as to whether or not they would travel today. there is only one person who said they have some kind of trepidation and anxiety moving forward and is uncertain about what this all means. but we are pretty surprised to hear here from passengers saying that really this news isn't going to impact them at all going forward. jim? >> all right, nick, we'll see if that remains the vibe over at the airport. nada, let me go to you in london. we should note we just learned the first two cases of the omicron variant have been
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confirmed up in ontario in canada. the uk government is announcing new restrictions. >> there are new measures coming into force in the uk, perhaps not as stringent as what we've saw when previous variants were found. but the prime minister did announce yesterday that mandatory mask wearing will be brought back into force on public transport. and the government is looking at the booster program, widening the pool of people eligible to get that booster jab and of course shortening that gap between the second and third dose. so that is coming on to consideration. that's all part of efforts to really stem the spread of this new variant. but what is the key focus now really is those travel restrictions. the uk government has added at least ten countries so far in the southern african region to its red list. travelers coming back from those countries will be required to quarantine for ten days in a
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government-approved hotel at their own expense. travelers will be required to take a pcr test by day two in their arrival of the uk and will be required to isolate until they receive that negative test result. we've seen similar measures come into force across europe. and we are seeing confirmed cases now in the uk. germany has confirmed its third case and italy. and the czech republic has confirmed its first case. and incidentally the czech president tested positive for coronavirus on thursday. but that didn't stop him from appointing the new prime minister, although he did this in a covid friendly way. jim? >> that's a stunning image in and of itself. thank you both. signs of the times for all of us. for more on this i'm joined by infectious diseases specialist dr. celine gounder. dr. gounder, great to see you,
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thanks so much. how are you feeling about all of this? we just learned omicron is in canada. it's on our doorstep. i suppose, as dr. fauci was saying and others have been saying, it's almost certainly here. >> jim, i think the major takeaway, what your viewers should go home thinking about, is that there's still much we do not know about omicron. we're still learning. and i think that as we were saying very early in the pandemic, pandemics are not about panicking, they're about policies, protocols, and practice. and in this case that means doing the work of characterizing the virus. scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how well our current vaccines will protect against the omicron variant. it also means trying to figure out how infectious this variant is. if it is not as infectious as the delta variant, so you can think of it sort of as a foot race if the delta variant's a lot faster, then omicron, delta may still outpace, outgun
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omicron. and omicron may fade out, as have other variants. and finally we're still trying to figure out can omicron cause more disease in people? i think the main things people can do to protect themselves right now is if you're not vaccinated, get vaccinated. if this does turn out to be an immune-evading variant, there may also well be benefit in getting an extra dose or booster dose of vaccine. >> if you're not vaccinated you're way behind the curve here. and president biden briefed today -- excuse me, ahead of tomorrow's travel ban for south africa and its neighbors. you were part of his covid transition task force. how granular do you think the information is getting in these briefings? if you had a chance to brief the president on all this, what might you be saying right now? >> well, i think this harkens back to christmas eve of last
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year where our group got together, the board got together as we were hearing news of the alpha variant, which you will remember emerged from the uk around that time, and we were trying to figure out what to do at that time. and i think it's going to be a very similar discussion about what are you doing with respect to travel restrictions, if somebody is traveling into the u.s. from overseas, what do you do about testing, about quarantines? how can we expand vaccination, which was a tool that was not at our disposal at that time to the general population. i think all of these things are going to be looked at very carefully again. >> and a passenger in newark who arrived from south africa told cnn the covid test they took before leaving south africa were randomly checked. is it fair to have these travel bans in place effectively punishing south africa when the u.s. doesn't even appear to be doing a lot of the due diligence that needs to be done?
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>> well, it's also a big l loophole that people who live in the u.s. who are american citizens who are traveling back and forth are exempt from these restrictions. they can still return. so that's a huge number of people who you're leaving out of the equation. i think the other piece, and i think a lot of people don't realize this, south africa has some of the best virologists in the world. they have cut their teeth on the hiv pandemic, have been honing their skills in this field for decades. so the fact that they detected this so quickly, informed the rest of the world so promptly is really a testament to that science. >> yeah. i mean, that's what we've been hearing from so many folks, a lot of the experts out there in the last 24 hours really crediting the south africans for getting an early warning out to the world. we owe them a debt of gratitude no matter how it turns out. thanks as always for your
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expertise. we appreciate it. and he's a doctor turned lawmaker turned conspiracy theorist. the latest republican spreading baseless lies and raising doubts about the seriousness of the coronavirus. you're live in the "cnn newsroom." and rescued his nose. with up to 50% more lotion puffs bring soothing softness and relief. a nose in need deserves puffs indeed. at fidelity, your dedicated advisor will help you create a comprehensive wealth plan for your full financial picture. with the right balance of risk and reward. so you can enjoy more of...this. this is the planning effect. to run a growing business, is to be on a journey.
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with a new variant comes a new conspiracy theory courtesy of a republican member of congress. congressman ronny jackson who you may remember for his effusive praise of donald trump's good genes back when he was the president's physician tweeted this, here comes the mev, the midterm election variant, they need a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. democrats will do anything to cheat during an election but we're not going to let them, tweeted congressman ronny jackson. apparently there is no treatment for what the congressman is suffering from. but joining me now is cnn's senior political analyst john avlon, and host of pbs "firing
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line" margaret hoover. guys, we're all just supposed to believe that these countries reporting this new variant, they're all in on the conspiracy. help me out, please. >> i mean, isn't that obvious, jim? i mean, isn't it clear that a global pandemic is simply a partisan political conspiracy designed to hurt republicans. look, ronny jackson, one day we'll get to the bottom of what happened to him. but, in all seriousness, the idea that the rise of this new variant is related to domestic or partisan politics is of course ridiculous. it's an obscene form of negative partisanship, give the fact that three-quarters of a million americans have died. look at the folks who have been spreading disinformation and lies about vaccination because it's still a pandemic of the unvaccinated in terms of hospitalizations. and as we face this new variant, those folks will be the ones who continue to suffer the most.
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>> which is what makes it the most objectionable. this is a medical doctor with a doctor of the president of the united states, a couple times over. the idea that he has become a maga world conspiracy theorist undermining his old profession, undermining faith that people have in public health officials. forget it, how about just with their doctors? it's actually real malpractice in his profession, the profession that frankly put him on the map and is the reason he's in congress in the first place. >> it sounds like he's making house calls to alex jones. we are also seeing a push by republicans to get people up in arms about covid measures. take a listen to donald trump jr. >> you don't hear about what's going on as it relates to the riots in europe on a daily basis now against the vaccine mandates. because our media wants to block that out. they are going to make sure that you never hear about it because they don't want you getting these kind of ideas that freedom may actually still exist in some
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parts of the world. i mean, europe is pushing back. and america's sitting there like sheep, ah, this is great, we'll just go along with. >> i'm trying to figure this out. don jr. is upset that there aren't riots here in the united states over covid vaccines? hasn't the trump family had enough riots at this point? >> uh, apparently not, not for their taste. speaking of alex jones' level energy, donald trump jr. seems certainly amped up about his latest conspiracy theory. and the invoking of sheeple is when you know it's all gone really, really well. this conflation with public health with propaganda is a source of the lot of the sickness in our country, the disinformation that gets fueled by people like donald trump jr. who should probably find a real job at this point. >> it's notable too. this pointing out of the media and blaming the media like americans, as though americans live in a totalitarian system where we don't have an internet,
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we didn't look up, i don't know, the bbc, any european paper, any source of information around the world. we are not living in an authoritarian regime that shuts off our access to our free inquiry of information. perhaps the people listening to him are in the sense that they are trapped, they are trapped in a siloed information cycle. and so they're willing to believe him. and that's the real danger here. >> and dr. fauci -- i try not to, i'll abstain in that case. dr. fauci, by the way, he came out swinging today against republicans like senator ted cruz who believe he should be prosecuted. this was a spicy sound bite from dr. fauci. let's listen. >> senator cruz told the attorney general you should be prosecuted. >> yeah. [ laughter ] i have to laugh at that. i should be prosecuted? what happened on january 6th,
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senator? >> do you think that this is about making you a scapegoat to deflect from president trump? >> of course. you have to be asleep to not figure that one out. >> i think he's out of blanks to give, as the kids might say. >> yeah, look. whatever you think about dr. fauci, and he has been deeply politicized, right? part of the reason he was politicized in the first place, the right will say, oh, he was just sort of made into this icon. well, the only reason he became sort of a hero of the left was because he became a villain of the right first. this is a man who's dedicated his entire public career, he's 82 plus years old. he's in his early 80s. gets up every morning, runs four miles and then devotes himself to the best he can as a person with really deep knowledge on medicine and in public health to
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try and just save people. and we don't always get it right, we're all human. but you can understand why he'd be mad. finally it's kind of nice to see him just shrug it off and demonstrate, like he's human, too. >> absolutely. well, i do want to get your take on this, the gop is attacking vice president kamala harris over purchasing some nice c cookware. they tweeted, while americans are struggling to pay more than ever for the holidays, kamala harris is out buying a $375 pot. i mean, does anybody remember that the previous president had an apartment that looked like something out of an austin powers movie? i'm just trying to get a handle on this one. >> or more to the point, was charging the u.s. taxpayers $650 at night to have secret service when he went to mar-a-lago.
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this is one step below obama wearing a tan suit scandal. frankly, at a time when we are dealing with an ongoing pandemic for the rnc to be fixating on this nonsense, it's predictable, but that doesn't make it any less pathetic. >> look, there are certain rhetorical and political tropes in politics that repeat themselves. there is a version of this that happened in the obama administration, in the clinton administration. it's part of the limousine liberal riff, oh, these democrats who, you know, are really supposed to be for the working people, who is sip their lattes in their limousines. it is connected to that trope. and these things repeat themselves throughout history and throughout actually the 20th century. >> margaret's exactly right about the sort of synaptic lineage of this particular nonscandal. after donald trump was the republican standardbearer, any pretenses towards being a part
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of austerity and republican values are out the window. he literally lived in a gold tower off fifth avenue. >> but that's the whole point about the synaptic residence of these tropes. they don't have to be in any kind of reality. they simply are repeating a theme that is resonant throughout multiple generations. >> the standards are a little different now. well, guys, thanks for stirring the pot with us. >> be well, jim. coming up, smash-and-grab burglaries on the rise across the country. is there anything authorities can do to stop these brazen attacks? voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel for powerful arthritis pain relief. voltaren, the joy of movement.
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a slough of smash-and-grab burglaries at high-end retailers across the country has authorities on alert. flash mobs carrying out the robberies are causing concern right now. cnn's brian todd has more. >> reporter: on the left thieves violently hack away at a jewelry glass case near san francisco. on the right a louis vuitton store is ransacked outside chicago. authorities say they made away with more than $100,000 of handbags and other merchandise. at this in order stram near l.a. on wednesday, at least five people went in and did more than steal valuable merchandise. >> a number of suspects entered the door here behind me and took several high-end purses. unfortunately, we do have a security guard here that was
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working for the store, working for nordstrom's that was attacked by the suspects. >> reporter: cnn affiliate kabc reports one of those suspect what's wearing an orange wig. at an apple store north of san francisco, at least $20,000 worth of merchandise was stolen in a brazen daytime burglary. police said those suspects were between 14 and 18 years of age. this is all part of a wave of so-called smash-and-grab robberies at high-end stores in recent days in california and illinois. hit that were disturbing for their apparent level of coordination, the number of people involved. >> i probably saw 50 to 80 people in, like, ski masks, crowbars, a bunch of weapons. >> reporter: at least three of these robberies occurred at nordstrom stores near los angeles and san francisco. customers are terrified. >> very disturbing because now i'm reluctant to come to
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nordstrom's or even the mall for that matter to come and make my purchases. >> reporter: san francisco's police chief says his department has made some arrests and recovered millions of dollars in stolen property. asked by cnn who's carrying out these burglaries he said he believe it's ranges from common thieves to sophisticated organized groups at the top. >> there magazine to be a degree of organization in that. there's no way, in my mind, that we can have a situation where up to 80 people can invade a store or series of stores and there not be some communications in some organization. >> reporter: law enforcement analysts tell us some of these could be copy-cat burglaries. they say these kinds of hits are tough to guard against. security is being ramped up across the country. one analyst says customers can also help. >> they should always be sensitive to their surroundings if it goes down while you are in the store or nearby, stay out of
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the way. if you are in a position to take a photo, that would be helpful for the police, or just observe what you are doing. >> reporter: we reached out to nordstrom to ask about any enhanced security measures the chain may be taking, and to ask whether there is a possibility of an inside job with some of these hits. they didn't get back to us. analysts say one thing law enforcement is likely doing is monitoring social media for signs of possible coordination and signs of anyone bragging about these burglaries. brian todd, cnn, bethesda, maryland. more news coming up. we'll be right back. it was a wakeup call. this season give the most meaningful gift for just $99.
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this just in. we have learned seven children remain hospitalized a week after the driver of an suv drove into a christmas parade in waukesha, wisconsin. waukesha's mayor is calling for a citywide moment of silence sunday afternoon in just a few moments from now actually at 5:39 p.m. eastern to mark the time the tragedy unfolded one week ago. residents are also being encouraged to light blue lights outside their homes at that time and keep them on throughout the holiday season. blue light bulbs are also being donated to those who need them. let's listen in. >> although this was not light, this was not the way, this is not truth, somehow we'll be stronger. somehow this will draw us together.
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somehow we will muster up the faith to continue on. please pray with me. lord jesus, we come to you as our only source of hope in times of darkness, in times of confusion, in times of sorrow and grief and mourning, knowing that you are the way, you are the truth, and you are the life. may those words comfort us and guide us in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. and we pray in unison, believing in you, jesus, amen. [ sirens ] >> and we will start our minute of silence.
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i'm going to do the next song. it's called "make me a channel of your peace." if you're familiar with it please join me in song. >> and that was a moment of silence you just watched in
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waukesha, wisconsin, a few moments ago, exactly one week from the moment when an suv crashed through a christmas parade there in waukesha. six people died, the latest victim was a child. and you can see all those stuffed animals and candles lined up there at this memorial that has been laid out in waukesha just a scene of unspeakable pain. and of course our prayers and our thoughts are with everybody in that community tonight. let's bring in cnn's natasha chen. natasha, you've been following this. what more are we learning about the victims? obviously, they're still in the midst of dealing with just unbelievable grief in that community right now. >> reporter: it's been one week, but really there's so much to digest for everyone in waukesha. i was there just a few hours after this happened last sunday, and i can tell the spot where
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they're gathered right there for that moment of silence is veterans park. it's a few blocks we'st of wher this suv came through main street, through the barricades and really just shocked everyone and changed their lives. as you mentioned, seven children are still in the hospital at children's wisconsin. three of those seven are in serious condition. one of the patients there is 11-year-old jessalyn torres. we've been seeing really emotional social media updates from her mother, very heartbreaking about the challenges that she's going through on a day-to-day basis. she's dealing with a broken pelvis, a fractured skull, lacerations to her lungs. her mother said she's on a ventilator and that her daughter was really hit by this car in a way that the vehicle's grill marks were on the girl's chest and that she was flung 20 to 30 feet. there are a lot of families here still struggling. and this community really
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rallying around them, jim. >> natasha, they need more than just a community rallying around them right now. they need the whole country. this is just -- this has been just an awful tragedy in that community. natasha chen, thanks for staying on top of it, and of course we'll stay on top of this story as it develops and bring you anything else that comes in this evening. but that is the scene in waukesha, wisconsin, this evening, and we'll be right back. [ singing ]
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[ding] what will wall street be watching for this week? here's cnn's christine romans with your "before the bell" report. >> the job market roared back in october and the end of summer wasn't as bad as initially reported. can that continue? economists expect the jobless rate will drop to 4.5%, a new low for this recovery. if we get 550,000 new jobs in november as expected, it will mark the second straight month that half a million positions have been added back. if that continues for a few more months, analysts say we will recover. wage growth has been strong, but
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shoppers are paying more for just about everything. and too many workers are still on the sidelines. the labor force participation rate still hasn't returned to prepandemic levels. tuesday we'll get the federal reserve's take on the economy. they will testify about the government's 2020 stimulus bill. their assessment and future action will undoubtedly take into account this week's jobs numbers. in new york, i'm christine romans. the president of ukraine says a coup is planned to be carried out against him. he has audio of plotters discussing the plan and warns it's set to happen between this wednesday and thursday. the kremlin denies having any part in an alleged coup. but zelensky's claims follow weeks of concerns about unusual activity along the border of ukraine. joining me is alexander vindman. he was the national security
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council's top ukraine expert at the time. lieutenant colonel, great to see you. we're actually getting to talk about your area of expertise, ukraine. what do you think about what za l -- zalensky is saying? do you believe him? >> it wouldn't surprise me. the first thing that came out was he was wanting to assassinate montenegro when he was wanting to join nato, and there was a plot the gru was behind it. it wouldn't surprise me that elements behind the gru are pursuing these types of enabling operations. what they are looking for is to potentially destabilize the government in ukraine while they conduct maybe military offensive. to me the most important thing is there is a situation brewing on the border of ukraine and russia. in a lot of ways, it's a continuation of russia's effort in 2014 that was driven by
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necessity and opportunity. back then in 2014, there was no government in ukraine. ukraine had chosen the path of european integration and russia was not going to let that happen. ukraine is central to russia's understanding of itself, to russia's understanding of its place in the world, and now what we see is a continuation of that enterprise, again, driven by necessity and opportunity. the necessity now is a little bit different than back then. they see their influence in ukraine waning. they believed ukraine would be a failed state on its own. that has proven false. ukraine is actually doing quite well. relatively speaking, it made some significant advances in the political, economic, military spheres and russia sees it slipping through its fingers. at the same time, on the opportunity side, they see the u.s. is distracted with a miscalibrated pivot to china. china is a long-term threat, but
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the immediate threats are centered on eurasia as well as internal instability in the u.s. and internal lack of cohesion here, all sorts of crises developing in europe including greater leverage over europe through gas and all these immigration crises that russia is probably playing a hand in developing. >> yeah. and obviously you famously testified during the former president's first impeachment trial. here we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of january 6 which led to his second impeachment. i'm just wondering, as you're watching the house select committee investigating january 6 do its work, if they can't get some of these key trump allies, people like rudy giuliani who we had to deal with during the whole ukraine saga, if they can't get some of these key trump allies to testify, and this thing gets dragged out in the courts, what happens, do you think? >> i think time is limited.
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there is potentially a window up to 2022, and those congressional election, midterm elections, to take action. there is a good chance that republicans could sweep in and gain control of congress. you would think that president biden's significant successes on the economic front with regards to policy should keep the republicans at bay, the insurrection caucus at bay, the folks in the republican party that want a donald trump that spends more time golfing than actually doing the business of government. but there is still a reasonable chance that they could sweep in in 2022. so it's a really limited time to take action. i think part of the calculus for the russians in ukraine is, again, the russians are distracted. the u.s. is looking to the east, is looking to china, is looking internally, and this is the opportunity to take action. what you could have is a range of different outcomes in ukraine. you could have a very significant military escalation,
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a significant land grab on one end of the spectrum. that's not -- that should not be discounted. on the other side of the spectrum, what you have is a major demonstration that gets the u.s. to say, well, you know what, we don't need this other headache in ukraine. we can back off. we can focus on china. this is the opportunity to step back from ukraine, but that's app appeasement. that's not the way the situation gets resolved. the way it gets resolved is to change the military calculus in ukraine. >> do you think the russians took the overall presidency as a sign of weakness from the u.s.? and what happens if trump runs again? what do the russians see? >> i think they see an enormous opportunity for another trump administration. i'd say it's longer, unfortunately, than president biden's tenure. president trump's tenure was a huge boon but they suffered consequences for the war in georgia. they've basically not been --
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their maligned action, their aggression, has not received any firm response, and we see the product of that. that's why, when i talk about appeasement, we give the russians what they want. we give them ukraine, and somehow we could buy their collaboration to help us pivot to china. this is a failed -- a flawed notion. i don't think the biden administration is that unsophisticated. they have lots of good people thinking about this. the russians may be considering this and that's one end of the spectrum. what cautions me is this might turn out to be something bigger is the notion that ukraine is slipping through their fingers and this is the time to act. >> they may be desperate to act. >> that's right. >> lieutenant colonel vindman, always happy to have you come by. thanks for being here. we'll be right back. ste is going to be pronamel repair.
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good sunday evening. you are live in the cnn newsroom. i'm jim acosta in new york. canada just now confirming its first two cases of the highly mutated covid variant. the infected individuals are now in isolation and had both recently traveled from nigeria which, incidentally,

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