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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 29, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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happening now, breaking news, a jury just found ghislaine maxwell guilty of five counts related to her role in jeffrey epstein's abuse of young girls. we'll break down the verdict. the other major story, a forecast for rising covid cases, as new cases hit an all-time high, as the the biden administration is on the defensive with growing
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confusion. also tonight, public schools in the nation's capital are taking a dramatic step to stop the rapid spread, requires negative tests before students and staff can return next week. we'll talk to mayor bowser. wolf blitzer is off today, i'm jim acosta, and you're in salesforce. "the situation room." . the verdicts in the sex trafficking trial of jason carroll is working the story for us. jason, maxwell has been found guilty on five of six counts of sex trafficking of a minor for jeffrey epstein. this is a huge case there in new york. >> what this case really boils down to, jim, is whether or not ghislaine maxwell knew about the abuse that had been going on for
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all of these years, and whether or not she was a part of it. that's really the foundation of this. a jury came back and found that she was guilty of both. the jury made up of six men, six women, deliberated for six days, and found that she was guilty of five of six federal counts the minor, a victim named carolyn, victim iced during the years of 2004. and also three related counts of conspiracy. the jury found her not guilty on counts 2, which was enticement of an individual until the age of 17 to travel with intent to engage in illegal activity. again, over the course of this trial, the prosecution called 24 witnesses over ten days or so. the prosecution's case really centered, though, on four women,
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who told very graphic, very personal, very detailed descriptions of the abuse that they suffered at the hands of epstein, also with maxwell being there. the u.s. attorney's office saying in a statement, in part, that the road to just has been far too long. today, just has been done. i want to commend the bravery of the girls, now grown women, who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case and today's result possible. maxwell, a british socialite and former epstein girlfriend faces more than 60 years in prison. for years the victims in this case had been seeking justice. they were unable to get the judd they wanted, simply because jeffrey epstein was unable to be broad to justice because hi committed suicide in custody. now holding maxwell, prosecutor
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kaling his partner in crime, now being held accountable. let's get more with ellie williams, and defense attorney and federal -- former federal prosecutor shan wu. sonia, the jury deliberated over about six days, and some were wondering whether the way this was taking its time, that perhaps that might work to makes well's advantage, but it clearly didn't. >> yeah. it just goes to show you you don't know what a jury was thinking. the only window them is the notes that were sent out. they sent out notes for transcript after transcript, almost a third of the witnesses who testified, a transcript they requested. it really seemed like they were
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literal le going back to the drawing board at one point, but clearly they worked together and came up with a unanimous verdict. this is a big deal for the survivors of abuse, not just ghislaine maxwell, but jeffrey epstein. when he killed himself, so many of these victims were devastated, because they felt they had finally gotten to a point where they could have gotten justice for their abuser, and then he escaped that justice. you know, even after his arrest, so many women had spoken about how they wanted to hold ghislaine maxwell accountable. so this verdict i'm certain will be one tiny piece of justice for these women, many of whom were girls when they were abused. >> they've been waiting for justice for years.
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dave aaronberg, you know, some of what ghislaine maxwell and jeffrey epstein were accused of, focused on what was going on in your neck of the woods in florida. >> i think this is long overdue. jeffrey epstein could not have succeeded in his criminal sex scheme without her help. he was some creepy middle-aged guy. if he showed up outside a high school asking a girl to get in his car, they would tell them to get lost, but maxwell was engaging and groom them. without her, this stuff probably wouldn't have happened. so she is just as guilty as he is is under the law for a lot of these crimes. >> and shan wu, maxwell is guilty of the most serious
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charge, sex trafficking of a minor. this confirms she was not a bit player. she was aiding and abetting this, facilitating this. she played a role in this abuse. isn't that right? >> absolutely that's right. i agree with dave on this point. she was integrate to his scheme, though his actions and schemes were probably even broader than this, and he can't be brought to justice now, but i think this sends such an important message for survivor, which is that prosecutors are finally beginning to get the idea that this kind of crime doesn't happen in the dark with just a one-on-one situation where you have only the victim's word. others know about it, and this has been slow in coming. we've seen it in some of the r. kelly convictions, but hopefully this will change for victims. >> maxwell's team was arguing
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she was being scapegoated for epstein's crimes, that essentially she was sort of filling his chair in this trial, but as shan wu was saying, it sounds as though the jury butt a lot of stock into the accounts of these victims. >> absolutely. the victims were there when the abuse happened, so having these women who were girls, you know, testify about their experiences is so crucial. they moved through the women pretty quickly, and at times some of women were sort of advised by the federal judge overseeing the case, judge nathan, not to go into a lot of detail about some of the abuse, but some of these details about jane, who testified under a pseudonim, she testified she met
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maxwell and epps tonight when she was 14 at a summer camp where epstein was a benefactor. so many accusers talked about maxwell's role in this, and someone like her would make them feel more comfortable, confide, and tell the girls things like, you know, you have the perfect body for jeffrey, is what one accuser said she told her. all of these things -- all of these things that maxwell was -- people testified she did were american to normalize sectsual behavior. this is something you see often. i saw it in the r. kelly trial a few months ago, there was someone who was normalizing the behavior, making it seem okay to lure the girls deeper into a situation like this. very important testimony and very difficult to give that kind
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of testimony. >> very disturbing. elliott, maxwell now faces up to 65 years in prison. she just turned 60 on christmas. she faces the prospect of potentially the rest of her life behind bars. what are the prospects she could potentially help federal prosecutors land a bigger fish, so to speak? could that potentially lighten that sentence for her? what do you think? >> under normal circumstances, it would, but the question is, who is the bigger fish? normally you would convict someone higher up. that individual is jeffrey epstein, and he's deceased now. now, perhaps there were people who might have played a role in the conspiracy, but prosecutors don't have a huge incentive. i'm not sure what the utility would be in trying to get
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cooperation out of her. what will happen now? certainly she's going to appeal, and that is her right as a defendant. she can, but we know prosecutors will point out all the things that aggravate this, make this an incredibly serious crime. the vulnerability of the young victims will play into sentencing here. prosecutors will ask -- and moreover, she's going to be in prison this entire time. >> all right. thanks to all of you. we'll have more on this breaking story just ahead. plus, in the meantime, covid confusion is growing as omicron cases keep spiking. stand by for a new forecast of the weeks ahead. ow! i'm ok! only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ only in theaters december 17th. ready to turn your dreams into plans and your actions into achievements? explore over 75 programs
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the cried is forecasting 40,000 new deaths as the tidal wave of new cases sweeps over the u.s. tom, officials are getting pushback. >> with blower than a quarter million new cases today, the american nurses association the latest to push bake, saying they think the guidelines are based
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too much on keeping business going, and not enough on keep people safe, especially healthcare workers right in the middle this pandemic storm. >> schools in d.c. will require all students and staff to have negative covid tests to come back to class. new york city will require rigorous testing, too. all that as the white house says it expects to sign a contract for a half billion at-home covid tests next week. as the centers for disease control faces sharp question over new guidelines for covid-weary americans. >> it really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate. >> reporter: the recommendations of five instead of ten ice lace days for those testing positive, but showing no symptoms, then five days of masking, is aimed at keeping people working, but it's raising alarms, too. >> there's absolutely no data that i'm aware of with the omicron variant that holds
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people coming out of isolation five days after they were first diagnosed with the virus. >> reporter: nothing in the guidelines mandates testing for these people. the administration has been harshly criticized for the current shortage of tests, so the lack of testing and new recommendations is also drawing fire, even at top official push back. >> we don't know how our rapid tests perform and how they predict whether you're transmissible at the end of dis disease. >> it is all becoming a muddle at a terrible time. we are right now seeing more case per day than at any point in the pandemic. >> reporter: infections are rising rapidly in many cases. >> we're seeing here even in new jersey a fourfold increase at pediatric hospitalizations, seeing or daily case rate skyrocket. the national guard has been
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called up in connecticut. in new york city 17% of the uniformed officers called in six yesterday. in washington the pentagon is tightening the covid safety prot protocols. all along the coast authorities are investigating at least 86 cruise ships for covid outbreaks. simply put, the pandemic is just ripping across the country right now, causing a lot of concern and confusion, but the cdc does want you to know this, especially if you have children who are going back to any kind of classroom next week. if they are over 5, they can and should get vaccinated, and there is consideration right now for booster shots for people between 12 and 15. so stay tuned for more news about that. jim? that will be a huge development if and when that happens. tom foreman, thanks so much. let's get more on the guidelines and whether the shortage of
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tests was a consideration. jeremy diamond is with the president in delaware. what are you learning about the debate inside the white house over testing. that is interesting. >> reporter: no doubt about it, jim. listen, we heard today dr. fauci and dr. walensky adamantly saying the shortage did not factor into the change. but a senior administration official say it did factor into a decision around the guidance around the quarantine. quarantine is what the cdc -- is the term they use to refer to people who are close contact, particularly those unvaccinated. they short under that time to five days. they did not explicitly -- only saying it is the best practice to do so, and one senior official told me that they said, quote, if we require a test, people are going to say what if we can't get a test? so this official said very clearly the testing shortage did
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factors into that piece of the new guidance. we know this administration is concerned and on do that of this situation with the shortage of tests. president biden himself hughes repeatedly acknowledged they have fallen short on this. i asked jeff zients today what is the process of getting those test to say americans. he told me they're still in the process of finalizing the contract for that test. that contract will not be finalized until late next week, so i don't think you can expect americans those to say tests under the middle of january. clearly this is something that will continue to be a problem for weeks to come. jim? >> jeremy, it surely is frustrating for a lot of folks out there. dr. michaels on terrholm is here with us and andy slavits -- the
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cdc is now predicting more than 44,000 people could die of covid-19 in the next four weeks. that's a scary prediction for this country, given the fact we're heading into year three of this pandemic. how do we slow this down? how many of thousands 44,000 will been unvaccinated? >> first off, we have to acknowledge we're in a mess right now. the best way to approach is is say what we know and what we don't know. among those who develop omicron infection, we don't know how many will get seriously ill and die. even with the increasing deaths, a lot of that is still the carryover delta variant. it's possible over the weeks ahead omicron will, in fact, reduce the number of severe illnesses. where that falls on its head is if we have that many more infections that it creates more
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severe cases than delta did just because of the sheer number. we're in unknown territory. if you look at the confidence of that daughters, you could drive a semitruck load through there. we don't know the course of the next month. >> engineer hi just reported that the cdc director's defense of the new guidelines, walensky says, most viral transmission happens within the first five days. is that a satisfactory defense of these guidelines which are confusing a lot of people? >> well, everything we're going to do is going to be imperfect. just accept that right now. we don't know a lot of things we wish we know, but what is emerging here is this country will be in the soup in the next few weeks, with so many cases in so many locations we'll see critical infrastructure, as well as health care challenged to even have enough people on the job, so we can protect
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ourselves. we're going to see the places where we buy our food, places that we get our gasoline, are all going to be challenged having enough people on the job. what the cdc in part was trying to do is not play to the economy, but play to the very safety of our everyday lives. i think they're being harshly criticized for these recommendations in ways that in an ideal world, sure, we wouldn't do it this way. andy, let me ask you about that. is it enough to say we didn't see this coming, so therefore we're just in this mess and we're going to have to get through it? nearly two years into in pandemic, the biden administration promised to fix this. that's just the fact of the matter. do you think they should have been more successful when it comes to just explaining this to people? perhaps they should have been explaining all along, listen, something may come around the bend we're not anticipating, and it may not us down again.
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>> well, look, if you're in office, you're always accountable and subject to criticism. you're trying to manage the situation so you minimize the amount of pain as much as possible and allow people to lead their lives. what we have done over the last year is extraordinary over the amount of tools that are now available to people. boosters, vaccines, while we will go through shortages, rapid at-home antigen tests, soon to be that merapies. no one thing is perfect, but in combination, you have a lot of tools to see your family. a lot of tools to be able to go to school, and manage through this pandemic. unfortunately, what the country is dealing with is a large number of people aren't using those tools.
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a large number of people aren't vaccinated. people able always get at-home tests, so, you know, that little hole gives a wide berth to the pandemic. it tells us all we should be cautious. >> andy, here's a question that'ssh on my mind. do you worry that members are losing hope, resigned to the fact to the extent they're not going to be able to ward this off, that they're not going to prevent themselves from being infected with covid, they're going to give up and say, okay, let it happen, here we go. i've heard this from a number of people over the holidays. i got vaccinated, boosted, people are getting infected, i guess i'll get infected, too. what do you see to them? >> i think there's a mix of reactions. on the one hand there are people who may have a family member who is immunocompromised, may be a transplant, and they're deathly afraid and waiting for more
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tools and antivirals, hoping to ward things off. i think there's another group of people figuring out, with the tools that we have, though they're able to manage their lives, even if they could avoid infections at all times, and i think maybe they're resigned that so many people they know you are getting infected, and certainly hoping it doesn't result in more serious illness. we're in the middle of it, and certainly people will be frustrated as things play out. thank you both for your time. just ahead, we'll get reaction from gloria allred, who represents some of the women who say they are victims in this case. with mucinex all-in-one you've got powerful relief from your worst cold and flu symptoms. so when you need to show your cold who's boss, grab mucinex all-in-one...
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breaking news tonight. a verdict in the sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell. let's get more with gloria allred, attorney for some of the women who say they were victims of jeffrey epstein. she's on the phone with us right now. thank you for being with us. what does today's verdict say? >> definitely that scherr is culpable. i represent 20 victims.
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and provided evident to the prosecution, and we're very happy that justice was done today. especially on the charge that you mentioned, his case that that sex traffic will risk being convicted for many years in prison. i except the courage of the victims who testified, and all those great enough to cooperate with law enforcement by sharing and recounting what hacked to them. >> i mean it's confirmation that cooperation can result in successful prosecution.
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how meaningful is it that these -- and faced the full consequences. this goes some distance in getting them justice. >> and the defense tried to argue that she was basically a scap scapegoat because he either was murdered or committed suicide while in custody. today the jury discussed, after very careful and lengthy deliberation, and having rue viewed so much. that fact, she was not a
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scapegoat, and she in fact was guilty. that she gave in the civil case where she was being sued by one of the accusers. >> gloria, what is your message for anyone out there that engaged in his abuse, do you think the guilty verdict is the end of this? or might we find out that others could be brought to justice? >>. >> great question. there were others who assisted jeffrey epstein in addition to ms. maxwell. we don't know if the others had cooperated with law enforcement, basically providing evidence in exchange for a deal or not. we don't know that at this time, or whether there will be more
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prosecutions. >> she was clearly the one that engaged in this enterprise. so i don't know whether the others were prosecuted or not. if they were, i have no doubt that there would be other victims also willing to testify as well. it's hard. for some victims they blamed themselves, they were ashamed, but, you know, we try as plaintiffs attorneys to educate them it's not their fault. when they're minors, they're vulnerable and being taken advantage of. the lawsuit does not look at them as people who should be shamed and blamed.
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>> i hope today that they know that -- that if they're able to be strong and courageous and not blame themselves. gloria, thanks as all for joining us. >> thank you, jim. just ahead, washington, d.c. is requiring a negative covid test for students and staff returning to school next week. we'll talk to mayor muriel bowser about thahat, next.
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there's more pandemic news. starting next week, washington, d.c. public schools will require a negative covid test, as the city sees a dramatic surge in cases. mayor bowser, thank you for joining us. what exactly are you requiring? how did you come about making this decision? , well, we know our parents, like us in d.c. government, value bringing our kids back to school in person, in a safer way
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to do so that, given the wind surge that we are experiencing, is to make sure that every student entering or building has had a antigen rapid test or pcr test, and can upload that result to us within 24 hours of coming back to school on the 5th. we made is the decision to delay by two days the return to school, so that that pickup in testing can occur. >> i suppose part of it is driven by the fact that nobody wants to go back to online classes. you're requires a rapid antigen test, although you said a pcr test would suffice. are you confidence enough that this would prevent a post-holiday surge in the d.c. schools and the communities here? >> we're going to stay vigilant, jim, and make sure in addition to the return to school testing
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that we have a regular surveillance program in our schools. we're asking our parents to stay vigilant. start today, limit your activities, keep an eye on your kids, keep them home in you're sick. provide us the test. we're asking parents to go to a website to upload the result tuesday by 4:00 p.m. so we'll be ready for school on wednesday. we will continue to be vigilant and test throughout our school year. >> d.c. is experiencing a significant spike in cases. it's really shooting up right now. can you put your finning on why this is happening? what's your sense of this? >> well, we throughout consider on you testing a top priority. we think we have the gold
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standard in testing. from our fire-house testing we have done throughout the pandemic, to giving out over 100,000 antigen tests last week, to having a test yourself pcr testing program that our residents take advantage of. last week, as i mentioned, we gave out 100,000 rapid tests. 16,000 of our residents uploaded results to our website so we could track their progress. we're number one per capita in the country in terms of the number of tests we do. our approach is to have our residents get a test when they need it. we79 much we want to know where the cases are, continue to isolate so we can have people go to school and go to work and enjoy limited activities. >> mayor bowesers, best of luck, we're ready for this to be over, as is everybody ace cross the country.
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thank you. >> thank you, jim. vladimir putin requests a call with president biden tomorrow. we take a look at what may be on the russian president's agenda. “drink me.”
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we're joined by senator ben cardin of maryland. is it a mistake without more concrete signs of de-escalate on the border. president biden has made it absolutely clear we're in unity with our traditional allyies alo what president biden believes needs to be heard, in regardings to the ukraine.
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so i think it's a good idea they're talking. we would rather see them talking than having to respond to a russian incursion. . he pushed for as an excuse to invade? that he is sort of setting the table for some kind of action in ukraine? >> there is no justification for russia invading ukraine. and there will be a real unified reaction if they attempt to use military against ukraine. there is just no justification for it. ukraine is a sovereign nation. they can make their own decisions, in regards to their national security. they can make their own decisions, in regards to nato alliance or to any other decision that any other sovereign nation can make. russia cannot dictate what a sovereign nation will do, and
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will not dictate to the united states our alliances with other like-minded countries. >> and we want to ask you about the passing of former senate leader harry reid. what are you going to remember most act his approach to politics and life? we know he was a fighter, he was a boxer and some of that translated to how he handled things in the senate. what -- how do you remember him? >> well, you know, harry reid had a very difficult growing up. he never let that define his legacy. and -- and what he did. i will always remember the friendship. i -- i came to the senate the first year he was the majority leader. and i always remember our first in-person conversation. it was to get to know each ownership. he really wanted to understand my family, wanted to understand my interests. i was being welcomed into the senate family, and he wanted to make sure that we accomplished great things in the senate but he wanted each member to be part of that. so, he was a great leader, a
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person -- a great friend of mine. i am going to miss him dearly. and i can tell you, he was truly unique. you are not going to find too many people like harry reid. >> that is very true. i spoke to him a couple times over the past year. always knew where harry reid stood on just about any issue. senator ben cardin, thanks so much for your time. up next, he was the voice of football and much more. we will discuss john madden's unexpected death and what made him such a legend. and now, putting you in control of your financing. at carvana, get personalized terms, browse for cars that fit your budget, then customize your down payment and monthly payment. and these aren't made-up numbers. it's what you'll really pay, right down to the penny. whether you're shopping or just looking. it only takes a few seconds, and it won't affect your credit score. finally! a totally different way to finance your ride. only from carvana. the new way to buy a car.
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for decades, he was the face and voice of pro football, as well as the name of one of the most successful video game
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franchises in history, john madden has died at the age of 85 and sports analyst mike goe lick joins us to remember madden. mike, so much to talk about. there is no way we are going to cram into all into this segment. but simply put, he made it so relatable to people around the country. what did he mean to you? >> well, listen. it was so much to me because while i was born and raised in cleveland, the oakland raiders were my team growing up. he took over that team in '69. i was about 8 years old. up until act -- i was going to high school. so, he was the coach of the team that i loved. and then, when he was broadcasting games through my college years and then my entire nfl career, 1984, the all madden team came into being. right before i got into the nfl. let me tell you, jim, guys love making it to the pro bowl. but if you made the all madden team and that team -- young generation, if you don't know, google this, man. if you have blood on your uniform, blood on your face, dirt all over yourself, se snot
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bubbles all over the place, you were making the all madden team and you wanted to make the all madden team. and then, to be part of this ea madden sports game, which started in '88 but really took off, i think, more in '90. i mean, this was all during the height of my career. just him calling games, jim, he did it in just a natural way. you know, boom, bang, bang! you know, i mean, he just -- he just had a ball doing it. he was just himself. >> and he talked to -- talked to you about it like he was a guy on the barstool next to you or your uncle on the couch at home. let's -- john madden commented on football as you said in life. and had an incredible sense of humor. we have one of his clips, and there are so many clips. this is obviously not the greatest of all time madden clim but it is just a clip that demonstrates what this was like listening to john madden call a game. he would talk about some of the activity on the sideline. let's take a look. >> i am looking as close as i can and i can't see. he's been -- that's a four-day beard, isn't it? >> a passive attempt.
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>> very, very passive. >> here is terry alan. out to about the 20. >> there it is. here it is but see, i mean -- i mean, he got a little in here and a little up there. here. but he doesn't have anything here at all. watch. when you take it off, he doesn't have anything going up in there. >> he is talking about troy acheman can't grow a beard. >> the telestraighter. i mean, he really brought that into play and just not on football. jim, the best thing i can say about him was, um, he didn't get bogged down in term minology of the game and you said it right. he was like sitting next to you on a barstool talking to you about football. the best two words i can use about him was he was a football guy. and he will so be missed. and by the way, loved going through that madden cruise. that was a really cool bus. >> yeah. i mean, you know, in terms of his lasting legacy, what do you remember the most do you think? >> i -- i -- i think what i remember is just how he relayed
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the game to everybody. that's what you want when millions of people are sitting and watching the game. how do you take in the game? you could tell his pure passion and joy for the game. he just wanted to talk football and that was it. and it came across. >> and of course, pat, the way he would always say join us for 60 minutes and murder she wrote. he would always do that. sports analyst, thanks for joining us. talking about john madden. we appreciate it. and thanks everybody for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. out front next. another covid case record shattered. tens of thousands of deaths projected in the u.s. over the next few weeks as the cdc defends its new guidelines on isolation. plus, breaking news after days of deliberations and weeks of graphic testimony, jeffrey epstein associate ghislaine maxwell found guilty in her sex trafficking trial. and melania trump eyes her big next move nearly a year after leaving thwh


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