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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 10, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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omicron crisis. chicago scancelling ling class more than 300,000 students for a fourth day. investigation is under way in one of the deadliest home fires in decades. faulty space heater sparked if inferno in a new york city apartment building that killed 17 people, including eight children. now they want to know if the alarm or door systems malfunctioned as well. the tennis star novak is planning to compete after a judge ruled he can stay in the country. the drama over his visa and vaccine status may not be over. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer.
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you're in "the situation room." we begin this hour with the omicron surge taking a toll on school, hospitals and businesses. we're following it all. so many organizations and institutions are over burdened and in some places like chicago t situation is clearly boiling over. >> reporter: that's right. stress delays, frustration, cancellation it's all part of the omicron surge and all parts of the country. in chicago they are locked in debate. in so many places we're seeing a will we haven't seen before to keep moving forward through covid. >> parents are outraged and making their outrage known to the teachers union in is a very different dynamic than ever
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before. >> reporter: tensions mounting in chicago. more than 340,000 students missing school for a fourth day. teachers refusing to return to the classroom. >> we're very frustrated that there are no public health leaders standing up and saying we should be moving to remote learning environment especially for a district of this size. >> reporter: in los angeles, students are due back in school in person with widespread testing turning up some 50,000 positive cases in the district. met koro atlanta schools return to in person learning after a week of going remote. new york city schools started the new year in person. so far one single classroom in partial quarantine. >> i think there's no good explanation for having remote schools. >> reporter: a more dire situation for hospitals. nearly one in four nationwide reporting critical staffing shortages. while covid hospitalization numbers near the pandemic all time high.
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>> aplomong unvaccinated people it's putting a big strain. given how much infection there is, our hospitals are at the brink now. >> reporter: for children, aver raj daily hospitalizations are well above any pandemic peak we have seen before. sd >> for those children not eligible, wee know they are most likely to get sick if their family members aren't vaccinated. >> reporter: amid a shortage of testing nationwide, some testing labs report there are already over burdened. universities from a wa sshingto state to north carolina prioritizing who gets tested. >> you'll start to see the kerves, the epidemic kecurves. the risk is to the midwest where you have rising infection. >> reporter: we're also already seeing big efforts to tailor vaccines with the challenges
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presented by omicron. moderna saying they are working on a omicron specific booster that could go into clinical trial booster. >> all right. in new york, thank you. let's go live to chicago right now for more than on cancellation of classes in the city public schools. omar is there for us. will kids in chicago be going to school tomorrow? >> reporter: we got an update from chicago public school not too long ago but only to say they haven't reached a decision yet and negotiations remain ong ongoing.
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with our current protocols, in person is safe. another point of contention is to take learning virtual. the union wants it at a district wide threshold from the school district want it on a school by school basis. when you gou to the schools tlrs still a disagreement. the may yor is being relentless stupid. we're trying to find a way to get people back to school. as you can imagine, the mayor would disagree with that. the mayor said teachers have abandoned their posts and their students. another major point of
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contention is testing. the union wants more of it. the school district said they haven't had enough supply to give every one or people who would want them at home test and the back and forth remains. all the while kids have been out of school. >> i feel bad for those kids. thank you very much. what do you make of the teachers union president as we just heard calling mayor lightfoot relentlessly stupid. >> i think getting kid bacs bac school is essential. this is not march of 2020. we have vaccines and boosters available for every teacher in america. every school age kid can be
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vaccinated. we have masks. this is not place that's banned masks. the combination of being vaccinated and masking provides a high level of support. i think kids should be getting back to school and we can do it safely. >> students and staff ahead of their return. should chicago be able to open classrooms as well not just l.a or new york or d.c. or elsewhere. >> i agree completely. yes is the answer. we have two powerful weapons in fight against this virus. masking and vaccines especially for everybody over five. if you look at the 5 to 11-year-old, only 23% are vaccinated. if you look at 12 to 15, only about 50% are vaccinated.
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we're not using this thing we have in hand which is to get children into school because they need that kind of one sight learning, virtual learning is much worse than on site learning. children need the socialization and they lose that when they have to stay home. >> drst new data that is submerging now and reveals that the so called breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people are making up a growing percentage of hospitalized americans. the danger is higher for the unvaccinated. what do you say about that? does that worry you? >> wolf, what we're see ng the data and i've been on clinical service and it's my experience as well is that obviously a large chunk of people are getting hospitalized are unvaccinated. in the breakthrough infections what we're seeing is high risk people. people who are elderly with significant chronic disease who are vaccinated but have not gotten boosted. that's the group landing in the hospital. boosted people, not never but
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largely are avoiding getting severely ill. avoiding the hospital and that's why boosters are so essential at this moment. >> as you know, cause you're an expert in this area, pfizer now says it's omicron specific vaccine will be ready by march. will that be necessary for most people given what's going on right now, what the projections are? >> not as it stands. the question is what do we want pr this vaccine. i think we're talk about a variant specific vaccine. i don't think we're there yet. no. >> on another specific issue, you heard it in our report from alexandra. fda chief says parts of the
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country like new york city, washington, d.c. might be hitting their omicron peak in the days, in immediate days ahead. do you agree? >> we saw this first in london. london's been a bit ahead of new york. they have seen to have peaked and turned around. early data here in new york, washington, d.c., my expectation is that this is going to roll across the country. we're going to see a national peak probably in a couple of weeks but it will vary from region to region. my hope is the cases decline rapidly the way they did in south africa. whether that will happen or not, dwo we don't know. >> when do you expect the u.s. to reach the peak of this omicron surge? >> i agree. what's interesting is look at united kingdom or denmark which tend to be about two weeks ahead of us, you're starting to see a decline. that was true in south africa and new york. i think it will be rapid. even if you look last year when
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we didn't have vaccine and very little population immunity, you did start to see a decline in the instance of hospitalizations and deaths starting around mid-february. this year we have much higher population immunity. i think it will start to decline and no later than january, at the latest, mid-february. >> we shall see. thank you very, very much. just ahead, a major court test of whether former president trump can be held liable of the attack on the u.s. capitol. we'll tell you what we're learning about today's hearing. did an open door help fuel the spread of that deadly apartment fire in new york city? stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
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tonight a critical hearing just wrapped up. a federal judge is considering for first time whether former president trump can be held liable for the violence at the u.s. capitol on january 6th. let's go to our congressional correspondent. what happened in federal court today? >> reporter: this hearing just wrapped up and it's very important because what this judge is trying to decide is whether or not this civil litigation can move forward against not only president trump but a group of people very close to him. that group is arguing that this case cannot move forward because the individuals all have first amendment rights. basically, allowed them to say whatever they wanted on january 6th and really had nothing to do with inciting the riot that took place here on capitol hill. obviously, the justice department, i'm sorry these l litigators believe differently.
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during this hearing today, the judge really asking attorneys for both sides so pretty tough questions but she zeroed in on some of the things the former president said that were of issue in his mind. he said quote, the words are hard to walk back. you have an almost two hour window where the president does not say stop, get out of the capitol. this is not what i wanted you to do. the judge also stating later on during the proceedings, what do i do about the fact the president dedpouns e nouns the conduct immediately and sent a tweet that arguably exacerbated things. isn't that from a plausibility standpoint that the president agreed with the conduct of the people inside the capitol that day? this hearing is important. the judge could stop the civil litigation. this would be one avenue of opportunity for folks to hold the president and his associations accountable for what happened here on january 6th. it's not just that wolf. if the judge allows the
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proceedings to go forward, that would dwigive the opportunity f depositions and discovery. these are a kraushl part of learning what happened here on january 6th. >> really, really significant. >> jim jordan once claim he had nothing to hide is now suggesting in a lengthy letter he will not talk to the january 6th committee. update us on that. >> reporter: what's interesting is he never says the words he will not cooperate with the committee but he spends a lot of time hammering the composition and suggesting he has nothing to offer them. this despite the fact that he said repeatedly he will talk to anybody about what he knows about january 6th, including those conversations he had with the former president on that day. now, what's not clear at this point is how the committee is going to respond to a jim jordan had to say. there's representative scott
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perry of pennsylvania who that have asked for a similar amount of information from. perry also rejected their requests. the committee not said whether or not they are willing to subpoena fellow members of congress. that would be the next option if they are trying to get this information they desperately need. >> thank you very much. let's bring in a member of the january 6th committee. >> wofl, thanks for having me. the hearing that was being held today is being held by the department of justice. sit a civil proceeding. the work of the committee will go on regardless of the outcome of this particular hearing.
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i do think president trump and those surrounding him who made some very strong comments that i believe encouraged people to come here to the capitol and basically storm this building and injure many people including hundreds of police officers. there is a requirement that they be held accountable. >> what about criminal liability? do you believe at some point your committee, and i know you're limited in what you can say will send a criminal referral to the u.s. justice department for the former president's actions. >> the purpose of the committee is to lay out the fact of everything that happened that day, to provide recommendation so something like this can never happen again. we will forward those things but that's not the main intent of the work of our committee. >> in terms of congressman jim
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jordan wrote this lengthy letter to your committee chair, what do you say to his new claim that he has, no relevant information for the january 6th select committee? >> honestly, it makes no sense. he has clearly stated that he spoke to the president. he spoke to many people close to the president and the administration in white house. the facts are necessary whether he thinks they are important to the investigation not, that's truly not up to him to decide as we're putting together the investigation. we're questioning different witnesses and holding depositions. we have laid out a clear line of questions and there are questions we have and those questions remain for mr. jordan. >> your committee chairman has indicated he's considering asking the former vice president, mike pence, to voluntarily appear before the panel. when will that formal invitation, when do you think that will happen?
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>> i'm not going to make any announcements or predictions on time lines. i do believe the former vice president has information that could be valuable to our information. >> the indications are so since so many of his top aides are fully cooperating, maybe he will as well. thank you smouco much for joini us. 17 people killed in the sec most deadly u.s. home fire in decades. we have details about the investigation into the new york city disaster. that's next. machine so you won't have a medicare in the world. ♪ ♪ plus, 90-day refills and same day delivery. larry? that's even less to medicare about. fill your medicare prescriptions with walgreens and save. ♪ ♪
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. there's new developments in one of the deadly fires in new york city modern history. 17 people killed in a blaze that raged through an apartment building. our national correspondent jason carol is working the story. he's on the scene. this is the second most deadly u.s. home fire in almost 40 years. >> reporter: it's just devastating. one of the deadliest u.s. home fires since 1980. that statistic coming from the national fire protection association. right now behind me some of the lights are back on in the building. so some of the people allowed back inside. trying to get their lives back together again as they grieve for those who did not make it out alive. tonight a community in mourning as the investigation into one of the deadliest fires in the city's recent history focuses on a key safety measure. why two self-closing doors required by law were not working properly and if they could have
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saved lives. >> this painful moment can turn into a purposeful moment as we send the right message of something simple as closing the door. investigators say the fire was sparked by faulty space heater in an apartment duplex on the building second and third floor. >> reporter: the front door to the apartment in question malfunctioned, not closing when it should have. >> as they left they opened the door and the door stayed open. it's our obligation to republican force the concept of close the door, close the door. fire commissioner says the self-closing door on the building 15th floor leading to a stairwell did not function either.
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63 were hurt by the maze of blinding smoke, preventing some from finding their way out early sunday. this man is praying for his brother and sister-in-law. they lived on the 18th floor. he still has not heard from them. >> i'm worried and devastate d. everybody worried. we don't know what's happening. >> reporter: daisy survived by running down a darknded stairwell after first opening the door and smelling smoke. >> i went to the stairs and opened the door. i panic and told my husband let me in the house. i can't see. i'm blind. i can't see. if i stayed out there another three seconds, i would have been gone too. >> reporter: an out pouring of messages of support now coming from across the dpglobe. many of the residents have ties to the dominican republic.
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members of the clergy gathered asking every one to keep victims in their prayerprayers. >> we know you are the god that can rebuild and you can restore. >> reporter: wolf, those prayers continue tonight. you hear about fires like this. you hear so much about alarms not working and this particular case the alarms were working throughout the building. again, the focus of this investigation is on those self-closing doors and why they malfunctioned. >> what a horrible situation. my heart goes out to you and ef one in the bronx. what are you hearing from your community members tonight and what is the latest on the investigation into this truly horrific fire? >> thank you so much for having me. let me say the out pouring of love and support from new yorkers, from every one across the bronx have really poured in
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and we are just so grateful as a community. we're just so overwhelmed. i'm so thank. for over 200 plus firefighters that responded within minutes to rescue as many children families. there are 17 fatalities. n nine dadults and eight children as young as three years old, precious babies. those that have pliszing relatives, unidentified loved ones they have not heard from this this will be a time of mourning but a time of healing and rebuilding. there's a lot of sufficients we learned about this particular building that have gone undressed. the fdny investigation has commenced and we're awaiting the
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results. a malfunctioning space heater has been the cause of this fire as mentioned. we await the results of this investigation. >> it's so, so heartbreaking. i'm sure there's a lot of buildings in the bronx and elsewhere around the country similar kinds of buildings. several factors led to this deadly fire including a malfunctioning space heater but also the self-closing doors that didn't work properly. what are you going to do to ensure that nothing like this happens in your burrough again? >> in midst of our loss we're finding a learning lesson in this tragedy. four major fires in the last 30 years have occurred in bronx from the happy land fire to the high bridge fire to the belmont tire a fire and this fire. we have seen far too much devastation in the bronx. we have seen neglect from landlords. we have to look at the existing
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local codes from the buildings department. some of the rules and regulations the landlords must follow. we pass legislation in the city council to regulate self-closing doors. we learned that this particular door in question did not work. we know that potentially if that door closed behind the ok pccups of the apartment, it could have contained fire and not escalated the way it did and spread to the top 19th floor and taken so many lives. again, we don't know the what ifs and what could have happened but a malfunctioning self-closing door is a problem. some of these space heaters are a problem. we have to address these issues both from a policy perspective and working with landlords and building owners because we have to make sure they are following the rules. we have technology that's up to date and i also want to say we have buildings with sufficient heat. if many of our apartment
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buildings have proper heat, residents would not feel the need to use space heaters in if first place. we have to look at all of this with a very tailored approach. we announced earlier today with congress member torres we will form a task force on fire education and safety and look at building codes, sprinkler system, fire alarms, fire escapes. we're going to look at everything to swee what we can o at a federal and state level. >> so important. our deepest condolences to the families. please pass along our love to all of them. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you so much. thank you for your prayers and support. >> thank you. for more information about how you can, our viewers can help, go to cnn.com/impact. very important. just ahead, he's out of detention but the covid related saga of the world's top male
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tennis player isn't over yet. we're going live to australia when we come back. hey google. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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a key victory for the tennis star novak djokovic and his fight to compete despite his covid status. a judge ruled in his favor but that may not necessarily be the final word. >> reporter: novak djokovic is a free man and back on the tennis court but that may not be how this saga ends. the australian federal circuit court quashed the decision to cancel his visa meaning he could play in next week's australian open. immigration minister still has the power to cancel his visa. his office says he's considering it. >> that he want to be seen as being tough on covid and tough on boarder safety related to covid. >> reporter: he's out of immigration detention where he languished for five days. he's thanked his supporters
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saying he intends to stay in australia. his family says he did nothing wrong. >> he came to australia with the best intentions and the documentation required of him. he was given medical excemption >> reporter: the judge ruled he was treated unfairly when detained at the airport by federal officers. djokovic was not given add kwat time to speak to his lawyer or get in contact with tennis australia officials when he was served with the intention to cancel his visa. they have provided a medical exemption the judge said later adding what more could this man have done. >> i think he dropped the ball by not getting vaccinated. he made life much tougher for him. >> reporter: australian citizens have suffered with tough and some have called cruel border controls keeping families apart. 92% of the population age 16 and
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over is fully vaccinated. sympathy for an unvaccinated tennis player is in short supply especially in melbourne which has been one of the most lheaviy lock down cities in the world. in his affidavit, he said he knew of his infection that day raising questions about maskless public events on december 16th and 17th. the tennis star seen in a panel and a tennis award ceremony. he may have won his right to stay, for now, but the court of public opinion may prove a harder one to navigate. the family was asked about the timing. the fact on december 16th he was testing positive and then on the 17th he was still in public at events without a mask. they chose not to answer that and ended with press kmps. what we have now is somewhat of
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a waiting game to swee the immigration minister will do. he has the right to revoke that visa. whether or not he does or not, we may find out today. >> thank you very much. let's get some more in all of this. the former professional tennis player patrick mcenroe is joining us. you covered a lot of tennis. have you ever seen anything like this in all your years either playing or covering tennis? >> i've watched a lot of his epic tennis matches but this will go down in history for many more reasons. we should take a step back for a sec here and ask ourselves why are we so interested in this story. i think it's this intriguing, this fascinating intersection of politics, of sports, of society where we're at now and the ethics of the rules and regulations that are happening
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around the world. particularly, in this covid era. this will put novak djokovic in a much, much bigger spotlight was a he has to face this press, which he'll have to do shortly in melbourne. he is still hoping he can play in the tournament. he hasn't been on the court for five or six days but he went straight from the appeal hearing. he was able to watch it in his lawyer's offices. he went straight to the practice court that was well after 10:30, 11:00 p.m. at night when he hit the know, djokovic revealed on december 16th he was positive but on that same day and one day later he was photographed attending multiple public events without a mask including a children's awards event. what does that reveal about him? >> it's questionable at best. we finally found out from the document he produced in the
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appeal that he is unvaccinated and the reason for his medical exemption is he tested positive. he will be asked those questions but the bottom line is as the judge noted in this appeal process, he went by the rules that were in front of him at the time provided by tennis australia and the state of victoria. the rules changed in mid air as he was on his way to australia on the long trip from europe down under. the rules changed. that's where the federal government got involved and as you heard in that piece, they could still deport him in they want at this point in time. if they do that, boy, this will take another dtwist and another turn. >> we will continue our conversation. let's see what they decide. thanks so much for joining us and thanks for your good work over the years. appreciate it very much. >> thank you, wolf.
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we're learning more right now about the unexpected death of the truly wonderful actor and comedian bob saget at the age of only 65. a police report reveals saget's family contacted the florida hotel where his body was found when they were unable to reach him after a performance in orlando. the medical examiner says there was no evidence of drug use or foul play discovered in the autopsy. cnn looks back at saget's life
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and the roles that made him so, so popular. >> how you doing? i'm danny tanner. d.j.'s dad. >> reporter: bob saget may have been best known as america's favorite single dad of the late >> okay, i have everyone's sandwich just the way they want them. >> turkey with all white, turkey extra turkey. half white meat, dark meat. and peanut butter and banana, hold the turkey. >> reporter: the show dominated prime time air waves for eight years and was rebooted as "fuller house" on netflix starring many of the same child actors now grown up. >> i was like, oh, it's bob
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saget. >> i do that too when i cwake u in the morning. >> reporter: he was host of "america's funniest home videos," showing america our most embarrassing candid moments. and an era where the camcorder was in house holds. but saget's career was much more than the family man persona. >> welcome to the neighborhood. >> hey, bob saget. >> don't you [ bleep ] my daughter. i'm [ bleep ] with you. >> reporter: he had an edgy, r-rated sense of humor. >> this is the longist that he has gone. >> marijuana is not a drug. i used to [ bleep ] [ bleep ] for soak. >> >> reporter: his stand up comedy. in misfinal tweet in orlando,
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florida, he said, i had no idea i did a two hour set tonight. i'm happily addicted to this [ bleep ]. in an interview, he was asked to define his humor. he said, quote, i'm basically just a 9-year-old boy that evolved. but his family and friends remember the man that evolved, not just the comedian. his family said, he was everything to us, and we want to you know how much he loved his fans, performing live and bringing all weeks of life together with laughter. "full house" co-star john stamos said i'm gutted, i am in in utter shock. i will never, ever have another friend like him. >> we stuck it out and we got through. >> just like we always do.
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>> just like we always will. "full house" was so special in my house hold. our deepest condolences to bob saget's family and friends. may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing. we'll be right back. deposit, plan and pay with easy tools from chase. simplicity feels good. chase. make more of what's yours.
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we're following high stakes talks between the united states and russia regarding the withdrew crane crisis. alex is covering the talks for us. he's in geneva for us right now. alex, what have you learned? >> first, the talks lasted more than 7 1/2 hours today.
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and really neither side got what they wanted from the big picture. russia did not get reassurance they would block ukraine from joining nato, and the deputy secretary of state wendy sherman said she's not sure they will. the russians said they have no plans to invade ukraine. but the u.s. wants to see russian troops going back to their barracks. so this was -- these were helpful talks in the words of the top u.s. diplomat here, in that they were able to talk about a number of issues aside from the major issues that were essentially nonstarters for the u.s., and they are issues they did discuss on a bilateral level, missile placement in europe, missiles in ukraine and
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exercises by nato and russia, and transparency on that level. those are things the u.s. opens to talk about moving forward. this is just a first in a series of conversations. the u.s. was adamant they could not talk about ukraine without ukraine there. they couldn't talk about nato without nato there. but they are essentially the launching pad for discussions this week. there are more in brussels and vienna this week. and we have just learned -- multiple sources telling colleagues and myself that late in 2021, the biden administration released an extra $200 million in aide for the ukraine. hoping diplomacy will be the path they chose. >> critical talks indeed. thank you. back here in the united states tonight, a legendary poet
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and activist is making history. a new quarter teaching maya angelou went in circulate. other quarters with women will be rolling out later this year. to the viewers, thanks very much for watching. aaron burnett out front starts right now. face-off. the city of chicago and the powerful teachers union in a stare down tonight, allowing 340,000 kids to return to classrooms. where do things stand at the moment? the ceo of chicago public schools is my guest tonight. and the deadly insurrection, facing a test in court. what happened today. and biden giving putin an ultimatum. a path o

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