tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN January 23, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PST
hello, everyone. thank you for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. a stern new warning from the u.s. to russia. >> if a single additional russian force goes into ukraine in an aggressive way, as i said, that would trigger a swift, a severe and united response from us and from europe. and again, there are other things that russia could do that falls short of actually sending additional forces into ukraine and again, across the board,
we're prepared with europe for a swift and calibrated and great united response. >> also today, a new intelligence report from the uk says there is a plot to remove the government in ukraine and replace it with a pro-moscow puppet regime. a charge the russians are denying. all this comes as a new shipment of u.s. military aid arrived in ukraine this weekend that included ammunition which ukrainian troops could potentially use fighting on the front lines against invading forces. cnn's chief international correspondent clarissa ward is in ukraine. white house correspondent arlette saenz is in washington and also jill dougherty. she's also a former cnn moscow bureau chief. good to see all of you ladies. clarissa, you first. antony blinken's rhetoric may be getting tougher, but is that going to resonate at all in
ukraine or moscow? >> well, it certainly resonates well in ukraine. after that sort of hiccup in the middle of the week where president biden had implied that potentially a minor incursion would not bring about such swift and severe retribution from u.s. and nato allies. now the white house has firmly clarified that any, as you heard, secretary of state antony blinken saying there, any step, any single soldier crossing that border in an aggressive manner will be viewed essentially as a reinvasion and will be met with swift, severe and united response from nato and u.s. allies. so that will certainly be music to the ears of many here in ukraine. but while the diplomatic effort continues and while there is broad support for that here, there is also concern that perhaps a more robust or aggressive stance should be taken against russia. not just in terms of whether an
invasion happens but could it be, for example, that the u.s. would start levying sanctions against the russians now? that was something blinken was asked about on "state of the union" and he said sanctions don't act as a deterrent if you implement them too early, which is a very fair point, and i think that many here in ukraine would probably accept that point. but still, would like to see the u.s. adopt an even more muscular approach. >> so arlette, what are the things under consideration? president biden met with his national security advisers at camp david this weekend. >> well, fred, president biden convened that meeting with his national security team while at camp david to talk about russia's aggressive actions towards ukraine. he was joined in person by his national security adviser and his longtime counselor steve rachetti and others joining via secure video conference as well, including secretary of state
antony blinken, fresh off that meeting in geneva, that face-to-face with russia's foreign minister sergey lavrov. now the white house says they discussed the diplomatic options that are on the table, as they are encouraging russia to de-escalate, and they also talked about those deterrence measures that the u.s. is trying to put in place along with allies. while the white house has been working towards achieving de-escalation through that diplomatic route, they are also saying they are very clear eyed and setting up those deterrence measures and also contingency measures should russia actually decide to invade ukraine. right now this is a very delicate foreign policy situation matter for the president. we know that they have not taken the option of having president biden and president putin actually speak once again off the table. that is still something that could happen. it's expected that blinken will be speaking with his counterpart, lavrov, at some point in the coming week. we're also expecting the u.s. to provide a written response to
russia's concerns. that is likely something that might have been discussed in that meeting that the president had with his national security team, but right now, the white house is trying to show that the president is fully engaged on this matter, even while he is away from the white house this weekend. and as they are trying to chart that diplomatic course, but also the options that will be in place should russia decide to invade. >> and then, jill, obviously there's a lot of debate on how the u.s. should be positioning itself in this. have a listen to a comment made by republican senator joni ernst earlier today on her assessment. >> they see a very weak administration, and president putin sees every opportunity to do what he wants to do in ukraine with very little pushback from the united states. >> i mean, calling the biden administration weak on this. vladimir putin is paying attention to everything, right, jill? even though his motivation about why now is he along the bord
ethat's still unclear, but might he be able to take advantage of the divisions within the u.s. on how the u.s. is positioning itself with this potential conflict? >> fredricka, there's no question that they watch american television. they see comments like this. whether they're true or false, the russians take advantage of this. in fact, they often feature some u.s. journalists -- i won't name them necessarily -- but tucker carlson is one of them. and they play this on russian tv. so they are playing up the division in the united states. allbeit there is division in the united states. but at this particular moment, it's very useful to the russians. i also think, you know, internationally, if you look at the efforts that the biden administration has taken to bring the allies together, to bring nato together and present a force to russia, that is
something that russia wants to break apart. so this constant drum beat from russia, more troops, more scary motions and naval exercises, et cetera, i think is really, you know, shaking, shaking to try to break apart that unity. >> clarissa, while the u.s. says it is unified with the rest of the world and their position on russia, they -- the uk says it has exposed this plot now by russia to install a puppet regime in ukraine. and we're also expecting talks to happen soon between the russians and the british. so is the uk taking on a bigger role here? does it have a certain upper hand? >> well, the uk is definitely seeking, it appears, to have a more prominent role in the discussions and negotiations around this. some have suggested that might be possibly in part to distract
from some of the political turmoil playing out for prime minister boris johnson's administration at home. but what they've essentially said here, foreign secretary liz cha has said the foreign office is aw aware of a plot to install a puppet backed government. what's not clear in the statement because there's very little information around it is how this would happen. how this would transpire. is this in the context of an invasion? is this already under way? would this be through an election? we know that five individuals are named. four of them actually live in russia anyway and are part of the former administration of ukrainian ex-president vik viktor yanukovych. they sanctioned four individuals just earlier this week for allegedly working at the behest of russia's security services, the fsb, to try to destabilize
the political situation here in ukraine. and one of those individuals on that treasury sanctions list is also on this fco or british foreign office announcement as well. so clearly something going on but very difficult to know the details behind it with so little information provided by the british foreign office. >> arlettee, the u.s. just sent new military aid to ukraine. we heard earlier, and you just reported how tony blinken pree sanctions. but is the biden administration trying to calculate whether it should be sending more military aid to ukraine? >> that is something they are constantly evaluating. you saw that first shipment of that recently approved security assistance arriving in ukraine over the weekend. likely any further assistance that is offered is likely to be done in conjunction with u.s.
allies, nato allies, as well. now one thing in addition to offering that support to ukraine, to ensure they are able to defend themselves in the event of a russian invasion, the u.s. is also taking into consideration the concerns of neighboring countries. those eastern european nato allies who are also feeling rattled by this tension between russia and ukraine. we know that the pentagon is drawing up possible military options for how the u.s. could possibly boost up military presence when it comes to those eastern european countries. to not just act as a deterrence to russia but an assurance to allies. as for the sanctions, secretary of state antony blinken was forceful in defending that the u.s. does not feel at this moment that instituting sanctions before an invasion would essentially they say would be taking that deterrent off the table. but there are other lawmakers
like republican senator joni ernst, congressman mike mccall also who are saying that the u.s. needs to implement those sanctions now in order to keep russia from invading. that is something the white house is feeling a lot of pressure on. but for this moment does not seem to be budging. >> and jill, you know if you were advising the white house or if they are listening, how does the u.s. help de-escalate the situation without leaving vladimir putin to feel like he's got the upper hand? >> you know, it's very difficult thing because the russians want all or nothing. they have made proposals. they are quite extreme, you could say, in the sense that they want a complete revamping of the global security or at least european security situation since the cold war. they're not going to get it from the united states. but the united states has brought forward ideas, arms control, more transparency,
transparency on military exercises in europe. things like that that actually might be able to defuse and satisfy some of the requirements and demands by russia. but russia is saying that's not enough. we want the whole thing. so i'm not quite sure what you can do. and again, we're back to this idea, is russia really making these demands which are not able to be satisfied in order to say we tried, sorry, you have to go in and have another invasion. >> possibly that's part of the game, right? all right, ladies, thank you so much. jill dougherty, arlette saenz, clarissa ward. appreciate it. this just in to cnn. china sent 39 war planes into taiwan's air defense zone today according to taiwan's defense ministry. taiwan deployed air defense missile systems in response to the incursion. it is the highest daily number
of chinese war planes entering taiwan's air defense zone since the beginning of the year. tensions have been rising in the region over china's renewed territorial claims over taiwan. still ahead -- cnn has just learned one of former president trump's staunch defenders has been speaking with the january 6th committee. we'll tell you who that is straight ahead. plus, despite some encouraging signs that the pandemic is leoosening its grip on the nation some hospitals are still overwhelmed with patients. so much more straight ahead. woo hoo! ensure, complete balanced nutrition with 27 vitamins and minerals. and ensure complete with 30 grams of protein. ♪ ♪
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former attorney general already. we had talked to the department of defense individuals. we are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false. so if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it's a discussion, the public needs to know. >> joining me right now, former federal prosecutor michael zelden and host of the podcast "that said" with michael zelden. always good to see you, michael. what do you make of what the congressman is saying publicly that barr has actually spoken to -- is speaking to the committee? >> well, it doesn't actually surprise me that attorney general barr would be speaking to the committee. i know there's been a lot of talk about the barr being the president's lawyer and in his pocket and all that stuff. but barr has a strong
conservative vein in him, and i think the use of the military in a domestic matter probably in violation of the posse comatatus act which prohibits the military from being used in this capacity. i don't think he would be unhappy to talk to the committee about that. >> so you just helped establish that as lawful. it's against the law to try and use the u.s. military for civilian to enforce a civilian kind of policy or use them as civilian law enforcement. so if that's the case, and there are eyewitnesses and you have this draft executive order, what more evidence is needed? >> well, what was the plan to implement the order is what's unknown. who, besides sidney powell and michael flynn are behind this? who in the military, if anybody, was willing to execute this order? so we need to know at a very granular level who was involved,
what it involved and how it was going to be deemed lawful by the justice department or the white house counsel's office before that executive order was signed. so we have a lot of unknowns. >> is it your feeling that of those 700-plus pages, those documents released by the national archives that the answers are in that in terms of who may have been a party to conspiring to use the u.s. military in this sense? >> well, we'll have names. we'll know names like giuliani and michael flynn and sidney powell, but we won't know what were they saying. and that's why we have these subpoenas. the committee has these subpoenas out to all of those people to say, fine, we see your names connected with this document and we want to know who was speaking to whom about it. what was said? what was your plan? so they know contact but they don't know context yet. >> can you give us the
distinction between how important for the committee to speak with people versus actually subpoenaing them? >> right. well, you can get a person's testimony voluntarily or by subpoena. if they refuse to voluntarily cooperate, then subpoena is the next route. these folks are going to be very reluctant witnesses. they'll assert all sorts of privileges, most of which probably are not availing, but to delay the process. so i think in cases like this, and really in most complex financial crimes in federal cases you have documents but you really need individual live testimony to illuminate what those paper documents say. so i think they need this testimony, and they should get it and if they can't get it, they should move for contempt against these stonewalling prospective witnesses. >> michael zelden, thanks so much. >> thanks, fred.
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>> reporter: a little bit of everything, fred. and quite frankly, there was a lot of concern about this event, in part because it was sort of billed as a protest in favor of medical autonomy. the right of people not to wear a mask, the right of people not to get a vaccine or the right of doctors to treat people the way they saw fit during this pandemic. and the concern was that that language is, in large part, the language of the anti-vax movement that has gotten started during the pandemic. so we have heard quite a bit of the misinformation of the anti-vax movement, including the distrust and the mistrust, not just of government, but also of the media and the pharmaceutical industry at large. that, i think, is one of the big themes i found when i talked to
people on camera earlier today. listen. >> i'm in health care. a worker. so that has brought me out here due to the issues i've had with my job and my current vaccination status. multiple issues with hr and doctors treating me differently and discriminating against me because of my choices. >> you should be able to believe what you want to be, no matter what. and that's why i'm here. as long as you don't hurt anybody in this country, you can do anything you want. >> it's hard to generalize, fred, about the people in this crowd, people from every walk of life, but i can tell you, there's a bit of politics here. a lot of people we talked to are certainly critics of the biden administration's position on vaccines and dr. fauci as well. back to you. >> and then what about concerns among law enforcement who are
there working this protest or demonstration? >> right. there were some concerns that there might be trouble here, but the organizers of this event certainly put out the message that extremists were not welcome, and i can tell you that, from everything we've seen, it's been a peaceful event. >> very good. joe johns, thank you so much in the nation's capital. let's talk more about all of this. joining me is the health commissioner for the state of new york, dr. mary bassett. so good to see you. >> thanks for having me. >> so what are your thoughts when you see a lot of people have gathered there in the nation's capital against the idea of any mandate for vaccines. >> you know, getting vaccinated is the best thing that you can do to protect yourself from serious illness or hospitalization and death. i do understand that people have reasons, have concerns. i think any concern that people have should be addressed, but a lot of this is really
misinformation. and that is something that we don't want to see spread. and the health department has on its website links to information about misinformation. but i do know that many people didn't get vaccinated because they weren't sure. we've now given this vaccine to millions of people. i really hope that people will understand that it's okay to change your mind and get vaccinated to protect yourself, to protect other vulnerable people around you. so, you know, i don't want to consider the unvaccinated all the same people who are out there demonstrating. there are people out there who are unvaccinated, who have other reasons, and i want to be able to address those. >> so in your state, you are seeing cases and hospitalizations on the decline. what do you attribute that to? >> well, i attribute it to everything that we're doing. the high vaccination rates. we are up approaching three
quarters of all new yorkers, including the little kids who can't be vaccinated yet. the under 5s. three quarters of all new yorkers have been fully vaccinated. that's fabulous. 95% of people 18 and over. and we're doing better and better with the younger kids. but we need to focus on them. it's wearing masks. it's being careful. you know, taking care about crowded indoor spaces. all the things have been rewarded with a reduction in not just in hospitalizations, but in mortality. we're seeing death goes down as well. >> also encouraging, new york's covid test positivity rate is under 10%. do you consider that impressive, right? >> it's been going down for three days now. so three days under 10% and it was going down, you know, we were up at very high. up above 20% at one point. but it's now down below 10% as
you've said. so this is all headed in a good direction. so a good flu season by the way, too. >> that's very good. i'm sure wearing masks contributed to that, not just in your state but in a lot of other places, too. >> exactly. >> do you feel like -- you have, new york has varying mandates in place. do you feel like you are starting to assess whether certain mandates will be lifted? how do you try to make plans even though -- or as a result of being so encouraged by some of your numbers that are on the decline. >> well, the vax or mask mandate extends to february 1st. and for kids in schools, it goes to february 21st. so we're watching the numbers, and we'll make an assessment. i don't -- i can't help you now with telling you that we'll decide that we shouldn't wear masks anymore. certainly i know that being
vaccinated will remain a priority. and if you haven't been vaccinated yet, please get vaccinated. if you are fully vaccinated, please get boosted. >> is there a way that you can address some of the stresses that emts, paramedics, those on the front line, medical teams, doctors, nurses, are feeling, especially fatigued right now because of what has been a very difficult journey, especially with the rise of omicron? >> well, this omicron variant was unexpected by all of us. fortunately, it was proportionately much milder, just so infectious that we had a lot of infected people and, therefore, a rise in hospitalizations. and but you're right. it's been now two years that hospitals have been confronting this pandemic. and people are exhausted, and i think one thing we should all do is continue to praise our health
care workers for showing up and doing their jobs. and continue to encourage the population to reduce hospitalizations by getting vaccinated. it sounds a bit like a broken record, but it's the same thing. we need to stick with it. >> yeah, certainly. universal praise for all of those on the front lines because they have been -- they've been doing it for a long time now. it's hard to believe three years. so we all have to support one another, don't we? dr. mary basset, thank you for your time. appreciate it. continue to stay well. >> thank you. coming up -- so if your amazon packages aren't showing up, take a look at this. this might be why. thieves in los angeles targeting freight trains leaving railroad tracks littered with thousands of packages. but tackling these thefts, well, it's proving to be quite the challenge. we'll talk about that next.
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related to that looting. hilda solis is the chair of the los angeles county board of supervisors and the former secretary of labor under president obama. chairwoman, so good to see you. >> good morning, fredricka. good to see you, too. >> hello. so you were part of the railroad cleanup effort this week. what, in your view, needs to be done here? what are you learning about how this is happening? is it a ring of thieves? >> right. i'm so happy that governor gavin newsom actually called us together to meet with him out there in lincoln heights in a very critical part of our community. it is organized crime. and what i could tell. he called together highway patrol, caltrans, union pacific, u.p.s., the county and other resources, especially public safety, for example, lapd and the sheriff's office, l.a. county. we're all going to be coordinating.
and this has to go to the heart of what is happening right now because of the pandemic. i mean, people are doing things that we haven't seen, i think, in a long time. and it's very disturbing to see so many items that people were waiting for during the christmas and the, you know, holiday season that packages never arrived. and even personal photographs, christmas cards, christmas gifts, but more than that, medical supplies as well as office supplies that never reached their destination. the sad thing is these organized groups use drones so they can detect when cars, rail cars are coming through that area and they can tell which ones may have higher -- how could i say -- items of interest. and then they get those. they get some homeless individuals as well as their own groups. they go down there and then they take the material into, say, another place. they go through it and then they post it on social media and try to sell it on ebay. and so we are all getting ripped
off here. >> it's amazing just looking at the debris field. it's just extraordinary. so then i wonder about the sequence of events. was it -- there was some suspicion that something strange was happening collectively before coming across debris fields like this? or was it coming across the debris field that then uncovered, we've got a big problem here? >> i think it's probably both. i'll be honest with you because, obviously, this really came to light during the holiday season. and with the backup of shipments coming through our ports and then taking, you know, the rail cars up the way that they do, i think union pacific saw what was happening. their security guards were even assaulted, and i think that's when more attention was drawn here. and, obviously, u.p.s., our business as well as our public safety individuals all have to have a role in here. and the county has jurisdiction in terms of the da's office.
and i know the governor will be providing about $255 million for our ag so that they can begin setting up a task force on these grab and go retail thefts that are happening because this is, somewhat, the same thing, and only it's gotten out of hand, obviously. >> you feel like it's ongoing. it needs to be addressed in that matter because it's ongoing. just because this discovery was made, you don't believe that now the problem is over? >> no, no. and these thieves, these organized crime units know how to cut through and use cutters to break those locks. they're not that sophisticated but they can get through and they go through and rummage the material. some things i saw, as we were picking up the trash, was valuable, but they didn't bother with it perhaps because they didn't know what it was. i saw printing cartridges that cost you $30 to $40 that were lying there in packages and i saw materials for medical
supplies. all kinds of things that are very valuable and needed for our supply chain, and it's very discomforting to know that this is happening. we've got to stop it but we've got to have a -- we need everybody. >> you touched on this, the dispute. tell me about the dispute between union pacific and the l.a. district attorney. the rail company suggested that l.a.x. prosecution is to blame which the da sharply pushed back against in a letter this week. so if there is an issue of, you know, getting to the source of responsibility, where should that blame be placed? >> i don't know that you blame the da because i know that he has received cases and he has prosecuted. in fact, there were more cases, i think, that came to him in 2019. this past year, 2021, he actually was able to look at 47 cases. and he is going forward with
that. i would say, though, that it is hard to identify individuals with the crime as it occurs to gather all the necessary evidence. therefore, we need to have more lighting, more patrol, more security, and we need to have more individuals from union pacific security personnel that should be there as well, better lighting. use of drones as well just as organized krum units are using them. we also ought to use sophisticated technology to beat this. >> so is there an effort under way? you mentioned there were things such as personal effects, photographs and even some things untouched, but were valuable. is there an effort under way to try to return or connect some of those items with, you know, the proper recipients to those who -- >> i don't have all the details on that. yeah, i mean, i don't know what recourse, you know, amazon and u.p.s. are going to have, but i'm certain that they're going to be getting calls, and people are going to find out, like,
hey, my packages never came and evi evidently there wasn't a lot of -- how could i say, good printed information available on all the products that you saw because it was a paper mess. you know, this is garbage also mixed in there. and it's disgusting. but i will give credit to the governor for bringing us all together to really take a hold of this issue and not run away from it but help run to it. clean it up and asking everybody to be responsible. when you see something, say something. and report it. >> that's a colossal event indeed. chairwoman hilda solis, thank you so much. really appreciate your time. >> thank you. just to correct the record, i'm not the chairwoman anymore, but i am the chair of metro which is the transportation authority that also has jurisdiction in the area. >> oh, excellent. thank you. thank you for that correction. note taken. thank you so much. have a great day. still ahead -- two nfl teams
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some good news for firefighters on the central california coast. the california fire burning near sig sur is now 25% contained thanks to improving weather conditions. more than 1,000 acres have already burned. a portion of highway 1 remains closed and some mandatory evacuations remain in place. still very tenuous. and it was raining teddy bears in pennsylvania last
night. take a look. >> goal line. gets it back. pulls the trigger. and scores! sweet connolly mayhem. it's teddy bear toss time. >> that's fun. fans of the hershey bears hockey team tossing more than 52,000 plush toys after they scored their first goal last night. in doing so they broke their own world record. the toys will be donated to more than 25 local they'rities. charities. another incredible weekend of nfl football. two teams punching their tickets to their conference championships with last-second field goals. here's cnn's coy wire. >> exciting, exciting matchups. the green bay packers had everything going for them heading into the game with the 49ers. number one seed fully rested at home with aaron rodgers. but 0-3 against the 49ers in the
playoffs going into this one. and it appears they're still his kryptonite. incredible scene lambeau field looking like a football snow globe. packers fans cheering on their future hall of famer quarterback. but ryans and his defense stymied them. five sacks. zero touchdowns. and these hits hurt in the cold. rodgers frustrated all night but green bay had a 10-3 lead late into the fourth until this! >> they block the punt! they block the punt and and it's rolling free. >> the 49ers scoop it. hufanga scored! touchdown san francisco! >> san francisco's second blocked kick of the night changing everything. frozen tundra, silent now. after another huge defensive stop on the packers' next possession, the 49ers get the ball in field goal position and the kicker robby gold, golden. niners win two straight on the
road sending aaron rodgers and the packers packing. the other matchup between the titans and bengals. titans fans roaring for derek henry for his first game back. even the reigning offensive player of the year doesn't matter when the qb throws the ball to the wrong team. the bengals defense intercepting tannehill. less than 30 seconds to go, cinci's logan wilson hall hauling in the third int. that's when joey burrow reminding everyone of the ice water in his veins. shaking off a playoff record nine sacks by tennessee's defense to deliver setting up rookie kicker evan mcpherson. the hopes and dreams of all of cincinnati waiting in the balance and bingo, bango, bengals headed to the afc championship for the first time since 1988. the rookie kicker perfect. 4 for 4. and if that was the appetizer,
look out for the main course. tom brady and the defending champion bucs taking on the l.a. rams and the finale. patrick mahomes hosting the team i've played for for six years. and as an unbiased journalist, i can't resist. i'm spreading the buffalo love today. go, bills. let's go, buffalo! >> okay, coy wire. good luck. all right. well, this is some incredibly sad news now coming out of hollywood. academy award-winning actress regina king is mourning the death of her son. ian alexander junior was only 26 years old. he was a musician and dj. the family representative says he committed suicide on saturday. in a statement, regina king's family says they are devastated at the deepest level by the loss of ian and are asking for respectful consideration during this very private time. our heart goes out to you, the whole family.
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