tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 20, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
happening now -- breaking news. new covid cases in new york state triple in one week. as experts warn about a dangerous perfect storm in the pandemic with two variants and millions of americans gathering and traveling for the holidays. also tonight, we're learning more about senator joe manchin's bombshell rejection of the biden spending bill that's left the president's agenda in peril once again. the white house suggesting there may still be a way forward as both sides have been trading blame. and nearly one year after january 6th, the u.s. military confronts extremism in the ranks. will new guidance for service members combat the problem? i'll ask the pentagon press secretary, retired rear admiral john kirby. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get straight to the breaking pandemic news. new york's governor just reporting that the state has seen an alarming rise in the number of new covid-19 cases in just one week. cnn's amara walker is working the story for us. there's a lot of fear out there that this is just the beginning of what one health expert is now calling a perfect storm. >> yeah, wolf. a perfect storm because this variant is gaining steam. the colder weather pushing people indoors and still a large chunk of the population still not vaccinated. but as you mentioned, new york is one of those states that's getting hit quite hard by the current surge that we're seeing right now. we just heard from the new york governor, kathy hochul, who just said that the state saw a nearly threefold increase in the number of covid-19 cases. and that it broke its own record for the fourth consecutive day
for the highest number of positive coronavirus cases. so look, for a lot of us it feels like deja vu all over again to the bad days of the pandemic. but like the governor said, this time around we're not defenseless and health officials say, look, the time is now to get vaccinated or boosted. tonight health officials are bracing for a viral blizzard as coronavirus cases spike around the country. >> it is going to be a tough few weeks to months as we get deeper into the winter. >> familiar scenes from the peak of the pandemic playing out. some schools returning to virtual learning. the rockets and broadway canceling shows and the nba, nfl and nhl postponing some games. >> if you're unvaccinated, i'm worried about you. i'm worried that your risk of being hospitalized or god forbid losing your life to this virus is quite significant. >> delta continues to drive the surge in cases with the variant accounting for 97% of cases, according to the cdc.
but omicron is expected to become the dominant variant. >> we are feeling the omicron wave, especially hard right now, but we know it's going to be all over the country. >> reporter: new york state breaking the highest single day covid-19 case count for the third consecutive day. >> we expect a substantial number of cases and quickly growing number of cases. >> reporter: covid-19 cases more than doubled just from the beginning to the end of last week in new york city leading to long lines for covid tests. >> we don't want to be standing in line when it's 30 degrees outside. waiting for a test. >> reporter: health officials warn it is too soon to say with certainty whether or not omicron causes milder disease. but they are certain of one thing. omicron is extremely contagious. the national institutes of health warning that even if the omicron variant has a somewhat lower risk of severity, there could be up to a million cases a day in the near future. >> it's clear that omicron is an extremely contagious variant that it doubles every two to
four days. and you just have to look at the projections of what that means and, yeah, we are in for a lot of cases of people getting infected with this virus. >> reporter: the pace of spread has health officials concerned that the omicron variant will overwhelm america's health system again. across the country, icu beds are already nearly 80% full. >> this may be the most contagious virus that civilization has faced in our lifetimes. >> health officials continue to stress that getting boosted is now more important than ever. moderna announcing today its 50 microgram booster shot increases antibody levels against the omicron variant. a 100 micro gram dose the size of its first two shots raises antibody levels even higher. moderna leaving them to u.s. officials whether to change the size of the booster dose. and wolf, washington, d.c., as well, experiencing its highest daily coronavirus case count since the pandemic began. as a result, the mayor there
announcing that she will be reinstating the indoor mask mandate. that will run from december 28th through january 31st, wolf. >> amara, thank you. amara walker reporting for us. let's get more on all of this. joining us, dr. peter hosatez. also the dean of the national school of tropical medicine at baylor school of medicine. he's the author of "preventing the next pandemic." also dr. zeke emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives at the university of pennsylvania and the author of "which country has the world's best health care?" thanks to both of you for joining us. dr. hotez, new york state seeing this threefold increase in covid cases in just one week. and nationwide, cases, hospitalizations are rising. we haven't even seen the full impact of omicron yet. so how bad could this get? >> well, the reason it's going to get bad, wolf, is not only because of delta and the high
transmissibility of omicron, which we've heard about, but i'm worried about the impact on the health care workforce because even if they are vaccinated with two doses, we know that that's really not protecting against symptomatic covid. some protection against severe illness and even with the booster, you are getting some protection against symptomatic illness and excellent protection against severe illness but then it starts to decline in terms of symptomatic infections. we have data coming out of imperial college london showing that after that third dose you get about 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic illness with the pfizer vaccine. but then it declines to half of that, 30% to 40% protection after a couple of months. so while we have all of these vaccinated health care workers and providers, i worry a number of them are going to have breakthrough covid. not sick enough for them to be hospitalized but sick enough for them to be at home and knocked out of the workforce. so that's going to be the perfect storm. lots of hospital admissions and
a depleted health care workforce on top of an already decompleted workforce. >> and sick enough to transmit the virus other tos who may be more vulnerable. this also means boosters are clearly a lot more important right now. now moderna says its booster shots do -- do increase antibodies against omicron, even if a larger dose would be more effective. the bottom line, go get your booster and do it right now? >> absolutely. all americans who get two shots should get a booster and those who haven't gotten their vaccine need to be vaccinated. we have been sitting at about 61% of americans with two shots. we really need to be up in the 85% range. those people who are unvaccinated are 13 times more likely to die than the vaccinated, and probably going to be even worse once omicron sweeps through the population. so getting that shot is your
best defense. >> you're absolutely right. and it's even more alarming because of this new cdc data, dr. hotez, shows that unvaccinated americans right now face not 13 times but 20 potentially 20 times the risk of dying from covid-19 than people who have gotten boosted. but less than 20% have gotten their booster shots across the u.s. those who are eligible. are there different rules of the road for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated this holiday season? >> well, all i can say is when you see that 20 times number and that's the number we find in texas as well, you know, what that means practically speaking, wolf is we've had 200,000 americans now since june 1 who have lost their lives from covid-19, despite the widespread availability of safe and effective vaccines. and overwhelmingly in the 20 to 1 ratio, those are the unvaccinated. so 200,000 americans have needlessly lost their lives
because of this. and how we work with them to encourage them to get now three shots is going to be one of the great challenges. and hopefully we'll hear more from the president tomorrow during his scheduled remarks. >> on that point, dr. hotez, what's the single most important thing you would like to hear the president say tomorrow? >> i think for me, the one thing that's really keeping me up at night is the impact on our health care workers and health systems and keeping our health care providers in the workforce. what are the levers we can pull and push to prevent the whole health system from great destabilization. and that's going to be one of the challenges. are there things we can do. >> dr. emanuel, what's the single most important thing you'd like to hear from the president tomorrow? >> well, we have only four interventions. vaccines, testing, masking and ventilation. and we need action on each of them, probably the singest most important thing is more vaccine mandates because we are going to
be with omicron for six, eight more weeks at a minimum, and if you get, you know, a couple of vaccines in you over that time it will help prevent serious, serious illness. and that's the key. i think we also need better masking. people need to wear n95s and kn95s. when they are in crowds, outdoors and certainly indoors. and we need to upgrade our ventilation. hepa filters for use so that you're not actually inheriting -- inhaling other people's aerosols. those are the key changes we need. >> it will save a lot of lives. dr. emanuel and dr. hotez, thanks to both of you for joining us. much more on this important story coming up. and also coming up, a political bombshell puts the future of president biden's agenda in jeopardy after months of negotiations. what is the path forward? stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
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of negotiations. our chief national affairs correspondent jeff zeleny is joining us from the white house right now. what are you learning about relations twoon the president and senator manchin? >> wolf, we are learning tonight that president biden had a phone call with senator manchin, the first time two of them have spoken with the senator delivered that bombshell that's threatening to sync the president's agenda. the conversation was constructive and a chance to clear the air. but it did nothing for the bottom line of moving forward build back better. the white house pledging to salvage its economic agenda tonight after west virginia senator joe manchin infuriated democrats by potentially sinking president biden's signature legislation. >> what's most on the president's mind is the risk of inaction. we are going to continue to take steps, work like hell to get it done. >> manchin's bombshell decision sparking an extraordinary war of words. on west virginia radio today, the senator bluntly blaming
aides to the president for a breakdown in negotiations. >> it's not the president. it's the staff. and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable and they know what it is, and that's it. >> reporter: the white house press secretary jen psaki pushing back in a remarkable weekend statement calling manchin's actions a breach of his commitment to the president and the senator's colleagues in the house and senate. tonight her tone was more measured as the white house works to find a path forward. >> from the president's viewpoint, he has worked with senator manchin over the course of decades. they share fundamental values. they are longtime friends. that has not changed. >> reporter: the long-simmering tensions inside the democratic party finally reaching a boiling point with manchin blasting the president's build back better plan and deriding the tactics of his liberal critics. >> sure we can badger and beat one person up. surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they'll just say, okay, i'll vote for anything, just quit. guess what. i'm from west virginia. i'm not from where they're from
and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they'll be submissive. period. >> reporter: chuck schumer still vowing to put the plan up for a vote next year saying senators should make their positions known on the senate floor, not just on television. a clear dig at manchin who delivered his stunning decision on "fox news sunday." >> this is a new on this legislation. i have tried everything i know to do. >> reporter: last week manchin told the white house he was willing to support a $1.8 trillion plan to fund pre-k programs. expand affordable care act subsidies and address climate change. he was unwilling to include the child tax credit, cnn has learned, which became a key sticking point. manchin's position also raising a new round of questions about whether he'll remain a democrat, considering most members of the party are furious at him. still, he's a critical piece of the razor-thin democratic majority. >> i would like to hope there's still democrats that feel like i do. i'm fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.
now if there's no democrats like that, then they'll have to push me wherever they want me. >> reporter: the move is not only a staggering blow for the fate of biden's domestic agenda but a setback for democratic unity. >> of course we have every right to be furious with joe manchin but it's really up to leadership in the democratic party who, you know, made the decision to get us to this juncture and how we're going to move forward. >> reporter: and tonight the white house is dealing with a more immediate challenge. that is a surging cases in covid-19. president biden met with his covid advisers today in the oval office and will be delivering a speech to the nation tomorrow. again drawing the line between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. the white house press secretary jen spsaki said this is not goig to be a lockdown speech. simply going to try to make the case again to get vaccinated and boosted. this is something the white house is watching very carefully as those cases are rising right before the holidays. >> certainly so. so worrisome. jeff zeleny at the white house. thank you.
let's bring in our chief political analyst gloria borger and senior commentator john ka kasich, the former republican governor of ohio. how did all of this blow up so badly for the president? >> look, i think when you get towards the final weeks of negotiations, things are tense, and i think joe manchin sort of got set off because he felt that he was being blamed by the white house staff unfairly for a pause in the negotiations which he believes everybody had agreed to. whether he's right about that or wrong, that's sort of the way it was. and now the white house is trying to kind of get back to square one as jeff was saying. the president has spoken with manchin. they want to get together and kind of try and revive these talks. but in the meantime, there's going to be a pause over the holidays. a lot of folks, including chuck schumer, the democratic leader,
wanted to get this done before the holidays but that's not going to occur. i don't think it's going to fall apart completely, wolf, because i think it's in everyone's interest to try and at least get some of this done, particularly the democrats who want to get this child tax credit through and that's the sticking point for manchin. >> was it governor kasich, a mistake for president biden simply not to take up senator manchin's, what, $1.8 trillion counteroffer? >> yeah, i think it was a mistake, wolf. it's still a lot of spending, and that's on top of $3 trillion that we already have. but i think what really was the turning point is when the congressional budget office took all the gimmicks out and the cost of that package went to like $5 trillion. we've already spent $3 trillion. we'll add $5 trillion more to get the highest rate of inflation in 40 years? look, i think the thing you have to understand about joe manchin, he didn't want anything politically. he was governor of west virginia, he's been senator. it's not like he's worried about politics. i think joe is fundamentally
pretty conservative guy. he thinks we should not keep spending money that we don't have. and i think there's some things that he said that he can go for but he's not going to go for a package that really adds up to about $5 trillion. so is it dead? you know, i don't know. they can get pieces of this. if i were to advise i'm i'd say bring the thing out. give it to the congress in smaller packages and see if you can get some republicans on board, particularly in the senate. >> senator manchin, obviously, is very worried about the impablth all of this would have on inflation. but goldman sachs immediately downgraded their expectations for the u.s. economy based on manchin's bombshell. so what does that tell you? >> well, it tells you you'll have a lot less, you know, money thrown into the economy. $2 trillion at least. and they were kind of counting on that, particularly now that they are going to have the expiration of the child care tax credit. that's a big chunk of change. so, of course, they had to revise their estimates. now that can be revised again if
the congress goes back and as governor kasich says, if the congress goes back and passes pieces of this, then goldman sachs may go back to the drawing board and say, yeah, maybe we'll have more economic growth. but, you know, i think this is something you'll hear from joe biden. he's going to be quoting goldman sachs saying, look, we really need this in the economy right now. >> did the white house, governor kasich, hurt their chances of reviving this bill with that scathing 700-word statement about senator manchin that was released yesterday after his interview on fox news? >> well, with a smaller man, the answer would be yes but joe manchin is a big, tough guy and he understand lss that sometime people get upset. they have a chance. in regard to goldman sachs, they're economists. wolf, sometimes i find there's not much difference between economists and astrologiers so we have to keep that in mind. it depends who is putting the books together. but at the end of the day, joe
is a big guy. i think ultimately if they break this up and pay for it responsibly, they'll get something done. and you remember, gloria, there are people who are republicans in the senate that are concerned about the child tax credit. they -- maybe there's a deal there, but this $5 trillion thing was just too much. a bridge too far, too crazy. taxes, spending, forget it. that's not what people want. >> john kasich and gloria borger, thanks. the jury begins deliberating in the manslaughter trial of former police officer kim potter who killed daunte wright in a chaotic traffic stop last spring. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." ♪ just shine your light for everyone to see ♪ ♪ and if you try a little kindness ♪ liz, you nerd, cough if you're in here! shh! i took mucinex dm for my phlegmy cough. what about rob's dry cough? works on that too, and lasts 12 hours. 12 hours?! who studies that long?
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a jury deliberations have now begun in the trial of the former police officer kim potter charged in the fatal shooting of daunte wright. cnn 'omar jimenez is following all of this for us. i understand the jury has just sent a question to the judge? what are you learning? >> that's right, wolf. the jury sent a question into the judge about the timing around when kim potter spoke to a forensic psychologist after the shooting. this interview would have been one that involved the use of her taser and her weapon and it was an interview that potter testified she didn't remember key portions of. the judge told them you have all the evidence you need already. that's been presented at points during this trial and they are
now back to work. as they have been for close to four hours at this point trying to close this chapter that is now months in the making. >> daunte wright's parents will have an empty seat at their table this holiday season because the defendant shot and killed him. >> reporter: daunte wright's parents were in the courtroom monday as closing arguments in the trial of former officer kim potter began. >> taser, taser, taser. >> reporter: she has claimed she meant to grab her taser when she thought she needed to protect herself and fellow officers during an april 2020 traffic stop but instead grabbed her gun. >> i shot him. oh, my god! >> this case is about the defendant's rash and reckless conduct. it's not about her being a nice person or a good person. carrying a badge and a gun is not a license to kill.
>> reporter: the defense, however, claimed there were two absolute reasons potter is innocent, despite firing her gun. >> she didn't cause this, and she had a right to use deadly force, even though she didn't know she was using it, she had a right to. and that's what the law is. >> reporter: defense attorney earl gray pushed even further saying daunte wright is to blame. >> she says taser, taser, taser. and he should have, okay, stop, i give up. daunte wright caused his own death unfortunately. >> reporter: a characterization prosecutors took issue with. >> i want you to consider if we accept that argument that he caused his own death, we have to accept that any time a person does not meticulously follow the commands of a police officer they can be shot to death. that's absurd. >> reporter: monday's closing arguments came after eight days of testimony and over 30 witnesses, including kim potter. >> and i remember yelling taser,
taser, taser and nothing happened. and then he told me i shot him. i'm sorry it happened. >> reporter: the prosecutors emphasized monday intent isn't what the jury will be deciding. >> an accidental killing is still a crime if the defendant's actions are reckless or culpable negligent. this was a colossal screw up. a blunder of epic proportions. it was irreversible, and it was fatal. >> good luck, members of the jury. >> reporter: now kim potter's future lies in the hands of 12 jurors who will decide whether she was justified in her shooting of wright or wrong for having pulled the trigger. now as a reminder, she faces first and second-degree manslaughter charges to which she's pleaded not guilty to. during court, it was emotional at times, particularly daunte wright's mother began to cry as
prosecutors noted that wright wouldn't be home for the holidays. kim potter even had to avert her eyes at moments when body camera footage was played from that day. now as i mentioned before, the jury is back to work after offering a question earlier. they have been at it close to four hours and the judge is expected to let them continue for about another hour and a half or so from today until they would be asked to come back tomorrow but for now, wolf, we wait. >> all right. we'll see what happens. omar, thank you very much. omar jimenez covering this trial for us. other legal news we're following here. former president trump is now suing new york state attorney general lateshia james asking a federal court to stop her investigation into the trump organization. cnn's senior justice correspondent evan perez is working this story for us. so evan, what is this lawsuit allege? >> this is -- what the former president and his company, trump organization, are trying to do is they are trying to preempt
leticia james' investigation into the company and what he is saying is, and what the company is saying, is that she committed misconduct. that she has prejudice against the former president, citing comments that she has made both during her campaign. she recently abandoned her campaign for governor of new york. i'll read you a part of what the lawsuit says. since taking office, she has tirelessly bombarded his family and his business. trump organization llc with unwarranted subpoenas in a bitter crusade to take on the president. wolf, we know this is coming just weeks before the attorney general's office there in new york was seeking to depose the former president as part of this civil investigation. the allegation that they are looking into is whether the trump organization misvalued some of the value of some of
their real estate assets. i'll read you just a part of what her response is. she says to be clear, neither mr. trump nor the trump organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. wolf? >> evan perez reporting. thank you very much. let's get more on this. our senior law enforcement analyst, the former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe is joining us. he's the author of the book "the thr threat." we know president trump is litigious. does this new suit, from your perspective have any merit? >> very, very little. it's almost impossible to imagine, wolf. and it's absolutely easy to understand why he is doing it. this is, you know, this is a very basic and time-honored strategy of the former president. he files lawsuits in order to delay legal action that's pending against him. as you know, he's been
subpoenaed to appear before ms. james and her investigators on january 7th. he does not want to make that appearance, and so he's thrown out this lawsuit as a way of distracting attention from her efforts and to try to push this thing into a separate channel, attacking her as being smau biased against him. unfortunately there's no right to be investigated by someone who likes you and that's essentially what the climbs in this suit come down to. >> the lawsuit cites comments that the new york attorney general letitia james made in her 2018 campaign as she's vowed to aggressively go after trump. could those comments by her come back to haunt her? >> they could, wolf. it's entirely possible that a court that looks at this claim determines that those comments were inappropriate. maybe there were things she should not have said. maybe they cast a light on her office that makes it appear as if she's, you know, head hunting or going after the former president.
unfortunately, i don't think it goes much further than that. it's not an issue of conflict of interest. no allegation that she has a personal interest that would prohibit her from doing her job here. and let's be honest. i investigated many drug dealers and organized crime members and terrorists over the course of my time in the fbi. i didn't like any of them. it's common for prosecutors and -- to say things and announcements of indictments and different, you know, developments in a case talking about how strenuously they'll go after the defendant. people say things like that all the time. nothing much comes of that. >> trump's lawyers say this is all political but how much do these legal battles, andrew, these legal battles like this one delay investigations into trump's dealings? >> it will absolutely delay progress in this civil investigation. and specifically, it will likely result in delaying his appearance for deposition. his son eric was also deposed
earlier in this investigation. he resisted appearing. he was ultimately ordered by the court to appear and did sit for a deposition. i expect that's what will happen here, but this lawsuit will have the effect of adding months to that process. >> this is just one of many legal investigations facing the former president, right? >> that's absolutely right. he is, of course, under -- he has come within a criminal investigation that's being conducted by the manhattan da's office. that inquiry continues to this day. we know that the manhattan da has recently empaneled a new grand jury to continue hearing evidence in that case. big decisions coming up in that one as the da prepares to step away from his job at the end of the year. so we'll see. a lot of concerning legal actions on the horizon for the former president. >> andrew mccabe, thanks so much for joining us. just ahead, the sports world is reeling from the latest wave of covid-19 cases as hundreds of athletes test positive for the
virus and games are canceled across the country. now some of the health and safety protocols in effect are coming under scrutiny. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ you are my fire ♪ ♪ the one desire ♪ ♪ you are, you are, ♪ ♪ don't wanna hear you say... ♪ ♪ ♪ i want it that way ♪ to be a thriver with metastatic breast cancer means asking for what we want. and need. and we need more time. so, we want kisqali.
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and a few surprises. ♪ but wherever you are on your journey. your dell technologies advisor is here for you - with the right tech solutions. so you can stop at nothing for your customers. a growing number of covid-19 cases among professional athletes here in the united states has forced postponements in some major sports leagues. at least nine nhl teams have been temporarily shut down. multiple nba games have now been
postponed and the nfl delayed three of its sunday games. let's dig deeper with sports analyst christine brennan. just how disruptive is this winter surge in the sports world? >> pretty disruptive right now, wolf, and the question is, is it going to get worse? are we looking at 2020 again? one of the coaches, sean mcveigh with the l.a. rams is pulling out the old notes and playbook from last year. there's things they can go back and look at the strategies they used back then. the big difference, we have vaccines and a lot of knowledge we didn't have a year and a half, almost two years ago. but that being said, this is a big surprise to most of the pro sports leagues. it's a surprise to a lot of the athletes. certainly college games as well are being postponed. this has taken everyone by shock. i think they now realize they are in this and there's a lot of uncertainty trying to a -- the nfl itself has had four
different plans in the last week. they keep adapting, keep changing, keep having different ru rules. one thing about the nfl is an honor system if you're vaccinated and not quite sure, the way many of us feel, a little bit of a cough or sore throat, should you take the test. that's going to be interesting because a lot of nfl players probably don't want the answer to that question because they want to keep playing, especially as the playoffs near. so we can kind of watch some of these developments. >> but on that specific point, as you know, the nfl right now draw something criticism for its new covid protocols. they'll only test vaccinated players who show symptoms. is this less about league safety and more about the league's bottom line as they get ready to move towards the super bowl? >> absolutely. that's it. it's the bottom line. it's also about the product they are putting on the field. obviously, for fans, for people buying tickets, it is the bottom line. but the integrity of the game.
at some point if you're out 20 players, that's not your team. it's a different team. i have been critical of that, wolf, and i'll remain critical because i hold these teams to a high standard and these players to a high standard. they're not just nfl teams. they're also pillars of the community and role models for many, many people in the community. as we're all hearing about getting tested and make sure we're okay before we travel, the long lines for testing from average americans, nfl teams are now doing less testing. fewer tests. and i think that's a really, really bad message to be sending to their communities. yes, ii think the controversy exists and i think it's a valid question and controversy to be looking into. >> in contrast to that, as you and i well remember, what, nearly two years ago, it was the nba. the nba's sudden cancellation that was a real wake-up call to america about the pandemic. so what does this wave of cancellations and positive tests among hundreds of athletes, professional athletes, college athletes across so many different sports leagues, what
does it say about where we are now? >> you know, we learned a lot, wolf, as you well know from that day, march 1th, 2020, when the nba shut down operations and that woke everyone up. so if this is a wake-up call for anyone not paying attention to this that their sports team now, their fantasy league team is different or their favorite team can't play or the game has been postponed for a few days, that may well be a good thing because that's sounding the signal to many americans to pay attention. but what it does show is that no one is immune. it shows that aaron rodgers who is unvaccinated and laughs about it and doesn't seem to care at all, well, you know, if he's the poster child for covid in the nfl, that's a very troubling message to lie and it's time to be vaccinated, i think, if anyone has doubted that. certainly this is the time. and the players who are not vaccinated in these leagues have a tougher road to get back to play than those who are, of course, vaccinated. >> good point. sports analyst christine brennan, thank you very much. coming up, growing efforts
to tackle extremism in the u.s. military. the pentagon press secretary joins us live to share new guidance as we approach one year since the capitol insurrection. ? (guy) better. (kate) hey. and up to $1,000 when you switch. (carolers) [singing] betttttter. because everyone deserves better. what does it feel like to sell your car to carvana? it feels amazing. when you get a great offer in seconds... (all cheering) it feels too good to be true. it's kicking back and relaxing as we pick up your car. and when you get paid on the spot, it feels like scoring big. you know the feeling. you just never imagined you could get it
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new efforts tonight by the pentagon to tackle extremism among u.s. service members, including jump dating old guy dance to give a clearer definition to extremist behavior. let's discuss with the retired pentagon press secretary. explain what the pentagon is aiming to do with these new rules on extremism. >> what we really tried to do, wolf, is make it very clear what is and what is not prohibited extremist activity. number two, make it very clear what active participation in that activity actually looks like. so you'll see the instructions very specific about what is or is not permissible. we have also empowered our commanders to manage them amongst their troops, which is what they want. and we have also added a whole section on social media. that's what is different between
this instruction and the last one that was in existence. we didn't have any good guidance on how to handle yourself in social media, we think we have done a good job of sewing that up. >> under this guy dance, it's confusing to me. service members are allowed to be a member of an extremist organization but can't participate. this doesn't ban any specific extremist groups. why is that? >> we wanted to be careful, wolf, because these groups change over time. if we put a list of groups out today, tomorrow we have have to update it. it would be something that you would never, ever stop doing. the groups, they change a lot and morph. the other thing was, we wanted -- this wasn't about group identity so much as activity. and so if you look at the list of things we have prohibited, it would be pretty hard to be a member of any of these group it is you just look at what's prohibited in terms of active
participant. >> could a service member be a member of a kkk but not go to a cross burning, is that what i'm hearing? >> membership alone is not prohibited -- >> even h the kkk? >> membership is not prohibited, wolf. but any kind of active participation in a group is prohibited. so if you look at the list of activities, you can see it would be very difficult to be a member of a group and still be able to keep in compliance with this instruction. >> let me get to a different issue while i have you. the state department, as you know, just issued a brand new travel advisory for ukraine, citing reports that russia is planning what they describe as significant military action against ukraine. have there been any troop movements in recent days or weeks, any specific intelligence that has impacted this new threat devil advising americans to avoid travel to ukraine? >> we haven't seen anything overly dramatic in the last few days, but we continue to monitor
this closely and continue to see a significant russian force presence in the western part of their country. there hasn't been a lot of specific changes to that posture, but it remains sizable, and we think that the state department did the prudent thing, reminding americans this is not the best time to be going to ukraine, since there is so much uncertainly what vladamir putin is doing. >> how worried are you what vladamir putin is doing? >> we're very concerned. you saw that referenced -- we are having cop constant talks with our allies, sharing with them the intelligence that we're getting so we can all have a common sight picture. >> john kirby, thanks for joining us and thanks for all you are doing. >> yes, sir, thank you. breaking news coming up. new york breaks its record for the highest number of covid-19
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happening now, breaking news. the omicron variant is now dominant, dominant here in the united states, accounting for 73%, get this, 73% of new cases here in the united states are now omicron. that, according to the cdc, which has just released this information. the dire warnings of health officials clearly now becoming a reality. we're tracking the explosion of
infections and new emergency measures just ahead of the holidays. also this hour, democrats are scrambling once again to salvage the biden spending bill after it was torpedoed by senator joe manchin. i'll ask the progressive caucus chair representative jayapal about her new plan for moving forward. and verdict watch in the trial of kim potter, who says she mistook her weapon for a taser when she fatally shot daunte wright. we'll have the latest on the deliberations and the question jurors just asked the court. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." ♪ ♪ this is cnn breaking news. >> we begin this hour with very, very disturbing coronavirus news, breaking news.