tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 1, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
childcare. this great resignation has also feeled interesting moves by employers. home depot, for instance, says it may need to hire some applicants the day after they apply. domino's will give customers a tip if they come and get the pizza themselves. our coverage continues with mr. wolf blitzer. i'll see you tomorrow. happening now, another member of former vice president pence's former circle is cooperating are the select committee. the panel digging deeper into pressure on the v.p to overturn the election as we're learning new details about the trump team's plans to seize voting machines. also, putin breaks his silence on the ukraine standoff, accusing the u.s. of trying to draw russia into an armed conflict and claiming nato has quote, screwed us over. the pentagon renewing its warning that an invasion could
be imminent. and braeeaking now. fda advisers will meet in two weeks to consider a request just submitted by pfizer seeking authorization for its covid vaccine for children under age 5. i'll ask the u.s. surgeon general if this is a final, critical step for getting the country back to normal. 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." we begin with the january 6th investigation. the focus sharpening on former president trump's attempt to pressure his vice president to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. here's cnn's congressional correspondent, ryan nobles. >> tonight, the january 6th select committee honing in on the inner circle of former vice president mike pence. >> any comment. >> a key witness in their investigation spotted meeting
with the committee today. greg jacob, a former chief counsel who advised pence to resist a pressure campaign from former president trump and his al allies. in an op-ed he wrote but never published, he attacked the lawyers peddle the dubious legal theories. the legal profession should examine whether the attorneys involved should be disciplined to sell a stream of snake oil to the most powerful office in the world, wrapped in the gas price of a lawyer's advice. his former chief of staff, mark short, met with the panel last week. former president trump now directing his eyre at pence, writing in a statement today that his former vice president should be the one under investigation by the committee because he did not ignore the law and upend the certification process. the committee still holding out hope pence will appear.
>> i think he's a very per pertinent witness. cnn uncovering that two executive orders were drafted. one directing the departments of defense and the other homeland security to seize voting machines in states trump lost. rudy giuliani approached dhs but was told the department didn't have that authority. as for dod, giuliani's attorney said he shot the idea down. the plan to seize voting machines just one of many investigative threads for the committee. the committee combing through a trove of documents obtained from the trump white house, some of which the national archives say were torn up by trump and had to be taped back together. now trump is calling for protests against the groups investigating his role in the lead up to january 6th while promising pardons for the rioters. >> if i run and if i win, we
will treat those people from january 6th fairly. we will treat them fairly. >> an opinion the republican leader in the senate, mitch mcconnell, disagrees with. >> my view is i would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes. >> trump's actions drawing a strong rebuke from members of the committee. >> i think that it tells us he clearly would do this all again if we were given the chance. >> the committee set to hold another key interview this week. the attorney for the stewart rhodes, the leader of the oath keepers says that he will meet with the committee virtually although rhodes will have to do it from behind bars because he is facing charges of seditious and conspiracy from the federal government and has been imprisoned until his trial. his attorney telling cnn when asked questions by the committee, he plans to plead the
fifth. >> thank you. let's dig deeper now. joining us, jeffrey toobin and elie honig. jeffrey, how csignificant is it to see top advisers go to speak to the select committee? >> well, you know, wolf, this isn't a prosecution, but the committee is approaching it more or less like a prosecution. they are working from the bottom up, from the outside in. and they are finding witnesses who were one or perhaps two steps removed from the president and finding out what they know. the interesting political part of this is that even though former vice president pence is publicly loyal to the former president, his staff doesn't seem as happy with donald trump and they are telling what they know unlike the people closest to trump. >> well, about that, what does
it say that these pence aides are stepping up, doing what the trump inner circle is clearly refusing to do? >> wolf, i think it's becoming increasingly clear that the star witnesses for the committee will be these key advisers to mike pence. they were first of all in the room. they were eyewitnesses, earwitnesses, to key conversations. where donald trump was pressuring mike pence and when people in the white house were trying to get donald trump to do something on january 6th and most importantly, their loyalty is not to donald trump, the individual. their loyalty is to do their jobs. their oaths as public servants and for that reason, i think they're emerging as really key, ideal witnesses if you're investigating this case. >> and jeffrey, how rich is it that the former president is now calling for the select committee to investigate mike pence for not overturning the presidential election? >> well, you know, wolf, it's sort of like 2017 where we're responding to the latest crazy thing that donald trump has
said. and obviously, you know, the one, mike pence did his job as everyone who knows anything about the law or about how the presidential succession is supposed to work. mike pence did the only thing that was available to him under the law and the idea that donald trump is saying he should be investigated for that instead of praised for it tells you more about donald trump than it does mike pence. >> all this is coming as we're learning about the extent of the trump coup plot. how disturbing is it that there were these draft executive orders at the ready to have both the pentagon and department of homeland security seize voting machines? >> well, first of all, virtually every word in those draft executive orders is dangerous and crazy and illegal. no dhs, no military has authority to seize voting
machines. where is the justice department in all this? we're learning new damning information about donald trump's intent every day from the january 6 kcommittee, from donad trump's own mouth. and where's doj? we don't know if doj is investigating donald trump directly, but if they are, they're taking way too long. >> we'll see what happens in the coming weeks. guys, thank you very much. let's continue the conversation. joining us now, the former homeland security, jey johnson. you also served as general counsel at the pentagon. how outrageous is it that a sitting president of the united states himself reportedly considered coopting those government agencies to try to overturn the election? >> wolf, let's be clear. as you pointed out, i was the secretary of homeland security for three years. i was the senior legal official for the department of defense
for four years and way before that, i was a federal prosecutor prosecuting public corruption cases. there is no legal authority that i know of for the department of homeland security to seize voting machines. there is no legal authority for the department of defense to seize voting machines in this country. the only legal authority i can think of in theory for seizing voting machines is if they were evidence of a crime and there was a search warrant issued by a judge. a judicial warrant. which did not occur in this case. this is a very troubling scenario that we've apparently uncovered. it wasn't just some crazy idea floated by lawyers. it was an idea reduced to draft executive orders, which is very dangerous. very troubling. and is yet more evidence of how
a we're ago in january 2021 our government, our democracy really did teeter on the brink. >> does this potentially contradict the crime? >> it could potentially constitute a crime in my view. certainly conspireing to seize voting machines, conspireing to hijack our election in that way. to hijack our democracy. and i hope the committee, the january 6th committee and even the department of justice are looking at this apparent evidence. >> i'm sure they are. one top republican, senator john thune, says this shows the right people were in fact at the right place, i'm quoting him now, the system worked. is that the lesson republicans should be taking from all of this? >> no. no, i don't accept that. because toward the end of the trump administration, there were far too many actings. there were far too many people
like the acting secretary of defense, the acting secretary of homeland security. the acting attorney general who were put in place at the last minute but donald trump because he believed they would do his bidding. there was no one in a senate confirmed position at the 11th hour of the trump administration. so to say simply that the system worked means that the bridge did not break. the camel's back did not break and i think it was something that we came remarkably close to seeing a very dangerous situation. >> important point. as you know, the former president is now publicly in writing, calling for mike pence to be investigated for not overturning the presidential election. he's floating pardons for the january 6th rioters if he were to become president again. how great do you believe the ongoing danger to our country is?
>> wolf, what happened a year ago showed that our democracy, while it is the most enduring democracy on the planet, is also a fragile one. our democracy depends upon honorable, responsible people who understand and respect the constitution to live up to those principles. it was stress tested a year ago. we survived, but it's becoming more and more apparent that we survived just barely. >> jey johnson, the former secretary of homeland security, thanks so much for joining us. thanks for all your service over the years. just ahead, putin finally breaks his silence on the crisis in ukraine. we'll update you on the late breaking developments.
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vladimir putin is ratcheting up his rhetoric. nic robertson is in moscow for us tonight. putin spoke publicly today for the first time in more than a month and gave absolutely no indication he's ready to deescalate. update our viewers. >> yeah, he took a tough line on nato and the united states. he said that nato and the united states had deceived russia by continuing to move further eastwards. he used much saltier language than that. he was very abrupt. he said the united states and its letter had not addressed russia's primary concerns and that is ukraine can't join nato. nato needs to move back to 1997 lines, that nato has missile systems on its territory that are threatening russia. he then went on you know, to
talk about what scenario that he painted that could be incredibly dangerous. and again, the terms of it were very harsh and very stark. he said imagine the scenario where you crane has joined nato. ukraine then starts attacking crimea which he said is a nonstarter because it is russian end of story. of course russia went into crew ukraine in 2014 and annexed crimea. but that to one side. putin said imagine ukraine then tries to take back crimea from us. he said that would put russia at war with nato. he said did anyone think about that. so this is a president putin who we know comes to the argument tough because he brings his army with him. he's not backing down on any positions he's taken until now then at the end of his press conference, he said, and i do hope that i can continue this
sort of conversation i'm having with president macron of france and that i might see him very soon for a face-to-face conversation. the pair have had phone calls over the last two days and just to add to that, interesting tonight, president macron has had a phone call with canada's prime minister trudeau and trudeau reminded macron that nato's strength is in its unity essentially work together with other nato allies if you're considering a line of communication with president putin. >> thanks for that update. despite the very massive military build up along the russian side of the border, there seems to be little preparation on the ukrainian side. cnn chief international correspondent clarissa ward, is there. >> this is ukraine's first line of defense if russia decides to invade. and it is basic. half a dozen soldiers in snow covered trenches. no sign of heavy weapons.
russian backed separatists are just half a mile away. every day? he's saying that every night, there's fighting once it gets dark. >> these front lines have been frozen for years. a russian offensive would change that in an instant. but the alarm in washington is not shared here. what's amazing to see is that despite the build up of tanks and heavy weaponry on the russian side of the border, which is less than 20 miles from here, here on the ukrainian side, there's no sense at all that anyone is preparing for an invasion. >> the sergeant here asked we not give his name. he says he doesn't expect conflict, but he is prepared. our commanders told us that we must be alert, he tells us. we are ready to meet guests from russia. what kind of weapons do you have at this position? do you have any heavy weaponry?
i don't see any, but i just want to make sure. you don't need to see and the enemy doesn't need to see, he says. but we have everything. what they don't have here are many layers of defense. driving from the front, we see just a handful of check points. if the ukrainian army can't hold this every, they could reach a port city of half a million in hours. despite the threat, life here goes on much as normal. at the local markets, stalls are open and the shelves are full. i'd love to know if you think there will be a war. we don't want war. we have children and grandchildren, natalya says, and there won't be war. we believe that. some like erjon say america is exaggerating the threat. no, there will not be a war, he says. it's only biden who thinks this.
it's interesting talking to people here. nobody seems to be remotely concerned about the prospect of an imminent invasion. these people are no strangers to war. all around mariople, the hollowed out remnants of villages destroyed and abandoned by fighting. but whether moved by denial or disbelief, these soldiers and the people they're protecting, don't expect history to repeat itself. for now, they wait and they watch and they hope. wolf, the u.s. has been delivering weapons here to ukraine and among them, these much coveted javelin missiles. antitank armor piercing missiles. but one of the rules of the cease fire or truce agreement on the front lines is that those javelins cannot be brought to front line positions.
that could potentially pose a problem for ukrainian forces in the event of some kind of a lightning offensive from the russian side and it's worth just emphasizing again what staggering odds these ukrainian soldiers are on the front lines really are facing or would be facing in the event of some kind of a russian invasion both on the ground, woclf, and from the air. >> excellent, excellent reporting. thank you very, very much. coming up, are children under the age of 5 finally on the verge of getting the covid vaccine? pfizer has just submitted a crucial application to the fda. i'll discuss that and more with the u.s. surgeon general. later, tom brady confirms he's officially retiring. ending one of the greatest football careers of all time.
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news. a major step toward the first covid-19 vaccine for children under 5. pfizer just submitted its request for emergency use authorization just a little while ago and now fda advisers are set to meet in two weeks to discuss their recommendation. let's discuss what's going on with the u.s. surgeon general, dr. vivek murthy. thank you so much for joining us. before the month is over, will kids under 5, do you believe, finally be able to get the covid vaccine? >> well, wolf, this is potentially very excited moment and potentially one step closer to getting vaccines for kids under 5. this is important to a lot of parents out there including me. i've got a 4-year-old daughter and we've been waiting to get
her vaccinated. what is happening right now is that pfizer is in the process of getting all of their data to the fda and what the fda is going to do is do a thorough and thoughtful analysis of that data to understand the answer to two critical conditions. is this vaccine safe for kids under 5 and is it effective for kids under 5. if the answer to both questions is yes, then they will recommend that it be used, but there are a lot of steps that have to happen between now and then including a meeting of the fda's advisory group. the good news is when that happens, the data will also become public so individuals including independent scientists and members of the public can look at the data as well and understand exactly what the fda is examining. >> if the fda gives emergency use authorization, will your child immediately go get the vaccine? >> yes. if the fda issues the authorization, if the cdc
recommends it, absolutely my 4-year-old will be getting that shot. my wife i have talked about this. we're both doctors. we know every decision you make about vaccines has risks and benefits, but what we've seen with the vaccines to date, including vaccines for older kids is that the benefits are far outseated any risks. it's why we got our 5-year-old vaccinated. we trust in their process. >> i know a lot of parents with kids under 5 who are anxious to get their kids vaccinated. will vaccinated the youngest children in our country, will that be one of the final big steps in returning to some sense of normality? >> it's certainly going to be a big one, wolf. we know that getting more and more of our population vaccinated is one of the key things we have got to do in order to protect our country from the virus and you know, thankfully we have nearly three
quarters of adults who are now vaccinated. that's a huge step for that how happen in just a year's time is extraordinary. more and more kids every day who are getting vaccinated. but we want everyone to be protected, so yes, this will be an important step. but as we think about the future and getting back to normal, i want to say i know you look at the numbers in how many people are getting sick with omicron and it can be easy to just feel frustrated and tired and those are absolutely understandable feelings at this point. starting year three of this pandemic, but i feel more optimistic about the future. about getting back to some sense of normal. more so now than i did at any other point during the pandemic. here's why. because our vaccines are now proving in the face of omicron that they stabilize and keep people out of the hospital. we have more medicines to treat covid than we've had before and we're learning more and more about how to use masks and testing to produce quantity that is the country needs.
this put us us in a much better place not just for omicron, but future variants. >> if you're vaccinated and boosted, can you essentially return to normal life? go out to eat? go to a bar? go to a movie? >> it's a really important question and the truth is, if you are vaccinated and particularly boosted, your risk of not only getting covid, but ending up in the hospital or dying from covid is dramatically lower. this is from data from the cdc which showed that fact. even with omicron, even with its power to evade some of our immune responses, getting boosted does restore a lot of that protection. so the bottom line is yes, you can go about a lot of your activities you engaged in before. we still want people to be cautious in public indoor spaces and wear a mask as the chances of getting it and passing it on.
even if you do fine, you could pass it to someone else. we'll be able to peel back on some of those restrictions. but finally in the future, wolf, the way we should think about this is not that we flip a switch on and off in terms of you know, the pandemic going away, but there may be a period of time where we have to dial up and dial down precautions depending on what is happening around us, but we're getting smarter about how to do that and that's why i feel more confident than ever we have more normal days ahead of us and our path back to a normal life is getting shorter and shorter. >> when do you think we'll get back to normal? >> well, i wish i knew the exact anx answer to that, wolf. while i don't know the exact answer, i know that if you are vaccinated and boosted, more vaccinated, therapeutics that we have available, the faster we're going to get there and that's why it's so important actually the early investments that the
administrati therapeutics, in not just producing them and making the more able for people around the country. so we are going to get there, wolf. i can't tell you exactly when, but there are more and more positive indicators each day that tells us we're making progress. >> dr. murthy, thanks for all you're doing. thanks so much for joining us. >> of course. always happy to join you, wolf. take care. just ahead, the latest on the disturbing string of bomb threats targeting historically black colleges for a second straight day here in the united states. the president of howard university standing by to join me live right after the break. it's an entire trading experience. that pushes you to be even better. and just might change how you trade—forever. because once you experience thinkorswim® by td ameritrade ♪ there's no going back.
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at least 14 just today alone. cnn's senior washington correspondent, joe johns, has our report. >> investigators believe that numerous threats throughout the area and throughout the nation were coming in targeting several historically black colleges and universities. >> tonight, the nation's historically black colleges and universities are on alert. from louisiana to georgia to maryland to delaware, at least 18 hbcus have had class disruptions in the past two days due to bomb threats. no explosives have been found. >> it's most unsettling for the students to have to address this. so the emotional and mental health and well-being of our students is of concern. >> the barrage of threats on the campus disruption they caused garnering national attention including from the white house. >> we are working with our law enforcement authorities and ensuring that the leaders of
these institutions and students know we are watching closely and that we are standing with them as they face these threats. >> state and local law enforcement approaching the problem on a case by case basis. spelman college in atlanta telling cnn city police will increase their patrols around campus. this wave of bomb threats, the latest in a string that began in early january. the fbi announcing investigations are ongoing with other law enforcement agencies including the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. lawmakers taking the threat seriously with the house committee chairman, adam schiff, and congressman carson releasing a joint statement saying we will remain focused on ensuring that our appropriate resources are utilized to combat the scourge of white supremacist violence and terrorism. the motive is not clear, but on the first day of black history month, some of these
administrators want to send a clear message of their own. >> we're here, we've been here for 150 years providing education, outstanding, excellent education to our students and that's our mission, so no, we will not be deterred. >> the guidance on this from authorities so far has been short and sweet. the fbi advising that while the investigation continues, the best thing the public can do if they see anything, if they hear anything, to speak up. wolf? >> thank you. joe johns reporting for us. joining us now from the campus of howard university here in washington, d.c., the school president, dr. frederick. thank you so much for joining us. at this moment, do you have any sense who's behind all these tl threats and are you getting the support you need from federal authorities? >> yeah, wolf, we don't have an idea right now of who is behind this. we do know that it's motivated
by hate, which is exactly the antithesis of why these institutions are here and why howard university was founded. we are getting support. i have been on a call today with the department of homeland security that got the presidents together and several members of my team have been on calls with the fbi as well as with local autho authorities in the third district here in the city has offered us excellent support with patrols and campus and a physical presence on campus. >> what more do you want to say to students? not only at howard university, but at hbcus across the country who may be feeling uneasy tonight? >> yeah. you know, i think we have a lot to learn from what has happened before us. our civil rights leaders in this country endured things of this nature and even worse. and what they ehad was courage.
that's one of the things i'm going to ask these young people to be mindful of. to think about tonight. that the reason they came here is exactly to combat what is motivating this person to do this and i think if they unite around their courage, we will certainly get through this. >> you've been the president of howard university since 2014 and your history with the university dates back to your time as a student yourself. have you ever seen anything like these widespread threats that we're seeing right now? >> you know, we haven't. and this has been very disappointing. however, during my presidency, we did have a gentleman who was aligned with white supremacist call in a threat to the university and basically said he wanted to come on campus and shoot people. law enforcement pursued him. he was arrested. i was able to make a victim impact statement at his sentencing and he was rightfully
imprisoned. so we are going to stand firm. we've had these challenges before, but definitely since i've been here in 1988, it has not been this widespread and also i think this overt. >> the howard university of course, howard university is a very special place as you know. i have an honorary degree from howard. very proud of that. good luck to you. good luck to all the students and howard and all of the hbcus. thank you so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. coming up, tom brady officially announces his retirement. the 44-year-old superstar quarterback is stepping aside after a truly legendary career. perhaps, perhaps the greatest of all time. or necessity. we can explore uncharted waters, and not only make new discoveries, but get there faster, with better outcomes. with app, cloud and anywhere workspace solutions, vmware helps companies navigate change--
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tom brady seen by so many as the greatest quarterback of automatic time is retiring after 22 seasons and seven super bowls wins. six with the patriots. he said quote, right now, it's best i leave the field to play to the next generation of t dedicated and commitment athletes. let's discuss with jon king, possibly the patriots number one fan, our chief national correspondent. it's the end of an era. what does this mean for fans like yourself who cheered brady on for so many years? >> it's the turning of a page. the end of an era. so many fans upset that in his initial statement, he didn't thank the patriots. after that, he did thank patriot nation.
tom brady was our moses. if you were a boston sports fan, tom brady when he won that first super bowl, think about boston sports, the patriots win the first super bowl if 2002. the red sox reverse the curse. the patriots go on to all those super bowl wins. the celtics won it in 28. the bruins in 2011. it was a renaissance in boston and new england sport. it started when tom brady owon that first super bowl. liz was my daughter. we have old school brady in the house. i know he leaves the tampa bay buccaneers. he revolutionized boston sports and made so many memories. my daughter used to have boston in bethesda, my little sports museum. just the family members, the sports memories, the amazing comeback against the super bowl
in atlanta. tom brady is the goat. >> tell us about that room you are in right now, boston in bethesda. >> reporter: this is boston in bethesda, you see the green replica monster over my shoulder. it's not any game. i was with my son when they won. that's the game against the cardinals right there. you can see over my shoulder, there is a football signed by adam vinatierre. he moved on to another team. we got a lot of people in new england. they don't want to give that up. he left and went. so patriots helmet up there. red sox jersey. you can take the kid out of boston. i brought my kid from boston here. what does tom brady mean? we said of guys and sports. so many grate memories, 28, 25, the last couple years ago, i took my now 10-year-old to foxboro. he got to see tom brady,
patriots lost that game. just those family memories. the connected tissue. the sports history, it's a fabulous thing. we have larry byrd, bobby orr. we will have tom brady forever and big poppy. this is a great time for boston sports. >> very exciting. what do you make of how brady handled all of this trying to walk back the earlier reporting over the weekend of his retirement as you mentioned, initially not even mentioning the patriots? >> that car was actually fascinating for a guy that has had such control. many say manipulated his image over the years. he's been masterful. whether you like tom brady or not, he has been masterful at his image. the departure was quite messy. a link him retiring, him saying, no, i didn't. having his dad giving an interview saying he didn't make up his mind and instagram and
facebook post today. it won't affect his legacy. it does because of the boston part. he did not say hi to new england if you listening to boston sports radio. it's a little grumpy. >> thanks so much for your expertise in this area. verifies. we're going to have more news just ahead, including president biden now reaching out to republicans as he narrows down his short list of potential u.s. supreme court nominees. get 2.49% apr financing on the 2022 gx 460. one role of a lifetime...one sore throat. but she had enough. she took new mucinex instasoothe sore throat lozenges. show your sore throat who's boss. new mucinex instasoothe. works in seconds, lasts for hours. people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible... with rybelsus®.
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senators. he looks to nominate a judge by the end of the month. the president met with mitch mcconnell and bipartisan leaders of the senate judiciary committee. phil mattingly, where does the nomination stand tonight? >> reporter: wolf, the president has pledged to select the supreme court nominee. the first african-american woman selected for the court by the end of this month. the white house has launched a very deliberative process leading up to that moment. including one of the top republican and democrat to the oval office to meet with the president today. as you noted, the president requesting a phone call and having a phone call with senate minority leader mitch mcconnell earlier in the white house setting up the team once the nominee is selected, including the so-called sherpa, the point person outside the white house likely to select former senator doug jones. the alabama democrat and former prosecutor who would lead that process. others are expected to be added to that team in the near future.
we're all underscoring a just terrible process, methodical process, the white house is not lashing out to fight every battle when they could. when the qualifications are called into question. like this from the republican senator ted cruz. >> when joe biden throws out a quota that the only people he will consider for the nomination are african-american women, he is number one rejecting regardless of merits everybody else, whether they are white or black or hispanic or native american. he is saying nobody else doesn't matter, your credentials, i, joe biden, will discriminate based on race. >> reporter: wolf, it's worth noting, everybody on the short list of african-american women, president biden may select are extraordinarily qualified. the white house is pushing back sharply on those comments questioning the president's decision to focus the search and selection of an african-american woman noting, the president,
ronald weighing i reagan said he would select the first woman and a year or so ago, former president trump was making very clear, it seems there are two versions of things right now. >> you are absolutely right. thanks very much. to our viewers, thanks very much, i am wolf blitzer in the "situation room." erin burnett "out front" starts right now. ♪ . "out front" next, putin not backing down, warning the u.s. is not listening to his demands. a second top aide to former vice president mike pence meeting with the january 6th in the. why they believe he is a key witness tonight. more than half of teachers in the united states plan on leaving their jobs sooner than expected because of covid. the president of the national association of education is "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnett