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Ocasio-Cortez Says She Survived Sexual Assault; Federal Prosecutors Have Charged More Than 175 People in Capitol Riots; Republicans Proposing Smaller COVID-19 Relief Bill; Russian Court Set to rule on Navalny Jail Term; Heavy Troop Presence Day After Military Seizes Power in Myanmar; Iran Says U.S. Has Limited Time to Reenter Nuclear Deal; Tokyo Preparing for Olympic Games Amid the Pandemic. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 2, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Well Monday saw an emotional and dramatic reveal from a U.S. lawmaker. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she suffered sexual assault. The House Democrat from New York revealed that in Instagram post where she described the fear, she felt during the Capitol Hill riot.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The reason I say this and the reason I'm getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us move on, that it's not a big deal, that we should forget what's happened or even telling us to apologize. These are the same tactics of abusers, and I'm a survivor of sexual assault. And I haven't told many people that in my life, but when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.


CHURCH: Ocasio-Cortez also described in detail how she experienced the Capitol insurrection saying she thought she was going to die.

Well federal prosecutors continue to file charges following last month's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. They've now arrested one man who they say attacked a police line and, in the process, caused an officer to suffer a concussion. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider shows us that video.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prosecutors pinpointing one of the first rioters to breach the barricades, Ryan Stephen Samsel. Investigators say he wore a red MAGA hat and a white hooded sweatshirt as he moved in on Capitol police behind a bicycle racks barricade. Samsel is seen ripping off his jacket and turning his hat around. Prosecutors say it was a signal that he was ready to fight. Samsel was part of the crowd that picks up the barricade and backs it up on to police, knocking a female officer to the ground. Prosecutors revealed in a court filing the officer's head hit the stairs behind her. Samsel picked the officer off the ground and allegedly said to her we don't have to hurt you. Why are you standing in our way?

That officer later blacked out and was taken to the E.R. with a concussion. Prosecutors say Samsel was out on parole when he took part in the insurrection and is wanted for assault in New Jersey. He is now one of more than 175 federal defendants facing criminal charges for their role in the riot.

At least 21 of those charged are current or former members of the military. Including 37-year-old Joseph Biggs, an army veteran who spouted enough violent rhetoric to get him banned on several social media sites.

JOSEPH BIGGS, ARMY VETERAN: Hey, what's going on everybody, this is Joe Biggs?

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Biggs is also one of the leaders of the far- right Proud Boys group, known for its violent clashes with Antifa during protests in Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C. CNN has identified at least eight Proud Boys charged in the Capitol attack so far, including two charged with conspiracy Friday. It's the first riot related case to accuse Proud Boys members of working together to attack the Capitol. Though prosecutors say the alleged conspiracy only began after they got to Washington.

Some law enforcement sources now tell CNN the Capitol riot investigation is the largest FBI probe since 9/11, incorporating a massive mobilization of FBI resources spanning field offices from coast to coast.

SCHNEIDER: The investigation also continues into the Capitol police officer who was killed during the insurrection, Bryan Sicknick. Prosecutors have opened a federal murder investigation into his death. And Tuesday night, Officer Sicknick will lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda, the same location that was overrun by that mob about one month ago. His family has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with their expenses.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And while the Capitol Hill investigation plays out in Washington, the Biden administration is pushing ahead with a legislative priority -- COVID economic relief. Mr. Biden's meeting with Republicans went well but their offer is dramatically less than his $1.9 trillion plan. I asked CNN's Stephen Collinson how much pressure the president was feeling for his rescue plan to be bipartisan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Democrats on Capitol Hill don't have a great deal of enthusiasm actually for the president's outreach to Republicans, because they argue that the size of the package, which you mentioned, 600 billion dollars, is really far too small to make a meaningful dent in the economy and to really tackle the scale of the pandemic.

So, I think what we are seeing from the White House is two different messages.


Yes, Biden is trying to reach out. He's trying to live up to his bipartisan promises, but at the same time, the White House is making clear that $600 billion is not anywhere near enough.

CHURCH: And you mentioned this in your written piece. Respected economists say the danger here is not in doing too much but in doing too little. If this bill gets watered down, just to satisfy a few Republican Senators to make this a bipartisan plan, does President Biden run the risk of under delivering and ultimately failing to help those in need and jump-start the economy?

COLLINSON: Right. I think that the -- ending the pandemic, getting vaccines out as quickly as possible, mitigating the economic damage, alleviating the deprivation, millions of Americans don't have enough to eat, that at the end of the day is going to be the thing that decides the fate of the Biden presidency. He has a little time, but not that much time.

Of course, there's a midterm election and only, you know, a year and 10 months from now. So, you know, I think Biden knows that. He knows the stakes here. Not just for himself, but for the rest of the country.


CHURCH (on camera): Well turning now to Moscow court room where prominent Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny is attending a hearing which will decide his fate. Navalny's defense team has moved to file new documents, including information about his health. Officials say Navalny should be jailed for violating probation while he was out of the country.

He spent several months in Germany after being poisoned with a nerve agent. Outside the courthouse dozens of people were detained. Navalny supporters have carried out large scale protests across Russia in recent weeks. And Navalny could face up to 3.5 years in prison.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me now from Moscow. So Fred, what is the situation there right now? What has been happening since we last spoke?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Rosemary. Well, inside the courtroom the judge that's now presiding over the case has decided not to allow any sort of media or cameras into the courtroom. Alexey Navalny's defense team has filed for that to happen. He obviously wants this trial to be as open as possible. But the judge has denied that.

And as you mentioned, the prosecutor has called for Alexey Navalny to be jailed for 3.5 years. He was of course convicted in this case in 2014. It was a case that he says was politically motivated, but he was given a suspended jail sentence. And essentially what the court is trying to do right now, or the prosecutor is trying to do right now, they're trying to overturn that and turn that into a real jail sentence which would see him behind bars for 3.5 years.

And the big discussion that's being had there in the court is that obviously, Alexey Navalny's team said one of the reasons why he wasn't able to attend the hearing he was supposed to go to was because he had been hit by chemical nerve agent Novichok and he was recovering from that. Whereas the authorities are saying they believe that he had already recovered and there was no reason for him not to show up.

Now outside the court you can really see how riot police have taken over the scene. If you look over here, you can see the entire street is lined by riot police. Basically the entire area around the court is surrounded by these police officers. They are virtually everywhere. They're clearing a park very close to us right now as well.

We did see a lot of people getting detained. And we saw some of that the last time we spoke, Rosemary. We saw some people taken into custody there. Well over a dozen people that we ourselves saw. And certainly on the fringes of this area, some of that still seems to be going on. By and large you can feel there is a suffocating presence of riot police in and around the courthouse where this trial is taking place -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, all right, waiting for that ruling. Frederick Pleitgen there at the scene in Moscow. Appreciate it.

And still to come here on CNN, Japan is determined to host the Olympics in July even as it looks to extend a COVID state of emergency. We'll have a live report for you from Tokyo.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Soldiers have been out in force today in Myanmar one day after the military seized power in a coup. People are cautiously trying to resume their daily lives as troops and checkpoints spread around the capital. Troops are standing guard outside a government guest house and at least some of the politicians detained in the coup say they are being held there. And there are growing calls from within Myanmar and from around the world for their release.

CNN's Will Ripley joins me now from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Will. So what's the latest on this coup and what's the military's likely next move? WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've declared this state of

emergency, Rosemary. And they continue to hold an unknown number of civilian leaders inside that government guest house in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw. We've actually seen images of tanks and military vehicles and solders with weapons. So clearly these lawmakers are not getting out of there as the military starts to move forward putting together its own government after essentially declaring the results of November's general election fraudulent without any evidence.

The real story according to analysts is that the proxy parties that represent military interests which include financial interests when it comes to military owned companies or companies tied to top military officials, well they received an embarrassingly small number of votes. And the civilian party of the NLV, led by Ang San Suu Kyi, actually received more votes giving the civilian leadership more power and in the eyes of the generals that controlled that country that was not acceptable.

So they say there was voter fraud. They declare a state of emergency, which under the constitution that right they are allowed to do. And for the next year they restructured things to try to get a situation more favorable to them. Some analysts are even saying this has everything to do with power, with projection of power with reminding not only the elected lawmakers in Myanmar but the people, the military that basically led the country under 50 years under a brutal dictatorship where any sort of dissent was crushed, only to kind of give this illusion of democracy over the last decade.

But the fact that the citizen elected leaders have been gaining more power which could potentially not be good for a number of reasons for the generals who are at the top is an indication of where the country may be headed moving forward. Even if they might hold another election, they might try to find a way to guarantee that the results are more favorable for the military than they already were.

But Military still retains control of key cabinet positions and had guaranteed seats in the Parliament regardless of how the election shaped out.


There're growing calls from the international community, at least western democracies for the possible reintroduction of sanctions at the U.N. Security Council Meeting.

However, China has basically issued a very benign response to all of this. Because Myanmar is important for their relationships strategically and their access to the Indian Ocean. Beijing saying they'll work with whatever government is in power.

So frankly, Rosemary, sanctions won't really bite a whole lot when you have an open border with China and wink and a nod from Beijing that they can go forward as long as things remain stable. And you see troops out there to make sure that things remain stable.

CHURCH: Yes, and we'll of course watch this story very closely. Will Ripley bringing us up to date on the situation. Appreciate it.

Well Iran's top diplomat says the U.S. is running out of time to rejoin the nuclear deal abandoned by former President Donald Trump. Since the U.S. pulled out, Iran has begun enriching uranium again. The U.S. Secretary of State says America is a long way from staying eye to eye with Iran.


ANTHONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same thing, but we are a long way from that point. Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts and it would take some time should it make a decision to do so to come back into compliance in time for us to then assess whether it was meeting its obligations. So we're not there yet to say the least.


CHURCH: In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran isn't interested in building a nuclear weapon, but he added there is a limited window of opportunity for the U.S. to re-enter the agreement.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We acted in strict accordance with the nuclear agreement. Now the United States needs to come back into compliance and Iran will be ready immediately to respond. The timing is not the issue. The issue is whether the United States, whether the new administration wants to follow the old policies of -- paid policies of the Trump administration or not.


CHURCH: The head of Tokyo 2020's organizing committee says the Olympic games will be held this year, quote, no matter how the COVID situation will be.

CNN's Blake Essig joins us from Tokyo with the very latest. Blake, how is this going to work exactly in the middle of a pandemic?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, you're absolutely right, whether it's the IOC, the Japanese government or just within the last hour, hour and a half Tokyo 2020 officials essentially saying that they are going to hold these games this summer no matter what and there is no plan B in place.

How are they going to do that? Well tomorrow they plan on releasing a series of play books which are going to outline some rules that athletes and other people involved in the games are going to have to follow in order to deliver a safe and secure summer Olympic games. Now Olympic officials have said that vaccines will not be a prerequisite for athletes to compete in these summer Olympic games. But again, there will be rules in place. And just recently John Coates, the IOC vice president, sat down with Sky News, Australia, a CNN affiliate, to talk a little bit about that playbook and what it might entail.


JOHN COATES, VICE-PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: They must undertake testing, saliva and nose, within 72 hours of traveling to Tokyo. Like what we've now introduced in Australia for people coming here. They'll be tested on arrival. And if they continue to be negative, every four days.


ESSIG (on camera): It's specifically four athletes, Coates went on to say that their movement will also be restricted. They're going to be allowed at Athletes Village, transported to and from their venue for training and competition but that's it. They're also only expected to be allowed to show up five days before their event and then they must leave within two days of their event completing. And the effort behind that, are as few people as possible in the Athletes Village any given time.

Now as far as spectators are concerned, a decision on that isn't expected to be made until sometime in March or April, Rosemary. All that we do know at this point is that these summer Olympic games are going to look very differently than they have in the past.

CHURCH: Yes, they most certainly will. Blake Essig, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that.

And still to come here on CNN, the latest trading frenzy on Wall Street is focused on silver. We will look at what's behind the huge demand.



CHURCH: Well, Tony Bennett is opening up about being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The legendary singer and his family are sharing their story in an interview with AARP. He was diagnosed in 2016 but he didn't go public with the information and kept performing into 2020. The 94-year-old still sings and plays music at home. Doctors say it helps stimulate his brain. Bennett's family says he still transforms into a performer when he sings. The crooner is planning to release new music this spring, a follow-up collaboration with Lady Gaga.

Well we are just hours away from a new trading day on Wall Street, and right now we are keeping an eye on silver futures one day after prices hit an eight-year high. Despite speculation, members of the Reddit group WallStreetBets say they're not behind the rally. The group of amateur traders recently sent shares of GameStop and AMC soaring taking Wall Street by storm.

And CNN's Anna Stewart joins us now from London to explain it all to us. Anna, what is going on with silver and what can we expect to happen Tuesday?


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well silver is perhaps their latest flashpoint. But who's behind this trade? I think that's the big question everyone wants the answer to. Scoring through comments on Reddit's WallStreetBets today, plenty of users are saying this is nothing to do with them. It's not their call. And this is really unlike what we had last week, which was a more homogeneous cacophony, a voice to say buy AMC stock, buy GameStop stock, buy and hold on to it.

And if you look at the prices today, while they have slipped back from some of the crazy highs, they're incredibly high. GameStop trading at $226. That's up 1,200 percent on the year. AMC that was trading at just $2 at the beginning of this year, now up over $13. So we are seeing still some high valuations there.

Moving on to silver, yes, they hit a really big high yesterday up over $30. That has slipped back a little bit, but still very high. And we saw where this may have perhaps began, which was big inflows into an ETF called I Share Silver Trust. It's an ETF that deals in silver. That in turn has pushed up the price of physical silver. And we saw that spill into equities as well. So the share price of silver mining companies for instance, went higher as well.

Last week there were messages on Wall Street suggesting that people should buy silver. It can lead only that to silver will destroy the biggest banks, not just some little hedge funds, quote, unquote. That was one of the messages that this week it feels very different.

Lots of users saying that actually buying silver if anything, will benefit those hedge funds they were battling against last week. Some going as far to say hedge funds have co-opted the movement and that there's some sort of foul play here.

Where does this go? Well I think the problem here is no one really knows who these users are on Reddit. You can't verify who is a genuine retail trader who's actually backing up what they're saying with a trade. And I think that's going to be the big problem going forward -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, and we'll see what happens. Anna Stewart bringing us the latest there. Many thanks.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a wonderful day.