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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Holds Campaign-Style Rally in Florida; Iraqi Forces Launch Offensive to Retake Western Mosul; New Details in the Mysterious Death of Kim Jong-Nam; Syria in Spotlight at Security Summit; Vice President Pence Reiterates U.S. Support for NATO; U.S. Deploys Carrier Striker Group to South China Sea; Trump Presidency Creates Betting Frenzy in UK; Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:15] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Donald Trump turning back the clock to his campaign days, rallying supporters and playing to a crowd in Florida.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The fight against ISIS intensifies as Iraqi force launch a new offensive to retake the western part of Mosul.

KINKADE: New clues in the mysterious death of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea's leader. The police now searching for four more suspects.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN World headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right now.

It is 5:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. The U.S. President Donald Trump marked his first month in office by returning to a format that quite frankly helped to get him elected. The election is over but it was campaign-style rallying in Florida on Saturday. Thousands of Trump supporters showed up in Melbourne there.

KINKADE: And Mr. Trump's remarks hit on many of his most populist themes, restoring American jobs, slamming international trade deals, and defending his controversial travel ban.

HOWELL: Some of the harshest words on stage aimed at the media, especially news organizations that he recently denounced as the, quote, "enemy of the American people." Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln, and many of our greatest presidents fought with the media and called them out oftentimes on their lies. When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: But, in fact, the media will just continue do the job of just covering the news.

KINKADE: Well, we're going to get more now from Athena Jones in Melbourne, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This rally was like a flashback to campaign 2016. And in many ways it was an extension of that campaign. It was paid for by the campaign. The White House described it as a campaign rally.

Asked before he got off of Air Force One upon arrival why he was doing a campaign event so early in his presidency, the president told reporters, life is a campaign. Making our country great again is a campaign.

What was interesting here was that here you had the president repeating a lot of the same rhetoric we've heard on the campaign trail. A lot of the same arguments we heard just a few days ago at that epic press conference on Thursday in the East Room, laying out some of what he views as his administration's great accomplishments in his view in the first month. He talked about the five-year ban on lobbying. He also complained once again about this travel ban and talked about the need to keep America safe.

We've been talking a lot about how it's not unusual to see a president go out on the road early in his presidency to sell something, to sell a specific policy. We have been talking how President Trump wasn't pushing one specific policy, like, for instance, the stimulus package back in 2009, when President Obama first took office. But he did ostensibly try to sell one thing today. He tried to urge Democrats on Capitol Hill to cooperate with Republicans to pass his agenda. Take a listen.

TRUMP: It's also time for the Senate Democrats to take responsibility for Obamacare and to work with us to replace it with new reforms that reverse this nationwide health care tragedy. It is a tragedy. It's unaffordable. It doesn't work. And I said to the Republicans, I said, you want to do something great politically? Don't do anything. Sit back for two years, let it explode. The Democrats will come and beg for us to do something. But we can't do that to the American people. We have to fix it. And we will.

We need members of both parties to join hands and work with us to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build new roads and bridges and airports and tunnels and highways and railways all across our great nation.

JONES: So there he was urging bipartisan cooperation to get the things done that he wants to get done. I should note that Democrats on Capitol Hill have indicated they are interested in working with Republicans on an infrastructure package. One more area where he called on Democrats to cooperate with

Republicans was to approve his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Neil Gorsuch. So he did end up trying to sell something when it comes to policy here during this speech. But still this was very much something that he was looking forward to doing.

[05:05:04] He said early on in the speech that he wanted to get around the media filter to talk directly to the people. And it was clear that this crowd really ate it up. These are people who had been standing in line for hours. Very, very interesting and campaign-like event here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Our Athena Jones reporting there.

Well, President Trump also invited one of his supporters to join him on stage and take the microphone at the Florida rally. Gene Huber wearing a Donald Trump T-shirt hugged the president and spoke briefly. He told the crowd he and other supporters why Mr. Trump won the election and he said the president is keeping the promises he made during the campaign. He later spoke about the experience and what it meant to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENE HUBER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I want to tell you something. It was a moment of my life. I will never, ever forget what just happened to me. I've been with Mr. President Trump for over two years, fighting battles in and out, in and out of lies and terrible things always said about him. But we stuck together and it is just an amazing feeling where I'm at right now. It's unbelievable.

I was the first one on line. I got here at 4:00 in the morning. So I got a lot of interviews from news people. So President Trump must have seen me on TV. So -- and I told the reporter that I love President Trump and President Trump heard me say that and he told me that on stage. He goes -- you know, he said that he loves me, and I do, with all my heart, because he fights for us each and every second.

He didn't have to do this for us, you know. He's 70 years old, a billionaire, beautiful family, and this man comes out and works harder than anyone I've ever seen in my life, and that's why he's a winner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Many of those supporters, diehard supporters, very excited to see the president in the state of Florida. At least, though, one prominent Republican is speaking out against the president and his constant attacks toward the media.

U.S. Senator John McCain saying that the attacks toward reporters that runs counter to the First Amendment. He also warns that undermining the public's trust in a free press undermines democracy itself. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve -- I'm very serious now. If you want to preserve democracy as you know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press and without it, I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: That's the U.S. Republican Senator John McCain speaking there.

KINKADE: Well, political analyst Ellis Henican can joins us now from New York.

HOWELL: Ellis, good to have you again with us this hour. So the president told supporters there in Florida that he plans to move forward with a new version of his travel ban. He also said on stage that he needs the support of Democrats, he said, to come together, to hold hands, to focus on issues like repealing Obamacare and also the infrastructure program that he wants to put it.

But how does a president like President Trump gain the broader support of Americans with such a divided electorate? Mr. Trump's approval rating right now according to a Gallup poll right around 40 percent.

ELLIS HENICAN POLITICAL ANALYST: A strategy for a winning convert seems to be insulting everybody. It's a -- it's a strange strategy. I think it's working fine to keep the base revved up, but it's not bringing a whole lot of new adherence in, I wouldn't say. Now I'm speaking, of course, as an enemy of the people here, so you can take what I'm saying with -- through whatever filter you like.

(LAUGHTER)

KINKADE: Speaking of that, Trump said he would call out the media for the fake news. It is of course (INAUDIBLE) of the day. And during that rally speech there were a number of false claims. The president claims that thousands of refugees coming to the U.S. with no vetting, no documentation. We of course know that refugees are vetted extensively. It takes two years to get into the U.S. He also listed a terror attack in Sweden on Friday night that never happened. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: So how crucial is it for us, for the media, to hold the president accountable?

HENICAN: Hugely crucial. I mean, I believe that the future of the Republican is at stake. You know, Lynda, for a long time I've been talking about America as a tribal nation, right, that we're on our two little teams and we adhere to those very doggedly.

[05:10:02] But I swear to you, I think we're entering into a phase here of truly competing realities, that there's no agreement on what the central facts are, and our world views are so divided. It's not just that we disagree with each other but we cannot agree on the most basic facts of where we are today.

HOWELL: This question, simply, you know, the president has indicated that, you know, to get back out on the campaign trail and, again, he's surrounded by many of the people who are diehard, who support him. This is his way to bring the message to people who put him in office. But, again, Ellis, just getting to the point of campaigns after the election, what purpose do they serve because he is the president of the United States?

HENICAN: That's right, but think about that guy who stood up in the crowd that Donald Trump pulled up who gets up every morning and salutes a 6-foot cardboard cutout. That's what this was about today. This rally. It was about keeping that guy and the tens of thousands of others assembled with him in Melbourne, Florida, on the program, being supportive and viewing what's been happening in Washington the last month as a well-oiled machine to use Donald Trump's current slogan.

You're not convincing too many other people of it, but those who started out believing it for the moment at least seem to be hanging tough.

KINKADE: And speaking of those that he is not convincing ever since he took office, we have seen protest after protest. This Monday, of course, is President's Day, and there are many calling it "Not My President Day." What message should Donald Trump take from those people that are against his policies?

HENICAN: Well, you know, I think that most political analysts, including a lot of savvy Republican politicians would say, you know, in the long run, somehow or another, you need to broaden this base out. You have to give something to people who are not already your ardent adherence to bring them under a tent. He's taking a different strategy. He's taking the one that worked in the campaign for him which is to find a substantial minority of Americans and just keep them very engaged, very enthusiastic, and very loyal.

It won the election for him. I'm not sure if it's a good governing strategy, but it seems to be the one he's sticking with.

KINKADE: Yes. We'll have to see how it goes going forward.

HENICAN: Yes.

KINKADE: Ellis Henican, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

HOWELL: Thanks.

HENICAN: Good to see you. Bye-bye, guys.

KINKADE: Well, the battle for Mosul is intensifying. Iraqi forces have launched an operation to regain control of western Mosul from ISIS. They've already re-captured all of the eastern part of the city. Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the operation a new dawn and chapter for the city's liberation. Mr. al-Abadi met with the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at a security conference in Munich on Saturday. The two discussed counterterrorism and the fight against ISIS.

Well, let's go straight to Ben Wedeman for a perspective on all of this. He joins us from Istanbul.

Ben, just explain for us how significant this battle is? Is it the final phase to drive ISIS out of Iraq?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can say, Lynda, it is one of the final phases. There's still a long way to go in terms of driving ISIS out of Iraq and crushing ISIS. Because keep in mind the threat isn't just their territorial control. There's a problem we receive in Baghdad, we've seen in other parts of Iraq, of terrorism which of course they excel at.

Now this morning the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, at 7:00 went on Iraqi television and announced the beginning of that operation to retake western Mosul. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAIDER AL-ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (Through Translator): We are announcing the start of a new phase of "We are Coming, Nineveh" operations to liberate the right side of Mosul city as we had liberated other areas.

We call on our brave troops to start the push to liberate the rest of the city and to liberate people from the oppression and terrorism of Daesh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: Now the Iraqi military says that at the moment they are approaching western Mosul from four axes basically from the south and the southwest. Their immediate goal is to retake control of Mosul airport and the Haslani military base which were in the southern part of the city. But this is going to be a long and difficult operation. There are anywhere between 650 and 800 civilians in the city. They've already been living under very difficult circumstances with dwindling supplies of food. Only about 40 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water. They're running low on medicine as well as cooking oil and fuel oil as well.

[05:15:08] Now the Iraqi Air Force overnight dropped millions of leaflets, calling on ISIS supporters or members to lay down their weapons and surrender and warning the civilian population to stay inside their homes, to put white flags outside their homes to indicate that civilians are inside. But this is going to be a long battle, keeping in mind that it took well over three months to take the eastern part of the city so the western part has a slightly smaller population but it's more densely compact in the western part.

So it's going to be street to street, house to house fighting. It's going to be hard and it is going be bloody -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Ben Wedeman, we'll have to leave it there for now. Thanks so much for joining us.

Well, coming up, another ceasefire could be just days away in eastern Ukraine. We'll have the details of that just ahead.

HOWELL: Plus, there's a new twist in the death of Kim Jong-un's estranged half brother. Who police are searching for now in this international murder mystery. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: Welcome back. The death of the half brother of North Korea's leader is getting more mysterious. Police in Malaysia now looking for four more North Korean suspects.

HOWELL: Officials say they fled Malaysia the same day that Kim Jong- nam that was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Our Saima Mohsin is following the story live in Kuala Lumpur this hour by phone.

Saima, good to have you with us. What more do we know about this investigation?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, George, now four more suspects all described as being wanted men and North Korean nationality are now being searched by police. Now they want to speak to them in connection with the -- what the inspector general told me when I asked him is now a murder investigation for Kim Jong-nam. Now these four North Korean men are believed to have actually fled the country from the airport on the same day of the attack.

We did ask him in the press conference earlier today where they flew to but he wouldn't be drawn on that. But he did make clear that this is now a murder investigation. He also described the scene at the time of the attack. He talked us through how the North Korean man as we describe him went to the customer service counter at Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2.

[05:20:07] And told the woman that two women that he could not identify wiped or swept his face with some kind of liquid something and he was feeling dizzy. That's when he was taken to the medical center -- George.

HOWELL: Saima, just briefly here. Has there been any sort of new reaction or response from North Korea?

MOHSIN: Nothing from North Korea since the mentioning of these suspects. You'll remember of course late Friday night a kind of bizarre but true to North Korean form statements from the ambassador outside the mortuary at almost midnight where he came out and condemned the Malaysian authorities' procedures and said that they would not accept the postmortem examination.

In a very recently, George, briefing in Seoul, the Unification Ministry, which is a ministry in South Korea that deals with North Korea, they held a briefing saying that, and I'll quote, "Our government thinks the one killed is Kim Jong-nam. But a lot of the information given and seeing that five suspects are North Korean nationals, we believe the North Korean regime is behind this incident."

Of course, the police are yet to name who they believe is behind the incident. No charges have been brought including to the four suspects currently in custody -- George?

HOWELL: Saima, I do also want to ask you this because it was a very curious part of this investigation. But what more can you tell us about the person who thought that she was part of a prank in fact in this case?

MOHSIN: Yes. This was another bizarre twist in what is quite a complicated and yet intriguing murder mystery as we say, George. Now according to the Indonesian national police chief, CNN bureau in Jakarta contacted him and they have spoken to him about this investigation. Now one of the suspects in custody, (INAUDIBLE), has been named as an Indonesian citizen and confirmed as being so.

Now according to the Indonesian police chief, he says that she says she was duped into carrying out this attack thinking it was part of a game show or a prank show kind of like "Just For love." In fact, she said that she'd done it several times before for money and so she thought she was doing the same again.

Now that's according to the Indonesian police chief. This afternoon in this press conference here in Kuala Lumpur where I was, we did ask another -- another journalist actually asked the police chief about this and he would not be drawn on that. He said he was not willing to disclose any information given by the suspected currently in custody so far. But the Indonesian police believed this is what happened -- George.

HOWELL: CNN international correspondent Saima Mohsin, across all the details on what is a very mysterious investigation that is taking place here.

Saima, thank you so much for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

KINKADE: Well, the Syrian civil war and instability in the Middle East in the spotlight at a security spotlight in Germany. Top officials from Turkey, Israel, and Iran have been addressing the Munich security conference.

Well, let's get more now from our senior international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson who is in Munich.

And Nic, the new U.S. president said he wants to see safe zones in Syria and he wants Gulf states to pay for them. Has there been any reaction to that there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, that hasn't really come up in the discussion so far apart, from the Iranian Foreign minister, the Turkish Foreign minister, the Israeli Defense minister, and we just finished hearing here from the Saudi Foreign minister.

You know, you get a sense that all of these countries with a new administration in the White House are sort of laying out their positions, you know, so that the White House can see and if you will sort of appealing their positions to the White House.

I get the sense from the mood here and the expectations is that no one really expects ISIS to be wiped off the map in Syria this year. There certainly doesn't seem to be the expectation that's supported by the audience at least. And that's all international diplomats from the Middle East, from Europe, from other countries as well.

And the specifics of how a Syria peace cease-fire might come into place really haven't been discussed, although there is this aspiration of course that -- you know, that there are peace talks due to begin in Astana, at the sort of cease-fire talks there that were hosted or promoted by the Russian, in particular, that some progress has been made there. But everyone is saying the political track in Geneva is important and it was really laying out a map of how to get there.

And certainly differences of opinion and differences of perspective are still very big. And that -- you know, if you're looking for peace in region and all the players have a different position, that's not conducive to a positive outcome in the short term.

KINKADE: And certainly not great for the more than six million people that have been displaced by this war in Syria.

[05:25:09] You spoke of the peace talks that are set to begin in the coming days. What are the main sticking points right now?

ROBERTSON: You know, what would be the political future. There's broad agreement about a cease-fire, but then how do you implement and who are the allies and partners over tackling the remnants of ISIS? You have the Turkish Foreign minister saying that we cannot abide and have the Kurdish elements playing a role in that. You have from an Iranian perspective the support and expectation that President Assad is going to remain in power, but from the opposition on the ground, that is an absolute anathema to them. It has been in the past to the U.S. position, it's quite clear where the Turkish position is on that.

So the sticking point is what is the political transition going to look like even if you could make the cease-fire stick. You know, we heard the Kurdish Foreign minister say that the expectation is that they would stick to it to the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, which has a transitional government and that would leave President Assad out of power. That's not something that Russia that's a dominant player or Iran that play as big role in Syria had actually supported. And there's absolutely no indication that they've conceded any ground on that. So key issues, polls apart still.

KINKADE: Yes. OK. We'll have to watch these talks as they get under way in the coming days.

Nic Robertson, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

Yesterday we brought you the story of the boy who had lost his legs in an apparent airstrike in northwestern Syria. Well, today we can tell you that the 10-year-old is in Turkey receiving treatment.

HOWELL: He got a visit from a young Syrian activist. Bana Alabed exposed the atrocities in Aleppo to the world by using Twitter when she was there. In this video she calls people to help for children still living in the midst of the brutal Syrian civil war.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the United States sends an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea.

KINKADE: We'll tell you the Chinese reaction just ahead. Plus U.S. vice president Mike Pence and his wife make a somber visit to a site where thousands of Jews were killed during the holocaust. We'll have those details just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:510] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

KINKADE: Hello. I'm Lynda Kinkade. These are the headlines we're following this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump stood before a cheering crowd on Saturday clearly glad to be back in front of cheering supporters. And he told the Melbourne, Florida, audience that news accounts of chaos in his administration are not true. He is insisting that the White House is running, and I quote, "so smoothly."

HOWELL: In Malaysia, police are looking for four new North Korean suspects in the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half brother. Police say that suspects fled Malaysia the same day that Kim Jong-nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysia is trying to get DNA from the next of kin before releasing his body.

KINKADE: Russia says a ceasefire between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops set for Monday in eastern Ukraine. Russia's Foreign minister says the troops also deals with the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The latest peace effort reportedly has the backing of Germany, France, and Ukraine. HOWELL: The operation to retake western Mosul from ISIS. It's

already started after forces recapture all of the eastern part of that city. Iraq's prime minister calling it a, quote, "new dawn and a new chapter in the liberation of Mosul." That city is the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq.

KINKADE: U.S. vice president Mike Pence arrives in Brussels in a few hours to talk with Belgium's Prime Minister. Pence and his wife made a somber visit to the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau earlier on Sunday. It was one of the first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany. Thousands of Jews and other prisoners were killed there during World War II. The camp was liberated by U.S. troops in April of 1945.

Well, CNN's Erin McLaughlin joins us now from Brussels with more on Vice President Pence's visit there. And yesterday, Erin, we saw the vice president really show his commitment and support for European allies and NATO. Are they convinced of America's commitment?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question, Lynda. What you're seeing today with that powerful and symbolic visit to the former concentration camp of Dachau on the part of Vice President Pence as well as his wife is sort of underlying cooperation that exists between Europe and the United States, a cooperation that ended the horrors of World War II and it's that cooperation that was a central theme of his speech at that Security Council conference in Munich yesterday.

He talked about the powerful connection that exists between Europe and the United States in that speech. It was also a speech that covered a wide range of topics when it comes to Russia. He said that Russia must be, quote, "held accountable," though he said the president of the United States, Donald Trump, believes common ground can be found when it comes to Russia.

On the topic of NATO, he reaffirmed the United States' commitment to NATO but at the same time urging European allies to pay more when it comes to their own defense, something that we heard from Secretary Mattis on his visit to Brussels earlier in the week.

And then when it comes to Iran, he had some deeply skeptical things to say in that speech, specifically on the Iran nuclear deal, saying that that deal -- the alleviation of sanctions simply provides more money to -- for Iran to be able to help terrorists. It's really something that did not play well, was met with silence there in Munich. Considering the European block helped to broker the Iran nuclear deal. All of this really meant to assuage what is growing concerns here in Europe about President Trump's stance when it comes to EU institutions as well as NATO given things that he said in the past on the campaign trail -- Lynda.

[05:35:01] KINKADE: Certainly a lot to take us there. Erin McLaughlin, doing a great job for us there in Brussels. Thank you very much.

Well, the new ceasefire is expected to start on Monday in Eastern Ukraine. Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov announced it on Saturday after meeting in Munich with diplomats from France, Germany, and Ukraine.

HOWELL: The truce follows a violent flare-up in the conflict. Past efforts have failed to end the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops.

For more on developments in Ukraine, our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson, live in the Russian capital this hour.

Ivan, good to have you. First let's talk about the ceasefire. Is there a sense that this may actually hold or it may -- may it be like others that have come before it?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Given that there have been many, many ceasefire previous to this, given that we were reporting about a ceasefire just about a week and a half ago, perhaps there's hope but there's also been kind of bitter experience that you can still get flare-ups in fighting like the kind we saw two weeks ago that led to the deaths of scores of combatant and civilians on both sides around Donetsk in an area called Avdiivka which has been a beleaguered community that we're hearing from Ukrainian officials has now lost its electricity again, the second time in about two or three weeks.

So there's perhaps not a great deal of optimism especially because the Kremlin announced around the same time of the ceasefire plans that it was going to be recognizing temporarily the identification cards of people living in the breakaway regions, the separatist regions where the fighting is taking place.

And Ukrainian officials have reacted harshly to that, condemning this, saying that this leads to de facto Russian recognition of the breakaway regions and that it would very much hurt the peace process that is supposed to be leading to this ceasefire.

A Russian lawmaker named Aleksey Pushkov, he put out a tweet in which he said that, quote, "With the recognition of passports to Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic," that's the names that they have for these breakaway regions, "Moscow lets everybody know that pressure on the Ukrainian question, the speech by Vice President Pence in Munich won't give any results."

So there you have a senior Russian lawmaker interpreting this temporary recognition of IDs as a Russian response to Vice President Pence's words about Russia at that very meeting that our colleague was just talking about.

HOWELL: So several things are happening. The timing here is interesting. You have NATO really, you know, affirming its position and making sure to hold its ground with its allies. You have the United States, a new administration in place. A resurgent Russia, is this Russia trying to, you know, test its limits to see what -- where it stands in the world, what it will do given the changes that are happening? WATSON: You know, first of all, Moscow has -- and the Kremlin have

consistently said that they just want to be treated with respect by the rest of the world, that they view the expansion of the NATO military alliance, the sanctions that were imposed after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, that they see this as aggressive moves.

I think the speech of the Russian Foreign minister at that security conference in Munich on Saturday in which he declared an end to the post-Cold War order and called for not a unipolar world where the U.S. is the world's only super power but a world divided up between different spheres of influence presumably with Russia controlling one of those spheres of influence.

That is an indicator of how Moscow, how the Russian government would like to see the world rearranged. The messages that we heard from senior Cabinet officials from the Trump administration suggests that at least they for the moment don't want to see the world that way, though they are indicating that there could be areas of cooperation with Moscow.

A big question, though, is we've heard very different messages coming from the president of the U.S., Donald Trump, who has been so conciliatory and complimentary about Russia and Vladimir Putin, and some much tougher rhetoric coming from his new secretary of Defense, from his vice president, and his new secretary of State -- George.

HOWELL: There are mixed messages indeed, the Russian government determining which way to go with these things.

Ivan Watson live for us in Moscow. Ivan, thank you for the reporting.

Talking about China now. That nation not happy about a U.S. deployment to the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy said Saturday a carrier strike group began routine operations in that area.

[05:40:02] KINKADE: Now it includes this ship, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. China said Wednesday it was aware of the activity. It urged the U.S. not to challenge its, quote, "sovereignty and security" in the area. The operations comes amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China over territory and trade.

John Defterios is our CNN Money Emerging Markets editor. He's currently in Beijing covering the story for us.

Good to have you with us, John. The U.S. calls this routine exercise.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN MONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Thanks, Lynda.

KINKADE: How often do we see this?

DEFTERIOS: Not very often. In fact, the last time in 2015. I think it's fair to say, Lynda, that we see the U.S. sending a stronger message to China when it comes to its participation in Asia, and particularly in the South China Sea. As you suggested the USS Vinson leading the charge of these scheduled exercises. But this is considered a geopolitical flashpoint for the world. And perhaps in the top five in 2017 particularly with the U.S. administration.

Now Rear Admiral James Kirby said he's looking forward to demonstrating U.S. capabilities in Asia and tightening the bonds between its allies and friends. And I think it's also fair to suggest that these patrols took on a new meaning after what was deemed as a successful bilateral meeting between the U.S. president Donald Trump and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

We know that Japan also has a territorial dispute with China over these very waters, which have a strategic nature as well because of reported reserves of oil and strategic minerals that China needs to power its economy.

KINKADE: And, John, China, of course, not very happy with this. What are they saying?

DEFTERIOS: In fact, Lynda, the position hasn't changed. You mentioned the comments on Wednesday. In fact this came up at a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, a day before the U.S. patrols actually began, and China has suggested it does not like the idea of its encroachment on its sovereignty and security in the name of the navigation of the seas by different ships. And that would include, of course, U.S. ships as well.

But again, I think we should underscore the sensitive nature of this. The Trump administration has acknowledged the "One China Policy" that Beijing has with Taiwan, which is a big shift by Mr. Trump after the calls he held with the Taiwanese president. And at the same time, you know, I think we have to keep in mind Donald Trump has taken issue with the trade deficit it has with China right now and that these seas control $5 trillion of trade every year. They are very strategic and they don't want to loosen this grip or it wants to lose the grip that Beijing holds over the South China Sea right now.

KINKADE: All right. John Defterios, always good to have you with us. Thanks so much.

HOWELL: A story we're following in southern California. A storm that has killed five people, it's destroyed roads, it's left thousands without power and the threat may not be over. Stay with us.

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[05:46:23] HOWELL: It was a really rough situation in southern California. At least five people have died there due to a severe storm. This weather system, it's caused massive flooding and washed out several roads.

KINKADE: Yes. Thousands of people have lost power. Some families have been evacuated. One woman in Los Angeles was rescued after her car fell into a sinkhole.

HOWELL: Here's the thing. Parts of northern California are now preparing for potential flooding. Wow.

KINKADE: Well, in Kenya, the government there has declared a national disaster after an ongoing drought impacting the region.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the latest on that.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Lynda, George, now the Kenyan government is crying for international aid to help with this drought, the ongoing drought there. Take a look at some of the footage coming out of the region. The Kenyan Red Cross estimating 2.7 million people in need of food aid after a very low rainfall, their wet season from October to November. This is causing mass migration of not only cattle but the cattle herders and farmers.

They are seeking water and resources in neighboring countries like Uganda and into South Sudan, but unfortunately the rains aren't coming and what we're noticing is human conflict because of lack of resources that are available to people there.

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VAN DAM: And with temperatures still warming across the region and a lack of rain we are likely to see this drought continue across parts of Africa. This is a major humanitarian crisis.

KINKADE: Absolutely, tough conditions for the people there.

VAN DAM: But we need to get the word out. It's so important.

HOWELL: And Derek, you're doing just that. Thank you so much.

KINKADE: Thanks, Derek.

HOWELL: The story we're following in the United Kingdom, people are betting on the president of the United States on the future of the travel ban to just long the president will be the president.

KINKADE: And no wager is off limits. That story just ahead.

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(SPORTS)

[05:53:14] KINKADE: Welcome back. The two oldest sons of President Trump have opened a golf course in Dubai. It's the first project with the Trump brand to be launched since their father became president. Trump said he has put his businesses in a trust run his sons Donald Jr. and Eric.

HOWELL: Still some experts say that is not enough to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Also now talking about the first lady of the United States Melania Trump, she's rarely spoken publicly since her husband became president but on Saturday. But on Saturday she stepped up to the presidential podium in Florida and addressed the crowd there.

KINKADE: Now the first lady led the audience in prayer and then spoke about what she and her husband hope to accomplish during his presidency. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The America we envision is one that works for all Americans, and where all Americans can work and succeed, a nation committed to a greater civility and unity between people from all sides of the political divide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Well, the Trump presidency has business booming and betting houses right across Britain.

HOWELL: Indeed. People can bet on anything, everything from sales on Ivanka's clothing line to whether or not the president will get impeached.

CNN Money's Nina Dos Santos has a look at the odds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: And I don't know. I was just given -- we had a very, very big margin. It's all fake news. It's all fake news.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Each time Donald Trump talks he makes news and across the Atlantic he's also talk of the town.

TRUMP: I do get ratings. You have to admit that.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): As UK lawmakers prepare to debate whether Donald Trump's state visit to the country should go ahead, book makers are seeing a veritable flurry in activity of any bet related to Donald Trump's name.

[05:55:03] One of the biggest in the country is Ladbrokes and Alex Donahue works there.

How significant is Trump as a bet these days?

ALEX DONAHUE, LADBROKES: Business is absolutely booming. It's remarkable to think. But in total now including the election we've actually taken more money on things to do with Donald Trump than we have on Brexit which is absolutely remarkable really. I just think it's because we're thousands of miles over here but you cannot escape Donald Trump whether you look at social media or in the newspaper. And it's that unpredictability which is driving everyone to come and bet because people are all questioning, what's he going to do next?

DOS SANTOS: So what are people betting on?

DONAHUE: So I think we just saw -- seeing as we're outside the Palace of Westminster, the bet at the moment is a state visit to be canceled this year. That's 5-2. That means you have to place $2, and you'd win $5. But the bet that we think is the most likely to happen of them all is for Donald Trump to be impeached or to resign within his first term. Some think the replacement might come even quicker. 3-1 for him to be replaced in 2017.

One of the most popular bets that people plays in the moment various all sorts of reasons, Donald Trump to visit Russia this year, 5-4. If you bet $4, you win $5.

DOS SANTOS: You're still 4-1 to serve two full terms, which doesn't look that bad, does it?

DONAHUE: No, not at all. So that's the longest odds on my board. But 4-1 means about 25 percent chance. So no means that the British bookmakers are dismissing the prospects of Donald Trump serving two terms.

DOS SANTOS: Of course the U.S. voters placed the biggest bet of all on Donald Trump by electing him as president. One month into his term, here in Britain bookmakers are seeing their Trump-related takings soar.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: That does it for this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For viewers in the United States "NEW DAY SUNDAY" is coming up next.

KINKADE: And for our international viewers, a check of the headlines followed by "Best of Quest" after this break. You're watching CNN. The world's news leader.

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