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Today: House, Senate Back In Session Amid Deadlock; Day Two: No Signs Of Progress As Blame Game Escalates; Taliban Says It Carried Out Kabul Hotel Attack; Going The Extra Mile For Social, Political Change; Protests Kick Off In London; Report: Kushner Still Doesn't Have Full Security Clearance. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 21, 2018 - 06:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is so objectionable that it's worth holding the entire government hostage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We look petty. We carry more about party flag than the American flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I urge my colleagues here in the House and the Senate to make sure that we fund this government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a me too. I am aware of all the women who are still in silence!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my girls to feel empowered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year was about directing that voice to action and that action being what will happen later this year -- the elections.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Always grateful to see you on a Sunday morning. It is -- this morning, don't shoot the messenger, but blame bickering and very little partisanship it seems. We are 30 hours into this government shutdown and still no signs of progress from lawmakers on a deal.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And those lawmakers, we should note, are still being paid, despite the government shutdown. The same cannot be said for hundreds of thousands of government workers, including military personnel who don't know when they will see the next paycheck. Now despite this, after a day, of meetings on Capitol Hill, the only announcement coming from party leaders are the attacks on one another. PAUL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats created a, quote, "hostage situation." Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls dealing with the White House like "negotiating with Jell-O," that is a quote. Both Houses back in session in just hours from now.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Abby Phillip is live in Washington. We will start, though, with CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Lauren, we are starting day two of the shutdown. Any indications of a compromise that is going to come to some fruition as it relates to getting the government going again?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, lawmakers are dug in on Capitol Hill this morning and, so far, no one is blinking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer didn't even meet yesterday to find a way out of this mess.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still plans to bring forward a three-week spending bill that would keep the government open and fully fund the Children's Health Insurance Program hoping to pressure Democrats to come around this time, but Democrats are insisting on immigration negotiations.

Here is what Schumer had to say about the list of his demands.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Do you know what number CR this is? This is going on six months. They have had a three months CR and one-month CR and two-week CR. If we keep kicking the can down the table, our soldiers will be hurt, our children will be hurt, our disaster recipients will be hurt. Everyone will be hurt. If this was the first time that they used this CR approach, it would be reasonable.


FOX: And we should admit here yesterday a group of about 20 bipartisan lawmakers sat down trying to hammer out a deal and trying to find a way to bring ideas to their leadership and break this government shutdown.

Of course, no results yet and here is what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say about who will be blamed if both sides of the aisle cannot get it together and find a way out of this government shutdown.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think we look petty. We look that we care more about the party flag than the American flag. I don't know what to tell people. All I can tell them is that there are a lot of men and women in mountain tops and jungles working really hard to keep us safe that are being denied resources because of sequestration and CRs.

There are 800,000 people who have jobs, teachers, people in the military, their lives are going to come undone in a matter of weeks, not months, and we're sitting up here blaming each other.


FOX: We have to say that yesterday, lawmakers were feeling like Monday is the real deadline. That is when about 800,000 federal workers will be forced to stay home and the pain of the government shutdown across the country will continue to be felt.

PAUL: All right. Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Tomorrow as Lauren said, a lot of people who will not be able to go to work or if they go to work, they won't be paid and don't know when they will see their next paycheck.

CNN's Abby Phillip joins us live at the White House. Abby, so many people will be affected. There is now the finger point or has been going on for some time of who is responsible. The question who is in charge of this shutdown?

[06:05:11] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor and Christi. You know, yesterday, on the Hill, as Lauren just pointed out, there was a lot of activity, maybe even spinning in place but here at the White House, it was sort of an exercise in communications and messaging about this.

Yesterday, the White House released some photos of the president on the phone. We know he talked to Republican leaders but did not talk to Democrats. And also, he marked the one-year anniversary of his inauguration but mostly with his communication staff who spent the day out here talking about why Democrats are to blame.

Now there is one person who actually has a job to do over this weekend and that is OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. He talked a little bit about that in an appearance yesterday.


MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR (via telephone): Obviously, I'm heavily involved in this, Sean, is that the Office of Budget and Management is charged with, you know, sort of implementing a shutdown. In fact, I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.


PHILLIP: Well, you know, that messaging is a little bit tricky because there are a lot of people, as you noted, Victor, coming back waking up on Monday morning and not knowing whether they are going to be working or not or receiving a paycheck.

At the same time, Republicans are pivoting to the blame game phase of this. The Republican National Committee released a really tough ad yesterday that blames Democrats for the crimes of illegal immigrants. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: That is illegal immigrant that is charged with murdering two police officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill more of those mother (inaudible).

NARRATOR: It's pure evil. President Trump is right, build the wall, deport criminals, stop illegal immigration now. Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants. President Trump will fix our border and keep our families safe.


PHILLIP: It's important to note that that ad while we have no indication that it's actually going to air on television, but it's indicated to send a message to Democrats. At the same time, there is no end in sight for this shutdown. We will be waiting to see what the White House plans to do today to bring an end to this crisis -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Abby Phillip for us at the White House. Abby, thanks so much.

PAUL: All right. Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News with us now as well as Siraj Hashmi, "Washington Examiner's" commentary writer and editor. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us. Let's listen quickly to what Lindsey Graham said in full. Let's listen.


GRAHAM: There's no defense to what we are doing. The DACA population is very sympathetic in the eyes of the public. The military is beloved in the eyes of the public. Most people want to fund the government. The president decided to get the Congress six months to finds a DACA solution. That was plenty enough time.

The president needs to find a deal he can live with and stick with it. I think we look petty. We look that we care more about the party flag than the American flag, and I voted no last night because I think continuing this madness for 30 days is too much.

Now that I got a commitment by the leader that we are going to take up immigration, which is a major move in the right direction, I feel February the 8th is an appropriate time. I don't know what to tell people.

All I can tell them is that there are a lot of young men and women in mountain tops and jungles working really hard to keep us safe that are being denied resources because sequestration and CRs.

There are 800,000 people who are working, have jobs, teachers, people in the military and their lives are going to come undone in a matter of weeks, not months. And we're sitting up here blaming each other.

Only thing I can tell you from my point of view when politicians try to blame each other for doing something that is stupid in the eyes of the public, good luck with that.


PAUL: OK, so, Errol, he said now that I got a commitment by the leader that we are going to take up immigration, which is a major move in the right direction, I feel February 8th is an appropriate time. Is he signaling, just to clarify, a commitment on immigration debate in the Senate regardless of White House opposition?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he is saying that that's what the leader has told him will happen. Whether or not that actually goes down is something that, you know, you really can't say.

The reality is for that to have any meaning you have to keep in mind it's not just the Majority Leader McConnell who would determine it. He could calendar it, but the reality is Chuck Schumer and the Democrats will have to be involved. These are 60 vote margins by which you have to make these things happen.

[06:10:09] And unless there is a full and true conversation, we are back where we started and where we are right now, where you have a government shutdown. You have an undone or unfinished at least incomplete DACA arrangement that nobody seems to like and the White House in the wings watching what happens.

Lindsey Graham, I think, has shown a side of him that probably a lot of us have watched him for years you never saw before which is somebody who is the reasonable guy and adult in the room, and somebody who has been working toward what could be a reasonable compromise. Reasonable being defined as something that leaves everybody a little bit unhappy.

PAUL: So, Siraj, we know that McConnell said they are hoping to get a vote around 1:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Most likely on this proposal by Graham, it would fund the government until February 8th and reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program and give money to states who are recovering from storms, and promise to hold votes on an immigration deal. What is the plausibility of something like passing and even if it does pass, what position does it put the president in?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, right now, we have no idea given the fact that the Democrats whip up the votes to at least vote for this measure. You have to remember the 60-vote margin it differs from reconciliation rules which only need 51 votes, which is why you saw so many laws passed in the past year.

What we did see, though, is this is basically sowing the seeds of distrust in Washington. There is no one to really -- who gains or wins from this. Pretty much everyone loses. What we are seeing from Democrats who are trying to stuff non-spending measures into a spending bill via DACA and via CHIP.

I mean, these are things that Republicans have given away on CHIP, they've conceded on that but it's really DACA that they have seen this dug-in kind of trench-like warfare we are seeing like World War I almost trying to get this moved through. I don't see a vote right happening. I can see this happen at least another week.

PAUL: Yes. Is a vow, Errol, to deal with immigration later, is it believable? Are there assurances that need to be tied to that?

LOUIS: Well, the Democrats don't believe that that is a good faith effort and that is why the government is shut down right now. DACA was supposed to expire in March and while there were people who were kind of falling out of the program on a daily basis, it wasn't going to really hit critical mass for another month or so.

What the Democrats basically have signaled is that they are not going to wait for that month to come. They are not going to let that come down to the wire and sort of plant their feet in the sand and say herein no further.

As a negotiating stance, it makes perfect sense. As a political reality, it brings us right to where we are. It says we are going to do today what Republicans were sort of angling to have as a debate at the end of February.

PAUL: Siraj, if either side bends here, whether it be Republican or Democrat, if either side bends and something can come to fruition, so people can go to work and get paid tomorrow, are they seen as heroes or are they seen as weak?

HASHMI: I think if anyone bends, it's going to be establishment Republicans who will concede on at least trying to vote for a spending measure to at least fund the government. Remember, this is a partial shutdown so there are still people getting paid in all of this.

But with respect to the military, with respect to CHIP, with respect to the federal employees that are going to be furloughed, you know, those establishment Republicans who, you know, previously voted no.

You saw Lindsey Graham. You'll see a few of them who are actually going to come to the other side. Democrats have nothing to lose at this point in terms of the votes when it comes to the midterm elections.

This is really all a pony show to get the voters' attention come November and I can see the Democrats keeping their foot in the sand and saying this is where we draw the line.

PAUL: All right. Errol Louis, Siraj Hashmi, we appreciate your insight. Gentlemen, thank you.

So, the battle over government funding, who is to blame, it depends on which side you ask, of course. Jake Tapper is going to do that. Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are with him exclusively to weigh in on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning at 9:00 Eastern.

So, while the government is locked in this stalemate over the shutdown, Vice President Pence is on his Middle East tour and he met with Jordan's King Abdullah a short time ago.

BLACKWELL: King Abdullah says the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem risks destabilizing the region. Yesterday, the VP met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi pledging America's support in the war on terror. His next stop is Tel-Aviv.

[06:15:04] PAUL: Well, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a 12-hour siege at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel. Six victims, four attackers were killed. This is the video we have taken during the siege of people escaping out balconies using bed sheets. The ministry has said 153 people, including 41 foreigners, had been rescued from that hotel.

Thousands of people are hitting the streets this weekend. Not only in the U.S., in other parts of the world, and they are standing up for equality, social and political change during women's marches in America and around the world. We will take you to London next.

BLACKWELL: A group of voters, female voters, black women has been crucial in recent Democratic wins. Coming up, I speak with a group of voters in Detroit, what they say is driving their turnout, and how it could be so important in this year's midterm.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This feels like anger and resistance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the beginning, we always said it's not about President Trump. You know, President Trump is only a symptom of the disease, right? And so, our goal is really to change that culture and the power structure as a whole.


PAUL: Thousands of women, even men there, as you heard, marching this weekend all over the U.S. to mark the one-year anniversary the National Women's March. Another march is set for 1:00 today in Las Vegas.

BLACKWELL: The goal this year is to further transition this demonstration into political action. Here is CNN's Alexander Marquardt to explain.


ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands protesting for the second year of Donald Trump's presidency. Mostly women and girls, but also men and boys, marching not just for gender equality but issues ranging from gay rights and immigration and religious freedom. Across the country and around the world, they took to the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it's important to show Congress and the president that -- that we -- we need to be heard. MARQUARDT: The demonstrators trying to keep the momentum of the movement going. Many of them hoping to turn this enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year's midterm elections. In New York, crowds gathered near a Trump hotel spilling into Central Park, among them, Elda Mcquade, a refugee from Cuba.

ELDA MCQUADE, PROTESTER: To be accepted and welcome when you have nowhere else to go and no other recourse in this world is a very big thing and now to say you're not welcome here is against everything this country stands for.

MARQUARDT: In Philadelphia, women drummed their message. Chicago members of the cast of "Hamilton" sang to hundreds of thousands. In Los Angeles, celebrities like actresses, Natalie Portman and Viola Davis, were among the protesters.

VIOLA DAVIS, ACTRESS: I am speaking today, not just for the me toos, because I was a me too. But when I raised my hand, I am aware of all women who are still in silence!

MARQUARDT: In Washington, D.C., crowds marched to the White House. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pushing for more women to get involved.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Nothing is more wholesome to a government, a country, a society than the increased participation of women.


PAUL: So, the impact of the movement in America, it's really quite expansive. There are events, in fact, today in Paris and London.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Erin McLaughlin is following this and joining us live from London. How big are the crowds there?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor. Let me step out of the shot here and show you the scene here in London. This just across the way from Downing Street. Hundreds of people have turned out, despite damp and cold weather to send a message to the powers that be, that time is up -- the organizers put out a statement prior to -- you can hear them cheering there.

Prior to this rally saying this is about a wide range of societal ills from racism to sexual harassment to bigotry. They want all of those issues tackled. They even referenced Grenfell Tower, with was a power block fire that happened earlier in -- killed over 70 people.

They are calling for justice for those victims as well. We are currently hearing from a range of speakers, members of parliament, as well as activists. We heard from Helen Pancrest (ph), the great granddaughter of Emiline Pancrest (ph), who (inaudible) a hundred years ago.

Emiline Pancrest led the movement to secure the vote for women here in the United Kingdom and Helen Pancrest making a point today that she wants to see the similar kind of change across the U.K. and around the world a hundred years later. So, some pretty powerful speeches here as well -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Erin McLaughlin in London, thank you so much.

PAUL: He is a senior adviser to the president and has access to the most sensitive intelligence in the world, but according to reports, Jared Kushner, still doesn't have full security clearance after a year in the White House so what does that mean for what he is doing?



PAUL: We're so glad to have you with us. It's 6:28 is the time. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Sunday to you.

PAUL: So, we are 30 hours now into this government shutdown.

BLACKWELL: We are all waiting to see how far politicians are going to meet one another, get in front of the microphones to blame one another, but still no sign of a deal.

PAUL: Remember, those lawmakers are still getting paid despite this shutdown. That is not the case for hundreds of thousands of other government workers, though.

BLACKWELL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats have created a hostage situation. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer compares dealing with the white House to negotiating with Jell-O.

PAUL: Inside that White House he has been charged by the president with brokering Middle East peace, reforming the criminal justice system, and fixing the opioid crisis, a hefty amount of work.

BLACKWELL: Yes. But according to reports, a year into the administration now, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner still does not have full security clearance. Some have said if it were not for his family ties to the president, he probably wouldn't be able to work in the White House.

CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, joins us now. She served under two presidents and member of a National Security Council during the Obama administration. Sam, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: No full clearance after a year for a senior official as Christi said has a lot on his plate. The secretary of everything as he's referred to here. What does this tell us about what the FBI thinks of Kushner and why this is taking so long?

VINOGRAD: Well, let's just be clear about something up front. This is not normal. This is highly unprecedented. Because of his rank, Jared Kushner's clearance would have been expedited. It would have been prioritized because of the hefty issues that the president has asked him to work on.

So this is not a question of the community not paying attention to his application. And let's also be clear on the fact that Jared Kushner is an ideal foreign intelligence target. He has the access, he has the influence and frankly he has the inexperience that makes him an ideal target for foreign intelligence services like China and Russia.

Now clearances often get held up because the investigating agency has questions. There are gaps. And often this relates to some kind of secret.

So this could be anything from a gambling debt or an affair or drug use to undisclosed or misreported contacts with a foreign country, a foreign official, financial transactions that have been undisclosed or misreported, or any kind of secret that a foreign intelligence service could use against that person to try to get information or to influence policy.

PAUL: OK. So this is interesting just in the overnight hours. President Trump retweeted a tweet from the prime minister of Israeli, Benjamin Netanyahu, and here is what it says.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses his appreciation for Jared Kushner and J.D. Greenblatt" -- by the way who's an assistant of President Trump -- "for the efforts that they have made behind the scenes that have helped to end the crisis in Jordan."

What does it say to you that we have a prime minister of Israeli publicly thanking Jared Kushner? Does it give more credence to the work that he is doing in light of all the criticism that comes to him?

VINOGRAD: I don't think it does. I think that experience matters and I think that is particularly relevant when we look at the Middle East peace process.

Jared Kushner has been charged with his portfolio and it's very clear from the fact that the United States has been shut out of the peace process, that this isn't going well. And I think it's always positive to bring in fresh eyes, but based upon the halt in the peace process, it's clear that this is not going well and we know that Jared Kushner, for either -- as a result of negligence, ineptitude, hubris or some other kind of malign intent, frankly has made a lot of counter intelligence errors.

He has met along with foreign officials. He has mixed business with his role in the transition and policy discussions. And these are all very concerning and, in my opinion, I think that it is entirely appropriate for Congress to insist, Congress' oversight over the intelligence community that Jared Kushner no longer has access to the PDB or the top secret compartmentalized intelligence until he has a full clearance.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's move to Russian investigation. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are considering releasing this classified memo you maybe seen on Twitter, released a memo -- the hash tag --

VINOGRAD: Thanks to Russia, I have, yes.

BLACKWELL: Yes, OK. Which Republicans, you know, say that details the FBI, abuses, surveillance programs, should that be released? Should the public see that?

VINOGRAD: I think that's a hard no for me. I think that if there are allegations of abuse of Pfizer (ph) or any other intelligence mechanism, Congress has oversight mechanisms and they should certainly should be investigated in a bipartisan way but that's not what this is. This is somebody writing a memo, sharing it with members of his party, and not allowing members on the other side of the aisle to call up witnesses, to corroborate information, and to see if any of the accusations are accurate.

And there is a reason why Russian trolls and Russian bots have been retweeting the release the memo hash tag and WikiLeaks has been offering a reward for the memo and that's because Russia agrees frankly that releasing the memo would just cause confusion among the American public. We should allow the allegations to be investigated but the releasing the memo at this time would just be sending the American public and frankly Congress down conspiracy rabbit hole.

PAUL: All right. Samantha Vinograd, we appreciate your insight. Thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. As the Women's March returns to Washington and really cities across the country, a group of voters, black women has been crucial in recent Democratic wins. Next, I talk with a group of women in Detroit, what they say they learned from the 2016 election and why they say they have been ignored for too long.



BLACKWELL: Thousands of women -- hundreds of thousands were back on the streets and cities across the country this weekend for the second year of the Women's March. And this time they march in the middle of the Me Too movement.

And at a time when the political power of women is also being better understood and appreciated, women have been pivotal in recent elections. Black women, especially.

Look at these numbers. Ninety-eight percent of black women back Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama. He is now Senator Doug Jones.

Ninety-one percent went for Ralph Northam of Virginia. He is now Governor Northam. I went to Wayne County, Michigan, Detroit, to talk about the surge in the voting power of black women and what it means for candidates looking for their support in 2018.



BLACKWELL: We are here with the city clerk, a small business owner, a college student, assembly line worker at Ford. A diverse group of black women.

When you look at the elections in Virginia and Alabama specifically, black women supported the Democrat and lifted those candidates. White women by majority voted for the Republican candidates. Women obviously are not monolithic, black women are not monolithic. But what do you think when you hear those differences?

JANICE WINFREY, CITY CLERK FOR DETROIT, MICHIGAN: We are supporting those candidates that support what we think is important, that support health care for everyone, that supports a free public quality education. These are things that are important to black women.

Equal work, equal pay, opportunity, career opportunities. Real career opportunities for our men, our brothers, our sons.

CHANEL TAYLOR, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I think these elections with Doug Jones in Virginia show us that your vote actually really does matter, so hopefully, we take this phenomenal example and take -- carry that momentum into the midterm elections.

BLACKWELL: Do you think the Democratic Party takes your votes for granted?


WINFREY: I don't think any longer. I think they are learning.

ANDERSON: Oh, yes. I think now.

DANIEL MCFALL, FORD FACTORY WORKER: I think they've learned.

ANDERSON: But I think before Hillary, they did, they took for granted that black women were going to vote for Democrats, as well as I think they felt that women just, period, so I think that after -- after the 2016 election, it really has waken up Democrats. It really has waken them up to realize that we need to be talking to the black women. We need to because they are the ones who vote and whereas vice versa in white homes where the husband makes the decision and the wife follows.

But in black women, usually, they are the bread winner. They are the head of their house so they are making decisions so your platform needs to be addressed to me.

MCFALL: It has brought us together and we know that we now -- we have to stick together because if we don't, we are going to get somebody, maybe even worse than him next time, the next go round.

ANDERSON: Twenty sixteen was a wake-up call. It was a wake-up call for black women because we felt that we didn't have to come out as hard like we did for Obama because we felt that the white women would make up that, make up for what we didn't do.

White women are going to vote for Hillary. They're not going to put Trump in the office. But then when it happened it was a wake-up call because now we're like, oh, nobody is looking out for us. We need to look out for ourselves.

WINFREY: And I'm not so sure that that's the reason why we don't show up for in '16. I don't think that we sat back and said, oh, the white women are going to go out and vote for her. I think we purposely stayed home.

I think we purposely said, no, I'm not -- I'm just not feeling her. She's just not reaching me.

TAYLOR: This kind of turn of events in 2016 will get more black women educated and will start to form more black women getting involved in politics so that we will start running for these offices and we'll start making sure that when we look at our government and when we look at our law making body it does not just represent white men.

This administration has opened our eyes and made us see, OK, no more, time out. This is our house. We are going to be a part of this process.

WINFREY: The black vote, the African-American female vote in particular, is a coveted trophy, in my opinion, political trophy and I think that they are realizing that.


BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up next hour, how to win that prized political trophy in midterm elections this fall and how Republicans could make inroads with black female voters.

PAUL: Well, doctors say this is the deadliest flu season they have seen in years. Nearly a dozen children -- actually more than a dozen children have died. Well, a dozen in the last week at least but the government shutdown could actually make things a whole lot worse.

We're going to talk about what this means for you, next.



PAUL: Three minutes past the hour.

And we together here are experiencing one of the deadliest flu outbreaks in recent memory. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, it has spread to every state with the exception of Hawaii and it has killed 30 children -- 30. For public health agencies overseeing this outbreak the government shutout couldn't have come at a worse time. The CDC and National Institutes of Health are going to be forced to send thousands of workers home.

Richard Webby is with us now. He is a member of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Thank you so much Mr. Webby for being with us.

So first of all help us understand what this government shutout means for the medical community's ability to help people right now?

RICHARD WEBBY, DEPARTMENT OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, ST. JUDE CHILDREN'S RESEARCH HOSPITAL: Yes. As you've just mentioned, this is -- this is sort of -- of all time for the flu community and the CDC. So -- you know, that we are right in the midst of a very, very heavy flu season, very severe flu season.

The CDC's role in this is to understand how the disease is developing. They also lots of other things. How well is the vaccine working and as importantly, right now, they are also preparing to make decisions about next year's vaccine.

So any part of that process that gets slowed down for public health response is not a good thing.

PAUL: The CDC says it's so expansive this year they actually characterized it as an epidemic. How -- I think people are sitting at home thinking how is this spreading so quickly? Is it because of this -- the particular strain involved here?

WEBBY: Yes. So this year, the dominant flu strain is one we call the H3N2. And so typically when we have an H3N2 season that tends to be more of a severe (INAUDIBLE) of the spectrum.


We've got to keep in mind this is unfortunately what flu does. Although it is a severe season it's something we expect this virus to do and particularly this H3N2.

PAUL: A lot of people might be wondering if it's immune to the vaccine because there have been reports of children who got the vaccine and still died. What do you say to people who are wondering if they should go get their kids vaccinated?

WEBBY: Yes. Unfortunately, this year, it's not an optimal match between the vaccine and (INAUDIBLE) strains. And that means the effectiveness of the vaccine is somewhat less than we would hope.

The latest estimates from the CDC are somewhere around 30 percent effective but -- if we put that into context obviously it's not where we want it to be but it's still -- yes, it still means perhaps you're 30 percent less likely being hospitalized if you get a severe infection. So even that 30 percent to me is certainly something worth having and it's worth getting the vaccine even this late in the season.

PAUL: So what advice do you have for us to try to get through this season, healthy and whole by the end of it?

WEBBY: Right. I hope we all get through it healthy and whole. Unfortunately this is flu. This is what it does.

But vaccination obviously the key path of our fight against flu. It's our main weapon, if you like.

The other aspect of it is the typical hygiene practices. So, what your grandmother told you about wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And the other aspect -- there are some pretty effective medications against flu. The problem with these is you got to take them soon after you get infected. So if you are unlucky enough --

PAUL: What are they?

WEBBY: The medications are Tamiflu. So if you get typical flu symptoms, the rapid onset, the fevers get to the doctor early and you can get these medications.

PAUL: All right. Good to know.

Thank you so much. Richard webby, we appreciate your perspective here.

WEBBY: Thank you very much.

PAUL: Take good care -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you very much.

Big day for football. Coy Wire is here.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Something going on today, isn't there, Victor? It looks like the government shutdown was going to prevent it but good news for our troops they will be able to watch today's conference championship games. NFL playoff action, the winner punching a ticket to Super Bowl LII. A quick preview coming up after the break.



BLACKWELL: All right. So the winners of today's conference championships will be headed to the Super Bowl and everybody is paying attention to some guy's thumb. I don't know why we --


PAUL: Just some guy.

BLACKWELL: Some guy's thumb. PAUL: Not Coy Wire.

WIRE: I see what you're doing there.

Thumbs up for this guy. Because it's the championship Sunday I'm a little bit excited. Good morning to you, guys.

PAUL: Good morning.

WIRE: But in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, the Patriots living legend quarterback Tom Brady is going to be attempting to make a record eight Super Bowl appearance as a starter but he is likely going to have to do it wearing a glove which will cover the stitches on the thumb of his throwing hand against the NFL's number one pass defense in Jacksonville, no less. The young Jaguars they can take their team to the Super Bowl for the first time if they can take down the NFL's top dog.

Now in the NFC championship game, it's a battle of underdogs. Minnesota's quarterback Case Keenum has been overlooked his entire life and we saw him lead the Vikings to that improbable win -- an incredible win last Sunday. But Keenum's journey to the stage has been just as improbable.

You're not strong enough, you're not tall. Case Keenum, he has heard it all. Despite winning a state championship in high school, hardly any teams recruited him.

He ended up going to the University of Houston where he would make records that still stand today. He threw far more yards and touchdowns than anyone in NCAA history. More than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning combined.

Still, no NFL team drafted him. But here he is finding himself on this big stage and he is not the only underdog. The entire Eagles team who he will face today, they are underdogs despite being in front of their home crowd. They are not favored against Keenum's Vikings as was the case last week in Philly when the Eagles beat the Falcons.

Their players embracing that underdog role by wearing those dog masks. And when you look in the stands today as you're watching that game, expect to see a sea of those dog masks because the fans there in Philly made Amazon run out of stock earlier in the week. They are all going to be wearing these dog masks and so it's going to be a dog gone good day in playoff action.


BLACKWELL: I see what you did there. All right. Very good.

PAUL: Yes. They get each other. They get each other.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Coy.

PAUL: Thank you, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

PAUL: So "Saturday Night Live" mocking the president's health just days after we learned the results of that physical exam we were talking about.

BLACKWELL: Watch this.


AIDY BRYANT AS SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Now on to the most important news of the week. I have, again, asked White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, to come out here and tell you about how not fat the president is. OK?

Dr. Jackson, get them, hoss (ph).

BECK BENNETT AS DR. RONNY JACKSON: Oh, thank you. All right.

Once again, this is the president's unbiased, 100 percent accurate health assessment. At the time of examination, the president was 71 years and seven months young. His resting heart rate was a cool 68 bpm. His weight a very svelte 239 pounds.

He has a gorgeous 44-inch coke bottle waist. His height, 75 inches with legs that -- they seem to go on forever. Size 12 shoes so you can fill in the blanks there. It's my expert medical opinion that the president has got a rocking body with a perfect amount of cushion for the pushing and if given the chance, I would. Are there any questions?


RYAN: What is so objectionable that it is worth holding the entire government hostage?

SCHUMER: Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O.