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Casino Magnate And RNC Finance Chairman Steve Wynn Accused Of Sexual Misconduct; USA Gymnastics Board To Resign After Nassar Verdict; CDC: Virus Will Be Around Many More Weeks. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 27, 2018 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have been failures at MSU.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Asking for an immediate congressional investigation into USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They knew about, like, what was going on and it went on for too long.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Always good to have you here. So, it was just a week ago that the president was singing his praises, and now Steve Wynn this wealthy casino mogul who's also the RNC Finance Chairman is in the middle of sexual misconduct scandal.

SAVIDGE: According to the Wall Street Journal, dozens of women say that Wynn forced them to perform sex acts when they worked for him. This morning, he is calling those claims "preposterous". The board of directors of Wynn's resorts says it is forming a special committee of independent directors to investigate these allegations. Here's CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Preposterous", says Steve Wynn the Vegas hotel and casino billionaire to charges that he ever assaulted any woman. The blistering statement from Wynn himself after a bombshell Wall Street Journal reports that a manicurist in 2005 was forced to lie on a massage table naked while she claims Wynn raped her. The journal also reporting: Wynn paid the manicurist $7.5 million in a settlement.

Wynn, in his statement, said, "The instigation of these accusations it the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn with whom I'm involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement." Elaine Wynn's attorney told the journal that's just not true. Wynn, the latest high-profile, wealthy, and politically connected man accused of sexual misconduct. The Wall Street Journal says it spoke to more than 150 employees and dozens reported a pattern of sexual abuse by Wynn.

Wynn, in his statement, said, "We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations regardless of the truth and a person is left with a choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation." The allegations now reverberating in politics where despite a history of supporting both parties --

STEVE WYNN, REAL ESTATE BUSINESSMAN: I'm friendly with Bill and Hillary, and I'm a friend of Donald Trump's. I haven't given a dime to either one of them. And I'm going to decide that I'm going to vote for --

MARQUEZ: Wynn is now closely tied to President Trump as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Democrats are demanding the RNC return any campaign contributions from Wynn, much the way Republicans did with Harvey Weinstein. Allegations against Wynn are now being used to put pressure on the Republican Party. The Democratic National Committee saying today, the RNC has helped fund the campaign of an alleged child molester, blindly supported the GOP's attacks on women's health, supported a president who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women, and now remain silent amid sexual assault allegations involving Steve Wynn. One of their parties most senior officials.

So, last weekend the president had to stay in Washington, D.C., because of the shutdown. He was supposed to be at Mar-a-Lago at an RNC Trump victory campaign fund-raiser. One of the co-hosts of that fund-raiser, you guessed it, Steve Wynn. Now, the president sent a video and said singling out Steve Wynn. CNN obtained audio of that video.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Steve Wynn, I want to thank you. I want to thank the whole group. The money raised. You're really special people. Thank you very much. We'll see you the next time.

MARQUEZ: Now, in fairness, the president did mention several other people in that video, but Steve Wynn was certainly among them, and coincidentally, Steve Wynn turns 76 today. Back to you.


SAVIDGE: The other big political headline this morning, Democrats looking for a way to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller after reports that the president tried to fire him from the Russia investigation. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. And Kaitlan, how exactly are Democrats looking to protect Mueller?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, they're proposing this legislation and these ongoing budget negotiations that are going on Capitol Hill after they pass that short-term spending bill. This legislation would protect the special counsel from being able to be fired by the president at his will on a whim. It would create some sort of protection, some sort of safety net if you would. Now, this isn't the first time that we've heard this from Democrats.

They actually proposed it back over the late summer, early fall when there was speculation that the president could be thinking about firing the special counsel. But it died down because not only the president but his aides, his lawyers insisted he was not considering firing Robert Mueller. It wasn't even on the table.

[07:05:02] And we now know with this bombshell New York Times report that the president actually had not only made the decision to fire Robert Mueller but had ordered the White House counsel to do so and only backtracked because the White House counsel threatened to quit over it. That actually was not true. The president was actually considering it. Now, Senator Mark Warner is a Democrat, he's a leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he actually had something to say about this after New York Times published this bombshell report.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think if the president had gone through with this or tries to go through with it on a going forward basis, we're into uncharted territory. We're into the real question of the fundamentals of our democracy. Are we still going to be a country where rule of law pervades and that no one, even the president, is above the law? My hope will become next week that we'll -- the Congress would take up bipartisan legislation that was around last year that would protect the special prosecutor from these kinds of arbitrary actions.


COLLINS: Now, the president is pretty much alone in denying that this even happened with the special counsel and the White House counsel. His lawyers have largely been silent on this and the president's only comment was that it was fake news. But there's no doubt that this is overshadowing Washington at a time when the president would typically be in the spotlight after he just returned from the world economic forum in Switzerland, and he's got his big State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. But right now, all eyes are on what's going on with the special counsel here.

SAVIDGE: You're right on that. Kaitlan Collins live from the White House. Thanks very much.

PAUL: I want to get back to the Steve Wynn scandal that we've been talking about this morning. Kurt Bardella, Political Commentator and Columnist for Huffington Post and USA Today with us now, as well as Richard Painter, Former White House Ethics Lawyer and Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Minnesota. Gentlemen, thank you, both, for being here. Kurt, is this situation with Steve Wynn comparable to the Democratic situation that they had with Harvey Weinstein?

KURT BARDELLA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND COLUMNIST FOR HUFFINGTON POST AND USA TODAY: I actually think it's worse because in this case, Steve Wynn is the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He has an official leadership position with the Republican Party. Harvey Weinstein at the time that the allegations came out didn't have that. He was a big fund of the Democrats, and it was absolutely appropriate that Democrats were called upon to return those donations.

But in this case, Wynn is right now actively a member of the Republican National Committee finance team. He is actively raising money for the Republican Party. And at this point, more than a day in now, it's been crickets from the Republican Party about this. So, they have to hold themselves to the same standard that they held Democrats and Harvey Weinstein to. And in fact, they need to be better than that, they need to be more proactive because at this point, he's on their team; he's actively involved and engaged.

PAUL: Well, he was. We don't know how long that's going to last at this point. Richard, and to that point, I want to read a tweet from Alexandria Lapp, she President of the Super PAC for House Democrats. She said, she posted, "Since he's finance chairman, shouldn't they have to give all the money back they've raised since he's been there?" Fair question. Is it too broad? Should he give the money he raised back? Should he give the money he donated back? Will they do so? What is your take on that?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER AND PROFESSOR OF CORPORATE LAW AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I all these Super PACs and both parties need to give all their money back. The American people are sick and tired of this campaign finances system. And what it does is make our own elected officials dependent on people like this. People who commit sexual harassment, people who have ethics problems in their businesses, and, most of all, people who want to influence our government for corrupt purposes. And that's our campaign finance system the way it is today. We have our leaders, dependent on people like this in both parties. It's disgusting! They all ought to return the money.

These Super PACs are destroying our democracy. That's the big issue here. Sexual harassment, fraud, there's a lot of stuff that people do who get involved in the campaign finance system. We had Jared Kushner's father go to jail for campaign finance violations. What we're doing is allowing some of the sleaziest people in our country to have an enormous amount of influence over our public officials because we won't clean up campaign finance. And that would be my message to the Democrats and the Republicans. This isn't just about sexual harassment or whatever these people do. It's about our elected officials being dependent on these type of scum bags.

PAUL: So, Kurt, we know that Wynn is blaming his ex-wife, saying that she orchestrated this, it has to do with a divorce that she's trying to revise. He lost 250 -- Forbes is reporting this morning, Wynn has already lost $250 million just in the last 24 hours since this scandal broke. With that said, you know, due to these allegations, how much potency -- we see economically what they're talking about, but how much potency does this really give the Democrats? [07:10:07] BARDELLA: Well, until the Republican party does anything,

he's in this position raising money, keeping the money. Every dollar that the NRSC, the NRCC, the RNC has and they use in this upcoming election is up for attack. Democrats can say, hey, this candidate that benefited from this money, you're tainted. You've taken money from someone who's a serial sexual harasser. It is an issue that they can paint every Republican campaign with as long as those entities keep the money and don't return it. So, I think it could be a major issue going forward. A huge distraction for the Republican candidate.

I don't know any candidate running in any district that wants to deal with Washington Press asking them, hey, do you think the NRCC should give back the money? Do you think it's OK that he's still the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee? They don't want to deal with that kind of stuff. So, it's just a massive distraction, and the Republican Party needs to act quickly and put this behind them because it is unnecessarily causing them harm at this point. It doesn't take more than 24 hours to do the right thing in this case both politically as well as morally, and they need to step up and take action.

PAUL: Richard, what is your take when you look ahead to the mid- terms. Will this, will this affect any Republicans who may have taken money from Wynn and donate it to charity as Democrats did with Weinstein?

PAINTER: I think this is going to do damage, but so is the mercer money, which had enormous influence in 2016 and the Koch brother's money, and there's money on the Democrat's side, too. And the Americans are disgusted. They're disgusted with sleazy people being able to use their money or their fund-raising skills. The fact that they know rich people in order to influence our politicians. It's not a democracy anymore when we don't get to choose who wins the primaries, who the nominees are, and when we, the people, don't have a meaningful voice. It's about campaign finances, as much as it's about sexual harassment and the other misconduct of people who are engaged in the campaign finance arena. And I think the voters, come 2018, are going to be sick and tired of the way both parties are conducting their finance operations making they're -- our elected officials dependent on the super-rich. That's the core, not just sexual harassment and not the other things that these people do.

PAUL: So, Richard, Richard from an ethics standpoint, does the president address this? And when do we hear from the RNC?

PAINTER: I think that he needs to address this. Yes, he ought to boot this guy out and make sure he had nothing to do with the Republican Party. But the voters are not just interested in sexual harassment issues. Those are serious. But the campaign finance system, he campaigned against Citizen's United, against this campaign finance system for the Republican nomination. As soon as he gets in there, it's just more and more money, more fund-raising, more cow tow into the super-rich. The same thing is going on with the Democrats. Americans are fed up, and that's how we get into this situation.

PAUL: Kurt, really quickly, I have to ask you about Hillary Clinton and this news this morning that she saved, basically, the job of somebody on her campaign in '08 who was accused of sexual harassment. Your reaction to how that might affect anything moving forward for the Dems.

BARDELLA: Again, it's yet another example of how Hillary Clinton has a long career of saying one thing and doing another behind closed doors, and I think that it damages her standing in being an advocate and spokesperson for the me too, times up movement. I think the Democrats need to move on from Hillary Clinton. Anyone that's still holding to up her as a paragon of virtue who can save the party or be the centerpiece of the party, they need to move on from that. She's the past and they be better served building up new leaders -- people like Cory Booker or Congressman Castro. Looking at people who can build the party forward, and they need a break from the past. Because clearly, it didn't work. She's one person in America who could lose to Donald Trump.

PAUL: OK. And before we go, I do need to read -- Hillary Clinton has responded to this story now and she says on Twitter, "A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened. The young woman came forward was heard and had her concerns taken serious and address," she says. That we do know that his title was taken away, that this person was moved out of the office, but he did continue on the campaign at the point. Kurt Bardella and Richard Painter, we appreciate both of you. Thank you.

BARDELLA: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Fallout from former MSU and USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar's actions has turned the heat on organizations associated with him. We'll tell you why the board of USA Gymnastics are now resigning.

[07:14:43] PAUL: And I'll tell you what, it is a nasty flu season this year. It's on track to become, in fact, one of the worst in nearly a decade. The CDC says, we still have a long way to go with this, possibly into April. We'll talk about it more. Stay close.


PAUL: Stance of #MeToo on Michigan State campus there. Students turned out in support of the victims of Larry Nassar.

SAVIDGE: Nassar is the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor, convicted of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. Now, the board of USA Gymnastics says all its members will resign.

PAUL: And Michigan State president and athletic director are stepping down as well, as for the students, they say, this is the time we need to heal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amount of indifference and complacency that all of them exhibited is outrageous, it's unprecedented, and it's disgusting, and they all need to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the most important thing is to show these survivors that they do have the support system, and that so many students do care about them.


SAVIDGE: So, let's bring in CNN Sports Anchor Coy Wire. And Coy, good to see you this morning, although not on this topic. And we're wondering what are Michigan State University officials are saying at this point.

[07:20:01] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, we'll get to a couple of -- we're going to hear it from some of the coaches from the university there, but the hammer is certainly dropping. The fallout from this scandal is going to go on for years. Investigations and you're talking lawsuits, civil lawsuits, and as you mentioned before, USA Gymnastics' entire board resigning after it was demanded by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

But now, the focus turning completely to almost Michigan State University where Nassar was previously a sports position for nearly a decade. The school's president and the athletic director has already stepped down. An investigated report by ESPN stated the school's football and basketball programs fostered a culture of "widespread denial, inaction, and information suppression" regarding complaints of sexual assault. The sixth-ranked Spartans basketball team watched their coach have to ingest this report after their victory last night.


TOM IZZO, MICHIGAN BASKETBALL COACH: Still our top priority in this healing process is for our courageous survivors. And as the campus community, we do need to come together as Spartans to be a part of that healing process and that's going to fall on all of us. As far as the reports today, we will cooperate with any investigation going forward as we have always done.


WIRE: Now, last night's game, the student section about 1,500 teal shirts appear there as a show of solidarity and support for survivors. Michigan State's head football coach admittedly denying any mishandling of any sexual assault allegations against his players. Here he is yesterday.


MARK DANTONIO, MICHIGAN FOOTBALL COACH: We're here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false. I've always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with the cases of sexual assault. We have always had a high standard in this program and that will never change. I'm here for Spartan nation. I'm here for my football program and for my family and looked the people in the eye who, I guess, instigated those reports. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: So, these investigations will continue. One thing we will keep an eye on is the talks widespread with the NCAA. What did they know about Michigan State as a whole? Their governing body. So, these reports are going to continue to come out; we'll certainly keep you up to date. But we have to first, without -- we would be remiss if we didn't mention the courage of the girls who have stood up to -- have been the impetus for these reports and these investigations. And hopefully, they'll give strength and a voice to others who may be going through some of what they have gone through.

PAUL: I'm sure they already have. I'm sure they already have. Coy Wire, thank you so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

PAUL: Well, the White House is quietly dealing with the fallout from a flurry of headlines centered around the Russia investigation recently from reports that President Trump considered firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to several members of his inner circle being questioned. We'll talk about it.

SAVIDGE: Plus, we're going to talk about the flu season. It is one of the worst in maybe a decade or so. What can you do to protect yourself? That's all ahead.


[07:27:24] PAUL: I hope you're getting a little R and R this morning because what a week it has been. And this morning, frustration, anger, and annoyance we're hearing in the West Wing. CNN sources say President Trump is fuming about the Russia investigation inventing about firing the man supervising that probe -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein now. So, another day, another major development it seems. I want to take a moment here with you to look back at the flurry of headlines in just this past week.

First of all, sources say the president tried to fire Robert Mueller in June even though the White House has denied that for months. The president also wanted to fire the Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. He didn't follow through because the FBI director threatened to resign. We also learned that the president sat down with McCabe and asked him about who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe later called the question disturbing -- that was a quote.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned by the special counsel's team for several hours last week making him the first member of the president's cabinet to be interviewed, which brings us to today. And now, Robert Mueller wants to talk to the president about why he fired former FBI Director James Comey.

SAVIDGE: All right. Joining me now, CNN Contributor Adam Entous; CNN Political Commentators, Navy (INAUDIBLE 28:42) and Jack Kingston; and rounding it all up Former White House Ethics Lawyer, Richard Painter. Good morning to all of you. Adam, I'll start with you. All of those developments happened just over five days. It can somehow seem much longer than that. And I'm wondering, is this any identification or a sign that things could be wrapping up?

ADAM ENTOUS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I don't think it's a sign that things are wrapping up. I think you have to look at this investigation as having several distinct parts. It is expected that Mueller would put obstruction at the front. And so, if he is planning on sitting down with the president and doing that interview, that could be a sign that he's looking maybe -- at reaching some conclusions on the obstruction case. But the sources I've talked to have made clear that as far as Mueller's team is concerned, that interview is not the end of anything. As we saw with interviews that were conducted of other key subjects, including Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, the interview takes place and it's not for many, many months before any decisions are made by Mueller's team.

SAVIDGE: All right. Well, that would imply we still got a long way to go. Jack, President Trump has claimed the report that he tried to fire Mueller was fake news. He's used that before on things that he has not liked reported on the mainstream media. But even his favorite news channel here, Fox News, has confirmed the report. So, is fake news going to cut it as far as the defense for the president?

[07:30:05] JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think he really needs a defense. I think at the time he had a very, very aggressive attorney in Marc Kasowitz, who probably made the recommendation not only to be pushed back very, very hard but to consider firing Mueller because of his obvious conflict. Because of his fall out over the golf club with Trump. And the fact that he was passed over for the FBI job just days before which he apparently really wanted.

So, I think there was a question about Muller's conflict, not to mention everything else we've learned about Peter Struck and Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr, and memos and misuse of FISA and everything else. But so, I think --

SAVIDGE: So wait, his argument here is that my attorney put me up to adhere?

KINGSTON: I think so. I think this is what I understand as very possible is that Kasowitz said, you should consider it. He turns to McGahn, McGahn said it's a horrible idea if you do it, I would -- I would resign. I think that --

SAVIDGE: But the President himself or at least those that speak for him said, "No, I never considered firing Mueller. Now, you're saying well, he did, but it was because he was told by his attorney to do so. How do you get in (INAUDIBLE)?

KINGSTON: Well, let me tell you this, Martin, I do not know if he did or did not, but I would say on the outside, it would be very reasonable for them to have this discussion. And how far I took it? He could say we had the discussion, but I never considered it. I bounced it off McGahn, I'd asked him to talk to Rosenstein about it. I mean, I think all of that is a reasonable conversation for somebody who has a prosecutor who has very obvious conflicts of interest.

I think we could all agree that if you look at the team he put together, it was a partisan, anti-Trump team. They gave a lot of money to Hillary Clinton. He had key people like Andrew Weisman, who showed up at Hillary Clinton's Victory Party and later had a memo --

SAVIDGE: Jack, if we all agree, you wouldn't be here because we wouldn't be talking. Let me move on before we run out of time. And they'd in Senator Mark Warner, who is a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, says that he hopes that Congress is going to take up legislation to protect Mueller, next week. How realistic is that to happen and, of course, the Republicans would have to go along in some way, would they not?

NADEAM ELSHAMI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, the Republicans would never do it. You know, it's -- you know I just left there a few months ago. And in clearly, you know, look, if this President held up a sign that had the letter A on it, and told the world it's a letter B, I'd say half the Republicans in the House would say, yes, the President is right. But let me just say one thing, and Jack, let me make this very clear, I am not someone who is going to prejudge the investigation. It's going to take us where it is going to take us. And I remember years ago, Jack, when Democrats even had a sniff of going after law enforcement, Republicans would pounce in a second.

What we're seeing here today is an attempt to undermine the rule of law to weaken independent institutions. You know, what makes America strong is our independence and our people. But, unfortunately, today when you go after the FBI and after law enforcement, all over on -- you know, because you don't like an investigation, that is not what makes us strong, that makes us weaker.

KINGSTON: But remember, Nadeam, this week, when the memo -- the famous memo, the FISA memo is released, I think you're going to say, "You know what, even the FBI does have some problem. Don't forget that James (INAUDIBLE) actually -- you know, said to the FBI, "Hey, McCabe has a conflict of interest, and McCabe finally resigned from the investigation of Hillary Clinton, a week before the election but he was there at the whole time.

So, I think there is a track record, and I think that they -- you have a few really bad actors in the FBI who have let their anti-Trump biased take over their judgment.

ELSHAMI: Then, if you think --

SAVIDGE: Why not wait until we get Jack what -- until there is actually something that comes down before we criticize what we don't know yet.

KINGSTON: That's exactly right. I think that's the point and that's what the American people deserve to have.

SAVIDGE: Well, Jack, why not wait? Why does really -- we're waiting on it was the official. KINGSTON: If you look at the outrageous behavior and the e-mails

between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, you would be very uncomfortable if they were the people who were investigating you and as an attorney, which I'm not an attorney, but if I was, I would advise my client, "Hey, there's some people in here who don't like you.

I mean, for example, one of the Strzok e-mail referred to the President as a douche bag and the other one as an utter idiot.

SAVIDGE: All right -- all right. Well, let me bring in Richard because I don't want to make this just a two-person conversation. And, Richard, I'll start you after this question. Sources now are telling CNN that the President is fuming, angry. Telling his aides that he wants to fire Rod Rosenstein, that's the deputy attorney general. What happens if he were to do that?

[07:34:51] PAINTER: Well, he's got to get thrown out of the office. Rod Rosenstein, is his own appointee to that position, a Republican. And these attacks on Robert Mueller are disgusting. Robert Mueller was at the FBI, picking up the pieces. After 9/11, he is a -- he was a loyal Republican appointed by President Bush, he is a good man. And people accusing him of bias are liars, flat out liars. And I've been a Republican for 30 years, but I'm not going to put up with those type of scum bags and my Party attacking a good man like Robert Mueller who is a loyal American, patriotic, he was a marine, he is the straight arrow that we need in charge of this investigation.

The FBI also should not be attacked. If anything, the FBI Director James Comey threw the election to Donald Trump with that letter right before the election.

SAVIDGE: Richard, do you think memo must release?

PAINTER: This anti-Trump is garbage, a lie, a complete lie. You find --

KINGSTON: Do you think that memo could be release, Richard?

SAVIDGE: Do you think the memo about the FISA --

PAINTER: I release everything.

KINGSTON: Good. Then I think you got to (INAUDIBLE) in the FBI.

PAINTER: I release everything. This memo, -- you know, it's just like all the noise that people making over Hillary Clinton's e-mail, we might through it and through it forever. And you know, if you want to politicize the FBI, which is exactly what's been going on and trying to use the FBI to go after political opponents, which was what went on through 2015-'16. That's not the Republican Party, I don't want to be part of that. (INAUDIBLE). It's ridiculous.

SAVIDGE: Let me -- let me just get -- let me get other question in place, and that's to Adam, Adam, let me ask you this, we've been talking about someone who is a loyal, an American. Let's talk to somebody who is not a loyal American and that is a top Putin critic and political rival. And he had this to say about Russia's election meddling.


ALEXEI NAVALNY, POLITICAL ACTIVIST OF RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN (through translator): I have no doubt that the Kremlin did everything it could to influence these elections. And that there were, indeed, hacks on the DNC and of e-mails. This is something they've been doing inside this country for a very long time. I have also been a victim of such attacks, like documents. This happens all the time.

But honestly, I really doubt it had actually had any impact on the Presidential elections. This is a good thing about the authoritarian leaders, whatever they do, they do it ineffectively. Of course, they are trying to stick their noses into elections. They will continue trying to influence situations using propaganda and stirring up conflicts in the U.S. and Europe. But you shouldn't overestimate the level of this influence.


SAVIDGE: So, Jack, do you agree with that? He's sort of saying, you know, "Yes, there might have been some meddling, but it didn't have any impact."

KINGSTON: You know, we don't, we don't believe it had any impact in terms of the ballots themselves, but obviously, it had impact because we had a national distraction. But unfortunately, I think the focus is Donald Trump instead of Russia and instead of Putin and stopping the influence in the future.

So, you know, to me, if there is something that really should be a lesson here is Democrats and Republicans should maybe tone it down in public and say, look, behind the scenes we all want election integrity. How do we get there if you have Russia and possibly other nations that were trying to interfere?

SAVIDGE: Richard, isn't he right with that? I mean, in other words, that we have been so focused on what the President may or may not have done or his connections to Russia. We have overlooked what is the very serious implication that Russia was attempting to influence the outcome and still attempting to do so.

PAINTER: Absolutely. We need to focus on protecting our country from foreign espionage, foreign intervention on our political system. We need to build up our intelligence infrastructure and we have these dirtbags going around talking about deep State and various conspiracy theories. The only man they're working for is Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin would love to destroy our CIA, our FBI, our State Department, our infrastructure, our intelligence infrastructure that allows us to defend ourselves against high-tech espionage and other threats to our country.

So, we need to unite to defend the United States and these people who are attacking the government and the deep State talk, all that it's on Breitbart News and the rest of it. They're the people destroying America. There are not loyal Republicans and most of us have been with the Republican Party for years are disgusted with it. We want to defend America, and that's what this should be all about.

SAVIDGE: All right. We end on that note. Richard, thank you, Adam, Nadeam, Jack. We appreciate all of you this morning.

PAINTER: thank you.

SAVIDGE: Thanks.

KINGSTON: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: And don't miss the brand-new CNN series "THE VAN JONES SHOW". It premieres tonight, and Van's first guest is musical megastar, John JZ Carter. Watch the new "VAN JONES SHOW" that starting tonight, 7:00 Eastern, and of course, it's here on CNN. CHRISTI PAUL: I know you babysitting at home, maybe with somebody

who's not feeling so well today because CDC says, the flu virus, it is so expansive, it's in every State, and it is going to be around for at least quote, many more weeks. We'll going to talk to our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a moment.


SAVIDGE: Well, you probably already knew this but the flu epidemic is officially at its peak. But with many more weeks left in the flu season, the CDC says the worst is not over yet. More than that, three dozen children have died already from this virus.

PAUL: And we know, hospitals and clinics are overcrowded and entire school district in Florida shut down because of widespread outbreaks there. CNN Correspondent Polo Sandoval is in New York for us. And New York took take some measures, as well, I know, Polo?

[07:45:05] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Let's start here in New York, guys. A record number of flu cases and hospitalizations over the past week already. Just over 1,700 New Yorkers were hospitalized with confirmed flu. This is something that is hitting communities across the country from California to New York, even some communities. Even forced to close some schools temporarily because there are so many students, a lot of teachers as well that are ill.

One example you'll find in the Florida panhandle that's where the superintendent of Gulf County School, says 20 percent of their students were absent from class this week, and the same goes for nearly a third of their staff they were either sick or at home taking care of some of their children that were sick. So, the superintendent ordered the campuses closed for cleaning before students return on Monday.


JIM NORTON, SUPERINTENDENT, GULF COUNTY DISTRICT SCHOOLS: Somebody once say, the sickest school in America, we're not. We're actually the most sanitary school in America. And this was just a great chance to -- if it were a sporting event, you might call it a half-time in the middle of the cold and flu season. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Well, federal officials closely tracking the deaths of at least seven more children that were reported this week across the country. That brings the total number now to pediatric flu deaths to 37 this season, which started on October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting about 86,000 laboratory confirmed cases already so far. Experts warning that, that number could possibly even higher since if you think about it. So a lot of people that don't necessarily go to the doctor and in some cases, some of these practitioners don't actually test for the flu.

So, the CDC still recommending that the main way to protect yourself, Christi and Martin, is certainly got to be with that flu shot, even though there some skepticism out there that it possibly may not work. Officials including CNN's own Sanjay Gupta, saying that at least a 30 percent effective rate much better than zero.

PAUL: And it could help you recover faster as well, he says. Well, Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

SAVIDGE: Well, Canadian police are now saying, the death of a billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman was a double homicide. After combing through evidence, police say that the couple was intentionally targeted.

Barry Sherman was the founder and former CEO of the generic drug company Apotex. His wife was a well-known philanthropist, and authorities have not named any possible suspects or persons of interest, but they said that they do have an extensive list of people that they look forward to speaking to. That's a quote, actually.

PAUL: So, coming up at the top of the hour, here this new report by the Wall Street Journal casino magnate and RNC Finance Chairman Steve Wynn accused of sexual misconduct. We are live in Las Vegas where the Wynn headquarters are, with more details.

SAVIDGE: Plus, coming up this week, President Trump's first State of the Union address. Will he use it as a springboard into this fall's midterms and announce the call to action?


[07:52:06] PAUL: So the President's first official State of the Union address this week is a chance -- you know, for a reset for President Trump.

SAVIDGE: He can use it to set the agenda before this falls midterm elections, and the question is will he take that opportunity or will get derailed by the headlines that have been surrounding the Russia investigation. Well, joining us now, CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali. Tim, nice to see you this morning.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Nice to be here. SAVIDGE: All right. So, I'll start with a simple one and that is -- you know, what does the President need to accomplish with this address?

NAFTALI: Well, what we expect from Presidents is that they'll set an agenda and share their vision. State of the Unions are also used or States of the Union are also used to brag a little bit about what was accomplished the year before, and to lay out a legislative agenda. That's why these speeches can be so long. They tend to be about an hour, sometimes when President Clinton was around, they were about an hour and 20 minutes. But that's because they include a laundry list of the -- what the President expects to achieve or hopes to achieve with the help of Congress over the year or coming year.

What people watching President Trump are going to be looking for is whether he has a philosophy of governing. Is he -- what people mean by presidential -- him looking presidential is that he is -- he is willing to lay out a reasoned approach to achieving his goals. Or is he just trying to provoke and disrupt?

We saw something very important happen just a week ago when the President came forward with a proposal regarding immigration which was clearly beyond what his base would have expected. So, the President gave us an indication perhaps, maybe it was a foreshadowing of the speech to come that he might actually -- for the first time in his presidency, try not just to be the President of the red states, but of all States.

So what's possible with this speech is that he is actually going to move beyond where he was in his inaugural address and start talking to a much broader group of Americans.

PAUL: So, I want to talk to you about midterms as we look forward because The Hill says there is a major chance here for him to kind of set the agenda with this speech. They write, "Since the era of the Civil War, the Party that controls the White House on average loses 32 House seats and two Senate seats. Democrats are obviously banking on history. Republicans, they want to create new history here." What do you think the President will do with that? Is he really aware of the consequences of that?

NAFTALI: Well, you know, I'm not in his head but I'm sure he's aware of it, and I suspect that some of the movement we saw on Dreamers was of -- was a -- his response to the fact that his public opinion poll, the polls have been very, very bad for him and it looks a little bit like he was going to get to 40 percent in approval, which by the way is historically really low for a first-term President. But it didn't -- he got up to 40 and it started to drop again.

So, I suspect he knows this very well and is trying to nudge his numbers up. By the way nudging your numbers up are -- it's not just a feel-good proposition. It also affects the way people in Congress deal with you. If you are a very unpopular President, they run away from you when a midterm election comes. And President Trump doesn't want that to happen. And his allies in Congress don't want that to happen either. [07:55:38] SAVIDGE: That's kind of the Rodney Dangerfield attack, you don't get no respect (INAUDIBLE)


SAVIDGE: Tim Naftali, we do appreciate, especially your perspective on this. Thanks very much.

PAUL: Thank you both.

NAFTALI: Thank you both, good morning.


ANNOUNCER: The latest, high profile, wealthy, and politically connected man accused of sexual misconduct. Preposterous says, Steve Wynn, the biggest hotel and casino billionaire.


TRUMP: Steve Wynn, (INAUDIBLE), thank you. (INAUDIBLE) thank a whole group, the money --